I am once again starting this post ahead of my normal morning routine because there is just too much stuff to cover for me to cram it all in without a little pre-work. As a result some of my tenses might go haywire given that I am at least in theory writing parts of this at different times. Hopefully you will bear with me, because it feels like the conferences are way more tightly stacked than they have been in past years. On Monday June 11th we had Square Enix, Ubisoft, PC Gaming Show and the Sony presser and I am attempting to cover at least all of the things that interested me from each.
Square Enix – 1 pm EST
This one was a bit of a let down and did not follow the standard E3 press junket format, but instead reminded me an awful lot of a Nintendo Direct. Instead of a bunch of commentary connecting the clips we just got a rapid fire succession of trailers back to back. The truth is… there just wasn’t a lot here that really interested me. I feel like a horrible human being but I am one of what seems like a handful of people not terribly excited for Kingdom Hearts 3. I only played a little bit of the first game because it came out in a weird time for me and I never caught up on any of the others. I keep telling myself I will play them but never actually get around to it.
Monster Hunter Final Fantasy XIV Crossover
This is legitimately the thing that excited me the most from this press conference, the announcement of a crossover between Monster Hunter World and Final Fantasy XIV. This one appears to be inside of XIV but that is still awesome. My hope is we can end up earning a Palico mini pet or some of the iconic weapon skins for glamour options sorta like the Lighting Returns crossover event. I am still holding out hope however that we will see the other side of this equation at some point and FFXIV stuff showing up in Monster Hunter World.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Another game I am very interested in is Dragon Quest XI since I have not played a Dragon Quest title since Dragon Warrior IV on the Nintendo. I am completely out of touch with this series and at some point I would really like to try some of the games out. I absolutely loved Dragon Quest Builders… and I realize that game barely relates to the modern core of the franchise but it was still enough to raise my interest level enough to try this one out when it releases. It looks pretty freaking cool which is enough of a reason for me to play almost anything.
Ubisoft – 4 pm EST
While they don’t always have what I would consider to be the best possible line up of games, Ubisoft always seems to have the most watchable show. What I mean by that is many of the offerings have relatively low production value and Ubisoft seems to take a very holistic approach to the show carefully placing games in such a way that you are never very far off from something you are going to find awesome. This time around though there was a lot to see and I am pretty pleased with the overall product line up.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
I can honestly say I have never before been excited about an Assassin’s Creed game. I am not exactly what you would call the core demographic of most sneak around and don’t be seen sort of games. However Assassin’s Creed Origins pushed the game into more of an Action RPG genre.. and I have really enjoyed it. From all signs this appears to be Origins wearing a Greek skin… and I am perfectly okay with that. This time around you get to choose between a male and female protagonist… which is a permanent decision point that has been long overdue in this series. It was a blast running around in Ancient Egypt and I am certain it will be similarly awesome running around in Ancient Greece. Definitely looking forward to this one in ways that I never thought I would prior to Origins.
The Division 2
Please lord help me temper my hype because this game continues to look extremely good. It is making me want to give the original game another shot as I attempt to finally push my way to thirty. As I said in this mornings post… the game seems to have what the first one was missing… a sense of hope. Things are going on in the world that lead me to believe we are actually the heroes instead of potentially making everything worse with our presence like the first game. It grated on my nerves that everyone seemed to be deathly afraid of me as a player character, and that there wasn’t much that I could actually do to help folks I stumbled onto in the world out in a significant way. Sure there were those random encounters that would take a piece of food and give you something frivolous like a beanie, but the only people I seemed to help out in any significant way were the JTF agents. I wanted to help the suffering citizens out and what I am seeing hear leads me to believe that is actually a gameplay style.
Beyond Good and Evil 2
I still don’t really have a clue what sort of game this actually is. It seems like some sort of an action RPG, set in a really interesting world… and I am okay with this. I never played Beyond Good and Evil because I missed the boat when it was actually cutting edge and struggle to bring myself to go back and play those older 3D titles. The folks who did play it tell me it was an amazing experience. I am mostly just enthralled by the world building that is going on here because it seems like an insanely intricate setting. That is the sort of thing I go in for more than a narrative story… giving me a world that just begs to be explored. Glad to see this continues to be less and less vaporware as time goes on.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas
I really hate that this game exists and that I want it. I got caught up in the thrall of the whole digital toys thing with both the Amiibo and the Disney Infinity generation 2 and 3 (Marvel and Star Wars) and have way more of these figures than I should admit for the sake of sanity. Starlink appears to be the same sort of thing, but this time you are piloting modular starships that change your vehicle in game based on the pieces you have assembled in the real world. The real hook for me however is the inclusion of Star Fox… which just seems cruel. I am not even the biggest fan of space ship shooters but this looks extremely excellent.
PC Gaming Show – 6 pm EST
This show is always an awkward beast, though I have to admit each year it has become closer and closer to a real production. This year they cranked up the quality significantly but in my head I still remember the cheaply thrown together high school theater experience sort of feeling. They showed off some thirty games but it always feels a little jarring because the quality and style of the games always varies so much. I am not really going to talk about most of these but there were a few that did stand out for me.
This game is some sort of hyper stylized open world exploration and adventure game. The setting reminds me so much of a Jean Giraud/Moebius comic from the 80s. The main character even feels like it could have been one of his designs. More than anything I think it is visually interesting and might be something I pick up at some point just because I like the look of it.
Overkill’s The Walking Dead
I know a lot of people are simply done with the zombie genre but I am not… in fact I continue to enjoy the hell out of the Walking Dead franchise and have been looking forward to this game for awhile. I am not really a fan of mobile games, so the majority of the Walking Dead branded titles are really not for me. Similarly I have for whatever reason not really been able to get into the Telltale style of adventure game so that one fizzled for me as well. This however looks like a game right in my wheelhouse set in the Walking Dead universe. I am down with it on so many levels.
I am so ready for this game to come out already. This was hands down my game of the PC Gaming show last year… and it continues to look amazing. It is a quirky mash up of Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon and Pokemon where you grow pets and then “battle” them. However as of today we have learned that those battles are awesome dance fights… I am so down with this and it is so fitting to the setting. Please release this game already because I want to run around doing nonsense things with tiny pets.
Sony – 9 pm EST
This was a really odd show as far as E3 showcases go. It started with a word from Shawn Layden… that essentially stated that we should not expect to see anything new. This was followed by a very lengthy banjo performance in this huge custom built set piece that looked like a church in a tent. Immediately following the banjo time we were treated with a new trailer for Last of Us Part II… where we find out the church tent stage design came from the game. Immediately following this however… there was a lengthy intermission as they asked every single person in attendance to move to another theater… at which point some generic commentators showed up and started commenting on their own show. Finally once we moved venues almost 20 minutes later… we were presented with a bamboo flute solo of some sort. Then finally after that… the show became a little more traditional… but it was a really weird ride to go through. The positive however is that almost all of the titles shown looked excellent and as has been the case in so many other years… most everything they talked about landed firmly in my wheelhouse of things I was interested in.
Last of Us Part II
I thought about what screenshot to include for reference to this game but since this is literally the moment everyone is talking about… I figured I sorta had to include it. My timeline erupted with praise of this portrayal last night which tells me I have done a pretty damned good job of curating it over the last several years. Supposedly however in other pockets of the universe it somehow was shocking that the lesbian character from the first game was in fact still a lesbian character and erupted into a chorus of faux controversy. I am thankful my little corner of the twitterverse is generally a sane and rational one, because instead I personally focused on how damned amazing this game looks. I still have yet to play the first one and I need to make sure that happens before the release of this game. I am hoping my nonsense parsec solution to play console games remotely is going to help me clean out my backlog of PS4 games.
The biggest thing from the trailer is it revels in reminding us just how damned brutal a world Last of Us really is. There are two start juxtapositions between the quiet times of the revival tent and the stark brutality of hunting down the people that I think were cultists in the first reveal trailer. There are two fades that happen with the last one being the most biting given that we go from Ellie chopping off someones head… directly into this kiss sequence. It was a strong way to lead the showcase, but a weirdly dramatic set up that largely fell flat followed by a twenty minute intermission that felt needless. Great game… weird presentation for it.
Another game that seemed to cause my timeline to erupt into excitement was Control, which appears to be a game where a lady uses a rubiks cube for a gun and travels through a M.C. Escher drawing. This is apparently the spiritual successor to Alan Wake and Quantam Break… games I have never played but always thought looked interesting. If I am remembering correctly this is also the team behind the first two Max Payne games which were essentially rag-doll physics sandboxes as far as I was concerned. They seem to like really playing with the narrative space within games and sending us to weird places… and this trailer is definitely one of those weird places. However some of the combat sequences specifically do look really awesome, so I will have to watch this one as it gets closer to release.
It is really difficult to take a coherent screen capture of a high action video like this, which I guess should tell you what the game play is going to be like. Spider-man was essentially in constant motion and one of my friends referred to this as the Arkham Spider-man… referencing the Arkham Knight series of games. I personally don’t think this is a bad thing because they were high action and high enjoy-ability as you went on a wild ride with that character and were presented a ton of signature villains. We seem to have a plot line that centers around a version of the Sinister Six as they are breaking out of the Raft and you as Spider-man are trying to prevent this from happening. The Playstation 2 game was amazing and just insanely fun to swing around town… and this looks similarly crazy and enjoyable. I am not exactly the biggest Spider-man fan in the world but this is going to be a fun game, and it looks gorgeous.
The only way I can really explain this game is to show you what I was tweeting while watching the trailer. This is the third or forth trailer I have seen for it and I still have no more idea what the hell is actually going on. You have to understand… I never played the Metal Gear Solid games because the whole sneaking around bit pissed me off and was exactly the opposite sort of experience I wanted to have in a game. I don’t generally like stealth games, and especially not ones where you have to repeat entire sequences if you get seen. So I am not as indoctrinated into Kojima nonsense as I think most of my friends are. If I was basing anything on this trailer I would assume Norman Reedus is some sort of a post apocalyptic UPS delivery guy that occasionally has to deliver creepy babies. I don’t think anyone knows what is going on, but I continue to be intrigued by it.
The Death of Cayde-6
While not part of the Sony show… Bungie did release a tweet with a video attached giving us some more background story surrounding the Forsaken story. Now for some time there has been a back plot in Destiny 2 that has existed only for the lore hounds revolving around the fact that the forsaken we are fighting don’t appear to be any one house… but instead a mixture of houses all unified under one banner. If you dig hard enough you uncover evidence that it appears that Uldren Sov… The Master of Crows and brother to Mara Sov has survived the battle that occurs at the beginning of The Taken King cinematic and is gathering up the remnants of the forsaken and uniting them for his purposes. In the trailer from last night we see a very beaten up Cayde-6 that is then summarily executed by Uldren with Cayde’s own Ace of Spades Hand Cannon. It is my sincere hope that Cayde is not actually dead… but would serve as a decent revenge plot as we hunt down Uldren and make him pay.