When Microsoft announced the ID@Xbox initiative, I was totally psyched! I’m a massive supporter of the little guys in game development as these smaller teams often craft original and inventive games; providing an alternative to the norm of big budget “AAA” titles. Each of the upcoming indie Xbox games grabbed my attention, but one game has risen above the pack to be my most anticipated title. Developed by StudioMDHR, the run-and-gun game, Cuphead, impressed me with its inspired art style while offering multiple epic boss battles within a single stage.
Both the presentation and animation look incredible with an inspired 1930’s-era cartoon stylising; reminiscent of the works of Fleischer Studios and old Disney shorts. Little is known about the narrative apart from the fact that lead character, Cuphead, gambles with the devil only to lose and must somehow find a way to pay the devil back.
According to the Studio, the game will be quite difficult; featuring up to 10-15 bosses per episode, diverging pathways and hidden secrets, as well as power-ups and weapons. With that in mind, Cuphead will have unlimited lives and won’t drop his weapons when defeated by enemies. To be honest, I have watched the trailer more than a dozen times, and this title looks like an absolute gem. I simply can’t wait to control this beverage-headed hero!
According to E3 this year, 2015 is going to be an outstanding year for games. The Witcher 3, Bloodborne, and Xenoblade Chronicles X are several games that could have easily filled this spot. However, what about 2014? That’s the question a lot of people were asking after the show. Don’t get me wrong, we all know good games are coming, but personally, being plagued with regular media saturation often leaves me feeling a lot less excited for these games than I should be. What’s interesting, though, is one of this year’s largest games had completely slipped off my radar; likely for the reason above. Having received an alpha invitation, though; it reminded me of the value of going hands on.
Destiny is that big game from the developers who created Halo, as well as the publishers behind Call of Duty. It’s apparently got a 10 year lifespan, and it’s had 500 million dollars invested into its development and marketing. Naturally, we should hate this game, right? I mean, how could a large and successful studio create something good?
As a converted non-believer, I’m here to advocate the potential of Destiny. I did not expect anything going in. In fact, I’ve felt fatigued by shooters in general for some time. However, for me, at least, I immediately developed a bond with this big-budgeted FPS monster; which was shocking to say the least. Destiny would best be described as a hybrid of Borderlands, Halo and Mass Effect, but with a unique and developing personality of its own. The concept of unifying single-player, co-op and PVP with a single character in a progressive universe is very cool. Honestly, I’ve not felt so passionately about a shooter since the launch of Halo 3. It also has wizards who come from the moon. Try the Beta!
Continuing the confusing tradition of “rebooting” a successful franchise and naming it with the same name as the original game in the series, Star Wars: Battlefront is in production. Not to be confused with the original Star Wars: Battlefront released in 2004 (ten years is an eternity in video games, apparently).
This new (possibly to be released in 2015) game comes from DICE (Digital Illusions CE). You might recognise these folk as those that brought us the successful Battlefield series. They know how to do an online team-based shooter, but what’s interesting about this one, of course, is that it’s Battlefield, but in the Star Wars universe.
DICE aren’t known for their great single player campaigns and we don’t need to see a movie plot played out in a linear fashion on our game screens anyway. We’ve all seen the movies, right? So, for now, we’ll assume they’ll focus on a great multiplayer game, which is what they are good at. So, what’s to get excited about? Are you kidding? Just look at their E3 2014 developer diary and you’ll see the team are very excited to be working on a Star Wars title. They are obvious fans. Furthermore, they have the technology to do it right; It looks fantastic so far. Multiplayer maps set on Hoth and Endor? AT-ATs and air speeders? AT-STs and speeder bikes? To these things I say yes!
So much of E3 was impressive this year, with killer presentations and surprising releases from most publishers and independent developers. The list of upcoming titles I’ll be gifting myself is nothing short of intimidating over the coming year. There was, of course, a favourite I had planned to stay up for this year; I didn’t want to miss a minute of the Nintendo presentation, just in case there was any hint at a Zelda release. So I fell asleep, missed it entirely and was lucky enough that my boyfriend recognized one of the few times it was acceptable to wake me at four am. It happened! A Zelda preview! And it was everything I’ve been dreaming it could be.
Having Aonuma discuss his teams ideas and the evolution of Zelda whilse sitting in front of the most enticing moving picture ever was devilishly cruel. Taking in everything in the animated background may have been hardly a slice for most people, but for die-hard fans like myself it was better than an early Christmas. Not only was this the next best thing to a release date, but it showed that Nintendo were heading in a direction closer to Skyward and Twilight and away, for now, from Wind Waker.
It promises the freedom of open-world exploration in Zelda-typical beauty, with characteristic enemy presence among the serenity. They even teased us with perfect slow motion footage of Link leaping out of what I hope was Epona’s saddle, to knock an impressive tech-savvy arrow into his bow. Hell yes, the resulting explosion and flattened enemy was cool, but it’s the entire package, the whole Zelda experience that Nintendo does so well that I want to get my hands on. For me, everything else at E3 paled in comparison to this grand reveal, so now I have to focus on not bursting into spontaneous fits of hysteria while I wait for Zelda’s release.
Among the big names anticipated to be shown at E3 this year, I wasn’t particularly excited to see Uncharted for PS4. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the first three games on the PS3, I just thought that was enough. I felt that it would be time to move away from the series after achieving so much with it and leave it as a great trilogy rather than a dragging series the video game industry is full of; especially given Naughty Dog’s history. Each console generation has meant the advent of a new IP in their catalogue, at least until The Last of Us snuck into the same generation as Uncharted.
Despite this, after seeing the teaser of the new game revealed to be titled Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, I have to admit my excitement. The infinitesimal detail in Drake’s face and the movement of his clothes being pulled from water display a level of realism I’ve never seen. What I love about Naughty Dog’s games is their attention to detail. Even the most unnoticeably tiny minutia of their last few games has been polished to an unparalleled point. This is the reason I became so lost in Uncharted 3 and The Last of Us, and I consider it Naughty Dog’s biggest strength.
Given the recent crumbling apart of the team developing the game, it’s easy to be skeptical of how the final product will work out. With the project now under the direction of the guys responsible for Uncharted 2 and The Last of Us, I’m interested to see if Drake’s newest adventure takes any kind of darker twist – the teaser certainly implies as such. Personally, I hope it doesn’t. More than anything though, I can’t wait to see what such a talented developer can do with the PlayStation 4 hardware.
SSB4 was undeniably the crowd favorite of the Nintendo presentation; the crowning title in what was already a pretty great turn around from Nintendo. It was a personal favorite for me too because, well, Super Smash is a series that’s very close to my heart (mostly), and one I’m looking forward to becoming re-acquainted with. SSB for the N64 was the last N64 game I owned as a kid, and I played it with my older brother all the time. When the GCN came out two years later, my brother picked up the console and a copy of Melee. I was in gaming nirvana. It was fast, precise (for its time), and it had Falco. FALCO. We played almost every single day (and though he’ll remember differently, I won almost every single day) for three years until he moved out, and to this day Melee remains my favorite game of all time.
I waited seven long years for a sequel to be released, for a game that could trump Melee. Instead I got Brawl, the first in a long line of disappointments from Nintendo. But soon that’ll all be in the past, because SSB4 for the 3DS and Wii U is set to retcon Brawl’s awfulness, replacing it with this. Everything about this game reads like a recipe for gaming good times: a huge roster of characters (with more yet to be announced), what look to be some awesome stages that really draw upon the available IP’s in the game, not to mention some cool new things like Amiibo and the new Mii fighters. It’s not just “the next game”, like Brawl was; it’s helping to improve upon the franchise, like a good sequel should. I can’t wait to play SSB4: seeing everything it has to offer, playing with the new and refined mechanics, picking up old favorite characters, but most importantly: It’s a fresh new Super Smash game in which to humiliate my brother.
Two words are the driving force of No Man’s Sky: Science Fiction. I’m not talking about the whole ‘today’s wars, tomorrow’s worlds’ shtick that seems to have engulfed games like CoD and Destiny, I mean REAL sci-fi. Exploring uncharted worlds, glimpsing species that no one has so much as conceptualised, discovering what lies outside what we know, boldly flying where no dude has flown before… I’m hyped. Don’t get me wrong, I love shooting lasers around willy-nilly, but that’s far from my mind when I think about NMS. From everything the devs showed and talked about throughout E3, I get the impression that this is a game inspired by Star Trek’s optimistic spirit of curiosity. The trailer shown in the Sony conference showed a sliver of gunplay, but the emphasis was very much on taking in the wonders around you; you’re a stranger in a strange world, a world that is very much alive and possibly dangerous.
For as much life as there seems to be in the game, Sean Murray admitted that the likelihood of encountering other players is slim, but the universe was far from empty, which makes me even more hyped. How big is this game going to be? How much will be on offer!? I imagine it’s those sorts of questions that the developers want me to be asking, even while playing the game. It’s such a simple concept, exploring the universe, but watching NMS’s trailer blew my mind a little, and every interview I see bolsters my confidence in where it’s headed. The approach is one I’m wholeheartedly on board with, but will it live up to my dreams? Well, sky’s the limit, right?
This year’s E3, with the exception of a few genuine surprises (Grim Fandango and No Man’s Sky *drool*), felt more like a case of developers reminding us that the games they announced last year are still on their way. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt made an unsurprising appearance at E3, yet I was once again left in awe of the work Projekt Red have put into Witcher Geralt’s last adventure. While I sit in awe, my graphics card is beginning to feel a little anxious as the gorgeous visuals demonstrated look to punish even the beefiest of machines.
The Wild Hunt brings the biggest change in the series as we’re promised a dynamic open-world with horse-riding (and combat), and, of course, the voice-work of the House Lannister patriarch himself Charles Dance. My hope is that the open-world adventuring aspect doesn’t dilute the importance and power of the story as in other open-world experiences and still allows for game-altering decisions that have defined the series. In fact, I’m a little terrified at the prospect of being left to my own devices to find every secret, every unique encounter and the lore surrounding the already fleshed out world. Most of Projekt Red’s E3 showing was the release of a new trailer, but the small amount of gameplay footage we did get to see was enough to get me excited. The biggest drawcard is to see how the choices made in previous games finally culminate and where ongoing storyline of Geralt’s involvement with the Wild Hunt and his lost love Yennifer will lead us. I’m also looking forward to the new swear-words they ploughing come up with.
The best game of E3 2014, in my opinion, was EVOLVE by Turtle Rock Studios. In the spirit of cooperative gaming, Evolve has taken the meaning of hunt or be hunted to the next level. In this FPS game, you are either one of four hunters tracking down a monster of giant proportions, or the monster. The main objective, of course, is to eliminate the monster by any means necessary and for the monster to either eliminate the hunters or destroy a secondary objective. The hunters will always have to work together as, if they separate, they will easily be picked off one by one. There are four classes to choose from in order to complete the mission: you have the trapper, support, medic or assault class, and each class has its own unique abilities that, when paired up as a team, make them very deadly.
This does not make it one sided against the monster, though. It has a few tricks of it’s own hidden away. The player controlling the monster will have to ensure that they are always three steps ahead of the humans, and before engaging them head on, to also ensure that enough of the local wildlife has been consumed in order to ‘evolve’ into stronger forms; with new, and more powerful deadly attacks.
What interests me the most about this game is that it relies heavily on co-op teamwork, and will force players to coordinate and plan their attacks carefully, thus, adding a deep layer of strategic value to the game. It’s also very visually appealing, and makes great use of the latest developments available in the Cryengine software. Overall, this is one game that I will be immediately buying upon release, and eagerly looking for fresh prey to sink my teeth into.
I’d personally seen this E3 as a return to form; a focus being brought back onto games, both old and new. That feeling was made concrete with Ubisoft’s reveal of the classic squad based tactical shooter, Rainbow Six: Siege. It’s been 6 long years, but from what they’ve shown, the wait has been well worth it. Rainbow Six is instead returning with a new focus on multiplayer while still retaining the realistic police tactics that made the original series a blast.
Revealed in an impressive, albeit hilarious, 6 minute demo (with voice acting that makes The Room seem like a masterpiece), Ubisoft have opted for a focus on multiplayer. Showing a 5v5 match, in which, for the first time in the series, players will be able to play as the criminals. While a wide array of scenarios were promised, only a hostage rescue mission was shown: Police, getting to choose their entry point and style, while the criminals hunker down and prepare for the raid. On full show was the wide array of police equipment, from the snake cam and shields, to an RC car with a camera. Not much was shown for the criminals, but I suspect they’ll have some home alone styled traps to counter police equipment. Combine all that with destructible environments, and I can barely contain my excitement.
Finally, we’re being given tactical multiplayer of an old franchise, and taking it in the ideal direction the series desperately needed to make a comeback… It’s about time!