The E3 hype train has left the station, and we are looking back at some of our favorite moments from the storied history of the gaming convention. Here are our staff's picks for the best moments and reveals at E3. Please take a look.
Question: What is your favorite all-time E3 reveal/moment?
“My name is Reggie” (E3 2004) - Asif Khan, Follows Reggie Fils-Aime on Twitter
The best moment that I ever witnessed at E3 was in 2004 at the now-defunct Nintendo press conference. In a total power move, the newly-promoted President of Nintendo of America made an iconic introduction. “My name is Reggie. I’m about kicking ass, I’m about taking names, and we’re about making games.” This was truly the beginning of a Nintendo renaissance as the GameCube didn’t really sell that well. Nintendo DS would release later in 2004, and the company kicked things up a notch with the release of the Wii. Reggie’s introduction was truly legendary, and I think back fondly on his stage presence at those good old Nintendo press events.
Breath of the Wild (E3 2016) - Josh Hawkins, Some guy
Despite not being 100% revealed at E3, I still remember the feeling when I first saw gameplay for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Having been waiting for a new Zelda game to hit for a few years, I was beyond thrilled to see the gameplay in action as the screen lit up and Hero of Time once more filled the screen. Of course, even then I had no idea just how much joy and happiness the game would bring me, quickly topping out at one of my favorite games ever.
There’s really not much else to say. Sure, it wasn’t a big surprise or anything, but seeing Breath of the Wild in action for the first time was astounding and it’s something that still comes to mind when I think about E3 and all of the various feelings that the conference has given me over the past number of years.
Giant Enemy Crab (E3 2006) - Kevin S. Tucker, Massive Damage Dealer
I’ve still never been to E3, and all work aside, I’m generally one to hit the highlight reel as opposed to watching the events unfold live. So imagine my surprise when I took to the Internet in search of fresh gaming news only to hear about a little game called Genji: Days of the Blade, and the unusual pitch offered during Sony’s keynote presentation.
The now-famous phrase saying the game was “based on famous battles which actually took place in ancient Japan” was a great setup for me personally, right up until a Giant Enemy Crab™ appeared on screen. Now, I’ve never been to Japan, and my knowledge of the nation’s history is limited, but something tells me the developers might have been taking a few creative liberties with that one. Thankfully, presenter Bill Rich was quick to inform fans that attacking its weak point would deal massive damage — who would have guessed!
The idea that this was something of a serious presentation is what makes this event stick out in my mind over a decade later. Festivities within video game conventions are only getting more elaborate and flashy, yet the industry on the whole seems to be trying to keep things as lighthearted as possible. The irony here is that one of the most amusing and lighthearted E3 events I can remember was not at all intended to be a joke — and that fact is made all the more interesting considering that some presenters make comments trying to be funny and wind up failing spectacularly.
Half-Life 2 reveal (E3 2003)- Chris Jarrard, “Pick up that can…”
The Half-Life 2 reveal at E3 2003 was a huge deal for me and gave the world the first glimpse at new technology and the ways it could meaningfully affect what was possible for gameplay. Around five years after Valve had invented the blueprint for making set-piece-driven action games and in the summer before the first Call of Duty game launched (which owed lots of its design to the original Half-Life), the company was ready to show off its latest creation to the public. Across a 20-minute demo, we all got to see the introduction to City 17, the gravity gun, and the next generation of graphics technology.
The demo opened on a seashore, showing off a lovely sunset on a pier that was inhabited by headcrab zombies. The water refraction technology was unlike anything yet seen before. The demo clip cut into the first look at NPC Alyx and showed off the face animation technology that finally allowed 3D head models to emote in a semi-believable way. Rival video game face animation solutions took nearly a decade to eclipse what Valve pulled off in the early part of the 2000s. Subsequent cuts took us to areas that would later be known in the shipped game as Ravenholm, Nova Prospekt, and City 17.
New enemy A.I. interaction were teased, as well as the possibilities of what real-time physics meant for the future of games. While the final release was still 18 months away and some of the demo’s content never saw the official light of day (RIP blue tentacle), much of what was shown in the reveal was the real deal. Open-street Strider fights, antlion manipulation, and rocket launcher fights against alien aircraft were simply on another level from anything seen prior. Unlike the trend of fake E3 demos that would follow in later years, the Half-Life 2 presentation was the real deal. I honestly cannot think of any recent E3 reveals that held as much promise for the future of games.
I was genuinely surprised that all my dildo friends thought the Halo 2 presentation blew HL2’s debut out of the water. I was later vindicated when the Halo team was unable to deliver on the promise of the E3 demo with the downgraded shipping version of the game, but my friends still thought I was a nerd douche (they aren’t 100% wrong all the time). I see that my fellow staffer Sam Chandler still views that Halo E3 demo with rose-tinted shades — I bet he secretly hates me, too.
Fallout 4 reveal (E3 2015) - Bill Lavoy, Brotherhood of Steel
Without question, my favorite E3 reveal ever was Todd Howard formally introducing Fallout 4 at E3 2015. The presentation lasted over 30 minutes, and usually once or twice a year I’ll go back and watch it again. It was my introduction to the Fallout franchise, and I was hooked from that point forward.
What stood out most to me was how engaged the crowd was. You could tell that Fallout was a special game to those in attendance, and I thought Howard did an incredible job presenting, right down to announcing and releasing Fallout Shelter in a span of about 10 minutes. That, and the fact that Fallout 4 was announced and released in the same year just felt like a win all around. It was a great example of having a game revealed to me, being excited for it, and then having it exceed my expectations. I feel like that’s a rarity.
Halo 2 reveal (E3 2003) - Sam Chandler, Halo 2 is the best Halo game
I’ve always wanted to go to E3, and in 2018 that dream came true. The passion started way back in 2003, two short years after the release of one of the best games of all time, Halo: Combat Evolved. What happened at E3 2003? Well, another best game of all time was announced: Halo 2.
Watching a world-first look at the gameplay of Halo 2, I was spellbound. The graphics were leaps and bounds ahead of Halo 1, the animations were slick, and the Covenant had made it to Earth. It was everything I’d dreamed of.
But there was so much more packed into that short gameplay reveal. The whole thing was being played live, none of the pre-rendered scenes we’ve become so accustomed to seeing. We saw a new weapon, the Battle Rifle, being wielded with lethal results. We saw Master Chief dual-wielding SMGs. Jackals marched forward in a phalanx formation. Maries actually drove the Chief around as he blasted aliens using a new type of Warthog turret! And then we saw boarding for the first time. A simple addition, but something that drastically changed the landscape of Halo.
As an impressionable teenager, it would set the course for what would be a life-long love for Halo, E3, and the video game industry. It was an incredible time to be a Halo fan, and I can only hope that E3 2019 is another special moment in time for Halo fans everywhere.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess reveal (E3 2004) - David L. Craddock, Longreads Editor
Fifteen years later, the reaction to then-Nintendo of American president Reggie Fils-Aime’s One More Thing still gives me chills. I’ve been excited about E3 announcements before, but nothing beats this passionate crowd’s reaction to seeing a realistic--for the time--take on Hyrule, an angle fans had been clamoring for since 1998’s Ocarina of Time made jaws drop.
Twilight Princess ended up being one of Nintendo’s safer Zelda games. It was Ocarina of Time 2.0: Not terrible, but not memorable either. However, the reaction to unveiling is still the E3 hype level to beat.
Spider-Man gameplay reveal (E3 2017) - Donovan Erskine, Intern
My favorite E3 moment comes from Sony’s 2017 conference in which a full gameplay sequence for Insomniac’s Spider-Man was shown. Spidey has always been my favorite superhero, and to see him getting a game on this level had me over the top with excitement. Also, I was there when they did the reveal. At my first E3, attending my first press conference. It’s an experience that I used to dream about, and one I’ll keep with me forever.
The Jamie Kennedy Experience (E3 2007) - Blake Morse, Reviews Editor
I think the reason this E3 moment sticks out for me is the same reason I love Michael Scott on The Office. There’s just something about truly cringeworthy, horribly awkward social moments that can be so enjoyable and humorous to watch when they don’t involve you. It’s why we all slow down to look at a trainwreck or other such moments of “Thank god that’s not me.”
While Mr. Scott is a brilliant portrayal of a man with zero social tact, Jamie Kennedy is the living embodiment of such jackanapes. Jamie’s brief stint as an E3 host for an Activision keynote back in 2007 is the stuff of legend for just that reason. Sure there’s been some bad ideas executed at just about any keynote ever, but this is just... well, it’s just WOW! Whether it’s the painfully stuttered delivery of poorly improvised jokes or the way he berates his more clever guests with the world’s crappiest questions, I just can’t look away from this trainwreck every time I see it.
We may never know just how big the pile of drugs Jamie Kennedy took before going on stage was, but it was the precise amount to create the perfect storm that was the Activision 2007 keynote.
Disagree with our picks? Think we're a bunch of dinguses? Let us know your favorite E3 moments and reveals in the Chatty comment thread below.
Shack Staff posted a new article, Shack Chat: What is your favorite all-time E3 reveal/moment?
there are some good moments in that article but i dunno if it's possible to top this mic drop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExaAYIKsDBI
I’ve got to agree with the Reggie”my body is ready” Fils-Aime Experience.
But Devolver revealing Metal Wolf Chaos XD is right up there, for the showmanship and the game itself.
It's Ridge Racer! Riiiiiiidge Racer! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaBUeINW_3s
It's corny as fuck, but I actually really liked the trailer reveal of Cyberpunk at the Microsoft show last year.
The Half-Life 2 reveal will never be topped. It's the Star Wars of the gaming industry. It changed things.