By Charly SHELTON
The Electronic Entertainment Expo, E3, is the biggest video games show in North America. It is an Expo only for those who create video games and those who work with videogames, including retailers and press. As such, gamers from around the world clamber to get into the show. Most have to settle for online coverage from huge companies or news outlets, which spend most of the time promoting the new game trailer and leave the convention aspect out.
Because let’s be honest – it’s kind of a nightmare. Several thousand people crammed into the Los Angeles Convention Center to wait their turn to play an as-yet-unreleased game, maybe get a free T-shirt or a hat, and find some way to finagle their way back into the private area of each booth reserved for the elite media outlets and retailers. It’s like spending three days in an overcrowded version of Thunder Dome with sweaty, smelly nerds. But in all honesty – it’s probably the best time I have had all summer.
As soon as you sit down in the Call of Duty Theater or pick up that controller to play a new Batman game, the rest of the crowds and headaches fade away as you become lost in a new world of a yet unseen game. And with the technology that the game manufacturers are working with today, games look more realistic than ever, like the crazy realistic “Detroit: Become Human” where an android becomes a hostage negotiator for other androids and players make a line-by- line decision on how the event will play out. But some go a step further and immerse the player deeper in the game through the use of virtual-reality headsets. The PlayStation VR is nuts. That’s really the only way to describe it. You strap on a visor and all you can see is exactly what the game developers want you to see. You can be lost on a desert world fighting an invasion of bugs in “Farpoint,” or stalking the streets of Gotham City as The Dark Knight in “Batman Arkham VR,” or even take on zombies and monsters inside an ominous plantation mansion In “Resident Evil 7: biohazard.” But honestly, as cool as all that is, the game I am most excited for is “Battlezone.”
This is my all-time favorite arcade game, which has been remastered, updated and reconfigured for the PlayStation VR. On the stand up arcade game, players leaned into a visor viewer to play the game as a tank, scrolling through the virtual green-and-black wasteland to take out the opposing tank. Now the visor viewer is strapped to your face and, instead of a black background with green lines, it has a Tron-style world with an awesomely rendered tank and surrounding mountains.
I am beyond excited for this game, which does describe my place in the world of gamers. I saw the “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare” theater presentation with a level walk-through and extended trailer, as well as a look at the remastered “COD: Modern Warfare.” It’s fast-paced and immersive, and the way it played out made you feel like you are part of the squad, taking on an alien forces as they invade Earth, but it was too intense for me. I walked out of the theater in need of a good cry.
I play Disney Infinity, Lego Dimensions and the occasional Batman game. My philosophy as a gamer is nonconfrontational. If I can sneak through the shadows and never have to directly take on an enemy, I can beat the game. Watching “COD: Infinite Warfare” was a lot to process and it really does speak to the beauty of E3 as a convention. It allows each person to immerse themselves in experiences that are more up their alley without ever thinking that they’re missing out. I never went to a COD presentation in the past because it’s not my thing, and I never walked away from the show feeling like I missed out. But then you go into that COD theater and you realize what a big deal this is. There were guys in the show who were foaming at the mouth for this game and who, I’m sure, don’t really care that there’s a new “ET the Extraterrestrial” expansion pack coming to “Lego Dimensions.” There are so many different worlds combining all at once at E3 that many of them may just slip by.
It would be impossible to cover the entire show all in one article, but the important part is this – everything that is being shown at the convention will be available to the consumer very soon. I think people lose sight of that, playing up the exclusivity of the event and that “nobody anywhere will ever have an experience like I’m having now!”
This causes people to stand outside the show, visibly upset, trying to get in to the floor in any way possible. All of this stuff is days to months away. Some games were released the day the show opened, “COD: Infinite Warfare” is coming in early November, the “Lego Dimensions” expansion packs start releasing at the end of September and even the PlayStation VR, which is like an entirely new system in itself, will be released on Oct. 13 for $399. So by Christmas, much of what we are seeing at E3 will be commonplace, if not played out. “Skyrim” came out to huge popularity but dropped off after three to four months. And have you tried finding an online match in “Star Wars: Battlefront” recently? It’s like a ghost town. So while it’s nice to watch online and see what’s coming up in the future, there’s no need to stress over it. Plus with reporters like myself going to the show and covering it on social media, it’s almost like you’re there anyway.
Today, Thursday, is the last day of the show but I have way more to show off in the next couple of weeks on social media. For live coverage of the show as well as future updates, follow me on Instagram and Snapchat: @Flynn42 and Twitter @CharlyIsAwesome.