The day before E3 opens its doors is typically the biggest day for game announcements of the year. There was a whole lot of really exciting stuff shown this year, although it didn’t quite match last year’s show. Like yesterday, I’m not going to go too in depth here, just going to touch on my general feelings for each press conference.
The day started with Microsoft’s press conference, and the first game they showed was Gears of War 4. I do like Gears of War, but I’m not the biggest fan, so I don’t tend to buy them right away. This one does seem really cool though. It was very visually striking while still looking like what you’d expect from Gears. Some of the banter between characters seemed a little unnatural, but nothing too distracting. Overall, this was cool.
One of the best demonstrations of the day for me personally was Rare’s new game Sea of Thieves. They had several people who had never played the game before, gave them no tutorials, and just let them run wild. They go to a bar and get drunk, causing their characters to stumble around. They hop on a ship and go pick a fight with another ship, but end up sinking. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about how annoying the people playing were, but I don’t know, it reminded me a lot of me and my friends just goofing off. It felt real.
ReCore, a game that was announced last year, was shown with actual gameplay. And it looks fun. Seems like an action platformer with some puzzle elements. The team that is working on it consists of people who worked at Retro on the Metroid Prime series. It’s hard to tell from the snippets of gameplay whether it’ll have a Metroid-like sense of exploration, but I think it’s a pretty safe guess.
Dead Rising 4 was leaked a while ago, and it turns out to be real. You play as Frank West from the first game as he returns to the location where it all started. It gave me a real Dead Rising 3 vibe, where it was more of an open-world action game with tons of enemies than the more focused and time restricted first two games. And that’s cool. I really liked Dead Rising 3 and would like to see what an iterated version of that game looks like.
Going in to this E3, everyone has been anticipating new hardware announcements, and we got two from Microsoft. The first was a slimmed down Xbox One with a 2TB hard drive and HDR visuals. I guess HDR is basically 4K? That’s kind of what I got from it. That seems cool if you don’t already have an Xbox, however the second piece of hardware announced makes you wonder if it wouldn’t be better to just wait for this one. Project Scorpio, which was leaked a while ago, is real. They claim that it’ll be the strongest console of all time, that it’ll be VR capable, and that that it’ll be compatible with all current Xbox One games and controllers. They also said that they aren’t leaving their current fans behind, meaning that all games will be compatible with both the old and new models. Seems good to me, but I wonder how expensive it will be and if there’s any sort of upgrade path for people who already have an Xbox One.
There was plenty of other stuff shown at Microsoft’s show, but those are what stuck out to me the most. The second conference of the day was Ubisoft. The conference starts with this crazy dance number with people in ridiculous costumes, like a giraffe with a monocle. Even though this ended up being for Just Dance 2017, a game I couldn’t care less about, this reminded me of the crazy pageantry we used to get from E3, so I was pretty happy to see it there.
They showed some gameplay for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, a game that I was really impressed by last year. Unfortunately, this year, the game just seemed like an off brand Metal Gear Solid V. It seemed like you had a lot of the same options at your disposal as MGSV, even needing to extract via helicopter at the end of your mission, but without Metal Gear’s trademark humor. I’m sure Wildlands will be a pretty neat game, but it was much less impressive this time around.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole continues to look great. In a lot of ways, it seems like more of The Stick of Truth, but with a super hero theme this time. The humor was pretty spot on in the footage they showed, with lots of digs at recent super hero movies. Also, if you preorder the game, you get The Stick of Truth on current consoles, so that’s pretty neat.
One of the games I was not looking forward to at all, but actually ended up looking really good, was Watch Dogs 2. The first game was trying to be just annoyingly serious, and the hacking seemed like just a “complete the mission” button you could push whenever. This one seems like it has a much more fun attitude. While the gameplay itself looked very similar to the first one, just having a more upbeat attitude makes this game look much more interesting.
I have not been completely sold on VR, just because I hadn’t seen a game that I felt could truly only be done with VR. And then they brought us Star Trek: Bridge Crew. The basic premise of the game is exactly what it sounds like. You and your friends are on the bridge crew of a ship in the Star Trek universe. You each do your specific roles to explore space and fight off klingons and everything else. While this game could be fun without VR, the idea of really feeling like you’re on board a ship could really enhance the game. Plus, a lot of VR games require you to just stand in place, and since you’d be at your seat, there’s actually a good excuse for that in this game. I don’t know how realistic acquiring four headsets and four VR capable PCs will be, but it’s a really great idea.
The last press conference was for Sony. Last year, Sony had three massive bombshells that completely defined the entire show. This year wasn’t as crazy, but there was still some cool stuff. The show started with what looked like a fairly typical fantasy game, before revealing an older, bearded Kratos. I’m not a big God of War fan, but this was a pretty cool reveal, even if I’m not too excited by the game itself. Kratos has a son, apparently, and is teaching him to hunt and kill. It’s much more somber than the typical “Kratos is always angry” story we usually get from this series. I’m not really sure if this is a reboot or if it takes place after the previous games, I guess we’ll find out.
One of the biggest surprises of all of E3 for me was during their VR section. One of the early VR demos was a game called “Kitchen” from Capcom, and this claimed it was “after Kitchen”. After walking around a spooky house for awhile, in first person, you come across a VHS tape which you put into a VCR. Suddenly you’re bombarded with scary images of what’s to come followed by the title, Resident Evil VII. This is nuts. Resident Evil has needed an overhaul, especially after Resident Evil 6. I really think this could get the series back on track.
Hideo Kojima was at the show and revealed the first trailer for his new game. I have no idea what this game is about, but it apparently stars Norman Reedus. We see a naked Norman Reedus with a naked baby attached to him laying among what looks like a bunch of dead whales. I have no idea what this is about, but it’s Hideo Kojima, so I’m all for it.
There was also a PlayStation exclusive Spider-Man game. I never would have expected a brand like Spider-Man to go exclusive, but maybe that’s a sign that they’re really putting some effort into this one. It’s being developed by Insomniac, who made the Infamous series. So these guys have a lot of experience making open world super hero games. I think this could turn out to be something awesome.
And that’s day 0! There was a lot more that was shown, so I apologize if I didn’t touch on an announcement that really stuck out to you. So even though there wasn’t a Shenmue III or a Final Fantasy VII Remake, there was still a lot to get excited about. Tomorrow (well, today since I’m writing this the next morning) we’ve got Nintendo and will finally see what’s up with that new Zelda game.