Oh how I’d love to get to one of these shows, maybe one day I will but for now I have to be happy with the constant stream of news and videos coming from various attendees. We’re lucky to be honest, there was a time not all that long ago where we’d have to wait until actual, physical magazines came out after the show before we really got to see what was going on and even then we were limited to printed words and the occasional image. Now we have YouTubers grabbing video captures of hands on time with games then uploading them back at the hotel in the evening, granting us an almost up to date look at these new games. Then we have Twitter, where we get fully up to date thoughts from attendees on all the cool things they are seeing. It’s been a little consuming this week to be honest, I’ve been sifting through all the updates from the people that I follow and various news outlets, resulting in a huge amount of excitement for a whole host of things. I’ve got a top 10 list of games I’m super excited about, but before we get onto those there were a couple of updates that came out of it that I’m loving too, and one other game announcement that surprisingly had me a little disappointed.
Major Xbox One Updates
Microsoft came bellowing out of the gates with a slew of exclusives and some fantastic updates for their consoles. Under Don Mattrick the Xbox One reveal suffered hugely, he didn’t really seem to know where he wanted to take the console brand and as such Microsoft received a huge backlash to their initial announcement. Well, things have changed wildly since then and, under Phil Spencer the console platform is flourishing like it always should have. Now we have a console with a much clearer path set before it, still placing itself at the centre of a living room but now much more focussed on supporting us, the gamers. As such, the two major updates that came out of E3 this year were Xbox 360 emulation and Xbox Game Previews.
Billed as “backwards compatibility” but not really, Xbox 360 emulation allows digital copies of certain Xbox 360 games to be played on the Xbox One in a specially built Xbox 360 dashboard emulator. The list of available games is very limited right now but the program will continue to grow over time, with more games being added over time. Games that you’ve downloaded via Xbox Live, whether they be Games on Demand or Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) titles, will be immediately available to download once the titles are added to the compatibility list and retail discs will unlock a digital download, again, once the title has been added to the availability. The most incredible thing about this announcement was that this is available right now for Xbox Preview members, something I’m a part of. I can say the emulation works great on the two games I’ve tried it with so far, Perfect Dark and Perfect Dark Zero, with all Xbox 360 functionality right there. This will be available to everyone later this year.
Now the Game Preview program is something many PC gamers will already be quite familiar with, as this is essentially the Xbox equivalent of Steam Early Access. The bonus to the Xbox Game Preview program is that developers must offer a 60 minute free trial before anyone needs to commit any hard cash to get access, so if something takes your fancy you can give it a go first. This is a great idea, and I feel a little more comfortable running an early access-style program on a console than a PC, simply because I think there will be less of a chance of a game being released incomplete and left to fester as has happened with the Steam equivalent. I’ve also given this a go, downloading the free trial for Elite: Dangerous, which impressed me so much I’ve dropped the £24.99 price for full early access. I think both of these announcements are huge, and really help move the Xbox platform away from the shaky beginnings it suffered and into a fresh new life. The future is bright for the Microsoft console.
The game announcement that left a bitter taste for me was Star Fox Zero. It’s funny, many years ago I was a huge Nintendo fan, any time from the N64 era backwards I thought they could do no wrong and one of those shining examples for me was Lylat Wars, or Star Fox 64 as it was known in other territories. So hey, maybe you’d be thinking I’d be quite excited at the prospect of a new Star Fox game, one that seems to do exactly what a game like that should. This is a sequel many of us have been waiting nearly 20 years for but, you see, the problem is that with the release of the Wii Nintendo kind of lost me. There were some strong titles, sure, but the chronic lack of third party support and over saturation of gimicky party games resulted in me losing interest in the company as a whole. Now, they finally release what looks like a faithful Star Fox game and they make it rely heavily on that piece of garbage tablet controller on the Wii U. You know what, Nintendo? Too fucking late, I and many others have moved on.
So, on to the stuff that looks amazing! (In no particular order).
Rainbow Six Siege
There’s already been a whole lot of content shown off for Rainbow Six Siege, including a closed beta run not all that long ago. Still, we got to see the fruits of that beta during E3, seeing how much feedback had been taken on board by the developers and applied already. Impressively, a lot of the feedback has been dropped into the game now, slowing the pace, increasing full auto recoil and making the whole thing feel more realistic and tactical. I’ve been intrigued by much of the content released already, but the improvements that have been patched in look fantastic and now I’m super excited.
Ghost Recon Wildlands
Another one from Ubisoft next, who I find can be very hit and miss recently, Ghost Recon Wildlands eschews the regular militaristic approach of previous entries for a stab at the vaunted open world experience. It looks like they’re doing something pretty cool with this, giving the game the cool tech that Ghost Recon is also well known but taken it in an almost DEA direction. Essentially, the game takes place in South America, teaming you up with friends to take down drug lords in a variety of ways, going guns blazing or going quiet and stealthy. There was only a little shown, but my interest has been grabbed, well played Ubisoft.
Now there is a risk that Ubisoft are going to massively oversaturate the market with Tom Clancy franchised games but The Division has been on the cards for a while and ever since it’s announcement way back when I’ve been incredibly excited for this. Now, once again there wasn’t a huge amount show here but I’m still totally on board, although if it goes through any more delays I’ll start to worry, there are only so many set backs a game can suffer before things start to deteriorate as the budget and expectations continue to climb. Maybe it has something to do with the new engine they’re using, but I’m holding out hope.
Halo 5 Guardians
Oh boy, major Halo fan here and holy shit did we get a treat and a half at E3. Gameplay footage dropped for the single player campaign, showing off Spartan Locke and his team tracking the movements of the Master Chief who now seems to be aligned with the Prometheans from Halo 4. Not sure what’s going on there but hearing Nathan Fillions voice pop up as Buck from Halo 3: ODST returns was a huge and welcome surprise. I may have been thoroughly against Locke and his team up until now but, they’ve got Mal on their team so suddenly they don’t seem quite as bad as before. Interesting that the campaign will switch up between the perspectives of Locke and his team and the Chief and Spartan Team Blue. For further awesomeness, JackFrags uploaded a 16 minute video of some Halo 5 multiplayer which seems to be a very clever mix of PvP and PvE. Check it out below.
Star Wars Battlefront
Finally! Some actual gameplay footage! After the official announcement some time ago we have finally been deemed worthy of feasting our eyes on some footage taken from PS4. It looks damned impressive, I’m genuinely surprised that Dice have got this game looking as good as they have. I feel like EA and Dice have dragged this out a little bit, I was beginning to wonder if it was possibly due to the fact that it hadn’t shaped up as well as they had hoped but I am all on board for this when it drops, though I’ll probably be picking this one up on Xbox One due to a more extensive friends list.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
More crafting options, greater focus on tombs and a continuation of the story begun with the recent reboot, Tomb Raider, leaves me wanting even more. This was an interesting one, I’d been impressed with the reboot though there was a list of flaws and faults that left plenty of room for improvement, many of which seem to have been addressed in this latest instalment. With a return to the voice from Camilla Luddington too, I’m rather looking forward to Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Just Cause 3
This is how you have fun in a sandbox game, or rather, this is how you make a sandbox game fun. Just Cause 2 was one of my absolute favourites on the Xbox 360, it was just an excuse to grab as many explosives as possible and wreck as much as you could. The next title in the series looks to be just as chaotic as previous entries but with some cool new features thrown in for good measure, such as being able to link your grappling hook to two items now instead of just one, then rapidly increasing the tension and slamming the two items into each other. The addition of an infinite amount of C4 is also welcome, with the player only being limited to how much they can place at any one time. This is a bit of a game changer to be honest, massively increasing the fluidity of the time spent in the game and reducing the need to go hunting round for explosives to take down a target.
Following the official announcement shortly before E3, we all knew that there would be more content dropped during the show itself, especially with Bethesda holding a keynote speech of their own. Lo and behold we got a good look at some gameplay footage, showing off the cool weapons (aiming down sights too!!), armours and crafting. There was also a good look given at dogmeat, the new dog companion coming to Fallout 4 who can be given commands from attacking a particular enemy to fetching you a specific item. There has also been confirmation that Fallout 4 won’t be including any sort of multiplayer functionality which is absolutely FINE BY ME!
While up on stage showing off their new wares, Bethesda also dropped the announcement trailer for Dishonored 2. Now, it was one of those pre-rendered trailers which doesn’t represent the game we will actually be getting, but my excitement comes from the awesome game we got originally. It would seem this one has taken a significant leap forward in time, technology has advanced and the assassin we are playing as is Emily, the girl Korvo was tasked with protecting in the first game. It’ll be interesting to see how similar or different she is to Korvo, who I also believe will be showing up. Now, because we didn’t see any actual gameplay here I can’t see this dropping this year, it was more of a “oh hey, we’re working on this too” kind of display but I’m happy nonetheless.
Mass Effect Andromeda
I’ve been in tow minds as to whether I’d include this on the list or not, we have known for a while that Bioware have been working on a new Mass Effect game and we’ve also known for a while that it wouldn’t simply be called Mass Effect 4. Rather than address the ending of Mass Effect 3 and potentially commit to a canon ending Bioware have opted to take their stories outside of the Milky Way Galaxy now, taking us to our nearest galactic neighbour, the Andromeda Galaxy. I’m wary though, to be honest, since Mass Effect 3 had been fairly hit and miss and while I thought quite highly of Dragon Age Inquisition at the time of playing, since playing The Witcher 3 my memories of it are not quite as fond as they were. Could go either way this one, we’ll have to wait and see.
There were many more shown that I think look interesting, some cool exclusives coming to Xbox, Playstation and PC that look to be well worth peoples time and money. 2015 is going to be a great and expensive year for gaming.