E3 2016: Yeah It Was Okay

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This article may be a bit long, and you may not agree with it, that’s why it’s an opinion. Its purpose is to give my thoughts on some of the games and announcements that came out of E3. I know people are busy and often don’t have the time to read through drawn out features, so I’ve titled each main topic. If you want to skip to them, feel free. If you’re not interested, click this link – a surprise awaits on the other end! Look, you got me, it’s just a link to another one of my articles. This one is for real though.

EA Conference

EA is often looked down upon in the press conference sphere, and for good reason; their presentations are stale, and are often completely disconnected from what us, as gamers, are interested in. Their conferences feel like they were dreamt up in a marketing room with a bunch of fedora wearing suit-men saying: “The kids like that Snoop yeh?”. It isn’t all bad though, if it weren’t for EA we wouldn’t have had #Weed3.


Titanfall 2

For Titanfall 2, we saw the first Single and Multiplayer trailers, which looked great! I often get the sense that people felt cheated by the original Titanfall, which I understand to a certain degree. The lack of a campaign, and limited amount of progression unlocks did not help retain its player-base; while the quick release of DLC exacerbated the ever-thinning population.

Still, Titanfall was an incredibly well made game. The fluid parkour gameplay, as well as the interaction with your Titan was quick to grasp, and absurdly fun to master. It’s the right move to add a single player campaign, and fleshing out some of the lore surrounding the first game sounds interesting. From my recollection, the universe is in a very severe state of turmoil, with a lot of corporation jibberi-joo. It seems the campaign will focus heavily on the Pilot’s robot; I hope they manage to develop a relationship between the player and his sentient friend, instead of succumbing to just another spectacle shooter porn.

Battlefield 1

There is a tremendous amount of hype surrounding Battlefield 1. First-person shooters set during the first Great War is fairly unexplored territory for games in general, and there is a lot of potential to mix up the formula. I think it’s about time Battlefield received an engaging campaign story, with actual characters, like we saw in the Bad Company days.

DICE need to strike a balance between ‘in your face’ action, with the quiet and emotional aspects of the war – the impact it had on a generation, and the unpreparedness of the world for the toll it would take. Too often do video games get caught up in trying to display the spectacle, and the physical cost with huge set pieces and gore, that the majority of militaristic shooters lack any real narrative. What Valiant Heart’s did so well, was that it didn’t scale the game to the full experience of war, but connected the player with the individuals and how they were affected by it. If Battlefield 1 is to have a successful campaign, they will need to tap into this depiction, but i’m not holding my breath.

The Multiplayer will probably be fun, i have no doubt in that. But simply changing the theatre of war isn’t enough for me, I need gameplay to be affected by their shift. I want trenches and stalemates to be an active part in the game. I would also like different game modes, where defending and attacking are core tenants, being forced to make use of the interesting weaponry. Simply altering the maps/guns/vehicles to represent WWI, and adding Mustard gas, just isn’t enough.


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Bethesda

Considering I usually dread the Bethesda Press Conference, I was rather blown away by their presence this year. Bouncing off of the positive feedback from the success of DOOM, the reveal of Quake at the beginning of the show was perfect. There was a lot of murmuring about whether or not they could pull off a new Quake, but I don’t think anyone was expecting a trailer and acknowledgement of development at this year’s E3. To me it suggests that perhaps they were aware of how the audience would react to DOOM, which is just weird considering all the hubbub surrounding its release.

Fallout/DOOM VR

The announcement for Fallout 4 and DOOM coming to the Vive is an interesting one. Right now VR is in an awkward space. While the cost of development remains high, most games are being relegated to the ‘VR Experience’ category. The platform is still in its infancy, which is fine, but it needs more adopters in order for it to grow. Perhaps fans of these titles will feel inclined to experience it in VR. I’m not particularly sure what it will add to these games (apart from nausea in the case of DOOM), but they’re both immersive environments so maybe that’s enough.

Additionally, the partnership with Vive is slightly concerning. Oculus have already been securing exclusive titles, and preventing them from working on the Vive. Indeed, considering their close relationship with Microsoft, it’s worrying to think that even more exclusivity will be brought into the mix. Already, including Razor’s new foot in the market, we have 4 VR headsets. Not only does this make it incredibly difficult for early adopters to decide which one to get, particularly when companies are beginning to close off their systems to maintain an ‘edge’, but the potential issues in having the entire VR population split, are massive. Honestly, Playstation VR is seeming the most advantageous given the backing behind it, and the already installed user-base.


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Dishonored 2 (Dishonoured 2)

Incorrect spelling of ‘dishonoured’ aside, I really enjoyed the first game, but it was deeply flawed. The story was intensely lacking and it was over very quickly. Similarly, the systems they created and the mechanics at your disposal were rarely required, as the solution to the player’s troubles were too easily discovered. The limited number of restrictions on powers certainly opened the game up, but were unnecessary when I managed to stealth my way though everything, avoiding almost all confrontation with relative easy. For Dishonored 2 to take a leap forward, it needs to strike a balance between the strength of the powers, and the level of thought required to apply them in the world. Hopefully they also manage to throw in a half decent ending while they’re at it.

Microsoft

Microsoft did not hold back this year. Announcements were coming left right and centre, even if some of them weren’t very anticipated. Their hardware and software announcements indicate that they have a clear vision for the future of Xbox, and seem not to be relying on promises, but generating capital on what we have to look forward to in the immediate future.

Sea of Thieves Trailer (PLEASE STOP)

Sea of Thieves is one of my most anticipated games coming out of E3. The idea of sailing around with a group of friends, and engaging in naval combat whereby we all work and communicate together to stay afloat, is the coop experience I’ve always wanted.

Now that that’s out-of-the-way, I need to get something off my chest. I get it… I understand that Let’s Plays and Twitch Streams are a thing. That ‘personality intense’ videos are all the hype. I get that plenty of people find them entertaining, and i’m probably just in the minority. But honestly, is a press conference the right place for this type of trailer? It was loud and obnoxious, it felt forced and seemed to be just a cheap attempt at manipulation. Please… Just stop.



‘Play Anywhere’ Initiative

I don’t own an Xbox One, so ‘Play Anywhere’ was the most exciting announcement all E3 for me. It signaled that Microsoft is re-embracing PC gaming, and meant that I would finally be able to play their first-party game line up. It didn’t come as a big surprise, primarily because Microsoft have been pushing their ‘double helix’ initiative for some time now. Basically, Microsoft wants to take over the world; I might even purchase an Xbox One just because I’d like the freedom to own the same game on a console and PC for convenience.

In a very open interview with Brad Shoemaker and Jeff Gerstmann from GiantBomb in their E3 live stream, Xbox Boss Phil Spencer spoke about the future of Windows 10 gaming. He re-iterated Microsoft’s commitment to perfecting their Windows 10 platform, and in particular, the store.

Recent news articles have been getting me increasingly frustrated, being titled as: “Microsoft Will Ship Games on Steam”. These headings are rather misleading. While Spencer did say that Microsoft games will appear on Steam again, he made it very clear that their first and foremost priority is expanding and improving the Windows 10 store. This likely means that all their big budget first party games such as Halo and Quantum Break will not make their way to Steam, instead, the smaller games like Ori and the Blind Forest will continue to ship on the platform.

Now, I know this will be upsetting to some of you, and hey, It’s annoying. I have 200 games on Steam, and even more split between Origin and Uplay. But the fact of the matter is, neither of these two services are big enough to compete with Steam in any meaningful way. Competition is good, and any world where Steam continues to hold a monopoly on PC gaming forever, is dark. If Microsoft can in some way, compete with what Steam offers, and at the same time successfully integrate the Xbox One into the Windows ecosystem, count me in.

Ubisoft

The Ubisoft Press Conference was slow. Trailers and gameplay out-stayed their welcome, and there wasn’t enough fresh content revealed. It wasn’t all bad though, Aisha Tyler was in force once again, and we did get a better look at a few of the games, particularly Watch_Dogs 2.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands Trailer (PLEASE STOP)

I just don’t get it Ubisoft. People don’t talk like that! Do you really expect us to take it seriously? Just show me the gameplay elements; what my friends and I can expect to do together. Give me a detailed preview of the environments, the type of missions we will undertake, the gun-play. You don’t need to create some artificial coop story for us to understand it’s a game to be played with friends. Please… Just stop.

Just check it out below if you haven’t seen it.



Watch_Dogs 2

I want to love Watchdogs, I really do. But the first game burnt me hard, as it did for everyone else i’m sure. So far it looks good, the parkour seems fluid, and there appears to be much more meaningful interaction with the world. They seem not to be taking the game too seriously, which is the right call, as the second they dive into self-seriousness is when they Aiden Pierce’ify it, and nobody wants that.

My only concern is that they’re still giving us very grande promises. Ubisoft claims they’ve expanded gameplay choice to the next level, allowing us players to complete whole objectives by just hacking. This sounds great, and is exactly what I wanted from the first Watchdogs, but I’m not sure I buy what they’re selling. Let’s just say I remain cautiously optimistic.

Eagle Flight VR

What? Where did this come from? Okay… Cool?

Steep

I’m actually pretty excited for this, an extreme Snow Sports game could be very fun. Counterpoint: Shawn White Snowboarding. Now that’s a snowboarding game!



Wow this guy is terrible. So is the game actually; just goes to show how desperate I am for an awesome Snow Sports game.

Sony

There has been a lot of hubbub about the Sony Press Conference, with many claiming it was one of the best they have ever done. It was okay. It’s interesting that Sony continue to skate by on their reveals, with barely any actual dates or even an inkling of progress or a release window. To me, the majority of announcements just seem too far away from being real.

Horizon Zero Dawn

The open world looks beautiful, and the premise for the story seems fresh and interesting. However, I’m a bit sick of seeing the game demo’d, at this point they’re just showing the same thing in different locations: “Here you can trap a dinosaur robot, this is something you can craft, look another big robot dinosaur!”

God of War

I. Looove God of War. I admit, the character of Kratos is incredibly shallow, and the story can seem a bit silly at times, but the new vision of the series looks intriguing. So far we know that the game is centred around Kratos’ relationship with his son, and his journey to rediscover his humanity. It’s a side of Kratos we’ve never seen before, and if they pull it off, it will be even more impressive.


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Day’s Gone

Day’s Gone was very underwhelming. It’s not just because I’m feeling fatigued on zombie survival games, it’s also because the gameplay looked terribly dull. The footage they showed was just, well… Boring. If it’s a survival game, show me interactions with characters, crafting, and the world. Don’t show me the main character running and slowly killing a large pack of zombies.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Call of Duty desperately needs to switch it up this year, and Infinity Ward has a lot to prove after Ghosts – their last game in the series. The franchise needs to open up the combat space, allow players a lot more methods and avenues of attack. They need to diversify the enemy types and make the futuristic weaponry actually mean something. Ultimately, in multiplayer, the setting has to be used; in the E3 trailer we saw the use of low gravity and the grapple hook, hopefully we see these bleed into the online portion of the game.

Conclusion

So that’s about it. As a whole, E3 this year was pretty decent. Games are finally starting to come out, the majority of which are slated for Q4 of this year, or Q1 of next year. VR got a lot of the spotlight which is promising for its future, and Microsoft has impressed me with their new focus on PC Gaming. It’s an exciting time to be a gamer!

 

 

Twitter @Touchidavos

David is an editor here at OK Games. He loves video games, particularly strong narratives, and cooperative experiences. There aren't many games he doesn't touch, except for MOBA's. Never MOBAS.