Post-E3: What are we really wanting from games and their annual events?

It appears that many of us were left disappointed at the unfoldings from this year’s supposed ‘biggest gaming event’. E3 has its ups and downs every year as people favour companies to others and some perform better. As a combination those of the ‘big six’ certainly hit the marker more than others. The big six I speak of are Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Bethesda and EA. Last year appeared to be quite a big event with tons of great games announced…so why aren’t we pleased this year?

I will try and give my look on some issues which find us to be clashing over these conferences. Now for one I wasn’t disappointed by everything at the event. In my opinion the company that won E3 for me was Nintendo. You could say I’m quite the Nintendo fanboy and enjoyed what we got last year which happened to be mostly three games (Pokémon: GO, Pokémon: Sun & Moon and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild). However, I favoured Sony’s as we got to see a ton of new games announced. This year Nintendo showed us new games from some of their much loved franchises which were Yoshi, Kirby, Mario and Metroid. These game announcements benefit both of their gaming systems (Switch & 3DS) and a partnership with Ubisoft showed their (Ubisoft’s) conference to be a major improvement on the previous year…less gags and more gameplay.

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The upcoming Spider-Man title on PS4 gave us a mixture of old titles and fresh new gameplay.

With my two comparisons of Sony and Nintendo, this year Sony merely showed titles we knew about and didn’t reveal any game release dates for this year. It was nice to see extended gameplay, especially for games such as God of War and Spider-Man, but besides that there wasn’t too much of what we already hadn’t heard of or seen. Should E3 be about showing gameplay from games coming up or about revealing new games? There is a lot of nostalgia pulling at the heart strings and fans are always looking to revisit old titles but at the same time want something new and exciting from the gaming world.

Xbox gave us some expected material for they have less franchises than Sony’s Playstation and we got to see more footage from Rare’s Sea of Thieves with the new additions Crackdown 3 and State of Decay 2 along with some unique titles such as Ori & The Will of the Wisps. There were big games like Anthem, Metro: Exodus and Assassins Creed: Origins showcased at the event, but these are cross-over titles and so could have been shown by other companies. Indie title Cuphead from Studio MDHR was finally given a release date (September 28th) and Super Lucky’s Tale which was previously a VR character and reminisces Conker’s Bad Fur Day also caught my attention. There seems to be a big deal that even if the game isn’t by the company, them getting the game trailer out first appears to be vital for Microsoft….maybe Sony doesn’t have much more room? Hype is intended when you hear ‘world exclusive’ said before the pictures come onto the screen, but without hearing ‘Xbox exclusive’ it doesn’t sound as exciting.

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It was another year and another fast car for Xbox.

Obviously I’m forgetting the big elephant in the room or actually their smallest elephant yet which is the ‘Xbox One X’ (brilliant name). Yes it looks nice and if you’re a film fan you’re getting true 4K which the PS4 Pro cannot output and you also get 6 terraflops of memory storage, but when you’ve not convinced me with new games, how am I going to be interested in this machine? If you like Xbox I am sure this will be appealing and what caught my attention was the original Xbox console’s catalogue going backwards compatible on the Xbox One. Whilst we all want new…old sounds pretty good as well and will definitely push retro sales…and prices. That is where Sony miss out majorly. We like both new and old and yes all of these new games look nice but man we want some cross-play or some PS3 playability without paying out more for subscriptions.

There’s benefits to both consoles but what we didn’t see from Sony where they have the 1-UP on Microsoft is new footage from their VR tech. The Playstation VR is a really nice VR headset and has had some nice games and features so far in almost its first year. It would have been nice to receive some new content but I guess we can always receive that at any point of the year. The same goes for any game announcement. Does it always have to be at E3…can it not advance on a previous announcement?

One part of video games we love and can loathe is sequels to games as we like to further a series but do we get the same amount of new games or new game-types announced? Bethesda gave us Wolfenstein 2 and Evil Within 2, Ubisoft gave us Beyond Good & Evil 2 and EA some more sports titles like Fifa 18. Whether there is the case of longevity between games in a series to be taken into account like BG&E2 or the expected timeline follow up in the Bethesda names – is it all too ‘samey’ or ‘expected’? Just because a game in this series hasn’t been out for years, it doesn’t mean it’ll be good or perhaps we’ll get ourselves too excited and the hype will ruin our expectations. That can be an issue in deciding what to bring out next, especially from a retro perspective but a game like the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy couldn’t have come at a better time or been a better remaster.

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Activision’s conferences seem to have disappeared. Remember an expensive looking Eminem opening to promote the new Call of Duty: Ghosts title?

Perhaps we are lacking new games, but companies like Nintendo can keep using the same series’ again and again…is that because they got it right the first time? Is it the age difference between them and modern consoles or the game types? The longevity between Metroid games has proven to get folks excited even if it is another Prime game. We do get a lot of the same old genres like shooters and stealth titles – you can give them a new coat of paint and name/lead character but the playability will be similar. People might like that though and kudos to them.

If you’re someone who loves games and doesn’t believe in the consoles wars which is a thought process we should all have you may have less to worry about at such conferences except for the fact you might not see enough gameplay. Nintendo show off lots of gameplay (they have done so for Mario Odyssey) and you get to see all of the different worlds and abilities. Sony however showed small segments from the games but didn’t reveal too much more and then companies like Ubisoft may have just shown a majority of trailers. Obviously for their big games like Far Cry 5 and Assassins Creed: Origins we got gameplay but how much is too much? Some people might not want to see any past a simple launch trailer as they don’t want the game to be spoiled upon launch day. Others might want lots of content to learn more about the game before it is released. It’s a difficult area and no doubt these companies will think about how much and of what they want to show the audience.

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Nintendo changed their big conference stages shortly after the Wii U was available for purchase.

It has been rumoured that Xbox and Sony didn’t show us everything they had due to a big factor which is the timeline of showing the game to its release. Phil Spencer, the big dog at Xbox said that the company has signed new games but would not want to show something that might not even be out for three years. Xbox recently cancelled the production on title ‘Scalebound’ and so to create hype now for something that isn’t finished would be a risky move.

We will still have other gaming events throughout the year such as Gamescom where we can still expect to see more content. There’s new ways with the internet and streaming to advertise games (the Nintendo Treehouse as one example) and those are always a nice watch. It spreads out game announcements and we’re treated throughout the year instead of taking in everything at once and proceeding to argue about who was better. With how fast the gaming world is moving with advancements in picture quality, cross-play and virtual reality I’m left with wondering whether we’re even impressed these days and expect too much from companies. If a console can output good graphics, do we deserve them? Are game prices too high? Are we seeing the same game repeated too much? Should companies focus on less games? Endless questions and possibilities my dear Watson.

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Is E3 becoming a bit too ‘samey’ over the years and is this doing good for games?

Let’s just turn everything on its head for a second. Does E3 really do any good for the gaming world?

Are we not giving too much attention to one moment of the year and giving too much pressure onto game designers and companies? As video games are in no way a similar environment to what they were 20-25 years ago, are we looking at video games in the right way? They are a means of profit and E3 has definitely been a key player in carrying on profits in the gaming sphere for the next few months. A lot of material seems rushed and time and effort is wasted due to commercialism. There will always be deadlines but E3 is a bit like a toy at Christmas and everyone wants their big thing to be in everyone’s homes. What has saved video games recently has been indie titles because their breakaway from big name companies has brought some notable titles which may be influenced from better days but also made retro the norm again. Games such as Super Meat Boy, Binding of Isaac: ReBirth, Braid, Rogue Legacy, Fez, Owlboy, Limbo and many more have turned the focus away from big names and most will find themselves on most platforms after a couple years. There are still some credible games out there!

E3 is still a special place in the gaming world. How companies choose to stage their conferences is up to them and we do get a nice mix: EA in London and Los Angeles, Nintendo in their private conference and the others doing big rooms (and less jokes and bad presenting from Ubisoft this year made it one of the best). Sony adds a nice visual touch and Microsoft keeps it straightforward and tries a realistic approach and all are welcomed by audiences. We argue who has the better console and even though a lot of games from this year’s E3 will not be out this year we still have a lot to look forward to. No doubt we will see The Last of Us 2 and Death Stranding shown later on in the year by Sony…

 

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Ubisoft: A steep incline to something better

Ubisoft opened their event with Just Dance 2017 which will becoming to all consoles, PC and the Nintendo NX next year. We were treated to a dance performance which included a dancing giraffe. Like a dancing giraffe it could stumble a lot and have to keep getting itself back up, however on this occasion, constant humour aside, Ubisoft pulled off some sweet moves. Let’s find out what went down.

Comedian and actress Aisha Taylor was back to present for the fifth year running as the company celebrated its 30th anniversary. The next game on show was the 14th instalment in Tom Clancy’s: Ghost Recon series. ‘Wildlands‘ was announced at last year’s E3 and this time we were treated to plentiful gameplay. The game takes place in Bolivia where a Mexican drug cartel has taken over the area and are harvesting cocoa to sell, making Bolivia a narco-state. You the player in Ghost Recon fashion will be playing the role of the ghosts who aim to cause chaos and bring down the system.

The game is action packed and full of high speed chases, plenty of vehicle switching, stealth and  co-op switching between characters to infiltrate bases. The mission that was shown was to take down El_Pozolero. The game focuses around teamwork in order to take down the base and will result in you attacking from all angles which will certainly be great for multiplayer. One player could be attacking from a helicopter, another via a getaway vehicle, one simply walking in and another sniping. The game will hit shelves March 7th next year.

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The Fractured But Whole is a superhero theme after its predecessor  was fantasy.

Now it looked like we were going to be treated to Watchdogs 2 early in the show with a trailer reminiscing hacking and code. However there appeared Eric Cartman as superhero ‘The Coon’. Trey Parker and Matt Stone came out to talk about the next South Park instalment: ‘The Fractured But Whole’ which takes influence from previous title ‘The Stick of Truth’.

It is the next day in South Park and the children are now playing as superheros, so everything you achieved at the end of the first game is pointless and to everyone you are a ‘douchebag’ again. The game takes a big influence from Marvel with the children aiming to set out a movie series and how there will be a ton of films and spin offs. Certain characters are under appreciated and create a separate faction causing a civil war between the children. Marvel isn’t alone as J.J. Abrams and DC comics are also the butt of jokes.

Cartman helps you create your class which can be from a brutalist, blaster or speedster and each child is given a backstory to their character. The game is also full of typical toilet humour that is familiar in the series, but the game itself has seen many improvements. The game concentrates on space as unlike the previous title, you are not restricted to being in one place and so can use certain attacks to your advantage to progress through the game. The combat system has also improved and you can push and pull characters into objects or other characters for extra damage points. Farts were used as an attack in the first game and this continues however, they are super powerful and can rip the fabric of time. This aids a player in remaking decisions in the game.

If you pre-order the title now you can get The Stick of Truth for free. The game will release on December 6.

Next up was a better look at Tom Clancy’s Division’s new expansion: ‘Underground‘. You work in a team against dangerous threats under the streets of New York. No two missions are the same and there is a big replayability factor which has better rewards the more you play. The expansion which releases on June 28th will receive three exclusive skins from fellow Tom Clancy series’ Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell. It was also announced that another expansion is on the way called ‘Survival‘ which takes place in a ferocious blizzard that has ruined New York and sets everyone against each other. The point of the game is hunt or be hunted.

VR is everywhere these days and Ubisoft has two titles in the works. One is a Star Trek title where you can control the Starship Enterprise and work in teams fighting against enemies. The trailer showed celebrities including for Next Generation actor for Worf, ‘LeVar Burton’. The second was a title where you play as eagles in a capture the flag style game in France. Eagle Flight is about teamwork where two teams, red and blue, work to get bait to certain points.

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In For Honor you can play as a viking, samurai or knight.

Probably one of the most exciting hack and slash titles in a long time, For Honor lets you play as three different classes with different back stories. From the viking perspective you are trying to rise up from the ashes and make your people great again by infiltrating the samurai’s and claiming the area for your own. From a trailer that looked like the end of season 2 of Game of Thrones, the game has multiple weapons and enemies with quick progression from ocean to land to climbing to duelling.

The game which launches February 17 revealed epic fights and endless replayability. Definitely a must for multiplayer.

One of the more colourful titles, Grow Home was up next with the revealing of its sequel Grow Up. Here you play as Bud and you are no longer under the watchful eye of mother. Using seeds and plants it is your aim to get Bud to the moon. The game will release in August on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

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Every Ubisoft game should get a Blood Dragon makeover.

Like Far Cry, Trials is the next Ubisoft game to get a Blood Dragon makeover. The trailer showcased a gimic-like 80’s GI Joe commercial with toys and bright psychedelic colours. The game seems very similar to the Far Cry title and has plenty of rides and fast-paced vehicles, but also certain tracks which include none at all. This is definitely one of the most fun and layed back games to get stuck into!

Finally, it was the game we had all be waiting to see, Watchdogs 2. You play as Marcus a new hacker for DedS3c who will take down corporations and social media as humans are fixated with technology. You’re not alone in taking back control of the establishment as you will be working with ‘Wrench’, ‘Sitara’ and ‘Josh’. Each character plays an important role in Marcus’ hacking and infiltration. One of the most exciting parts of this game is that in San Francisco, you can pretty much hack anything from TV’s, cars and any old household equipment. This can be used to help get to your goals and mess with those around you.

There are also a lot of gadgets to be used including robots and drones which are a nice touch to a modern game and can be used as mobile cameras to see who is in the buildings you are infiltrating. There’s plenty of shooting to be had too but, this title seems to have a better grasp of what Watchdogs should be unlike its predecessor. The game will release on November 15.

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We thought it was all over, but Ubisoft wants us to socialise and get a little extreme.

One more game was revealed and my word through their own engine, Ubisoft has made one of the most strikingly beautiful titles I’ve seen at this event yet. ‘Steep‘ is an extreme snow/winter sport title including base jumping, snowboarding and paragliding. There is a big social aspect to the game as well where you share stunts, crashes, maps and who knows what else.

The aim of this is to play with other players and invite them into your game. You can set challenges with your own rules such as jumping off of a certain cliff that you think is particularly hard. You can replay a lot of material, save it, set tracks and watch any other user’s performance. The beta will be available soon if you register and the game is set to launch in December.

I really recommend checking out this title as it will be something special and is a game-type that is unheard of! Sure Nintendo might have 1080 Snowboarding and Pilotwings, but trust me it is nothing like this. Ubisoft might not have the impressive stage Microsoft and Sony have but that doesn’t mean they don’t have plenty of great titles in the works.