Nintendo won E3 2021 because Nintendo games aren’t boring

Metroid Dread key art

Metroid Dread – less boring than Forza Horizon 5? (pic: Nintendo)

A reader compares the E3 line-up of Microsoft and Nintendo and explains why he thinks the Switch’s games were more exciting.

So E3 2021 wasn’t very good, I think we can all agree on that. It wasn’t dreadful (okay, maybe the Capcom ‘showcase’ was) but there was very little of interest, thanks to a mixture of the pandemic and so many companies not being a part of it. Microsoft and Nintendo, and arguably Square Enix, were the three publishers that made the most effort, although you could tell they were severally limited by what they could show by the coronavirus.

That’s fair enough, no one reasonable is going to complain about that (which means, of course, plenty of gamers did) but for me Nintendo’s showcase was far better than Microsoft’s, even if the Xbox one was probably quite significant for its brand as a whole. Microsoft finally got to show off the graphics of the Xbox Series X, which they had been inexplicably keeping a secret for all this time, but my problem is how they chose to show it.

Did they show it via their should-have-been launch title Halo Infinite? No, that only got a couple of minutes of new footage and looked like an Xbox One game (which is an improvement on last time, when it looked like an Xbox 360 game). Was it the eagerly awaited Starfield trailer? No, that was pre-rendered and didn’t say anything about the game. Maybe the secret Arkane game that they chose to end the show with? No, that was pre-rendered too and you learnt more about it from the guy at the start saying it was a multiplayer shooter than you did by watching the trailer.

The only first party game that Microsoft was able to show any gameplay for was Forza Horizon 5, which did look excellent, no argument. But it’s a driving game. Given the infinite potential for video games to portray fantastical worlds and impossible action and characters all we get, more than six months after the console has already launched, is a driving game. The least flexible genre of game, where it’s almost impossible to be surprised by anything it does in terms of gameplay.

Compare that to Nintendo where you got a high budget 2D Metroidvania, a turn-based strategy, a compilation of surrealist microgames, a supernatural-themed role-playing game where you get to beat up god and Satan, an online board game, and a sequel to the best game ever made – which despite having a trailer that lasted less than two-minutes has the internet abuzz with what any of it means.

I know exactly what Forza Horizon 5’s trailer means though: driving around Mexico looking at the pretty graphics. I mean, that’s great if you’ve got a thing for graphics but it’s so… predictable. When Nintendo does a driving game it’s things like Mario Kart and F-Zero, things that take creativity and need to be designed and crafted, not just a recreation of things that already exist.

I don’t really mean to have a go at Microsoft here, who I have no particular feelings for one way or the other, but for me this is the clear dividing line in the industry, between boring games that seem to avoid inventing anything themselves and ones that are nothing but invention and creativity. It’s Assassin’s Creed vs. Zelda, Call of Duty vs. Splatoon, and Uncharted vs. Super Mario Odyssey.

Now some of these games are good in their own right, to a degree, but they’re so boring. So purposefully boring. So desperate to appear ‘mature’ and ‘realistic’ despite the fact that they’re clearly neither. Their primary selling point is making the player not feel like they’re being immature for playing a game made for children, something they achieve by making the experience so bland and restrictive that to me there’s just no pleasure in it.

I appreciate that’s not everyone’s take on the situation, and good luok to them, but that’s what I got out of E3 and gaming in general.

By reader Onibee

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email [email protected] and follow us on Twitter.

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