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Friday, 13 June 2014

E3 2014.


E3 2014
and other video game stuff.


Microsoft.

Did Microsoft do a presentation this year?

Um.

Yes, of course they did, it's just that they didn't really show anything I'm interested in. Still, Halo 5 will no doubt be popular – I've only played Halo twice, and while I enjoyed it, I was also objectively terrible at it and couldn't get past the first mission, so I'm a poor authority on the subject. Still, it's a beloved franchise, and it's not outstayed its welcome, so I foresee that doing well.

Quantum Break, Microsoft's time-manipulating shooter, looks very interesting. The test of that IP will be much like that of Watch Dogs and Murdered: Soul Suspect – whether the gimmick, in this case time powers, can be implemented in a way that seems new, fresh, engaging and involved. Unless I magically come into money between now and then, I probably won't get to play it, and that's genuinely a shame.

Fable Legends, meanwhile, repulses me in much the same way that a man might be repulsed by seeing the head of his pet dog crudely stitched onto an American tourist's neck, lurching through the streets of Somerset screaming 'Love me, baby, love me hard.'

I adore Fable, even if my relationship with III is somewhat tempestuous, but Fable without Peter Molyneux isn't really Fable, and early reviews of what was shown at E3 are expressing both dissatisfaction with it as a shallow, charmless and apathetic imitation of Fable's glory, and irritation that it isn't the long-awaited Fable 4, a game which has failed to materialise in any form yet.

"LOVE ME. LOVE ME. LOVE ME."


Sony.

One news article I saw said that Sony had won this E3, and I'm not entirely sure how that can be the case since I don't think anyone can actually name any of the games they showed.

They are doing some interesting things, though. A remake of The Binding of Isaac is probably the most interesting one, and it'll be a travesty if a bunch of people don't leap on that as soon as it's out. Rime also looks very interesting, as does The Order: 1886. The new Uncharted game should be popular.

The only things Sony is doing that I'm really excited about are the Grim Fandango remake, which they better not mess up, and Entwined, which looks absolutely lovely. 

It's about the romance between a fish and a bird.
If you don't love that, I don't know what to tell you.


Nintendo.

Nintendo put on a pretty stunning show this year, and were pretty well-received.

We saw Bayonetta 2, which looks set to take all the ridiculous over-the-topness of Bayonetta and multiply it by ten; Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which like any Pokemon game will be instant successes that I will gleefully buy on the day of release while chittering to myself (actually, true story, when Black and White 2 came out there was a massive queue of people at the local GAME just lining up to get it. It went out the doors and sprawled out over the shopping centre. One of them was dressed in a Pikachu onesie); Mario vs Donkey Kong, combining two classic franchises; Xenoblade Chronicles X, which I know a lot of people are excited about.

What everyone's really chattering about, though, are the two Zelda offerings: Hyrule Warriors, a Dynasty Warriors style hack-and-slash in which you can play as Link, Zelda, Midna, the Great Fairy, Impa, and probably a host of others; and Legend of Zelda Wii U, the announcement trailer for which, I think, alarmed everyone who saw it. Open world? Link is wearing blue? Laser arrows? Link is wearing blue? 2015? Link is wearing blue?

There's been some speculation that it may not be Link in the trailer at all, actually. I don't really believe it, but it's possible. More alarming is that it's coming out next year: There's usually years between a console Zelda game being announced and being released, so this is alarmingly fast.

I may have to get a Wii U. Damn everything. 

"In many countries, blue and green are the sa - ..." "NOT IN
HYRULE."


Ubisoft.

Ubisoft might think that women are eldritch abominations.

Ubisoft provided further information on a lot of games this year, some of which may be of more interest to others – they include Far Cry 4, no doubt due to be as well-received as the other Far Cry games, several exercise games, several Tom Clancy games which I have no doubt will be adored by fans in spite of or because of being so dull that you could literally use them to cure insomnia.

The one most people are talking about is Assassin's Creed: Unity. It was announced a little while ago, but we got a trailer this time, involving four assassins taking advantage of the French revolution to kill a man, with some sweet music, and I was appropriately excited. Then controversy set in when Ubisoft revealed that they weren't going to have any female characters in multiplayer because it would double the work.

Ubisoft has clarified since that what they meant is that Arno, the protagonist, is the only playable character in single or multiplayer, and I'm – not certain how far I believe that. It seems like a stretch to believe that's what they initially meant, given that this isn't like Nintendo or Square-Enix, for whom English is literally not their first language and for whom the opportunities for miscommunication with are ripe.

Still. Consider my interest rekindled. For the moment. 

Emphasis on the 'fraternité'. 


Square-Enix.

Well, Square-Enix certainly had an impressive showing of …

… Er.

Well, not Final Fantasy XV, that's for sure, which has now been in development for eight years, making it a serious contender for the next Duke Nukem Forever. Apparently last year Tetsuya Nomura wanted to turn it into a musical. It always suggests marvellous things about a project when seven years into development it's still in a position where a producer with the attention span of a gnat and the writing talent of its similarly gnatoid friend might demand a total reworking of the entire concept.

Not Kingdom Hearts III, either, which has been in development for a goodly while.

Square did announce their next Tomb Raider game, Rise of the Tomb Raider, with Rhianna Pratchett back at the helm as writer. Their first Lara Croft offering since absorbing Eidos and Crystal Dynamics into their amorphous all-consuming mass was very well-received critically and commercially, and I enjoyed it greatly.

There's an announcement trailer for the new Tomb Raider – no gameplay, just cutscene, standard stuff. It's good, check it out. But this seems to be an origin story, and I was under the impression that was what the last one was. Maybe we're just going to pan back through origin story after origin story until eventually we meet baby Lara, armed with a tiny bow and arrow, fighting her way out of the womb. 

"They make us who we are: Wealthy aristocrats who plunder
sites of archaeological importance for their private collection."


Telltale Games.

Tales of the Borderlands! That should be fun.

What I was really hoping to see was something about their upcoming Game of Thrones video game, but there was nothing about that, and apparently won't be until after Tales of the Borderlands.

Still, like winter and Jaime Lannister at a family reunion, we know it's coming. 

So 20s.


EA.

Well, EA's doing rather well, at least.

It has a lot of titles, some of which interest me more than others. Dragon Age: Inquisition is probably first among them, coming out later this year and, in addition to being the long-awaited third installment in a popular series, looks to be a very good game that builds on the strong foundation of its predecessors. That should be very good, and the trailer for it that we saw at E3 was rather stunning.

They talked also about Mass Effect 4 – which they don't want us to call Mass Effect 4 – but there's no real information on it yet. They also showed a trailer for The Sims 4, and any Sims game is pretty much an instant success. On top of that, they have Star Wars: Battlefront and Mirror's Edge 2, both of which are nearly guaranteed successes.

EA Sports UFC is coming out soon, so that should be – well, I played their last EA Sports MMA game and was unimpressed, let's put it that way. 

Morrigan! Hi, Morrigan!


Everything Else.

Batman: Arkham Knight had a demo shown at E3, and it's getting positive reviews. I am struggling to be excited for it, to be honest, because Arkham Origins didn't impress me at all, and taking that basic formula and combining it with elements from a vehicle game seems like a recipe for – not disaster, but also not a game that interests me much. Check out the footage of the demo, though, and see if you like what you see.

Mortal Kombat X has also made its first public appearance, and is no doubt highly anticipated. Again, check it out, Mortal Kombat X makes a great party game, as I discovered one Halloween party in which a string of commentated multiplayer matches quickly turned into a WWE style soap opera full of love, loss, betrayal and people having their heads torn off.

No less than three Persona games were shown, including a Persona RPG in the style of Etrian Odyssey, which I'm told is an excellent game with a small but eerily devoted fandom who watch you while you sleep; a Persona dancing game; and a Persona fighting game. Persona 5, the next main series Persona game, was notably absent from the party.

Bandai Namco continues their noble quest to adapt every anime every created into a video game, and their less noble quest to churn out Naruto games until the heat death of the universe.

Rockstar has a new Grand Theft Auto game coming up, 2K has a new Borderlands game, Bethesda and Capcom both have startlingly little. 

His parents are deeeeeaaaaad.


It's looking to be a good few years for gaming, if a rather oddly uneven one in a lot of respects. A lot of the usual suspects for good, high-quality games, like Bethesda, Capcom, and Microsoft failed to have an impressive showing at E3.  

This doesn't help my firm belief that Final Fantasy XV will never be released, though.

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