The big e3 2017 report


Well once again the biggest date on the gaming calendar, the e3 gaming convention in Los Angeles … has come and gone, and so what have the big names had to offer us feverish gamers?  Let’s find out…

E3-2016

Sony

God of War KratosI didn’t watch the whole briefing, but have learnt they showcased several games, some of which interest me some that don’t at all (Gran Turismo Sport … yawn, I became bored of that series a while back).  I am however looking forward to God of War and the new Spider-Man game looks impressive.  Days Gone, one of the most anticipated games of last years e3 had another showing and again wowed.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see they’re going to be releasing a Shadow of the Colossus remake.  Detroit: Become Human looked interesting but I’m not sure exactly what it is still.

However there was a strong focus on VR (which I can’t say interests me at all) like they were desperate to flog this expensive and gimmicky peripheral, and some of the newest most interesting looking games were for VR which was disappointing.  They also had a large presence of third party titles like Call of Duty WWII and Destiny 2, both of which looked decent.   There seemed a serious lack of firm release dates for all these titles overall which wasn’t good.  Overall some good stuff but not a lot to really blow me away this year.

Microsoft

The Xbox guys had some new hardware to showcase, making their briefing more exciting than Sony’s from the off and the uber-powerful Xbox One X certainly looked cool.  I’m an Xbox fan first and foremost these days and I was anticipating the reveal of the previously hyped Xbox Scorpio and like the new name.  Microsoft predictably showcased Forza 7 running on it and also showed off a new game in the acclaimed Metro series as well as my personal highlight of e3; Bioware’s stunning looking Anthem.  Sea of Thieves was looking better than previous but I’m still on the fence over whether I’d enjoy it all that much myself.

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They also showed off a ton of indy games but not many big name exclusives to get all that excited about.  No Halo, no Gears for example which although not surprising could have really added to the whole new hardware reveal and made it all that more sexy.  It was a bit of a case of quantity over quality but games like Ori and the Will of the Wisps still looked great.  Like Sony before it though it’s hard to really be all that confident in the games from an XB1 and PS4 owner’s point of view actually looking anywhere near as good as we’ve been shown due to the new PS4 Pro and Xbox One X consoles, meaning us existing console owners potentially being left short handed in time to come, which I’d say is inevitable.

Nintendo

Super Mario OdysseyNintendo’s segment was initially short and to the point, showcasing only a handful of titles but with some exciting announcements.  The biggest surprise here was Metroid Prime 4, an game I’ve personally been hoping for, and despite no actual footage, it’s got me feeling happy I own a Nintendo Switch.  To further cement this feeling we had reveals of new Kirby and Yoshi platformers which both looked great as well as further details on Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and especially Super Mario Odyssey.  The Tree House segment that ran over three days and was broadcast live on YouTube also showed longer gameplay of some of the aforementioned titles like Yoshi and Mario Odyssey and well, I was left drooling.

There was something immediately alluring about Nintendo’s games … they all looked a ton of fun, and well, fun is something that has gradually been getting replaced in the games industry for a while now, in place of realism – which it has to be said can make a game feel more like work than leisure.  Third-party support still seems Nintendo’s Achilles heel, and well there was Fifa and Rocket League announced which I suppose is a start.

There were absences of expected or hoped for titles to be mentioned for all three companies’ machines with no Animal Crossing or Virtual Console talk from Nintendo, no Halo, Gears or much in the way of big name exclusives from Microsoft and well, where was PS4 exclusives Hellblade or the Final Fantasy VII remake this year?  Overall each company had something to offer and as someone with all three consoles, there was certainly something to play on each machine for the foreseeable future, which can’t be a bad thing.

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E3 brief thoughts


E3-2016

I’ll get this out of the way right from the off.  Are Sony and Microsoft about to royally shit on us, the games console buying public?  Yes it seems if you have purchased either a PS4 or an Xbox One recently or at all.  You see both companies are basically coming out with vastly improved versions of their consoles that they promise will not effect the existing machines, but really … how can it not?  I spent good money on buying both the Xbox One and PS4 and from day 1 the Xbox One has fallen behind due to a ropey launch and inferior specs compared to it’s rival.  Then for a while it’s been rumoured that Sony were going to announce a PS4.5 or PS4 Neo which would be compatible with 4K televisions and have improved graphics and extra processing power.  Er, Sony … hasn’t the bags full of cash already sent your way from the overwhelming success of the PS4 shown that you don’t need to improve the PS4?  That it already sells??  I can see why Microsoft has done this as it was losing the battle against Sony and struggling with certain multi-platform games, however the PS4 is a big success.  It’s baffling and like with how Sony got arrogant by over-pricing the PS3 at launch, seems like they’ve once again let their success go to their heads.  So yes, Microsoft will be launching ‘Project Scorpio’ towards the end of 2017.  I’m not entirely sure when the PS4 Neo is out, and in the mean time we’re getting the Xbox One S … a slimmed down, redesigned and pretty sexy looking version of their existing console.  Either way as an owner of both machines I am pissed off at the moment.  But I suppose the end of 2017 is a while away yet.

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In other news Sony showcased a rebooted Resident Evil despite it being called Resident Evil VII it was revealed as primarily a first person horror experience not unlike Amnesia.  I think one of the big surprises for me was the reveal of the new God of War … with a bearded, ageing Kratos walking around with what appeared to be his son.  An interesting concept that looked beautifully realised.  As did Horizon: Zero Dawn another PS4 exclusive which was first revealed last year but now we got some actual gameplay and it looked gorgeous.  Also we finally got a release date for the much delayed but highly anticipated The Last Guardian which as a fan of Ico I’m really looking forward to – even if the delays make me nervous of the final game’s quality.

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In Microsoft’s camp we got our first real look at Gears of War 4 which looked sweet.  Very effects heavy section they showcased along with some new weapons.  Nothing to really re-write the rule book but it looked like Gears and that’s good enough for me.  Also they showcased yet another Forza Horizon which I have no interest it – but it was pretty, and some Minecraft VR stuff which was it seemed more of the same from last year.  The big focus for them seemed to be hardware and again indie titles which was a bit tiresome.  Where were the big surprises?  And by surprises I don’t mean basically saying “sorry Xbox One owners, we hate you”.

I can’t say I have really studied e3 this year, as I’ve had other stuff going on but have taken a few brief glimpses of footage and come way underwhelmed.  Yes there are some good things on the horizon but with the hardware announcements mentioned above, also a very uncertain and worrying future as a current gen console owner.

PS4 @ E3 2015


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Well having watched what Microsoft were bringing to the table yesterday, I have recently finished watching rival Sony’s briefing at the hyped and famed convention in Los Angeles.  Riding high on strong sales figures that have been way ahead of Xbox One, Sony were seeming to be getting a little too smug … with last year’s e3 offering very little beyond Destiny hype and Bloodborne.  So with another twelve months since then, what have Sony delivered?

FFVIIThe vibe it seems this year was a lot of old, and a handful of new.  Answering hard-core gamer’s wish lists for dream games was firmly on the agenda as two much desired franchises got a mention and new games being announced that we never thought we’d see.  Yes namely Final Fantasy VII getting the remake treatment and finally there will be a Shenmue III.  Both niche projects it may seem, but exciting none the less.  Also surprisingly we got to finally see the much delayed, rumoured cancelled but highly anticipated The Last Guardian in action … and underwhelming graphics aside, looks as engrossing and as powerful as Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus that proceeded it.  The only thing missing from such wish-fulfilment was Half-Life 3.  Oh well, we can’t have everything it seems.

Horizon

Thankfully then Sony did have a few new titles up their sleeve, most notably Killzone Creator Guerrilla’s very promising looking Horizon: Zero Dawn – which seems like a post-apocalyptic transformers, with tribes people up against mechanised dinosaurs in a somewhat Monster Hunter vein.    Yet Media Molecule’s game making painting-thing Dreams looked pretty, technically interesting but well, didn’t Project Spark do all this a while back?  Then we come to Street Fighter V … which looked, dare I say it a step-back from the visual cartoon beauty of SF IV…  I was expecting to be blown away by a franchise that has been close to my heart for decades, and it looked old and out-dated.

Adobe Photoshop PDFThankfully then it was down to some old faces from last year and a few multi-platform titles to liven up the show with a newly announced Hitman – always a yay from me, a very Advanced Warfare looking Black Ops III and erm, no in game footage and just a cut scene for Assassin Creed Syndicate?  Bizarre.  Although Star Wars: Battlefront looked amazing.  So naturally Sony closed the show with what was easily their best chance for a win – Uncharted 4: A Thieves End – and despite what I’d seen over at the Xbox briefing – this was the killer game of the show for me.

Sony also had Project Morpheus which they demo’d to interesting results and an extended look at No Man’s Sky, the ambitious space travelling simulation that wowed everyone a couple of year’s back.  Still no release date on that one though.

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Sony did a good job but felt like beyond Uncharted and Horizon, were trapped on the promises offered up in the past and not kept.  Pinning their hype on a former PS3 game that was rumoured dead (The Last Guardian) and giving us games only the hard-core care about anymore (FFVII and Shenmue) seemed a gamble.

It didn’t excite me as much as what the Xbox briefing did … no real welcome surprises and a lack of new IPs.  We’ll see.  Either way PS4 has little to worry about, but for me Microsoft just pipped them this year.

My gaming year 2014


It’s certainly been a very fun year on my gaming calendar.  I had only got my Xbox One in December 2013 so by the time 2014 rolled around it was still very new to me.  One of the first games I played during the year was Dead Rising 3, an open world zombie slaughter-fest with immediately impressive visuals mostly down to the number of zombies all after my blood, and the tongue-in-cheek storylines and comical weapons and outfits kept me coming back.  Then we got the remastered edition of Tomb Raider, arguably Lara Croft’s best adventure yet and it looked incredibly detailed on the XB1 and meant I went on to complete it a second time, having previously owned it on PS3.

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As the months rolled by, I got my hands on the much anticipated Titanfall.  Now this game may have lacked a story of any particular significance, and it’s single player was pretty dire – but the multiplayer, wow … really grabbed me, I felt for a shooter it had real depth and the inclusion of parkour, titans and some great maps kept me playing for a good while.  I’d even go as far as saying it’s the best multiplayer shooter I’ve ever played, and for me I felt I could be good at it and it was fair and easy to learn.  I haven’t played it in a while, and well, I really need to get back in there.  One other similarly hyped game was Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes, which although visually and concept-wise impressive left me feeling it could have been much more.  It didn’t have the replay value I had hoped, was way too easy to get spotted whilst sneaking around and well, despite an interesting (short-lived) campaign that set the stage for MGS #5, I sold it after a short while owning it.

Titanfall

I got Battlefield 4 with my Xbox and that certainly got a lot of time in the drive.  I must have played through the excellent single-player campaign at least twice, because I got almost to the final mission then a bug caused me to lose my progress, so I had to restart.  I thought it had a great story with really good characters and some top-flight visuals.  One of the best launch titles for the XB1.  The multiplayer also was very addictive, but as with the likes of Call of Duty, after a while it just seemed to get too popular and too difficult to be fun anymore.  Another game I had with the XB1 was Forza Motorsport 5, which I still dip into today, and is a great, serious racer with some sharp visuals and lots of fast, meaty cars.  Certainly a game I can really lose a lot of time to and has depth and a lengthy career mode that I’ll admit I still haven’t finished.  I played it recently to compare it with the PS4’s Drive Club, and not being biased whatsoever – Forza was just immediately more accessible and more ‘fun’.

During the year, off and on I had a lot of fun with the ‘Record That’ and ‘Upload’  features of the XB1, which is very easy to play around with and the inclusion of being able to edit several clips together or narrate them etc. has been endless fun.  I also like how XB1 allows you to upload said clips not only to their own Upload service but also to Youtube.  Xbox Live’s Games with Gold was also very welcome as I pay almost £40 a year for the service and have enjoyed getting my hands on freebies like Guacamalie, Limbo and Super Time Force to name but a few.  It’s a great incentive and I look forward to what Microsoft gives away in the future.

Another highlight was Watch Dogs … yes, it was downgraded following the E3 2012 reveal but damn if it didn’t have a great cyber-hacker story and some great characters.  I think the whole hacking the city game mechanic set a blue print for the future and any sequels will only build on such an interesting concept.  I think I was fairly on my own for liking Aiden Pierce – he was an anti-hero, a troubled character, flawed but believable and I thought he was a great lead for the story.  I still come back to this one as the rendition of Chicago is very well done and well, let’s be honest here, at night, with it raining and the lighting etc. – this game can look amazing.

watch dogs

In recent weeks it’s also been a case of too much choice not enough time or patience to really get some games completed.  Good examples of this are The Evil Within, which I’ll admit has scared the crap out of me more than any game this year (yes, even more than Outlast) and the onset of the horror survival genre has meant I’ve purposely avoided similar titles.  Evil Within is different though as it still plays like a classic Resident Evil game, has action not just scares, and a great atmosphere.  Still not finished it though.  Another is the polar opposite Sunset Overdrive, probably one of the most unashamedly ‘fun’ games I’ve ever played, with a perfect mix of Dead Rising meets Jet Set Radio in probably the most colourful city I’ve ever visited in a video game.

Destiny remains my biggest disappointment of 2014 as far as gaming is concerned.  Initially yes, it was all wow for me … gorgeous visuals, decent shooter gameplay and the ability to upgrade your character, weapons etc. within an always online open world.  Then after a few weeks, repetition crept in.  The single-player which seemed to promise so much was over and a big let down and then I’m meant to just keep playing the same raids and missions over and over until I cap out my character’s level?  I also didn’t like how Bungie pretty much promised the earth and delivered something ultimately very bland.  It’s still on my XB1 dash board … I may pick it up again just for the sheer beauty of it, but it’s not a game a have much of an urge to rush back to.

Of course I ended the year very similarly to how I ended 2013 … by getting a new console.  I purchased the PlayStation 4 and am very glad I did, having a lot of fun with the impressive Assassin’s Creed Unity.  The machine itself seems a simpler design to much of the ambition of the XB1 and despite more power under the hood, plays it very safe, very PS3 in comparison.  2015 will be the real time it get’s to spread it’s wings, so for now XB1 is still my console of choice.

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It will be interesting to see how 2015 shapes up.  The big games I am looking forward to are the XB exclusives Quantum Break and Rise of the Tomb Raider, as well as the PS4 exclusives Uncharted 4 and The Order 1886.  I’m a bit on the fence on how the much anticipated, heavily hyped The Division turns out, it being by Ubi Soft who do have a habit of over-hyping stuff and not entirely delivering … but it was one of the best looking games on show at both E3 2013 and E3 2014 … but I’ll wait and see if the final product looks (or plays) anywhere near as good.

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So with 2015 on the horizon, this gamer / blogger is very excited to see what it delivers.

The casualties of war


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More than at the recent E3 event, the big wigs of the gaming industry, Sony & Microsoft have really pulled no punches when bitching at each other’s announcements.  The big news of course was Microsoft securing Rise of the Tomb Raider as an exclusive for it’s Xbox platforms (XB1 and Xbox 360).  This has pissed off it seems a big portion of the internet with Microsoft rushing to clarify the announcement by saying they paid for a timed deal with Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics … which basically means Sony fan boys may see the much-anticipated title arrive on their platform eventually.  Sony’s response to this?  They offered a statement saying ‘they don’t need to pay for exclusivity in their games’. Oh, and so Xbox owners can expect Uncharted on their machine soon then?  Yeah … thought not.

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It’s all very petty and a bit juvenile.  Microsoft did kind of mislead people by not mentioning the timed aspect of their deal, but then again – aren’t most exclusives timed these days unless they are first party?  Also I don’t really get the uproar surrounding such news as Microsoft need to have a few more trump cards up their sleeves to grab customers in the wake of PS4’s popularity … it’s just good business sense.  Tomb Raider made a real name for itself on PlayStation, granted and also on PC so I can see the frustration, but this isn’t just about several machines all enjoying a piece of the pie – this is a war, and one a big company on the scale of Microsoft aren’t going to lose without a fight.  So grow up everyone and realise that first and foremost … videogames are a business.  If you don’t want to lose out in some way, buy all the consoles.  I love Mario but don’t own a Nintendo console … see me blubbering?  No.  So trust your loyalty to a particular format and deal with the disappointment instead of moaning about it on internet forums.  It actually makes you look a bit silly.

I am interested in getting a PS4 later in the year, and like the look of some of it’s exclusive games (especially The Order: 1886).  I can live without them at the moment as XB1’s announcements are good for my general taste in games (loving the look of Quantum Break’s gameplay), and yes if Tomb Raider had been said to go to PS4 instead, I’d be pissed too.  But then that is why owning both consoles is the way to go this generation.  I understand many will not be able to afford it (and I can’t really) so like I said … stick by your decisions and let the games speak for themselves.  Competition is good for the industry, bitching is not.  Simple as that.