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E3 Weekend Roundup: EA/Microsoft/Bethesda

It is that time again…  like Pete Smith said it is very much like rushing home to find the Sears Christmas Book sitting on your door step filled with toys you have never heard of and begin daydreaming about.  This is really the time of the year I look forward to the most when it comes to gaming information.  It is also the time of the year when I try and lock my excitement away in a box and guard myself against the fact that a lot of the promises that are being made won’t actually see the light of day.  Everyone holds a game in their memory that didn’t quite live up to that original announcement trailer.  That said it is still an insanely fun time to be a gamer and blogger…  and as is my tradition I sit down and write about the shows as I watch them.

Electronic Arts – Saturday June 9th

First up this E3 Season is the Electronics Arts conference which thankfully happened while I was gone at a family reunion.  I say thankfully because of all of the shows during the season this is traditionally the one I need to parse the most because over half of the show is content that is very much “not for me”.  If I was not being so lazy I would add up the total minutes of the show that are in that not for me category, but the truth is…  if you are like me and don’t really enjoy sports you could probably skip the above conference link and watch individual trailers.

I was not really expecting much from Electronic Arts and somehow they managed to still disappoint me.  I had heard they would be announcing a new single player story driven Star Wars game… and they did…  sorta.  They announced the title Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order… and that the game would take place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope but not much more than that.  Unravel 2 was announced… and available for purchase immediately after the presentation which was kinda cool…  but seeing as I have yet to play the first one it is more knowledge to file away for a future date when I have played the original.  We also got a new Command and Conquer game…  on phones…  not sure what else to say here.

Not shocking there was more talk of Battlefield V…  and they announced their new “innovative” Battle Royale mode.  The truth is I am at least slantwise interested in Battlefield V because I recently started playing the campaign in Battlefield One and found it to be rather enjoyable.  It seems like they are swerving even harder into the story… which is sorta hillarious given that traditionally Call of Duty was the game you played for story and Battlefield was the multiplayer only experience (no bot mode does not count).  This year it seems like the roles are completely reversed given that Call of Duty is not wasting time or money on a story and as a result completely ruling me out from caring about it.

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Sea of Solitude

The first of the titles to really interest me is a little “indie” game called Sea of Solitude.  This is another in a line of Indie games that get published by the big box stores of gaming to give them some measure of street cred.  The world appears to be set after some sort of apocalyptic flood that has drowned the world and you play a little girl who has a problem.  In this world when people get lonely they start turning into monsters, and your character is beginning to go through the transformation.  So you have to sort out why the loneliness has taken hold of her all the while avoiding other more predatory former human beings.  It is cool looking and funky and might be worth adding to the list of things to play when I have time to do so…  which is a disturbingly long list.

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Anthem

Next up is Anthem and god I am trying so hard to keep my hype in check.  This game looks really awesome and so far what we have seen of the setting and the mech like Javelin suits is just so damned cool.  The problem is once again I am doubting the visuals and the “gameplay” that we are seeing…  that is until a YouTuber that I generally trust released a video this morning from an influencer exclusive play test of the game.  The gameplay footage syncs up with what we are seeing in the trailers and now my hype struggling against its restraints.  There are so many ways this game can go wrong, and having played both Division and Destiny 1/2 at length I am still going to try and maintain a fairly neutral stance until release.

That said it seems pretty positive and I am digging the weird unique IP that feels like a sort of blending of the Monster Hunter ethos, Warframe and Destiny with a little bit of Mass Effect Andromeda mixed in.  That last bit is not a negative to me because I happened to really like the last Mass Effect game we will probably ever get.  Supposedly this game has been in development for a very very long time under the code name Dylan.  One of the developers mentioned that the game was in development before the announcement and launch of Destiny and that much of the gameplay loop predates that genre coming into its own.  I will be watching this one closely while we wait for February 22nd of 2019.

Microsoft – Sunday June 10th

I will just come out and say it… Microsoft who is a company I am often disappointed with…  really knocked it out of the park with this conference.  Now if you believe the YouTubers that were hired as part of the official E3 coverage…  it was a disappointing show.  However at least three of those people on the panel are known for releasing rant videos so probably take that with a giant semi truck full of salt.  Their show had a reported 50 games in it… and hit on many big name franchises like Halo, Gears of War, Crackdown, Tomb Raider, Devil May Cry, and Fallout.  Admittedly there is a lot that was shown that I am mildly interested in but not enough to really talk about it here.  If you are interested I highly suggest you watch the show because it was an overall good experience…  even though it clocks in at roughly two hours.

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Halo Infinite

Halo is that series that I really wish I had gotten in on back in the day…  because now I am just not indoctrinated enough into the franchise to stick through a bunch of mechanics that I don’t enjoy.  We don’t know anything really about this title other than the fact that it is in fact a Halo game and appears to have Master Chief and Cortana in it.  The infinite branding makes me wonder if this is maybe their attempt at an always on persistent world environment for Halo along the lines of Destiny.  If this is the case I might be interested…  but most of the Halo fans I know are in it for the single player story and occasionally multiplayer matches with friends.  My core problem with Halo is the fact that they give you an amazing feeling weapon… that immediately runs out of ammunition…  which forces you to use absolute trash weapons from that point on to survive.  If they come up with a Halo that doesn’t have this problem… sign me the hell up.

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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

We jokingly referred to Nioh by Team Ninja as “Samurai Souls” then today From Software announces a game that deserves that title more.  Based on some of the gameplay footage we can maybe split the difference and refer to this as “Ninja Souls” due to the fact that your character has a trick arm of sorts that seems to be able to hookshot onto objects.  It looks interesting but I am not entirely on board with the Dark Souls genre, though that said I have been playing through the Remastered a bit and enjoying myself.  I loved Onimusha and if this game can scratch the itch left by my desire for another game in that series I would be willing to try it.  Otherwise I might end up just giving Nioh a shot given how much Tam seemed to enjoy it.

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Metro Exodus

This game looks so unbelievably good.  I really enjoyed both Metro games that already exist and the remastered versions were a massive step forward in both graphics and gameplay.  The entirety of the demo footage shown today apparently comes from a single mission in the game where you are seemingly taking on a cultist of sorts.  The biggest problem with Metro in the past is that it aligned with some pretty janky non-standard mechanics that came up through the Stalker series of games.  I get why it does what it does especially given its lineage, but I am hoping with Exodus they are adopting the norms for an RPG shooter or at the very least giving us the ability to rebind all of the keys to our liking.  This is going on the must play list because it looks great and anything that shines more light on this setting is a plus in my book.  Speaking of books… I keep telling myself that at some point I will read the translation of the Metro books.

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Division 2

The Division is one of those titles that promised an awful lot with that very first E3 trailer… and never quite delivered on all of it.  The Division 2 is similarly promising an awful lot and presents something that looks completely awesome.  However they still seem to be dead set on scripting artificial multiplayer dialog that provides for a really awkward experience.  I don’t sound like that with my friends…  because in truth we are usually talking about something other than the game until someone yells “oh fuck” when something goes completely wrong.  The problem is this scripted interaction just brings back my feelings about the first Division and its E3 reveal trailer…  and how much it missed the mark.  I signed up for the beta so here is hoping this time around they really deliver on things.

What I can say that I like going into this one is that it appears that we are actually helping the people this time.  One of the back and forth discussions that kept coming up on AggroChat is how awful the world of Division feels and how it seems like we are actively harming the citizens that just keep getting caught in the crossfire.  This time around they are seemingly running missions to help out people who are stuck out there trying to make a difference.  You go into an area where there are kids playing and signs of folks trying to make a better life for themselves.  This is a setting I can get behind… one that gives me reasons to go out into the wilds on murder sprees… and makes me feel like I am actually helping rather then maybe being a bad guy myself.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Another not so subtle reminder that I need to get back on the bandwagon and finish the first game.  Look I may or may not be bad about starting things and never getting around to finishing them.  There is a similar stack of partially read books on my end table…  so it is a me thing.  As always this looks like an excellent entry in the series and I really would like to catch up and be able to experience the whole thing as it releases.  There is however a long list of games waiting for me to give them attention… and with other things that have been announced during the Bethesda show…  they may be waiting awhile longer.  The game looks great and very much in the feeling of the other modern Tomb Raider games.

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Devil May Cry 5

This is a title that initially surprised me… but in truth really should not have.  Over in Monster Hunter there was a recent cross over event where you could earn a charge blade and outfit themed after the primary character in this series…  Dante.  That should have tipped me off to the fact that there was a new game on the horizon.  The truth is I have not played these games past the few that were on the Playstation 2 and at some point I really should catch up because it looks like a fun series.  Everyone on twitter was talking about the cringe worthy dialog, but in truth I found that just fine for the sort of game that this is.  It was at the very least interesting enough to make me write about it, which considering how many things I won’t be today is a positive.

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Session

I know nothing about this game other than the fact it has skateboards…  and pending that this is not some sort of bait and switch and the game is really about some crime drama…  I will probably be down to play it.  I loved the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series and it is a crime that we don’t have a proper modern game worthy of that lineage.  Sure they released a game not long ago but it had a lot of issues…  what I want is a spiritual successor to come along and pick up the reins delivering a great street skating experience.  Ultimately that is all I have ever really wanted is for someone to give me an open world skateboarding sandbox where you could roam around freely and create mini objectives as you played.  I need to track down a copy of one of the Skate series games because it always felt like the Transworld Skateboarding to THPS’s Thrasher magazine vibe.  I would love to see this game land squarely in the middle…  but again I know nothing about it yet other than the fact there are skaters in it.  Please don’t disappoint me…. the ambiguous title concerns me a little.

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Tunic

Cute chromatic aberration fox zelda…  which is completely enough for me to go on and want to play it.  We need more interesting takes on the zelda-like genre and from what I can tell this seems to be one with pretty good fidelity.  Again I don’t know much more than we are given in the trailer but I will be spending some time looking this title up because I have a feeling… it is probably going to be showing up on steam at some point soon given it very obviously is Indie.

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Dying Light 2

I really enjoyed the original game… when I did not think I would given I am not a big fan of parkour nonsense in games.  That said it presented a really interesting take on the zombie apocalypse with a very vibrant world full of survivors…  and a ton of options to make as to who you would align with.  Dying Light 2 seems to double down on that decision making game play in presenting a world that seems to be shaped from the very first moments by the choices you make.  This will end up creating a really rich narrative with a shocking amount of replay, but also gives you the feeling that while you are killing zombies…  you are actually fighting for something you care about.  This is yet another game that I started but never quite returned to… in part because of the laptop thing…  but now that I have a working option I need to add this to the list of games I want to revisit especially given I made it rather far.

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Cyberpunk 2077

This is the game we have all bee waiting for…  a Cyberpunk game with the loving fidelity of The Witcher 3.  While this is mostly just an establishing trailer showing us off various locations and the style and feel of the game…  it does not stop me from wanting to wallow the fuck in its grandeur.  Everything about this trailer is good and I just want more of it.  I am so ready for this to be a thing and for us to be roaming around in this world hacking bots, getting augments and driving crazy vehicles.  I am not really sure what else there is to say at this point but I feel like this was a major coup for Microsoft to get the first reveal of any sort of this game.  Now if Sony turns around and gets gameplay… I will reverse this decision but in the grand scheme of things…  awesome.

Bethesda – Sunday June 10th

This is the show I think most of us were waiting on… and I did not walk away disappointed.  In fact once again I think Bethesda threw down the gauntlet and probably won E3 as far as new and interesting game releases.  They opened with a surprise Andrew WK performance of a song that appears to be in Rage 2.  It was weird watching the internet react to this because I was like “Hell yeah!” and so many were frustrated and annoyed and just wanted to move on with the announcements.  This show as shockingly self aware, often making fun of the sort of things the internet says about Bethesda as a company.  Probably the best of these moments was the Skyrim Very Special Edition commercial…  for a hopefully made up Alexa version of the game demonstrated by Keegan-Michael Key.  There were some moments of the show that were just awkward… which prompted me to comment…

There is an awful lot to unpack here so lets get started….

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Rage 2

I am finding out that apparently I was one of the few people out there that deeply loved the original Rage title.  I’ve heard so many people comment about how generic it looks…  but it was fucking Mad Max before the Mad Max game existed.  This was everything that I wanted in a road-warrior-esc-post-apocalyptic game…  how is that for some hyphen abuse!  The truth is I enjoyed every minute of the game…  but it just never really lived up to its potential given how painfully short it was.  When I got to the end of the game I thought that maybe a bigger campaign would open up and there would be a whole bunch more areas to explore…  instead I just got a credits roll.  Now at this point I have played through the game several times and I am excited to get to step back into that world with the sequel.  Ultimately I am hoping this will live up to the potential that the first one left laying on the ground.

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Fallout 76

The other game we knew about going into the show is of course Fallout 76 and unfortunately post show last night… I have more questions than I actually have answers.  It is in fact set in West Virginia and based on some of the scenes may also include the Capitol Wasteland as well.  It is a game supposedly four times the size of fallout 4, which is staggering…   which at face value seems amazing and makes me want to start throwing dollar bills at the screen.  There are some concerns I have because this game is going to be entirely online, and while they talked a bit about both PVE and PVP elements there were not a lot of details determining if you could in fact play with your friends in a purely PVE environment.  Thankfully they at least mentioned that the entire game was playable in a single player mode, which is enough to keep me going for the moment.

If I could create a session that included a bunch of my carebear minded friends and allowed us all to freely roam around and conquer the wasteland together…  then that would be absolutely amazing and the sort of thing I have always wanted in the back of my head.  However if all of my effort can be fucked up by a random asshole who just likes breaking shit…  then I am going to be severely cross with this game.  I feel like there are a lot of players in my timeline that feel pretty much the same so it will be interesting in the coming months who this shapes up especially given that it has a November release date.  I will be signing up for the beta in hopes of getting in and seeing how the game works in person.  I am excited…  and sorta felt like running around the house flailing my arms last night… but trying to temper that excitement with the possibility that this will in fact be a Rust/ARK/Survival-Murder-Sandbox clone and not really a game for me.

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Wolfenstein: Youngblood

In the games I was absolutely not expecting at all category… we have a new Wolfenstein game this time centered around the grown up versions of B.J. Blaskowicz’s daughters.  This time the game is set in 1980s Paris with what appears to be a very 80s vibe to it.  There is not a lot of detail to go on from the trailer other than the fact that you get to destroy more Nazis and this time around do it with one of two female characters.  The entire game supposedly supports co-op play letting each player take control of one of the main characters or you can play single player and I am sure have slightly different branching options similar to the other games in this series.  I am so down for this and extremely excited to see that Machine Games can apparently turn one of these games out every single year.

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Doom Eternal

The last doom game was extremely good and felt like a modern successor to that franchise in every single way.  Now it appears that we are getting the version of Doom 2: Hell on Earth for this modern re-imagining of the series.  This time they are calling it Doom Eternal, but whatever… I see signs that we are on Earth and that is all I need to know.  I loved the Doom series and the truth is… I played through Doom 2 in full long before I ever did the original games.  For a very long time I played the original free episode of Doom over and over and over because I lacked the credit card to order all of the add on episodic content and they did not release that in a physical form until after Doom 2 was already a thing.  I will always welcome more games in this series pending they apply the same level of interesting detail and fidelity that they did the last one.

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Starfield

One of the surprise announcements at the end of the show is something we had heard rumors about for some time… that Bethesda had been working on an entirely new IP.  We got essentially a title card… with a bit of animation showing a planet and some sort of a satellite looking space ship warping away.  I am so down with Bethesda doing a space exploration game and I am very much read for someone to pick up the reigns left by Bioware when they seemingly abandoned the Mass Effect series.  I am hoping by the time E3 2019 rolls around that we have more details and a release date, because after seeing Prey I am ready for a proper space game from Bethesda.  This game will be the source of rabid speculation for the next year…  and this would have been more than enough of a mic drop at the end of the show.  However there was more.

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Elder Scrolls VI

I think more than anything this is to silence the “there is never going to be another main Elder Scrolls game” crowd that has been claiming that since the launch of Elder Scrolls Online.  We know nothing… except that once again the theme has somehow managed to get more grand and bombastic.  We have a flying aerial shot of Tamriel that I am sure folks will pick apart and try and determine the setting…  and then a simple embossed gold title card in the Elder Scrolls font.  Short simple and enough to drive people insane for the next year.  I fully expect this one though is two years away considering at this point last year Todd Howard claimed that they were not working on it yet.  Skyrim took 4 years to develop so I think 3 years is the absolute minimum that they would need for this.  That said at this point they do have an army of other games studios that they could probably employ to work on parts of the game.  Bethesda seems to be speeding up the time it takes for them to deliver games so it will be interesting to see when this actually releases.  I fully expect Starfield with be the 2019 game and this the 2020 game but I could be completely wrong.

 

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