The video game universe descended on LA this year for this year’s E3, and there were definitely some impressive reveals, juicy insights and of course, presentations that fell flat. Given the staggering amount of content and information that gets dropped at this event, we will recap the biggest console news of the show, do a quick recap of some major roll outs and then provide our top 3 and drop 3 game reveals of E3 2016!
Microsoft led the way with their XBox One S, or “Slim” announcement, which honestly seems a bit futile at this point. It will have 4K and HDR output and be 40 % smaller, but since they also announced Project Scorpius, their next console, which will 4K and HDR output AND operates at 6 teraflops, making it their most powerful console ever, why invest in an S? And the Scorpius sounds super cool, but will the price point be accessible? Gamers who want to game at that level probably already have consoles at a comparable level (The GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card, recently released, has 6.5 teraflops for 380, which I’m sure is less that a next gen Xbox would cost, plus the GTX Titan X operates at 7 teraflops but clocks worse that the 1070 depending on how many cores and the amount and speed of your RAM ). So the hype over the teraflops is also an issue because higher teraflops does not necessarily equate to a constant FPS or “smooth” gaming experience, and there maybe longer load times. Its like saying a car is faster because it gets better mileage. They don’t necessarily equate. We still don’t know what the 8 core processing speed will be, how much RAM its packing and what it is clocked at, so nothing is set in stone yet. But it is a step in the right direction if Microsoft really wants to get into the VR gaming market.
Sony’s answer to VR gaming came in the form of a Final Fantasy XV trailer using their VR headset, starring Prompto as the character from which the player views the action, and truth be told, this looked really fun, especially when you took into account the warping and warp attack mechanics of the game, displayed by Noctis in many of the game play trailers. Altered forms of spatial mechanics and time passing from a VR first person perspective will no doubt be a huge selling point and game play mechanic for VR games to come, so it’s great that Sony is getting a jump on this angle by incorporating into the FF XV. Sony may take the lead on this front because of this game! They had no new next gen console announcements, though they did talk about the PS4 Neo, which is similar to the Xbox One S in that it will support 4K and a higher frame rate, though not HDR. No other specs were given.
Nintendo’s NX is slated for sometime in the next year, but we didn’t get solid specs, only a preview of the new Legend of Zelda on the Wii U, not the NX, but if it’s any indication of what it could be like on the NX, Given Link’s use of a tablet like device in the new Zelda game’s preview, I’m guessing that the new console will all feature a game tablet similar to Wii U’s or be combined with a mobile device or phone in some way. I’m excited!
Before we get to the Top 3 and Drop 3 of the show, I just wanted to make some quick mentions of trailers and games that were notable in some way give a quick description and opinion.
Resident Evil 7– This trailer looks phenomenal. Very much a return to the roots of the franchise, with an isolating, unsettling and tense visual style and playing environment. It seems the character is once again in a mansion of some sort, facing creatures of an unknown nature, trying to solve a mystery in a very darkly stylized setting. The subtitle “Biohazard” hearkens back to the original title of the Japanese version of the original Resident Evil, suggesting a reboot both it plot, art style and game play. I hope so, because the last time I got scared or impressed by a game in this series was Resident Evil 4. After that it was a tactical shooter plot dump fest.
The Last Guardian – This game, from the makers of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, has been long awaited and eagerly anticipated. Set in a fantasy world, we have yet to know if it s connected to the previous games by this studio.
South Park: Fractured but Whole – Take South Park: Stick of Truth and instead of a Lord of the Rings skin, give it a Marvel skin, and this is what you’ve got. Stick of Truth was tons of fun, nothing weighty, just entertainment, and this looks to be a better version of that. Much more to avatar creation and more options for story and game play, plus the meta-conversation of superheroes discussing and arguing over their own franchises. Definitely going down to South Park to check this one out!
God of War – Old battered Kratos instructing his mysterious son in the ways of hunting, battles a Nordic troll in a Nordic landscape seemingly full of dragons and Nordic gods with an ice-axe version of Thor’s Mjolnir with gorgeous graphics, seemless game play, minimal HUD, great voice acting and interesting combat prospects = Total Win. Did Kratos retire/get bored and go to Scandinavia to try to take on the Norse gods? Is his son half human? Will he learn to shoot and be a grown-up like his Dad? Or will he continue to be a disappointment even though he is the one earning the XP while you do the fighting. Are you grooming him for something greater and will the God of War mantle be passed on into the Nordic realm of Deities? So many questions in such a powerful and gorgeous technical and artistic setting, and I can’t wait to find out!
Battlefield 1 – Lots of beautiful FPS eye candy set in realistic France, Germany and North Africa during WWI, utilizing themes of the time including old-timey tank battles, gas and trench warfare, artillery and uniforms and tech matching that age. A good reboot of the series using amazing graphics and immersive world elements. Looks thoroughly researched and fleshed out as far as history goes. I’m not a big huge FPS warfare person, but with bi-planes, zeppelins and 1 man tanks, I might check this one out!
Top 3 of E3
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – I absolutely fell in love with this trailer and its game play previews! This game looks absolutely amazing! It takes the weight and gravitas of Twilight Princess, combines it with the bright, uplifting, almost impressionistic art style of Skyward Sword and Windwaker, and then fuses it with the open world, minimalist, non-directive game play and structure of the the very first game, The Legend of Zelda. It feels like a seemless blending of the best of older and newer Zeldas both artistically and mechanically. The expansive world, with more of a sandbox feel, less delineated and directed, feels more accessible and explorable than ever before, as Link can climb on, interact with, and make use of more items and objects found in the world. His sword is not his only weapon, as we see him wielding sticks, axes, Korok leaves, plus the new Shiekah Slate, (kind of a Hyrulian style tablet/smartphone, which suggest its use with the real life Wii U/NX tablet or some NX smartphone/tablet crossover feature?), and he gets various outfits, findable clothes and armor and much more! Plus, in some Zelda firsts, he can jump and interact with people who are actually voiced! That’s right! We can now hop through Hyrule and have people talk to us with voices! Though Link himself is still un-voiced (aside from his usual “Hyaaah!”), producer Aiji Aonuma wanted to leave power impressions of certain characters by having them voiced, which is super exciting! There is also a prominence of sound effects and ambient noise over music in the trailer and game play previews, which is an interesting change, as music is usually a prominent feature in both story telling, game play and background for this series. I think this adds to the realism of the world they are trying to create, emphasizing the world noises over the soundtrack.
As for the story, the Shiekah (Impa’s tribe) seems to pay a major role in the technology vs. antiquity duality that the game plays up. This technology may have been brought into Hyrule for good or ill, but either way, Link must wield the Shiekah Slate to explore this new Hyrule. There is alot that is left unsaid and Nintendo is staying silent on much of the story. But it can be inferred that for better or worse, advanced technology brought some trouble to Hyrule and Link must use it and his Shiekah Slate to explore Hyrule and right the wrongs. As far as this game’s position in The Legend of Zelda timeline, my bet is on the Adult Era timeline as a far future sequel to Windwaker, for the following reasons. Firstly, “breath” in the title “Breath of the Wild” infers wind, and that would link well with “Windwaker”. Secondly, the appearance of the Koroks ( the little tree people in Windwaker) in both games, and Link’s ability to use their Korok leaves in both games obviously links the two. And third, the rusted Master Sword seen in the trailer infers that the weapon maybe have been submerged underwater for a long time, like the drowned Hyrule at the end of Windwaker! My guess is that the Hero of Time was put into stasis until Hyrule resurfaced from under the Great Ocean depicted in Windwaker, and here we are in Breath of the Wild! But that’s only my theory 🙂 So much to look forward to with this game! Can’t wait for its release next year on NX and Wii U!
Final Fantasy XV – Another more open world, expansive, non linear roll out and re-design for a major series, Square Enix dropped more game play features and trailer magic on us, showing the K-pop boyband crew that is the FFXV cast driving flying cars, gunfighting on chocobos, awesome FMVs of the summons Titan, Ramuh and Leviathan, plus more fast paced RPG styled third person character action combat! Plot lines are still being tightly reigned in, with not much more plot being released that has been shown in the Episode Duscae gameplay preview released several months ago. What was shown at E3 as the new hotness for this game was the VR element. That’s right! You’ll be able to play as Prompto, one of Noctis’ crew, with a VR headset. And what makes this amazing is that it incorporates the warping gameplay element, a smooth integration of instant movement over the battlefield that looks and feels amazing. What an amazing addition to an already breathtaking (though long overdue) game! September 30th 2016 is the magic date, so get hyped for a Final Fantasy filled October!
Death Stranding – Kojima is at his surreal best again in this trailer, the first from his own company after separating from Konami. Free to pursue his own creative ends, he has cast Norman Reedus, Daryl of The Walking Dead, as his main character, who we see naked on a gray scaled, post-apocalyptic beach, conjoined with a baby through an umbilical cord crying, only to see the baby disappear with ghostly hand prints all round, slowly panning through dead crabs, dolphins and whales. He then stares off into the sky, seeing five nebulous human figures floating in the distant sky. Yes. That. It’s weird. It’s unsettling. It makes no sense. It’s gorgeous. It’s Kojima. He’s got an ego, but man, he deserves it. No game play features yet, but I can’t wait to see where he takes us!
Drop 3 of E3
WatchDogs 2 – Watch Dogs one kind of fell flat for me, and I’m hoping this game can not just be a overbloated sequel to it. Watch Dogs kind of felt like Infamous or Infamous 2, only with a super cell phone and less interesting, and the trailer for the second looks to be much of the same. Nothing about it looked revolutionary or interesting, but I’m hoping they can create some new and interesting game play elements before its release.
Quantic Dream’s Detroit: Become Human – David Cage is at it again in yet another boring rehash of the same thing he has been giving us for years. Robotic (in this case literally an android) or emotionally confused/unavailable protagonists caught up in predictable and hole-filled plots with game play mechanics of “search the room” and “press the button for the choice” and “button mash QTE” that is often unrewarding. His games give the illusion of choice but when replayed, often devolve into dichotomous outcomes that are unavoidable no matter what you choose. He wants you to play the plot and game he wants while trying to trick you into feeling like you are not, and it looks like we are danger of the same thing again. They are more like confusing, badly written and acted, sci-fi fantasy movies that you occasionally have to press a button to interact with, and whose plots and voice acting border on cheesy and ridiculous most of the way without logical justification or some some sort of character defining or revelatory payoff. I want to be an optimist and say David Cage has learned his lesson, but after seeing the preview, I’m not going to. The fact he has to over emphasize how much choice you have in game in this trailer leads me to believe it is the exact opposite in the reality of how the game plays out. None of the characters grabbed me either. Probably going to pass on this one.
Days Gone : From what I’ve seen of this trailer, it looks technically gorgeous, but it straight-up wants to be a The Last of Us clone, and from what I’ve seen of the motorcycling bandit interaction, it will fall short of the depth that the characters in The Last of Us achieved. There maybe some innovative game play, but it wasn’t shown in the trailer, so for now, I am cautious about something that looks so familiar and which was already so well done.
Well there it is NerdFunnelers! There was so much at E3 this year to like and critique! Please let us know what you thought of the show in the comments or on Facebook or YouTube! Game on!