"Golf without limits."The EA Conference
E3 definitely had me excited, because I wanted to see what might pop up. Having watched two days of conferences, I am rightly stoked, and rightly depressed. Good and bad news has arrived, and it's time to break it down and take a looksie at what we've gotten so far.
Day 1 of the E3 2014 press conferences has come to an end. There were both some eye catchers and some stuff that just bored me to tears. Nintendo was today with a digital event, with a sleeve of surprises. Lets take a look at what we got so far:
Microsoft Conference: The Microsoft conference opened with the game no one really wanted to see, because we're pretty sick of the franchise. Yes, I'm talking Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Lame title aside, the franchise continues to give us almost nothing new, almost. Levels look linear as hell and dodge mechanics and duck and covering is the norm once again, even when facing only a few enemies at a time. The engine seems to be the same old thing from before, although facial expressions have really improved, going by their tech demo, if that was actually rendered in game and not just for publicity. The weapons have also moved on from ballistics to pulse guns, lasers, seeker mines, and, get this, jump boots. Yes, the most exciting thing about the game was the ability to actually jump more than five inches off of the ground. The ability to jump around like that may offer some massively different dynamics for multiplayer matches, being a welcome change and all. After AW, we got more looks at Xbone exclusives, including Forza, Ori, and Sunset Overdrive. The Forza franchise is nothing new, and continues to simply be a game with beautifully detailed automobiles. Ori is an artsy platformer that looks fairly simple, not that that is a bad thing. In fact, Ori is the only game I genuinely got excited for upon announce. Sunset Overdrive came off as a high-octane parody of action games, where players can customize their character to take on crooks, battle mutants created from an energy drink, and bounce off of trees (You read that correctly). Overdrive could be the fun Duke Nukem-ish game we've been waiting for, and its bright color palette is pleasing to the eye after numerous games of gray and brown. Inside is an interesting sneak game from an indie developer who brought us Limbo. Tom Clancy's Division was also introduced here, taking the Tom Clancy series into an RPG/Shooter hybrid game that appears to have been built for co-op. It includes the ability to close partially open doors on parked taxi cabs.
There were several other games I don't remember being interested in, but it eventually rounded out with Battlefield Hardline.Hardline takes the battle to the street, making a large scale video game based around 'Cops and Robbers.' With the gameplay demo showing actual in-game footage, it looked amazing. It has a closed beta going on right now for PS4 and PC, and comes out this fall. I cannot wait for Hardline. We also got a look at the co-op feature of the new Assassin's Creed game: Unity. ID @ Xbox also showcased a library of indie games that actually looked more interesting than some of the other titles introduced. Wow, what do you think that says? Microsoft's epic continued with releases of Tomb Raider Rises and the Halo Master Chief Collection. HMCC is basically Halos1-4 on one disc, only for the Xbone. Lame sounding practice, it has an interesting feature of creating mission playlists, where you can say "Screw You, Story!" and make a playlist of missions ranging from all 4 games. You can start playing a Halo 4 mission, then play a Halo 2 mission, then a Halo 3, and so on and so forth. In addition, you can have randomized multiplayer matches, allowing you too play a Halo 1 match, and then the next level will load as a Halo 3 match, and so and so forth. In addition, Halo 2 has now been revamped to look "Next Gen." In addition, Ridley Scott's Halo TV series, Nightfall, will also be a part of the buy. Also on the agenda was Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus, a Dead Rising 3 DLC, that basically turned the game into a Capcom extravaganza. We also got a look at a new Devil May Cry, a reboot of Phantom Dust, a new Crackdown, and a new IP called Scalebound, which seems to be a game related to How To Train Your Dragon, complete with a character wearing Beats by Dr Dre.
All in all, some interesting releases here, and ID @ Xbox games are something to look forward too. Lots and lots of Xbone exclusives, which means you may not be able to find many of these games, and the DR3 DLC, on anything but the Xbone. We may get lucky with Ori, Inside, and the I@X library getting some Steam releases, but for now lets wait and see. So far Hardline has my money, and Overdrive may be worth a look.
Electronic Arts: EA actually gave us little in terms of actual bullshit and started off with the game everyone wanted to see: Star Wars Battlefront III. However, the trailer gave us a quick preview of what basically every EA trailer was going to be: Documentaries. The BF3 trailer, unfortunately, gave us little to work with in terms of game footage, although what we did see was fairly cool. EA then kicked into their other franchises, giving us a good look at the next Sims games, Sims 4. While one may wonder what they could possibly do with the series any more, they showed us advanced character creation, the ability to control emotions, a deeper story where character may be affected day to day by things in the past, and Obama-Expy cooking steaks on a grill. It ended with the Demo Character getting killed by an iPad wielding Grim Reaper. In addition, we also got a big look at EA's next gen of sports titles, including Madden 15, NHL 15, Fifa 15, and PGA Tour 15 (GOLF WITHOUT LIMITS). We were also shown a new Mass Effect game, got a deep look at the exciting looking Dragon Age: Inquisition, a racing game by Criterion that could be hit or miss, Mirrors Edge 2, and a new MOBA called Dawngate. All of the trailer were basically the same, with the devs talking about their experiences with the game, and what they were (or were not) doing. Honestly, not much to look at here, although Dice's Battlefront III will have another appearance next year, and PGAT15 mixes maps from action games like Battlefield 4 with putting greens.
UbiSoft: I actually missed the second half of UbiSoft's presentation, but form the get go it had the audience pumped, the most excitable crowd yet, and UbiSoft has yet to let go of the Raving Rabbids. The best we got here was an extended trailer for Division, which we saw during the MS conference. It seems to be heavily story based, and good be a unique story experience. How that ties into the RPG like Experience elements and the whole Co-Op thing remains to be seen. We also got more gameplay footage of AC: Unity. US is banking heavily on the game's co-op feature, while showcasing the game's fast paced combat and open world abilities. However, civilian AI, as there are a lot of civilians in the game per the French Revolution, seems to fairly stagnant and only respond to scripted events, in this demo anyways. It's fairly surreal to see the player cut up some guards while stone faced civilians look on without much response to the violence in front of them. The trailer offers us a look at what could be some interesting characters, however. We also got a strong, and rather fun look, at the next Just Dance game. While not my favorite franchise, nor have I ever actually played my copy of Just Dance 2, instead opting to watch others play it, the US premiere did make it look like a lot of fun, with on stage competition between developers and what appeared to be selected audience members in a rather massive dance off. In addition, the franchise continues to explore very unique looking visuals to dance along with. Most intriguing is the ability to share recorded dances with an online community. You can download other videos and dance with new faces and try to see if you can one-up them on the dance floor. UbiSoft also revealed another Tom Clancy game, which was a new entry in the Rainbow Six series: Siege. We also got a look at a new racing game called The Crew. Crew is an open world race game which looked similar to the PSP version of Need for Speed Carbon. Again, US was heavily focusing on Co-Op, and the game's eponymous crews seemed to be made up of real players who can traverse the sprawling city together, looking for mischief to get into. And of course, you can't go without mentioning Far Cry 4. I've only played FC2 and Blood Dragon, but it's an interesting open world experience. US only showed us the first five minutes, which is basically a cutscene, which introduced to us the new villain. The villain is basically a classy, and very fun looking, version of FC3's Vaas. While nothing new, he looks exciting, and hell, he looks like the kind of psycho who may end up being the hero in the end, although that's just a guess. FC4, also, looked a lot at Co-Op, between one player who had the game, and one who didn't. We could be breaking new ground here, folks. Ultimately, more of FC4 was revealed during the Sony Conference. It looks interesting, but I'm not totally sold. I'll probably go back to FC2 and Blood Dragon for a bit before giving FC4 a running chance.
Sony: Finally at the end of the first day, we get the Sony Conference. This one probably ranks at both the worst and best of the day. It had a fine selection of games and trailers, but also had some lengthy PR speeches about nothing too inspiring or interesting, other than some much needed love for the PSVita. The show opened up on Mars, but had nothing to do with the longed for Doom 4. Instead we get a new IP that was revealed last year, called Destiny. A Halo-looking shooter that also combined some style elements with Mass Effect and 2004's Doom 3 (Seriously), Destiny is an action packed game with a story that looks sorta interesting, but nothing that's actually new. It feature some good voice acting, and some interesting characters and story concepts. The bulk of the game remains to be seen. We also got another look at Hardline, though just a trailer this time around and the official announcement of the PS4/PC beta. After that we get a PS4 exclusive, The Order: 1886. Some are calling it a Gears of War clone, while I have no idea what to think of it. However, it was dark, moody, and gruesome. It was followed up by a colorful rail racer/shooter/thing/indie game called Entwined. A very beautiful game with a unique visual style that only indie devs can seem to conjure up for the better, it tells the tale of a fish and a bird who fall in love (or something like that), and then it goes with their adventure. While it doesn't require more than one player, it seems to work better with two. The preview showed three players playing the game, one player by himself on one screen, and the other two playing a co-op round. After some inFamous DLC, we got the reveal of Little Big Planet 3, which returns us t the sock-puppet world. The only issue here was the fact that the previewers had no clue what they were doing, making for a cumbersome demo as we had to watch them die over and over again. Still, it may be an interesting game, again with loads of user-generated content and levels. A new IP called Bloodborne was also introduced, again showing us the grim and gross, which would be a recurring theme this conference, as the game was later followed up with a Manhunt-esque game called Let It Die. The violence in these two games was remarkable, and continued with the reveal of Mortal Kombat X. All three games look interesting, and the gorehounds out there will be pleased. MKX is my pick of the day, and I am very excited to see new, unique, original characters being introduced into the game. The demo featured gameplay of Scorpion duking it out with Sub-Zero, while two new characters fought it out in an interactive environment. We also got a needed Fatality montage.
In between game showcases, we got a visit from a PR guy who gave us a lengthy speech, and I mean lengthy, about a white PS4 console, PSVita cross platform playing, and some kind of box that allows you to play your PS4 on any TV without having to physically get up and move the PS4 itself. In addition, the PSVita is having a library of old and new titles, ranging from God of War to a slew of new indie games. PSVita also had Street Fighter and Call of Duty titles announced for it. We also got a segemnt about "Letters to Sony," where we got peaks at Dead Island 2 (Starring Jack Black?) and, drum roll please, an HD Remastering and Re-Release of LucasArt's Grim Fandango. Imagine the audience's surprise. In fact, as it would turn out, it would go down as the biggest surprise of the entire conference! Or maybe it would have, if we didn't get the well-expected, HD and English version, leaked-trailer of Metal Gear Solid V. It looks awesome, by the way. We also got a much closer look at Far Cry 4, set in Nepal, as the player performed stealth kills, blew things up, stole vehicles, killed people, and fired an MG42 from a helicopter being piloted by another player. And, best of all, Elephant allies beating up trucks for you. Again, I haven't done a lot of Far Cry other than a bit of 2 and some Blood Dragon, but it could be fun. The villain taking selfies was an odd personality touch. We also looked at a new Giant Squid game called ABZU, which looked absolutely stunning, and altogether mysterious. I'm quite ready for further details on that game. No Man's Sky was also re-introduced, showing us starships flying from planet to planet without loading screens and great looking transitions. Plenty of different worlds to discover, complete with their own ecosystems. Again, the game looks beautiful, and is really bringing out a flavor of game that the next gen desperately needs to stay afloat. The final two highlights are Batman: Arkham Knight and the surprise everyone should've known about: Uncharted 4. Knight looked fantastic, played fantastic, and offered an open world experience with the Dark Knight himself. Highlights included an interesting combat system and a Batmobile that could strafe, offering a new kind of vehicular combat. The demo had various visuals and physics to show off, and eventually led to a showdown between Batman and the Penguin that was interrupted by the game threatening to crash after several stutters and stops and screens..... Only for the Scarecrow to suddenly appear out of nowhere with a dire message for the audience. Sony's conference ended with the sudden appearance of a Naughty Dog logo followed by a close up of an unconscious Nathan Drake, giving way to Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.
Nintendo: Day 2 brought us the Nintendo Digital Event, which was then followed by some extra live footage. The NDE was quickly introduced with a Robot Chicken parody of Reggie giving a speech before burning a fan who was asking about a new Star Fox game. We then kicked into high gear when Reggie went live-action to battle it out Street Fighter style with Nintendo exec Shigeru Miyamoto, before they took their fight to the new Super Smash Brothers game, titled Super Smash Bros. In the rest of the event, we looked at several other new and returning IPs in various trailers, dev interviews, and so on. The game that caught my eye was the awesomeness that was SSB passed by was a Yoshi game called Yoshi's Woolly World. The game's visual style is the best thing about, as everything looks to be constructed by yarn, and this isn't just a design choice; It's a game mechanic. Obstacles can be dismantled into balls of yarn and can be used to solve puzzles, and two players can join forces to bounce and dig through a beautifully crafted world that really makes me want to get a Wii U. In fact, I'm personally labeling it as the game I want to see the most out of Nintendo right now. It isn't slated for release until next year, however. After that, we got a look at a new game starring Mario character Toad in his own game called Captain Toad. An adventure puzzle game, levels seem to be based around different standalone stages and offer a variety of enemies to battle, puzzles to solve, and collectibles to find. Enemies appear to be varied and have different ways to be countered. For example, a ghost enemy following Toad was stopped in its tracks when a light was shone on it. These little touches can add up to quite an interesting game. Best of all, it's slated to appear later this year during the Holiday season, and as such can provide some entertainment as we wait for Yoshi. SSB also introduced two new mechanics that may be of some interest: amiibos and Mii inclusion. Amiibos are toys similar to Disney's Destiny line and the Skylander toys, and interact directly with SSB and Mario Kart 8. Place the toy on your Wii U controller pad, and the character will appear in the game to fight with your character. As for Miis, a new feature has been implemented where you take your Miss to the battlefield and use them for something other than Wii sports.
Moving on, we got a trailer of a lone ten year old boy walking through a cave with a backpack on. Of course, we all knew this was Pokemon from the get go. However instead of a cave infested by Zubats, we got the legendaries from Ruby and Sapphire, as Nintendo introduces the remakes, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (No Epsilon Emerald, however). The game is in 3D like X and Y, and introduces Super Evolutions, giving your starters a fourth evolution (!) as well as giving the legendaries brand new evolutions! It's being released for the 3DS, which is actually seeing several other releases, including a new Kirby game and a feature filled version of SSB. Back for the Wii U, Bayonetta 2 got lots of coverage, and we also got a dev interview regarding the next Zelda game, which offers a true Open World experience with an eye catching cell-shaded world and redesigned Link (Read: he's not wearing green, but he still looks like a girl). Actually, erm, I should say, Zelda games. Warriors of Hyrule was also announced, being a big combat game for 1 to 2 players featuring plenty of Zelda characters to play as, many with their own unique moves and attacks. Another game that really caught my eye was a game called Splatoon. A third-person shooter, you're bullet weapons were now replaced with 'ink guns' being wielded by kids who can turn into Squids. Very colorful and imaginative, the goal is to cover the maps in an ink that represents your team color. To make travel faster, you can turn into a squid to travel through your own ink. As such, you spray ink up a wall, then turn into a squid, and swim up the wall! It appears to have taken some inspiration from Da Blob, and adds a competitive twist too it, creating for a very interesting visual experience which also seems to making leaps with the gyro-tech on the Wii U pad. A new Xenoblade game was also announced with a very enthralling trailer. Overall, the rest of the conference was Robot Chicken shorts of fans complaining about the lack of Star Fox (Although a Star Fox game was announced) and Reggie telling us to check out other streams which will have additional game footage and information.
What I liked: Well, firstly, Doom 4 announcement! Yah, while I was writing this, Bethesda released a Doom 4 teaser trailer, showing off the redesigned Cyberdemon, the classic door sound effect, and the game's logo, which has simply named the game Doom. Other than that, Hardline and Battlefront III definitely have me on the edge of my seat, and I can't wait to see more. I was never a big MGS fan, but the new game could be interesting. Orin, Entwined, Inside, ABZU, and No Man's Sky are also very attractive titles. Also, Nintendo's new Smash Bros. game, Splatoon, and Yoshi's Woolly World have also excited me, and I would really like to get a Wii U now. Never have I wanted one until now. Sunset Overdrive could be an experience, although it could get old fast. Sims are always fun, but we may have to wait and see with that one. And while I'm not a huge Dead Island fan, the trailer for DI2 was hilariously awesome. The most flooring announcement was by far Grim Fandango, and I hope it sees a PC release, as I'm not gonna fork out cash for a PS4 just for one game I can still run with DosBox if I have too. But other than that, I can't say a lot has happened in the main conferences. Who won? Perhaps Nintendo, for actually persuading me to buy their console, although the Doom announcement was also fantastic, although it was not mentioned in any of these conferences. I also found UbiSoft's conference enjoyable to watch, as they attempted to level with the audience using foul language, quirky dance routines, and friendly rivalries. Also, GTAV was announced for the PC and PS4.
What I didn't like: The PS4 conference had some great reveals, but nothing was that exciting minus Entwined, ABZU, and No Man's Sky. It seemed that the thing they were most proud about was the White PlayStation 4 console. Microsoft's best announcement was the indie game extravaganza, but again they fell short. I was most disappointed with the lack of Quantum Break, which they teased at the last E3. While they mentioned having talked to Sam Lake, the writer, not much else was revealed. Also, EA, your sports games aren't really that exciting enough to show during your conference. That's like, Booth stuff. Keep it off the stage. Even 'Golf Without Limits' couldn't save you. Also, Xbox had far too many exclusives. I can see why they do excusives, but one or three interesting games isn't enough to warrant a full purchase of your console with Pay-To-Play online features, which is already making it more expensive than it really should be. Paying for internet service is one thing, but things like Xbox Live and PSN is basically paying for separate internet bills. It's far too much, if you ask me.
What I can't wait to see again: Bring on Mortal Kombat X, Let It Die, and Sunset Overdrive, please. Doom 4 returns to QuakeCon later this year, while Hardline will be released in the fall. Battlefront III won't appear again until Spring of Next year.
Notes: This blog was not proofread. Please excuse any mistakes in grammar or spelling.