This is the very first Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) where I can loosely be considered a member of the games press. I decided to sit down and stream the four press conferences, that took place on June 9th, from Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Sony.
What I really appreciated about this E3, compared to previous years, was the overall focus on video games instead of the companies trying to show off their synergy. Just about everybody behaved in a manner that was professional and respectful; from what I could tell there was no backstabbing or finger-pointing this time around. The companies tried to show off what they were building for 2014 and 2015. I do not think it is necessary for me to describe every event in agonizing detail, so I will only talk about the things that I found to be interesting or disappointing.
Microsoft kicked off their event with a live demonstration of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the next game in a series that has previously been Xbox focused. To say that this game looks like more of the same is a little bit disingenuous; however, it is still another Call of Duty game. Like the name implies Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare takes place in a near future so the developers, Sledgehammer Games, are able to take creative liberties with the weapons and equipment that the player has at their disposal. Unfortunately it looks like all of the technology featured has been lifted right out of Titanfall, which was released earlier this year and was developed by individuals who formerly worked on the Call of Duty series.
“Mechs” could be seen walking about but not to the scale of Titanfall, and the player seemed to have some sort of exoskeleton that allowed for enhanced maneuverability. The demonstration displayed pieces of the environment being intractable, specifically ripping the doors off of cars to use them as shields; despite MythBusters proving that car doors provide absolutely no protection from bullets. I will be interested in seeing how much of the environment is able to be interacted with, as this seems like a feature that will demo well, but will not be implemented to a high degree in the finished product.
Evolve, the next game from Left 4 Dead developers Turtle Rock Studios, had a trailer play at the Microsoft event. The premise looks promising, but the influence from their previous tiles is very apparent. The pitch of four human player’s hunting the 5th sounds really good, but all other external threats to the player seem to have mostly vanished. The alien in the game will need to kill other creep monsters in order to become stronger. After the alien has become strong enough he can try to go and kill his pursuers, like a xenomorph, or a secondary objective can be completed to achieve victory. This is a complete role reversal from Left 4 Dead where the humans can murder hordes of zombies while being stalked by human controlled special zombies, and just strikes me as not being very original. I am not sure that this game will be different enough from Left 4 Dead to really capture my interest.
The footage of Sunset Overdrive looked incredible. This game makes me upset that I own a PlayStation 4 instead of an Xbox One. Apparently the dark brooding tone of the Resistance era of Insomniac seems to be finished. This game seems to have everything that makes games developed by Insomniac so fun, the bright colours, creative weapons, a sense of humor, and big bosses. I look forward to seeing more of this game in the coming months.
Fable Legends caught my attention during the conference. From what I understood this is a dungeon crawler, set within the world of Fable with a unique twist. Four human players will be exploring a dungeon controlled by a 5th player. The dungeon master, for lack of a better term, will get to spring traps, plant enemy spawns, and control when the boss of the dungeon attacks the other players. This game has the potential to be incredible, or really disappointing, depending on how it is implemented and how much control the dungeon master will have with the tools provided.
A lengthy trailer for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was run, and the game looks really impressive. The worlds in the Witcher series have been getting more open, with a greater emphasis on exploration, and that trend is pushed forward yet again. The game world has been described as being a ”Living Open World”, and as the game play demonstration implies, events will be happening throughout the world while you are playing, and your actions could affect game play in potentially meaningful ways. The game play demo featured two combat scenarios, one where the player was engaged against multiple human opponents, and the other against a large griffin. The demonstration was effective at showing the variety of combat techniques at the player’s disposal.
Two new titles were announced at the Microsoft event: Rise of the Tomb Raider, a follow up to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, and Scalebound. Both of these announcements consisted of a trailer with no game play footage to speak of. Tomb Raider is a sequel so some assumptions can be made about how this game will play. Scalebound, despite being developed by Platinum Games, is more of an anomaly. The impression that I got from the trailer was that the staff at Platinum had recently played a Monster Hunter game and they wanted to put their own spin on the
Large games from established developers were not the only types of games that Microsoft wanted to demonstrate. They attempted to show that they were committed to independent developers and smaller titles. The developers of Limbo, Playdead, revelaed their new game Inside. Like their previous game it seems they are developing another bleak looking puzzle platformer, only instead of the nightmareish world of Limbo the new world seems to be inspired by 1984. Another smaller 2D game titled Ori and the Blind Forrest was announced and not much information was provided. The trailer that was run showcased a beautiful artwork in this 2d action platformer.
On top of these two notable titles, Microsoft ran a montage of games being published using the ID@Xbox self publishing program. ID@Xbox was created as a direct result of Sony allowing self publishing on their platform. Ideally, with the reduced restrictions on the platform, a wider variety of games will be published on the Xbox one.
The press event closed out with a teaser for another Crackdown game, a sandbox crime series that relies on your character having super powers akin to Infamous or Prototype. But the original Crackdown predates most of these titles. The trailer seemed to imply a high level of destructibility in the environment, similar to what you would see in Red Faction: Guerrilla; however, that is all assumption on my part as once again this was only a trailer and no actual game play was shown.
I was impressed, and even a little jealous, with the lineup that Microsoft showcased at their press event. The Kinect was almost completely ignored, only casually mentioned once or twice, and the lineup of games that were showcased do not seem to use the add-on what so ever. The second half of 2014 and all of 2015 seem to have great games scheduled for release on the platform and Xbox one owners should feel excited.