E3 thoughts


e3-2018

I had mixed feeling in the run up to this year’s E3 conference … the biggest event on the gaming calendar, where the big companies, publishers etc. showcase their plans for the coming year and beyond, often revealing games and services for the very first time.  It’s always very exciting, but with the recent slight fall from grace Microsoft and it’s Xbox brand had experienced with a drought of AAA exclusive games compared to it’s immediate rivals, Sony and Nintendo – I was also concerned.  So below I’ll go through my brief thoughts on the various conferences shown followed by a few highlights.

Microsoft

Microsoft had a lot to prove.  The army of Sony fan-boys loved sticking it to the American giants that the platform was lacking the big name exclusive games compared to their beloved PlayStation, and I can certainly understand where they are coming from.  Where’s Xbox’s God of War?  So watching the near 2 hour conference was nerve-wracking … but, Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer came out swinging, with an immediate reveal of Halo Infinite (just a CGI trailer sadly) and then went on to present a very confident presentation showcasing many games and several exclusives, including the likes of Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Crackdown 3, Forza Horizon 4 and  Gears of War 5.  However the big news was the acquisition of 5 game studios that will now be working on first party games for the Xbox platform … the big surprise being the purchase of Bafta award winning studio Ninja Theory (Hellblade: Senora’s Sacrifice).  Microsoft shot down the nay-sayers that would presume Xbox isn’t interested in exclusives anymore and set in motion a future that well really, should have been set in motion years ago – but at least now that future is more promising that it had seemed before E3.

Crackdown 3

Outside of exclusives, some games that will be appearing elsewhere also, were shown for the first time including Devil May Cry 5, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Cyberpunk 2077.

I would have liked to have seen a Fable announcement or the rumoured Perfect Dark game, but that elusive, big name exclusive title that would wow me and surprise me, was sadly absent.  Microsoft did a lot right here to build confidence in their brand and to pave an exciting future ahead, along with a brief mention of new Xbox hardware on the horizon … but in the present, they still for me didn’t do enough to sway those not already invested in Xbox.

Nintendo

Super Smash Bros UltimateWith Nintendo riding high on the success of the Switch, and it being my preferred platform of choice for the best part of the last twelve months, I had high-hopes for their presentation.  Much more low-key it turned out than Microsoft, with no on-stage conference just a 45 minute Nintendo Direct.  Games like Daemon X Machina, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Super Mario Party and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate were revealed for the first time along with several indie titles and more footage of previously announced games like Captain Toad Treasure Tracker.  However an absence of Mario Tennis was odd and especially disappointing was no mention of Metroid Prime 4.  The follow-up Nintendo Tree House event showcased Smash as well as an in-depth look at the forthcoming Pokémon Let’s Go games … but my overall impression was that Nintendo really didn’t pull anything out of the bag this year, perhaps a little too confidence with the Switch’s continued success.

I’ll certainly be getting my hands on Smash Bros as it looked a ton of fun and Pokémon interested me a lot more than I expected.

Sony

Sony went for a rather unconventional approach to their conference, hosted in a tent for starters and focusing on previously announced games rather than any new reveals (for the most part).  It was not what I expected from Sony, who are currently the industry leaders by a large margin but I guess they can relax and show they don’t really have anything to prove anymore.  So yeah if they want a banjo player on stage, then I guess they can have that.

Ghosts of Tsushima

So we got to see a lot more of The Last of Us: Part II, Death Stranding and the first full details of Ghost of Tsushima and Spider-Man.  Flute players, banjo players and a running commentary …different, but what’s E3 without a few bizarre moments?  I am excited for The Last of Us definitely, it looked incredible as did Ghost of Tsushima.  I was however surprised to see a Remedy game showcased, namely ‘Control’ but it’s a multi-platform title so they hadn’t jumped ship to Sony after mostly working with Microsoft for years.  Several games for PlayStationVR were also announced even if VR doesn’t interest me.  The big surprise for me was a remake of Resident Evil 2, arguably my favourite Resident Evil game of all time.  Not exclusive to PlayStation but an exciting announcement all the same.

The overall feeling I got from the Sony conference was that PlayStation were sitting very confident in their line up of games, not really showcasing anything ground-breaking for the future, but that’s probably something to do with the persistent PlayStation 5 rumours.  It’s clear to me Sony have some very good studios in their pocket and they’ll continue to dominate the market for the foreseeable future.

The other conferences etc.

I didn’t take a great deal of notice of the other conferences other than checking out highlights from EA, Ubisoft and Bethesda, all of which showcased some exciting stuff including Rage 2, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and the impressive looking The Division 2.  As with all games shown, taking what we’re seeing as actually what we’ll finally get should include a hefty pinch of salt but damn… were there some stunning looking titles showcased this year.  The future looks healthy for all 3 major platforms and the games industry as a whole is making leaps and bounds in technology and innovation to bring us, the gamers so much for the coming years.

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Nintendo Switch – my thoughts


NintendoSwitch

Well earlier in the week, Nintendo dropped a bombshell with the reveal of their next console … formerly known as the Nintendo NX, now named Nintendo Switch … a great name and I’d say a great concept.  Give the video below a quick look…

I love the idea that it’s both a home console you hook up to your HDTV and also a portable console, seamlessly transforming just from removing the device from it’s docking station and going wherever to continue your gaming.  How the control pad transforms allowing the user to remove the two ‘joy-cons’ and then attach them to the portable version.  Very clever and something I could easily see myself utilising, for times someone either wants the TV I’m using or I simply want to sit elsewhere and carry on with my game.  From the video things I can’t see taking off is the two-player bits where people use those tiny controllers and game on the same screen … er no, Nintendo nobody’s going to be doing that.  Also unconfirmed reveals of ‘The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim’ and ‘NBA 2K17’ running on the system, is a slight concern despite both games being shown in the video – why is 2K and Bethesda being so cagey??  Also that footage of ‘Mario’ looks worrying like a run-into-the-screen mobile game and not necessarily the Mario 64 successor some people are hyping it to be.  Yet I don’t think anyone can dismiss how good the new ‘Zelda’ looks.

Questions still remain though.  We have no price as of yet.  We don’t really have any confirmed games other than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and well, is that a touch-screen?  I’m guessing it will be.  Third party support has been confirmed as having all the big publishers like Activision and EA (see below), which could mean the usual drought of games for a Nintendo system may not be a concern this time … only time will tell.

Switch_Partners

For now I’m optimistically excited for what Nintendo reveal next and the initial reveal of the system has me waning a Nintendo system again.  So they’re doing something right.

Destiny impressions


Well I have had a few days with the most hyped game this year, namely Bungie’s much anticipated open world shooter / MMORPG hybrid ‘Destiny’.  Now I won’t review the game as such, as I am still touching the surface, but my experience playing this game has been fairly positive so far.  I think the fact you are always around other players, playing their own missions and if you want you can just join in, or instead go about your own business is fairly revolutionary for a console game.  Yes it has been done before, most notably in Sega’s Phantasy Star Online, which I played briefly   Yet for the most part MMORPGs have been the stalwart of PC gaming … but with this online-focused generation, it’s becoming the norm more and more in many new games … see the forthcoming The Division.

destiny1

As a game it blends aspects of space RPG Mass Effect, as in your character customization and the hub world of The Tower … but on missions it is more like Halo, with a large influence it seems from Borderlands.  For me the general shooting is excellent.  Upgrading weapons, adding to your character, meeting other players and discovering different locations and enemies makes for a great deal of immersive fun.  I wouldn’t say it’s a game I play for the story – it’s vague at best but I am only just starting with that … I play it for the feel, the gorgeous vistas, the satisfying gunplay and the general slickness of it all.  As with Phantasy Star it feels a little repetitive, basically going on a variety of horde-style encounters, surviving until they’re all dead, or your ‘ghost’ scans something and an exit opens up.  Your ghost is an a.i. companion that generally leads the way and comments during the story-based missions, but also comes in handy for scanning the environments for interesting locations or summoning your hover-bike which is another cool aspect and a welcome mode of transport considering the often immense environments.

Destiny2

Outside of the main game there is also The Crucible, a more traditional multiplayer mode not unlike Halo or Call of Duty but I haven’t played that mode yet.  Probably dip into it later.  I have the Xbox One version of the game and am very impressed with it.  It feels like one of the smoothest games I have played with a rock steady 30fps and a gorgeous 1080p full HD resolution, putting it on pretty-much equal parity with the PS4 version (yes, I’ve read up on that to confirm).  I think anyone who enjoys social-based games or even Halo or decent first person shooters, Destiny is worth a go.  It will only grown in time with Bungie’s ambitious plans for the game, and can see the initial universe expanding to a larger selection of planets … meaning more to explore and more enemies to send back to their makers … most likely at an additional cost.

The game is out on both Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 – so what you waiting for?

Modern Warfare 3 – impressions


This needs little introduction.  The biggest video game franchise in history, at least as far as sales go, and the widest played online multiplayer game in the world.  Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare franchise reinvigorated the Call Of Duty brand, bringing into the modern-day and hitting us hard with total realism, glossed over with Michael Bay-like fireworks.  It’s the blockbuster of the video game world, and one of my favourite game series ever.

This time around you’re after a Russian terrorist who brings about World War 3, and you are sent in with your team to stop him.  This is a game filled with ‘oh my god’ moments of action and spectacle, with a globe-trotting storyline and production values that set it apart from almost any other game on the market.  Infinity Ward this time have teamed up with new developer Sledgehammer Games, and each mission and each fire fight feels like its been designed with absolute immersion and Hollywood-like excitement in mind.  I’m almost done with the single player campaign, and have experienced some amazing moments, none of which I will spoil for you, all I’ll say is … its brilliant, well crafted, and longer lasting that previous instalments.

Now onto the reason 90% of fans love this franchise … the multiplayer.  Again you have a variety of maps to play on, and a reward system that enables you to upgrade weapons and install new perks to help you in your quest for online supremacy.  Not much has changed from the well-honed formula of MW #1 & 2, but this time with new mode Kill Confirmed where you collect dog tags of your fallen foes to increase points for your team – it seems more addictive than ever.  As can be expected, the online lives or dies depending on the time you put into it and how good your reflexes are, but when ‘in the zone’ it can be an adrenaline-fueled joy, and one I will be returning to again and again.  Add to this modes like Spec Ops, Domination, Free-For-All and the classic Team Deathmatch, and this is one game that just keeps on giving.

Modern Warfare 3 is the best Call Of Duty yet, no question … and a flagship title regardless if your playing it on PC, Playstation 3 or XBOX 360.

Call Of Duty: Black Ops impressions


Easily one of the most anticipated games of 2010, and arguably more hyped than the controversy engulfed Medal Of Honor reboot, this latest installment in the acclaimed Call Of Duty series comes from development studio Treyarch, that much maligned group of programmers that aren’t the franchises founder Infinity Ward.

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