Thoughts on Bethesda’s E3 Showcase

Bethesdaland is like Wicksteed Park

At two previous E3s, Bethesda stepped up its presence at E3 by having its own annual showcase. 2017 was no different and here is what we learnt.

Note: Expect this one to be shorter than the others as they didn’t reveal much.

Bethesda kicked off the show by announcing that two of their biggest titles, Fallout 4 and Doom will be playable in VR. Titled Fallout 4 VR (obviously) and Doom VFR respectively, both titles will launch later this year on HTC Vive exclusively.

My Thoughts: If you could afford the HTC Vive without selling your entire collection of technology and your soul, this would’ve been a huge deal. It’s a massive step for VR, whose lack of ‘Real games’ has been one of its biggest criticisms. So, if you have HTC Vive, enjoy two great games for it.

After being seen in the trailer for the system back in October, we also got a trailer for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch. We saw that it was amiibo compatible and you can get the Master Sword, Links Blue Tunic and the Hylian Shield in Skyrim. Unfortunately we didn’t get a release date but they did say everything we saw would be out in 2017, so expect it this year at some point. Elder Scrolls Legends, Bethesda’s mobile card game also had some new content announced in the form of a brand new expansion titles ‘Heroes of Skyrim’ releasing later this month. Speaking of Elder Scrolls, we also got a trailer for the recently released Morrowind Expansion for Elder Scrolls Online. Quake Champions was also shown, with a hype trailer and a $1 million prize pool E-Sports tournament later this year at Quake Con. Wolfenstein protagonist BJ Blazkowicz was revealed to be a playable character within the game.

My Thoughts: Skyrim for Switch looks awesome, playing one of my favourite games will on the move is going to be great. If you like the Elder Scrolls Legends, the new stuff is cool. For me however, I’m not invested in this news at all. And the Elder Scrolls Online stuff was for promotion purposes only. As for Quake Champions, I don’t play PC games so have no thoughts.

Bethesda also unveiled a sort of paid mods system called ‘Creation Club’ for Fallout 4 and Skyrim where players buy credits from either Xbox Live, Playstation Network or Steam and exchange these credits for original content that won’t affect achievements, like current mods do. Bethesda mentioned in a FAQ on their website, that this is separate to Mods currently on both games and will continue to be so.

My Thoughts: I’m not sure about this, paid mods weren’t a great idea initially. and this just seems that but tied up in a nice bow and gift wrapped. However, if this stays separate to free mods, I don’t see this being an issue.

Also, revealed at the show was Arkane studio’s Dishonored Death of the Outsider, a standalone expansion, where you see Daud(the assassin who murdered the Empress in the first game) and ex-second in command Billie Kurk as you have to eliminate The Outsider. The game will release on September 15th for Xbox One, PS4 and PC and will cost $30.

My Thoughts: Dishonored 1 and 2 are both good games, so it’s a reasonable assumption that this will also be at least good, significantly shorter, but still good.

Bethesda closed the show with two major announcements in the form of The Evil Within 2, an action horror game made by Tango Gameworks, led by Resident Evil  creator Shinji Mikami. They gave the game a lengthy reveal trailer which pushed the horror vibes the developers were surely going for. The game is set to be released on Friday 13th October later this year on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. Closing the show, MachineGames latest creation Wolfenstein: The New Colossus. Set in 1960s America, protagonist and real American BJ Blazkowicz returns and joins up with a resistance group attempting to take America back from the Nazis (*insert Trump Joke here*). The game is set to release on October 27th for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

My Thoughts: Both games had a great showing at this conference, and both follow on from great games, so I hope they live up to expectations and will definitely be getting both come October.

All in all, I feel Bethesda’s showcase was an average showing. The two games at the end made it worth the watch and I hope both games deliver.

 

 

Thoughts on Microsoft’s E3 Showcase

4K digital blocks

It’s a fairly safe bet to say that Microsoft are losing the ‘console war’ with Sony. With the PS4 outselling  the Xbox One considerably (and as an Xbox fanboy, that’s hard for me to say), Microsoft had to come out at this years E3 swinging for the fences to entice audiences back toward the Xbox One.

The first, and perhaps most important part of the conference was the reveal of ‘Project Scorpio’ Microsoft’s answer to the PS4 pro. Xbox One X is reportedly the most powerful console yet and has true 4K gaming. It was revealed that Scorpio is actually named ‘Xbox One X’ and will retail at $499, £449 CA$599 and AU$649. They also went over the specs again but you can view those all over the web. It’s also the smallest Xbox ever. Xbox One X is launching worldwide on November 7th.

My Thoughts: The price is a concern, I feel that it won’t connect with the casual consumer but for the power of the console I’m not surprised by the price at all. I suspect the price will drop around six months or so after the initial launch so I might pick one up in a year or so.

After that we got the beginning of what was to be 42 game announcements. We started off with Forza 7, which looks like all the other Forza games with better graphics and new cars. Forza 7 will launch on October 3rd.

My Thoughts: It has an audience that are loyal so it will sell well regardless of the fact it’s basically Forza 5.

Then we had a gameplay trailer for Metro Exodus, the latest in 4A games Metro franchise.Executive Producer John Bloch gave more details after the showcase while talking to twitch, which included that it would be an open world game, set directly after Metro Last Light. Protagonist Artyom returns as he journeys across post-apocalyptic Russia and eventually board the Aurora, a steam train that’s been heavily customised, to look for a new place to live in the East.  The game is set be released sometime in 2018.

My Thoughts: The gameplay trailer looked great and the details that have come out after make the game seem really interesting.

Next we had Ubisoft come out and show us the brand new Assassin’s Creed game, Assassin’s Creed Origins. The reveal confirmed the leaked ancient Egypt setting and the name of the Protagonist, Bayek. They also showed some gameplay elements that have been added to the franchise, including RPG elements and an enemy level system. It also looks like combat has been changed to add a bit more of a challenge to the game.

My Thoughts: Looks like the year off for the franchise has done it some good, despite Assassin’s Creed Syndicate being a great game, I think this one has the potential to be one of the best in the series.

PC hit Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (or PUBG) was confirmed as coming to Xbox exclusively later this year. Followed by trailers for Deep Rock Galactic, a co-op FPS game by Ghost Ship Games and State of Decay 2. State of Decay 2 will launch in the Spring of 2018.

My thoughts: PUBG looked fantastic and the PC crowd seem to love it so I’ll definitely be getting that. Deep Rock Galactic looked very interesting so I’ll be keeping an eye out for more details about that. As for State of Decay 2, zombie survival games have never really been my cup of tea but it looked good.

Next up was a look at The Darwin Project, a survival game coming out exclusively to Xbox One and Windows PC. Set in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, it showed players with different powers battling each other in a Hunger Games style battle royal.

My Thoughts: Very Interesting looking game, will be definitely be keeping an eye on this one.

Following that was Mojang announcing that Minecraft was going to be completely cross-play across devices such as PC, Mobile, VR, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Minecraft is also getting a 4K update later this fall.

My Thoughts: The cross-play thing is really cool and I hope it succeeds but I the 4K visuals are pointless.

After that we were shown more trailers which included Dragonball Fighterz, a fighting game set in the Dragonball universe; Black Desert Online, a fantasy MMO; The Last Night, a cyberpunk adventure game; The Artful Escape, a Rock and Roll adventure game and Code Vein, which looked like anime dark souls. Black Desert Online was the only one to get a release timeframe of early 2018.

My Thoughts: The Last Night and Black Desert are the pick of the bunch for me. Both games look really interesting. Dragonball Fighterz isn’t for me, but will do very well nonetheless. I’m not a fan of souls style games, so Code Vein doesn’t interest me and The Artful Escape looks a little strange but it is certainly intriguing.

Rare’s newest game, Sea of Thieves was given an extended showing at the conference, no new mechanics or gameplay features. Sea of Thieves is an open world co-op game where you and other players become a pirate crew and explore the world. Early 2018 is the set release window for the game.

My thoughts: This looked incredible, it was my personal game of the conference.

Three long awaited games were given release dates next. Fullbright’s adventure game Tacoma will release August 2nd, StudioMDHR Entertainment’s  run and gun adenture game Cuphead will release September 29th and Sumo Digital’s Crackdown 3 was given a November 7th release date in line with the Xbox One X.

My Thoughts: For those that want these games, they’ve been waiting a long time, so its good that they finally have release dates. I’ll certainly be trying Crackdown 3 and Cuphead.

The ID@Xbox followed those announcements by revealing 21 indie titles coming to the Xbox One in the future. Those titles were:

  • Osiris: New Dawn
  • Raiders of the Broken Planet
  • Unruly Heroes
  • Path of Exile
  • Battlerite
  • Surviving Mars
  • Fable Fortune
  • Observer
  • Robocraft: infinite
  • Dunk Lords
  • Minion Masters
  • Brawlout
  • Ooblets,
  • Dark and Light
  • Strange Brigade
  • Riverbond
  • Hello Neighbor
  • Shift
  • Conan Exiles

My Thoughts: All of them only really had a few seconds to showcase what they were about, so not much to say, but the buzz online around Ooblets means the game has my interest.

We also had trailers for Ashen, an open world survival game; Life is Strange Before the Storm, a prequel to the massive hit Life is Strange and Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the follow-up to Ori and the Bind Forest.

My Thoughts: All the games looked good, and two of them are follow ups to great games, so all of them are worth checking out.

Monolith Productions also showed some Middle Earth: Shadow of War gameplay, including the new nemesis system which allows you to recruit Orcs to your cause as you fight Sauron and his Nazgul army. Shadow of War will release on October 10th this year.

My thoughts: I like the additions to the nemesis system a lot, and if the game is mechanically the same as the first game, I’m sure it will be fantastic.

Phil Spencer then announced backwards compatibility is getting better. Original Xbox titles will be playable on Xbox One in the fall of this year. Classics such as Crimson Skies, Splinter Cell and even Halo 2 may be playable on Xbox One very soon.

My Thoughts: A logical step for Microsoft, this will generate some sales from the nostalgia market and why not use a library of games that are sitting dormant?

The final part of the show was the full reveal of Bioware and EA’s new IP, Anthem. Anthem is a Co-op open world game that gives off the vibes similar to Mass Effect: Andromeda. Anthem involves using different types of mech suit with specialist abilities and upgrading them with weapons. Anthem is set for release in the Fall of 2018.

My Thoughts: It looks like what Andromeda should have been, hopefully it lives up to already high expectations, despite how little we know about it.

Overall, Microsoft’s E3 showcase was a solid show. However, the price of the new Xbox One X is a concern which may affect them going forward.

Thoughts on EA Play 2017

Sports and Space

The time of year has rolled around and E3 is upon us once again. This is perhaps the most interesting E3 in a while, in terms of what we are expecting. It all kicked off last night with EA doing its second iteration of EA Play. Here’s what we found out at that conference with my take on each announcement.

Let’s get a few things out of the away, Anthem was just a teaser we don’t know much about but will be covered in Xbox’s press conference later this evening, so I’ll cover it more after that one. Also, SEED (I think it’s like that?) was confusing. I’ve watched the conference twice and replayed that moment four or five times and I’m still not sure what SEED is about. EA and Origin access is free for a week, along with PS4 users getting some free trials, which is good, I suppose.

Now, let’s get into the games we know about. Starting off with Madden 17, which showed a trailer for the new story mode called’ Longshot, similar to Fifa’s The Journey mode, about a college footballer’s difficult journey to the NFL. College football seems to be included in the gamemode as there were two licensed college teams in Oregon and Texas. They also mentioned that competitive details would be coming in the summer.

My thoughts: I don’t play Madden at all but the story mode intrigues me and looks like a better story than this years The Journey mode.

Next we had a look at Battlefield 1, Dice’s hit shooter that released last year. Two new night maps were announced for July and the next expansion ‘In the name of the Tsar’ which is based on the Eastern Front and the Russian army, which will launch in September. It will also contain female soldiers, a first for the game and the famous Hussar cavalry. Along with new weapons, vehicles, operations and maps.

My thoughts: More Battlefield is good, I like the game so it is nice to have some fresh content to dig into.

Fifa 18 was up next and, to be honest, they didn’t show much at the conference itself, just a trailer about the next season of The Journey. Most of the Fifa 18 information came out after the conference. The Journey season 2 will carry on from where you finished in Fifa 17 and it seems there is a rumour Alex Hunter wants to leave the club he is currently at. More locations to visit and leagues to play in have been teased but nothing is confirmed. All of Hunters family and agent are returning and new customisation options have been added (including Paul Pogba’s blonde hair cut).  They dished out the usual comments of the game being more fluid, responsive and other marketing buzzwords that the shareholders love. Teams will now have unique play styles also.

My Thoughts: I buy Fifa every year, so was going to buy it regardless and there isn’t much they can change in all honesty.

The next game talked about was Need For Speed Payback. You play as three characters by the name of Tyler, Jess and Mac (and switch between the three GTA style I’m assuming) as you attempt to take down ‘The House’ a cartel that controls pretty much everything by the sounds of it with different types of race and missions. There is also a new form of customisation called ‘Relics’ where you find abandoned classic cars and restore them to former glory and beyond.

My Thoughts: Don’t usually play racing games as I’m awful at them, but the narrative and the addition of Relics means I’ll probably try this game at least.

The next game out of the gate was a brand new IP from the EA Originals program called A Way Out. A Way out is a co-op only game about two prisoners called Vincent and Leo who attempt to escape prison together but for very different reasons. The developers, Hazelight Studios recommend playing locally with a friend but online co-op is available. The game will launch in the spring of 2018.

My Thoughts: Game of the conference for me, look really interesting and I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of this game as the year rolls on.

NBA Live 18 (Yes they’re still making these) was up next and they showed the new ways you can play the game in the new mode ‘The One’. The One offers you the choice to either play in the NBA, on streets or in The Drew League. There will be a demo in August and that’s all that they said on the game.

My Thoughts: Either the game is nowhere near ready or EA don’t have much confidence in the game, cause there wasn’t much for them to show. The game looks disappointing and if you’re looking for a basketball game to play, my advice is to stick to NBA 2K based on what we saw here.

Then… The Grand Finale, The Headliner, The Main Event… Star Wars Battlefront 2. We learnt that the story bridges the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. The main talk was of course, about the multiplayer. A new battlefield-esque class system has been introduced to the game. All 3 eras of Star Wars are included from launch and there is a new battlepoint system in game that allows you to unlock heroes, vehicles etc. Dice also premiered Assault on Theed, a 20 vs. 20 gamemode that is a crossover of rush and Overwatch’s escort type mode. They also announced that Finn and Captain Phasma would be part of the first season of downloadable content and that all downloadable content going forward would be free which includes maps, weapons, vehicles and heroes.

My Thoughts: It seems that Dice have learnt from the first Battlefront and gave us more depth with all the fun of the first game. Although they have confirmed micro-transactions but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to have free DLC.

All in all, I think EA had a solid conference. While they didn’t surprise us, they certainly delivered some interesting games going forward.