By Shaun Quaintance – It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Nope, not Christmas but E3 week…although it feels like Christmas.
With the conferences already behind us (a treehouse is not a conference Nintendo), it’s time to look back at what made us laugh, what made us jump with excitement and what made a little bit of pee come out.
EA kicked things off this year with an impressive Titanfall 2 showing from Respawn Entertainment. Boasting a range of new titans and abilities it looks to have built upon the solid foundations of its first outing, a new single player campaign will also let you delve deeper into the lore and characters of Titanfall as it attempts to strengthen the bond between man and titan (although I swear if they kill off poor BT7274, the name of your titan, in an emotion-filled finale Respawn will have some explaining to do…once I’ve finished crying). Titanfall 2 will be available on October 28th, 2016 on PC, Xbox One and PS4.
After being briskly swept through Madden 17 it was time for Mass Effect: Andromeda to make it’s grand entrance. The wait had been agonisingly long but were we finally about to see some much-anticipated gameplay!?….no….sort of. We got another behind the scenes trailer showing the fine folks at Bioware doing their thang, rumour mill has it that Bioware was so impressed with the promotion of Fallout 4 (announcement, few details released then a massive info dump shortly before release) that they wanted to do the same for Mass Effect: Andromeda buuuuut it doesn’t quite work the same when you announced your game two years beforehand. Although the very brief clips of the game that we
Then we got to the annual FIFA showing at E3. This year looks to be a big step for the FIFA series with a switch to the mighty Frostbite engine and a new story mode called ‘The Journey’ which sees players take on the role of Alex Hunter as they attempt to climb the ranks of their chosen premier league club. We then got your typical FIFA trailer with buzz words such as ‘active intelligence system’ which, if this is new to the series, might explain why my defenders always seem to bloody fall asleep at the most crucial of times.
The Star Wars franchise was next up, not much was shown in the form of gameplay, however, we did get a run down of what we can expect in the next coming years. Battlefront 2 will see the light of day next year with content from the new trilogy of films, Visceral games will be releasing an action adventure Star Wars game in 2018 and we were also teased about a Star Wars game from Respawn Entertainment. Needless to say, it’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan.
Battlefield 1 wrapped up EA’s conference with yet another impressive trailer that showed more of the air, ground and horse combat. Gameplay was shown after the conference and it looks fantastic, you can clout your friend over the head with a shovel! Need I say more?
Bethesda was next up to the conference plate at a very considerate time of 3 o’clock in the bloody morning. It was however very much worth it (when is E3 ever not worth it?) as the show kicked off with the return of Quake. Quake Champions was represented with a lovely trailer filled with shooting, shooting and shooting. Now for those of you who haven’t played a Quake game before and would like to know what they are like to play one of the designers was asked that very question, their answer?…”It’s very Quake-like”….very informative.
A surprise appearance from Prey gave me that tingling feeling that E3 is famous for. The trailer showed a man (although you can play as either male or female) named Morgan (although I’m hoping your female isn’t also called Morgan) having his own Groundhog Day experience with the only change being the amount of pink eye he has when looking at himself in the mirror each day. Eventually, it got into the shooting and killings of things that we expected. There has been some debate as to whether it’s a sequel, a prequel or a reboot of the series, Bethesda themselves have said it’s “a reimagining of the IP”, either way, I’m pumped!
From there on it got very Bethesda like with new Fallout 4 and Fallout Shelter updates and DLC’s being announced along with the news that Fallout Shelter has reached 50 million players…50 million players…woooow (search Konami E3 2010 for reference).
Skyrim remastered was also announced for PS4, Xbox One and PC which means everyone can once again spend hundreds of hours chasing chickens, throwing bread rolls and occasionally doing some storyline quests whilst I can once again scream like a little girl whilst hiding behind a pillow as a giant spider drops down out of nowhere onto my poor little adventurer….the bastards. For those of you hoping for a brand new Elder Scrolls adventure, Bethesda said that the next one is in the works, however, it is still quite a while away. Elder Scrolls Online is also getting some love in the form of the ‘One Tamriel’ update which unlocks the entire world for you to explore regardless of level.
Other quick bits of news included a Doom demo which is available to download now as well as more free multiplayer modes coming soon, a VR version of Doom and a VR version of Fallout 4 which means everyone can once again spend hundreds of hours exploring, building and shooting whilst I can once again scream like a little girl whilst hiding behind a pillow as a giant radioactive insect charges out of nowhere towards my poor little wanderer…the bastards.
Bethesda ended the very very early morning with a nice long showing of Dishonored 2. Including the announcement of a collector’s edition they also showed a hefty chunk of gameplay, fans of the first Dishonored can expect more awesome powers, more freedom of choice in play style including the option to go through the whole game with no powers whatsoever and (if you’re like me and are absolute wank at the game) a lot more rats.
Microsoft kicked off the second day of conferences by telling you that your Xbox One is now a piece of shit…compared to the new Xbox One S. 40% smaller than the current Xbox One and with HDR and 4K video support the Xbox One S will start from $299…or £349 for a certain video game retailer situated in Britain who are a bunch of greedy bastards and clearly don’t know how to convert from dollars to pounds.
After showing off the sleek now Xbox One but before showing any games Microsoft announced ‘Play Anywhere’. If a game supports Play Anywhere it means you will be able to get the digital version of a game on both Xbox One and PC with one purchase allowing you to play the game anywhere…providing you’re on a PC or Xbox One.
Gears of War 4 kicked off the games portion of the conference with a very impressive gameplay demo. Horde mode was confirmed as well as the ability to play cross-platform in any of the co-op modes. General Raam from the original Gears was also announced to be a new character in Killer Instinct.
The usual appearance from the Forza franchise was next with Forza Horizon 3 being shown in all its motoring glory. Set in Australia the main feature that was boasted was seamless connectivity between worlds. From what I gathered it means if you’re a bit shit and need some help from your friends who are better than you, you can send them an invite and if they are willing to put up with you for just a little bit longer they can join your world. Joining your world won’t stop their game, instead, they will connect without a break in gameplay and settings such as weather will simply sync between each world.
The much anticipated Final Fantasy XV took to stage with a gameplay demo that promised to show off a fluid battle system that starts with the player against a titan and ends with a three-way battle….it showed none of that. Instead, we saw the player constantly fail to dodge the titan’s attacks as he was pummelled by flying fist after flying fist all while the screen clogged up with particle effects and information that I didn’t have time to take in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited for it and am sure it will be amazing, it’s just unfortunate that they had someone with the same gaming skills as my late grandpa to demo it on the grandest stage of all.
After a few Xbox Live announcements including communities and the dedication to cross-platform play we arrived at * sigh * Minecraft…yay. Now, I have to say before we go on that I absolutely despise Minecraft so I apologise in advance if I can’t remember this part too well or if I don’t sound overly enthusiastic, but I’ll try my best. The worst game in the world kicked off by announcing that any Xbox Live powered versions of Minecraft will have cross-play, this means that you can now play on mobile with a friend who is playing on PC, twice the platforms, twice the depression! From there a rather creepy man from Oculus came on stage and asked the woman to show him her dungeon, upon reaching the dungeon of which the woman no doubt spent endless hours crafting he declared his intent to use it as his evil scientist lab thus destroying all her hard work. The Minecraft demo ended with the announcement of texture packs which means you can turn your forest and log cabin that looks like they’re suffering from texture pop-in to a city skyline that looks like it’s suffering from texture pop-in.
After just managing to retain our sanity we were graced with another sneak peek at Inside, an indie game from the creators of Limbo. Furthermore, Limbo is now free on Xbox One! Huzza! What came next I’m not sure I can fully describe. We Happy Few was announced and it’s 100% the game I’m most curious about coming out of the E3 conferences, it’s a survival roguelike game set in a drugged-out, dystopian 1960’s England. It really is worth checking out the E3 video of it as you’ll be able to get a lot better idea of the game than you will listening to me try and blabber out a description.
The next few games came out thick and fast. We’re getting a standalone Gwent game for fans of The Witcher 3, Tekken 7 was announced by a man wearing shades whilst dressed in full Japanese robes, a Dead Rising 4 announcement trailer shows the game to be set during Christmas time making it officially a Christmas game if we’re going by the Die Hard rule, Scalebound has a beautiful gameplay demo and State of Decay 2 was announced. If you haven’t played State of Decay yet then what the hell are you doing with your life? Go play it NOW!
If you HAVE played it or have just decided to ignore me like the rest of the people I try to talk to then next up we have Sea of Thieves gameplay. The new game from Rare (Microsoft’s Rare) is an open world pirate game where you can gather a group of mateys and set sail for the seven seas in search of booty (personally I’m hoping for both kinds of booty as I’ll need one type of booty to pay for the other type of booty….I’m lonely….booty). It looks like good harmless fun and the art style is absolutely gorgeous.
The final game shown was Halo Wars 2. If you’re like me and you’re one of the dozens (there are dozens of us!) of people who enjoyed the first Halo Wars then you’ll be happy to hear that there’s currently a week long open beta for Halo Wars 2 and personally I’ve been loving every second of it.
I always find narratives that begin and end with the same or extremely similar sentence or event are always wrapped up pretty nicely, apparently, Microsoft also thinks the same thing. They started the conference by saying that your Xbox One is a piece of shit and that you should buy the Xbox One S, they ended it by saying that the Xbox One S is a piece of shit and that you should buy Project Scorpio, their new new console, which releases next year. Project Scorpio will have 4K capabilities, VR capabilities, other capabilities and according to one buzzword frenzied Microsoft employee, it will have “the highest quality pixels ever seen”…yep. I imagine Project Scorpio will release at a higher price point than the Xbox One S, my personal guess is about $400 or £675 if you’re an absolute moron from GAM…oh wait, nope, have to stop, they might sue me for saying their name.
Ubisoft, the king of cringe at E3, didn’t take long to live up to their reputation when they instantly forgot that my mum and sister don’t watch E3 as they showed yet another Just Dance performance. There was lightning bolts, a lion with shades, a giraffe with a bow tie and a guy strumming a butterfly as if it was a guitar, good ol’ Ubisoft. Just Dance 2017 is releasing this year because apparently, dancing has a season just like football now, personally, I’m looking forward to the might of the Barnsley Prancers facing off against the giants that are the Scunthorpe Tiaras.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands graced us with its presence next after it’s very promising showing last year. We got another impressive trailer boasting about all the different ways you can approach missions, it looked like what Mercenaries (a game that I played endlessly) should’ve evolved into…and then we got to the gameplay demo. I don’t know what it was but everything felt rather static, there wasn’t much life to the environment and during one point of the demo when the player threw up a drone to scan and tag enemies they didn’t seem to have any patrols and instead just kind of stood on the spot picking their arses. It also didn’t help that the Ubisoft player’s were using that gamer lingo that no gamer has ever used in the history of ever. Things such as “we’re approaching the camp from the west, we’ll meet you there”, “damn, looks like a whole lot of trouble” and “roger that, one less to worry about” really should’ve been replaced by lines you would expect to hear when playing, lines such as “Shaun for fuck sake get out of the bloody helicopter, not only can you not fly for shit but we’re also trying to take a stealth approach and a massive fucking chopper flying overhead is more than likely not going to help with that. This is exactly why we don’t invite you to our groups”. I am hoping however that it ends up being one of those games that are way more fun to play than watch, it might’ve helped if they showed the same mission with several different approaches taken rather than just the one.
South Park: Fractured But Whole (But…Whole, get it? BUTTHOLE!) took to the stage after to show off some of the new combat mechanics and to further explain the storyline. If you fancy pre-purchasing Fracture But Whole then you will receive The Stick of Truth for free, a game well worth playing if you haven’t already.
The Division announced some new content coming to Xbox One and PC on June 28th and August 2nd for PS4. Anyone still playing The Division?….Didn’t think so.
We also got our first taste of Ubisoft VR games starting off with Eagle Flight, a game that has one of the most self-explanatory titles I’ve ever seen. If you still can’t quite think what it could be about then let me explain, you play as an eagle…and you fly. There is a bit more meat to the game than just that, however (after all it isn’t some cheap, half-arsed, phone in ‘game’ about birds like Parrot Paradise: Lorikeets is) as the game sees two teams of eagles battle it out in the skies over Paris. The game mode we saw was called capture the prey, the aim of the game was to capture the prey (duh) and return it to the nest to score a point. It does look like quite a fun game to play with friends when first trying out VR but I don’t think it will become too much more than that, just don’t go playing it if you’re prone to motion sickness, we don’t want to get our shiny new VR headset sticky now do we?
We got a couple of quick announcements and showings next including Star Trek: Bridge Crew, a VR Star Trek game where you sit on your rear end pressing buttons, For Honor with a quick peek at one of its campaigns and Grow Up, the sequel to Grow Home. I haven’t played Grow Home yet but it looks like fans of the game will enjoy the sequel.
At that point Ubisoft realised that they hadn’t actually done anything weird for quite a while, this is when they decided to bring out two guys, wearing what I can only describe as pimp-like clothing, onto the stage to announce Trials of the Blood Dragon. Trials of the Blood Dragon is a new Trials game that has mixed itself with Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. It features all the crazy and wacky things you’ve come to expect from a Trials game as well as some on foot sections which I am rather interested in seeing how they feel compared to the rest of the game…oh and I nearly forgot to mention that Trials of the Blood Dragon is available now, like right now.
After The Godfather and his seemingly absent ho train left the stage the words Assassin’s Creed were mentioned and my ears instantly perked up. I know many people currently find Assassin’s Creed rather stale and I had been too, however, I really enjoyed Syndicate and was eagerly waiting to see what was next. Assassin’s Creed…..the movie. You know, my favourite parts of E3 are when I sit down in the evening, dinner in front of me, ready to watch some games (it is a games conference I’m watching after all) and I get a 10-minute lecture about a movie. As soon as heard it was the movie and not the game that was going to be talked about I completely phased out so unfortunately, I can’t really comment much on it.
Moving swiftly on to Watch Dogs 2. Instantly the game looked like an improvement from the first, the world seemed more vibrant and colourful, the characters seemed more alive and everything looked more fun. A lot of people say that all Ubisoft games are pretty much one and the same but I have to disagree, in fact, there was this one section of the demo where the player threw up this drone to scan and tag enemies who didn’t really seem to be patrolling and instead just stood on the spot picking their arse…wait a minute…major deja vu right there. In all seriousness though it does look like a vast improvement on the first, for me the whole open world in an American city type of game is starting to get a bit tiresome but if they can create a sequel that builds upon the first and people enjoy it then who the hell am I to tell them not to make it.
The Ubisoft conference ended with a new IP. A winter sports game named Steep that is set in the Alps. The visuals, especially of the mountains themselves, are absolutely stunning. The game encourages open and social play with the ability to go where ever on the mountain you want, set your own races and challenges and join up with other players. It does look like a good game however I was struggling to see where I would find my lasting enjoyment in it…and then someone bailed into the rocks during the demo. It was one of the most horrific things I have ever heard and seen but also one of the funniest…and then it hit me, this could be the new Skate. If EA is going to be stubborn then we’ve always got Steep, a game where you can plow down a cliff side at god knows what speed and slam your rider into trees, rocks and buildings with hilarious effects.
Sony was in charge of wrapping up the E3 conferences again this year and boy what a job they did.
Things kicked off with Pappa Kratos teaching his kid how to hunt some deer, that was until a fat ass troll decided to turn up to the party. This new God of War had several interesting changes to the older versions including a closer to the shoulder camera, slower combat and a more Norse mythology feel to it with snowy forests, trolls and mother fucking dragons! Kratos’ role as a father will also be interesting to see, I can already sense that both father and son will be very relatable. The way he shouted put down after put down to his son reminded me of my relationship with my dad and I’m sure my dad will be able to relate to Kratos with them both having sons that can’t manual labour for shit.
After God of War, we were shown a nice looking trailer for The Last of U…I mean…Days Gone. A post-apocalyptic zombie game that sees you take on the role of a biker riding the open, bloodied, zombified road.
The Last Guardian celebrated its 20th anniversary of promising that it is definitely coming out soon. This year to mark the big two zero they decided to slap a full release date up on the screen, October 25th 2016/2017/2018/2019/2020. The trailer showed off more of the game which, anyone who has played Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, knows exactly what they’re in for, a game nearly void of any actual mechanics or meaty gameplay but full of emotional moments and storytelling.
Horizon: Zero Dawn returned to show off more gameplay of their caveman era but set in the future where the wild beasts are robots game. I am loving how this game is turning out, the world looks gorgeous, the combat looks fluid with enough variety to prevent it from becoming tedious and the enemy designs are incredible. We got a glimpse at the crafting mechanics, traps and overriding the machines to control them. Everything is looking good…just so long as they don’t go and make a giant robotic spider because I swear if they do I will write a very angry but polite letter to the folks at Guerrilla Games telling them how much I despise them before going off to the nearest corner and crying at the fact that I’m cursed with such a disabling phobia…I hate spiders by the way.
We got a trailer for Detroit: Become Human, the newest game from Quantic Dream who brought you Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. The Detroit trailer sees an android named Conner (he likes to tell you several times throughout the trailer that despite what you may believe his name is, in fact, Connor…or maybe it’s Konnor…fuck) attempt to defuse a hostage situation where a rogue android has taken a little girl at the top of a skyscraper. The trailer ended by showing many of the possible outcomes for this scenario including the rogue android jumping off the edge of the building with the girl, the player pushing the rogue android off the building thus saving the girl and the rogue android trusting the player before being blown to tiny little blue bits by a sniper. This is what I was saying that Ghost Recon: Wildlands should’ve done in the Ubisoft conference, if this trailer had just shown one outcome then ended it would’ve gotten a pretty meh reaction, however, seeing aaaaall the possible outcomes of just this one sequence gives it a lot more tension. The only thing that the trailer was missing was when the rogue android was falling off the building he should’ve been shouting “SHAAAAAUN! SHAUN! SHAAAAAAAAAAAAUN!”
At this point, we got to the inevitable sony VR section. This started off with Resident Evil 7, a game that I have no intention of playing as I’m rather short on money at the moment and don’t fancy spending whatever little coins I have left on clean underwear. However, if you do fancy shitting yourself for some very odd reason then there is a Resident Evil 7 demo available to download on the PlayStation store right now. We also got glimpses of a VR game named Farpoint, a VR version of Final Fantasy XV and the rumoured VR mission for Star Wars Battlefront. It was Rocksteady however who got my attention the most during this VR info dump, those cheeky buggers who said that they were done with the Batman license have only gone and made a Batman VR game.
Infinite Warfare was up next although they didn’t show the title until after the gameplay demo. It was a good decision as it meant people could take in the gameplay without the stigma that the Call of Duty name brings with it. Personally, I thought the demo was very impressive, I’ve always enjoyed the COD campaigns but this looks like they’re taking it to a whole new level, we had full on space battles, zero-G fighting and some nonlinearity to the level design. As impressive as it was, however, it was a glimpse at the single player campaign, we’ll have to wait to see if the multiplayer is as impressive and whether it will utilise any of the mechanics we saw at E3.
COD, however, wasn’t taking the spotlight at this year’s E3, nope. Why do you ask? Well, I have just 3 simple words, Crash…Fucking…Bandicoot. That’s right, your friendly neighbourhood marsupial is back! As soon as the music started playing I yelled with joy at the top of my voice, ran into my parents room to wake them up and tell them the news, ran into my sister’s room to wake her up and tell her the news then ran back to my room to share my excitement with my friends (yeah that’s right, I have friends). For some reason the next night I was told I can’t come back up to the house and had to sleep in the studio/shed but I’m not quite sure why. Anyways, Crash Bandicoot is back! Crash 1, 2 and 3 are all being remastered from the ground up for the PS4, I imagine this is to also gauge the interest in a brand new Crash adventure so you better go buy a copy when it comes out even if you don’t have a PS4 because I want a brand new Crash game!..oh there was also some news about him being in Skylanders now or something.
After a brief showing from Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens a certain Hideo Kojima blessed us with his presence. He was clearly eager to show us something as he strolled right on past the carefully planned led runway that Larry backstage no doubt spent hours planning…poor Larry. What Hideo had come to show us was a trailer for his newest game Death Stranding, now this is kind of a We Happy Few situation except in this case even watching it for yourself won’t help you understand what the fuck is going on. There’s a naked Norman Reedus who hugs a vanishing baby, there’s dead crabs, dead whales and dead everything else and if that wasn’t enough strangeness we get 5 floating silhouettes to wrap things up.
In a much less confusing and much more straight forward manner we got a trailer for a new Spiderman game developed by Insomniac Games (if you don’t know who Insomniac Games are then stop reading right this instance and take some time to reflect on what you’ve done with your life, then go and play Ratchet and Clank as well as Sunset Overdrive to realise why what you had done with your life was inferior to playing Insomniac Games…games). This new Spiderman game is a PS4 exclusive and hopefully will be just as amazing as Spiderman 2 was on the PS2.
To wrap things up Sony went back to The Last Of U…I mean…Days Gone with a little gameplay demo. The demo saw the player exploring a barn for some hillbilly who may or may not have done something to them in the past. After being attacked by what can only be described as Gollum the player chases down the hillbilly before getting tackled off of a roof by them. With the hillbilly doomed due to a broken leg they do the most dick move thing you can possibly do in a zombie world…scream…really really loud. This, of course, attracts a shit ton (and I mean a shit ton) of zombies that chase the player, it looks like this game could be truly terrifying at times with an impressive number of zombies on screen at once, think Dead Rising 3 but if all the zombies were chasing you at the same time and don’t go down with one swing of a traffic cone…yeah…scary stuff. The sheer size of the zombie hordes looks like it could give this game a pretty unique feel to it rather than a “yay, yet another post-apocalypse zombie game”, I for one am desperately hoping that there is a moment where you have to plough through a horde whilst on your motorcycle singing ‘Born to be Wild’ at the top of your lungs.
Aaaand that was the E3 conferences. Needless to say, we had our usual things, Ubisoft being weird and awkward, Sony absolutely killing it, Rockstar swinging their dick around saying how they’ll be there in full force then not actually saying a word when the time comes etc. but it was still an amazing year for the conferences. We’ve got tons of new games to look forward to and the VR didn’t take over which was my primary fear for this year. I’m terrible at wrapping things up so I’ll just say E3 is the perfect example of why the games industry is the best industry and I can’t wait to play the fuck out of all these games…my poor poor wallet is going to get more bruised than it already is.
Keep on gaming.