The crowd’s strongest reaction was for Fallout 4's surprise November release date (opens in new tab), an early arrival that had been heavily rumoured but still seemed so unlikely. Clearly, the audience hadn’t expected that was going to happen either, with a mixture of elation and disbelief in the hooting an' hollering that followed.
A strong reaction for one of the most anticipated games in the world isn’t that much of a shock though. Which is where the actual surprises came in: a free game released at the end of the show in the shape of Fallout Shelter (opens in new tab), and an ambition for Doom that far exceed anyone’s expectations. The latter delivered not just an interesting take on the original's speedy circle strafing combat but also multiplayer, and a suite of tools looking to opening up modding options to the more casual gamer.
It’s almost a shame that Dishonored 2 was leaked. Had that been kept a secret then its reveal would have received a far less muted response. There was applause and cheering, but from a crowd that was expecting it (probably the only bit of the show they were, along with the much rumoured Dishonored Definitive Edition (opens in new tab)). The lack of gameplay was also a bit of a dampner, especially with so much of it on show for the other games.
But even as a technical low point in terms of surprise, Dishonored 2’s spoiled unveiling was still as good as most shows get - a game people want and a reveal cutting straight to the point. It set a tone for the show that other’s would do well to notice.
There’s been talk of a weak E3 this year with Microsoft basically stating most of the Xbox games you care about won’t be at E3 (opens in new tab) and Sony not having a great deal out in 2015. Those two, along with companies like EA and Ubi, still either show b-list games as if they’re Fallout 4, with length presentations and hyperbole, or dine out on CG trailers and promises for what it’ll be when someone starts making it.
Bethesda did none of that, giving the games that mattered space, mentioning but not dwelling on the rest and, most importantly, focusing on the facts. It wasn’t a show of hopes and dreams, it was a list of features, a bullet point countdown of reasons to be excited and pretty much a model of how to do a good E3 show.