Today marks the end of the biggest week in 2016 gaming announcements, E3. A lot of great upcoming games and features were shown but, in my opinion, the best and most exciting updates came from some of my 10 favourite surprises of last year’s E3 such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, ReCore and South Park: The Fractured But Whole. So the content of this post is actually My 10 Favourites from E3 That Weren’t On My List From 2015:
10. eSports Accessibility
The eSports world is growing at an astounding rate. With tournament prizes in the multi-millions, a number of major company sponsoring teams and a horde of fans watching streams on sites like Twitch, it’s really no surprise that it was mentioned in the EA, Xbox and PC Gaming conferences at E3.
Both EA and Xbox want to make it more accessible for the average gamer to really get into the competitive spirit. Xbox are bringing in new features such as Clubs and a new tournament platform, Arena, where players can reportedly register, spectate and compete in gaming competitions for Smite, H1Z1 and Work of Tanks.
EA are introducing 3 tiers of their eSports offering which focus on their sports games like Madden NFL. Challenger will allow users to host and run their own tournaments, Premier will include larger live events hosted by EA and select partners and EA Major events will be massive global competitions with the first Madden series offering a $1 million prize.
9. Giant Cop (Other Ocean Interactive)
Giant Cop is a VR game where the clue is in the name – you’re a giant cop who is in charge of Micro City. Look over your domain and change things as you please. Whether it’s cleaning up the streets by plucking out criminals and crooks or destroying those who oppose you by chucking a bus at protesters (the best part of the trailer), you’re in control of what looks to be an open world with an interesting art style and a great sense of humour. After a lot of games that take themselves too seriously, it was nice to see something a little silly and sandbox-y in the PC Gaming Show.
8. Mass Effect Andromeda (Bioware)
I was impressed by how great Mass Effect is looking (and really anything made with EA’s Frostbite, so Battlefield 1 too :O) and the making-of video they showed was really interesting. I love the fact that they’re taking feedback from gamers but also introducing the game as a new standalone story rather than tagging on. Despite never really getting into the previous games, Bioware convinced me to give it another shot in preparation for the new release and I’m actually excited.
7. Detroit: Become Human
I debated putting this game on here simply because of the awful cheesy text in the trailer, which you can check out below, because it kills the atmosphere – “Collect information. Face Dilemnas. Do More Stuff….” but the rest of it really intrigued me. I’m a sucker for games where your choices affect the outcome of situation (this is the reason I hated the Telltale Walking Dead, but that’s a story for another day) and the subject matter of robots and AI mixing with old fashioned detective work is just irresistible to me.
6. Steep (Ubisoft)
Steep is an interesting one. Overall, I’m not sure what this game is aiming to be or the direction it is taking but it has some cool (not a pun) aspects. It’s an open-world extreme sports game, which is something that I’m pretty sure hasn’t been done before.
Graphically, it looks really impressive especially with the free-roaming mountain view camera and being able to rewing and slow-mo your extreme moves. It’s the social aspect, however, that really interests me. As you’re skiing, snowboarding, paragliding or flying in a wingsuit, you can see others in the world around you just hanging out. You can invite friends to play in this open world with you which looks seamless and race and challenge each other however you want.
With the setting being the alps, the game looks great but I can imagine people becoming bored with just continually racing in the 4 extreme sports in a relatively bare environment. As a concept I think the game could really work with more points of interaction and taking itself less seriously. Adding a central hub or cabin where friends can hang out or introducing something fun like being able to use the snow to create things or snowball fight would keep people hanging out longer and be more willing to explore with others.
5. EA Originals and Fe (Zoink)
After the success of Yarny in the adorable indie game Unravel, EA have started up EA Originals; focusing on finding small developers with experiences that are “unique, gorgeous, innovative and memorable” and bringing them to the world. Fe from Zoink in Sweden is the first of these. Fe, meaning Fairy, has no dialogue or words but chooses to use the language of music for each of the characters encountered and events. The game is a narrative about nature and how everything in the world is connected and every player’s experience is intended to completely different and personal. It reminds me somewhat of the introduction to Ori and The Blind Forest, which was beautiful.
This announcement heralds something that I think was slightly lacking from this year’s E3 – unique and different new IPs. I can’t wait to see more.
4. Prey (Arkane Studios)
Good morning, Morgan.
Apparently the development of a sequel to Prey from 2006 has been cursed, which is obviously why Arkane dropped the 2 from the name and started again. In this Prey, coming 2017, you are aboard the spacestation Talos 1 orbiting the moon as part of some kind of humna experiment. Looking suspiciously similar to the Dead Space games, which are some of my favourites, it seems we’re going to get a new sci-fi psychological thriller that is gonna scare the pants off me. Can’t wait.
3. Fallout VR on HTC Vive
Fallout 4 was probably the most hyped release shown at last year’s E3 and Bethesda couldn’t let that train stop. In 2017, the entirety of the game will be available to play on the HTC Vive. This is a massively impressive feat and I’m curious to see how they will adapt the UI and VATS for virtual reality.
They also have a Doom VR experience, which I’m guessing is just a static tour of the environment. Otherwise, the fast movement and turning would probably turn the E3 floor into chunder city.
I’ve been lucky enough to try a few VR experiences working with VR marketing company Virtual Umbrella and have seen first hand how amazing and immersive the technology can be. There has been a problem explaining this to sceptics, however, when a lot of the content is designed specifically for VR and limited, much like the beginning of 3D experiences at IMAX before Avatar. Bethesda throwing in their lot and bringing a fully established AAA title to the medium is the perfect example that VR can be properly utilised in the future of gaming (and more).
2. God of War (Sony Santa Monica)
Sony opened up their conference with a full orchestra followed by some live gameplay of the new God of War. This was an absolutely fantastic surprise and the most epic way to start things off. The graphics look great, the gameplay fun as hell and there was a deep emotional element that you just wouldn’t expect from God of War with the complex father and son relationship. This is definitely one I’m looking forward to, even if it’s just for Kratos and his new beard 😉
1. Play Anywhere with Xbox One and Windows 10
I’m sure everyone was sick of hearing “Exclusive to Xbox One and Windows 10” at the end of Microsoft’s briefing – they might as well just say “Not on PS4” now – but this is my number one feature released at this E3. I was recently discussing how frustrating it is to have to buy the same game on multiple platforms to play with different people so this was great. The ability to continue my Xbox progress whilst on my laptop at university will probably destroy my education but my Gamerscore will go through the roof! With Gears of War 4 being one of the first to introduce this, we’ll be able to play together in the same room without the restrictions of split-screen views.
Another great example of cross-platform play for mobile devices was shown with a Minecraft demo introducing Realms. The guys on stage were able to join and explore eachother’s games on different devices with one person playing from the Gear VR headset which was really cool.
So despite Scalebound’s disappointing gameplay, FF15’s departure from turn-based combat and a distinct lack of Kingdom Hearts 3, this E3 has had a pretty awesome lot of announcements.
PS. I’m back! Just like Kojima appearing like a game dev rockstar and showing us Norman Reedus’ butt or whatever.