It’s easy to laugh at fumbles when it comes to E3, but let’s take a moment to remember the times when the year’s biggest gaming show made our hairs stand on end.
Whether it was a reveal of your dream game, an announcement of a feature you’ve been hoping for, or simply something you never expected, the gaming expo has had its fair share of standout moments outside of all the E3 bloopers.
Here are seven of the greatest, from good to best.
7. Shigeru Miyamoto dressed as Link - E3 2004
For years leading up to this moment, Nintendo fans had been clamouring for the Japanese giant to release a ‘realistic’ Zelda game. At E3 2004, Nintendo delivered on that wish, revealing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
The reveal itself wasn’t the highlight, however. No. The best part was Shigeru Miyamoto walking onto the stage with the Master Sword and the Hylian Shield, swinging it about as the sound effects played over the speakers. The crowd ate it up.
6. Portal 2 at Sony - E3 2010
Remember when Valve released games? Good times. Eight years ago, Valve still did things that surprised us. Gabe Newell appearing onstage during Sony’s conference was probably the company’s last big 'what the fuck?' moment.
Previous to this, Newell had been very vocal about his disdain for the current generation of consoles, so he turned up to announce Portal 2 for the PS3 armed with some good self-deprecating material. It seemed like the beginning of a new Valve, what with Steam integration and automatic updates promised for the console version of its puzzler. Maybe one day we’ll get back to the Valve we saw on stage that day.
5. Sony reveal PlayStation price - E3 1995
Sony’s first ever console was revealed with the biggest mic drop in E3 history. The presentation begins with Olaf Olaffson giving one of the most boring presentations to ever grace the trade show, but then he welcomes Sony president Steve Race to the stage to give a “brief presentation”.
Race takes to the stage, walks up to the mic like a boss, and says simply “$299” before walking off. By giving the company’s debut console such a reasonable price point, Sony set itself up for life.
4. Sony sharing games on PS4 - E3 2013
By allowing Microsoft to go first with its reveal of the Xbox One, Sony was free during E3 2013 to react and have fun with their rival’s announcements. Controversially, the Xbox One was originally going to have some kind of lock on pre-owned games. This meant you had to pay a fee to even access games loaned to you by a friend.
The ‘official PlayStation used games instructional video’ promised a ‘step-by-step’ guide on how to lend games to a friend on PS4. The video shows a single step as Shuhei Yoshida passes a game to Adam Boyes, who simply replies, “Thanks!” There’s a knowing smile to the camera and the video cuts with a PlayStation outro. Perfection.
3. Xbox One backwards compatibility - E3 2015
It was an announcement fans had been asking for since the Xbox One was revealed. At E3 2015, Microsoft delivered in a big way. While Xbox One is still lagging behind in terms of quality exclusives, it’s the backwards compatibility that has given the console an identity of its own.
Fast forward a few years and now we have the Xbox One X, which allows owners to play Xbox 360 games upscaled to 4K. I have no idea how it’s done, but it’s almost like getting an instant remaster for your favourite games, and it’s by far the best way to play classic games such as Red Dead Redemption in 2018. Looking back, this may well be the announcement that saved Xbox this generation.
2. Fallout 4 reveal - E3 2015
How long had we been waiting for a new Fallout after New Vegas? Too long. Bethesda had kept completely quiet on Fallout 4 right up until its E3 reveal in 2015. At the show, we were treated to an in-depth look at the game as well as its companion app, Fallout Shelter.
While the gameplay shown was enough to get everyone going, it was the surprise announcement that Fallout 4 would release before the end of the year that really got the crowd on their feet. That’s how you announce a game.
1. Final Fantasy VII Remake - E3 2015
Final Fantasy VII holds a special place in my heart, so the announcement of the remake during E3 2015 gave me actual chills. You can see in the crowd shot reveal video above that I wasn’t alone. With every second of the trailer, more and more people catch on to what it is they’re seeing and you can hear the audience slowly erupting. Strangers hugged. Grown men cried. We almost broke down.
Once Barrett and Cloud walk into the frame, the crowd are going absolutely batshit. I love it. It’s been three years since that announcement, so I hope we get to see more at E3 2018. Also, can we take a moment to appreciate how great E3 2015 was?