Massively Overthinking: The best MMOs and multiplayers of E3 2017

E3 is drawing to a close, with its reveals over and done with — all that’s left is processing our interviews and hands-on pieces. But in the meantime, we decided to take this week’s Overthinking to consider the field. MMORPGs haven’t shined brightly at E3 in a long time, so our expectations are usually low — the con is interesting to us more for what’s happening on the multiplayer front.

So that’s what we asked our staff: What’s the most interesting or grabby-hands MMO or MMO-ish thing from E3 this year? Which game would get your best in show and why? There’s also an extra bonus section on the con itself courtesy of our writer on the floor.

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): This wasn’t a real big MMO year at E3, but certainly big for online multiplayer games. I don’t want to give Best in Show to any game that didn’t have a playable demo, so I’ll give Monster Hunter World Most Anticipated. It’s very existence came out of nowhere. The changes and additions I saw were revolutionary for the series, but also add things I’ve wanted to see more in combat oriented games.

For Best in Show, it’s a really tough call, but I’m going to say Sea of Thieves. While I think Dauntless had a strong demo and it provides an alternative Monster Hunter experience in ways the actual series may not go, Sea of Thieves provided something lighthearted, fun, and very deep. My demo experience was terrible but showed just how much power a social MMO player can have. At a different demo, someone asked me what kind of games I am I good at, and after a few moments, I said, “Anything that lets me talk people into not killing me or gets them to help me.” Sea of Thieves felt like a playground ripe for chaos, but also strong social play, and that was deeply satisfying.

And quick note: Mario Odyssey was probably my favorite singleplayer title, but Ooblets was a surprisingly close second. I admittedly will probably have to skip the former unless it’s got good multiplayer like I did Zelda: Breath of the Wild (it’s hard to get into big, single-player sandboxes while trying to build a social life), but the latter is so charming and accepting that… gah, really, you guys should just google it.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Anthem seems to be the thing everyone’s talking about, my own guildies included, but eh, it takes more than yet another multiplayer shooter hybrid to get me excited. I do, however, love me some pirates. Given how Ubisoft — once deservedly ridiculed for saying dumb thing after dumb thing in public at cons — totally dominated this E3, I’m happy to see it pushing out Skull and Bones. The only downside is that Sea of Thieves, now delayed, has a high-end challenger. I’m hoping the competition does them both good rather than sabotaging one or the other.

I suppose it doesn’t count as an E3 announcement, but kinda since it came close to it: The Cryptic Magic: the Gathering MMORPG probably has me more interested than anything from the con itself. But that’s because it’s actually an MMORPG.

Then of course there were the teasers, and I’m super excited to hear more about what The Elder Scrolls Online has planned post-Morrowind. It appears the DLC train is back on the tracks.

You can google this if you don't get the joke.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): I can’t share Andrew’s in-depth analysis of E3, honestly, due in no small part to the fact that I wasn’t there; I will say, though, that the most on-point analysis I saw was that this year’s E3 was very much a case of doing one because one happens every year. There weren’t as many big announcements, and most of the big things we did see announced were things we’ll have to wait for until 2018 or later. Not horrible, but nothing compelling. My general dislike of these sorts of events in general has thus been largely compounded, just because… well, it’s a set of events marketed more on ideas than actual substance.

Of course, the big release I was excited for this year is open for me to play today, so take my cynicism with a grain of salt.

I’d argue the big multiplayer winner this year was Monster Hunter World; it didn’t have a demo, but the announcement alone had some really cool energy behind it, and I’m actually excited for it on a small level despite my usual lack of care about the franchise. I’m also looking forward to seeing how Anthem works out, since that’s definitely going to have multiplayer in some capacity, although I’m reluctant to really call it even an outright Destiny clone when we’re still so far out from release. But I can get behind a team-based third-person shooter.

Aside from that… well, the Stormblood presentation held my attention? But that’s not really a surprise, is it. Oh, and I guess Sea of Thieves was there; it’s never really pinged much on my radar, but the fans seem to be happy about it, if bracingly unprepared to eat a banana based on the game interface.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): The buzz is certainly strong for BioWare’s Anthem, and I would even dare to say that it completely overshadowed Bungie’s Destiny 2. There was a lot of anticipation around Anthem’s reveal, and even if it does end up being a over-the-shoulder version of Destiny, it could do quite well for itself with BioWare behind it.

Honorable mention goes to Sea of Thieves. I’m disappointed (but not surprised) about the delay, but the game itself got a lot of very positive coverage and impressions at the expo, and I think it’s starting to turn some heads in regard to the fun and possibilities of that title.

I do wish there had been more pure MMORPG news, but such is the state of the industry right now!

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): I have two things to admit that I really don’t want to, but because of the coverage at E3. The first thing is that the games for Switch look like a lot of fun. And the second thing is that I own a Switch. So topping my list of most anticipated MMO-like games from E3 is Splatoon 2.

Obviously, I don’t think that Splatoon is a hugely innovative game. But it does look like a lot of fun, and since the Switch is technically a mobile platform, I’m glad to see good titles coming to it that aren’t Mario or Link.

That’s why the Skyrim coming to Switch and I hope to seem more multiplayer games hit that console.

Unfortunately, That’s the only multiplayer game that stands out to me. There are many single-player games that have me interested the Last of Us 2, Metroid Prime 4, and Far Cry 5. But from a multiplayer standpoint, I have been very underwhelmed.

It's barbaric, but hey, it's home.

Andrew on the con experience itself: People have been questioning the value of E3 for a few years now, and this year the convention really proved people wrong. With Nintendo and EA figuring out different ways to interact with fans (and press to an extent), they opened up opportunities for other companies to hold press conferences. That’s made E3 into nearly a week long event, with conferences even overlapping now.

Opening to the expo to consumers also exposed some things about the industry. At its worse, E3 is about swag. I love a free tshirt about a game I’m excited about as much as anyone else, but consumers noticed that press were green with envy, as they were receiving swag we weren’t being offered, constantly. For many press, games blogging is a side job or hobby, and going to the convention may actually cost us more than we’re able to monetarily make from the event.

That being said, either due to experience or change in practices, I was able to secure more demo time and interviews from big name companies than at any other previous E3. Doors opening 15 minutes early (something unheard of before) also rewarded those of us who come early every day because, like non-press, we’re not simply allowed into the exhibition halls even if we have an appointment. However, things would have been smoother if E3 had used physical maps instead of their unreliable app.

The length of lines really surprised the consumers, and a lot complained about the price of entrance: $250. That’s to wait 4 hours in line to play 20 minutes of Mario Odyssey if you don’t know how the convention works (Thursdays are the best!). One of the biggest problems is that these lines are tied to the swag. When rumors were going around that the Mario swag was out, the queue shot down dramatically, from the normal hour and a half of Thursdays to 20 minutes in the middle of the day.

Consumerism was apparent. While E3 tends to have their own shop, Square-Enix and others also brought vendors with good discounts. For the consumers, this was nice, but for me, it distracted from the nature of the convention: an industry trade show.

E3’s problem has always been that the companies treat press more as potential marketing than, well, press. The increase of influencers makes this more apparent, and even more so with consumers. I noticed several of my demo people didn’t even ask for feedback on their games, as did the consumers I spoke with. As E3 is usually the only time I am physically able to meet fellow games press, it was a bit of a letdown to stay guarded about topics we’re not supposed to share with the general public, but it was great to interact with fellow fans of various genres.

Sports games (and many racing games) get little to no fanfare from press at the various conferences, but several consumers mentioned how excited they were about those and made me realize that I don’t know any gaming sites that specialize in that genre. While people may talk about the MMO genre’s slow demise, Final Fantasy XIV’s line had to be closed due to popularity. A consumer friend experiencing the expo for the first time shocked one of Square Enix’s booth people by replying that her favorite game in the series is for consoles. Apparently most people had been telling her their favorite was FFXIV, something I never would have expected as press.

TLDR version: E3 this year felt less like an industry trade show and more like a general gaming convention. Maybe this was why I felt like I had better access to game companies, as I stood out more by comparison. If consumerism is what’s needed for me to do my job as a press, I’ll welcome the change. Just one request to ESA who runs the event: Please bring back the physical program map and guide!

Your turn!

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77 Comments on "Massively Overthinking: The best MMOs and multiplayers of E3 2017"

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Necromonger

If it wasnt for Anthem / Battlefront II it would have been the most boring E3 ever.

Xbox one X also disapointed, already we see checkerboard rendering / resolution scaling and 60fps was again not in the head of making this console.

Disapointments followed by disapointments.

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Stormwaltz

Sorry to say that E3 was a big shrug for me this year. I was barely aware it was going on, and the announcements never got my enthusiasm above “that’s nice.”

I don’t know if it’s the con or me, though it is true that the types of games I prefer tend to be poorly-represented at massive trade shows.

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rafael12104

It wasn’t you. Aside from Ubi, the press conferences were, meh. It is obvious they are trying to figure out if this is a con or and industry trade show. No inde showcase either.

Back in the old days, they used to even goes as far to show the health of the companies, and state of the industry. Now, nothing more than trailer reels.

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

Actually, there was an indie showcase:
http://www.indiecade.com/e3_2017/games

Even an offsite one with Devolver!

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Pandalulz

I’ll say that Anthem knocked the wind out of Destiny 2’s sails for me: more interesting movement mechanics and exploration with that sweet sweet third person Mass Effect style shooting (I don’t really dig first person anything). Granted, I feel let down that it’s not as RPGish as I’d hope from Bioware, but people have poopooed the hell out of Inquisition and Andromeda, so maybe it’s just time for them to move on to the next thing.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

imo bioware hasn’t made an actual rpg since nwn1. their games since then are fine visual novels with heavy emphasis on game play elements but they aren’t any more rpg’s than cod or battlefield at this point.

(swtor maybe excluded here but that game’s legimiate rpg stuff is ripped straight from wow to an extent that some talents and spells are literally copy pasta of stuff from wow).

that being said, anthem has me interested in a bioware game i’ve not been since the mid aughts. i just hope they don’t find a way to dissapoint me like their games have despite low expectations since mass effect 1.

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mike foster

mmmmmm include ME1 and DA2 on this and you have me

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

imo last rpg bioware made was nwn1 + expacks. even dao isn;t included. :@

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i’m with bree. i was very impressed with ubi’s presentation at e3 and i think the only reason i haven’t seen more talking about it (which is slowly changing) is because the presentation was late at night.

every game they showed looked interesting to me in one way or another.

and the biggest thing this year is that we are set for a pirate game fad! the sid meiyer’s pirates! fan in me can’t be any more pleased! :D

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rafael12104

Yup. No question about it. Ubi’s presser was the best by far. I was impressed with every game presented except the dance game, (they can stop that now) and the snow skiing game Steep (not my thing).

And the flip side, Bethesda on the other hand could have just pressed play on 15 minute trailer reel, and it would have been much better than what was presented.

Last, MS. LOL! They were a little hurt that everything knows Sony is kicking their ass with exclusives. The presented what, almost 20 Xbox One exclusives? None of them memorable aside from Crackdown 3.

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Ian Wells

I will be honest and say that I still don’t understand FF XIV’s lasting appeal. I played a few classes to max level, and played half way through the first expansion in a matter or 3 months, and by the end the only think that held my interest at all was the Palace of the Dead (think co-op rogue-like). Everything else was the same grind, the same mechanics, and the same play-style and rotations again and again.

There is literately 0 customization options for builds (cross class skills don’t count as everyone has the same must haves, and the rest are useless fluff), and 90% of game play at all levels is repeating the same rotations again and again and again. Healers are the only class that get to mix it up a little, and even then is only when your party mates mess something up.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i just find it interesting that i witness people who normally abhor raid or die culture in the genre subject themselves to that very culture in this particular game.

i chalk it up to brand strength and kyutai waifus the game offers. otherwise it’s the quintessential raid or die mmo on the market today, even more than wow of yesteryear.

Skoryy
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Skoryy

There is literately 0 customization options for builds (cross class skills don’t count as everyone has the same must haves, and the rest are useless fluff), and 90% of game play at all levels is repeating the same rotations again and again and again.

And how this is different from any other min-maxed meta MMO? All Squeenix did was cut out the middleman.

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Ian Wells

DDO, DFO, BDO, Warframe, ToS, ect., would like to have a word with you.

Each has a very different progression system that is ripe with a lot of room for customization. FFXIV basically hands you a ticket you get punched every few levels, redeemable for one new skill. That is so unengaging and severely limits replayability

Skoryy
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Skoryy

There’s plenty of room for customization in GW2 and STO. Mother Tree help you if you step out of the open world with a non-meta approved build. And I can’t fire a photon torpedo in Earth Spacedock without hitting a dozen tactical captains in cruisers.

FFXIV cuts through the spreadsheets and parsers and says “Here’s your build, enjoy the show.” Its kinda refreshing, honestly.

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Koshelkin

Yep.

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mike foster

Definitely agree with Eliot on the “it was happened because it happens” feeling. Not much of a memorable e3 from my perspective.

Monster Hunter looks pretty sick and Nintendo is crushing it, but beyond Spider-Man (who I will always consider my first love) nothing much caught my eye.

Except Everybody’s Golf. That shit is gooood.

Edit: I will say that a lot of the marketing executions felt like someone said them as a joke and then they accidentally happened. The Sonic trampoline and the Stormblood blood drive come to mind.

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Greaterdivinity

OH I LIED! Sorry : (

That Skull and Bones game, the Ubisoft pirate battle one. That one seemed pretty neat. If I had to pick something for my “pleasant surprise of the show”, off the top of my head that’d be it. Sure as hell wasn’t expecting it, and it looked pretty cool.

Edit: At least as long as there’s non-PvP gameplay involved, especially if the integrate exploration in as well as the combat.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i’m sad to say to you it looks like something akin to for honour and not really a pve or exploration or open world thing at all. think arena pvp matches in the terms of what gets abused as being a “moba” today amongst a tonne of games. ie cloud pirates or w/e arena pvp game with a theme.

but good news for you, sea of thieves will probably be like what you are asking for here if their tech demo gameplay demo videos are any indication.

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Robert Mann

The only thing I found at all interesting, really, in E3 was the tiny little bit of Mount and Blade Bannerlord footage. There might be some multiplayer outside just battles with nothing really going on other than that, so that would be cool. It would be something at least a little different, given the economic and political aspects that are supposed to be there, where you can do more than just directly fight against another player.

Sadly, nothing else really spoke to me. Absolver has some cool ideas, but they are hidden behind many things I don’t really want. MHW is MH, with all the good… and all the bad. Don’t get me wrong, it can be fun, but it lacks so much of what I want in a good world based game (I think I like this term, as it prioritizes imo the world around the characters rather than just a few aspects of things like combat and an AH to buy/sell.) That’s the problem, all the games on display were more of the inch deep things we already have, just with shiny new combat stuff or a return to skill trees that are (I admit) better than what we have for my tastes. There’s just nothing else to these games. It’s the same go out, kill stuff, loot, and pretend the rest of the world is anything but a backdrop for that. Seen that ten trillion times, and it is beyond old.

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zoward

Andrew, thank you for the insight into what E3 was like when you’re wearing the press badge. That was a cool read!

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life_isnt_just_dank_memes

MHW and Absolver top my lists as Best in Show and Personally Most Anticipated respectively. Absolver showed off a new class and looks so incredibly deep in terms of how you can build a class which is so rare these days as most MMO makers have gone the MOBA route and given players 1 build per class for the sake of balance.

Absolver is all about creative freedom and depth. I can not wait for that game.

Battlefront 2 looked amazing. The multiplayer looks rad and I am really looking forward to more info about the single player campaign. DICE aint known for their story chops so it’ll be interesting how they implement Disney’s story.

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Armsbend

Dude…I liked the story in BF: Bad Company. I thought it was fun.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i watched my bro play a big chunk of bfbc and the story was definitely alot of fun. i didn’t care for the gameplay i saw much but the story? i loved the characters in terms of their writing and direction.