E3 2019 roundup


The biggest calendar event in gaming, E3 has come and gone once again, and as usual there’s been surprises, disappointments and lots and lots of games! Sony’s absence this year was jarring but not all that missed as there was still plenty to gush over, some of which, my personal highlights, I’ve detailed below…

Microsoft

I was majorly hyped going into this press conference that kick-started E3 2019 and have to admit … I came away a little disappointed. Big games announced the previous year like Gears of War 5 (now simply called Gears 5??) and Halo Infinite were shown but with little to no game play. I wasn’t really expecting much from Halo, but more was shown of Gears last year than we got in this initial press conference. A strong focus on the multiplayer was also concerning.

However, a ton of games were revealed, a good amount of exclusives such as the new game from Ninja Theory ‘Bleeding Edge‘ which looked cool but a bit too Overwatch-y for me. A release date for the long-awaited Ori and the Will of the Wisps was welcome, even if February 2020 still seems like a long wait. There just wasn’t that big ‘wow’ moment I had hoped for unless you count Keanu Reeves coming on stage to reveal the release date for Cyberpunk 2077 (April 3020) – which admittedly was rather cool. Even a reveal of-such of Microsoft’s next console ‘Project Scarlett‘ didn’t do much – what does it look like? How much will it cost? Still, 4 times more power than Xbox One X? Where do I sign?

Overall the show entertained, showed a lot but never really took off for me, which was unexpected considering all the promise of last year. Xbox is clearly in good shape and has plenty still to offer, but with PS5 on the horizon, this wasn’t quite enough to silence the nay-sayers.

Nintendo

Ok Nintendo truly knocked it out of the park with a Nintendo Direct and Treehouse hands-on that showcased a good amount of games I’d really want to play. Luigi’s Mansion 3 looked incredible, as did the personally-anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. I was also really impressed with Astro Chain. Oh, and The Witcher 3 is getting a Switch port? That’s pretty damn amazing. Animal Crossing delayed till 2020? Oh well, it didn’t float my boat much anyway. There was also no sign of Bayonetta 3 or Metroid Prime 4.

However it was the confirmation and teaser trailer for a sequel to Breath of the Wild that genuinely blew my mind. I’m suddenly excited about Nintendo Switch all over again!! That’s how you deliver the goods at E3.

The other guys

Ubisoft’s conference was decent. I’m certainly now hyped for the amazing looking Watchdogs Legion, and the new Ghost Recon Breakpoint game looked cool too. A lack (again) of a Splinter Cell announcement was disappointing though.

Square Enix showed more of the highly anticipated Final Fantasy VII remake which looked lush. However I remain on the fence about Crystal Dynamics’ Avengers game. The Switch version of Dragon Quest XI looks great though.

Bethesda seemed to take a long time apologising for Fallout 76, but did manage to show off Doom Eternal and various game expansions and mobile games (a growing trend at E3). The new game from Arkane Studios ‘Death Loop‘ looked freaky and interesting, as did ‘Ghostwire Tokyo‘.

Nintendo and a few others aside , a reliance on pre-rendered cinematic trailers rather than hands-on game play footage was problematic (no Cyberpunk game play after all this time?) but this year E3 still proved it’s worth and remains for me the best way to get hyped about the games industry … an annual event I truly hope never disappears.

Game of E3: for me it’s definitely Watchdogs Legion

Biggest surprise: Breath of the Wild sequel teaser

That’s all from me for now.  Lots to look forward to on the gaming horizon.

Craig.

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.

Final Fantasy XIII – impressions


Let me begin by saying that I have only played a few hours of this latest epic RPG from developer Square-Enix.  The last game in the series I played was Final Fantasy VIII, and before that the much celebrated Final Fantasy VII.  None of which I might add, did I complete.  I have never completed an RPG as they tend to be games you keep in your collection from months, at first addicted to and then just dipping in and out of as their initial wow-factor wains.

Over five years in the making, from the minute I switched on, it was clear to me that this was something special.  From the production values, including beautiful CG movies and breath-taking scenery, to the finely detailed character and enemy art, there has clearly been a lot of time and money spent on crafting this game.  To play it is basically a gradual learning curve with a detailed tutorial system to get your head around an at first, basic battle system that allows you to attack enemies in real-time with the use of the ATB (Active Time Battle) gauge, an ever increasing metre on the screen that fills up and in the time it takes to fill you must assign attacks to unleash on your enemies.  Anyone used to the mechanics of RPG games will take to the system straight away, and thankfully not too much is expected from the player from the off-set, more over the system increases in complexity as your progress, and you’ll grow your understanding of it as you play.

I only really struggled when I had to fight my first major boss character, and had to hone my skill at the system, which admittedly took some doing.  You see the system is all about knowing how to time your attacks and defence correctly – grasp this and you’ll be making your way past deadly enemies in no time, but the complexities don’t stop there, as there is also a very deep upgrading system to improve your characters abilities and weapons, which will surely see me getting enthralled for months to come.

The game itself is centred around a group of (as ever) likable, colourful characters, lead by Lightening, a female soldier who becomes embroiled in a struggle against warring factions from two different planets; Cocoon and the barely explored, much feared home world of Pulse.  The story is typical of Japanese RPGs, complicated, emotional and very hard to explain – so google it if you are curious.  I personally am loving it, and am really enjoying the branching storylines of the various characters – which certainly keeps proceedings interesting.

(Update: 17/03/2010):

Well I am about 12-13 hours into the game, and although the game felt somewhat dumbed down from previous installments, I was kept hooked by the graphical splendour and the story, and now I have hit the 10+ hour mark, the game’s complexities are beginning to reveal themselves.  I’ll warn you – this game is a grower, and if you’re initially after a deep and complex RPG from the get-go, this will at first seem rather basic.  But fear not!  I assure you with the crystarium, the weapon-upgrading and the battle system with the gradual addition of summons, this turns into the Final Fantasy that fans have adored for years.  I defend the choice to go linear for those that aren’t used to the style of RPG games, and to be honest from my own experience with them, they can be rather alienating unless you have lots of time and patience, which in this day and age, few do, especially with other commitments like work or school.  I salute Square-Enix for designing a game that pulls you in slowly, doesn’t blind you with complicated gameplay mechanics, but settles you in before revealing it’s intricacies.  You may feel like it’s too linear or dumbed down, but it’s far from that, it’s just trying to appeal to a wider audience, and for once loosing none of its identity in the process.