Kritigri’s Bumper Behemoth Blog Post of E3 Commentary

So for those of you who aren’t aware, or have forgotten to take your VR headset off and experience the outside world for the last few weeks, E3 has occurred. Well… it’s technically still occurring, but day 1 is out of the way and that’s mostly what we were all here for. Come on, developers, show us what games you’ve made so we can get hyped or piss all over them, respectively.

Let’s start with EA’s conference.

EA

For a while back there, EA used to be the epitome of everything that was wrong with gaming. They have since mellowed out a bit and handed that torch over to Ubisoft, though, and it’s amusing to see them try and convince everybody that they’re the good guys now, as was evident when they announced that their indie devs get to keep 100% of the profit from their games. That being said, they have to make money somehow, and there’s already been a few theories about how EA are making money out of this… but, giving credit where it’s due, it still seems to be a pretty sweet deal for the indie devs. So that’s nice.

Once more they flashed Mass Effect: Andromeda across the screen in the form of a fancy-pants new trailer, and once more we learned almost nothing about it apart from the emphasis on a female protagonist. And don’t get me wrong, that’s pretty cool. It would just have been nice to see some more from a game which is already beginning to suffer from the modern curse of announcing games years before they’re ready.

I can’t really speak for Titanfall 2! I’ve never played / watched anyone play Titanfall 1, so I’m not going to pretend to know anything about it. (You’ll see me make comments like this a few times over the course of this blog post, for the sake of honesty.) Titanfall as a series has never really interested me, but I’ve never been a big mech combat kind of a guy.

Sports. They brought out a football manager (I really know nothing about sports) to talk about how great FIFA was, and he couldn’t have looked less bemused to be there. I’ll admit that their new approach to FIFA in regards to having an actual protagonist is interesting, and a little variation within the series is probably sorely needed. They’ve also started using their apparently all-purpose Frostbite engine for the game, so it’ll be interesting to see how that works out. As for MADDEN… I’m sorry, but do you really want me to comment on a videogame I’m not interested in about a sport of which I have no idea even works? Let’s move on.

So this was around the time that EA marched their innocent little indie dev out onto the stage and let him live his dream. It was adorable. It was also very reminiscent of last year’s Unravel reveal. Perhaps this is to become an annual event for EA? Whatever the case, Fe looks like a gorgeous game that appeals to PS2 era gamers. The soundtrack sounds beautiful, and I look forward to flying a gravity-defying, neon purple stingray over violet forests sometime in the future.

Hello, Star Wars fans! Star Wars Star Wars Star Wars? Star Wars Star Wars, Star Wars Star Wars Star Wars! We heard you like Star Wars, so we teamed up with Star Wars to bring you Star Wars, Star Wars, and Star Wars! Please give us your money while we show you all of these Star Wars developers and no games at all! Star Wars. Also more Battlefront.

And then we leave promises of a galaxy far, far away to witness angry people shooting each other long, long ago. Battlefield 1 promises to take us back to the era of World War 1 for some wacky horse-riding gun-toting blimp-busting hi-jinks. Maybe I’m just ill-informed, but I do not remember WW1 being such a playground of absurdity from my studies in secondary school… though from what I’ve heard on the internet it’s fairly accurate. Mostly. It seems that DICE are putting many automatic weapons in the game, despite their presence in WW1 being rare, late, and prototypical at best. But I suppose they’re there for gameplay reasons.

This was probably the flattest presentation given in the entirety of E3, in my opinion.

Bethesda

Remember Quake? We knew you did! And we’ve listened to our players and assessed what they love most about the game, and have therefore tampered with the core experience and turned the game into a hero-based shooter! Announcing Quake: Champions, to the bemusement of Quake fans everywhere. Though personally, I think it could be a good game, just… different. And to be fair, that’s how I feel about Unreal Tournament 3, and that thing is the disgraced sibling of the Unreal Tournament family. This announcement was also, “This is a thing! Glad you came to E3, now go to Quakecon instead.”

They announced more information on The Elder Scrolls: Legends card game. As I’d personally predicted after the success of Hearthstone, it would seem that every franchise is suddenly jumping on the card game train, and since it’s a genre I don’t have much interest in, I don’t have much to contribute to the matter. It does look very different to Hearthstone, though, so there’s that.

They’re making more DLC for Fallout 4, and most of it seems to be based around one particular gimmick per DLC. I don’t play the game, but if I did, I’d probably be more interested in gameplay based DLC rather than updates to crafting and building systems. They’re also porting the Fallout: Shelter mobile game to PC, which is historically a controversial practice, but one which I’m not too opposed with, so long as they state that it was originally a mobile game on the store page. And whilst this probably doesn’t apply to Fallout: Shelter, so long as they also make the game playable outside of the removed microtransactional gates through which they originally built the game around.

Skyrim: Special Edition. As someone who has put 137 hours into the PC version, I’m not sure whether I should be excited for this. I think that porting it to PS4 and Xbox One is a brilliant idea, but as far as the PC goes, there’s a plethora of graphics mods which increase the game’s sexiness to the Special Edition’s levels and beyond. They’ve not revealed too much as to any other enhancements to the game, and whilst Legendary Edition Steam users get the update for free, I’m not sure it’ll be worth me updating to, myself, as I’ve not got the most powerful PC. I’d much rather have seen a remastered Oblivion.

I’m afraid I don’t know much about Prey. It looks like an interesting story. Be thankful for this respite in the word count.

They also announced some multiplayer DOOM DLC, along with some free updates. I don’t have much to comment there, either, other than the fact that I’d rather they concentrated on some single-player DLC for when I finally get around to playing the game.

The Elder Scrolls Online! I don’t really have much to say regarding what they revealed here, as I’m still like level 20 in-game. I will say that the ‘One Tamriel’ system sounds good for gameplay (and for people who want to enter the world and do what they want without restriction like in other Elder Scrolls games), but I have no idea how they’re going to make the work with the storyline, which is, from my experience, very linear. One thing I would like to mention about ESO is how disheartening it is to hear every Youtube personality I enjoy slander the game for simply not being another single-player Elder Scrolls title. Give it a rest, guys. It’s a good game in its own right. From my experience so far, anyway.

Dishonored 2 is another one of those franchises that has passed me by. Every Steam sale I linger over the page for Dishonored 1, and every Steam sale I just barely decide not to bother buying it. Maybe it’s time for a reconsideration.

Bethesda’s decision to incorporate VR into their existing triple-A titles is interesting, because it’s not the kind of thing I’ve pegged VR for being good at. I don’t feel that playing Fallout 4 in VR would be an optimal experience, but this is coming from someone who’s never used VR, so maybe – hopefully – I’m wrong.

Microsoft

I missed the beginning of this one, so I didn’t even know they’d announced the Xbox One S until the end. They discussed Gears of War 4, Killer Instinct, Forza Horizon 3, and Recore, none of which interest me or which I’d probably have anything to comment on anyway. When I joined the stream, they were talking about some DLC for The Divison and they then showed Battlefield 1’s trailer again, before talking about some new Xbox Live features that don’t apply to >this guy<, so I didn’t pay too much attention. I know, I know, I’m professional.

Inside was… well… a trailer of someone sitting in a room. That’s about it. It’s really not my fault that I don’t have anything to say this time!

We Happy Few looks like an absolutely fantastic narrative experience. It’s the first (I hesitate to say only) game in the conference that really gripped me, made me sit up in my seat and pay attention. Throughout the entire trailer I was intrigued as to the nature of this world, the story that was being told, and at the end… well, see the trailer for yourself.

Here’s my experience with The Witcher series:

The Witcher

Woops. This is one of those games that I really liked what I played of, but realised I had to dedicate some exclusive time to it in order to get to grips with the gameplay and the story. And I don’t want to skip to another game later in the series, as I’m a sucker for chronology when it’s available. So, I’ve never played The Witcher 3, and I’ve never experienced Gwent, and so to me it looks like just another card game. But everyone seems ecstatic about it, and I’m happy for them.

Hey look everybody, it’s Street Fighter x Tekken! Wait… wait no it’s not, it’s just Tekken 7 with a trailer that prominently features a Street Fighter character. Don’t worry, we knew that wouldn’t be confusing. Anyway look forward to that!

As someone who is familiar with neither franchise (are we seeing a non-Xbox gamer theme here?), I wasn’t sure as to whether this trailer was for a Dead Rising game or a new Lollipop Chainsaw. It happened to be the former, and while I love fictional gratuitous violence as much as the next guy, you’ve got to admit that zombies are getting stale. Really, really stale.

Scalebound! I know nothing about this. It looks like a bigger Monster Hunter but with a really, really annoying voice actor.

Sea of Thieves looks like a really cool concept and I’m a big fan of the graphical aesthetic. It’s somewhat reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. The fact that they used a Let’s Play to showcase the game was somewhat mollifying.

Forget everything I said about zombie games a few paragraphs ago, State of Decay 2 is exciting. Kinda? I’ve never… actually… played State of Decay. I own it! I’m going to play it! The concept of getting your character killed forever and playing as one of their friends from that point onwards sounds excellent to me, and I can only hope that they continue this trend in a bigger way with SoD 2… but they really need a new acronym.

Halo Wars 2. Winston’s seen some hard times, man.

Okay, let’s talk about this. Project Scorpio. Hey, you remember that new Xbox we talked about at the start of the conference? Here’s your reason not to buy it or the existing Xbox One! We’re removing the generational gap between consoles and making it so you can still play Xbox One games on the Scorpio, and vice verca! That totally isn’t going to cause a myriad of problems and remove one of the biggest factors that console gaming has going for it – simplicity. I’ve bought a game, it’s going to run as intended. Easy. Not any more. “Hey, will this new game run well on the Xbox One or should I wait until I can buy whatever the hell the Scorpio is going to be called?” Not cool. I didn’t like it when Nintendo pulled this shit with the New 3DS, and I don’t like it now. But on the upside, it does look like a very powerful and impressive console in its own right.

They were also banging on a bit about how Xbox games would be playable on Windows 10. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I may actually be able to play some Xbox exclusives sometime in the future, when I have a better PC and am forced to accept Windows 10. On the other, Steam is the only platform I want my games to be on. It has all of my achievements, my gametime, my games, my friends, and it’s just my preferred choice of interface. The more games split into places like Origin, UPlay and now simply Windows 10, the less likely I am to buy them.

PC Gaming

I er… I missed this one altogether. Didn’t even know it was happening. And given that I do most of my gaming on PC, I certainly didn’t miss it on purpose. But I gave a flick through the games which were announced and all that, and I don’t really have much to say. And besides, this blog post is long enough as it is!

Ubisoft

Ubisoft. What a mixed bag of weirdness, the odd decent game, and just getting it wrong. I’m one of the few people who seems to enjoy Aisha Tyler as a host, but that intro was downright discombobulating. But hey, at least they got Just Dance out of the way.

I’ve heard Ghost Recon: Wildlands described as ‘the gameplay the GTA V’s heists sorely needed’, and I can understand that. This game looks good. It doesn’t look particularly groundbreaking or original, but it looks good. If you have a good few friends to play this with and co-ordinate with, you could see yourself having a very good time. The gameplay commentary they chose for this trailer was not the cringeworthy attempt at realism that was last year’s The Divison gameplay trailer, and it wasn’t Sea of Thieves’ unapologetically Let’s Play style either. They chose, instead, to go with an immersive commentary which you certainly won’t be hearing from your friends, which certainly wasn’t realistic, but certainly made the trailer an actual enjoyable experience. So, yeah. Looks ‘ite.

That being said, Ubisoft have a history of rigging their E3 gameplay demos and severely under-delivering in the final product, so take everything with a pinch – or a fistful – of salt. I cannot express how much of a shitty marketing practice this is, and I can only hope that time tells they’ve changed their approach this year.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole. South Park always feels like a massive change of pace whenever they arrive on stage at E3, but as somebody who’s never played The Stick of Truth, perhaps that’s just my brain yelling, “But this is TV!” My interest in the first game has been very slowly rising with each appearance that Trey Parker and Matt Stone make, and it’s to the point now where I think I’m finally going to invest in it in the next Steam sale. The gameplay shown for the sequel had me laughing on multiple occasions, and I think it’s fair to say that this was one of the highlights of Ubisoft’s conference.

They then showed The Division’s DLC, a game which has apparently lost 93% of its players since launch due to neglect from the developers. Due to this, I was mostly chuckling to myself throughout the entire trailer. They cleverly worded that “over 10 million players have experienced The Division since launch” (paraphrasing, but something very much like that) in order to avoid this statistic. Oh, Ubisoft.

Ubisoft then went on to showcase some of their VR games. I personally thought that Eagle Flight could be a very interesting and fun game, but I’ve heard plenty of skepticism since, so perhaps I’m in the minority there. And sure, they all looked very silly waving their heads around, but when has anyone ever not looked dumb in VR? They also showed Star Trek: Bridge Crew, and… well… ‘showed’ is a very generous term there. Around 85% of that clip was Star Trek actors talking about how amazing it was, interlaced with very quick snippets of gameplay. I’m dubious.

I was very interested in the story of For Honor, and I thought the single-player gameplay they unveiled looked pretty cool too, but I’ve heard criticisms. I think it’s because people have spent a long time looking at For Honor as a purely multiplayer game, and as I’m more of a single-player gamer myself, I’m perhaps more open-minded (see: naive) on the matter. As long as there’s more story and gameplay to what we saw instead of just repeating similar scenarios over and over, I think we’ll be okay.

I’ve played a little of Grow Home and watched a lot more of it, and I’m delighted that it’s getting a sequel. Grow Up looks like it introduces some interesting new mechanics and expands the game world. Here’s hoping it’ll be as theraputic as the original. My one complaint is that I won’t be able to talk about the game without sounding like I’m criticising the person I’m talking to about it. “Oh yeah, you should play Grow Up.”

And then it got weird again. Like, really weird. Uncomfortably weird. Trials of the Blood Dragon is an attempt at making Trials as wacky as Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was, and perhaps I’m just grumpy and boring, but having seen the trailer, I feel like I’d prefer just another good, normal, Trials game. I’m still heartbroken that my PC refuses to run Trials Fusion.

“Hey, maybe the Assassin’s Creed movie will finally be the movie that breaks the videogame movie curse!” No, that was Warcraft, you plebs. It does look good, though.

Hahaha, Watch Dogs 2. Hahaha. Oh boy. Okay, right, no, so the actual game footage didn’t look too bad, although I was like put out when the stealthy hacky master started gunning down security guards like he was trained in the military… again. And he’s a parkour master now, too? Ubisoft, just make that GTA clone you’re trying to convince yourself you don’t want to make. And the trailer held all the telltale signs of dynamic events being specifically timed and scripted for the E3 demo, just like the initial Watch Dogs did. But all in all, the gameplay doesn’t look awful. It just looks like it addresses none of the problems of the previous game.

And then the CEO came waltzing out and called the first Watch Dogs a ‘huge success’.

I’m sorry. WHAT?!

The inability to recognise the faults of your previous title does not indicate to me that this man is fit to run a business. The point blank denial to admit, and possibly even to believe that the first game was fundamentally flawed explains many of Ubisoft’s awful decisions in recent years to me. Game companies are allowed to admit they fucked up. In fact, it’s welcomed. Zenimax did it, with Elder Scrolls Online. They won people’s trust back by doing so, and by fixing the game. This denial achieves nothing. And the introduction of the final game of the presentation just emphasises how possibly out of touch Ubisoft’s CEO might be. Get ready for the next big thing. Get ready for a whole new genre. It’s… it’s…

It’s SSX Online.

It’s called Steep, and all that I really got out of it was the potential of the first person perspective. But they gave no indication of VR support, so that’s a bit of a wet fart anyway. They want this to be connected online, as a big open world, with a grand total of what looked like four peaks to start from. Sorry… four? Realistic, sure, but that’s going to get boring after a while, is it not? That’s the problem I have with SSX, too. Maybe I’m not the right person to criticise this game. Maybe it’s even a good game. But the intro given by the CEO of Ubisoft legitimately worries me, and really does explain a lot.

Sony

Sony’s magnificent conference – I feel like I should say performance – was a welcome retreat from Ubisoft’s, erm, less than eventful event. Sony launched into their orchestral presentation with Dad of War God of War. And as somebody who has never played any of the previous games, I was enraptured. And yes, I know, the gameplay is different to its predecessors, but it’s given me reason to go back and look at them nonetheless. This looks amazing.

Now, you know what the gaming world needs? THAT’S RIGHT MORE ZOMBIE SHOOTERS! I can almost understand pre-existing franchises like Dead Rising and State of Decay making sequels to their games, or games like Sunset Overdrive doing something new with the genre, but even though it looks good, Days Gone looks like a generic zombie shooter. Jumping ahead to the gameplay they showed at the end of the conference, I didn’t see anything in particular which screamed original gameplay, and though it was pretty and they had many enemies on the screen at once – and it was tense – I fail to see the point behind this game.

I don’t know what The Last Guardian is, but it got a massive cheer, so I’m assuming that’s good. Unless they were paid to cheer… haha what am I saying, this isn’t Ubisoft.

Horizon: Zero Dawn’s nonsensical title can be forgiven for it’s gorgeous and enticing gameplay. Welcome to the land of robot monsters. You’re, uh, a slightly teched-up tribal woman with a bow and arrow (as is the current craze). But she kicks ass. And she looks like Ygritte. And fallen civilisation stories of decades or centuries after the fall always interest me, which is what I’m assuming has happened here. So I’ll be keeping my eye on this one. All this being said… it is yet another survival crafting game, and I’m more sick of those than of zombie shooters.

Detroit: Become Human is an interesting new take on the player-driven narrative genre. You are some sort of Android cop, and in the demo you’re trying to talk another Android down from jumping off a roof with a little girl. The demo does a very good job of showing the multitudes of different ways this can play out, and given that it’s not one long narrative with lots of decisions leading up to a conclusion (as far as has been shown), I have faith that this really will let you feel like you’re affecting the world. I only hope that there’s plenty of different situations throughout the game, rather than them putting all the work into only a few with lots of different outcomes.

Resident Evil 7. I don’t do horror games. Too dreary, too miserable. Too scary. And now it’s in VR! I’m going to continue to avoid these until somebody forces me to stop being such a baby. Shout-out to the guy who went, “Noooo! I hate Kitchen! I hate it!” as the trailer started. No idea if that has any significance to the franchise.

They showed off a whole bunch of PSVR titles like Farpoint, Batman Arkham VR and ‘a Star Wars Battlefront VR X-Wing mission‘. Looks pretty cool. I’d still probably go for a Vive, though.

Final Fantasy is yet another popular videogame franchise that I’ve not touched, so look forward to this review: The characters all sounded very enthusiastic when they were doing the magical anime things they were doing, something something VR too. (Look, all I know is that the Sephiroth soundtrack is amazing.)

I didn’t know that I was watching a Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare trailer until they got out of the spaceships and started shooting people. And honestly, I was very impressed. It looked like a movie. I’m not the biggest fan of Call of Duty games (I’ve played a fair amount of Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer + zombies, that’s it), and I’m not frothing at the mouth for this one, but it’s cool that they’re taking this series in a new direction.

Oh right and speaking of new directions they’re re-releasing Modern Warfare 1 woo yay whatever-

CRASH

GODDAMN

BANDICOOT

is going to be ‘remastered and built from the ground up’ for PS4. The way I see that working is that they’re not going to be changing anything to do with the actual layout of the game, but it is obviously going to be running on a new engine, new graphics etc. It’s not the ‘re-imagining’ that was Ratchet and Clank and it’s not the ‘remaster’ that is most HD collections. In all honesty they should have called it a ‘faithful recreation’. And yes, I laughed at the complete lack of applause when they said ‘But for now, here’s Crash Bandicoot in Skylanders.’

Now I’d do the ‘LEGO GODDAMN STAR WARS‘ bit but I just did that with Crash Bandicoot and I’d had to go stale after 4,200 words. (You’re still reading? That’s impressive. I never meant for this to go on for so long, I’m so sorry.) LEGO Star Wars was one of my favourite games as a kid, and I still enjoy modern LEGO franchise games, so I’m looking forward to this one. That being said, the trailer didn’t reveal much that we already knew or expected, and the fact that this is one of those games where they rip audio from the movie instead of having it be originally voice acted is saddening but understandable.

Hideo Kojima fucked up the light bridge walk and I’ll never forgive him for it. He also showed us some random-ass trailer about a dude on a beach with a fetus and dead fish and people in the sky so I don’t have much to say other than ‘wut’. This was just a fancy way of saying ‘we’re working on something’, I think. T’was Death Stranding.

SPIDER-MAN! INSOMNIAC! Good god it’s my dream combination, though not one I ever thought I’d see, or even think about. A modern-day Spider-Man game that isn’t tied to a movie and is being developed by Insomniac has just made me the happiest Spidey / Insomniac fan and was a more than welcome surprise to see towards the end of the show. Here’s hoping they get the web-swinging right.

Oh right yes, they then showed that Days Gone gameplay I’ve already talked about. And that was that. No new console, but I think they still beat Microsoft this conference. I really need to get a PS4.

Square Enix

The Square Enix conference either hasn’t happened yet or I’ve missed it, but we’re at 4,500 words and I think it’s about time we wrapped this behemoth of a blog post up. If you read all of it – or any of it – then I humbly thank you for reading my opinions in a sea of others. If Square Enix have an interesting show at all I might put out a bonus blog post tomorrow or some-

I FORGOT NINTENDO

Nintendo

Well to be fair, they were pretty forgettable. They’ve essentially neglected E3 for the last few years because they’re special snowflakes and shutup I’m not still bitter about the New 3DS at all. But I’ll start with the smaller of their two focuses:

Pokemon Sun and Moon had very little new information revealed about it. They spent much of the conference making absurd statements like ‘We designed the starters to be cute’ and lots of other tiny details. They ‘revealed’ a trailer which we’d already seen, too. It felt like it was thrown together last-minute and that the game really wasn’t ready to show off. Still, I suppose it was nice to see what we did – 3 new Pokemon and the second 10 or so minutes of the game. But Pokemon was never going to be Nintendo’s highlight this E3.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD deserves capital letters because it’s essentially the only thing Nintendo care about this year. And I was miffed at that for a good few weeks until they actually unveiled the damn trailer, and boy howdy, that game looks good enough to make me say boy howdy for the first time in my life. If the game world is half as huge as Nintendo make it out to be, we’re going to be in for a real treat. That being said… bring more than one game to E3 next year, Nintendo.

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