written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Hands down one of the most exciting weeks in gaming is upon us, and what better way to start your week than with press conferences from the heavy hitters in modern game development today. We here at Lifted Geek plan to wax-on-wax-off philosophical on all things we saw not just from the big three (Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo) but also the triple-A developers (Bethesda, EA, Ubisoft, and Square Enix) who also featured their games on this epic stage.
From the exciting, to the tear jerking, to the “edge-of-your-seat-O-M-G-my-ass-is-sweating.” Finally it feels like this generation of gaming is coming into its own with all the excitement that made last gen such a phenomenon. So without further ado, let’s get this beast started…
There was alot of goodness across the big three as well as the triple-A develoepers who presented. But come on, let’s be honest here and start with one of the biggest announcements at E3: Final Fantasy VII is getting an honest to Jenova remake… set to first hit the PS4 console. This was the most surprising announcement of the show, much of what was shown were games I knew were coming or expected to be there. I expected to see The Last Guardian, I expected to see Fallout 4 and the next Halo game. The Final Fantasy VII remake trailer blindsided me, hitting me like a ton of bricks being driven forward by rampaging bulls. I didn’t expect this, and after the lackluster announcement of the PS4 port I honestly had given up any hope that we’d ever see Final Fantasy VII remade. I won’t wax too much on this, you can read more of my thoughts on my reaction article, but what better way to start with the good than with this announcement.
Sony clearly wasn’t slowing down when Guerilla Games (Killzone franchise) hits the stage. Gaming these days is full of sequels, ports, remakes, and reboots with very few new IPs taking the front and center spotlight. Moving forward, a game that clearly wasn’t a derivative of any previously released IP moved me, forcing me to look forward to this brand new adventure. Enter Horizon Zero Dawn, a third-person post apocalyptic tale that takes the tried and true “machines rise up, humanity falls” trope and interjects lush plains where other contemporaries prefer dark and dirty fallen urban environments. In this world, mankind has lost all connection to the world it was before. Fallen cities stand on the outskirts of a world where nature has clearly taken the world back. Society has plunged back into the dark ages, but stalking the plains are sentient machines of varying shapes and sizes. There isn’t much known yet about this hot new title, but from this quick glance you can color me intrigued.
Not to be left out, Microsoft also featured a brand new IP from famed game creator Keiji Inafune (Mega Man and Onimusha fame). ReCore is yet another post apocalyptic romp with sentient machines. The trailer featured a female protagonist (much like Horizon Zero Dawn) fighting off robo-baddies with her trusty robo-dog. You’d thing I’d draw a whole bunch of comparisons between these two new games, but ReCore stood on its own two feet with a unique feel very different from the what I saw in Horizon Zero Dawn. The only downside was the lack of any actual gameplay in the presentation. The trailer was purely cinematic and though I know the current generation is indeed powerful, it can’t look that good.
Horizon Zero Dawn and ReCore is set for a 2016 release. This is a decent amount of time from now, but honestly a good move… and why? That’s an answer for my next talking point…
Fallout 4… oh my goodness the beauty that is Fallout 4. Already I’ve been hotly anticipating the first true sequel to Fallout 3. Though this is the fourth game in the franchise, the series took off with Fallout 3 returning the series back to mainstream relevance. Bethesda took this IP and reinvigorated it for a new generation. Before last gen, the last time players ventured into the post apocalyptic wasteland was in 1998 with Fallout 2, then developed by Black Isle and Interplay. Fast forward 17 years later and Fallout 4 takes what made Fallout 3 such an awe-inspiring romp, and turns that sumbitch up to 11! A brand new character developer free of sliders, fully voiced acting, and thousands of the most popular names pre-recorded for your main character. Fallout 4 is fast becoming a game of the year contender and it hasn’t even been released yet! Confirming a release date for later this year (November 10th, 2015), this is such a refreshing move on Bethesda’s part. We as gamers are used to waiting through long development cycles, from the understandably lengthy like Batman: Arkham Knight to the mind numbing dev-cycle of Final Fantasy XV. We’re used to being teased years ahead of when a game launches, but with Fallout 4 we’ve been treated to whispered murmurs and far-fetched rumors… but remember, it was only earlier this month that we received that first glimpse at Fallout 4. I couldn’t imagine the game releasing this year, not that I’m complaining, but damn! A guy can get used to this kind of treatment.
On the Xbox side of the table, two NON game related announcements made waves for me. First off, Xbox One officially going backward compatible with Xbox 360 games. In a climate where last-gen games are getting the current-gen coat of paint, I was ready to let backward compatibility die with last gen. This was not the case in Redmond with Microsoft announcing that a wide (and growing) library of your last generation games will begin to be supported on Xbox One. Taking this announcement makes me think that Sony must be losing their shit after investing $380 million in Gaikai, the service that stands as the framework for their streaming Playstation Now service. In a world where we are forced to rebuy games we already own, if you own a game on Xbox 360 you can pop it in and download the game. Details are still pending at the moment and I’m sure they are looking for ways to beat pirating or even something as simple as lending out a game so a friend can download it to their Xbox One, personally I think they’ll download the game data but force the player to keep the disc in the console to play it.
The second non-game announcement came in the form of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller. If the gamepad that came bundled in your Xbox One is a conservative commuter with great gas mileage, the Elite controller is your sexy ass weekend ride. Featuring an improved d-pad, programmable and mappable rear paddles, and interchangeable analog sticks. This is the controller I wanted with my shiny new Xbox One. While I dig my Xbox One, my biggest disappointment of the console was the gamepad. The tight precision of the Xbox 360 controller is instead replaced with these small floaty analog sticks. Personally I would have preferred playing with my Playstation 3 controller and those things are a bloody mess. Set for a Q3/Q4 release this year, no price points have been revealed yet, but if the Xbox One gamepad is $60, you can expect the Elite to possibly be $80.
honorable mentions: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst trailer (Faith looks hot), Rise of the Tomb Raider gameplay, Uncharted 4 gameplay, Star Wars Battlefront gameplay, a Doom reboot, the next Mass Effect game, Hololens demo, Unravel… a cute yarn artsy game, Dishonored 2 with a new female protagonist, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate with a new female protagonist, Kingdom Hearts III gameplay, new Star Ocean reveal, Shenmue 3
With all good things, we need to discuss some of the bad. First off, on the Sony side the revolutionary expectations of Project Morpheus have devolved (at least for me) into another freaking Playstation Move. They devoted less than three minutes to Project Morpheus, and after the awe-inspiring Hololens presentation, Morpheus looks like a toy in comparison. Granted, I realize that showcasing this kind of hardware is better “felt” than “seen” in a YouTube livestream, but after these depressing two and a half minutes, I can honestly say I’m not excited in any way, shape, or form when it comes to Playstation and VR.
I like sports and some racing games are exciting to play, but to be honest… these games do not belong at E3. Maybe I’m just being a biased core gamer, but some of the moments across the board from Microsoft and EA’s press conferences came in the form of discussing slight incremental changes between Madden 15 and Madden 16. These presentations were boring and I know I’m not alone in thinking that “these presentations weren’t for me.” These games don’t need to be showcased to sell. The hardcore sports game fans will buy the next installment every year regardless of how minuscule the improvements are. Trade shows like E3 are meant as sales presentations, to excite fans. Sports game fans will be excited every year, regardless. Personally, I’ve always felt that sports games shouldn’t be annualized. The same games, the same modes, just different players. Would it really hurt the deep pockets at EA that bad if they just released expansion packs? But hey, that’s just my opinion.
In the same vein as the sports games, why did they feel compelled to showcase mobile games? I can understand Fallout Shelter being a tie-in for Fallout 4, but the rest of the mobile experiences showcased just felt like trying to appease shareholders and casuals who won’t take the time to watch a full press conference.
Remember Usher performing last year at E3? Now I’m an Usher fan and have cut many a rug to his hits from the “You Make Me Wanna” days all the way to “Scream,” I still can’t help but get up offa my bum when I hear the crunked out vibe of “Yeah!” Regardless of that, a popular recording artist doesn’t belong at E3. Last year’s Usher performance, meant to promote the next Dance Central, was awkward turtle at its best. I wanted to crawl my head into my shell and hide through the whole thing. Fast forward to this year and Jason Derulo performs “Want to Want Me” at the Ubisoft press conference to promote the next Just Dance game. Did you learn nothing from Usher last year? This was awkward and fell flat with the crowd, I felt embarrassed for Jason Derulo… it was awkward… let’s hope E3 can finally rest with the whole booking popular recording artist for a video game trade show presentation.
The sheer lack of PSVita and literally zero Kinect showings, it’s safe to say that the Kinect is dead. After Microsoft folded, removing the Kinect from their consoles as a required piece of tech, this year’s E3 Microsoft press conference proved to be the final nail in the coffin. The Kinect is dead and buried and personally I’m upset that they didn’t stick to their guns more. When the Kinect was first introduced it brought the casual gamers who play on Wii to the core gamer eco system, and personally I feel that if it was marketed correctly it would not have been the epic failure it has been this generation. At least the PSVita is on some kind of life support, but unfortunately I see it eventually folding to everything that 3DS offers.
dishonorable mentions: Rigs on Morpheus, Tomb Raider launching the same day as Fallout 4, ESO, the Star Wars TOR expansion, all the mobile games, Zombie mascot, no definite release date for KH3 and FF7 Remake, no Ubi Art games, zero Persona 5 information, everything at Nintendo bored me… kinda sad…
The LOL Worthy
With the good and the bad… there was also the funny. I won’t go too deep with this segment, but I had to touch on three moments that made me choke on my coffee when watching these press conferences.
The Uncharted 4 demo had to be reset, after a short cinematic Drake just stood there. A part of me thought they were just trying to show off some of the crowd mechanics, but after a few seconds I realized that it was glitching out. I don’t know if the game wasn’t responding or if the controller wasn’t connecting… but I had to LOL a bit to myself.
At the Square Enix conference they showed an amazing Kingdom Hearts III demo, but before that they showed a lame ass mobile game in the vein of all that shovelware that populates the iOS or Google Play store. This wouldn’t have been as funny if the crowd didn’t resoond at first with a resounding “YES!” expecting a demo of Kingdom Hearts III but instead gets treated to a piece of throwaway. Sure they did give us that KH3 gameplay slice, but the funny came at the hand of the resounding silence after the “almost” bait-and-switch.
E3 was a success for me, what I loved the most was how everything seems to be leveling out. It wasn’t the smackdown that was E3 2013, and it wasn’t as empty as 2014. There are alot of great games coming but I do wonder what to expect this holiday season.
What did you think about this year’s E3? What were some of your highlights? Sound off and let us know!