Wake up! E3 2017 Thoughts

Wakey wakey me. It seems I’ve fallen asleep at the blogging wheel.

I enthusiastically started a “new” blog, picked out a theme, and wrote a post — over a month ago.

It’s been both a chilled and eventful month. I’ve savoured not working my previous job, with the hours and other baggage. It’s been an extended relief. But let’s get over the boring stuff, last week was quite eventful.

E3 2017 has come and gone. It didn’t blow anyone away, but it was a great show nonetheless. It was great in the sense that it didn’t have any obvious incidents or controversies. One could say that the various gaming behemoths played it incredibly safe. I’m going to comment on one or two of the topics that stood out for me, and I’ll probably ignore and forget most of the events.

The pre-conference was kicked off on Saturday, 10 June by EA. Oh Electronic Arts. I feel like you might be the most complacent games publisher out there. Your show was slightly awkward and largely forgettable except for one or two redeeming factors. The first being the presence of Men in Blazers (they do a great footballing podcast) speaking about FIFA. They brought some personality to the stage, and it’s really the only non-game trailer that I remember. Except maybe Patrick Söderlund’s expressionless and intensely awkward moments in the spotlight.

One of my only interests in EA this year is FIFA 18‘s continuation of their story mode. Not many details were given during that press conference, and I expect them to not change much there mechanically.

The other is a bit more dear to my heart, and that has me positively vibrating with excitement: Star Wars Battlefront II. It would appear that EA and DICE have taken the criticism from the first game on board, and the inclusion of a single-player campaign is exciting. Far more interesting to me though is the revamp of multiplayer to include a class system. A game with the scope that Battlefront has, with such large-scale battles, suffered greatly without classes. It was still fun, but this will put a greater emphasis on team play and seems to display how they might be making the game less “accessible” and more skill-based. Yummy.

More on that later this year.

After dear old EA, we got Microsoft. Project Scorpio’s real name is the awful Xbox One X. This naming choice is reflected perfectly in this image:

Beside being cringe-worthy, it’s possibly confusing. Imagine an old lady who is looking for a Christmas present for the grand kids. Sent on a shopping trip, clutching a hastily-written post-it note, with minimal information. Both Xbox One S and Xbox One X will be on the market. Imagine the confusion with an “S” and an “X” over a phone? Fun times ahead for retail staff and uninformed family members ahead. My suggestion? Xbox One Sierra and Xbox One X-ray.

Forgetting awful names for a second, I think Microsoft’s show was spectacular. And if Sony had failed to show up, would have walked away with “Show of E3 2017”. They dispensed with most of the useless chatter, and showed us what mattered: scores of games. Like, literally scores. It was alike 40 trailers or something. The next Metro title looks fantastic, and will get me to finally play the Metro Redux sitting on my shelf. Sea of Thieves doesn’t have me convinced, but I adored whoever did that voice over work.

Overall, I’m not completely convinced I’ll buy the console early, but my interest is piqued. And when it comes out, and if I can afford one, I’ll probably buy it.

Next we had Bethesda on Monday morning locally (late Sunday night there). There was some milking of older titles, some waffle, and finally the good stuff: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Finally. A year after they teased the title, we got the game confirmed to us, along with a release date. Come 27 October, and I might not be found.

Next: my least favourite show of E3. I hated Ubisoft’s show for three reasons: 1) There was no Aisha Tyler, or charismatic equivalent. 2) They started the show with what felt like an eternity of that horrendous cross-over game they have. 3) Splinter Cell was notably absent. In 2014 we were assured that we’d hear more of the franchise in 2016. A year after that promise expired and nary a word about the series for FOUR years. Ubisoft were asked about it after the show, and they assured people that they haven’t forgotten about the franchise, in that same unconvincing manner a distracted parent says “that’s nice dear” to the kid desperately doing flips for attention.

Bonus reason: I have no interest in Beyond Good and Evil 2, especially since it seems aeons away from actually being a game.

Ubisoft. You are almost dead to me as a game’s publisher. Yes, Far Cry 5 and Assassin’s Creed Origins look vaguely interesting, but you ain’t got no games I want. Where is Splinter Cell or even some news of it? Maybe a revisit to something from Prince of Persia? No? Fine.

After this, Sony went and almost pulled off what they did last year. Except this year two things let them down slightly, most important of which: no definite dates were given. The only titles we’ll see this year are the expansions for Uncharted and Horizon Zero Dawn. Everything else had a vague “2018” attached at the end. No definite dates? Not assuring. The other slight letdown was the lack of many new IPs that we haven’t seen before. That’s largely fine, but even though the new stuff is still future, after a year of speaking about them, they’re not that new any more.

The part of Sony’s show that I came away most excited for was Spider-man. Insomniac are proven as devs, and after that gameplay footage, I’m convinced we’re getting the true successor to the PS2 era Spider-man 2 based on the film with the watery-eyed bloke. Another non-committal “2018”, but will be well worth the wait.

And that’s where my E3 ended. I have no interest in Nintendo. No offence to the Nintendo fans out there, but I’ve never owned any of their systems, and none of their IPs have remotely interested me.

Overall, this E3 left me happy with certain titles coming, unhappy that certain IPs have been neglected, and overall feeling like it was a good show, but slightly worse than last year. It was safe, and we got safe announcements and confirmations. What carried this year’s show was a combination of two key ingredients I think: this year’s lineup of games is, quite frankly, excellent. What a gaming glut. The other reason is that most of the companies have cottoned on. We don’t want you standing there boring us to tears with your exec’s nervous blubbering, we want games. And we got games and their trailers aplenty. I expect more of the same next year, if not better.

Bonus material — Devolver Digital’s Big Fancy Press Conference 2017.

Mayday May Day

Today is a day of firsts.

It’s the first day of May. That’s both May Day and Worker’s Day.
Is it ironic that Worker’s Day is a holiday? Maybe it’s appropriate.

In another “first”, welcome to my “new” old blog. Hopefully I’ll have something consistently interesting to say.

Gaming, football, reading, writing, and entertainment; these things interest me, along with a smattering of other topics. So I’ll write about them.

For today only, let’s not speak of the unspeakable horrors of the North London Derby. It was awful.

In other news: the Prey demo is live, and I’ve spent about 20min with it. Not entirely sure what my impressions are on it just yet. Hopefully I’ll have fully-formed thoughts on it at a later stage. So far I’m caught between liking and disliking the visuals. There are only so many games various Bethesda studios can make in a certain visual style before I start questioning it. It’s not ugly, it’s just… not as well-polished as I was hoping. Dishonored had a visually distinct style that suited it, and it aged remarkably well. I’m not sure if Arkane were emulating something like that here, but I’ll digress. Visuals aren’t the be-all and end-all of games (but they are important).

The gameplay itself is smooth. Some quality of life choices might take some getting used to, though. Especially the choice to put the”quick menu” for equipment on one of the face buttons on PS4. Pressing Triangle to get to your radial menu just isn’t intuitive. The top shoulder buttons are occupied by the lean function, which could make some sense, but seems a bit uneconomical to me. There are better ways to apply a lean mechanic, unless it proves to be far more vital during the course of the game.

Despite those niggles, the story is somewhat intriguing. If you’ve been following the game’s promotion, you’ll already be familiar with the story. The intro level I’m playing doesn’t exactly reveal anything surprising. The story will provide a good context for your actions in this game, but it will be the gameplay that determines whether Prey is successful or not. Much like Dishonored 2, this looks to be built around your powers and the cool combos you can create with them. The devs have said: here’s some fun abilities, use them.

Well, if that’s not fully-formed thoughts, I guess I could go on at length about this game. Is it a day one purchase? Probably not for me. The only Bethesda-made day one purchase I could ever justify is any Wolfenstein game. Any. I’m willing to eat my words one day. (By the way, let’s keep an eye on E3 this year. I predict some Wolfenstein news.)

Let’s wrap the first post up there. I’ll have more tomorrow.