Rundown (6/11) E3 2018: The Busy Day

By the time I have published this post, I have dragged myself through a 13 hour day of work and school, wherein my free time was spent feverishly catching up on the press events in a vain attempt to remain current with the news, before going to bed and spending the preceding morning catching up on everything before the next day of news picks up.  It was a rush to get this post out, but as is always the case with E3, I would not have it any other way.

Starting with a singular bit of stray news, Sega have announced that they will be localizing the Fist of the North Star game by the Yakuza team, which will be known as Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise.  For those unaware, this basically is a Yakuza game based around the over the top post-apocalyptic setting of First of the North Star, following Kenshiro’s journey through the extravagant city of Eden in what, from what I have seen, is about as crazy as one would come to expect.  Furthermore, the game will feature additional viscera to better abide by western tastes, and will also include a (optional) full English dub, even though I have to question who exactly would actually want that. This hot PS4 exclusive will start busting people into chunks of juicy meat by using the power of pressure points, like a true Japanese hero, on October 2nd

Oh Square Enix, you mismanaged oddball of a company.  I could go on about the history of this company for quite a while, pointing out the dark decade of Final Fantasy, their mishandling of their acquired western division, and how many duds they have developed over the years.  In recent years, they have been trying to turn things around by working on Kingdom hearts III, finishing Final Fantasy XV, and restarting Final Fantasy VII Remake after two years of development progress were lost, but I still view them as a very confused giant of a company that will hopefully find its way soon enough.  I mean, they’re putting out Saga: Scarlet Grace, updating The World Ends With You, bringing Dragon Quest XI to PC, and are letting Yoko Taro do his thing without holding him back, so at least they seem to be heading in the right direction.

Seeing as how Square Enix possessed a notable presence in Microsoft’s conference yesterday, I was not particularly surprised to find their showing for their first E3 event in 3 years to be a little lacking.  Shadow of the Tomb Raider, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, Nier: Automata Become As Gods Edition, Just Cause 4, and Kingdom Hearts III all reappeared, and with similar footage.  Meanwhile, minor showings were afforded to Final Fantasy XIV, Dragon Quest XI, and Octopath Traveller, though nothing particularly noteworthy.   As a whole, only two new titles were announced, and they both look rather interesting.

Babylon’s Fall is the next collaboration between Platinum Games and Square Enix, and in typical Square Enix fashion, it was revealed with a pre-rendered trailer depicting snippets of the storied history of a world, or perhaps a nation, with numerous cues taking from European history with regards to its content and concepts.  Beyond that, and some designs of cool looking knights, there really was not a whole lot to take away from this trailer, but given how Platinum has routinely proven themselves as a capable developer, there is reason to keep an eye on it. Babylon’s Fall is set to release on PS4 and PC sometime in 2019.

The Quiet Man is a title presumably from Square Enix’s western divisions, and much like the aforementioned title, very few details were given in its incredibly brief trailer.  All that can really be discerned about this game is how it centers around a quiet, or silent man, who goes around a western city in search for something or other, and gets in fights with roaming hispanic gang members, or perhaps just street punks.  However, the bigger draw here is likely the use of live action footage in addition to incredibly high fidelity in-game visuals in an attempt to make for a slightly seamless game that, at the very least, could make for an interesting technical showcase to demonstrate how close game developers are to capturing reality.  It is an interesting title, for sure, though more details will not be made available for this PS4 and PC game until sometime in August.

All and all, this was a very direct showcase of titles that Square Enix wants to focus on, and while I am a bit underwhelmed by the lack of certain titles like their Avengers game or the Final Fantasy VII Remake, it was a direct presentation that, most likely, was intended to focus on the near future, and not titles that could easily not be out until 2020 or so.  Still, not bad, there were two nice surprises, and no translators fell asleep part way through the presentation this time!

Ubisoft is a publisher that I typically view in a very neutral manner, as they rarely do anything too objectionable, aside from just lying about games several months or years after the fact, and are very capable of creating some very high quality titles. Unfortunately, with current industry trends being what they are, and the publisher/developer being so massive, their games have grown increasingly samey over time. With most of their major franchises gravitating towards the same live service mold that has proven to be wildly successful for them commercially and, to a certain extent, critically as well. I could harp on them, but they could be so much worse.

Things began with another showing of Beyond Good and Evil 2 with a CG trailer, and one with such production values that I found myself genuinely confused as to the true scope, capacity, and general storyline of this game.  With incredibly lavish CG trailers that do not look like something that would nicely gel in with what is to be an open world game centered around space travel. Furthermore, the trailer concluded with the reveal that the protagonist from the first title will be appearing here as a younger antagonistic character who may or may not join the merry crew seen throughout the rest of the trailer.  

After that, some early gameplay was shown off, displaying a suspiciously impressive looking title with an immensely detailed world, involved melee combat, and seamless ship based exploration that implies that the gameplay will be rather varied.  While this is highly likely not actually pre-alpha footage, the game does still have a long way to go before development is completed, and during that process the game will be open to direct involvement from fans, who are being invited to work on this project in various ways, namely through the creation of art and music.  All of which reminds me of the ill-fated Mega Man Legends 3, but let’s hope this game fares better than that sad little project.  

While Starlink: Battle For Atlas struck me as something of a gimmick, being a space exploration game with a toys to life mechanic, back in 2017, it… still seems fairly gimmicky, but this time some loose story details were introduced, along with a few characters, implying that this game would be more than general space exploration.  Yet the most interesting thing about this game is easily the Star Fox content that will be released exclusively on the Nintendo Switch version of this game when it launches of October 16th.  I genuinely have no idea how that, or just about anything featured in this game, actually works, but I am definitely going to keep an eye on it, if only because it might end up being the best Star Fox game in the past 20 years… let that sink in for a moment, I’ll wait.

I also want to shine a light on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, if only because I have not been following this series very closely, and looking at this game really shows how much the series has evolved and changed over the years, becoming a more straightforward action adventure RPG centered around exploring and taking in lovingly recreated historical locales, rather than being a story about assassins and templars.  Furthermore, something about this title strikes me as distinctively more gamey. From how combat is more direct and focused, how extravagant the world looks, how binary the newly introduced dialog choices are, and how it handles historical figures and ideas. Combined with the introduction of a designated female playable character, I’m actually somewhat interested in seeing how this game shakes up when it releases on PS4, XBO, and PC on October 15th… Wait, I forgot, this is a Live Service, isn’t it?  Nevermind.  Back to not caring.

As for the rest of the games, I either already talked about them, or simply lack much of substance to say about them.  

Trials Rising is the next game in the stunt and physics centered Trials series, although it honestly seems like a step back after the insanity of Trials of the Blood Dragon.  

The Division 2 still looks like a mix between a military nerd’s fetish fuel and an effort on the behalf of Ubisoft to not suite so subtly take a jab against the current American military climate, which they seem to be doing quite a lot these days.  

For Honor is continuing to receive a good deal of support from Ubisoft, and the publisher seems to be treating it similarly to Rainbow Six Siege by building off of a rough launch with new content and various quality of life improvements to keep people coming back after a rocky launch.

Skull and Bones remains looking very much like an expanded and evolved version of the ship combat refined in Assassin’s Creed IV, and while the whole shared world spiel makes me roll my eyes for multiple reasons, I do see a lot of promise in this title, which could become the go-to pirate game for years to come.

Transference… continued to confuse me with regards to what it actually is, as the game shown features live action footage of a seemingly dysfunctional family interspersed with trippy imagery, while it is all supposed to be some kind of puzzle or mystery game made primarily for VR…

Overall, Ubisoft had an okay conference.  A bit overly long, a bit awkward, and a bit underwhelming on behalf of the lack of any truly newly announced games, but even the biggest third party developer in the world, with regards to staff at least, cannot have something new to show every year… I guess.  

Now, here is where I would talk about the PC Gaming Show hosted this year, but after three disappointing years, I decided to stop bothering entirely, and instead take in the news that surfaced after the fact, and it was actually some pretty good news.  Sega will be bringing three heavily requested upcoming games to PC via Steam, including Yakuza 0, set to release on August 1st, Yakuza Kiwami, which was not given a release date, and the upcoming Valkyria Chronicles 4, which is set to launch sometime this year, possibly around the same time as its October 16th release on PS4, XBO, and Switch.  While I am not really surprised by this news, it does please me greatly to see Sgea so clearly supporting the platform, and excites me greatly to think that I finally get the chance to become invested in the Yakuza series, which I can easily see myself getting very invested in as more releases presumably follow these initial two.

Moving on, while they can be criticized for becoming too swell headed thanks to success, Sony has been doing very well this generation with regards to its first party line up and the general sales of the PS4 itself.  There is certainly some demand for rather basic features, such as more uniform PS2 game emulation, which was found in recent updates to the system, the ability to refund games, the ability to play cross platform titles, and so forth.  Regardless, they have some previously titles to show off, and due to their current clout, could very easily have many surprises to show as well. Yeah, not really much to say here.

So, this was a bit of an odd one.  The conference began with a statement that it would only focus on four upcoming PS4 exclusives, yet still proceeded to show trailers for a few other games, and even featured a discussion board of sorts that revealed that God of War (2018) would be getting a New Game Plus feature.  Also, Dreams from Media Molecule was regularly shown in the background, but not afforded any proper trailer, despite how the game is set to release this year, and only one of the big four they mentioned will be out before it… Yeah.

Anyways, things began with yet another trailer for The Last of Us Part II, showing two opposing scenes of series mainstay Ellie as she acts as a wallflower at a local dance of sorts before enjoying a slow dance with her smelly lesbian girlfriend.  Yet because things were getting too lovey dovey, things flashback to a time when Ellie was brutally murdering people in the woods using The Last of Us’s trademarked stealth action crafter shooter gameplay.  All of which certainly looks impressive visually, yet whenever I see footage of this game, I feel a sense of disconnect, based on my own experience with The Last of Us.

In short, I played The Last of Us on a former friend’s PS3, played stealthily, rarely ever using guns, rarely ever using crafted tools, and avoiding killing human enemies unless it was critical to progression.  Which led to a very odd scenario during the climax of the game, wherein I avoided ~20 guards, made it to the destination, and was prompted to kill a doctor to progress the game. I refused, got a game over of sorts, and when I continued, the doctor was dead, and I was left baffled by the actions of the main protagonist of the original game, Joel, screwed over humanity for his own dumb selfish desires.  So, yeah, that is why I do not like The Last of Us, because the story and gameplay did not connect together well, in my own experience.

Ghost of Tsushima was afforded its gameplay reveal, and… it certainly does look like a cinematic open world action game set in 13th century Japan.  In all seriousness, the game’s cinematic staging of fights, visual fidelity, and stylish stealth action gameplay all seem to be marks of both quality and a well funded budget, with the game coming off as rather impressive as a whole.  While part of me is still a smidget confused as to why a western studio is handling a concept like this, rather than a Japanese one, the title does look quite promising.

Though, it was not the only game shown set in feudal Japan and containing an intensive combat system, as 2017’s Nioh was announced to received a sequel in the form of Nioh 2, which was revealed with a fairly vague CG trailer.  As such, I do not have much to say, as the demon transformation shown within it means very little to me, somebody who has yet to play the original title.  Still, Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo have found success, so it only makes sense for a follow up to be in development. Although, no release date was given.

The remake of Resident Evil 2 is something that Capcom announced… basically right after it was greenlit, and after several years of development was properly revealed as a full re-do of the 1998 title.  With recreated 3D environments, the introduction of over the shoulder shooting ala Resident Evil 4 through 6, and some alterations that were likely in place to help reinforce the horror vibe that the series has been trying to recapture since Resident Evil 7.  Like oh so many other titles shown this year, it is very visually impressive, and looks to be an especially faithful retelling of the original game, but whether or not it does the much beloved original title justice will be seen on January 25th, 2019 when it launches on PS4, XBO, and PC.

Control is the latest game from Quantum Break and Alan Wake developer Remedy, and while the developer has historically taken rather realistic situations as the basis for games, with one element of the supernatural thrown in, Control is a marked more abstract.  Set in a shifting abstract environment, with hectic supernatural ability driven gameplay, which includes a fair amount of environmental destruction and gravity manipulation, and fighting against some nebulously defined force that is corrupting the universe.  Combined with mention of there being a lot of side quests and the first playable female protagonist in a Remedy game, I think I will be keeping an eye on this game when it comes out in 2019 for PS4, XBO, and PC. Also, 505 Games is funding this cinematic action game, serving as the publisher here… How?

After 57 years of cryptic and cool music video styled trailers, the core gameplay of Death Stranding has finally been revealed, and… it looks to mostly consist of travelling about gorgeous landscapes, climbing mountains, and carrying various boxes, and in some cases corpses.  Along with occasionally avoiding the mysterious shadowy ghosts that seem to litter this world. Like what I am sure can be said about most people involved in the industry, I barely have any idea of what this game is about, but it does seem to be Hideo Kojima’s concentrated and unfiltered brain juices, and I am incredibly interested in seeing just how this game could possibly hope to come together after all of these bizarro trailers.  

Last year, I commented that I had some concerns over the Insomniac developed Marvel’s Spider-Man and how it seemed overly cinematic for me to really believe the gameplay footage shown off.  While I do not think much was staged, I do believe that much of the game is inherently limited and this trailer seemingly supported that argument, involving a series of setpieces that provided a very linear path without much player involvement, and occasional combat encounters that seem styled and staged to the point where I struggle to think about how combat realistically works.  Though, that is just me, and how well this game holds up will be determined shortly after it releases as a PS4 exclusive on September 7th.

All in all, it was a touch more intimate of a showing this year, and while certain aspects, such as the Dreams interludes and the single cutaway to a round table for a few minutes, were odd, they nevertheless showed off some interesting games, and gave some meaningfully long gameplay for their upcoming titles, which have been known about for quite some time.  

As a whole, there was a lot of cool and interesting games shown here, very few awkward moments (excluding EA), and while I was expecting a few more reveals of games that have been known about for some time, there were still quite a few new games shown that managed to capture my attention.  You know, ignoring all ot the stupidly beautiful looking open world post-apocalyptic gun shooting games with online elements, which has become the gritty FPS of this generation. Oh, but I guess things are not quite over, as Nintendo is going to show off their 2018 lineup tomorrow, and a few surprises are to be expected.  Yet as far as the big AAA game industry is concerned, that’s about it. So until tomorrow, see ya.

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