This week marked the unveiling of many upcoming and exciting new titles at the most prestigious video gaming event of the calendar year; the Electronic Entertainment Expo. With some companies marking their first time of making an appearance at the show, it the proceeding were quite exhilarating from all sides in my opinion, with many future video games catching my eye, and making me feel very optimistic about gaming in the near future, as well as the rest of what is to come throughout the eighth generation.
Bethesda kicked off the event with their first ever E3 conference, opened by vice president Pete Hines. In the week prior to 5the start of the conference, they had finally announced a long-anticipated title, and the earliest critical reaction to it was quite positive. However, the game they opened their show with was one that has been anticipated for many years longer than the former, and made all watching the proceedings particularly excited for its coming.
After over a decade in the works, gameplay from the next instalment of id Software’s beloved Doom series was finally showcased. Making use of the new id Tech 6 engine, the new title hearkens back to the classic game, which helped to bring the first person shooting genre into true prominence, it will revolve largely around the same concept; confronting wave after wave of the demon horde. Inspired by the many different custom made levels and of the first two games created by fans over the years, Bethesda also detailed the facility of players being able to construct their own maps and game modes, and sharing them over PC, the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. After looking at it for the first time, I thought the game’s visuals seemed nothing short of spectacular. The attention to detail is on the same level of both Rage and Wolfenstein: The New Order. As for gameplay, aside from the feature of user-generated content, I think it seemed like most other first person shooters out there today in all honesty, and its something Bethesda need to be wary of when the game releases; otherwise, it could just be seen as nothing but fan service, and won’t necessarily appeal to a new set of fans.
The next game to be unveiled was a multiplayer hack and slash title called BattleCry. Besides it relying on relentless melee combat across a wide variety of different stages, there are also different offensive and defensive options available to players, such as the ability to move tactfully around each environment (in a manner similar to Brink, but done much more sensibly). And using ranged combat, as well as magic. To me, it seems like a hack and slash variation of Loadout; an all-out free-for-all with cel-shaded visuals. Though I believe this game could potentially be much better and more compelling than Loadout, since I wasn’t satisfied with what variety that game in particular had to offer. I only hope that this game doesn’t make players pay money to unlock most of its features. Loadout may have been free to play, but to me, there wasn’t much point if I could only enjoy so much of the game.
In addition, Bethesda subsidiaries Arkane Studios, showed off a teaser trailer for the sequel to their seventh generation cult classic Dishonored. They hinted that Dishonored II will have much more variety than the first game, with the player being given the choice to play as either Corvo Attano, the hero of the first game, or a new character named Emily Caldwin. Both will have their own sets of gadgets and supernatural powers, which players will also be able to combine to suit their style of play. The game can also be played in the same manner as the first, with the player being able to choose to go kill-crazy, or finish without killing anybody at all. I was pleased to hear that in particular, since I personally find it more enjoyable to try and go through the game without recording any deaths. There’s more skill involved, and more satisfaction to be had in my opinion. The one thing I hope this second game will have, however, is a much more open world than in the first, and to not have as much of feel of linearity to it. I believe that would be the biggest improvement.
Subsequently, the American game company announced their places to bring new content to their MMORPG, the Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, as well as a new card strategy game based on the success of Hearthstone entitled The Elder Scrolls Legends. Though I’ve heard good things about Hearthstone in particular, I need to look more into the genre, since to my knowledge, it is a fairly new concept as a standalone mainstream video games genre. But I think if they’re anything like the card games in Final Fantasy VIII and IX, they should be quite enjoyable.
Last but not least, Bethesda gave people all around the world a greater idea of what to expect with the recently announced and highly anticipated game Fallout 4. Following on from Bethesda’s purchasing of the Fallout license from Interplay, and the subsequent release of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas for PC and seventh generation consoles, Fallout 4 seems to include a great deal more variety than both of the former examples put together, giving players an even bigger open world to explore, as well as boundless customisation concerning weapons, armour and even creating their own in-game home similar to Skyrim’s Hearthfire DLC. The popular VATS system also returns, as well as the facility to have a companion dog to help players on their adventures. Bethesda also announced the coming of a special Pip Boy edition of the game, which comes with an actual Pip Boy designed for use with smartphones in order to enhance the whole gameplay experience. I can already tell that this game is going to unanimously exceed the quality of both its latest predecessors, since there will be so much more to do. People see Fallout 3 as being an improvement to what Bethesda did with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and similarly, they see Skyrim as being an improvement to what they did with Fallout 3. By this logic, its possible that in time, Fallout 4 could potentially be seen as an improvement of what Bethesda did with Skyrim.
Alongside the new Fallout game, another one was also released for iOS devices shortly after the conference entitled Fallout Shelter, whereby players must build and maintain their own underground vault, whilst also training and levelling up its own populace, similar to a traditional RPG. The game will also be available on Android phones some time in the near future. I don’t often play app games, but this one looks incredibly interesting. There have been many games made in the same vein as it; however, it seems potentially much more addictive than most others. On the other hand, it has so far been criticized for its controls, which makes me think it would most probably be better on tablet to potentially state the obvious.
Following an up-and-down start to the eighth generation of gaming, Microsoft were the next company to host a conference at the event to detail what players can expect to see on the Xbox One in the immediate future. This year, I found that there was much more of an emphasis on exclusivity in terms of games themselves as opposed to exclusivity in terms of content for games, as well as more of a focus on the indie scene. Indeed, it was a lot more impressive than their 2014 conference with much more appealing titles on show.
Halo 5: Guardians
To begin, 343 Industries gave gamers an early glimpse into the gameplay of the much-anticipated fifth instalment of the Halo franchise. A good few details about the game’s story were also revealed, as the Master Chief has possibly gone rogue, and UNSC Spartan Locke is out trying to find him. For the most part, it seems like any other Halo game at first glance, except that there seems to be more of an element of strategy, as players can also instruct other soldiers of where to go and what to do. To me, it looks like the basic gameplay premise may build on the ideas perpetuated by the story of Halo: Reach, which would bode particularly well for me, as I think that game in particular has been the best game in the franchise since Halo 2. It would be nice to see more innovation in the Halo series, and for 343 Industries to take a few creative risks; and hopefully, Halo 5 will be an example of how they may be willing to do that.
Secondly, Microsoft showed off a teaser trailer for what I believe to be an extremely interesting looking new IP coming exclusively to the Xbox One some time next year; Recore. The first thing I noticed was that it is quite an exciting development team behind it, with Mark Pacini of Metroid Prime fame directing it with production overseen by Mega Man creator and founder of Comcept, Keiji Inafune. From what I’ve read of it since I saw the trailer, I believe gameplay mechanics may possibly be closely related to Metroid Prime, with the inclusion of a grappling hook used to get around for example. But it will also be interesting to see what Inafune’s influence adds to the formula, since not only has he worked on Mega Man for the majority of his career, but he also assisted in the development of other Capcom IPs, such as Breath of Fire. The game certainly looks very interesting from a conceptual standpoint, but hopefully the end product will be able to stand out in terms of gameplay with such a renowned team of developers working on the project.
Afterwards, it was announced that Microsoft would be providing updates for the Xbox One, which will allow for backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. Everyone at the conference seemed to jump for joy when this was first revealed, but the way I see it, it was about time; especially after all the ridiculous plans regarding the subject that were to be implemented from the console’s launch until players reacted very unfavourably toward it. At the moment, Sony’s current policies regarding the matter aren’t any better, since PlayStation Now still needs to be further improved and expanded on greatly until it can be considered a good idea, but because the Xbox One hasn’t had as good a variety of games as the PlayStation 4 has since their release, backwards compatibility should have been an option from the beginning in my opinion.
Dark Souls III
After a sneak peak of Fallout 4, Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 and Forza Motorsport 6, another teaser trailer was then shown this time, for Dark Souls III. Since it was only that, I can only assume at this point that it will entail more of the same as the first two games, but made in the manner of a traditional sequel; bigger and better. But I still think that where From Software are going wrong is that they’re still making these kinds of games far too inaccessible. Their most recent effort, Bloodborne proved to be even harder than Dark Souls II, and therefore only accommodating for the one demographic that like the challenge, as opposed to simply offering different kinds of players different levels of challenge. I doubt this will happen, however, since despite its lack of accessibility, Bloodborne has proven to be a critical and commercial success throughout the rest of the industry, and this third Dark Souls game will most likely be no different; just not to me personally.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
The next game to be showcased after that was the highly anticipated new IP under the Tom Clancy brand; The Division. An open world third person shooting RPG, it makes use of combat reminiscent of Gears of War, but with a seemingly more interesting approach. The fact that its open world alone, makes me think that this could be the most exciting IP under the Tom Clancy name since Splinter Cell. Though I don’t think that would have been hard to achieve, since I notice many similarities between both Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six and any other average army-based shooting game, my biggest hope is that the RPG element doesn’t end up being as mundane and as unfulfilling as it was in Gears of War: Judgement. It seems to take on more of an aspect of Watch Dogs than an average third person shooter, which would most probably bode well, provided that there are enough additional things to do across the open world included in the game.
Rainbow Six Siege
Another Tom Clancy IP was subsequently touched upon with the impending release and sneak peak at the next instalment of the Rainbow Six series; Rainbow Six Siege. The thing I find intriguing about this game is that unlike most other army-based first person shooters, there’s much more of an emphasis on co-operation and teamwork as opposed to it being every man for himself. There also seems to be a lot more strategy involved apart from simply running and gunning, such as taking advantage of different openings in buildings, different vantage points in battle, and most probably stealth options too; something that has been seen more in FPS game in recent years, such as Killzone: Shadow Fall and Wolfenstein: The New Order.
Another Loadout-esque game was also revealed at Microsoft’s conference after Bethesda’s BattleCry entitled Gigantic. It will be free to play, and seemingly revolves around the same basic premise of the aforementioned games, but to me, just by looking at them, if it was a toss-up between the three, I’d most probably go for Gigantic, since it seems to have much more variety and personality about it than either Loadout or BatteCry. But again, my biggest hope is that the developers don’t just offer a fraction of the game for free like they did with Loadout.
The trailer for another upcoming titled called Tacoma was the next thing to be revealed at Microsoft’s conference. Developed by Fullbright, the same team behind the critically acclaimed Gone Home, its conceptual design suggest to me influence from both BioShock and Ether One; the hints given in the trailer as to what the game’s story involves also seems to speak of both of those game in my opinion. But no matter how immersing the story may be, my hope is that it’s gameplay, whatever it may involve, can be as immersing as BioShock, and more immersing than Ether One.
Ashen was another game unveiled at the Microsoft conference that had very excited about what was to come from the indie scene. To me, it looks like a hybrid between Shadow of the Colossus and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. The developers have promised a game set in a massive open world with an apparent non-linear progression with possible RPG elements. Though Shadow of the Colossus is one of my favourite games of all time, and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a game brimming with artistic value, both of them could have had more depth in gameplay; and thets where I’m hoping a game like Ashen comes in.
To me, the best way to describe Beyond Eyes after watching the trailer for the first time would be like The Unfinished Swan, but in more colour. It has a very similar artistic style and a similar structure in terms of gameplay, except that unlike The Unfinished Swan, its in third person as opposed to first. It looks like an interesting adventure game, with a potentially in-depth story, but my biggest hope is that exploration is encouraged much more than it was in the comparable game.
Another indie game on display, which looked like it had much more depth in gameplay, and one that I briefly caught a glimpse of during last year’s conference, was Cuphead. Seemingly a love letter to the Mega Drive classic Gunstar Heroes, it focuses on 2D side scrolling co-operative gameplay, featuring a world and conceptual design largely influenced by early 20th century cartoon animation reminiscent of the early years of either Disney or Looney Tunes. Apparently, there will also be an RPG element to this game too, as well as an overworld, which sound extremely interesting.
Next, Dean Hall, the man behind the game Day Z, announced his upcoming project Ion. In stark contrast to other indie games that were unveiled at Microsoft’s conference, I remain extremely sceptical about this one. It will apparently be an MMO, which focuses greatly on its narrative, but also has a massive open world. Hall himself described it as being a game “that’s isn’t a game”, which made me feel even more cynical about what kind of a game will end up becoming. If it hasn’t got the amount of depth of gameplay, then it could simply end up being like Fallout: New Vegas, but on an even greatly scale, and with even less to do.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Afterwards, a gameplay demo was shown for one of the Xbox One’s most anticipated exclusive games; Rise of the Tomb Raider. I don’t think there’s a great to say about how well the game will play out even at this point, since the demo was extremely brief. It depicted Lara Croft and an accomplice traversing a snowy mountainside. It didn’t give any hint as to whether or not it would play out like the last Tomb Raider, with it’s semi-open world, or whether that premise will be expanded upon, which I believe needs to happen if Microsoft have any hope of both satisfying both fans of the previous game, and potential newcomers, as well as increasing the attraction of the Xbox One console itself.
Though the next announcement may have come as quite a surprise to many people watching at the show itself, I was left wondering why this in particular game hadn’t been released sooner rather than later, given the direction that the respective developers have been going in recent years. Rare Replay will be a compilation of games developed by Rare over the years exclusive to the Xbox One. Games included will be the original Perfect Dark, Banjo Kazooie, Banjo Tooie, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Battletoads & Killer Instinct Gold.
Sea of Thieves
Despite the many misfortunes and setbacks that Rare have suffered following their departure from Nintendo, and ever since being bought by Microsoft in 2003, Rare have continued to develop games, with varying degrees of success, and they announced a new one immediately after the reveal of Rare Replay. Sea of Thieves has already been described by developers as a return to form for Rare, featuring a massive open world complete with first person gameplay. At first glace, it looks like a combination of The Elder Scrolls and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which potentially be very exciting to play. Rare stated that this would be their most ambitious project to date, but whilst it probably wont turn out to be thief finest work, it could possibly be the best game they’ve developed since joining Microsoft.
My opinion of Fable Legends hadn’t changed at all since the last conference, and prior to this; and it still hasn’t changed at all now. It deviates away from the many things that made the first two Fable games great, and gives players a multiplayer re-imagining of the world of Albion. I’m left with just as little an idea of how this game is supposed to revive the Fable franchise as I was when it was revealed at E3 2014, and I don’t think that bodes well, since it’s been in development for a year at the very least, and no aspect of the original idea seems to have been changed or reconsidered for the better.
Gears of War 4
After an extremely intriguing demonstration and insight into how the Microsoft HoloLens will function with a demo of Minecraft in Augmented Reality, Microsoft lastly revealed a gameplay demo for the upcoming fourth instalment of Gears of War. The only thing new to the series, judging by this one demo, was the characters and the settings. Gameplay seems to simply be more of the same as what was portrayed in the original 3 Gears of War games, as well as Gears of War Judgment. If the finished product does end up like that, as is most likely in my opinion, then I think I would have to rely on many of the other announced games at this year’s Microsoft conference to better understand how the Xbox One will be able to compete with the PlayStation 4 in the near future. After a much better conference than 2014, this was, in my opinion, a particularly sour note to end on, since I have grown extremely weary of the Gears of War franchise since after finishing the second game, and the developers seem content to simply lay back and give people more of the same as opposed to giving them what they might like to see; innovation.
Electronic Arts were the next company to host a conference at E3 2015. With many big-name releases published by the company across the seventh generation, and many already having been published by them throughout the eighth generation of gaming in edition, EA pulled out all the stops at this year’s conference, with quite a few intriguing looking titles on the way.
Mass Effect Andromeda
The first showcasing, and the one I was personally looking forward to the most from EA’s show, was a trailer for Mass Effect Andromeda. As a huge Mass Effect fan, I’ve been waiting for three years to see how Bioware will make the transition from the Commander Sheppard era into a new period of the franchises history; or possibly through a past era. From what I saw of the trailer, I think it could possibly have an element of Mass Effect 1, since the MAKO buggies were present, hinting at either vehicular combat, or planetary exploration. At this point, I also suspect that general combat will remain the same, as it was left with Mass Effect 3, since characters were seen using the omni blade, and many of the various different weapons present throughout the original trilogy.
Need for Speed
Normally, I’m largely disinclined to cover games like Forza and Need for Speed, as well other sports games, since I already know what I should expect, as well as everybody else. But the latest Need for Speed to have been announced seemed to possibly have something that no other game has ever had before; the inclusion of seamless integration of real-life video footage with in-game graphics. I only mention this because in time, there’s a vague possibility that it could be used in other kinds of games in the future, and I’m not sure whether to be excited or worried, since on one hand, it could make games look better than they ever have done before, but on the other hand, it defeats the object of programmers rendering graphics themselves. The chances are, however, that I may be getting too ahead of myself, and I think this idea would have to be explained and demonstrated in much more detail; that is if it’s even true.
The next game to be revealed was a formerly independently developed video game created by Coldwood Studios, but showed enough promise for DICE to arrange a publishing deal with EA, making it an upcoming mainstream release. It’s a 2D side scroller about a character made entirely of yarn, who must use the string from his body to traverse each level by overcoming many different obstacles along the way. It looks a challenging platformer with some lateral thinking required on the player’s part. There’ll certainly be that puzzle solving element of there are secret areas hidden throughout the game, which there most likely will be.
Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
After Microsoft gave people at their conference a brief glimpse into what this next game was going to be like, EA gave attendees a much more in-depth look into to not only how different the game looks now that the zombies are the dominant force in the game, but how differently it will play out compared to the original game, with more characters to control, and the more options that will be made available in combat. I haven’t played the original Garden Warfare admittedly, but after watching the trailer for the second game, my interest in the spin-off series has certainly increased.
Mirrors Edge Catalyst
After a look into an upcoming app game called Minions Paradise, based on the Despicable Me franchise, the next game to be revealed was the long-awaited follow-up to Mirror’s Edge; Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. This new game will follow the main character Faith years before the events of the first game, but unlike the first, it will feature a non-linear progression throughout an open world environment, which I believe was the main thing that franchise needed the most. It’s good that the developers have decided to re-imagine and re-invent the franchise, because to me, despite the fact that the first game has developed a massive cult following since its release back in 2009, I never thought that it was anything special. The first game was too linear, and there wasn’t enough to do for the potential it had, and I think this next game will correct that.
Over the years, the one massive franchise that I was never able to fully get into was Star Wars. I’d never been attracted to science fiction when I was growing up, and only started to become more interested in it after playing a Mass Effect game for the first time. I was able to become more interested in Star Wars after playing the complete saga of Lego Star Wars funnily enough, but after watching the trailer for Star Wars Battlefront, my interest in the franchise has increased even more. The amount of different gameplay options supposedly available to the player look very exciting indeed, with FPS combat, light sabre combat and even star ship combat, all integrated into one another. It’s not just one the best Star Wars games I’ve seen in years, but it could also potentially be one of the most standout games of the eighth generation.
Presented by comedienne Aisha Tyler, The next conference was hosted by yet another third-party developer; Ubisoft. Though they didn’t have quite as many games to announce as EA, they still gave a particularly favourable idea of what players can expect from them in the near future.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
The game that was revealed first was a sequel to the 2014 hit game, South Park: The Stick of Truth, entitled South Park: The Fractured But Whole. The premise of it, as announced by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, will revolve around another new kid coming to South Park and interacting with the four main boys, as well as the many different side characters of the series, as the role-playing revolve around superheroes, as opposed to the fantasy characters depicted in The Stick of Truth. That there will indeed be a sequel was exciting enough, but it will be even more exciting to find out exactly how it will play out in comparison. But the main improvement needs to be in its lifespan. I think it needs to at least be doubled, and include much more to do than there was in the first game, since for a turn-based RPG, I think 13 to 14 hours was unacceptable.
The next title showcased at Ubisoft’s conference was a multiplayer combat game called For Honour. I can best describe it as Batman: Arkham Asylum meets Chivalry: Medieval Warfare; the difference being is that this game doesn’t seem to feature a set storyline or revolve around quests. It simply seems to be a team-based battlefield, featuring different kinds of soldiers from different countries. It seems to have variety in that respect at least, but it does also feature elements of strategy, which makes it even more appealing. The combat is also fairly reminiscent of Skyward Sword, which bodes quite well.
Anno 2055, a futuristic love letter to the Sim City and Civilization franchises, was he next game on display at the conference. Personally, I’ve never been dissuaded from playing games like these because of any lack of quality, but just because I’ve never been able to wrap my head around them, and have always believed that they take too long to. After looking at this game, it’s made me feel that I should take a day or so to try and get into a game like this, because I feel that the opinion I’ve harboured over the years is far too biased, and that I need to go into it with a more open mind.
Relating back to Need for Speed, the only racing game series’ that have ever truly appealed to me have been Mario Kart, Diddy Kong Racing and Modnation Racers. The likes of Forza and Gran Turismo may hold up for a short time, but at the end of the day, I feel that they’re far too similar to one another, and pale in comparison to the great kart racing games that have come and gone. The next game to be revealed, however, looks a lot more interesting than the average generic racing game. Trackmania Turbo revolves more around Formula One and conventional car racing, but the difference being is that the tracks are fully customisable, and they can be made in a variety of crazy ways. If its ever revived, I was actually thinking of making this an addition to my series for Pit Stop Radio, BIT Stop.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Next, attendees were shown a new trailer for the upcoming big-name release, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. The next instalment in the already prolific series will be set in London, England during the industrial revolution of the 1800s. Players will have the choice of playing as one of two characters, building on the idea of Assassin’s Creed Revelations, but few further details were revealed in regards to how the game will play out. After how poorly received Assassin’s Creed Unity was last year, I think fans will start to lose patience with the franchise after this if it turns out to be either more of the same, or not very good; given the fact that the original premise has more or less completely collapsed at this point.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands
The last trailer shown at Ubisoft’s conference was for Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Personally, I was thrown for a loop, as it looked like nothing that I could have come to expect from a Ghost Recon game, seemingly set in a barren open world; a wild west Far Cry, if you will. It looks a lot more exciting than I expected, with certainly much more depth than what anyone could come to anticipate.
The next conference, and the one I was naturally looking forward to the most going into E3 2015, was Sony’s. After continuing to dominate the eighth generation of gaming with their PlayStation 4 console since late 2013, they were ready with another batch of upcoming titles for the consoles; and in my opinion, they did not disappoint.
The Last Guardian
Right off the bat, they announced the long awaited title from Japan Studios and developer Fumito Ueda; The Last Guardian. Following on from the cult classic PlayStation 2 games Ico and Shadow of the colossus, The Last Guardian has been in development since 2009, and has suffered setback after setback since the transition from the seventh generation of gaming to the eighth. Having seen proper gameplay footage for myself for the very first time, I can see how the developers have integrated elements from both their previous games, and used them to create this one. My biggest hope is that unlike Ico, it isn’t a linear progression, as this latest demo seems to vaguely suggest, and like unlike Shadow of the Colossus, if there is an open world, there’ll be more to do than the main quest and a couple of collection missions. I think if the developers have chosen to approach gameplay in a more in-depth manner, this game could be something particularly special.
Horizon Zero Dawn
A new IP was also revealed for release on Sony’s PlayStation 4 console called Horizon New Dawn. Guerrilla Games’ first attempt at making an RPG, Horizon is another game set in a massive open world, which will focus on exploration and combat along the way; similar to how both The Witcher III and Monster Hunter games play out. I only hope that this game will be much more accessible than Monster Hunter games tend to be.
One announcement at Sony’s conference that I wasn’t particularly fussed about was the new Hitman game. Seemingly revolving around the same premise as every other Hitman game, it revolves around travelling across the world to assassinate different targets in as many creative ways as the player can think of. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the Hitman series. Even though variety in it has increased in more recent years, the last game, Hitman Absolution, was quite a disappointing title. Though I need to see a more comprehensible gameplay demo to judge what it may be like fairly, it’s heavily implied that the basic mechanics will remain the same.
Street Fighter V
Attendees of Sony’s conference were next treated to a sneak peak of the upcoming fifth instalment of the Street Fighter series. The cel-shaded style of the previous game has been implemented, along with returning classic characters, such as Ryu, Cammy, Chun Li & M.Bison. New to the roster are the characters Birdie and Charlie Nash from the Street Fighter Alpha series, and the game will be exclusive to both the PlayStation 4 and PC, with Capcom announcing some weeks prior that they would never release a version for the Xbox One. I personally think what Capcom need to do is add a few more game modes to keep the franchise fresh, as the fourth game, though particularly good, was basically structured in the same way as every other game in the series.
No Man’s Sky
The next game to be showcased at the event was one that I have been very excited about since it was shown at last year’s E3; No Man’s Sky. Set in an open world seemingly dwarfing the size of every other game ever developed, it revolves around interstellar travel and first person combat, along with other activities to undertake. Though the graphics don’t seem to be cutting edge, it would seem that in terms of gameplay, players may want for nothing depending on what additional activities will be made available to them. If done right, it could be the kind of game I’ve yearned for since Ocarina of time.
Sony’s answer to Project Spark for the Xbox One, Dreams is a game whereby you can create your own experiences based on imagination; be that video games, films etc. Developed by Media Molecule, its certainly a lot more varied than Little Big Planet, since there is much more to create, and many more options available to players in terms of customisation. I had some pretty disappointing experiences with these kinds of games when I was a kid, but I already know that they are a lot more varied than they were a decade ago.
Afterwards, Sony announced an upcoming open world first person adventure game called Firewatch. Unfortunately, not enough is known about this title yet; no details were given about what exactly the game will involve, and what players will have to do within it. Therefore, I can’t make any kind of assumption of whether it’ll be good or bad. It will need substance in gameplay, especially if No Man’s Sky impresses as much as what has been implied so far.
World of Final Fantasy
Ahead of an exciting Square Enix conference, World of Final Fantasy was unveiled, which will be exclusive to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. Making use of the classic active time battle system used in previous Final Fantasy games, it is set in a new world, but inhabited by familiar characters, such as Cloud from Final Fantasy VII and the chocobo creatures. Looking at the combat, it would seem to me that Square Enix have gone back the franchise’s roots, possibly returning the series to form. I’ve never been a fan of the combat implemented in the series since Final Fantasy XI, so a game like this could potentially be a breath of fresh air.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
However, the next announcement would prove to be the more popular of the two relating to Final Fantasy. It was announced next, after years of popular demand from fans following a tech demo for the PlayStation 3, that the classic game Final Fantasy VII will be re-mastered for PlayStation 4. The trailer on its own looked extremely impressive, but all Square Enix need to do is simply keep true to the gameplay of the original title, to appease old-school fans of the game as well as attracting new players to the classic style of Final Fantasy.
Afterwards, Sony revealed a new batch of indie games coming from their partners at Devolver Digital; the team behind such indie hits as Titan Souls, Hotline Miami and Expendabros. Following the output of an impressive repertoire of games on the PlayStation 4 and PC, Sony revealed that there is much more to come from the indie publishers.
First up was Ronin; a 2D side scrolling stealth game very similar to the likes of Stealth Inc or Mark of the Ninja. Developed in Poland by Flying Wild Hog Studios, it’s already broken waves on PC and Steam and is set to be ported to PlayStation 4 next week. I haven’t had the chance to play it yet, but it does look like an extremely enjoyable game, and though whilst may do considerably less than Mark of the Ninja to disprove the belief that ninjas are nothing but one-man killing machines, as popular culture has seem to suggest, it does seem to have its own futuristic conceptual design, which looks particularly intriguing; if not, more so than the former.
Out of the four game unveiled courtesy of Devolver Digital, Eitr, by some distance looks like the most interesting and satisfying to play. Looking like a love letter to Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, it features retro 16-bit graphics, along with intense-looking and varied combat. Dependant on what else there is to do in the game, it seems like a title that I would enjoy thoroughly, since Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance in particular, is one of my all-time favourite titles; and this game has seemingly made in the spirit of it.
Mother Russia Bleeds
In stark contrast, however, Mother Russia Bleeds was the game that seemed to me as the least appealing. Playing out very much like Streets of Rage, Mother Russia Bleeds is a 2D side scrolling beat ‘em up with a story revolving around gang culture, possibly reminiscent of the film The Warriors. It’s not that I have any kind of problem with the story’s premise, but most importantly, it doesn’t seem to have anything different about it in terms of gameplay compared to Streets of Rage at first glance, making me feel even more cynical about it.
The last game, however looked a lot more interesting than Mother Russia Bleeds; and once more, in every aspect. Crossing Souls is a, action-adventure RPG; similar to Titan Souls in scope and appearance, but potentially, with more to do. What I also found interesting is gameplay seems to be interspersed with cutscenes with an artistic style reminiscent of 80s to 90s cartoons. Ever since the indie scene made itself known, there have been many different examples of gameplay over graphics, and as long as this game can get gameplay right, this will be no different.
Another extremely exciting announcement that made waves throughout the entire gaming industry, as well as everyone who attended the Sony conference, was the announcement that Yu Suzuki, the creator of the adored Shenmue series, had begun a Kickstarter campaign to develop and release long awaited and long demanded Shenmue III. As of this writing, the campaign has raised over $3,000,000 exceeding its initial asking price of $2,000,000, making fans of the series all around the world happy that the game will finally be developed after so many years in the gaming wilderness. Personally, I couldn’t get into the first Shenmue the first time I tried playing it, since all I was doing for 2 hours was wondering around a city asking if anyone had seen a black car. But I am going to give it another try in the future with a strategy guide, and try to understand what the hype has been about all these years, and then in time, play the second in anticipation for the third game.
Another brief trailer was also shown for Batman: Arkham Knight, which was release earlier this week. It featured a police officer in a café, subsequently infected with the Scarecrow’s fear gas, and having hallucinations, all the while shooting his pistol frantically. Though it was short, it gave me much more of an idea of the general atmosphere of the game, and why it most probably deserves it 18 rating. As expected, it seems even darker and grittier than the previous entries in the Arkham series, and I’m looking forward to playing and reviewing it next week.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III
After a brief look at what new IPs will be released along with the Project Morpheus next year, Sony then turned their attention to Call of Duty Black Ops, and what players can expect with the next instalment of the acclaimed Call of Duty series. I already knew what to expect with this game, as every player of the games would most probably expect, but what was more exciting to me regarding this game is how Sony are now offering in-game content exclusively available on PlayStation 4, along with Assassin’s Creed Syndicate; two franchises which Microsoft were previously offering exclusive content for on the Xbox One last year. It’s a concrete sign to me of how the balance of power is truly going to remain within the competition between the three main gaming companies, and how Sony will inevitably continue to dominate unless Microsoft can do something particularly special.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Lastly, attendees were treated to a brief look at the gameplay of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Featuring a new plot and a new premise concerning the main characters, as considerable time has passed since the third game, Nathan Drake’s world is turned on its head when after living a normal life with his wife and children, learns that his brother Sam Drake, long believed to have been dead, is in need of his help. After looking at gameplay footage for the first time, it simply seems like more of the same as what the original trilogy involved, which in all honesty, was a little bit disappointing. The only thing I’m hoping for at this point, is that the fourth game is at least a little big longer than what the other three were; each of them only lasting around 6 to 7 hours a piece.
Next, Nintendo hosted a digital event concerning what fans can expect to see in the second half of 2015. Much to my dismay, Nintendo’s conference wasn’t as well received as many of the others at E3, but regardless, I still believe that there were a decent amount of titles coming soon for both 3DS and the Wii U, and I’ve been looking forward to voicing my opinions of why I think this is.
Star Fox Zero
First and foremost, the announcement of Star Fox Zero made me particularly excited of what players can expect to see on the Wii U in the near future. I’ve always been a huge fan of the game Lylatwars, but this game seems to have tenfold more variety than the former, with the Arwing having the ability to shape shift into several different forms, and the great gameplay of the Nintendo 64 classic being largely intact. Though it probably won’t be exactly as how I’d like a Star Fox game to be, as I described in volume 3 of my Nintendo We series (a shameless plug is a shameless plug), it still looks like a particularly impressive game nevertheless
The next game to be described in greater detail than before was Super Mario Maker, whereby players have the option of creating their own Super Mario courses, using elements from the original Super Mario Bros game, as well as Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros U. It looks extremely enjoyable from what I’ve seen so far, but a suggestion that I have is that Nintendo could add elements from other Mario games, and even other classic Nintendo games, that players can use at their leisure. I think they probably will, since there’s more room on the left-hand side of the screen for more tabs similar to the ones unveiled so far.
The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes was the next game to be revealed at Nintendo’s digital event. Reminiscent of The Four Swords and Four Sword Adventure, it features 3-way co-op multiplayer, as well as a single player mode, to traverse an open world and crawl through dungeons in classic Zelda fashion. After learning that there was indeed going to be a single player mode, I do feel a lot happier about the game overall, since Four Swords, despite apparently being a decent game, was multiplayer only, and ironically exclusionary. But since there are three different character classes in the game, it makes me wonder exactly how it will play out. It could potentially be one of the most varied Zelda titles in recent years by this logic.
Metroid Prime Federation Force
The next game was the main talking point for many disgruntled Nintendo fans, but at the same time, the reason why I think Nintendo were judged too harshly. Metroid Prime Federation Force is a FPS adventure game with more of a focus on multiplayer than any other Metroid game, featuring gameplay reminiscent of the spin-off title, Metroid Prime Hunters. When this game was announced, it created uproar among fans of the series, based on the fact that it hardly resembled a Metroid game, and that Nintendo were too reluctant to make another main entry Metroid game. A petition was subsequently started calling for the cancellation of the game, under the pretence that there would also be no single player mode, and no Samus Aran; two notions that Nintendo went on to debunk, claiming both of these things were in the game. On one hand, I believe gamers were being too hasty in their judgement; especially since they haven’t played it yet. But on the other, the outcry has helped to shed some more light on exactly what kind of game it will be. Indeed, if there wasn’t a single player mode, I would also have a much different attitude toward it than I do now.
Fire Emblem Fates
Fire Emblem Fates was the next game to revealed at the event, featuring cel-shaded graphics, turn-based ROG combat, and a seemingly immersing narrative thrown in for good measure. Fire Emblem is a series that I never got into properly, since for the longest time, it wasn’t available in Europe, and I never thought to try it since. From first impressions, however, I fear that the combat will be far too reminiscent of either Final Fantasy XII and XIII, whereby it mixes real-time combat with turn-based combat, making both of them far less enjoyable to sit through.
Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem
Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem at first glance, seemed to me to be more of what I can come to expect with Fire Emblem Fates if I were to pick it up; a hybrid of real-time combat and turn-based combat, only this time, on Wii U. The good thing I can say about in comparison to former, is that many aspects of combat seem a lot varied than in the previous game unveiled, but I’m still quite shocked at Atlus would develop a game in this manner, since throughout their handling of the Megami Tensei series and beyond, they have mostly been known for implementing turn-based combat; even in recent years with the likes of Citizens of Earth.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
I would also perpetuate the same argument when it comes to talking about the next game to have been revealed; Xenoblade Chronicles X. Another Wii U exclusive, it features a massive open world, with emphasis on what is essentially the same kind of combat as both Fire Emblem Fates and Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem. Again, Xenoblade is another series that I hadn’t found time for during the seventh generation, mostly due to the persistent difficulty I had in trying to pick up the first game some time after its release. Judging by the scale of the second game, however, and that it seems to focus on an entirely different story premise, I think it would most probably be the most logical place to start at this point.
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer
Though focusing largely on the same kind of premise as the rest of the series, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer provides a slightly different twist on the formula, with players having to design other villager’s homes as well as their own. As a spin-off game, it looks like it deliver an adequate amount of fan service to long-time admirers of the series, but as a starting point for newcomers, I think it would most probably be less than ideal. Either the original game or New Leaf would probably be the most logical place to start, but after that, this game would most probably provide players with a fair amount of entertainment.
Another recently released game to have been showcases at Nintendo’s digital event was Yoshi’s Woolly World. Unfortunately, a lot of the subjects that were touched on during it’s unveiling at last year’s E3 were revisited, but what Nintendo had new to announce was what level of challenge this game would provide players with. According to the developers, the bulk of the challenge will involve the player’s ability to uncover the many hidden areas throughout the game, as well as the many different obstacles for Yoshi to overcome along the way. I’ve always thought that it looks like a very intriguing game, and another that I look forward to playing in the near future.
Yo Kai Watch
As I think they’ve needed to do over the last few years, Nintendo also revealed a new IP they have working on with Level 5 Studios; Yo Kai Watch. To me, it conceptually seems like a cross between Pokémon and Beyblade, whereby players must capture as many different strange creatures called Yo Kai as possible, and use them to do battle with enemies; all the while levelling them up with a watch attached to the character’s wrist. It looks like it has a fair amount of depth in gameplay, much like Pokémon itself, which makes me think it may be a little bit more than a blatant rip-off of the former.
Mario & Luigi Paper Jam
Finally, Nintendo revealed another upcoming game in the Super Mario RPG series entitled Mario & Luigi Paper jam. Combining elements of games such as Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story with the conceptual design of the Paper Mario games, it also seems to borrow element of Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and arguably, Nintendo Land. It seems like one of the more innovative Mario games in recent years, as opposed to it recycling the same elements all the time, and it makes me excited about the immediate future of the 3DS, as well as having seen the many games coming out for the Wii U.
Lastly, third party developer Square Enix hosted their first ever conference at E3, attracting a big audience and announcing huge plans for the future. Ever since the merger between Squaresoft and Enix back in the early 2000s, Square Enix have been responsible for the publishing of many big name games throughout the sixth, seventh and eighth generations of gaming; and judging by their conference, they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down in the near future.
The company started their E3 conference with a bang, so to speak, as they revealed more details about their upcoming explosive new open world action game, Just Cause 3. Containing more gameplay features than either Just Cause 1 and 2, the third game will feature an even bigger open world with much more to collect, ride, traverse and destroy. Though the plot remains essentially the same as it was in both Just Cause 1 and 2, I’ve been a huge fan of the Just Cause series since its inception, and Just Cause 3 was, and still is, one of my most highly anticipated games coming in the immediate future, and having watched the footage at Square Enix’s conference, I’ve never been more excited about it.
The seventh generation game Nier, whilst not attracting the kind of sales figures Square Enix were initially after, still became a cult classic among those who bought and played the game. Therefore, the Japanese publishers have decided to work on a new game in the franchise. Temporarily named Nier: New Project, not much is known about gameplay just yet, but it does have a fairly prestigious team of developers working on it, which always bodes quite well, so here’s hoping it can be something special.
Kingdom Hearts: Unchained Key
As part of an initiative to bring more games to mobile devices, along with two Hitman Game and a Tomb Raider game, Square Enix also announced an upcoming Kingdom Hearts game, implementing solely turn-based combat, which makes me particularly excited for its release. It seems to me as being the perfect starting point of which to get into the series properly before the release of the third main instalment in the main series, which was announced next.
Kingdom Hearts III
Though Kingdom Hearts has quietly become a much more prolific series than what many gamers may realize, demand has been high for a third game since the PlayStation 2 era, and so, Square Enix announced shortly before the release of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, that a third game will be released in the near future. What makes me feel more optimistic about the third than either the first or second is the fact that this game seemingly has a much bigger open world with a much less linear progression, and although I haven’t been able to get into the series, properly, maybe now is the time judging by this trailer.
One game that I didn’t feel optimistic about at all coming form Square Enix’s conference was Triad Wars. Taking place in an open world city, it is essentially an online take on the game Sleeping Dogs, which I didn’t care for in the least bit after playing it. After watching the trailer, there was absolutely nothing about this game that made me think that could be any different to either Sleeping Dogs or Grand Theft Auto for that mater, in any kind of positive way, and I think it’s most probably a game that I will want to steer clear of.
Star Ocean: Integrity & Faithlessness
Another game I maintain a certain amount of scepticism towards is Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness. After playing The Last Hope on the Xbox 360, I was left stunningly bewildered as to how an RPG can be so mind-numbingly mundane, and how combat could be so poorly handled. I thought Final Fantasy XII was the epitome of bad RPGs until I started playing this game, and stopped after about twenty minutes. If combat is anything like that in this latest game, I would rather not have anything to do with it.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
The last game to be fully unveiled was a game that I’d wanted for quite some time; Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Set some years after Human Revolution, it revolves around Adam Jensen, who has left Sarif Industries, and is now working as a double agent for two different organizations in a society that augmented people like him are relentlessly oppressed and tormented. I’m happy that this franchise has not been left to squalor in the gaming wilderness after the success of Human Revolution back in 2011, and that Square Enix think it worthy to develop on the idea of it’s gameplay premise even further. But as I’ve said, I think the most significant improvement that they can make to the formula is the inclusion of a much more open world than in the last game, as there was much potential for it in the first game, but it ended up lasting much less longer than it could have done because of what little was available to players at the time.
The last thing Square Enix touched on before they wrapped up an extremely successful first E3 conference was a new RPG project they are apparently working on called Project Setsuna. I wish I had more information on it to broadcast, but the game is being developed on the premise of Square Enix’s pride and appreciation of how far the RPG genre has come, and promised great things with this project when it is finally fully revealed in the future.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the E3 proceedings, and to wish Bethesda, Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, Sony, Nintendo and Square Enix the best of luck with the release of all their announced games, and that they can do their best to announce even more great titles come Gamescom, the Tokyo Game Show and E3 2016.
So what were your favourite titles unveiled at E3 this year? What are you looking forward to most? How do you think the industry will evolve and expand at this point? As always, I look forward to reading your opinions, and that I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Scouse Gamer 88
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