The best E3 moments are the ones we aren’t expecting

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E3 2016 is right around the corner, so pretty soon everyone’s newsfeeds will be blasted with so many stories of game reveals, cinematic trailers and awkward PR presentations. It’s an exciting time, as while there are plenty of conferences throughout the year, E3 is usually the one the heavy hitters like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo (although maybe not so much this year) save for their biggest pieces of news.

While we must always approach these orchestrated presentations with a degree of scepticism, there’s no denying the fun of hopping aboard the E3 hype-train.

But thanks to the 24 hour news cycle, and a fair amount of repetition in the games industry as a whole, there are very few true surprises at E3. For example, even though it was revealed last month, we know Activision will show off the next Call of Duty because there’s one of those every year. In fact when it comes to annualised franchises, it’s more newsworthy to hear that their won’t be an entry this year such was the case with Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed. On top of all that, in the lead up to E3 there’s often more leaks than a government with a scorned, recently deposed ex-leader.

So when something comes along that is a true surprise, something that not only hadn’t been officially talked about prior to the show but also wasn’t even on anyone’s radar, those are the moments that really stick with us. Sure, not all of them turn out to be great games once they finally launch, but there’s still no denying the strength of the reveal. These were the ones that stuck out to me personally:

Watch_Dogs, E3 2012

Speaking of reveals that didn’t really pan out: Watch_DogsWatch_Dogs might be the most prominent story in recent memory of a game being revealed at a much higher quality than it turned out to be once it launched 18 months later. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that there are many people who would point to Watch_Dogs and say “this is why I have E3 trust issues.” And I don’t blame them; Ubisoft showed off the game at a degree of quality they hadn’t locked down for launch, and the game got burned as a result. That’s what happens when you present something too early.

But having said that, the reason why I count this trailer here is because no one saw it coming. Watch_Dogs dominated the talk of E3 2012, and that’s because there had not been a peep that Ubisoft was working on essentially their own answer to Grand Theft Auto prior to the show. It was new for them, it was fresh, it looked gorgeous and had some super cool looking gameplay mechanics.

Watch_Dogs should be a lesson in both how to and how not to reveal a game to the world. Dropping it as a complete surprise? Big yes. Show off your game when it isn’t representative of the final product? I shouldn’t even have to answer that one…

Solid Snake in Super Smash Bros Brawl, E3 2006

Much like the expectation of a new Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed, Nintendo releasing another game in one of their long standing franchises is hardly surprising. But the Super Smash Bros Brawl reveal for the Wii at E3 2006 was a significant one for me personally because at the end of the trailer they dropped the bombshell that Metal Gear Solid’s Solid Snake was to appear on the character roster.

Me being the biggest Metal Gear Solid fan there is, this was a big deal. But it ought to have been pretty crazy to everyone else as well, because Smash Bros including a character that wasn’t from some kind of established Nintendo franchise, and from a predominantly Playstation one in the recent years leading up to it, was really out of left field.

No Man’s Sky, E3 2014

Only time will tell, and sadly slightly more time, if No Man’s Sky lives up to its pre-release hype, but that first unveiling at E3 2014 sure made a splash. Again, much like Watch_Dogs, it was fresh, new and boasted a technical marvel the likes of which we had not yet seen.

But while Watch_Dogs was riding incredible graphics, No Man’s Sky featured seamless travel between space and planets, all fully explorable and unique. It was something we hadn’t seen before, both in terms of game design and ambition but also we actually hadn’t seen it before. It had not been talked about or shown anywhere else, it was an actual goddamn surprise.

Minecraft Hololens, E3 2015

We’d all heard of Microsoft’s augmented reality headset Hololens prior to E3 2015, but I don’t think anyone imagined it could be used like this. I’m not going to ramble on here, I think this demonstration speaks for itself.

Just, wow.

 

It may seem strange that I encourage publishers to keep some things to themselves in order to show off at E3 given that I work in video games media and reporting on reveals and leaks throughout the year is a huge part of my job. I mean, if everything was only revealed at the big conferences then for the rest of the year I could only write more and more editorials on how I hate spoilers or whether or not game prices should reflect their length. That’d get old pretty fast.

But going into E3, both as a journalist and a gamer, it’s the things I have no idea are coming that I’m most excited about. So while I’m pumped to get a look at the proper gameplay demonstration of Battlefield 1, here’s hoping there’s some game out there, either an indie or AAA, that’s about to blow my mind in a week and bit. Stay tuned to LoadScreen to find out what it is when our E3 coverage begins.

Satisfy your Tom hype on Twitter: @tomdheath. Don’t forget to follow @load_screen and like us on Facebook.

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