Reviewing E3 2015: Ubisoft Press Conference

This week, we’re going to take a look at another publisher specific press conference. As I said last week, these press conferences tend to be a little less exciting than the ones that the console manufacturers put on. But I had a distinct memory of not really enjoying the EA one, whereas I don’t remember much about the Ubisoft one at all. That’s probably not a great sign, and with that in mind, let’s see what we’ve got.

The conference opens with an announcement trailer for South Park: The Fractured but Whole. Although the footage didn’t show any gameplay, an actual game announcement is a great way to start off. Afterwards, Aisha Tyler appears on stage and introduces Matt Stone and Trey Parker to talk a little about the game. We don’t get a whole lot of info though, basically just that the game is being developed by Ubisoft San Francisco instead of Obsidian, who made the last game. I wish we were given some more, but this is a pretty strong start.

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The Fractured but Whole reveal

Next, Aisha does a fairly typical “welcome to E3” speech to the audience. What’s kind of cool though, is that she acknowledges some of the criticism that Ubisoft had gotten in the last year or so. For example, this is the first E3 after Assassin’s Creed Unity, a game that’s famous for it’s almost terrifying glitches.She says Ubisoft is always listening and always trying to do better. Then, she introduces Ubisoft CEO, Yves Guillemot who presents a trailer for a new IP.

We see warriors engaging in fairly large scale combat. The trailer bounces around showing vikings, samurai, and medieval knights. It all looks pretty cool, but it’s just a trailer. Then, Ubisoft Montreal’s Jason Vandenberghe takes the stage and discusses the nature of the game. It’s a melee focused competitive multiplayer game. And then, in a pretty surprising move, he introduces eight people from the development team who take part in a four on four live gameplay demo.

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This guy’s great

The game itself looks awesome. Although the objective seems to be fighting off the other players, there’s also tons of computer controlled fodder running around, similar to Titanfall. Taking them out seems pretty simple, like a typical hack and slash, but things change up when two players encounter each other. The controls appear to get a lot more complicated, as you’re precisely moving where you sword is in order to block incoming attacks. It all looks really cool and unique.

Next, Aisha Tyler is back and she presents two trailers for upcoming expansion packs. One is for The Crew: Wild Run, and the other is for Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max. Neither of these are particularly exciting, for me anyway, but they’re still actual announcements, and that’s really cool and fairly rare for these smaller conferences.

The Division is next up. The footage shown is all pre-recorded, but it’s entirely gameplay. It shows off the Dark Zone, a part of the game that is kind of a mix between PVE and PVP style gameplay. I’m not going to dwell on The Division too much, as the game is already out, but what was shown still looks pretty cool. Another game that’s already out is Anno 2205, a city building sim. We get a short gameplay trailer, and that’s about it.

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Aisha Tyler’s all like, “What happened to my life? I used to be on Friends.”

After the trailer, Aisha Tyler is sitting next to some guy cosplaying the main character of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. She asks him a few questions, but he doesn’t really seem to know what’s going on. Aisha quickly gets out of there and introduces Just Dance 2016. Or, I guess I should say introduces Jason Derulo, and performs a whole song and dance number but, you know, doesn’t actually play the game. Man, and this press conference was going so well too.

Next up, a pretty dramatic trailer for Rainbow Six: Siege plays showing the premise of the game. Actress Angela Basset, who plays Rainbow Six’s coordinator, steps out on stage and talks to Aisha about her experience playing her character. I’ve never played Siege, but it’s my understanding that it’s a very multiplayer focused game, so this all seems really out of place. Next they show off the games co-op mode, Terrohunt. It seems pretty cool, but just your typical co-op shooter.

Up next is a trailer and gameplay demo for Trackmania Turbo. I’ve never played a Trackmania game, so I can’t speak with too much confidence, but it looks neat. It runs really fast and the track designs all look pretty crazy. They also show off a level generator, where you simply press a button and the game will randomly generate a level. This seems pretty cool, but I have to wonder how interesting levels that aren’t built by hand can be.

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That’s not how you drive a car

If you know me in real life, you probably know that I don’t like Assassin’s Creed. And thus, a new trailer for Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate didn’t do much for me. But visually, it does look pretty cool, and I like the Victorian-Era London setting. But, the last time I let the setting convince me to try an Assassin’s creed game was III, and that didn’t turn out so well. So yeah, it looked neat, but I don’t personally care.

For the final reveal, Yves  Guillemot reveals Ghost Recon: Wild Lands, a new open world tactical shooter. Although the game itself doesn’t really remind me of past Ghost Recon games, it all looks really slick. The footage shows off three different ways you can go about doing the same mission, and each looks equally satisfying. The whole thing has a real Metal Gear Solid V vibe to it, and that’s a good thing in my opinion.

And that’s the Ubisoft conference! This was way better than I remembered, with lots of completely new announcements and great looking trailers. It definitely had a few rough spots, but all in all, this was great. This time, I used Ubisoft’s video of the conference, which you can find right here.

Xenoblade Chronicles X Check In: Week 4

Much like last week, I simply haven’t had much time to play Xenoblade this week. I had a lot of extra things to deal with at my full-time job, plus Star Fox Zero released and I’m working on a review of it. But I did still manage to play a little bit, so let’s take a look at some numbers. My current play time is 30 hours and forty minutes, my main character is level 26, and I’ve completed chapter 7 of the story. Continue reading

Xenoblade Chronicles X Check In: Week 2

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster week for my Xenoblade Chronicles X play-through. Although I’m still really enjoying the game, a lot of it’s problems are becoming much more apparent. But as I was preparing to write a largely negative blog post this week, I got to a story section that really surprised me and made me excited all over again. I know I gave this warning last week, but just to be clear, there will be spoilers in these posts, so read at your own risk.

Like I did with last week, let’s start with some numbers. I have 22 hours of play time, I’m level 23, and I just finished chapter 5. This means I played for about ten hours this week, but I’ve only completed one story mission. So, what was I doing the rest of the time? Continue reading

The Rumored Changes to Zelda Might be Just What The Series Needs

 

Earlier today, investigative journalist/blogger Emily Rogers posted some rumors about the upcoming Legend of Zelda Wii U game. None of it is confirmed, but she’s been right in the past, most recently when she stated that a Paper Mario game was in development for Wii U before Color Splash’s announcement. So while we can’t treat these as fact, there’s good reason to at least think about them seriously. Continue reading

Reviewing E3 2015: Bethesda Press Conference

2015 was a really exciting year for E3, and it started off with a bang. Bethesda Softworks had their very first E3 press conference, and it happened shortly after announcing Fallout 4. This was kind of a crazy move, you would think that kind of announcement would be saved for the press conference. But getting that out of the way beforehand only made it more exciting to think about what was in store.

The conference starts with a montage of game developers from Bethesda’s various studios. This is pretty cool, putting a human face on the company. It’s also a good reminder that Bethesda is a lot bigger than just the team that makes Fallout and Elder Scrolls. There are members of id, Arkane Studios, and Zenimax Online Studios all featured.

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Next, Pete Hines, the VP of PR at Bethesda, takes the stage. He gives the typical “welcome to E3” speech that we’ve all come to expect from these things. Then he mentions a little game called Doom. Now, Doom was already announced, so this wasn’t exactly huge, but no one outside of those who attended Quakecon earlier had seen any of it. Pete Hines calls Marty Stratton, executive producer at id out on stage to present gameplay footage.

Even a year later, Doom is still stunning. The characters and environments are all impressively detailed. Character movement is noticeably higher than most modern FPS games, making it seem closer to the first few Doom games. The way the enemies just fall to pieces when hit with powerful weapons is incredibly satisfying, even if it is a little silly.

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This screenshot taken from a YouTube video doesn’t do the game justice

Next up, we get a quick multiplayer trailer. It looks totally fine, but nothing particularly new or exciting. But then we’re introduced to Snapmap, Doom’s user-generated content system. It seems really flexible, allowing players to make new levels or even entirely new modes. I think it looks a little complicated, but Marty Stratton claims that it’s simple enough for anyone to be able to use it. I guess we’ll find out for sure in a little over a month.

Battlecry is next up, and honestly, I had completely forgotten this game existed. It’s a team-based multiplayer game, that seems to have an emphasis on melee combat, although there were some classes shown that use guns. It didn’t look particularly interesting and some of the footage looked janky at best. But, it sounds like they’re still early in development, so maybe they’ll turn things around.And for all I know, maybe it plays really well. That can be hard to judge from just watching a video.

After Battlecry wrapped up, Harvey Smith and Raphael Colantonio from Arkane Studios take the stage. They announce Dishonored 2 with a CG trailer. It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to see actual gameplay, but a lot of games are announced this way so it’s not too surprising. Unfortunately, I’ve never played Dishonored, so a lot of the context was kind of lost on me. We’re introduced to one of the games main characters, a woman named Emily Kaldwin. We see her jump around a steampunk-like world using special powers that seem to let her teleport. She gets to the office of some guy, kills two robot guards, and then attacks the guy. Yeah, that’s a pretty vague description, but like I said, I have no context for this game. Looks cool though. I have a copy of the first game, just never played it. Might have to check it out before this one comes out.

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Next is a trailer for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. We get to see a bunch of new zones and it all looks pretty cool. I just wish it was for a new single player Elder Scrolls game. I’m not the biggest of fan on MMORPGs and have never played ESO, so there’s not a lot I can say about this, but it does look good. I’m sure people who like those sorts of games were very excited.

Finally, Todd Howard is brought out to talk about Fallout. I find it easy to forget just how exciting this was at the time. It seems like people fall into two camps with Fallout 4, either it was the next masterpiece from Bethesda, or it was a giant disappointment. Unfortunately, even though I do like the game, I fall into the latter camp. But at the time, this was all very exciting. We had just gotten a Fallout 4 trailer a little while earlier, and now we were going to see some gameplay.

Even though the game came out months ago, and even though I was ultimately pretty disappointed in it, Fallout 4 still looks really cool. They start with a montage of concept art, which is great to see now that I have actual context for it. We also get to see the character creator, some of the early story set up, and some combat.

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Then they showed off the actual physical pipboy that came with the collector’s edition. It’s a neat little thing that let’s you wear your phone and access menus in the game,  and the audience goes nuts for it. Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone using it to actually play the game, but hey, it looks cool. Continuing to talk about phones, Todd Howard announces Fallout Shelter. I never played Fallout Shelter, being a Windows Phone owner prevented me from getting most of the big mobile games, but I’ve heard pretty mixed things about the game. It looks like a fairly typical free-to-play phone game, but with a Fallout flavor.

Now back to Fallout 4 to show off the building system. Admittedly, it looks pretty cool. However, having actually played the game, the building system is one of my least favorite thing about it. Thankfully, it can largely be ignored. But hey, it looks cool, and got people excited, and that’s really what E3 press conferences are all about.

And that’s the show. Overall, this was a really good press conference. Most publisher specific press conferences tend to be pretty boring, but this one wasn’t. Bethesda’s already announced that they will have another press conference this year, so let’s hope it’s just as good.

Announcing Quarter Circle Forward’s Second Weekly Series

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If you know me in real life, you know that I’m absolutely obsessed with E3. So even though this year’s show is still a few months off (78 days, according to the countdown on my phone) I’m already super excited. So, that got me thinking… what can I do in the meantime?

Presenting, my second weekly series, “Reviewing E3 2015”. Every Tuesday, I’m going to rewatch and review one of 2015’s press conferences in the order that they actually happened. And this isn’t starting next week, the first entry will be in just a few hours.

Who benefits from this? Probably no one, I don’t know. But I really like E3 and want to talk about it. And it’s my blog, don’t judge me! I hope you have as much fun reading as I do writing.

Xenoblade Chronicles X Check In: Week 1

Welcome to the first entry in my new weekly series, Xenoblade Chronices X Check In. If you missed the announcement post I made, the basic gist of it is that I’m playing through Xenoblade Chronicles X and every week I’ll write about how I feel about it. Honestly, it’s rare for me to get through games of this scale do to lack of time (I do work full time) and wanting to play many games. But, by doing this series, I’m incentivizing myself to keep going with it, as it’ll help me put up regular content on the blog. Plus, a friend of mine has been bugging me to play it, so this’ll finally get him off my back. It’s wins all around!

I’m going to start each week with some numbers, just to give you an idea of how much I’ve played. I’m currently sitting at twelve hours and forty minutes of play time. My main character is level 17. Finally, I’ve currently played through chapter 4 of the story.

I should probably warn you that there will be spoilers ahead. Although the game does not seem to be particularly plot-heavy, I’m not going to hold back when talking about anything story-specific.

Still with me? The game opens with the Earth caught in the middle of an unrelated war between two advanced alien races. Earth is caught in the crossfire and destroyed. I actually really like this setup. So often in sci-fi, humanity is put on a pedestal. I love the idea that we were simply caught in the middle of something much bigger than us. Anyway, humans attempt to escape the planet in ships, but most are destroyed. One ship ends up crashing onto a planet called Mira.

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Potato quality shot of the character creator because I forgot to make a real screenshot

Your first action as the player is to create your character. This is a huge departure from the previous Xenoblade Chronicles game. The editor is fairly robust and let’s you make a wide variety of different characters. I made a grizzled old dude, because that’s just what I always do. Don’t ask me why! Because the main character is a create-a-character, he or she doesn’t have a whole lot of personality. That’s ok though, as it’s easier to imprint yourself on a charter that’s a bit of a blank slate.

Your character is found in a lifepod and woken up by a woman named Elma. You tell Elma that you don’t remember anything, which is kind of frustrating. Amnesia is a pretty common trope in RPGs, and it’s a fairly lazy way to explain to a character the rules of the world they’re inhabiting when they should already know them. But it is what is. Elma explains how the Earth was destroyed and how you’ve come to live on planet Mira. Part of the ship you arrived on, the White Whale, has been converted into the first human city on Mira, New Las Angeles.

Elma hands you a weapon and tells you that you need to get back to New LA. And thus begins the prologue of the game. It’s very straight forward, but is mostly there to teach you the basics of combat. If you played the first Xenoblade Chronicles, you have a pretty good idea of how the combat will work. You move around in real time, doing auto-attacks every few seconds. You also have moves called “arts” which run on cool down timers. Some arts are more effective if you meet certain conditions, such as attacking the enemy from the side or while they’re suffering a status effect. It’s a fast paced and very active combat system, which makes it stand out from other Japanese RPGs.

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The game looks fantastic, especially for a Wii U game

When you arrive in New Las Angeles, you begin chapter 1 of the story. It’s basically just a bunch of tutorials and can get pretty long-winded, but the information is very useful. You learn that Elma is what’s called a Blade, which are basically the people who explore and map out Mira as well as defend what’s left of humanity. By the end of the chapter, you’re being asked to become a Blade. I kind of wish I had selected “no” just to see what would happen, but I said “yes” and progressed the game.

Now that you’re a full-fledged Blade, you can start running missions. This seems to be the bulk of what you’re doing in Xenoblade Chronicles X. All story missions have prerequisites, such as being a certain level, having done certain side quests, and having a certain amount of Mira probed. Most of these tasks you’ll complete from just running missions that you get from the mission counter.

I mentioned probing Mira just a bit ago. This is very important task that you need to do. It’s only been two months since the White Whale crashed on Mira, and that means most of the planet is still largely unknown. But, you can find points out in the world where you can plant a probe. This serves multiple functions. In the story, it’s helping to get data on the planet. As a gameplay function, it serves as a means of collecting money since you get paid from the probes periodically, and also as your fast travel system.

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One of the shops in New LA

The side quests you pick up all seem to be variations on just a couple different themes. You’re either gathering items or slaying monsters. Sometimes the monsters will be a group of small monsters or they’ll be one large monster with special properties, referred to as a “tyrant”. The gathering quests are kind of annoying, as they don’t tend to do a very good job of explaining where you can find the items you’re looking for. A lot of times though, you’ll luck out and already have the items from your previous quests.

Eventually, you’ll reach a story mission where you meet another alien race called the Ganglion. It turns out the Ganglion are one of the races that was responsible for destroying the Earth. They view humanity as a cancer on the universe and are trying to wipe it out. This frustrates me, because it’s suddenly putting humanity on a pedestal again. It’s a real bummer, but what are you going to do?

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Combat is exciting and some of the monsters are massive

And that’s about where I am in the game so far. The game is definitely not perfect, however I’m really enjoying my time with it. It’s been a long time since a large scale, open world RPG was really able to hold my attention like this. Fallout 4 was close, but that game, while still good, was too buggy and too similar to it’s predecessors to keep me going. But Xenoblade Chronicles X is taking up all of my spare time, and when I’m not playing it, I’m thinking about it.