E3 has come and gone for another year and brought with it the spectacle and grandeur it always does, along with the rapid-fire customary barrage of announcements and trailers. Even if we didn’t get megaton after megaton like the last few years, make no mistake, there were some massive things unveiled or re-introduced to us at this years show.
Things like Anthem, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Far Cry 5, Days Gone, God of War, Spider-man, Cuphead, Wolfenstein 2, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, Super Mario Odyssey and the game that no one saw coming, Metroid Prime 4, all made waves at this year’s “E3 Showcases”. But for all the major presences that were felt at the show, there were some very notable and disappointing absences from this years lineup. So, without further ado, let’s get into who no-showed E3 2017 and speculate as to why.
Note: Red Dead Redemption 2 is not mentioned because Rockstar has nearly always abstained from E3. Party poopers, the lot of them.
Yes, Hideo Kojima did say in the weeks leading up to E3 that Death Stranding would not be at the show this year, but let’s face facts: Kojima’s words can’t be taken at face value. I was honestly expecting him to show up at Sony’s presser and unveil a new name for Death Stranding or something of that nature. He’s just that kind of crazy. But, alas, this time Kojima meant exactly what he said and we didn’t get to see any of Kojima Productions’ unique brand of batshit crazy this year.
The reasoning for this could possibly be as simple as Kojima and co. doesn’t feel it’s ready for any more exposure just yet. When it was announced at Sony’s 2016 E3 conference, Death Stranding was in its infancy and was only announced in the first place to put the world on notice that Kojima had entered into a partnership with Sony, and to keep hype levels over 9000 for that conference. Since Death Stranding’s initial reveal trailer, which featured a naked and weeping Norman Reedus, we’ve seen one more trailer that revealed award-winning actor Mads Mikkelsen’s involvement in the game as well as Guillermo Del Toro’s, but other than that, we’ve heard next to nothing. We don’t even know what genre the game will be. Kojima’s history as well as Mikkelsen’s role in the second trailer would suggest a military action game of some sort, but as previously mentioned Hideo Kojima relishes subverting expectations so we really have no choice but to wait for Kojima to give us a few more breadcrumbs to follow.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Am I disappointed we didn’t see anything new for FFVII:R this year? Absolutely. Am I surprised? Absolutely not. We’ve known right from the start that it was going to be a long wait for this game because A: it’s an absolutely monstrously massive project and B: Tetsuya Nomura is directing and he can’t seem to get anything out the door in under a decade if at all. I thought at the minimum we’d get a new trailer and a few new details to keep us satiated for another year while Nomura hopefully finishes Kingdom Hearts 3 (which we did technically see at E3 this year thanks to a new trailer dropping. Still no release window announced, though) and is able to give FFVII:R his full and undivided attention.
While the conference itself was bereft of any news, the weeks leading up to E3 saw the studio heads in charge of FFVII:R, Naoki Hamaguchi and Yoshinori Kitase as well as Tetsuya Nomura, announce a hiring blitz aimed at bolstering the game’s development team after it was revealed that CyberConnect2 was no longer working on the project. Apparently, Nomura had complaints in regards to a trailer that CC2 had put together that didn’t have enough of a “Square Enix feel” and they were thusly removed from the project. I won’t say this reeks of the development woes that plagued Final Fantasy Versus XIII/XV, but I definitely just caught a whiff of something all too familiar.
This does not bode well for Media Molecule. Dreams was initially announced at Sony’s 2015 E3 conference but has apparently been in development for much longer, likely as early as 2012. I find this hard to believe as we still don’t have a solid grasp of what exactly Dreams will be other than it’s being built around the same Play Create Share mantra that the LittleBigPlanet games arose from. After five years of development and being shown twice at E3 we should know much, much more about this game. Especially since at the 2016 show Media Molecule announced that there would be a public beta in late 2016. Sadly the beta was quietly pushed into 2017 and as of this writing has still yet to materialize.
This puts Media Molecule in a precarious position indeed. Their last two games, Tearaway and LittleBigPlanet 3, have underperformed saleswise despite Tearaway being a critical darling and now Dreams is MIA on gaming’s version of The Grandest Stage of Them All. Other Sony first-party studios have been in similar positions and it didn’t turn out well for them. Don’t believe me? Go ahead, ask Zipper Interactive, Guerilla Cambridge, Evolution Studios, BigBig Studios, or Incognito Entertainment. Oh, that’s right, you can’t because Sony shuttered them after a string of underwhelming titles. I just hope Media Molecule gets things on track before Dreams turns into their last nightmare.
The lack of a new Sucker Punch game at this years show is both disappointing and surprising, but not for any of the doom and gloom reasons associated with some other entries here. Sucker Punch has been radio silent since their last outing, the PS4 launch title inFamous: Second Son and its downloadable mini-prequel inFamous: First Light, and I don’t think I was alone in expecting to get at least a glimpse of their next project this year, whether it be a follow up to Second Son, a new Sly game or perhaps even a new IP.
Some people, myself included, were a little surprised to see it was Insomniac behind the new Spiderman game announced last year and not Sucker Punch, given that Sucker Punch has a great deal of experience crafting open-world superhero games featuring an agile protagonist. Don’t get me wrong, Insomniac looks like they’re killing it with Spiderman and it’s one of the games I’m looking forward to most at the moment, but it leaves me scratching my head and wondering just what the hell it is that Sucker Punch is working on. Sony execs have gone on the record stating that they held some things back from E3 this year, and I have to believe that includes Sucker Punch’s new game. Perhaps they just wanted to cast focus on some things that are coming out sooner, maybe it’s a bigger project than we’re expecting and just needs more time, or maybe they’re saving it for PSX later this year. Whatever it is, Sucker Punch’s outstanding track record alone has me intrigued for what they’ve got in the oven. I just hope we don’t have to wait too much longer to see what it is.
The Last of Us 2
While some may be dismayed that The Last of Us 2 didn’t get any attention at E3 this year, if you think about it for a minute, it really makes a lot of sense. Firstly, Naughty Dog and Sony opened their 2017 E3 showcase with Uncharted: Lost Legacy, so they clearly want all eyes on that until it releases this August instead of looking past it at a game that may not be released until late 2018 or early 2019. Yes, it really could be that far off. While it was announced at the PSX event in December of 2016, The Last of Us 2 has been in development since 2014, assuming a holiday 2018 release that would put development time at right around four years.
A tad long, maybe, but definitely not unheard of, especially when you factor in that motion capture for TLOU 2 didn’t even begin until this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it pushed a little farther off into early 2019 to give the games we already know are coming in 2018, things like Spider-man, God of War and Days Gone (another third person action game set in a post zombie-ish apocalypse) room to breathe. It makes much more sense for Sony to give us another look at the follow-up to what some have called the best game of all-time a tad closer to release, like at PSX later this year or even E3 next year. But with all that being said, it doesn’t make the wait for more on The Last of Us 2 any easier.