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E3 2018 diary, day 1: Tombs raided, kingdoms hearted, feet blistered

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Here’s what you missed from the first day of E3 2018, including Kingdom Hearts III, a velociraptor, a tractor, and a petrified Norman Reedus. 

We got off to an interesting start to the first day of E3 proper. Following a calorific breakfast at Denny’s to set us up for the day – and “please don’t put squirty cream on my pancakes” isn’t something you’re used to having to say as a British person – we settled down for the Nintendo Direct presentation. It went on about 20 minutes longer than we expected it to, and by a clear margin of about 25 minutes more in-depth Smash Bros. content than anyone really needed.

In our rush to get down to the convention centre following Nintendo’s baffling extended tutorial video, one of our party left his phone in the apartment. It wasn’t even 10.30am and our fellowship had already sundered, and while one turned back, the rest pressed on.

As we waited in line for the security check – and while some in the queue complained, we’d like to commend the organisation and the staff, keeping us all safe in that baking heat – we felt like we didn’t entirely fit in.

No matter, the doors were opening and we headed inside in earnest. The queues were somehow already enormous for everything, and we don’t entirely know how that happened. Still, at least it didn’t smell too bad. Yet.

Because we didn’t know for sure whether the wanderer would return with or without mobile phone, we set up camp in the media lounge, the agreed-upon rally point. Things… got a bit weird.

The wanderer returned, then we ate lunch at about 11am because there were only a finite number of lunch boxes in the media lounge, and we estimate around 9 billion games journos in the building. We were not remotely hungry after our Denny’s breakfast. We forced it down, like a feral cat who doesn’t know when their next meal is coming. Only one of the lunchboxes contained a water bottle. We were not prepared to share.

We found this round creature on the show floor.

Nobody was any the wiser who or what it was, or what it related to, but it was very cute and pleasingly spherical. It was on a very big stand that must have cost a lot of money, so were all the more surprised to have precisely zero idea what the game was. So we found out. For you. We provide a vital service.

The general public were allowed into the venue and we retreated upstairs to our first scheduled appointment to find it had not been scheduled. The third-party PR agency with whom we had made the booking had apparently not told the in-house PR folk we were coming. We’re not going to name names, but they very kindly agreed to accommodate us in a gap in our schedule tomorrow. Emails were sent to the third-party PR agency.

The very kind people at Rebellion were able to bump up our appointment to play Strange Brigade at very short notice, so we filled the gap with some barmy co-op shooting. We had a lot of fun playing it, with impressions to follow later. Rebellion also gave us additional water bottles, which saved one of our fellowship from certain death; either from thirst, or from touching the water fountains.

We had a short gap before our next appointment, so went and sat on the very plush carpet in front of a very big screen.

Jordan Voigt-Roberts had a bit of a chat with Hideo Kojima about Death Stranding and Metal Gear, while this stoic Norman Reedus mannequin watched in the background. The baby was even more creepy in person. We finished that video with still no idea what in the name of all that is good in the world Death Stranding is about.

Next we watched a video of the Resident Evil 2 Remake, along with some developer chat. Is it just us, or had everybody forgotten that was being done until the conference yesterday? Anyway, it looks to have been done rather beautifully, built in the same engine as Resident Evil VII, but with Resident Evil 4’s over-the-shoulder control scheme. Interestingly, the bit in the RPD Police Station where the dog first comes through the window? That didn’t happen. The developers were pleased to point out that they’ve moved some of the jump scares so people don’t know what’s coming, which we’re not entirely pleased about.

Also, it was very gory and it was being shown on a jumbotron screen in the middle of the show floor. We think that may have been a mistake, as some of it was really quite unpleasant.

Then the Resident Evil 2 video finished, and the next feature – on Justin Roiland’s new game, Trover Saves the Universe – was announced as up next. We (and all the other grown-ups) stood up to leave, as teenage boys and too-old man-children flocked to the screen like moths to a dumpster fire. It was like inadvertently finding yourself on the wrong subreddit, but realising your mistake before it got too unpleasant.

Also, there was a tractor.

Then we went off for several hours of appointments with Square Enix. Fair play to the mega-publisher: they were incredibly well-organised and everything went off without a hitch.

We saw Just Cause 4 – which is looking remarkable, by the way – and Life is Strange: The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, and learn that we’re not the only ones who affectionately refer to it as Captain Underpants. Then we spent some quality time with Lara Croft in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The Tomb Raider stand is also very impressive, and while it is a little old-hat to have a Lara Croft model posing with fans for photos, there’s also a genderbent male version (Larry Croft?) wearing a similarly skimpy tank top, so it’s all fair at least.

The Jurassic World stand is also quite impressive.

And there is a very large Fortnite Battle Royale party bus in the convention centre, which is admittedly very cool but we have questions as to why anyone at Epic thought there was any need to spend even a single penny trying to push what is already the biggest game on the planet.

We rounded off the evening by playing the Toy Story world demo of Kingdom Hearts III, and now, for the first time in forever, we finally believe the game is coming out. We joked about it with the man on the Square Enix stand. He laughed, politely, but said they don’t like to talk about it. We didn’t push it.

We’ll have detailed impressions of all the games we saw today at E3 2018 over the next few days, but for now, we’re going to drink some wine and type up some notes. We hear everyone else is out at parties, but we’re far too professional (read: old and in need of sleep and prone to hangovers) for that. See you tomorrow, nerds.

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