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: 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

god-of-war-5-dwvm_p5st

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

spider-man-screen-01-ps4-us-13jun16

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

days-gone-screen-05-overlook-ps4-us-13jun16.jpg

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

Sucker_Punch_Productions_-_Logo

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

HorizonZeroDawn_o

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

the-last-of-us-2

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

Uncharted_TheLostLegacy_Ferry_01

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

GTSport0002

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

EmmaStone

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

Bloodborne-2-e3-2017

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

Rocksteady

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

3225666-callofduty_wwii_screen2

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

destiny-2-rally-the-troops-worldwide-reveal-trailer-mp4-149089326811800-00-50-20still025-1490894150360_1280w

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

resident-evil-2-1483577799457_1280w

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

bully_wallpaper

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

PlayStation-VR-1

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.

 

 

 

What Sunset Overdrive means to Spider-Man PS4

Announced last week confirming rumors during the Sony press conference at E3, the exclusive Spider-Man PS4 game came with one surprise, instead of being developed by Sucker Punch as reported, Insomniac is the studio behind the project. And its history of quality franchises provides a lot of expectations despite the lack of details regarding the project, mainly due to an Xbox exclusive.

One of the biggest endeavors of Marvel Games is part of a strategy that changed the focus of the company, investing in quality over quantity, resulting in the Disney Infinity series cancellation and the partnership with Telltale. The company chose Imsomniac as the one responsible for a new Spider-Man project after years of lackluster games, and Sunset Overdrive shows exactly why this is the right studio to helm it.

Released in October 2014, Sunset Overdrive received rave reviews, being considered by many outlets as one of the best games of the year, and as the best Xbox exclusive until that moment. With a strong influence of games like Infamous, Jet Set Radio, Ratchet & Clank (another title of the studio), it reminded me at moments of one of my favorite franchises ever, Tony Hawk, which had a cameo of Spidey in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, but what features show they are a good fit for this project?

The World

Sunset World

Located in the fictional of Sunset City, one of the most striking features is the beauty of the world, an incredibly colorful city, with a diverse landscape. And that was a breath of fresh air after a 360/PS3 generation that was famous for its lack of color. It was filled with enemies, here human turned zombies after drinking a new energy drink, gangs and robots from different sizes from FizzCo, being one of the first real “next-gen” titles to be released.

It had neighborhoods that went from a very technological one to a Chinatown based area to a seaside pier, populated by some of the craziest characters you’ll ever see. Like an RPG group that you run missions for, a gang formed by luchadoras, a former soldier, scientists, just to name a few, all with an amazing soundtrack composed of punk bands, creating an atmosphere of pure and reckless fun. Something that seemed to lack on the last Spidey games, with NYC feeling lifeless and in desperate need of life and interesting characters.

Combat and Traversal

Sunset-Overdrive-forall-SunsetCity-jpg

Here’s the main reason why I believe this is the biggest motivation behind this whole idea, the way that traversal works, with the mantra of never stopping. Your main character is incredibly slow when on the ground, creating a flow that is beautiful when in motion, with a mechanic that reminds the Tony Hawk series, grinding, zip lining, with an amazing map design that allows it to continue like a song, with combos increasing the power of attacks. And after a moment in the game, you gain the power of air dashing, allowing you to never touch the floor, something crucial for a game with a hero like Spider-Man, known for its fluid and plastic movement.

The combat is divided between melee, with weapons like a crowbar, a knight sword that can spit fire when upgraded and one that really reminds that a light saber that can inflict damage.  However, they are not as effective as the insane arsenal, with some of the craziest weapons I’ve ever seen, like one that shoots fireworks, another exploding teddy bears. And each weapon is upgraded through use and enhanced with amps and overdrives, unlocking new possibilities, all happening as you grind, dash, with a pace that never falls down, something that for a mobile hero could make a great gameplay experience.

The Fun Factor

2555793-sunset-overdrive-e3-propain-launcher

Another positive feature of this game is the levity of the script, with an ordinary story that becomes better due to a wacky cast that never takes anything seriously, always ready to poke fun at the zombie genre tropes, the video game market, consumerism, among other subjects. The main character that you can create as a woman, man, with a big number of options of customization, has a Spidey personality, joking amidst the fights.

I know that all those signs don’t mean that we are necessarily going to have a groundbreaking title or a revolution when it comes to the superhero genre, but the chances of having a really fun entry are big. And Sunset Overdrive had a mindless gameplay, in the best way possible, without having an amazing story, but having something that seems to lack in most games nowadays, fun. When I think of Spider-Man I think of a funny character, ready to make jokes at any moment, not afraid of anything, and when I played Sunset Overdrive, I felt this way.