Easily heralded as one of most gamer’s “bucket list” trips, E3 was, in a word, overwhelming. What was once an exclusively industry “b2b” event is now an opportunity for gamers and fans to see so many beloved titles and publishers face to face. Having been on both sides of this coin, and as my first E3, I was witness to the awe of the fans while seeing the behind the scenes grit of the show.
Monday: Prep Day
We landed Monday morning and hit the tarmac running. For anyone with meeting space or booth space, this is the day to prepare for visitors and ensure your space stands out with branding, product and provisions (it was so hard not to eat all the chocolate). While walking through the corridors of the event space, I saw workers piecing together giant exhibits, Spider-Man coming to life on top of New York buildings (later I saw it in its full glory for Sony’s booth), and so many others working the way I was.
One thing I noticed from other people, however, was the lack of interest (gawking, maybe?) of these exhibits, this art, the way I found myself staring. Later I learned that the industry has seen it all, and even if someone enjoys games, they’ve been to E3 dozens of times before, and those people are jaded when it comes to this event. Me? I was in heaven. Every corner had drool worthy art, E3 exclusive products, or someone recognizable in this industry.
My time to leer, though, was limited. Once we finished our space setup, it was time to enjoy a hard earned meal and catch some sleep.
If I can impart the sense of wonder I had when I walked onto the show floor on Tuesday morning, I think the world would be a happier place.
Standing at the doors of the hall I saw the grandiose, energy packed Nintendo booth. “Booth” isn’t really the right word, given that it was the size of a small grocery store. The screens spanned dozens of feet and loomed over the Nintendo consoles, where in mere minutes, gamers would be swarming to line up to play. There was a human-sized Eevee and Pikachu to introduce players to Pokemon: Let’s Go!. Nintendo had a beautiful environment for E3, and the fans agreed. The booth was always busy.
Speaking of fans.
With the industry/exhibitor pass I had the luxury of walking through the show floor to take pictures and gather content without many other people in the hall, except for other industry pass holders. As I was doing my final loop of the morning, I found myself unfortunately stopped about fifty feet from the hall doors at the exact moment the doors opened for the gamer pass holders to come into the show floor.
It was like a tsunami of selfie sticks and cameras as hundreds upon hundreds of people literally ran over the door threshold into the hall.
I ducked between two twenty foot high Playstation banners and looked to my left, only to see a giant Norman Reedus holding a fetus in a heroic pose.
Welcome to E3.
The rest of the day was a whirlwind. I went by the Fortnite booth and again, was overwhelmed by the scale. If a third-party booth won E3, it was Fortnite. The life size battle bus, the dancing cosplayers, the set pieces, the glider photos, the LLAMA RIDE; there was something for fans to do every three feet. It was a carnival with merch inside a circus, and I LOVED it. This was one of the booths I made multiple trips to because there was just SO much to do that I had to see it twice.
I had to get my sleep and bring it Wednesday because, you know, as much fun as E3 is, it’s still work. We made it onto the show floor early and went to the Rage 2 booth, where they had a high striker (strength tester?) set up. The actors were heckling the few of us walking by to test our strength, so of course I jumped in line. Three or four people went in a row and hit the light to the top of the striker, so I thought I’d have some fun and told the guy in line in front of me that the striker was rigged, and then encouraged him to tap it to see if the striker still registered. For some reason, he believed me, and barely tapped the mallet to the pad FOUR times. The Rage actors were mocking him, the line was laughing at him, and he walked off defeatedly. I was next, took a normal swing, and the lights went almost to the top. The actor pulled me aside and told me I embarrassed the —- out of the guy ahead of me, and then we laughed. Trolling doesn’t stop once you’re out of the game, people.
Ubisoft was our next stop, and they had another great showing with plenty of photo opportunities. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Trials Rising, and Skull and Bones all looked great, but my favorite game they showed was The Division 2. I played the first Division for hundreds of hours and am looking forward to seeing where the second game goes.
While I’d love to recap all the games I was thrilled to see (*cough* Cyberpunk 2077 *cough* Anthem *cough*), I’m sad to say I didn’t see any indication of Red Dead Redemption 2, or my heart’s favorite game series ever, Borderlands. We know both games are coming, but why didn’t we see anything from either publisher?
And here is where I get to tell you my favorite part of E3: The Overwatch Payload Tour.
I’m an avid Overwatch player, both PC and PS4. I main off meta characters, I play support, I play tank, and I appreciate a good Overwatch meme. The Overwatch Payload Tour gives fans a chance to don some character accessories in front of a green screen, and the finished product is a video with an in- game map in the background.
Holding up Brigitte’s shield and mace in the front of Route 66? Amazeballs. If there had ever been a character based off me, I’d like to think she’d be a lot like Brigitte (I main Torbjorn, for crying out loud. And I like to workout because I love to eat.). It is easily the most memorable fan highlight of E3 for me, and as nerdy as the video is, I’m so mega proud of it.