Rundown (6/10) E3 2018: Consumption Makes the Heart Grow Fuller

As is customary with celebrating an event such as this, it is important to acknowledge the futility of this event.  E3 is effectively one big commercial designed to hype up consumers in order to spur discussion and news about games, in order to help maximize potential revenue, in order to allow major AAA studios to continue existing.  It is very easy to view this whole affair cynically, pointing out the downsides of high expectations and how gaming is arguably most enjoyable when ignoring industry nonsense. But I cannot help but love the act of fervorous consumption all the same, as it is a very filling and pleasing experience that still serves as a good excuse to become excited in a world that… I’d rather not talk about right now.  Time for video games!

Seeing as how I do not want to cover the same story twice in the span of a few days, I will not be commenting much on leaks in this post, and before getting into the press events themselves, I should address a story that I simply missed.

Remember how the third season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, A New Frontier was not very good?  It was due to a lot of issues, such as an unfocused storyline, people making stupid decisions, a sense of escalation that made a lot of things feel rushed, short episodes, and a lack of direct ties that caused the game itself to feel more like some sort of side story than a true sequel.  After that season ended, Telltale wasted no time announcing The Walking Dead: The Final Season, but kept quiet about it until now, with a single scene trailer.

The trailer shown shows that at least 6 years have passed since the beginning of the first season, with series mainstay Clementine now serving as a surrogate mother for a child who grew up in a world overrun by zombies, effectively serving the same role that Lee did with her throughout the first season.  A cyclical concept that I actually really like the sound of, and combined with the dialog featured in this trailer, makes me far more interested in this entry than I thought I would be. The first episode releases for PS4, XBO, and PC on August 18th, with a Switch version coming later this year.

The Xbox One is currently on track to be a clear number 3 in this current console line up, withthe Switch’s sales skyrocketing upwards, while the PS4 steadily makes its way towards the elusive 100 million units goal.  Most near all of which can be attributed to Microsoft’s lack of support from Japanese developers, the massive number of first party titles they have cancelled throughout this generation, and their comparable lack of first party studios, which we issues compounded upon the terrible conditions that accompanied the very reveal of the Xbox One.

In the past year though, the Xbox division has been doing a lot right.  The Xbox One X is a very powerful console that is able to play through an increasing number of Original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles in enhanced resolutions.  The Game Pass is a very welcome and economical deal for owners of the platform, granting them access to a lot of games, including all new first party titles, for a low fee.  While the recently unveiled Adaptability Controller is simply a wonderful thing to see from a major console manufacturer. They are trying to do a lot right, but they have simply lacked the exclusives that go on to sell many consoles, and whatever exclusives they announce have a good chance of being cancelled if their track record is any indication.  Which also makes it hard to get excited about any exclusives they show…

For the sake of clarity, I have reorganized the announcements to give them a bit more structure, separating things into the exclusives and third party titles in order to prevent confusion from all but the informed and focused.  Also, due to how 50 games in total were shown, I will naturally not be touching upon everything. You can just watch the conference for that.

Starting with the Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusives, Halo Infinite was announced as the next step in the long running series, with an atmospheric CG trailer that implied the game to be a sort of open world title based on the wide expansive land masses, and possibly feature interstellar travel.  Personally, I think it will be a sort of open world online multiplayer live service title, as those are becoming increasingly common, and it seems like the natural “next step” for this series after the prior entry was supposedly one that prompted a shake up of sorts.  No release date was given, just that it is being developed by 343 Industries.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps was shown off once more with a more detailed story and gameplay trailer that showcased some of the new hazards that must be faced on this all new danger-wrought journey, a baby owl friend who will help Ori, and a giant robot big bad who will presumably be the main antagonist this time around.  As I said last year, I am tentatively excited for this game, as while I did enjoy parts of Ori and the Blind Forest, certain elements kept me from even considering it a personal favorite of mine, when it should have been in theory.  Though, I guess whether or not it keeps mechanics like the death counter will be seen when the game launches in 2019.

Crackdown 3 has been positively bamboozled by the copious amount of delays that it has faced, and continuously looked like it was due to the chopping block during Microsoft’s cancel happy period.  Yet with the game nearing the end of its development, the final product is looking like a progression of Saints Row IV, with slightly more reserved humor and a heavier emphasis on both a futuristic landscape and rampant mass destruction.  As such, it seems like something I could genuinely enjoy, and as such, will likely take a closer look at Crackdown 3 when it finally arrives, supposedly, in February 2019.

As is customary, they also showed off the latest entry in the Forza series with Forza Horizon 4.  Knowing very little of the series, I cannot really point out much beyond the surface level details.  That the game is set in a season shifting rendition of Britain, is very pretty, and involves a dynamic online world with player interaction that unifies everything, and is driven (pun intended) by periodic events that will run throughout this game’s lifecycle.  I know that this series reviews, sells, and is received well by fans, but I know when to toss up my hands and declare myself to not be the audience for something, and this is one of those times. The game will launch on October 2nd this year.

Gears of War saw a trifecta of announcements, all of which have taken the seemingly odd stance of removing the “Of War” moniker from the title, as if to avoid associating with this series and Sony’s God of War, despite that having been a running trend in the prior generation.  Nevertheless, these games included Gears POP!, a Funko Pop themed mobile game based around this series that I consider to look very stupid, but not in a very endearing way.  Gears Tactics, a PC exclusive turn based strategy game that also serves as a story driven prequel to the first game in the series that is somehow character driven, presumably because it does not follow XCOM or Fire Emblem rules. Along with Gears 5.

Now, I have not been following this series, but Gears 5 immediately got my attention by making the bold move to switch the protagonist of what I have always seen as a very macho themed franchise to the female lead from Gears of War 4, Kait Diaz.  As for the game itself, it actually features a wide variety of locales that really show how far this series has come since the days of it being the de facto brown and grey game, and features a lot of interesting fleshy and mechanical foes that really do add credence to the journey the protagonist goes on being one filled with great quantities of danger, and goes to fight against the stop and pop cover shooting the series is known for.  While I am still not interested in this series, mostly due to its reputation, I am glad to see it deviating like this, and am curious as to how much vitriol this game will be faced with come 2019.

Going through the last exclusives quickly, Sea of Thieves is getting post-launch support like the service driven game it is, and the natural questions of whether or not this game has the capacity to really draw in players for an extended period of time, and if modern Rare can make a good game, remain to be answered.  Though, I’m guessing a definitive no for both, even though I could easily be proven wrong. The Battletoads series will be revived by Dlala Studios with a new 2.5D game (with 2D art assets) of unspecified details, set to come out in 2019.  

Cuphead is getting DLC in the form of The Delicious Last Course, which consists of additional stages, bosses, and weapons, along with the new playable character in the form of Ms. Chalice.  All of which will near assuredly pack the same wallopy gorgeous goodness as the base game when it comes out in 2019.  Also, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds will supposedly receive a big winter update, as the game still has a large player base despite Fortnite stealing a lot of it.

That covers it for the games, but Microsoft also had some miscellaneous bits of news.  Firstly, the company announced a total of five first party developers to increase their exclusive offerings, with one newly established studio, the Santa Monica based The Initiative, along with four acquisitions.  These include former affiliates in the form of Undead Labs (State of Decay) and Playground Games (Forza Horizon), along the unaffiliated Compulsion Games (Contrast and We Happy Few) and, most surprisingly, Ninja Theory (Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, DmC: Devil May Cry, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West).  All of which are sensible and good studios for Microsoft to pick up, and will very likely assist in their biggest problem, that of putting out quality exclusive games regularly.  

Secondly, they brought up Microsoft AI, which they hope will improve enemy artificial intelligence in first party games going forward, along with a sort of streaming service that will allow console quality Xbox games to be played on other devices.  Though, they were more mentions than anything, and details on these two things will likely not be available for quite a while.

Turning over to the third party section, which is easily the bigger one, From Software fans has been absolutely bonkers after the Shadows Die Twice teaser at The Game Awards last year.  After roughly six months, the game was revealed here of all places as the Activision published Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.  Set in feudal Japan, the game centers around a one eyed warrior with an artificial arm who goes on a quest of revenge against his more pristine nemesis, which I am sure takes no inspiration from a popular manga series.  Regardless, the game seems like a sort of evolution over the Souls series, with stealth, grappling hook traversal, and seemingly deeper more focused combat mechanics, along with certain staples, such as the ability to revive after death, remaining.  While I am a bit unsure about the status of this game, I am quite interested in seeing more leading up to its 2019 release for PS4, XBO, and PC.

A Life Is Strange sequel has been a desire for many since the first game concluded, and as such, I feel a bit bad for the developers of The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit.  A game in the same universe that centers around a young boy living in a snowy rural area with his father, using his imagination to enrich his own life, and possibly alter the fabric of reality at some key points in the story.  I was a bit upset upon first hearing the game, but apparently it is a free non-episodic title, so it is more of an experimental extra thing than a true sequel, in which case I am all for it.  The game will be available for free on June 26th for PS4, XBO, and PC.

Continuing on this Square Enix train that comes as a prelude to their showing tomorrow, they actually had four more games to show.  Kingdom Hearts III was shown yet again, and it was while watching this trailer, a trailer that was devoid of sound effects at many points, that once again left me confused.  Both with regards to this game’s general gameplay, due to the insane variety seen in the depicted combat scenarios, and due to the inclusion of Disney characters.  As far as I am concerned, Disney characters are just red herrings in the series, best to be avoided in favor of the, in my opinion, utterly assinine yet vastly more enjoyable storyline of chuunibyou edgelord nonsense.   Regardless, the game is coming out for PS4 and XBO on January 29th, 2018, and will mark the long end of the Xehanort saga, before the next saga can begin… probably.

More footage of Shadow of the Tomb Raider was also provided, which added more story details to the circumstances in this game, tasking Lara to stop a dangerous force that she wrecked on a Latin American country.  All of which sends her on a journey that consists of traversing insipidly detailed ancient death traps, battling against hundreds of armed PMC members, and undergoing a lot of physical and emotional pain all the way, because character development.  Also, there is ancient magic of some sort, because Tomb Raider is the game where the big breasted British lady shoots a dinosaur, and it is hard to get away from that, regardless of how many reboots or developers it goes through.  Anyways, the, um, shadows will be unveiled on September 14th when the game comes out for PS4, XBO, and PC.

Closing out with smaller bits of news, Nier: Automata: Become As Gods Edition is a game of the year edition style repackaging of the excellent 2017 title that will debut on the Xbox One platform on June 26nd.  Meanwhile, Just Cause 4 was also shown, and it looks like yet another entry in this well established series, with this game’s main hook being a better equipped enemy force, and tornados, both of which were detailed in an explosion heavy trailer for an explosion heavy game.  It will be out on December 4th for PS4, XBO, and PC.

As part of a trailer that left me more genuinely excited than I have been in a couple of E3, before I realized that it was a fighting game, Jump Force is Bandai Namco and Spike Chunsoft’s next Shonen Jump 3D arena brawler fighting game, after J-Stars Victory VS+ from 2015.  What I found to be so appealing about it is, unsurprisingly, how tryhard and egy the trailer makes itself look, ditching the whole bubbly anime look for something more darker and realistic, in one of the few instances where I genuinely like a more realistic art style.  Still, it is a fighting game, one that will likely be easy to learn, but given my hand eye coordination, I cannot feign interest in playing it when it comes out in 2019 for PS4, XBO, and PC.

Oh, and speaking of Bandai Nacmo, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition looks to be a fairly straightforward remastering of the 2008 JRPG, with the content previously locked behind the Japanese exclusive PS3 version included.  While it does very much look like a game from the prior generation, I do remember hearing very good things about it, and may give it a go when it releases this winter for all relevant platforms, PS4, XBO, NSW, and PC this winter.  Also, why would you showcase a video game using anime cutscenes in this day and age? I mean, seriously?

Since the death of Tony Hawk games, and the end of the Skate series, there has not really been any good skateboarding games on the market.  Unless you count stuff like Olliolli.  As such, I am not really surprised that Crea-ture Studios, who may or may not be comprised of former EA Black Box developers, have announced Session, a skateboarding game that was revealed with an impressive looking in engine trailer.  While the genre does not really interest me, although I am partial to the soundtracks featured in them, it is good to see this market gap be filled, and I wish the developers all the luck.  The game is coming out for PS4, XBO, and PC, and will be released… whenever, dude..

After several months of anticipation, Capcom has finally revealed Devil May Cry 5.  As someone who is not familiar with this series, as character action games generally intimidate me to no end, I find it both confusing, yet emblematic of the edgy cool style I have always seen associated with the series.  The game takes a shift to a more realistic art style, centers around DMC4 protagonist Nero, who now has a robot arm build by the sassy femme fatale for this installment, and involves a demon invasion in a modern American city, which Nero, and the new grizzled looking Dante must fight against for… I don’t have any actual idea, but the entire thing looks like such a cool and edgy time that I might gain the muster to finally give this series an honest effort… or maybe not.  Regardless, the hungry DMC fanbase will finally be serviced with this impressive looking title come spring 2019, when it releases for PS4, XBO, and PC.

While Dying Light is a game that I have next to no interest in, it is one that I vehemently respect for the ambition shown, and the support offered by its developers, who have updated the game regularly since its 2015 release, with a plethora of new content.  With such success a sequel was an inevitability, though it genuinely does not even seem like that at first, as the setting of Dying Light 2 is a genuine post-apocalypse, or modern dark age, with a lot of warring factions vying for power, which all feeds into a choice driven narrative headed by none other than Chris Avellone of Obsidian and Black Isle fame, and one of the most celebrated writers in the industry.

With regards to gameplay, it looks to be the same involve parkour and melee driven affair of the first title, with an impressive level of fidelity and a setting that actually looks a marked more interesting based on the overgrown European style architecture that the cities are made up of.  While it should register a sense of detached apathy from me, I still find this effort exerted by Techland to be impressive, and as such, am interested in seeing this game’s reception when it comes out in 2019 for PS4, XBO, and PC.

Speaking of realistic post-apocalyptic shooters, The Division 2 had its gameplay debut with a Ubisoft styled scripted multiplayer session that showed how positively boned this alternative version of America is, with Washington DC being the battlegrounds for a faction oriented civil war.  It all off as three parts generic open world multiplayer shooter, two parts 20th century US military otaku wet dream, and one part a slightly cynical spin on modern day America, which needs to be saved from the violent idiots who are holed up inside the white house.  While visually impressive, it is another big open shoot bang game, and one that will be out for PS4, XBO, and PC on March 15th, 2019.

Closing this overly lengthy summarization out, the event concluded with the re-reveal of Cyberpunk 2077, and… it looks about as cool as I could have hoped for.  The trailer showcased the world more than anything, but the vibrant and extravagant decadence of this world contrasted with the impoverished eccentricness make for a setting that, despite being brightly illuminated via daylight, manages to gel nicely with what I feel the very name Cyberpunk represents, and assuming the gameplay is more than just a typical first person shooter, I can easily see myself getting into it.  Even if the game will likely be 200 hours long like The Witcher 3.  The game will be out whenever it is ready, for PS4, XBO, and PC.

Overall, I felt positively about Microsft’s showcase this year, as they presented a lot of interesting games, a couple of surprises, and while their first party offerings were not overtly numerous, they did inspire some confidence in the future of their system by formally announcing numerous corporate acquistions.  It was all in all a good show that I walked away from with many titles that intrigued me, and a few new ones to keep an eye on, and that is really want I want to take from E3 showcases like this.  Onto the next event!

Bethesda is a publisher that I have begun to mostly feign interest in, simply due to their general line-up of mature AAA shooters, along with The Elder Scrolls Skyrim.  Nevertheless, the company has seen large critical successes over the past two years, putting out quality titles and sequels that, largely due to their lack of build up and tendency to not give out review copies, resulted in a near universally underwhelming initial commercial reception, even though all of those games were rather good from what I have heard.  Anyways, with their future mostly open, there is some excitement to see what the publisher has to offer.

Things kicked off with 13 minutes of distinctly non-video games before a gameplay trailer of Rage 2 was shown, though I was very underwhelmed by its showing.  The initial trailers implied a genuinely insane and eccentric tone, whereas this seems like a half step between the original Doom 4 and Doom (2016), with a bunch of hot pink paint filling in the cracks.  It just looks like yet another open world post-apocalyptic shooter with some wackier weapons then normal and maybe a funny line or two.  Either way, Bethesda seems confident in this title, which is set to release for PS4, XBO, and PC in spring 2019.

Speaking of Doom, the much theorized sequel to the 2016 reboot was revealed with a CG trailer that depicted a hell on Earth scenario where mankind has been largely subjugated by the demon menace, and it is up to everybody’s favorite Doomguy, the Doomslayer, to save the day.  The title, Doom: Eternal, will feature more weapons, demons, and such, but any meaningful details will have to wait until the gameplay is debuted at QuakeCon this year.  No platforms or release date were offered, but I’m sure you can assume the details.

Prey (2017) has been rumored to be getting some sort of DLC for a while, and that was finally revealed in the form of a free update that will introduce new difficulty modes, along with a new game plus feature.  Which was announced alongside two pieces of paid DLC. Mooncrash, a roguelike survival mode of sorts for the game that is set on a simulated moonbase, I think, where the contents of the world change with each playthrough.  Along with Typhon Hunter, a 1 versus 5 multiplayer mode where 5 players are shape shifting aliens who are set to hide in an environment to ambush the lone player.  Both of which sound like good enough ways to extend the life of the game, but neither seem particularly interesting.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood marks the next entry in the rebooted series, but rather than functioning as a sort of side story to Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, it is quite a bit distant.  Set in the 1980s of the wacky and wild Wolfenstein timeline, the game follows series protagonist BJ Blazkowicz’s identical twin daughters as they presumably embark on a nazi killing co-operative journey in order to reclaim America, even though I thought that the hypothetical Wolfenstein III would end with BJ killing all the Nazis and making America free again while also abolishing slavery like the hero he is.  It was revealed by a pre-rendered trailer, so very few details can be gathered, but I am interested in how this game could shake up, if only due to the inherently interesting setting of this series.  The game is set to release in 2019 for unannounced platforms.

Fallout 76 was finally detailed, and as one should have probably expected based on the rumors, it is a sort of sub-sequel to Fallout 4 with a larger world, a new setting with wackier enemies based on folklore, and a multiplayer focus, while still being fully playable by oneself.  However, it is not so much a shared massive world as much as it is a world wherein a few dozens of players can exist in the same area at once, meaning that online encounters will be rather seldom, unless one is rolling around with a posse of friends, which is something people have wanted from Bethesda games for years.  Also, the emphasis on building and crafting is still present from Fallout 4.

As for the more finite details, I am a bit confused by the details of the setting, namely why everything is not radioactive if this is set only 25 years after the bombs dropped, and certain unique features, such as the ability to use nuclear weapons on other players.  Firstly, that is really overkill, secondly, would that just not forever ruin part of the world? Regardless, it looks like a game that will be a hit with a certain audience, and will prove to be a good multiplayer open world post-apocalyptic shooter, which are all the rage as should be evidenced by how many times I brought it up in this post alone!  The game will be have a Beta sometime later this year, and will be released on November 14th, 2018 for PS4, XBO, and PC.

The Elder Scrolls: Blades was the final game that Bethesda showed in detail, and it is an overly ambitious looking mobile game that seemingly sets to recreate the feeling of an Elder Scrolls title, on one’s smartphone, with touch controls, very janky looking combat, and many alterations made to the general structure of the game.  It honestly looks underwhelming, serves as a reminder that it has been 7 years since the last mainline entry in this series, and for as much as people joke about Skyrim being ported to everything, including Bethesda, I would actually be more interested in seeing them try to port Skyrim to a phone than invest the effort into making an entirely new game.  Either way, the game will be a free title, due out sometime this fall.

That concluded all the games they showed in detail, but the event came to a close with Bethesda announcing two long known projects of their with incredibly brief CG trailers that tell people nothing, regardless of what some speculators may think.  These games are Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI, both of which are actually next gen titles, so chances are that they will not be out until 2020 at the earliest.  Yeah, that’s pretty underwhelming when you stop and think about it, isn’t it?

Overall, Bethesda’s showing had a lot of slow talking and overblown discussions about their games, and while it did feature some new reveals, the entire conference felt like a slog at nearly 80 minutes long, and could have benefitted from a tighter focus.  It overall felt like an E3 event from several years ago, which really does emphasize how much better these things have gotten since the ubiquity of streaming.

That would mark the end of the news for this week, but Devolver Digital also had a digital event they shared, one that was just as insane as the one that came before it, and even contained some actual announcements.  That being said, I am very tired, and E3 is just getting started, so I am going to highlight the only one that I care about.

Metal Wolf Chaos XD is a remastering of the most gloriously idealized “American” game to ever come from a Japanese developer (From Software).  It is a bombastic, wild, stupid, and incredibly entertaining masturabtory act of undisputed camp that, with America being in such a state as it is now, could not be brought back at a better time.  The footage shown is a bit concerning, as the game looks notably different from the original Xbox title, that is to say, a lot more colorful, but the simple fact that it exists and will be available on PS4, XBO, and PC is enough to excite me greatly.  What else can I say but, let’s Partttyyyyy!

That is all for today.  I would say that I’ll be back tomorrow, but I probably will not get around to watching everything until Tuesday.  So see ya then!

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