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The Biggest Letdowns Of E3

The Electronics Entertainment Expo, or E3, is gaming's annual summit of hype, surprise, and sky-high expectations. It's a blockbuster yearly event where all the world's foremost game makers come together to unveil future releases, projects, and consoles, often with breathtaking state-of-the-art demonstrations. Of course, sometimes all the anticipation amounts to nothing, and displays meant to excite fall flat on their faces, greeted by the greater gaming public with a resounding "meh." They can't all be winners, and it happens every year. 2016 was no exception. And while there was plenty to go around this year worth freaking out about—new Zelda! The return of Hideo Kojima!—there were a lot of letdowns, too. Here are just some of the biggest disappointments from this year's E3.

No Red Dead Redemption 2

Heavily rumored to appear this year, the long-anticipated sequel to Take-Two Interactive's landmark open-world western proved a dispiriting no-show at E3 2016. Developed by Rockstar Games, the creators of the Grand Theft Auto series, Red Dead Redemption was released for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 way back in 2010 to universal acclaim, and rumors of its inevitable sequel have been swirling ever since. Gamers this year were more confident than ever that they'd get to see a first glance at some form of Red Dead 2, but for whatever reason, it simply was not to be. Maybe next year.

Square Enix drops the ball

In recent years, no developer has disappointed as much as the embattled Square Enix. The Final Fantasy publisher, once a standard-bearer for high quality in console role-playing games, has yet to recover from a lengthy string of disappointments, starting with a critical chilling that began with Final Fantasy XIII and continued with its awkward sequels, XIII-2 and Lightning Returns. Since then, the series has mostly been in a holding pattern, shilling high-priced smartphone versions of old games alongside new half-baked offerings that are more shameless money-grabs than the enthralling experiences the series used to be known for. In short, Square Enix needed a win this year, and they failed to get one. Kingdom Hearts 3, announced in 2013 and expected next year, still lacks a firm release date. The Final Fantasy VII remake, announced last year for PS4, had nothing new to show for itself. And Final Fantasy XV, a game that's been in development for over ten years, stopped by to showcase an underwhelming virtual reality mode. Having long acknowledged that they've lost the trust of players, it just can't be stressed enough how important these next landmark releases are for Square Enix; they're going to need a lot more than a flying car and some bad VR to win that trust back. And speaking of VR...

Too much virtual reality?

Virtual reality tech is exciting, there's no doubt about that. But there was a certain overwhelming quality to the VR push at E3 this year that made the idea feel more gimmicky than ever. Gaming is no stranger to fads that come and go, sometimes never getting off the ground in the first place. For a while, cameras like the Microsoft Kinect and the PlayStation Eye were the flavors of the day; for another stretch of time, you couldn't go anywhere without finding plastic instruments for sessions of Rock Band. But times have changed. Both of these trends went out of style in a major way, and today, all those expensive once-prestige peripherals do is collect dust. The truth is, there's a lot unknown about the real appeal of VR gaming, and the announcement of PlayStation VR (and its $399 price point—as much as a standalone console) is just that: an announcement. It's literally all hype, and it remains to be seen if any of this stuff will actually be any fun to play, or worth the expensive price point. Only time will tell.

EA has a one-hour press conference to show... not much

EA's press conference at E3 2016 was a long exercise in spectacle over substance. New games weren't announced, and new footage of games we already knew about was mostly cinematic or behind-the-scenes, shedding no new light on gameplay. Some ground that was retread included reels for Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and the third year of Mass Effect: Andromeda without much in the way of new info or reveals. Couple that with an excruciating extended interlude devoted entirely to showing off FIFA 17—the newest version of a game that comes out every year—and you have a recipe for underwhelming tedium. Show us something new, EA!

ReCore makes a boring first impression

When you've been hyped up as much as ReCore, it helps to come with more than what we got to see this year. Other than a gameplay trailer that didn't actually show much gameplay, so much remains unknown. Coming from developer Keiji Inafune, known as a major influencing force in the development of Capcom's Mega Man series, expectations are unsurprisingly quite high, and the footage that came out of this year's E3 didn't do much to inspire. In short, as it stands now, ReCore looks like a lot of other games already on the market, and if it wants to land with anything but a resounding thud, it's going to need to show off something, sooner or later, that distinguishes it from the rest of the pack.

Microsoft announces two new systems, sort of

Microsoft didn't surprise many by announcing a smaller, faster, souped-up version of their latest console with the unveiling of the Xbox One S. (Rumblings of a similar system remodel for Sony's PlayStation 4 have long swirled.) This move alone makes sense; releasing new versions of established consoles has become something of a trend in recent years. But Microsoft muddied the waters when they made the puzzling announcement of not one, but two new Xbox Ones on their release slate, the second being the ambiguously-named Project Scorpio. It's touted as a powerful, 4K-ready, VR-compatible leap ahead of the base Xbox One, but not much is known about what the system is actually meant to be. What is known is that its announcement certainly makes it unclear what the future is for the regular Xbox One, not to mention its suddenly not-as-impressive upgrade.