2017 The Game Awards Predictions

2017 ended up being an amazing year for games, to the point it might even be considered the best of this generation. New and interesting games, old franchises making incredible comebacks whilst others established themselves. Like last year, let’s make some predictions about the possible winners of this year’s The Game Awards. What are your favorite choices, let’s talk in the comments.

And the nominees are:

Game of the Year

  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Persona 5 (Atlus)
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corp.)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

If I had to guess

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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In a year with great nominees, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild really stood out. Personally, my game of the year would be Horizon Zero Damn, I still am enamored by the beauty of the world, the exciting combat, great lead character, Aloy may become as big as Nathan Drake, Master Chief. However, BoTW brought something new and changed the way open world games should work, allowing the player to access any region of the map. It also had interesting survival aspects, varied landscapes, and a real feeling of joy and discovery.

PS: I just can’t accept the fact that an early access title is nominated to game of the year, no matter how much it sold or how much people love it, it would be better to add a new category for that type of game.

Best Game Direction

  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games)
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Capcom)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD)
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (MachineGames / Bethesda)

If I had to guess

Super Mario Odyssey

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I believe another Nintendo game takes the award, but instead of Zelda, Super Mario Odyssey will be the winner. They managed to completely change what we think of 3D platformers again, while games like Yooka-Laylee hold on to the glory days of the genre, Super Mario Odyssey has innovative mechanics, such as the ability to use a hat to transform into any character. And not only that, every part of the game feels that has a purpose, impressing with the variety of gameplay options, and the beautiful design.

Best Narrative

  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Tameem Antoniades, Elizabeth Ashman-Rowe / Ninja Theory)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (John Gonzalez / Ninja Theory)
  • Nier: Automata (Yoko Taro, Hana Kikuchi, Yoshiho Akabane / Platinum Games)
  • What Remains of Edith Finch (Ian Dallas / Giant Sparrow)
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Jen Matthies, Tommy Tordsson Bjork / MachineGames)

If I had to guess

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Moment_of_Truth_Sanitized - Wolfenstein 2.jpg

One of the biggest surprises of the year for me was how great the story of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was. The New Order was a very good game, but its sequel manages to turn a story that could just be silly into something unique, with crazy, charismatic and compelling characters. It has one of the most believable couples in games, and it goes to completely unexpected places without losing steam or feeling rushed. The other candidates also have great stories, like Hellblade touching important subjects, and Horizon, that created an enticing world and an incredible character like Aloy, What Remain of Edith Finch having a bizarre, unusual story. But none reached the same level of Wolfenstein II.

Best Art Direction

  • Cuphead (Studio MDHR Entertainment)
  • Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Persona 5 (Atlus)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

If I had to guess

Cuphead

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Horizon’s creature design was impressive, Persona 5 has a style unlike any other game, BoTW showed that you don’t need a powerful machine to create a vast and breathtaking world, and Destiny 2 is just jaw-dropping. But Cuphead is a design feat, to see a small team recreating the look of 1930’s cartoons into a game is something to marvel at. It manages to bring something never seen before in the industry whilst feeling modern, and I think that it will resonate with voters. It is a design masterpiece.

Best Score / Music

  • Cuphead (Kristofer Maddigan)
  • Destiny 2 (Mike Salvatori, Skye Lewin, C Paul Johnson)
  • NieR: Automata (Keiichi Okabe, Keigo Hoashi)
  • Persona 5 (Shoji Meguro)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Naoto Kubo, Shiho Fujii, Koji Kondo)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Manaka Kataoka, Yasuaki Iwata)

If I had to guess

Destiny 2

destiny-2-1

This may be my weirdest guess, but Destiny 2’s soundtrack was completely unexpected, especially after the departure of Marty O’Donnell, a drop in quality wouldn’t surprise anyone. But what we saw was a diverse soundtrack, with different sounds that you might see at a regular FPS. It created an amazing atmosphere throughout the entire campaign, enthralling the player from beginning to end.

Best Audio Design

  • Destiny 2 (Bungie)
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Capcom)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

If I had to guess

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

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This will sound impartial, but if Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice doesn’t win the award, it will be an outrage. Hellblade’s sound is just perfect, powerful, an integral part of the experience, that without it would be lessened. Using binaural audio Ninja Theory made the gameplay a lot more tense, oppressive, nightmarish, putting the player in the head of Senua, as you hear the voices that guide, deceive, frighten, torment her. A game that must be played with headphones to be fully experienced, it goes beyond its competitors.

Best Performance

  • Ashly Burch, Horizon Zero Dawn (As Aloy)
  • Brian Bloom, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (as BJ Blazkowicz)
  • Claudia Black, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (as Chloe Frazer)
  • Laura Bailey, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (as Nadine Ross)
  • Melina Juergens, Hellblade (as Senua)

If I had to guess

Ashly Burch as Aloy – Horizon Zero Dawn

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Melina Juergens is also very deserving of the award, especially if we consider the fact that she wasn’t even an actress prior to playing Senua, as she made you feel every emotion she went through, the pain, the doubt, the misery. However, I think Ashly Burch will take it, as she performed Aloy in a way that perfectly displayed the various facets of character, her courage, her fear, her doubts, her hope, in such a charismatic, honest manner that she will become not only the face of PlayStation but of the industry as well.

Games for Impact

  • Bury Me, My Love (The Pixel Hunt / Figs / ARTE / Playdius)
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
  • Life is Strange: Before the Storm (Deck Nine / Square Enix)
  • Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)
  • Please Knock on My Door (Levall Games AB)
  • What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive)

If I had to guess

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

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I love the Life is Strange series, even though Before the Storm doesn’t have the same level of quality as the original, and Night in the Woods deals with depression in a natural and genuine manner. Yet, Hellblade doesn’t only tackle mental issues in the story, but also in the gameplay, in the sounds and sights. It creates the entire experience around it, using advisers to assist on how to demonstrate the aspects of the disease. And the fact that we see that in a game with a bigger budget represents a bold and much-needed move by the developers, that throughout the story showed how it affected Senua, the struggles she went through and how she dealt with them.

Best Ongoing Game

  • Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision)
  • Grand Theft Auto Online (Rockstar Games)
  • Overwatch (Blizzard)
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG. Corp)
  • Rainbow Six: Siege (Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft)
  • Warframe (Digital Extremes)

If I had to guess

Overwatch

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My personal vote would go to Rainbow Six: Siege, simply because of the fact that not only they brought gamers back, but greatly increased the audience, reshaping the entire game with constant updates. But my bet would be on Overwatch, that consistently adds great characters, thematic events while maintaining an active audience that became so big it turned into an important part of Blizzcon.

Best Independent Game

  • Cuphead (Studio MDHR Entertainment)
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
  • Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)
  • Pyre (Supergiant Games)
  • What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive)

If I had to guess

Cuphead

cuphead (1)

After several years of development, Cuphead was expected to be underwhelming, as it usually happens with games that are shown years ahead of release. Gladly that wasn’t the case, even the added platform moments felt amazing, it was as beautiful as expected and incredibly challenging, feeling like an old school game that fits perfectly in our current gaming landscape.

Best Action Game

  • Cuphead (Studio MDHR Entertainment)
  • Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision)
  • Nioh (Team Ninja / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Prey (Arkane Studios / Bethesda)
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (MachineGames / Bethesda)

If I had to guess

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

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It is beautiful, bold, brash, crazy, the gameplay is frantic, explosive, visceral and it deserves this award. Wolfenstein II greatly enhanced aspects of the first game whilst adding new mechanics, new and surprisingly compelling characters, and turned “B.J.” Blazkowicz into one of the best characters of the year. The fact that they annoyed nazis was a plus.

Best Action/Adventure Game

  • Assassin’s Creed: Origins (Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

If I had to guess

Horizon Zero Dawn

HorizonZeroDawn_o

Since I betted that Zelda would win game of the year, and award shows tend to prefer to spread the awards, I would bet on Horizon to take this category. And I really do believe that it is a better action game than Zelda, the characters are more well-developed, the variety of enemies is great, the world is mysterious and beautiful, and the combat is truly exciting and challenging. It made me tense like I wasn’t in a long time, as it requires you to think fast and adapt to enemies. The fact that it is one of the most beautiful games on any console also helps.

Best Role-Playing Game

  • Divinity: Original Sin II (Larian Studios)
  • Final Fantasy XV (Square Enix Business Division 2 / Square Enix)
  • NieR: Automata (Platinum Games / Square Enix)
  • Persona 5 (Atlus)
  • South Park: The Fractured But Whole (Ubisoft San Francisco / Ubisoft)

If I had to guess

Persona 5

Persona 5.jpg

Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a remarkable title, NieR: Automata is strangely amazing, Final Fantasy XV was a rebirth for the series. Persona 5 on the other hand, represents the epitome of the franchise, improving on every single level, with a refined combat system, time management mechanics, a wonderful cast, stunning visuals. Simply the best example of what JRPG’s can bring to the market, and why they are so loved.

Best Fighting Game

  • Arms (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • Injustice 2 (NetherRealm Studios / Warner Bros. Interactive Ent)
  • Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (Capcom)
  • Nidhogg 2 (Messhof Games)
  • Tekken 7 (Bandai Namco Studios / Bandai Namco Entertainment)

If I had to guess

Injustice 2

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The easiest category for me, mainly because Injustice 2 is not only the best fighting game of the year, especially after Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite’s disappointment, it is one of the best games of the year. When it comes to gameplay it still feels great, the graphics are flawless, with some of the best facial expressions we’ve ever seen, there’s a robust customization system. And let’s talk about the story, an example that the DCU should follow, by creating a serious story with huge stakes, but that doesn’t feel forced or dragged, it has light and dark moments, and it worked perfectly.

Best Family Game

  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo EAD / Nintendo)
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Ubisoft Paris + Milan / Ubisoft)
  • Sonic Mania (PagodaWest Games, Headcannon / Sega)
  • Splatoon 2 (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EAD / Nintendo)

If I had to guess

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

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Despite my impression that either Super Mario Odyssey or Splatoon 2 will win, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle caught people off guard. What many expected to be just this simple strategy game ended up becoming a lighter, more colorful version of XCOM, without the squad management, but as much fun and exciting to play.

Best Strategy Game

  • Halo Wars 2 (Creative Assembly, 343 Industries / Microsoft Studios)
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Ubisoft Paris + Milan / Ubisoft)
  • Total War: Warhammer II (Creative Assembly / Sega)
  • Tooth and Tail (Pocketwatch Games)
  • XCOM 2: War of the Chosen (Firaxis Games / 2K)

If I had to guess

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

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This category I had some question before choosing. After all, Halo Wars 2 was good, but kind of a disappointment and I don’t believe that neither Total War: Warhammer 2 nor Tooth and Tail have the profile, the attention required to win. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen was well-received, however, it just an expansion and it didn’t get the level of adoration for that to happen. So I chose Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle to win another award, it had critical acclaim, it managed to reach a bigger market, and it really was a good strategy game.

Best Sports/Racing Game

  • FIFA 18 (EA Vancouver / EA)
  • Forza Motorsport 7 (Turn 10 Studios / Microsoft Studios)
  • Gran Turismo Sport (Polyphony Digital / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • NBA 2K18 (Visual Concepts / 2K Sports)
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 (PES Productions / Konami)
  • Project Cars 2 (Slightly Mad Studios / Bandai Namco Entertainment)

If I had to guess

Forza Motorsport 7

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This one was based on elimination. Fifa 18 wasn’t a great evolution and has microtransactions issues. NBA 2K18 doesn’t deserve the award because of the microtransactions. Gran Turismo Sport was a letdown. Project Cars 2 was praised but didn’t seem to garner a lot of love or a huge audience. PES 2018 didn’t make any noise. Forza Motorsport enhanced some areas, changed some things, and still is a great addition to the series, known for its huge quality, so that’s why I think it will win.

Best Multiplayer

  • Call of Duty: WWII (Sledgehammer Games / Activision)
  • Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision)
  • Fortnite (Epic Games)
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo EAD / Nintendo)
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corp.)
  • Splatoon 2 (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

If I had to Guess

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

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This one is a lock, although I don’t agree with the game of the year nomination, there’s no denying PUBG’s huge impact this year for multiplayer games. It sold more than 20 million copies, reached more than 2 million concurrent players. The fact that they accomplished that without a major marketing budget, or a huge publisher behind speaks to the quality of the game, that became a phenomenon.

Most Anticipated Game

  • God of War (Santa Monica Studio / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Monster Hunter World (Capcom)
  • Red Dead Redemption II (Rockstar Games)
  • The Last of Us Part II (Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

If I had to guess

Red Dead Redemption 2

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Rockstar has had a track record of winning The Game Awards and its previous iterations and not only that, but the other nominees end up competing with each other. Monster Hunter World doesn’t have the cache, the 3 others are PlayStation exclusives. God of War is just around the corner and we have already seen it for a long time, both Marvel’s Spider-Man and The Last of Us Part 2 might not even come out next year. Red Dead Redemption II has a release window and is a highly expected sequel from an adored game, just remember the commotion this picture caused last year.

Best Debut Indie Game

  • Cuphead (Studio MDHR Entertainment)
  • Golf Story (Sidebar Games)
  • Hollow Knight (Team Cherry)
  • Mr. Shifty (Team Shifty)
  • Slime Rancher (Monomi Park)

If I had to guess

Cuphead

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Again Cuphead, but it really is an accomplishment most notably coming from a debuting studio, that created a product that captured the imagination of gamers around the world. Slime Rancher and Golf Story have a big change to win as well, however, I put my chips on Cuphead.

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The Difficulties of Making a New IP

IP’s are a huge part of not only the games industry but of the entertainment industry as a whole. Just look at all the movies that came out this summer, and most games that will come out this Fall, they tend to be based on established IP’s. Releasing a new intellectual property can be a daunting task no matter the size of the company or the studio, especially when it comes to video games.

And despite their important role in the industry, as they bring innovation and create new worlds and icons, there are some reasons why we’ve seen less and less of them each year.

High Costs Bring More Risks

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According to reports, The Division cost more than $70 million to produce

Investing on a game that can be easily recognized by consumers brings a much smaller level of risk to any publisher, especially when only 25 – 30% of them become successful as Phil Spencer claimed in an interview with Metro, and game development costs are higher than ever. Assembling a team of more than 100 developers, that will take 3 to 5 years, and spend from $30 – 100 million on a project based on a brand unbeknownst to the audience can represent a major risk to any company.

An example of this situation happened with the release of Kingdoms of Amalur: The Reckoning, that reportedly cost more than $60 million to produce, causing the studio behind it to go bankrupt after it failed to meet sales expectations. It needed to sell at least 3 million copies to break even, and in spite of a positive critical reception, it only managed to sell 1.2 in the first 3 months.

They Hardly Sell As Well As Known IP’s

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Another important factor is the fact that it’s pretty rare to see a new IP cracking the top 10 as the highest selling games of the year. If we consider the most successful in the US this generation we can see that only 4 new franchises managed to hit the top 10, with most of the other games being part of annual or long running series.

Highest Selling Games

2014 2015 2016
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Call of Duty: Black Ops III Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Madden NFL 15 Madden NFL 16 Battlefield 1
Destiny Fallout 4 The Division
Grand Theft Auto 5 Star Wars: Battlefront NBA 2K17
Minecraft Grand Theft Auto V Madden NFL 17
Super Smash Bros (for 3DS and Wii U) NBA 2K16 Grand Theft Auto V
NBA 2K15 Minecraft Overwatch 
Watch Dogs FIFA 16 Call of Duty: Black Ops III
FIFA 15 Mortal Kombat X Fifa 17
Call of Duty Ghosts Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Final Fantasy XV

Only those backed by huge companies such as Ubisoft (The Division, Watch Dogs), Blizzard (Overwatch), and Activision (Destiny), sold more than the likes of the NBA 2K and GTA V. And even those supported by big companies like Microsoft are not guaranteed to succeed as we saw with Sunset Overdrive, that received rave reviews and was considered one of the best games of the year, and yet, failed to outsell their expectations.

Even though in this situation a poor release date, in the fall, it goes to prove that even quality titles are prone to failure. For smaller companies that don’t have the marketing push or the financial power to rival the big publishers, the struggle to catch the eye of the audience and fight with massive franchises is even bigger.

Marketing Them Isn’t So Easy

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And it all ends with the fact that marketing them is much harder, as there is nothing that the marketing team can rely on to present their product to the audience. Marketing costs comprise nearly 40% of the budget of a project and having the opportunity to turn to famous characters, worlds, stories can help mitigate the risks. That’s why we see Forza Horizon taking the name of the Forza series, although it doesn’t share a lot of similarities with the Motorsport series.

New IP’s can’t follow the marketing cycle of franchises like Fallout or Assassin’s Creed. 6 months to introduce games that become more complex with each generation just isn’t enough. The necessity of introducing a project years ahead of its release can end up creating a backlash, as we saw happening with Watch Dogs and The Division. Or exhaust its image like Cuphead, as we’ve seen it for the first time in 2014, and it will only come out more than 3 years later, creating a sense that the consumer is tired of it before it’s even released.

Making games is incredibly hard and fluid, as a game will rarely be completed the way it was planned at first. The prohibitively high costs that come with creating an AAA game, the difficulty of having to sell millions of copies to cover them, and the necessity to create a marketing strategy that can present a new project in a comprehensive manner, only make it even more complicated.

Without new properties, innovation might decrease as we see more and more sequels coming out each year. They are also very important to bring new and exciting experiences that are crucial to the financial success of the industry. Like Hellblade, that can present a new possibility, as it isn’t as expensive as a big title, but that brings a great level of quality, making it easier for smaller studios to compete without depending on a publisher. We should want to see new IP’s, but we have to remember that in order to see even more we need to support them financially instead of just demanding them.

 

Unity and Brand Awareness

When we talk about games we occasionally tend to talk about the graphics, the audio, gameplay, but we rarely think about what’s behind all of that: the engine. We hear about Frostbite, EA’s proprietary engine that’s been largely advertised and is responsible for most of their projects, Unreal, behind a lot of some of the biggest AAA releases, and the CryEngine, known for being the driving force behind Crysis.

 

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Battlefield 1 is an example of the power of Frostbite

 

But last week, a controversy surrounding Unity brought to the discussion the image of these engines. A consumer on steam claimed that he wouldn’t buy a game specifically because it was built using Unity. And many wondered why would anybody give up playing a title simply because of the engine used. The answer is brand awareness.

Every decision a company makes, from the color of the product, specs, sounds it does, to the strategy used to advertise it, all of that aims at brand awareness. That basically consists of the image that a company or a product has on the market. The sound the Xbox does when it boots wasn’t chosen by accident, after all, they use at E3, in trailers, all to create a connection with consumers, an identity, a sound that becomes synonymous with the brand, that it doesn’t matter where you are, you recognize it.

Apple is a master at that, from the aspect of the stores, with a clean look mainly composed of glass and a minimalistic approach to its layout, to the box, that according to Steve Jobs should be an experience when opened. The design of their products, focusing on round shapes, the OS that has a friendlier user experience, the integration of the systems, to create the idea of an ecosystem that works perfectly in conjunction. All of that to change or create the perception of the consumer.

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A clean and sophisticated design, a characteristic that Apple cherishes

And when it comes to brand awareness, Unity has a very negative reputation. In part because of poor decisions from management, but mainly because of the games that use the engine. The simplest of the most famous, Unity has made their name as the easiest to use, allowing a user without much game development experience to create a game with less technical hurdles than Unreal and CryEngine.

However, an irresponsible use of assets by developers and an association with low-quality early access games have tarnished the image of not only the engine, as well as the company.

The abusive use of assets from their store has also been responsible for their image problem, with many cases in which we can see the same models and problems in various different games that use Unity.

Developers have used them indiscriminately, with a lot of them using the free license, that requires users to attach their logo to the game, so whenever you start a horrible, poorly designed game and you see their main source of recognition in the splash screen, you relate it to a bad experience.

Many of these titles proliferated through Steam Early Access, and even though we can find many using CryEngine and Unreal, Unity has been the most linked to them.

Another factor is that whereas the other engines appear to be used mainly on AAA games, we rarely see that happening with Unity. The most high-profile project using it is Hearthstone, that is not the kind of game that feels like AAA. Just look at some famous games powered by these engines.

Hearthstone
Unity
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CryEngine
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Unreal

 

From what we’ve seen, this situation apparently won’t change that quickly, as the company doesn’t appear to be all that bothered about it. And that could quickly result in a bad ending for them, particularly after the backlash it has suffered recently.

If they are responsible, working on a rebranding focused on attaching their product with quality games, looking to sway the notion gamers have of them, everything can change quickly. If no action is taken, they can either accept that they will never be among the best engines or even worse, become another company that died due to irresponsible management, that didn’t take the market’s viewpoint seriously.

Has Bethesda’s Review Policy Been Successful?

Last October Bethesda announced that they would stop sending review copies to outlets, in a decision that caused an uproar not only in the media but with consumers as well. Deemed as an anti-consumer decision, it received criticism for alienating gamers, removing their ability to make an informed purchase, something that if we stop to think about, makes sense.

The rise of the popularity of YouTube created a scenario in which some gamers tend to rely less on video games websites and more on famous channels. And Bethesda saw that as an opportunity to free themselves from the need of sending review copies ahead of release, looking to decrease the power of reviews, a situation that would be a dream to any publisher.

We have seen a bigger focus of the company on creating extended demos, as a way to appease consumers, giving them a glimpse of the initial hours. We saw that happening with the release of Dishonored 2 and the Prey reboot, both from Arkane Studios, that provided big chunks of gameplay. Unlike Doom, that in spite of following the same decision was successful, Prey and Dishonored 2 have failed.

Prey

Whereas Doom was successful critically and commercially, the others didn’t manage to appeal to consumers. Dishonored 2 failed to reach the top 10 in the US in November, and Prey only reached no. 5 in a weak month of May. Begging us to think if their policy has worked negatively to Bethesda. Missing the biggest sales window, the first month of release, where games tend to make the bulk of their revenue.

Doom, a franchise with a lot of history, ended up being successful, recognized as one of the best games of last year, both by big outlets and gamers. But that didn’t carry on with the release of Dishonored 2 and Prey, franchises with a smaller market and a focus on stealth, a genre that has struggled to find an audience. They couldn’t capture the mindset of the market, attracting little attention, appearing to have a more positive reception from the media than from gamers.

Troubled PC versions didn’t really help change that situation, as both games wouldn’t run properly on that platform. A big number of refunds also helped to create a negative reception.

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The aftermath of both releases goes to show that only a few games can get away without receiving the review push of major outlets. Bethesda’s track record of releasing quality titles wasn’t enough to make gamers trust that both games could appeal to them. If Rockstar decided to do that, maybe they could be successful.

But no matter the review score they received, both Dishonored 2 and Prey felt like missed opportunities. The first received several game of the year nominations, the latter, a revival of a beloved franchise, that impressed by its world-building and unique style. To see that happening is a real shame, but it can work as a wake-up call to publishers, that can now see that gamers won’t buy their games without having enough information, as they have been burned by that before.

Mafia III was an example, selling more than 4 million copies in its first month following the same model. 2K didn’t send any review copies ahead of launch, and that back fired due to a mixed reception, with many negative reviews. From that moment on, they went on to sell only 500.000 copies since November, stagnating completely.

Wolfenstein the new colossus

Maybe Bethesda will continue with the policy and things will change, but from what we’ve seen, it has failed and damaged two projects of the company. We can only hope that it will change before Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus and The Evil Within 2’s release, before it can affect permanently their image and the goodwill they have. After all, great games deserve to be played by as many people as possible.

 

E3 Highlights

E3 has come and gone, and despite not having as many announcements or incredible moments as the previous years, it was a great show. And here I’ll talk about my favorite games that were part of the conferences.

A Way Out

Sometimes a new project comes with real innovation, and this is a perfect example of that. We always hear about innovation on games, but we rarely see it, and A Way Out brings it to not only storytelling but to gameplay as well. A couch co-op game in which you control two inmates willing to escape from prison.

The difference is that each player will control a different character at the same time with different perspectives, and ways to push the story forward. Creating scenarios that could be played in several ways, with each character having personalities that could make a situation easier or harder to deal with. It’s great to see EA bringing an experience with such an unusual approach to the market.

Anthem

Speaking of EA, here’s a demonstration of their range. From an indie game like A Way Out, to a colossus called Anthem, a huge AAA project from Bioware. Closing Microsoft’s conference, Anthem, a Destiny with an apparent bigger focus on story, impressed everybody with an incredible demo, showing what Bioware’s main team had been working on for years now.

The graphics looked simply breathtaking, to the point it was too beautiful to believe sometimes, we’ll hardly see it looking like that on consoles. What was very surprising was how easily the game could change from a jetpack, to ground combat, to water without hiccups or meaningful changes. They claim it will be released next year, let’s hope.

Assassin’s Creed Origins

A prequel to the franchise, Assassins Creed Origins looked to show how the franchise would shape up after taking a year off. And from what we could see, it looks like a soft reboot, telling the story behind the beginning of the brotherhood in ancient Egypt, a setting that allowed the team to make some interesting changes.

With a larger focus on the RPG aspect, Origins appears to be a lot more profound the previous titles of the franchise, something Unity tried to do before. Combat was revamped, taking notes from Dark Souls, with a slower pace, that requires players to think before attacking. The world looks beautiful, reactive, alive, the animations on the other side didn’t look like they were very improved. If they deliver on what they promised this could be not only an amazing AC game but an amazing game overall.

Far Cry 5

Beyond all the controversy surrounding it, Far Cry 5 has been getting a lot of attention for the changes that have been made. After Far Cry 4 and Primal’s underwhelming results, showing signs that the franchise seemed to exhaust its formula, Far Cry 5 feels like a real step forward, at least from what we’ve seen.

Instead of lush environments, Montana is the new setting, a change that can bring new gameplay experiences. The demo spotlighted the co-op experience, showing NPC options to assist you in your missions, as well as with other players. Like Assassin’s Creed Origins, the world around the player will react to your actions, assisting or fearing you. If the villain is great, and the new features work well, it can be a comeback.

Need for Speed Payback

The reboot was a good game that unfortunately didn’t really resonate with the fans of the franchise. The FMV cutscenes were criticized by many, personally, I found it strange and funny at times. When it came to gameplay, it was neither horrible nor incredible, the graphics were mesmerizing, on the border of becoming photorealistic. But the world felt lifeless, and the always online feature would punish those who wanted to play offline or that had an unreliable internet connection.

With all that baggage, I didn’t expect much from Payback, however, what we saw was a silly, fun, high-octane game with a heavy Fast and Furious atmosphere. And that can be a smart way to bring the franchise back, when it comes to simulators there are worthy competitors, Forza Horizon 3 was everything an arcade game needs to be. Feeling like a Burnout game with a story, charismatic characters, customization options and great gameplay can be what the franchise needed.

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Last year a trailer revealed an important exclusive for Sony, a Spider-Man game produced by Insomniac, and the hype train started. From that moment on, we heard nothing else about the project.

This year, an extended gameplay showed how the game runs, and in the end, it looks like an Arkham game with color. The combat resembles the Arkham series, but with flashier movements, a more acrobatic style. New York looks stunning, with traversal looking simple and loose. As we can expect from Spider-Man, there was a lot of bantering, jokes, a lighter tone. My only concern is with an excessive use of QTE’s, that if used wisely, only during action sequences can work very well, but if exaggerated can remind Resident Evil 6.

Sea of Thieves

At last, it looks like we finally know what Sea of Thieves is all about, after 2 years of demos that wouldn’t really show much. And despite being a little too long, the gameplay demo shown this year followed a crew on a mission, and it does look different, and fun.

Teamwork seems to be the best way to play it, as things can go bad quickly. Storms can affect the way the ship handles, special treasures can change gameplay, other crews can attack you. This might be the cause why the game won’t succeed, as it relies heavily on multiplayer, as we saw with Evolve, Battleborn. But Sea of Thieves looks like a much richer game than the examples above, with more things to do, a lot of features, and a unique style.

The Crew 2

This one was unexpected to me, when I saw that it was The Crew 2 I thought about checking my email or doing something else, I’m glad I didn’t do it. It appears to be another case of Ubisoft’s great improvement on the second title in a franchise. The first title was very underwhelming, wasting an immense potential. With The Crew 2, it looks like we’ll finally get what we were promised before.

Visually it is a lot superior to the first Crew, with New York looking amazing, the game also uses an effect that reminds Inception to change locations ocasionally. The fact that you can change from a car to a plane to a boat immediately is something we haven’t seen in a racing game, hopefully, it will be better implemented than it was in Steep. From an insipid title, we may get an alive one, much like the Watch Dogs to Watch Dogs 2 transition.

The Last Night

Sometimes a smaller game comes and steals the show, and The Last Night was one of those gems. An example that graphics aren’t everything, it has a special art style, pixel art, something I was tired of, in a futuristic cyberpunk world that looked like nothing else we saw this year. Whether it will be great we’re yet to see but it shows a lot of promise.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Crazier, more beautiful, with an improved story, an even bigger focus on the characters, that’s all that a sequel should have. And Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus looks like exactly that. The New Order was well-received but didn’t seem to explode as it should’ve, in part to some gameplay choices, in part to a very slow start in the campaign.

From what we’ve seen, MachineGames heard the criticisms and greatly improved on them. The story, that was very good in The New Order, appears to be even more interesting, bringing Nazis to America, making you fight them as part of the revolution. The characters are bizarre, the villain scary, if it is anything like the trailer it will be an amazing ride.

Those were my favorite games, did I forget one you liked? Comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

E3 Conferences Impressions

This year’s E3 conferences were quite different than past years, despite being good, there wasn’t one who stood out as remarkable or unforgettable. Without many surprising moments that would make the audience go crazy, most of them felt lukewarm, as if companies were keeping their cards close to their chests, or didn’t really have many novelties to show.

Here I’ll talk about them from worst to best, in my opinion, and some things I noticed about how companies are changing some aspects of how they approach their conferences:

EA

As last year, EA came up with the worst presentation, even though it certainly has improved. Many strange and cringy moments happened, mainly because it feels that the company is striving to look cool, trying to talk with the millennial generation without completely understanding it.

Youtubers that had problems with teleprompters,  feet out of place in a presentation willing to appeal not only to customers but also to stakeholders. Sports games would have overly long presentations at times, and yes, it is an integral part of the company strategy and finance, however, a leaner, more dynamic segment would work better for them. Jokes, long introductions, a trailer focusing on eSports also didn’t help the presentation, making it feel longer than it really was.

Battlefront 2’s multiplayer demonstration felt out of place, especially after EA’s focus on the singleplayer campaign ever since its announcement. Revealing that it won’t have a season pass is nice, and the multiplayer does look interesting, but showing just a little bit of the story would feel like a reward after the unimpressive Battlefront.

A way out

Although there were some problems, not all was lost. Need for Speed Payback looked amazing, with a truly great demo, showing a little bit of its mechanics, characters, mission structure, appearing to be a better game than we expected. And the best moment was A Way Out, part of the EA Originals program, a game that shows real innovation, with an unusual and unique gameplay mechanic. Becoming one of the best games to show at the event, with an effective trailer, and a very enthusiastic developer.

Sony

I might be too harsh on them, but after last year’s stellar presentation, this year’s just felt underwhelming. A repetition of the games seen last year, many still remaining without any release dates, a lack of new and exciting titles, and a feeling that something was missing, marked the presentation. By the way, I’m not considering the sound issues, these things happen.

Starting with Naughty Dog and Guerrilla was a smart move, but an Uncharted stand alone game and Horizon DLC doesn’t really hype up the audience. Destiny and Call of Duty being part of it isn’t a surprise, after all, both are expected to be the biggest sellers of the year, but none had an exciting showing.

The same can be said of Monster Hunter World and Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, that looks very strange, with last-gen graphics, especially when compared with Street Fighter V and the superb Injustice 2. I have to say that I was surprised that they mentioned VR, with a good number of games, although they still feel more like tech demos than full-fledged games. Please, let’s stop releasing Skyrim on every platform, compared to more modern titles, it doesn’t look great, neither graphically, nor mechanically.

The one surprise of the presentation was the remake of Shadow of the Colossus, that looks incredible, but this one is on me, I can’t muster any excitement over a remake or remaster anymore. Detroit: Become Human is on the verge of saturation for me, it feels like I’ve seen this games more times than I needed too, and the lack of a release date doesn’t feel like a sign we’ll see it soon, probably next year.

God of War had a new trailer that highlighted the story and the relationship with Kratos and his son, what seems to be the part that the developers are giving the most attention to. The trailer itself was good, the story indeed looks intriguing, but the way it was cut was a little strange, I preferred last year’s gameplay chunk.

Days Gone

The best parts for me were the first gameplay reveal of Insomniac’s Spider-Man, and Days Gone, that after last year’s lukewarm presentation, they came out with an unexpected demo. Days Gone with a stunning demo finally gave us more on the background of the game, that may be very promising. God of War will be huge, but the prospect of a The Last of Us with an open world is something to look for. What looked like another zombie game that solely focused on action, now appears to one with a soul, highlighting human relationships, instead of waves of enemies. A game that I couldn’t care less about, became one I’ll keep my eye on, although Bend still hasn’t released anything that impressive.

Spider-Man is a beautiful title that based on the pedigree of the studio behind and what we saw, won’t disappoint. The combat is fluid, the world and the animations are beautiful, and the action set-piece was entertaining, reminding an Uncharted with a superhero as the main character. The high number of QTE’s can be troubling, but we’ll only find out next year, earlier than expected.

Bethesda

It started in a great way, with developers and their kids talking about what they did for a living and their excitement over games, something that was quite strange, as Bethesda’s game tend to be very violent, but it was fresh, funny and why not, cute. Then a video presentation started with great animation, showing the lineup of Bethesda, it was short, straight to the point, and very pleasant. However, the more I think about it, the less I like it.

Everything that was anticipated was there, Skyrim is coming out again, now in VR, Doom too, Elder Scrolls online, Legends were part of the presentation, but nothing that stood out. Quake legends appealed to the eSports side of the game. Dishonored DLC looked great, like every Dishonored trailer, with a very cool twist on the story, that may have some serious repercussion in the future of the franchise.

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The 2 surprises that ended up not surprising anybody, were the highlights. The Evil Within 2 had a very curious trailer that focused on the struggles of the leading character, the impact of his past on his life, and apparently, on his mind. With a beautiful soundtrack and a striking visual style, it showed great promise.

Wolfenstein: The New Colossus came with a long trailer that never ceased to amaze. The graphics are mesmerizing, the story fascinating. It’s nice to see that MachineGames appears to have improved on every area. The New Order was a great game, but The New Colossus may take the franchise a step further, with crazy characters, charismatic villains, and visceral action.

Microsoft

Unlike Bethesda, the more I think about Microsoft’s conference, the more I like it. When it ended I was completely deflated, mainly due to the lack of a massive AAA announcement of an exclusive for their new console, but pondering on what was presented, there were some very interesting games. Cuphead finally got a release date and a feature long awaited, OG Xbox backwards compatibility was announced.

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It started with the reveal of the Xbox One X, formerly known as Project Scorpio, that looks very slick in spite of being a lot more powerful than the original Xbox One, actually, it is smaller than the S model. The price is way too high, eliminating any chance to compete with the PS4 Pro, that may have fewer teraflops, but has better exclusives, let’s face it. Especially if multiplatform games don’t run that better on the X.

They promised to show more than 40 games, 22 exclusives, however many were timed exclusives, and others didn’t really impress the audience. Like The Newton Project and Lucky’s Tale, that felt generic and uninteresting. What was curious about the conference was that there were a significant number of good games, with a little bit for everybody, and that’s why I liked it.

First-party titles looked great, but nothing close to the size of a Halo or Gears. State of Decay 2 looks like an AAA title now, with many possibilities, although I would prefer a gameplay demo instead of the trailer shown, it felt a little long. Forza 7 is more beautiful than ever, it just didn’t make a lot of noise because everyone knew it would come out.

We saw Crackdown 3 after years of silence, bringing Terry Crews to the trailer, and the game, the letdown was that we didn’t see much of the title. Sea of Thieves had a much better showing than last year, with a mission that displayed the new features of the game, a little bit of the team aspect, finally revealing more about what it is all about.

Phil Spencer’s trip to Japan really worked out well for the company, a section was devoted to Japanese titles, with Dragon Ball Fighter Z standing out in a completely unexpected way.

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But the highlights for me were clearly The Last Night, an indie game that combines a beautiful world that resembles Blade Runner, using a pixel art aesthetic, attracting a lot of attention for its beauty and mysterious world. Assassin’s Creed Origins brought the franchise back to E3 after a year off, and it looked like that decision paid off, new features were shown, combat has changed, Egypt looks impressive, leaving some hope that the franchise might have a bright future ahead.

A Life is Strange prequel was revealed, and that was the moment in which I really got excited, in spite of the fact that Chloe’s voice actress has changed, it was nice to see the franchise being recognized on a big stage. And to finish things off, Anthem, the new Bioware IP had their gameplay reveal, and it looked amazing, maybe too beautiful at times. But the changes of gameplay that happened seamlessly were impressive, the world hypnotizing, it looked like a Destiny with a more fleshed out world and story.

Nintendo

I was baffled with how much I enjoyed Nintendo’s conference, given that I’m not somebody who really cares about their games or even consoles. The last one I had was a Super Nintendo, and for the first time since the SNES, I’m thinking about buying a console from them.

Their spotlight was short, effective, showed new games, and had a different feeling than the other companies had. The beginning was a little strange with a trailer focusing on the Switch, followed by Reggie Fils-Aime reflected on game and life, something that was funny, quickly proceeding to the games.

And here is where Nintendo always shines, their games don’t really have a story, but they have a trademark style. Starting with Xenoblade Chronicles 2, a huge RPG that is exclusive to the console, looking massive, diverse and beautiful. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle looks like XCOM for kids, with a stunning art style, and a gameplay that genuinely looks fun.

New games of Kirby, Yoshi were shown, with different mechanics that work around the genre they’re in. They talked more about Breath of the Wild’s DLC, shedding some light on what could be expected from now on. Two projects stole the show, a Pokémon RPG is coming to Switch, and we expect for it to be a massive game, and Metroid Prime 4, that appears to be at the very beginning of its development cycle.

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The grand finale was the bizarre Super Mario Odyssey, and how crazy is that game. Taking the approach of bigger worlds, we managed to see the game running for the first time, and it reminds 64 and Sunshine, with open landscapes, a looser experience. And the hat, that we finally understand why was highlighted, allowing you to possess the body of any character in the world, creating endless possibilities for puzzles, representing something new to the genre. As I said, it was short, there weren’t dozens of games, but the ones that were shown were meaningful projects, in an E3 that felt lukewarm.

Ubisoft

I might be biased as I tend to enjoy their conferences, and the company as a whole, they make mistakes but they look honest, and I feel that this year they showed that. What an improvement when compared to last year, instead of overly long demonstrations, we saw a much better-structured show, if it was sports, it would’ve gotten the most improved player award.

Just Dance didn’t have a long dance routine that would bore everybody, it was short and swift. The way it started was brilliant, bringing Shigeru Miyamoto to the stage to talk about Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, and to see the emotion and the passion of the developers was truly remarkable. Although the Rabbids can be very annoying at times, the presence of Mario balances that, in a game that looks delightful to play.

Assassin’s Creed Origins had a smaller presence, after appearing with an extended gameplay on Microsoft’s stage. Here was the strangest moment, when we were shown someone playing on a screen announcing a gameplay that would air after the conference, it just didn’t make any sense.

The Crew 2 was impressive, with many different styles of racing, planes, boats, cars, a beautiful world, and an Inception style effect. It feels like a much-improved title, looking like another case of Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs 2 syndrome.

Some moments didn’t land, South Park appeared again, an Elijah Wood project didn’t have a lot of details revealed, Steep has DLC, and a toys-to-life game was announced, long after the genre died.

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A new game based on pirate life, Skull & Bones, surprised the audience, looking like the Black Flag spin-off we were all waiting for. Naval battles with a multiplayer focus, in a beautiful world, and the possibility of creating a pirate squad, that’s not bad. Far Cry 5 continues to look like a significant improvement over Far Cry 4, that felt tired. More options to use NPC’s as part of the missions, hiring friends to help you, a world that responds to your actions, it appears to be a real sequel.

To end things off, they brought Beyond Good & Evil 2 back from the dead. With a new look, characters, feel, working as a prequel to Jade’s adventure. To see Michel Ansel tearing up on stage was truly special, it was nice to see that in such a rich industry you can see love for what they do. Whether we’ll actually play it we’re not sure, but it was great to see such a beloved franchise making a comeback, let’s hope that for good now.

A few things that caught my attention:

  • Every company is crazy to get their share of eSports.
  • Long gameplay demos became more scarce, it feels that companies are preferring gameplay trailers.
  • Microsoft didn’t talk about new features and Game Pass.
  • Companies are looking to make open worlds more responsive, reacting to your actions, like in GTA V.
  • Some are taking the Nintendo approach, making the conferences shorter, usually lasting less than one hour, with minimal presence from executives, like Bethesda and Sony did.
  • Speaking of Sony, it was strange to see that Hidden Agenda, the new Supermassive project, was part of the pre-show, especially when their VR projects, that looked much worse, took the main stage. And it is intriguing to see the downfall of Gran Turismo, that was too a part of the pre-show. We’re talking about the highest-selling franchise Sony has, and it is astonishing that it wasn’t part of the main show.

 

E3 Expectations: Sony

After last year’s stellar presentation, Sony is expected to show more of the games introduced in 2016 and bring new surprises hoping to keep the momentum going. In a year in which their biggest competitors have new hardware to show, and exciting games, they must bring their A game to keep customers interested. But what can we expect from Sony this year?

First-party

God of War

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Given the massive banner on a building near the conference area, we can be sure it will have a huge showing at the conference, as confirmed by a 1 hour presentation scheduled at E3 coliseum. The comeback of a beloved franchise, it feels like a soft reboot, changing the setting, gone are the Greek gods, in comes Nordic mythology. Kratos’ son will probably play a huge role on the story, looking similar to what Ellie did in The Last of Us.

It will be interesting to find out more about the dynamic between him and his son, especially due to his past, and what happened to his family before. Sounding like a departure from the angry character who would tear people apart for the joy of killing, we can hope to see a calmer Kratos, focusing on raising his son. We can expect to see a long gameplay demo on stage, showing more of the combat, the enemies, and a glimpse of the story. I’d bet it will be Sony’s main Fall game, coming out in October.

Spider-Man

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The first big project from Insomniac since the incredible Sunset Overdrive, and the suprising Ratchet & Clank remake, the exclusive Spider-Man game will make an appearance, as confirmed by the studio. We’ll hopefully see gameplay for the first time, after the interesting, but mainly empty trailer from last year.

After some low-quality titles in the past years, it’s nice to see this franchise in good hands again, especially if they adapt the fluid gameplay from Sunset Overdrive, that was its best feature. As God of War, this game will probably receive a major push, with more on the world, story, characters, villains. Since it isn’t connected to the MCU, it doesn’t have to come out this year, I’d guess it will be released in Fall 2018.

Days Gone

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After the attention received in last year’s conference, Days Gone must have another demo, this time focused on the characters and the world. Despite the great reception, some criticized the game for feeling formulaic, too similar to The Last of Us. Even though it was recognized by its beauty and the sheer impressive number of zombies on the screen, they’ll need to show more to keep the hype.

A very important project to Sony Bend, mainly because it took several years to be developed, Days Gone can represent a milestone for the studio. If it is a massive success, it can bring them to the first division of Sony’s studios, if it fails, it may be their doom. They need to highlight what makes it different in a market flooded with Zombie games, and here they’ll have the perfect opportunity to do that. I believe it will be released this year, as another Fall title, but if I were Sony, I’d do it Q1 2018, since we’re talking about a new IP that could use less competition.

New IP from Sucker Punch

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Since the release of Infamous Second Son, Sucker Punch has been completely quiet with no leaks regarding their new project. All we know is that Shuhei Yoshida has played a demo of it, but other than that, it’s a complete blackout. We can expect for them to completely leave Infamous behind.

There are talks about it being a third-person game with an open world, but I would love to see them follow Guerrilla and do something completely unexpected. From a hero to a horror, or a linear story-heavy game. Maybe a tease trailer will be shown, but a gameplay demo would be ideal. I think it may come out late 2018, early 2019.

Horizon DLC

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Announced after the astonishing success from the title, that has sold more than 3.4 million copies so far. No details were revealed, but it could be interesting to see more about Aloy and Rost’s relationship, the training for the Proving. Or a completely different take, showing more about Sylen’s past, or even Rost’s story making you play the situation that caused him to become an outcast.

The Last of Us Part 2

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Since the surprise announcement at PSX, with a strong and impactful trailer, not much has been said about The Last of Us: Part 2. Despite the remote chance of it appearing on this year’s conference, we may end up seeing a new trailer, maybe showing more about the new characters. Given Naughty Dog’s incredible capacity of creating games with great speed and quality, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw gameplay for the first time at PSX.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

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The Naughty Dog game that will probably get more attention this year, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy may have another demo, albeit a smaller one than at PSX, I believe. The surprise is that what we once thought out to be a small story, now looks like a substantial DLC, and a welcome addition to the Uncharted franchise.

GT Sport

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A real Mexican soap-opera, that’s how I define the release of every Gran Turismo game. Despite talking about innovations and how the franchise has meaningful iterations when compared to the competition, the series seems to have lost its title as the simulation king. Losing relevance, in part due to the long time between each title, and technical aspects that are inferior to the competition. They must have an impressive showing to regain some fans. I think it will come out in September or Q1 2018.

Detroit: Become Human

Detroit-PS4

Another E3 comes, and another Detroit: Become Human appearance is expected. A promising game that has everything to be a resounding success, but that has been demoed for so much time that it may suffer the same way the first Watch Dogs did. Taking so much time from announcement to release that people might lose their interest.

Quantic Dream’s track record can also bring some doubts, while Heavy Rain was acclaimed, Beyond: Two Souls was incredible underwhelming. Detroit: Become Human shows great promise, but it can’t come back next year, it must release within next year, my bet Q1/Q2 2018.

Death Stranding with Emma Stone Revealed

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Kojima confirmed that it won’t be at E3, however I can’t really trust him when it comes to announcements. After all, he’s the same man who created Moby Dick studios, and a bizarre campaign to announce The Phantom Pain. With rumors of Emma Stone’s involvement on the project being confirmed, it would become one of the biggest stories in the event. If she’s on stage, then that’s would bring the internet down.

Third-party

From Software

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Bloodborne 2 would be the easiest bet, as it was very successful commercially and received rave reviews, a comeback of that IP would make complete sense. However, Hidetaka Miyazaki has talked about wanting to work with different games, new ideas, and rumors about a new IP coming from them have surfaced. “Phantom Wail” would be the name, and it would have an Aztec aesthetic and a heavy focus on hand-to-hand combat. Whether it is Bloodborne 2 or a new IP, we should expect to see From Software make an appearance.

Crash

Crash

The remake of the first three games was a great surprise last year, taking the world by storm, making fans go crazy around the world. Activision has promised to bring more news about the franchise. Maybe another remake with Crash Team Racing and Crash Bash, and if the reception was overwhelming, possibly a new game announcement. Other than that, we may not see much more about it, as the N’Sane trilogy is coming out soon after the event.

New Rocksteady Game

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Justice League, Batman Beyond, a lot has been talked about Rocksteady’s new project, and rumors have flood the internet about possibilities, from DC properties to Harry Potter. After 2 years from the release of Arkham Knight, it feels like it’s about time to reveal what’s next for them. Probably only a teaser trailer to entice the audience.

Call of Duty WW2

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As we see every year, COD will make an appearance showing more of its campaign, that as we’ve seen so far has received a level of attention we haven’t seen since Advanced Warfare. An extended gameplay is to be expected, and a beta announcement at Sony’s stage.

Destiny 2

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The sequel of the incredibly successful Destiny, Destiny 2 should have a major push at the conference, shedding light at the exclusive DLC content on the platform. And a strike or a quick mission gameplay is a real possibility.

Resident Evil 2 Remake

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It’s been a long time since we’ve known about the existence of this project, and nothing about it has surfaced, leaving fans wondering what Capcom would do. Take the Resident Evil Remake approach and only improve on the graphics, and some dialogue with new additions, or try to adapt it to the post Resident Evil 4 camera and gameplay. A trailer would be enough to calm their fans.

Bully 2

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This rumor came up when Game Informer added the game to their database, and the Rockstar store was updated with Bully products. Agent, the exclusive game from Rockstar that would come to PS3 looks dead, and they might be owing another game for Sony. It would be a huge win to have Bully 2 as an exclusive, but that seems unlikely, maybe only as a timed exclusive. If it really exists and is part of the conference, we’ll either see a teaser trailer or gameplay.

VR Games

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Even though PS VR has reached 1 million products sold, VR hasn’t taken off as expected, making a much smaller splash, still feeling like a gimmick that only has tech demos. That’s why it is an important year for the technology, and what we see in the conference will be proof of that. If Sony spends a significant amount of time talking about it, showing new games, then it may really be the future. If not, this may turn out to be another Kinect, a technology that would revolutionize the industry, but ended up being a gimmick.

Some Predictions and 1 Crazy Thing I’d Like to See:

  • Onimusha Reboot.
  • A new portable may be announced to fight the Nintendo Switch.
  • Spyro remastered.
  • PS1 games will be sold on the PS4.
  • Another obscure exclusive will be remastered to make the hardcore audience happy.
  • New Fumito Ueda game will get a teaser.
  • Shenmue III will get a trailer.

1 Crazy Thing I’d Like to See: Sony partnering up with a company like Ubisoft to create an EA Access like service, or just bring it to the PS4.

 

 

 

E3 Expectations: Ubisoft

The craziest, funniest conference, sometimes for some strange reasons, comes back in their usual Monday slot. Ubisoft has released a small video “hyping” what we could see in the conference, promising a lot of surprises and unexpected things. With franchises coming back and awkward moments, what can we expect from Ubisoft this year?

Silly Just Dance Moment

Just Dance E3 - 3
All jokes aside, that’s why I love their conferences

Every year, sometimes in the beginning, it is a certainty that we’ll see a bizarre, to the point it gets funny, moment revealing that year’s Just Dance. Enthusiastic dancers with colorful clothes will dance to the sound of a pop song, and maybe the singer will be there to join them. In the end, we’ll get a release date, some novelty on how to play, and I guess it will lose the number, and embrace the Just Dance Unlimited subscription model for future iterations.

Assassin’s Creed Origins

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It’s not a secret anymore that the next Assassin’s Creed will be set in Egypt, and will be called Origins, mainly because of leaks from shirts. Expected to be a reboot, this is the game I’m most curious about, if this extra year was used for improvements on gameplay, mission structure, we can probably see a renaissance of the franchise.

There are no doubts that they can create beautiful, lively worlds, but without relatable characters and an interesting story, something the AC franchise has struggled a little, it wll be just another entry in the franchise. A clean slate enables them to rework the Abstergo story, enhance the missions, highlight the world, bringing the long requested Egyptian location as the background. It will probably be released this Fall, November maybe, and I think will appear with a trailer and an extensive demo.

Splinter Cell

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As part of my expectations from Microsoft, I mentioned that the series may come back as an exclusive title for the Xbox. 4 years have passed since Blacklist was released, to positive reception from the media, but lukewarm sales. Reports of Michael Ironside’s return as the voice of Sam Fisher have surfaced, and I think it’s been long enough for the franchise to return.

I believe they might try to reboot the franchise, calling the game only Splinter Cell, as a fresh start, with some gameplay changes willing to appeal to a larger market. My guess is that it will come back in less than one year. I don’t know if it has the strength to be released during the Fall season, so Q1 or Q2 2018 would be a nice time to release it.

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5

Following the reveal trailer that garnered some hate, we’ll probably see gameplay for the first time. Set in the US, it looks like an interesting change of setting, as some mechanics might require some changes since the landscape is very different. The controversy around it has the chance to propel the game to an even higher height, receiving attention from groups that might’ve not noticed it otherwise.

New mechanics, like flying planes, will be part of the game, there will be some player customization, and the trailer appeared to focus a lot on the characters, with the most relevant side characters receiving individual pieces. We can expect a bigger attention when it comes to the story side, and if it follows the pattern of past games, the villain will probably steal the show. This is a game that I didn’t really care, but the news coming from it got me cautiously optimistic, let’s see.

The Crew 2

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Despite having a great potential, and an impressive world map that recreated the US with a scale we haven’t seen before, The Crew never fulfilled expectations, being a little underwhelming. Heavy focus on microtransactions, a heavy DLC system, an uninteresting plot and a world that was huge but lifeless ended up leaving a bad taste in their consumer’s mouth.

But Ubisoft’s track record of greatly improving on their second games creates hope for The Crew 2, as we saw with Assassin’s Creed 2 and Watch Dogs 2. I’d guess it will have a new setting, a gameplay demo and for the release date, my bet is Q1 2018.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

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Everything about it leaked, the marketing strategy, amiibos, pretty much all that mattered. A turn-based RPG exclusive for the Nintendo Switch, with focus on exploration, bringing mascots from both companies with different abilities and weapons. According to the leaked material, it is expected to be released in August/September, and sounds like an awesome idea.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole

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Returning for yet another E3, South Park: The Fracture But Whole must bring back Trey Parker and Matt Stone to the stage with a new trailer and some more gameplay.

UbiArt comeback

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It’s been 3 years since Child of Light and Valiant Hearts: The Great War came out, to very positive critical and commercial reception, representing something different in the AAA publisher’s market. Games marked by beautiful visuals, stories that didn’t need words to be told, interesting gameplay. There are no rumors regarding a comeback, but that would be something that I would love to see return, after all, quality, introspective games are never enough.

IP That Appeared in Watch Dogs 2

A possible candidate for the final surprise of the conference, a new IP set on space may be unveiled after appearing in a trailer within a mission in Watch Dogs 2. According to reports in the media, sources claim that the game is in development, and it would be an interesting way to end the show, as they did last year revealing a new IP, Steep. Maybe they could repeat.

Other Possibilities and 1 Crazy Thing I’d Like to See:

  • A new IP inspired by Black Flag, focusing on pirate life, and since that came out 4 years ago, it’s been enough time to develop a new game.
  • A new Rayman game.
  • Prince of Persia reboot.
  • Beyond Good and Evil 2 trailer
  • Another new IP coming out of the left field, probably, the surprise in the end.

1 Crazy Thing I’d Like to See: I know remasters can suck, but I’d love to have the Sam Fisher collection, all past games in one package with gameplay and graphics enhancements.

E3 Expectations: Bethesda

Coming from great showings in their first 2 press conferences, Bethesda comes back to cement the company as one of the most important publishers in the industry, in their usual Sunday night slot. 2 reveals are to be expected, according to one image released by the company. But what can we expect from Bethesda this year?

Fallout 4 VR

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First revealed last year, Bethesda promises that this will represent the revolution of VR, the biggest AAA game available for VR. Given the current landscape of that technology, it might as well be true, since that has been a gimmick since launch without many meaningful projects. The curiosity around the project is huge, due to the massive scope of the game, and how it will run, since the original game had several performance issues, and that could make the game unplayable on VR. We can expect to find out the release date and the platforms it will be released on.

Wolfenstein: The New Colossus

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An extremely pleasant surprise in this generation was the comeback of the Wolfenstein franchise, with The New Order. Coming completely out of the left field, it was an old school shooter that appealed to a modern audience. Responsive gameplay, nice graphics, and a crazy story garnered a lot of attention not only from the media but from consumers as well.

In their first press conference, they hinted at a title named The New Colossus, looking like the title of a possible sequel to The New Order. We can hope to see the premiere of an extensive gameplay demo, and a release date. That I’ll guess will be Q1 2018.

The Evil Within 2

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Practically leaked by a job opening in Japan, The Evil Within is a certainty, mainly because of the great reception and commercial success of the first one. The open ending leaves space to develop the story even further. Since it was hiring for localization, one of the last phases of a game development, we can expect to see it released this year, maybe as a Halloween title.

The Elder Scrolls Online

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The moment in which the conference tends to fall a little bit, they’re likely to talk about the success of the game, the Morrowind expansion reception, and possibly announce something new. It is too early to come with a new expansion, but I think they might hint at a Skyrim one, to prepare to a new Elder Scrolls, that we shall see next year.

Quake Champions

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After a beta that has received some mixed reception, the company will probably unveil more of the gameplay, maybe some new levels, heroes, and the release date. In a world where Overwatch exists, chances are that it may become a new Battleborn.

A Mobile Project

Fallout

After the continued success of Fallout Shelter, there’s always the possibility of a new mobile game based on a property of the publisher. If I had to guess, I’d say that they might take the Go route, and will create stealth games based on Dishonored, Prey, but we have to wait and see.

New IP From Bethesda Studios

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This is a little farfetched, but we know that Bethesda Studios is working on several different projects, and it looks like a great moment to make a splash during E3. Rumors about a new Sci-fi RPG in the same world of Skyrim and Fallout have gained some attention, however nothing meaningful about this project has surfaced.

Other Possibilities and 1 Crazy Thing I’d Like to See:

  • Story DLC for Dishonored 2 and Prey
  • More information on Elder Scrolls Legends
  • Elder Scrolls 6 teaser trailer

1 Crazy Thing I’d Like to See: A new Fallout from Obsidian.

E3 Expectations: Microsoft

On a new day, Sunday afternoon, Xbox has their most important press conference of the past few years, in what it looks like a make or break one. Looking to reveal the highly anticipated Project Scorpio, address the lack of first-party titles and the assumption that there are no real meaningful games on the platform. And unlike last year, no leaks have surfaced regarding their revelations. So, what can we expect from the Xbox this year?

Project Scorpio

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First things first, the moment that can help define the brand for the next year, Project Scorpio, or the most powerful console ever made. We’ll probably see the final design of the console, that according to reports may have a similar one to the One S. We’ll find out the release date, I’d guess September, to be launched with Forza 7, and the tricky part, the price.

If it’s 499,00 it shows a company that’s thinking about differentiating it, displaying to the market that it is a premium product. However, it creates a space in which PlayStation could lower the price of the PS4 Pro to 349,00, in a situation impossible to compete, given the price difference. If I were them, I’d eat the loss, and would bring it at 399,00, being a powerful demonstration to the market that they are here not only to compete, but to win. But a Ferrari isn’t anything without gas, and a console isn’t anything without games.

Games

Talking about games, we expect to hear more about the exclusives promised by Phil Spencer. And here I’ll try to separate some possibilities and some guesses regarding First, Third-party and Indie titles that may appear in the conference.

First – party

343 Industries – Halo Spin-off or Perfect Dark Reboot

They have announced that they won’t show the new Halo, but instead they’ll show something else. Maybe it is a 10-year anniversary edition of Halo 3. But I prefer to think that it may be a spin-off title of the Halo series, something like Halo Reach, but in another genre, maybe a third-person shooter.

There’s been rumors regarding the possibility of 343 creating a new IP or a Perfect Dark for the Xbox One. Personally, I find it a great idea, it could become a way to use something from their back catalogue to become another staple for the brand. A female-lead FPS is very rare to find in the market, and 343 has proved to be able to produce quality titles, and they could change the setting so it won’t overlap with Halo. But in the end, I think they’ll just talk about Halo Wars 2 DLC.

Rare – Sea of Thieves and New Banjo, Possibly

Sea of Thieves looks like one of the most promising titles for the platform, after all, it could become a profitable game as a service, something that Phil Spencer has been talking a lot about in the media. The team-based structure with a strong multiplayer focus could reap benefits to the console, representing the resurrection of Rare as we used to know: an innovative and beloved company.

Tests have been happening and from what can be seen around the web, the reception has been very positive. It could become of a surprise, if it manages to keep players engaged for a long time, with a robust update strategy, producing new content, missions, places to explore. But most multiplayer centric titles have failed to do that, with the vast majority becoming ghost towns after a few months.

Few games like Destiny had legs for years, and who knows, Sea of Thieves could become a tentpole franchise for the brand, however it’s facing an uphill battle. Another project is currently being developed at Rare, and there’s been talks that it is Battletoads, but I can think of another studio more suited for it, that I’ll talk about a little later. Rumors of a return of Banjo have surfaced after a tweet from the creator of the franchise hinting at a possible reveal, but at least this year we might not hear much, only a teaser, as it wouldn’t make sense to overflow the audience with Rare projects, as it could confuse the audience.

Turn 10 – Forza Motorsport 7

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Another year comes and another Forza will be revealed, and unless a surprise happens, Forza Motorsport 7 will likely come out this year. In a very different situation than when 6 was unveiled, as the smaller brother of the Horizon spin-off, that received critical acclaim and sold extremely well, being regarded as one of the best games of last year, and one of the best racing games ever.

Mainly because while the spin-off series always brings innovations, rain, snow, interesting DLC’s as the Hot Wheels for Horizon 3, the Motorsport series seems to be always one step behind. I’d guess that the biggest innovation will be more racers online, 4K, and snow, and if that is all, they will continue as the inferior Forza game.

Reagent Games – Crackdown 3

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The one game that can become their main Fall game is Crackdown 3, and after years of silence around the game, it looks like they’ll come with guns blazing at E3. A franchise that received some love in the 360 generation, but never reached the stratosphere, Crackdown comes back with the original director, and a promise to use the power of the cloud, fast-paced, heroic action.

It will work as a gamble for them, and I’d say that it will be the game which they try to push as the face of Scorpio. A beautiful open-world, a gameplay based on destruction is perfect to show the power of the machine, and if successful, can be instrumental to the success of the platform. I wouldn’t be surprised if they came with a new name, either removing the 3 or with a subtitle, looking to release it with a clean slate.

The Coalition – Gears of War 4 DLC

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They will make an appearance, but unless they bring a new IP this will probably be about DLC for Gears of War 4, maybe a story one, looking to develop on the story told, maybe enhancing some side characters. But other than that, it doesn’t look like it will blow people away, but we can always hope.

Undead Labs – State of Decay 2

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Even though it comes from a second-party studio, State of Decay 2 is being treated like first-party, set to be much bigger and expansive than the first entry in the franchise. The studio has more employees now, a bigger investment from Microsoft, appearing to be a bet of the company as a Fall lineup title. With a more complex world, mechanics and moving towards a AAA level, expecting to repeat the success of the first one and improve on it.

Indies

My personal bet would be that the indie exclusives will be part of a sale highlighting them, like what Summer of Arcade would do. My bet would go on a lineup with Below, Tacoma, We Happy Few, Cuphead and a Battletoads reboot. Going a little further, I’d say that their indie highlight reel will be composed of games present in the sale.

Moon Studios – Ori 2 or Battletoads

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Here’s where Battletoads comes to me, and it may sound strange, but bear with me. Can you think of any other studio with better credentials to do it? Ori and the Blind Forest was a beautiful platformer, that had a Metroidvania structure, was just stunning, recognized for its quality and difficulty. I can’t think of better of better characteristics for any studio to work on it, it doesn’t even have to have a Metroidvania structure.

Let’s face it, the Battletoads franchise isn’t as important as people like to remember, it’s not a juggernaut. And releasing it as a 2D platformer with 3D elements is the safest and most reasonable way to do it. It would be a nice answer after Phil Spencer’s E3 shirt. And if that doesn’t happen, we can get a new Ori.

The Fullbright Company – Tacoma

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The second game of The Fullbright Company, Tacoma, has the hard task to follow Gone Home, a revered indie game that reached the mainstream through its remarkable storytelling. An exclusive for the Xbox One, it would fit beautifully in the summer.

Set in a space station, it shows some unique gameplay elements, and a heavy focus on storytelling. It was scheduled to be released in 2016, but was delayed in order to change some areas the developers weren’t happy with. We can expect the final release date this E3.

Compulsion Games – We Happy Few

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The biggest surprise of last year, We Happy Few might come back with a gameplay demo, or a trailer of the story mode. After being part of the preview program, we’ll probably find out the release date of this long-awaited indie game.

Capybara Games – Below

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Dark Souls with an isometric view, that’s how Below has been defined. From the studio behind Super Time Force, Below has had a troubled development, with several delays. To the point that the studio has announced that they would only talk about a date when they were certain. And I think this E3 will be their last chance to garner some attention to their title, without the fear of tiring the consumer, that has heard about it for years. Sometimes you just must release it and don’t think about it.

StudioMDHR – Cuphead

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Cuphead, an indie darling, that received a lot of attention not only from the media, but also by fans, mainly due to its unique visual style, is scheduled to return to the Microsoft stage. Although the hype has certainly decreased, as what happened to Below, due to a prolonged exposure, Cuphead should be released in the next few months.

Third – party

Splinter Cell (Exclusive?)

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This is a guess that for some reason looks very feasible, mainly due to a fairly recent history of the franchise. Splinter Cell: Conviction was a console exclusive for the 360, and I believe this story could be repeated here. Blacklist wasn’t an overwhelming success, with the franchise ever since being dormant, so if Microsoft decided to finance a sequel, that could become a real possibility. And it would fill a void in the company’s catalogue, something that Phil Spencer always talks about. Who knows a reboot might be coming.

Ninja Gaiden (Again, exclusive?)

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Another dormant franchise since 2014, the Ninja Gaiden series has a history the brand before, with 2004’s Ninja Gaiden being originally exclusive to the OG Xbox. After Nioh’s success, Microsoft must be paying close attention considering bringing a hack n’ slash to their audience.

An alleged leak of this year’s conference referred to a title from the franchise coming exclusively to the console. Spencer himself acknowledged on Twitter his awareness of the desire of the Xbox audience earlier this year. Although it’s all circumstantial, it wouldn’t really come as a surprise if it happened.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

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With the marketing agreement, we’ll probably see an extended gameplay of the first game announced to the Scorpio. We should find out more about the story and the Nemesis system in the demo.

Assassin’s Creed Origins

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As reported by the reliable insider Shinobi, Microsoft closed a marketing agreement with a massive IP, and this looks like the most probable choice. It would be a great stage to show the comeback of the franchise, that skipped a year, in order to further polish the title, in what looks like a reboot.

Cyberpunk 2077

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CD Projekt Red claims that they are focusing on Gwent, but a teaser wouldn’t hurt anybody, only make them go crazy.

Borderlands 3

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Rumors say that it will have a significant appearance at Microsoft’s conference, and it does feel like the right time to do it.

Studio Gobo – Not Yet Known

The studio behind the Disney Infinity playset announced a partnership with Microsoft for an exclusive game, and some job openings gave us some hints regarding what the project could be about. A third-person AAA action game, that may be a free-to-play based on a famous IP. Could it be a Halo game, Gears, or based on a property from other medium? There are no real hints, but it is the most mysterious and exciting project we may see.

Some Predictions and 1 Crazy Thing I’d Like to See

  • One or two free games given, as what happened in the past few years.
  • Sunset Overdrive 2 announced, will be released February 2018.
  • Skate 4 on stage following reveal at EA’s conference.
  • OG Xbox backwards compatibility announced.
  • Marvel announces an exclusive game for the platform, my bets: Iron Man, Captain America or The Avengers.
  • Dino Crisis reboot or exclusive Capcom game.
  • Possible Obsidian AAA exclusive.
  • thatgamecompany’s new game announced.
  • Dino Crisis reboot exclusive for Xbox.

1 Crazy Thing I’d Like to See: Phil Spencer with an IO shirt revealing they bought the studio and the Hitman Franchise.