The Biggest Surprises From E3 2019
Every year there are some announcements for games or other forms of media that get at E3 that take fans completely by surprise.
This can often be a good thing, considering some of the biggest moments in E3 history are surprises that get dropped in the middle of a company’s press conference. But that hasn’t stopped some of these surprises from being negative too.
E3 always has a mix of these moments that break the internet or cause fans to take to their keyboards and talk about how poorly something was shown. This year was no different, as several press conferences proceeded to do just that.
Biggest Surprises From E3 2019
Keanu Reeves revealed as a character in Cyberpunk 2077
As if CD Projekt Red hadn’t already shown that Cyberpunk 2077 was going to be a juggernaut title when it finally came out, they just had to ride the media trend perfectly by announcing the star of John Wick and The Matrix would be a character in their game.
Keanu Reeves came out in a plume of smoke following a reveal that sent the crowd at Microsoft’s presser and the internet at large into a tizzy. Talking to the fans, having a good moment with the crowd, and revealing the release date, April 16, 2020, culminated in a magical moment that was hard to top.
Bethesda’s Orion program
Everyone went into Bethesda’s show ready to hear about Fallout 76, Doom Eternal, and several other titles in the works from the company. But no one expected some tech developers for the company to come out and talk about a collection of programs that would help other companies and their games work better for the streaming services coming shortly.
Orion is a culmination of years of research by Bethesda’s tech-heads that will work on lowering the latency and upping performance for titles that plan to launch on platforms like Google Stadia or Xbox’s Project xCloud.
Despite what some outlets are saying, this is not Bethesda making a move into the streaming service market. Instead, this is them offering a way for other companies to make their games work better on other services, while Bethesda makes money off of the Orion collective being used.
Final Fantasy VII Remake looks incredible
Final Fantasy VII is held up as one of the greatest video games of all time, and for a good reason. When that game launched back in 1997, it was the peak of what gaming had for characters, storytelling, and many other features.
It took players to a new world that fully immersed them into a story of trying to save the planet by going on epic adventures with a colorful cast of characters that have since been cemented in gaming history as a golden standard. The only downside is, like most games that were made during the transition from 2D to 3D, the graphics and some gameplay mechanics haven’t held up over the years.
Square Enix dedicated roughly 25 minutes at the beginning of their press conference to show off the FFVII remake, and it looked utterly stunning. Revamped combat that is more action oriented, full voice acting, and some of the most beautiful graphics and music to grace the modern generation of consoles - it was more than most could have asked for.
Everything they showed got old fans excited to revisit the completely remastered version of their favorite game, but new fans finally got a modern glimpse at just how those older fans felt playing the game over two decades ago.
We still don’t know what the remake will consist of since the first game is allegedly going to be just the Midgar portion of the game. But judging by the comments from the developers, they are expanding the game into a much larger story, so fans should get their fill.
The first chapter, episode, or whatever they end up calling the first release of the FFVII remake will be out March 3, 2020.
The Hero and Banjo-Kazooie in Smash Ultimate
This tops the list for me, but considering I play Smash at least once a day on most days, let me break down why this “surprise” was so amazing.
The Hero adds a representative from one of the biggest and most influential RPGs in history. If you go, look at videos of Japanese fans reacting to the inclusion of not one, but four different iconic protagonists from Dragon Quest, it is the same as what fans in America were experiencing with Banjo and Kazooie.
Another Square rep joins the fight, adding another piece of gaming history to the growing museum that Smash Bros. Ultimate has become. This is something that was predicted months ago, but the impact isn’t lessened because of that.
As for the Bear and Bird, their inclusion means big things for future dealings between Microsoft and Nintendo. Not only has Banjo-Kazooie been asked for since the days of Smash Melee, but it could also signify the return of a franchise that has been dormant since 2008.
There is no guarantee that fans will be able to play the enhanced versions of Banjo-Kazooie or Banjo-Tooie on their Switch anytime soon, but the possibility is better now than it was last week. Microsoft’s vice-president of gaming Phil Spencer has always been an advocate for Banjo in Smash, which could mean more Microsoft titles making their way over to Switch.
We already got Cuphead and New Super Lucky’s Tale is coming soon. Honestly, this ups the hope for an eventual Game Pass app on Switch that lets players play some of those games on the go.
Contra: Rogue Corps - the whole thing
How did this game make it through testing? How did Konami okay this game? Why did Nintendo include this in their showcase as anything more than a montage piece?
The answer to all of the above questions I found myself asking while Contra: Rogue Corps was being shown off on stream is likely the same - money. Konami knows some people are nostalgic for the Contra series and decided to toss out this hot pile of garbage to try and turn a quick buck off of someone searching through the store and picking it up on name alone.
I don’t like trashing games, but this honestly looks worse than most games that have come out since the Dreamcast hit its stride. It doesn’t even look fun! At least we got the Contra Anniversary Collection…
Breath of the Wild sequel
I didn’t beat The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild until recently, mostly because of my busy schedule with school and work, but I also am not a huge fan of Zelda games in general. The 2D style games are more my jam, but after beating Breath of the Wild and finally experiencing that wonderful culmination to the game, I was actually left wanting more.
I wanted more areas to explore, more things to go and fight, more materials to cook with! The fact that Nintendo is making another Zelda game for Switch wasn’t the surprise; it was the fact it is a direct sequel using the same characters. They don’t do that often with Zelda.
The story in Breath of the Wild was good, but it lacked in places - looking at you ending. But it is a solid foundation that I hope they run with it and can improve on every aspect while finetuning everything that fans loved about the first game.
There are so many other things I could put on this list. Animal Crossing: New Horizons looks utterly amazing, indie games galore, and No More Heroes III to name a few. But all of these lists are always up to each’s tastes.
E3 is a time to come together and see what gaming has to offer in the coming weeks, months, and years. We should all take the time to say just one thing - video games are cool!