E3 2016 Opening Weekend Impressions: This Gamer Can Haz Opinions?
I’m not a news source. Much like most of the information hungry internet surfers out there, I am a merely content absorber. Being that this is the week of E3, the Electronics Entertainment Expo, which has been a key convention for announcing major advancements in the industry of video games, as well as new hardware, accessory products, and new game releases, I thought it would be fun to talk about some announcements that have grabbed my attention. This marks the 21st year of E3, and already in the weekend before the Expo starts proper, a ton of games have been announced, and information on a potential significantly hardware upgrade for the Xbox One has been leaked. This month I have been paying it forward, and I will continue to do so later today with a post about an indie game that I believe deserves your attention, however I will also run a commentary on E3 for the next few days with my thoughts and impressions of what the major players are up to at the big event this week. I mentioned that I wasn’t a news source because I want to be clear about something: I’m not going to talk about every little thing that gets announced each day. Mostly, I’m going to talk about the major announcements, choice leaks, and some smaller indie style games that I think show a lot of promise. So without further ado:
Friday – Sunday Non-Conference Games & Hardware: Boy Howdy, there were a ton of leaks in that short 3 day period. Here’s a brief rundown along with my thoughts:
- X-Box One Slim: According to the leak (the console was officially announced today by Microsoft, but I have not had a chance to confirm any of the details), the X-Box One Slim will be 40% smaller, support 4K video, HDR, and features a new controller design. I’ve also read Microsoft is working on a unit that will be more powerful than the stock X-Box One, but I doubt that it is this slim model. My Take: as a PS4 and Wii U owner, I am interested to see what actually gets announced, as I do eventually want an X-Box One, and if the price is right – an upgraded slim model would be a nice addition to my console assortment at home.
- Call of Cthuhlu: I’m a sucker for lore heavily steeped in H.P. Lovecraft’s bizarre and macabre universe of terrible creatures and entities. Most recently, the comic series Afterlife With Archie (based on the 75 year old Americana comic staple Archie comics) brought Cthulhu into the main story in huge and highly satisfying way. I was also a huge fan of Bethesda’s Call of Cthuhlu game from 2005. Developed by Cyanide Studio and set to be published by Focus Interactive, Call of Cthulhu is an adventure game with survival horror elements set to release in 2017. My Take: We only have a trailer to go off of, but already the atmosphere looks great, and as long as the story is compelling and the gameplay is interesting, than this should be good. I’m cautiously optimistic.
- Telltale’s Batman: Telltale showed off a few new screens for their Batman adventure game, as well as some voice cast announcements. Troy Baker will play Batman, Laura Bailey as Catwoman, Erin Yvette as Vikki Vale, Richard McGonagle as Falcone, Enn Reitel as Alfred, and Murph Guyer as James Gordon. More casting and characters are to be announced soon. My Take: The screenshots look good and the casting is excellent. Telltale makes exceptional adventure games, so this one is likely to be a winner as well.
- Star Trek Bridge Crew: Ubisoft has put together a full on VR Star Trek bridge simulator for all major VR platforms. The game will allow the player to assume the role of a Starfleet Captain through a variety of missions, or as one of the other bridge officers in a multiplayer session. The idea is simple enough, manage each scenario to the best of your ability to protect your crew and satisfy the mission requirements. From the gameplay impressions I’ve read, it seems fun, intense, and very Trek like. My Take: VR is still an unknown for me. I want to like VR, but I’m not too keen on these “In a bottle” style games where you only play in a single room for all scenarios. I want VR games to be more like fully featured game experiences, like Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, or even something like Overwatch. I like the idea of Star Trek Bridge Crew, but I’m not sold on it or VR yet.
EA Play: EA Games opted to have their press conference outside of the main E3 event this year. Hosting an “EA Play” to announce their game releases, complete with a full on exhibition area for members of the press and other attendees to sample various games afterwards. Directly below is the full EA Play conference (if you are interested, it’s an hour and a half long). A slew of announcements were made including a bunch of sports titles, Star Wars, and a new Battlefield, however; these were the ones that interested me most:
- Mass Effect Andromeda: If you know much about me at all, then you likely already know that I love BioWare and their Mass Effect franchise. I have written about the series an many occasions, like here, here, here, and (in passing) here. If you are unaware of the series, Mass Effect is a hard Sci-Fi series about space exploration, befriending interesting and amazing aliens, forging intergalactic alliances, and generally saving the entire universe. The trailer for Andromeda was well made and showed off a gorgeous game that is set to come out in 2017. My Take: I would have preferred a full story trailer for the new Mass Effect game, but I am happy that we got a new trailer with a lot of little tidbits of new footage to scrutinize. More Mass Effect is always a good thing!
- Titanfall 2: A sequel to the highly successfully multiplayer shooter that was exclusive to the X-Box One, Titanfall 2 is now multi-platform and comes complete with a full single player campaign as well as all of the robust multiplayer content that made the first so popular. My Take: I love giant mech style robots, and I love single player story driven content in games. I personally think it’s lazy when a game has no story mode (I’m looking at you Star Wars Battlefront and Overwatch). Whereas, the multiplayer alone wasn’t enough to make me jump in and purchase an X-Box One, now that it will be on the PS4 as well, and has a single player campaign – I may actually try this one out.
- FE: Part of a new program that they are calling “EA Originals”, FE looks to be a charming and uniquely styled action platforming game, akin to something like Limbo or Unravel. The art style is striking, and the gameplay seems fairly straightforward. Not a lot was shown in the little 1 minute and 25 second teaser that was shown, but what was shown looked promising. My Take: As long as the game has solid game mechanics and offers an engaging world worth exploring (along with a decent narrative), FE looks like it could be a potential sleeper hit.
- More Fallout 4 DLC: I wouldn’t normally get all WOO-HOO! about DLC, but the Fallout 4 DLC has been pretty fantastic so far, and the addition of more customization options, being able to build your own Fallout shelter, and being able to visit Nuka World – all sound like a blast. My Take: TAKE MY MONEY AWAY!
- Skyrim Remastered: This is a neo-classic open world action RPG that has won many awards and has given players countless hours of content to discover and play through. It was already a great game, and now with a shiny new coat of digital paint, it’ll be an even better looking great game for current gen consoles. My Take: I’m not sure it was necessary to port Skyrim to current gen consoles, but I can’t deny that it looks really sweet. If I ever finish up the current batch of RPGs that I am playing, I may take the plunge and check the updated Skyrim out.
- Quake Champions: Quake is a legendary throwback franchise from the very early days of PC FPS gaming. Like Doom and Wolfenstein 3D, Quake set the foundation for FPS gaming. And now like the aforementioned franchises, Quake is making a comeback in glorious form. My Take: I used to play the original Quake, with soundtrack by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, way back in the day (20 years ago!). Nostalgia alone has me curious to see how this one turns out. If it can live up to the hype and build a modern take on the classic formula – then I’m all in!