E3 Expectations: Ubisoft

Coming from a very strong presentation last year, Ubisoft should have another great showing this year as they appear to have a good lineup of games. Even though Bethesda has been giving them a run for the craziest conference, Ubisoft should reclaim the title with another bizarre and entertaining presentation.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Assassins-Creed-Odyssey

Again suffering from leaks, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey should have a major presence on the presentation focusing on the changes compared to Origins. According to reports, it will have a much heavier RPG influence and we’ll probably see a gameplay highlighting those changes and introducing ancient Greece. We should get the release date, either Fall 2018 or early 2019, let’s hope it’s not in February.

Skull & Bones

Skull & Bones

Skull & Bones was one of the surprises last year and it felt like a Black Flag sequel but focused on multiplayer. Delayed to 2019, it should have a gameplay demo to show how it differentiates itself from Black Flag and to announce a Beta coming later this year, early next year.

Watch Dogs 3

watch-dogs-2-e3-2016

This is more of wishful thinking than a guarantee as nothing leaked about the project. It’s been almost 2 years since Watch Dogs 2 came out and an update hinted at a London sequel. Since they already have The Division 2 and AC Odyssey on the show, I believe that they will only announce it next year so it won’t overcrowd their conference.

The Division 2

The Division 2

Coming from a gameplay at Xbox’s conference, The Division 2 should be another game to have a big presence at Ubisoft’s presentation. Located in Washington now, we should find out more about the story, the improvements, and promises related to content. We’ll probably see a developer talking about how they are looking to fix the mistakes made on the first one and a new gameplay.

Splinter Cell

ghost-recon-wildlands-easter-egg-de-metal-gear-solid-vs-spli_9y1d

The probable surprise that closes the show, clues about a Splinter Cell comeback seem to corroborate this assumption. Michael Ironside hinting at a new project at Inside Xbox and Sam Fisher’s presence in Ghost Recon: Wildlands show that Ubisoft wants to bring the character back to the spotlight.

The fact that Metal Gear appears to have died also creates an opening in the stealth genre so that Splinter Cell could dominate. Fans have been clamoring for a sequel and this should be a great time to announce it.

Just Dance 2019

Just Dance Panda

The cringe-worthy moment of the conference every year, Just Dance 2019 will make a comeback and let’s hope it will be like last year. A singer went there, sang and that was it, making it easier for everyone. Personally, I would like to see the dancing panda back.

Transference

transference-vr-image-1000x600-n9yg7urxs6vqlaatfyj0tbqfh3biut5mmqs7s8db3k

A strange psychological thriller that was announced last year, Transference should make a quick appearance with another trailer and a release date. Originally slated for 2018, no news came out about the project and we should hear more about it on the conference.

UbiArt makes a comeback

Child-of-Light-2

This is more a personal wish, as the UbiArt games have been some of my favorites this generation. I absolutely adored Child of Light and Valiant Hearts and it would be amazing to see sequels or maybe an entirely new project using the engine. These projects didn’t have the scope of most Ubisoft titles but they showed a lot of creativity and heart.

Starlink

Starlink

A game that feels some years too late, Starlink was announced last year to little fanfare. The toys-to-life genre died a few years ago and it feels strange to see Ubisoft releasing a title focusing on it. We should see a trailer, maybe a gameplay with a release date.

The Crew 2

The Crew

Coming out this month, The Crew 2 should have a quick showing just to remind people that the release date is close. They might talk about the season pass but I don’t think it’s likely, we’ll probably just see a trailer, a developer talking about the success of the closed beta and the date of an open beta.

Siege and Wildlands Update

Wildlands

This should be quick as they will only talk about new characters, missions, maps or another season pass.

Aisha Tyler Back

Aisha Tyler Ubisoft

Loved by some, hated by others, Aisha Tyler as host of Ubisoft’s conference became a staple of E3. Last year she wasn’t a part of it but we could see a comeback this year.

Advertisements

Companies Microsoft Could Invest in Instead of EA

In the past few weeks, rumors regarding companies that Microsoft was thinking of investing in surfaced around the media. It would work as a way to enhance their first party portfolio, that has been criticized in the past for its lack of quality, original titles, and also as part of the strategy to make Game Pass an even more appealing service.

Valve, PUBG Corp, and EA were named as possible targets, even Sega was rumored due to a visit of the company’s executives to Microsoft’s HQ. And all those news made me think of possible targets for them to go after.

I wouldn’t consider Valve a good option, given that it still is a private company and Gabe Newell would need to approve the sale. And let’s be honest, they haven’t produced many games in the last few years, it wouldn’t help boost their catalog. PUBG Corp. has only produced 1 successful title, and yes it is a massive success, but it doesn’t appear that PUBG will have the longevity Minecraft has, and it might end up being another fad, albeit a huge one.

The only one left was EA, however the company has dealt with PR problems, something that could stifle Xbox’s good momentum, and except for their annual sports franchises and Battlefield, most of their latest releases have been critical or commercial failures, like Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Need for Speed Payback and Star Wars Battlefront 2.

They also seem to be overly dependent on their established IP’s, and currently, they appear to go through problems with their own development studios. Bioware Montreal merged with Motive after Mass Effect Andromeda’s troubled release, Visceral Games was closed as they developed a single-player Star Wars game, Bioware is allegedly under a lot of pressure as expectations grow around Anthem, as reported by Kotaku. News that Disney was willing to negotiate the Star Wars’ license with other studios also shows another warning sign, even though it could point to an EA sale. There’s no doubt that they would be a great addition to Xbox’s array of studios, but those problems might come in the way of a purchase.

Thinking about those possibilities, I looked into what they could do with the money they’d spend on buying EA, the most realistic possibility for me. To calculate the value of the companies I used the market cap, or the market value of the shares of a publicly traded company at a point in time, market evaluations of private companies, and for some studios, I based it on the value of other studios with similar sizes or franchises of similar success.

Bethesda

 

Market Value: $2.500.000.000,00 (2016)

Buying Bethesda would require a negotiation with ZeniMax Media, their parent company, but it would bring franchises like Elder Scrolls, Skyrim, Prey, Dishonored, Wolfenstein to their portfolio. There wouldn’t be many new games added to Game Pass, but they would be titles with a great critical reception that would bring an amazing value to the service.

Studios such as MachineGames, Arkane and Tango Softworks would be added to their team, and as a plus, they would bring a renowned developer in Todd Howard as part of their staff. Some cultural differences could present a challenge, but it has everything to be a productive partnership.

Capcom

 

Market Value: $2.720.000.000,00

Capcom has seen its better days, nonetheless, they appear to go through a process of recovery after years of struggles. The success of Resident Evil 7, that made fans of the series happy again, and the incredible sales of Monster Hunter World have proved that they still can produce quality titles. Speaking of Monster Hunter, if they made an exclusive title of the series for the Xbox, it would be huge to the Japanese market, that they have failed to succeed at.

Their extensive back catalog would be very attractive, with Okami, the DMC series, Dead Rising series, Mega Man, still resonating with gamers, and many others able to be resurrected such as Dino Crisis (that would look incredible nowadays), Onimusha, Lost Planet, Strider, Viewtiful Joe.

CD Projekt Red

 

Market Value: $2.000.000.000,00

The opportunity to buy one of the most exciting studios certainly sounds appealing. Even the small number of games shouldn’t come in the way or stop them from looking into this talented studio that produced one of the best titles of this generation, possibly ever.

Acquiring them would bring Xbox’s slate of studios to another level, as Naughty Dog did to Sony. Cyberpunk 2077 may come out next year, and we haven’t seen it running to attest its quality, but if The Witcher 3 proved anything is that they have potential to create something incredible. It could also work as a boost to their PC strategy as CD Projekt Red owns GOG, a virtual store that sells PC games without DRM, that if given more investment could work either as a rival to Steam or help them boost their Windows store library.

Insomniac

Market Value: $150.000.000,00 – 300.000.000,00

One of the best independent studios for the past 20 years, Insomniac has produced great titles and is responsible for iconic franchises, like Ratchet & Clank, Spyro, and Resistance (to a lesser degree). They are able to create huge AAA titles and smaller indie games, somehow managing to always deliver high-quality products.

The fact that they already have a relationship with Microsoft, having worked on Sunset Overdrive, could facilitate a negotiation. It would also be a strategic partnership as it would end the relationship they have with Sony whilst adding a very talented studio to their team.

IO Interactive

Market Value: $70.000.000,00 – 125.000.000,00

Coming from the latest Hitman title, IO became an independent studio leaving Square Enix and keeping their IP’s. Even though they only really have one famous franchise, Hitman, they would bring a genre that we rarely see as exclusives anymore, stealth titles.

Yes, a reboot of Kane & Lynch could work, Dog Days had some very interesting ideas, however, the execution was flawed. The last Hitman could work in Xbox’s strategy, as it has the potential to be a live service. The elusive target system worked very well, and the maps were vast and felt alive. Instead of releasing a single title, they could turn it into a service seamlessly.

Remedy

Market Value: $90.000.000,00

A long-time partner of Microsoft, Remedy has also been seen as a possible target of Redmond’s company. Working on 2 exclusives for the company, the revered Alan Wake, and the innovative Quantum Break, they are also responsible for the beloved Max Payne series, that has been dormant, and could make a comeback on the Xbox platform.

Their established relationship could make the transition much easier, their engine could be used by other first-party studios, and their storytelling focus should bring new and interesting titles, even though they might take some time to finish.

Sega

Market Value: $3.970.000.000,00

Sega has been part of gaming history for decades now, with franchises like the Valkyria series, Shenmue, Sonic, Yakuza, Persona, under their umbrella. But it would be a complicated purchase as they have deep relationships with both Sony and Nintendo, creating exclusives for them,  with Yakuza being the best and most successful example.

This would be an appealing purchase not only because of their franchises but because of their studios, especially for the PC market. The possibility of bringing Relic and Creative Assembly to their side, recognized for the RTS titles, with both having worked on Xbox exclusives (Age of Empires IV and Halo Wars 2). Atlus would also come as part of the negotiation, famous for creating quality JRPG’s and games with a unique vision, that are very different than what we can find on the Xbox platform.

Square Enix

Market Value: $5.300.000.000,00

Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, Just Cause, Deus Ex, Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts, Life is Strange, Parasite Eve, Legacy of Kain, Thief, just to name the most famous. The sheer variety of Square Enix IP’s would be enough to back up the decision to purchase them. The ability to continue franchises and reboot several shows the potential of this negotiation, as many of their games please western and eastern audiences.

Their partnership with Marvel could come in the way, but Microsoft could publish those titles as multiplatform. It would allow Microsoft to have exclusives on genres they don’t have, like JRPG’s, Horror and Open World action games. Their partnership in Rise of the Tomb Raider wasn’t as successful as expected, however, the release date was the main responsible.

It may sound small, but their Action Figure division would be another source of income and could work in conjunction with Xbox’s marketing team to enhance character’s recognition and on release strategies.

Take-Two

Market Value: $12.800.000.000,00

This would be massive mainly because of three letters: GTA. If the series became an exclusive it would have an enormous backlash, but let’s be honest, in the end, it would generate huge sales, becoming an actual system-seller unlike we’ve ever seen.

Bioshock, that was originally an Xbox exclusive and is deemed as one of the best franchises of the 360 generation, Red Dead Redemption, that got the internet crazy over a color change in their logo, the NBA, and WWE 2K series, that amass millions of copies sold yearly, would all become part of their catalog, working as a recurrent source of income.

As for the studios, Firaxis, the studio responsible for XCOM and Civilization, Hangar 13, the one behind Mafia, Visual Concepts, would all be part of Xbox’s development team. Their new publishing label, Private Division, could produce small to mid-size titles creating a stable stream of Game Pass additions, keeping the service appealing without having to rely so heavily on third-party support.

But the biggest inclusion would be Rockstar, in a move that would instantly elevate their first-party team to a whole new level. As they are the only studio that can release a title without any gameplay, and with minimal marketing solely on their brand recognition, a topic that I wrote about previously.

Ubisoft

Market Value: $9.290.000.000,00

This prolific publisher became a juggernaut in the last decade, since the release of the original Assassin’s Creed. Some may argue that all of their games are similar, but their formula works as they are always part of the top 10 highest sold titles worldwide every year.

They went through PR problems, yet they appear to have recovered from it. Their catalog is big enough to attract all types of gamers, from platformers to e-sports centric titles. Microsoft could bring UbiArt games back, that were critical darlings, successful commercially, and definitely deserve more attention. And in this live services age, their ability to continue to provide support to their games and practically reboot them after launch is a very valuable skill.

The fact that The Division, Rainbox Six, Assassin’s Creed, Beyond Good & Evil, The Crew, Ghost Recon, Just Dance, Trackmania, and Trials would become Xbox’s franchises is a huge plus as well.

Just to Compare

Currently, EA is valued at approximately $38.6 billion, and for Microsoft to buy them they would need to pay a higher value in order to accrue interest from their stakeholders. I didn’t consider Sony or Nintendo, but I thought of 10 companies that could be bought for roughly $39 billion. It would be impossible to buy all of them because of regulations, and the headache that it would be to organize so many operations, but some could be valuable purchases.

Companies Market Value
Bethesda  $    2.500.000.000,00
Capcom  $    2.720.000.000,00
CD Projekt Red  $    2.000.000.000,00
Imsoniac  $        300.000.000,00
IO Interactive  $        125.000.000,00
Remedy  $          90.000.000,00
Sega  $    3.970.000.000,00
Square Enix  $    5.300.000.000,00
Take-Two  $  12.800.000.000,00
Ubisoft  $    9.290.000.000,00
Total  $  39.095.000.000,00
EA  $  38.590.000.000,00

Other possibilities:

  • Sumo Digital
  • Ninja Theory
  • Obsidian Entertainment
  • Studio MDHR

 

 

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 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

nhnxnam4_m1xu

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

splinter_cell_blacklist_05

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

The Crew

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

mario-rabbids-kingdom-battle

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

South Park Whole

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

Child-of-Light-2

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: 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

Scorpio Chip

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

desktop-wide

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

Crackdown 3

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

Gears 4

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

State of decay 2

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

Ori

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

Tacoma

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

happy-few

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

Below

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

Cuphead

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?)

Splinter Cell

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?)

Ninja-Gaiden

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

middle-earth-shadow-of-war-screen-02-ps4-us-03feb17.jpg

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

nhnxnam4_m1xu

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

cyberpunk-2077.png

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

Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3

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.

Movies That Could Influence Splinter Cell

Spoilers follow.

After the unfortunate failure of the Assassin’s Creed movie, with a very negative critical reception and poor box office performance, expectations have reached a new low. And even though it wasn’t the movie responsible for the arrival of the golden age of great video game movies, another Ubisoft franchise has a meaningful chance to do that, Splinter Cell.

It may sound crazy to even believe that someday our luck will change, but Sam Fisher’s foray has a shot for a simple reason, it’s not that different from movies we’ve seen. A gruff, talented agent ain’t nothing revolutionary, but the series has enough elements to feel like a breath of fresh air, and most importantly it can learn from other movies.

Sicario and The Accountant are great examples, with scenes that show how a Splinter Cell movie could play out. In both, we see a character in need to invade a compound filled with enemies, something common in any game of the series. With quick shots, slick and brutal fights, interesting use of the environment, that focused on a stealthier approach, it can serve as a roadmap to how they should deal with action.

batman-v-superman-bastidores-2

And it can be greatly enhanced given Fisher’s highly technological pieces of equipment, as we saw in Batman v Superman. Like Batman, Sam can utilize his gadgets, such as a drone to have a higher ground, having an idea of what’s to come. His advanced suit as a way to protect from adversaries, weapons and his multi-vision goggles as a way to differentiate himself from known cinema characters, as his signature, using technology in a much more grounded style than a billionaire super-hero.

bourne

The Bourne franchise can be a great inspiration for a series that not only is beloved but also innovative. A killing machine to the government, with the distinction that Fisher works closely with it, with some exceptions, whereas Bourne is a high valued target.

This relationship can be greatly developed, and the duality of it. Like for example, in Double Agent, where Fisher had to work within the boundaries of working as a government agent whilst being undercover in a terrorist organization, juggling their interests. In Conviction, that had its leading character going rogue to save his daughter, leading him to invade even the White House, and gruesome torture scenes, that could translate well to the movies, if used with the right motivation and care.

If they choose to go in a more Blacklist style of story, they can focus on his role as the leader of a government agency, and his relationship with Grim, as his right hand, and a possible love interest, Victor Coste, his mentor, and his daughter Sarah. The idea of protecting targets from possible attacks could be a touchy subject, but if treated properly can be appealing to a mass market.

24d95e62226293118c821aa4934d8138

With a strong actor such as Tom Hardy attached, we have someone talented and with an edge that can bring the character to another level, and has repeatedly displayed his capacity to lead a film. In a property that has a rich history of quality titles and a story that is easily understandable, while in Assassin’s Creed and other movies based on games, there were complicated lore and some complex and/or convoluted ideas, we can see a more feasible chance of success. Like The Division project, another Ubisoft movie to come.

Things I Can’t Stand in Good Games

Usually, we tend to love games, and as in real life, overlook some flaws. And in spite of my affection for some games, they can really get under my skin sometimes, again, as in real life. Some may sound like nitpicking, with one being more of a pet peeve, and even though they are not massive problems, they end up ruining a little bit a great experience, like:

Annoying Secondary Systems

the_mass_effect_trilogy_by_kmadden2004-d5wgnci

Let’s begin with my favorite franchise of the last generation, and one of the few that I’ve ever replayed, Mass Effect. Each one of them has something that really got on my nerves. Mass Effect 1, for example, with its horrible auto-save system, that if you didn’t do it manually there was a risk you would need to restart a very long mission. The use of the Mako, and its pathetic handling through empty planets where you would fight a giant worm or sentry turrets.

Mass Effect 2, and a tedious mining system, that would require the player to spend hours upon hours scanning planets searching for minerals. That after an upgrade became faster but remained incredibly boring.

And the worst one for me, Mass Effect 3, and its asinine readiness system. That according to the number of war assets you had, the ending of the game would change. Forcing the player to play side missions that he might not be interested otherwise, and the worst part, in order to increase the percentage and get a better ending, it made you play the multiplayer, or use external apps. Something I never understood and that made give up on getting the best ending.

The Supernatural Twist

uncharted-4-relax

This one is loved by some, hated by many, the classical Uncharted supernatural twist. A game in which you control an Indiana Jones-esque character, that seems grounded until 70% of each game. Uncharted is a truly remarkable series in part because of its storytelling, and I just can’t understand why it needs to copy movies or classic Pulp stories. It feels more like a gimmick in order to present stronger enemies and stretch it a little bit more, than a real, meaningful part of the plot.

1st Person Defenseless Attacks

far-cry-4-eagle

This is more of a pet peeve and a major reason why I don’t play horror games with a 1st person view. Far Cry 4 was an example, you are constantly attacked by all sorts of animals, and many of them feel unbeatable, like those damn badges, and those terrible eagles. And I can’t think of a worse feeling than an Alien impaling your character or an enemy in Outlast coming in your direction.

The Obligatory Side Mission

ac-brotherhood

Mass Effect 3 also does that, but the Assassin’s Creed series has annoyed me a couple of times. In Brotherhood, the necessity to upgrade your brotherhood and add assassins to it in order to play the final mission was pretty underwhelming to me. Black Flag and the ship was another occurrence, a requirement of always improving it to go through the final parts of the game led me to cheese it, and go around ships, finding places to avoid any combat.

Mandatory Internet Connection

nfs

Some may argue that this may not be a good example, since 2015’s Need For Speed ain’t a great title, well, I had a lot of fun with it. But one thing that simply doesn’t make any sense is the need of a constant internet connection. If we are talking about a mainly multiplayer game, like Overwatch, Titanfall, it’s ok, but when it’s a game without any major multiplayer experience, there’s no necessity for this stipulation.

Shoehorned “Singleplayer”

titanfall-1

Overwatch showed that if you’re going to do a multiplayer-only game, embrace it. No game needs a single player mode, but if you’ll add it, do it right. The first Titanfall promised a campaign to players, and in the end, all we got was a shoehorned one, that didn’t really tell more about the lore, the story. It ended up being a few matches where in the beginning a character you had no idea who she was saying something about what happened there.

Unsupportive AI

resident_evil_5_large_1

There are many titles that suffer from this irritating situation, the AI that was supposed to support you, ends up being in your way. I tried to play Resident Evil 5 alone, but Sheva kept stealing ammo, missing shots, being a complete mess. Finally, I decided to go co-op and finished the game with a friend, and it ended up being much better. But no game should have its gameplay worsened by poor AI.

Endless Grinding

destiny_the_taken_king

I loved playing The Division and Destiny, but after dozens of hours, I just grew tired of the endless grind. Both games have a very addictive reward system, and both improved a lot after updates and the release of expansions. But no matter how much you love the gameplay, the world, the constant demand of replaying main and side missions, tends to become tiresome when you realize there’s nothing else to do in the game.

 

 

 

 

Something New

Last month I moved from Brazil to Ireland expecting not only to improve my English, but also in search of something new and different, something fresh. And one thing I learned in this time, was how being open to new experiences can create some amazing moments you’d never thought you were going to live, but then you think, it’s a blog about games, what does all I’m talking about is related to this? Everything.

Watching a video of gamespot.com series The Point, one of the most intelligent shows about games that you can find on the internet, on the matter of what if we never play our favorite game, I realized how closed we can be to new games, movies, songs because we’re too afraid of leaving our comfort zones. And there’s nothing wrong with loving annual franchises, or playing some series that you love, I still play Assassin’s Creed, FIFA every year, but in the past few months I’ve been trying to do things I’ve never done in my life, like singing in a karaoke, going to places without planning anything, among other things.

And last weekend I went to Dublin Comic Con, that is insanely smaller than San Diego Comic Con, but incredibly fun, and had one of the most entertaining experiences that I had playing games in years, with a small project that’s on Steam Greenlight, called Floaty Ball, made by a tiny studio of Ireland, goodmanladsgames, amazing guys that I had the opportunity to talk for a little while about the game, and the idea is very simple, each player controls a bouncing ball looking to hit each other scoring points.

And the beauty of this game is the simplicity, having an extremely addictive and fun gameplay that can be played alone or with up to 4 players, that was able to entertain 2 friends that were with me, both aren’t gamers, 3 year-old kids, or anybody willing to have a good time, creating moments of laughter and joy in a way that many AAA games can’t create, something that I’ve been having difficulty to find recently in these kind of games, with some looking like chores instead of entertainment.

For a long time I only wanted to play AAA games with amazing graphics and that “pushed” the boundaries of the console, overlooking indies because of visuals that were “too simple” for me, or because of the thought that I didn’t spend money on a new-generation console to play games like this, and this weekend I remembered why I love games so much with a straightforward indie game, with simple graphics, an even simpler control scheme, a soundtrack that remembered me a Worms game, and the feeling of being a child playing Super Mario World on my SNES, all because I dared to try something new.

Here’s the link to both The Point video, and this amazing game called Floaty Ball, please support it.

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=502932925

And what was the last game that brought you this feeling, comment.