Keanu Reeves

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The Electronic Entertainment Expo 2019 is barely over and journalists, critics, and gamers are already asking who "won" this year's series of gaming-related press conferences.

Big dogs like Nintendo, Microsoft, Bethesda, and Google all squared off on massive stages to see who could reveal the most innovative new gaming feature, or which of their presenters could best rock the standard business-gamer uniform (sports blazer + game-related graphic t-shirt, obviously). New games like the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Elden Ring, Baldur's Gate 3, and Watch Dogs: Legion all had crowds screaming in anticipation. (Also, Elon Musk was there.)

There were low points, too. Once-burned fans are hesitant to embrace EA's new Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order too quickly; but with gameplay combat looking promising, this could be the Star Wars video game that reverses the unfortunate trend of mediocrity that's plagued recent releases like Star Wars Battlefront II. And audiences weren't overly impressed by Nintendo's announcement that Animal Crossing: New Horizons would be delayed to March, 2020.

With the roller coaster feeling that defined the convention, then, an excited attendee or aficionado could be forgiven for missing some of the best moments that weren't primarily to do with new game announcements.

Luckily for those fans, we've rounded up a few of the aspects of the expo that blew up Twitter, as well as a few that might have slipped under the mainstream radar. With a year until the next convention (dates are locked in for June 9-11, 2020), fire up your console, calibrate your controllers, and take a look down below!

1. Keanu Reeves

Right out of the gate, we're already breaking the rules established for this list, because technically Reeves stepped onstage at E3 to help developer CD Projekt Red reveal more of their upcoming game, Cyberpunk 2077. But the popularity surge that Reeves has been experiencing as the Internet's current boyfriend (also known as the "Keanuissance") has been perfectly timed to make just his appearance, and not his announcement, one of the most memorable events of this year's convention.

As the metal song "Chippin' In" by Refused blasted out of gargantuan speakers, a curtain rose and Reeves' unmistakable figure was backlit. The actor came out to reveal that he will be playing (i.e. has done the voice work and mo-cap for) franchise character Johnny Silverhand, a "legendary rockerboy" from the thirty-year-old tabletop pen-and-paper Cyberpunk 2020 RPG.

Keanu (reliably sporting the slick blazer-and-t-shirt combo) called the game "breathtaking." Someone in the audience yelled back, "You're breathtaking!" Reeves smiled benevolently and responded, "You're breathtaking. You're all breathtaking!" It was truly beautiful.

With the second-most dialogue in the game after player character V, only one question remains to be asked: will Keanu-as-Johnny serenade players? Only time will tell. Cyberpunk 2077, incidentally, will be released April 16, 2020, to PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

2. Project Scarlett

 

The next generation is nearly upon us. Codenamed "Scarlett," Microsoft's new Xbox project is still under wraps until holiday 2020, when a new console will be released alongside Halo Infinite. Though this is cool in and of itself, unfortunately we don't know a whole lot more about Scarlett, including its cost or design.

One thing that we do know, however, is how much better it's going to function than current Xbox One systems. According to Microsoft, Scarlett will be four times more powerful than Xbox One X, and have 8k resolution and support for 120 fps frame rates, as well as an optical drive (for those players without lightning-fast internet connections), ray tracing, and faster load times.

Something else that will be interested to track will be how Scarlett, when released, will fare in competing against the competition: Sony is expected to release the new PlayStation console (likely called PS5) around the same time.

3. Notable Absences

 

Speaking of Sony and PlayStation, the gaming giant's presence was sorely missed at this year's E3. Sony chose to forgo its annual press conference, as well as its appearance on the showroom floor. The company had confirmed back in late 2018 that it would not attend E3, reportedly because it wanted to "innovate, think differently, and experiment with new ways to delight gamers" and connect with its community on its own terms.

This is the first time since the mid-nineties that Sony has elected not to come present alongside its rivals. So far, aside from spec announcements regarding the next-gen PlayStation console, all we have from Sony regarding upcoming releases is a Death Stranding trailer and its November play-date.

Xbox head, Phil Spencer, spoke out publicly about Sony's decision to shun the trade show, saying he felt E3 was weaker for it. He also said that he missed Activision, another publisher who skipped E3 2019.

Sony's absence highlights a larger trend in companies' changing relationship to E3, with some critics pointing out that with the rise of social media, general cultural acceptance of video games, and new and innovative platforms have rendered the convention's current structure, which hasn't changed much since its inauguration, less valuable and relevant.

4. Streaming Services 

The race to become the "Netflix for games" is on. Console makers and game publishers have all seemingly simultaneously had the idea to launch subscription services. Following Sony's PlayStation Now four years ago, both Assassin's Creed's Ubisoft and Final Fantasy's Square Enix are looking to break into the relatively untouched market, with Ubisoft announcing that theirs, called UPlay Plus, will cost $14.99 a month and grant access to more than 100 titles.

This price is leaps and bounds above competitors. EA's Origin Access clocks in at just $4.99 a month, and Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass can be yours for $9.99 per month on both console and PC. Microsoft is also developing xCloud, a service which will allow Xbox players to stream their games on their mobile devices at 60 fps.

UPlay Plus has countered this with a partnership with Google Stadia, a new face on the trade floor, and a cloud gaming platform that hopes to become the future of gaming. Stadia, showing off no lag and a 1080p resolution during demos at E3 this year, has a lot of potential, but that's under the best of circumstances.  

5. Avengers backlash

The first trailer for Marvel's Avengers was released by publisher Square Enix at E3 2019, and many fans took to social media to denounce and criticize it. Specifically, people are displeased with the character designs, with some calling them "bland" and "from the uncanny valley."

Enough people have jumped on the bandwagon to warrant a response from developer Crystal Dynamics, whose lead creative director, Shaun Escayg, said, "We are always listening to, and welcome feedback from our community." Despite precedent (see: the Sonic movie's #gottafixfast redesign), Escayg followed this up with, "There are currently no plans to change our character designs."

Escayg has explained that the reason that the Avengers don't resemble the actors playing them in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that the video game was always intended to be its own thing, reaching back to its comic book roots. Fans quickly countered that, asking why Crystal Dynamics had chosen the lineup and similar costume designs to that of the MCU.

Some have pointed out that the game is still in development, and shouldn't be labelled until the final layers of gameplay animation are rendered over the characters. So what if Thor's armor looks like a soundsystem right now? It's still eleven months away from release.

Internet mockery aside, the cooperative element of the game should prove interesting, as Escayg made sure to outline the uniqueness of being able to jump between each Avenger and use each of their respective strengths and weaknesses to battle baddies.

Marvel's Avengers will be released May 15, 2020, to Google Stadia, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

6. Stolen Car 

In one of the strangest moments of E3 this year, someone stole a car. That in itself isn't that noteworthy; but creative producer (and NetherRealm boss) Ed Boon is the victim's friend, and took to Twitter to announce that if E3 attendees helped his friend find his car, he would reveal one of two final mystery Mortal Kombat 11 DLC fighters.

Shane Satterfield, car-theft victim, has since tweeted that he and his wife found the car parked in a garage. As of this article's publication, there has been no word on the identity of the mystery DLC fighter from Boon.

Mortal Kombat 11 is currently available on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

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