World of Warcraft as a Single Player Game

BlizzCon is fast approaching, and it seems highly likely that Blizzard are about to announce the eighth expansion to their almost thirteen year old MMO. The game is old enough that it’s possible for couples to have met in Azeroth and had a child by now who could raid the Tomb of Sargeras with them. And yet, with Legion being the most popular expansion since Wrath of the Lich King, development shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. But all good things must come to an end, and WoW’s end – be it a year or a decade from now – is as inevitable as the sun blinking out forever someday.

The end of WoW is a possibility that’s surely never far from player’s minds, especially those who live and breathe for their Azerothian alter egos. I know people who have max level characters across every class, who throw themselves into raids every week and have sunk tens of thousands of hours into the game. And I’m no part-timer myself. So the prospect of interest in the game dwindling enough to lead to servers closing down is cause for worry and speculation, especially as the game shows more and more signs of aging. Sure, they continue to graphically update the game and introduce new mechanics, but some things can’t be fixed in an expansion. World of Warcraft will always be limited to the foundations the game was built on, which in itself is a bastardisation of the Warcraft 3 game engine, as far as I understand it.

The way I see it, though, it’s no cause for worry. As the MMO as a genre grows older its interesting to see the various ways in which some of the games stay alive after their discontinuation. Many close down for good. Some, like Everquest and Guild Wars, move onto sequels whilst keeping the original game alive with a smaller development team for those dedicated few. In Runescape’s case, Jagex came to realised that the game had transformed so much that they needed to bring back an older edition as a separate game to keep a portion of their audience happy. But some games, like Wurm Online and The Secret World, have opted to modify the game to become available for offline play.

Now, Wurm Online is still going, but the developers opted to create an edition called Wurm Unlimited that’s purchasable on Steam for players who want to run their own servers or play by themselves with customisable rulesets, such as changing the amount of time it takes to harvest a resource. And while I haven’t played it myself, PC Gamer’s Secret World: Legends review portrays the game’s move to single-player as being a slightly awkward but somewhat successful shift, concluding that “The more that you want to play it as an MMO, the more you’re likely to chafe at this reboot’s restrictions, especially in terms of loot. For more solo or narrative-focused players, however, it’s a great second chance to see what it has to offer, as well as the Secret World’s best chance in years to expand its reach and continue telling its story.”

MMO’s aren’t, as a rule, built to be played offline. World of Warcraft especially stands out as an MMO that has enjoyed iteration upon iteration within its lifetime, and most recently has gained functions in the world that encourages and requires player co-operation, such as particular world quest bosses and rare mobs. This, I think, would be the biggest issue in turning World of Warcraft into a single-player experience. As for dungeons and raids… well, just because the game isn’t an MMO doesn’t mean it has to be single-player entirely. I can’t picture Blizzard being comfortable with handing the reigns of server administration and hosting over to players such as with Wurm Unlimited. However, I can see them dedicating some server space for hosting online parties to go dungeon delving or raiding, though I can’t guess as to how much demand there’d be for raiding in a static world.

As for the gameplay side of things, I don’t think WoW would prosper as a single-player game if it were transformed in the state it’s in today. The entire world’s questing and story was overhauled back in Cataclysm, but the time period between the Cataclysm overhaul and now is greater than between the original game and Cataclysm. Blizzard recently reviewed the 1-40 levelling experience and re-balanced the amount of damage it takes to kill enemies, as low level players were wiping the floor with bosses without so much as a second thought. There’s still a lot of work to be done though, and with each patch and expansion the cohesion of the overall game slips more and more in favour of the last ten levels being the sole focus of enjoyable content. You typically won’t find any challenging or gripping content gameplay-wise until you’re playing through the most recent expansion, and that’s hundreds of hours of dedication which most players aren’t going to be willing to dedicate.

All hope is not lost, though. Talk among the WoW playerbase seems to be mostly unanimous on the front of the old levelling experience needing a new touch of paint, and with the new level-scaling system and world questing system, there’s a decent chance that Azeroth is going to get the modernisation it needs to bring it up to speed with the modern day expansions. Blizzard themselves have acknowledged the need for this in Q&A’s, so I’m definitely interested to see what’s in store as BlizzCon approaches. But while I hope that this update would lay the groundwork for a single-player World of Warcraft, I hope even more that the day when it’s needed is still far in the future. And besides, I’m sure that when Blizzard does finally call it a day for WoW or releases a sequel, they’ll keep the servers for the original game up for many years afterwards.

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The Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo’s Recent Launch History

When the Switch was first announced, I was ecstatic. The proof-of-concept type trailer that they used to show the functionality of the Switch was a frequently watched video for the next few weeks, and the possibilities – mainly, portable Skyrim – were enticing. It’s the most excited I’ve ever been for a Nintendo home console, as somebody who only really paid attention to the company’s non-handhelds around the launch of the Wii. And for the most part, my excitement remains unchanged. But there’s one big reason (besides the price) that I’m not going to grab the console any time soon, and it’s the same reason why I’ve never been all that fussed about rushing for a brand new Nintendo console.

Launch titles. Nintendo has a history of launching their consoles with very little in the way of actual games, and the Switch is no exception. Typically, there will be one big, triple-A title, followed by a smattering of third party games that are swiftly forgotten in the following months, and a game or two which promotes the main gimmick of the console. For instance, with the launch of the DS, the US saw the release of Super Mario 64 DS – a remake of an older game – alongside Asphalt Urban GT, The Urbz: Sims in the City, Feel the Magic: XY/XX, Spider-Man 2 and Madden NFL 2005. The Wii’s launch was somewhat more respectable, with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wii Sports (their proof of concept style title), and a handful of larger titles found on other consoles. The 3DS launch was particularly barren, with not a single standout title and a smattering of potential interests depending on your niche franchise preferences. The ill-faring Wii U launched with a dramatic number of title ports that ultimately failed to pull audiences away from rival consoles which did a better job of running the games.

The Switch, then, follows this pattern to a tee. You have the large triple-A title that everyone wants to play, namely The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And you have their gimmicky demo, 1-2 Switch, which I’ve seen reported as being fun for a few hours but far from a full title. (Hello again, Wii Sports. I see they gave you a hefty price tag this time.) You have an attempt to revitalise a dead franchise (here’s to you, Bomberman) and a few niche or unique titles. In all fairness, I’ve not played them. They could be fantastic. But I’ve not heard much besides “meh”.

I was going to dedicate a portion of this blog post to what I thought was a less-than-wise decision to launch your new console with its main title being available on the previous platform. From what I’ve seen and heard, Breath of the Wild is only slightly less impressive on the Wii U – almost negligibly so. I’d just like to point out that on this front, though, I was dead wrong, as Breath of the Wild is apparently outselling Super Mario 64 as a launch title so far. I felt that was worth mentioning, considering how this blog post has criticised Nintendo’s console launches so far. I’m not a big Zelda fan myself, and even I want to get my hands on this one.

Despite all of this, I’m still pretty damn excited for the Switch. I’ve seen the list of games which are coming to the console, and I’m absolutely planning on buying titles such as Skyrim, Terraria, and Stardew Valley for a second (or third) time, as well as investing in some other indies that I’ve not gotten around to yet like Shovel Knight, The Binding of Isaac and Unbox. Plus, the 3DS gamer in me is eager to delve into the Virtual Console library again, and to own some of Nintendo’s older games that previously didn’t make it onto the 3DS shop. Plus, as somebody who skipped the Wii U as deftly as Neo from The Matrix dodges bullets, I’m looking forward to owning a Nintendo home console again and playing some larger titles.

But that’ll all come in a year or two. Because, once again, Nintendo has given us a console with hardly any decent games attached. I’m just hoping that Breath of the Wild’s success will carry the Switch past Nintendo’s recent early day console failings. The 3DS caught up, but the Wii U never did quite manage to recover from so many devs pulling their support.

I’ve also found Nintendo to focus somewhat too much on giving their consoles some crazy functionality, to the point where it can hinder gameplay. I can only assume that after the Gamecube’s failure to compete against the Xbox and the PS2, Nintendo decided to stop competing altogether and take things in a whole different direction. It worked for the DS. Theoretically speaking, it worked for the Wii, but in a manner that made it more of a family party console than the Nintendo gaming console that many people wanted. I can’t count the number of times I got sick of playing Animal Crossing because of the Wii’s motion controls. The 3DS had a dismissable gimmick, so much so that Nintendo capitalised on it and sold a non-3D variant of the console. The Wii U was a weird mess of motion control and dual screens combined into a home console with an identity crisis. The Switch, however, has functionality which actually makes it more convenient to play, like Nintendo’s handhelds, as opposed to being less convenient, such as its home-based predecessors.

So, that’s about the sum of my thoughts regarding the Switch. I’m sure they mirror many others. I’ll be excited to own it when it has a decent library a year or two from now, so that it can be the companion console to my gaming PC. As much as I frown upon Nintendo’s functionality-driven approach to consoles, it works out for them in the somewhat niche market of PC gamers looking for a console that isn’t simply a less-powerful version of what they can already accomplish. Making it semi-portable is what mostly solidified my interest in it.

Player Owned Housing

So I don’t know about you, but I personally have always been a fan of the Player Owned Housing systems typically found in MMOs and RPGs. The idea of having your own personal space which can be decorated with your heroic endeavours (or plain old furniture) has always been charming to me, and with the release of ESO’s Homestead update which adds (surprise surprise) Player Owned Housing, I thought I’d look back on some of my favourite versions of this feature in gaming.

To begin with, though, I’ll add that I’ve barely scratched the surface of ESO’s Homestead update. As a poor, lowly level 30ish character, I don’t feel the pull to immediately go home hunting, knowing in my heart that I won’t be able to afford much more than the free inn room that the opening quest awards you. I have a clip of my reaction upon entering my “House” for the first time, though:

Cosy.

Before moving on from the topic of ESO, I will add that what I have seen of the furnishing system looks very well done and fleshed out. It’s not grid or tile based; nor is it a simple options menu that allows you to select what you put in your house, but not where, as was the case in Skyrim (and Runescape, incidentally, discussed below). ESO’s furnishing system allows full free to place your furniture and collections anywhere. And, er, I mean anywhere.

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It has idle animations, too. The breathing wallhorse is a sight to behold.

So anyway, my first real housing system was in Runescape, and it comes in the form of one of its many skills, Construction. Any Runescape player that isn’t a billionaire will happily tell you how much of a bitch Construction is to train, as it’s one of the most expensive skills in the game. Obviously you have to buy your plot of land, and then each room costs money too – a pittance, really, but to a low-levelled player with little money, it’s a fair gold sink. You also have to pay to upgrade the size of your land, to allow for expansion. The real money sink, however, comes in the form of planks, which you need to build the majority of your furniture. Planks cannot be made by the player. The player must take logs to the sawmill and pay 500gp each to have them made into planks, a cost which adds up alarmingly quickly given how many planks you’ll be needing.

Besides this, however, the housing system is great… though on second thoughts, I may be looking at it through rose-tinted glasses, seeing as room furnishing layouts are unchangeable, you can simply construct different tiers of furniture within the highlighted spaces. Regardless, it’s still a satisfying feeling to upgrade your wonky, uncomfortable parlour chairs into cushioned seats, and to add more functionality to your kitchen as you go along. My favourite part about Runescape’s housing system was always the player-run house parties you could attend back in the day. I don’t know if anyone still bothers with them, but last time I checked, the house party world was devoid of, erm, parties. That being said, they may have all moved to Prifdinnas, a high level area I’m yet to unlock.

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Here’s my attempt at capturing the entire downstairs of my house. Yes, it’s wonky shaped. Can’t be helped!
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And here’s the upstairs. Bit less filled out, working on it!

Another one of my favourite housing systems belongs in Skyrim, though there are two types of houses in that game. The first one that shipped with the vanilla game consists of you unlocking the ability to buy a house, buying the house, and then buying each room from the steward to become fully furnished. Quite basic, but functional, and homely enough to enjoy living in. Plus, the cost was well-tailored to make it obtainable, whilst maintaining the satisfaction of making a hefty purchase to secure your own home.

The second version launched with the Hearthfire DLC, and allows you to build a house from scratch, adding from a choice of different wings as your house expanded. Much like Runescape though, you didn’t choose your furniture so much as unlock it. This is perhaps a little more forgiveable given that it’s a single player RPG, and players are therefore unlikely to think of making their home unique a priority. It’s a good place to store the wife and kids, anyway. And speaking of storage, houses in Skyrim acted as a sort of bank, in that they contained safe chests for you to store all your dragon bones and cheesewheels in.

skyrimhouse
I always liked this screenshot of my house.

Player Owned Housing is a system that has been requested in World of Warcraft for many years now. In fact, one gate at the end of the Stormwind Canals had an inaccessible instance portal which the devs later admitted was going to lead into player housing. However, they said they’d only ever add it to the game if it had a function other than the novelty of owning a house. Player owned housing is still an often requested feature, but what many players don’t realise is that the Garrisons of Warlords of Draenor was a take on that concept. Players were given their own garrison which only they could enter, and it provided many in-game purposes regarding quest lines, professions, and conveniences such as accessing your bank and various vendors. Garrisons are retrospectively viewed as one of the worst ideas in the WoW, as they removed the multiplayer aspect by giving players too much accessibility in their private garrisons, and the mobile type gameplay of the mission tables one used to govern their garrison followers ensured that the player didn’t even have to complete dungeon or raiding content to get the best gear.

What players don’t realise – or seem to have forgotten – was the initial success of the Garrisons system, before it became apparent that they were going to lead into the death of gameplay. For the first time in Warcraft history, players had their own space in-game that they could customise (albeit to a very limited degree) and make their own. I remember reddit flooding with positive feedback about the system for a good month, and I myself was delighted with having my own base of operations. This, of course, didn’t last, and I soon despise my garrison as much as everyone else. Now we’re in Legion, however, I’ll admit that it’s not so bad when revisiting Warlords of Draenor’s content, although the lack of any cosmetic customisability is disappointing.

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Disregard the fact that my spellbook is open. This is totally not a salvaged screenshot of the only picture I have of my garrison on my hard drive. LOOK I’M NOT SUBSCRIBED RIGHT NOW OKAY

There were, of course, plenty of other games that allowed you the ownership and customisation of your own house. An old web game I used to play called Gaia Online is still around:

gaia-house
I’m surprised this is still around.

I remember trying out Everquest 2 specifically for the player housing:

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Picture taken on my old, dying laptop, hence the horrible graphics quality.

And of course, the most cutting edge player housing of them all:

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Club Penguin, home of accidental intimidation.

All in all, there are plenty of games which give you your own house to dick around in, and I’m always drawn to the objective of owning my own place. Maybe it’s what drew me to Minecraft and Animal Crossing. Well, in the meantime, here’s another goofy EQ2 screenshot:

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Welcome to Jackass.

The Death of Club Penguin

Bloody hell, remember Club Penguin? I decided to revisit it with a friend just last week after being thoroughly surprised to find it still going. To my surprise, the game was very recognisable and largely unchanged since I’d last logged in sometime around 2008…ish. Well, anyway, apparently the servers are shutting down at the end of March so that Disney can focus on pushing their new mobile version for the iPhone kiddies of today, which is sure to be riddled with more microtransactions than you can shake a flipper at. So I’ve decided to reboot this gaming blog after it’s unplanned month’s hiatus (sorry about that) to take a trip down memory… berg?

Ugh. That was terrible.

My original penguin was called KrazyK3000, and as that name is currently available for registration and I couldn’t log into it, I’m willing to bet it’s been deleted. I’ll never know for sure, seeing as the password recovery email was sent to my Dad’s old AOL email account… god knows that’s lost to the ages. I did, however, use my own email account to write in ideas for the game, and I still have access to that one. Here’s one of the two ideas I sent:

Hi. This isn’t exactly a BIG enquiry – if anything, a suggestion – but there’s no other place to ask.

I was a member for a month, and I can’t be one anymore. It’s really frustrating not being able to uby any clothes so I was wondering – maybe make the clearence sales available to all players? Or make a section for all players?

Think of it this way – the players of club penguin would wear these clothes, and think – hang on, I want the modern clothes/normal clothes. I’m becoming a member!

I’m not going to ask for furniture in igloo’s – that’s too much to ask.

Please take my idea into thought 🙂

Club Penguin had – and as far as I’m aware still has – a membership feature, allowing players to buy clothes and igloo (player owned housing) decorations with in-game coins. Free to play penguins had to suffer a life of nudity and empty igloos no matter how many coins they made, and as such membership was highly coveted by those without it. They sent me back a very polite no:

Hello,

You certainly sent your suggestion to the right place!  We will consider your idea but I cannot promise that free penguins will be able to purchase clearance items.  If you can think of any other ways that we can improve Club Penguin be sure to let us know.

Don\’t forget to collect the pin because the next one will be hidden on January 30th!

Have a great day,

Club Penguin Support

That was fine though, because the real fun to be had in Club Penguin was in the minigames. My favourite memory of the game is playing the Gone Fishing minigame until 1am as my father had fallen asleep on the sofa and failed to order me to bed. I was also a big fan of the pizza making game, and knew a secret that let you change the game so that you made chocolate pizzas instead of normal ones. I also vaguely remember the launch of an in-game dojo, and some sort of card minigame that went with it. You could beat other players and earn different coloured belts to show your prestige.

My favourite place to hang out in-game was the Coffee Shop, despite the fact that there really wasn’t much to do there. I remember particularly enjoying the soundtrack:

It reminds me oddly of Spyro the Dragon, retrospectively. At the time I thought the music was peaceful, though now I’d say it’s oddly funky. And the mere usage of that word makes me sound too old to be reminiscing about Club Penguin.

After what I somehow interpreted as a positive response to my first suggestion, I went on to send a much more enthusiastic email to the Club Penguin Support Team regarding one of my wilder and more original ideas:

Here’s another idea for you =] (Amn’t I great?)

Rockhopper Back – With ORANGE puffles!
“Yeah, yeah, another puffle, so what?”
-Available to all players (even if they already have 2) hwile they’re on sale on the migrator.
-Only available to members in the pet shop afterwards.
-Special trick – Burns an orange doorway in the air, and emerges through another orange doorway on the other side of the igloo.
-Special trick on full stomach – burns an orange doorway in the air just above the ground, and appears out of one higher up, falling repeatidly.
-Eating food: Opens mouth wide open, eats the bowl whole with the food, an orange doorway appears, the bowl slides out.
-Taking a bath: I dunno, sorry.

Or you can think up your own cool tricks, at least go with the orange puffle?

Idea colours for future puffles:

– Light green
– Dark Blue (not purple)
– Rainbow/Colour shifter
– White (Maybe turns invisible?)

Please take my ideas into consideration 😛

If anyone is lost, a “puffle” is a kind of furball which can be bought as a pet in Club Penguin. Free players could buy a red and a blue one, whereas members had a few extra options to choose from. The odd thing is, I was never a huge fan of them, and I’m pretty sure that I submitted this idea more as an attempt to influence the shape of the game than being legitimately excited for them.

Anyway, here’s the pacifying response:

Hi there,

Thank you for your fantastic idea.  It\’s so great to see how creative penguins can be.

It is always so exciting when Captain Rockhopper returns with surprises for all his penguin friends and orange Puffles would be quite a find out at sea! You have clearly put a great deal of thought into what orange Puffles would be like, and I especially like the part where they could burn orange doorways in mid air and then use them to transport around. Your truly an inspiring penguin and although I can not promise we will be able to use your suggestions, I will definitely share them with the rest of the team at our next meeting!

Keep sending in your terrific thoughts and have a great day!

Waddle and imagine on,

Club Penguin Support

Very professional and complimentary, and I can only guess as to whether this was actually brought up in any meeting, but as yellow puffles were introduced a short time later I think it’s only fair to say that I belong in the credits as a Lead Designer with the Most Original Idea Ever in the History of Anything.

All joking aside, it’s a shame to hear that they’re shutting the game down, and I’m sure I’ll log on during the Great Penguin Doomsday soon to come. As childish and memefied as the game is, it provided legitimate hours of fun for young Kristian, and I’ll miss being able to revisit it during bouts of nostalgia.

General Gaming Update

So last week I didn’t do a blog post because I had nothing to specifically post about besides having played 2 hours of DiRT 3, and this week I still have no specific game to focus my post on or the energy to discuss another gaming related topic. So instead, as I can’t bring myself to bail on 2 weeks in a row, I’ll just have a natter about what I’m currently playing.

With the release of Minecraft 1.11, I tried to get back into playing a new vanilla survival world, in the hopes of finally settling down in one place and building something that would amount to years of progress and enjoyment. This did not happen. I experimented with many different custom terrain generations and ultimately came to the conclusion that if I had to punch another tree I’d promptly stick my head into the nearest lava lake.

Instead of giving up on the game entirely, however, I decided to search for a good Minecraft server, as the one I usually play on has been down for almost half a year now and despite all of the good-natured Discord updates, my patience was beginning to wear thin. The server I did eventually find is called RenMX, and has a whole bunch of amazing plugins which transform how you approach the game, from the claiming system to an on-the-go storage system and crazy things like hidden collectible cards which can be used to spawn in items, buffs, pets or other things. The server has a 6 year history, and perhaps most enticingly they expand the world map with each game update rather than resetting it and forcing you to start over. Whilst I never overtly minded about the latter way of doing things, I find myself much more attached to a world that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

I’ve also been playing some more Tomodachi Life on 3DS. I won’t say too much about it here in case I decide to write a fully fledged blog post on it in future, but here’s something I wrote about it a year back.

The Autumn Steam Sale is here and my wishlist has lit up green. When I discovered that the Assassin’s Creed Ezio Collection isn’t coming out for PC, I decided to buy the original Assassin’s Creed 2, simply because it was £3.60 and whilst I’ve played it on PS3, I’d rather be able to play it in 1080p at 60fps because I’m a privileged bastard. So far, I regret nothing. I’m also intrigued by the upgrades to UPlay, such as how you can now use particular points earned by in-game achievements to earn a discount on future Ubisoft games. This is an idea I’ve had for achievements since they were first announced, so it’ll be interesting to see if any, er, more agreeable gaming platforms pick up this idea.

I went over to my friends house yesterday and tried some Battlefield 1 on his PS4, and whilst I might have previously not paid much mind to the game due to my own personal preferences in regards to thematic settings in shooters, I actually had a ton of fun. Battlefield has always been a series which rewards players well for participation instead of just how many baddies you done shot, and this only serves to make actual kills feel even more rewarding. Plus, the outbreak of skirmishes around the map make for fun emergent narratives that cause you to feel even more determined to push forward and take the objective.

And finally, I’ve recently re-installed the Elder Scrolls Online, after dropping it immediately when World of Warcraft: Legion began digging its claws into me. And I’m still playing that, to be honest, but it no longer takes up the majority of my gaming time and I’m eager to see how the One Tamriel update has changed ESO. Plus, it may help that I recently bought the game for a friend. I’m still only level 22 myself, but now that I don’t have to worry about being distracted by other quests and levelling up past particular storylines, I can let loose and get stuck in. I’m still not entirely certain how the alliance based storylines are going to work now that I can just teleport to the enemy and start working for them, though.

This Beautiful Beast

Picture, if you will, a child, of say, eleven years old, flicking through gaming magazines and seeing the hype surrounding the Playstation 3 before its release. Here was a games console that had unparalleled power when compared to its predecessor. Here was a games console that looked like it belonged to me. And yet, we didn’t exactly have the most money to spend on gaming consoles as a family, and it wasn’t until I was eighteen that I finally acquired the now almost outdated console of my childhood dreams.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly wasn’t ungrateful, and I loved the thing. But a few months later I picked up a laptop with decent specs for university (and Minecraft), and accidentally fell off of console gaming entirely. Now, being a laptop, it didn’t quite have the processing power necessary to fuel modern-day triple-A titles, and I often ran into walls where I’d purchase a game, and be unable to run it. This was before the newly revamped Steam refunds that actually allow you to return a game for such reasons. So when my laptop started running into severe issues a few months ago, I considered more and more the viability of taking the plunge and investing in a proper gaming PC that could do everything I wanted to do.

Desk
And it looks pretty sweet, too! I keep it on my desk for fear of cat sabotage. The thing beneath my keyboard prevents rattling that echoes downstairs.

 

Well, I play a lot of World of Warcraft, and I can run that on its highest (and most recently updated) ultra settings and reach 100fps whilst idling in Stormwind, so that’s one box checked. Of more noteworthiness (oh hey, that’s actually a word), I can run DOOM (2016) on High and achieve a safe 60fps. DOOM came free with my monitor, an unplanned but necessary purchase to be made after my TV turned out to function about as well as a monitor as the sun does for treating faulty eyesight. DOOM was on my newly formed wishlist anyway, though, and whilst I’ve only completed the first three missions so far, I can already confirm that shooting armies of demons with my explosive fucking shotgun makes me as giddy as a ten-year old vampire when it snows blood on Christmas day.

Innards
The fact that I can easily glance in through here and see the innards is somewhat unsettling!

One of my other instinctual installations was Saints Row: The Third. I’ve played it and its sequel on PS3 before, and had previously bought the game on Steam during a sale when it was dirt cheap. My reasoning was that I wanted to go achievement hunting on the only gaming platform that I actually cared about. When my laptop tried to run the game on its lowest settings, it farted, fell over and wept. Now, Saints Row: The Third isn’t exactly a newer game, so I can run it with ease… but I’m just happy that I’m now able to play the damn game without resorting to plugging in and setting up my PS3. Plus, 1080p + 60fps is simply a nicer gaming experience.

Returning to the subject of the monitor, I have to say that 1920×1080 took a little getting used to. It’s not that the text is small or unreadable (which would be somewhat alarming given the amount of pixels now in a single size 11 letter), but that I’m not used to seeing so much web page on the screen at once. It’s a little beautiful. When I launched WoW for the first time on this monitor, I was first pleased with the minimal space that the UI took up, but eventually resorted to scaling the UI up in the settings for a little ease of use… and maybe a little homesickness. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not huge, or to the same scale that it appeared on my previous 1366×768 resolution, but it feels more comfortable this way.

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The default size of my WoW UI before rescaling.

I’m currently tasked with suppressing the desire to leap on everybody who says hello to me and telling them all about this PC. It’s a little pricey (to the point that I felt the need to justify my purchasing decision at the start of this blog post), and not everybody is as lucky as I am when it comes to material possessions. I most certainly will not be taking this machine for granted, and I honestly doubt that I’ll ever make such a purchasing decision again, or at least not very often in my life. But some people go out drinking, or buy a car, and some people fly abroad and chill in the Bahamas or wherever. Well, this is my equivalent. And I am loving every moment of it.

UPDATE: So I missed the most important part. The specs:

Intel Core I5 4460 3.2Ghz Quad Core Processor, NVIDIA GTX 960 2GB DDR5 Graphics Card, 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 RAM and a 240gb SSD. I still need to buy a bigger hard drive but I’m shit out of money, go figure.

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.