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The E3 Bulletin - Wednesday

Smash Bros! Rage! Fortnite!

Our E3 bulletins run every day this week. Previous entries: Monday | Tuesday

E3 2018 has now officially started. This fact is almost completely lost on those who have been working on it and watching it and creating disparate reams of #content on it, who have been processing announcements and livestreams that began last week. The harsh reality of the 21st century is that E3, like Black Friday and Brexit, can no longer be bound by the rules of time and will continue until morale and revenue improves.

As usual, opening was marked by a Nintendo happening, the scale of which has dwindled in recent years from full-bore conference to pre-prepared video, and this year hit its lowest ebb for a while with a performance that was light on wit, heavy on Smash Brothers, and yet which contained possibly the most significant release of the week in the form of Fortnite, which went live on Switch following the conference.

Crushingly for everything else revealed so far, Fortnite's sheer scale meant that this was the most important breakthrough from E3 to the real world, and there were immediate problems when it became clear that Sony's no-crossplay rule meant that anybody who'd already played on PS4 couldn't bring their account over. This feels like one of those decisions that is going to gradually accumulate tabloid outrage and make large numbers of Sony employees start lying about who they work for in an attempt to avoid being harangued by parents, and of course Microsoft's social team got right on it. Still, it's an important life lesson for kids about deeply petty platform-certification restrictions, which will stand them in good stead for every consumer product they will ever own.

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As for the rest of Nintendo, we had been promised Super Smash Bros and by God we got it, in endless, punishing, excruciating detail so pedantic it was a relief not to conclude with Reggie Fils-Amie reciting the back of the box. It was absolute jam to Smash fans, obviously, a number of whom combusted at the news that the game will contain a) every Smash character ever along with b) Ridley. Odd to see a December release date, though.

The precious, fleeting minutes that weren't talking about Smash revealed Mario Party lets you connect maps on different consoles, the first proper new Fire Emblem game in ages, and some DLC for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. There's a new mech game that is basically Armored Core, apparently, and you can now play Pokemon Go or Let's Go with an actual PokeBall Plus, each one of which comes with a free Mew and offers an exciting new range of ways to look daft in public. Nintendo also confirmed a list of other Switch releases, but most of them had already leaked, which made for a rather underwhelming finale to the pre-show conferences. Overcooked 2 is good news however you slice it, pun not intended, and it's coming to every other platform when it releases in August.

The show doors then opened and the assembled industry proceeded at a dead run to the Cyberpunk 2077 demo, spending the rest of the day flooding social media with breathless plaudits ahead of its inevitable designation as Game of the Show. Wes has a comprehensive rundown of everything in the demo, which revealed the game to be a first-person shooter, but still an RPG, and with a spectacularly detailed world of the sort we would normally be suspicious of, but as it's CDPR we have faith they will make it happen. Eventually. The chance of it being a current-gen game is currently holding at a solid zero, which is probably for the best given that the accumulated game release dates for 2018 and 2019 will probably lead us to bankruptcy as it is.

What else have we learned? Anthem is a lot more engaging than the EA Play showcase made it look and Bioware swears that Mass Effect is not dead. Phil Spencer is not announcing another console but is pretty confident that it would be backwards-compatible if he did. Battlefield V's 'Airlifts' are not loot boxes. There were some excellent indie games at the PC Gaming show and the one that everybody is most excited about is Sable.

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Miyazaki has said that Shadows Die Twice will have a more understandable narrative but only by From Software standards, so it might be possible to understand what's happening without watching 20 hours of retrospective YouTube analysis. We look forward to the game being labelled "dumbed down" as a result. IO is "considering" doing "proper" co-op for the confusingly-named Hitman 2, but in a way that suggests it'll never happen and that's probably for the best. The Rage sequel is keeping the name but using a new engine, which is not an approach we would have necessarily endorsed.

Fallout 76 will have mod support and private servers, eventually. Metro Exodus has added open-world trimmings and the results are... not entirely convincing, although the tech is legit. Focus Home did a Proper E3 Trailer for Farming Simulator, with rendered cinematics and licenced music and everything, which is moderately adorable but also reveals how daft the whole format is.

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Ninja Theory signed with Microsoft because it wanted to avoid "the constant threat of annihilation", which seems fair enough. Many questions remain about Death Stranding, but we can say with certainty that it's improved with Breath of the Wild music. Here's what Geralt looks like in Soul Calibur 6. The crowdsourced worldbuilding of Beyond Good and Evil 2 only has a $50,000 budget, which is not going to get a lot of stuff at current market rates.

Bored of E3 yet? Here are three games you can play for free right now. You can also take the new Steam chat interface for a spin, and marvel at it looking quite a lot like Discord. If you want something else to play, Jurassic World: Evolution went on sale, which in media-coverage terms feels like stepping under an incoming meteorite and thus is thematically appropriate but financially unsound.

That's your lot from day three. We'll have more news tomorrow - in the meantime you can find all our show coverage on the E3 2018 page.

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