Monday, June 30, 2014

E3 2014

E3 is an exciting time of the year. I remember when I was much younger; I would always be looking forward to the next E3 to see all the latest gaming news. This was during a time when there wasn’t as many gaming new sites as there are now so I would end up having to watch X-Play on Tech TV to find out the latest gaming news. However with the surge of dedicated gaming news websites, E3 hasn’t driven as much excitement as it used to.  Maybe my expectation was a little high since this would be the first E3 since the PS4 and Xbox One were launched and I wanted to see more games for each console coming out this year. Sony and Microsoft held their own conferences the day before E3 discussing their plans for the next couple of years while Nintendo had their own online conference the next morning.

Microsoft’s presentation was a step in the right direction in trying to win me back. Microsoft announced its latest racing title, Forza Horizon 2 arriving in stores on September 30th. I’m not particularly interested in racing games but Forza Horizon 2 looked great. Fable Legends was also announced but I’ve been scorned by Fable enough times to know to not listen to any hype associated with Fable. Even with the gameplay demo, I was pretty disappointed in the direction that fable took. The new gameplay mechanics is to have a team of 3 heroes face off against waves of enemies that are strategically placed by the fourth player. The big reveal for this E3 was the Master Chief Collection and Halo 5. The Master Chief Collection will contain Halo 1, 2, 3 and 4 with the Annivesary remake of Halo 1 and 2. They announced that all the original maps will be available for Halo 2’s online match making. They also announced that players will have access to all the maps from previous games but I’m not sure if they will be available for online play. Halo 2’s anniversary remake is something that will sell consoles. I’m tempted to get an Xbox One but I’m still unsure if I will be willing to buy one just for Halo 2. Microsoft also announced that Halo 5 will be getting a beta and players can gain access by purchasing the Master Chief Collection. The beta should be available around December. Microsoft did tease Conker from Conker’s Bad Fur day but he’s only going to be a character available within Project Spark which was disappointing news.

Sony is continuing to build upon the presence as a console for traditional gamers. They announced a standalone DLC for Infamous which means that players do not need access to Infamous Second Son to be able to play the DLC. They also announced Little Big Planet 3 with a few new character types that have their own abilities and unique way of solving situations. Little Big Planet has always felt a little too floaty for me so I’ve never been able to enjoy it as much as the rest of the community. Surprisingly Sony announced that all previous creations from Little Big Planet 1 and 2 will be available to use in the latest iteration of the series. Sony also announced that they are working with Tim Schafer to rerelease Grim Fandango to both PS4 and Vita. Another large announcement that I’m excited for is the Playstation TV which is already available in Japan under the name of PS Vita TV. It will allow any TV access to Playstation games through Playstation Now services and PS vita games by using a Dualshock 3 controller. I’m hoping that Sony eventually integrates the PS4 controller with the Playstation TV since it is a superior controller. I’m very excited to see that Sony cares about indie developers and gave a small time developer the chance to show off their latest creation during Sony’s E3 presentation. Hello Games’ Sean Murray was able to show the crowds at the theaters and those watching at home their latest project, No Man’s Sky. The game looks gorgeous and is set within brightly colored planets with unique sets of flora and fauna that range from orange grass and trees to caribou and large dinosaurs. Players even travel to other planets through spaceships for the ultimate exploration and survival experience. Sony also debuted a new trailer for Arkham Knight which is my currently most anticipated game. Unfortunately not much was shown other then some scenes with the Batmobile which looked marvelous.

Nintendo choose to opt out of a conference the night before E3 but instead did a direct conference that was streamed. Nintendo started off big with Super Smash Bros for Wii U. They announced that Mii avatars would be available to use as a character with three distinct fighting styles. Nintendo also announced their own figurine collection (basically a direct competitor to Skylanders and Disney Infinity) called Amiibo and will be used for multiple games, starting with Smash Bros. They also announced a new Mario spin off, Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker which looked like a 3D puzzle platformer. Nintendo also teased a little of the latest Zelda game which seems to be an open world environment with graphics similar to Skyward Sword. Another exciting is the Mario Maker, a Super-Mario level designer. It will give players a chance to show off their level designing skills and hopefully be able to share it with friends. I’m hoping to see some sort of online uploading and voting system that gets reset every week or month so we can continuously see new user generated content. Splatoon was one of my favorite games from this past E3. It’s a refreshing take on shooters where the goal isn’t to kill your opponents but to fill the map up with your color ink. The players in human form can shoot out ink that will line the floors and wall with their respective colored ink. The objective is to have the most territory by the end of the match. Players can also turn into squids to swim through their own ink spills to navigate the maps much faster while players walking through enemy ink will dramatically slow down. Splatoon seems like a very fun shooter but hopefully there will be a variety of game modes to help reduce any repetition.

While this E3 wasn’t the most exciting event for me, I’m still looking forward to the next era of gaming. Arkham Knight was my favorite game from this E3 but No Man’s Sky and Splatoon were two games that surprised me the most. I’m hoping that Microsoft is going to continue to listen to fans going forward and make decisions that will make me interested in coming back to the Xbox brand. While I wasn’t excited by every game this E3, I’m sure this new generation of consoles will live up to their predecessors as long as we give them some time to develop new games.