Here we are with the day-before E3 festivities in which the biggest developers in the business hold their media briefings in the hope to sway some favor in their direction. We went to a couple of them in person and had to muddle through the other two on poorly streamed feeds thanks to terrible internet over taxing. So we are going to give our quick impressions of what we saw. There will be more in depth coverage in the weeks after E3 with full on previews but for now, here are some quick impressions. Commentary from Charles will be in normal faced type and Patrick will be in italics.
Smart Glass took a bit of the center stage during this presentation. Showing off all it’s snazzy new moves integrating with games and being about a hundred times more useful than current usage. Some titles were confirmed to be in 60fps, if this is an Xbox exclusive is unclear at this point but an interesting value add. Microsoft points will join their esteemed colleague the Dodo bird. Finally, you can share a gold account between family members/friends.
Cloud inclusion has been a buzzword and seems to be causing a lot of the DRM complaints. I feel like people are in a frenzy over this issue while missing the potential coolness that exists primarily because of the innovation that led to its discovery. In non-sleep deprived talk that means that there is a lot of potential for what the cloud can do but it is overshadowed by what is seen as a slap in the face to all the things that make them gamers. That is a bit silly to me.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
AKA Red Metal Redemption Gear Solid. This game is an open world Snake adventure through a wild west/middle eastern blended tapestry of subterfuge and murder. Huge kudos go to what looks like an interesting close combat system.
World of Tanks
Multiplayer tank battle mayhem comes to XBL for FREE.
Ryse: Son of Rome
AKA Saving Private Roman. The feels on this were 100% watching Tom Hanks and Vin Diesel bring the pain to some Nazis on Normandy beach. But in this instance it is a Roman General, giving a Russel Crowe esq rant to rally his troops to certain impending giant flaming projectile death. The constant quick time combat looks highly bothersome and really not the best approach to handling attack and defense for the next gen. Special mention for the 300 “This is Sparta!” boot to the barbarian enemy during the demo.
I like the potential here. Some of the movements are jerkier than I would like and I would have thought that physics could have solved this problem but here it is. It may just be a jittery camera. Less easily forgiven, is the excessive QTE moments that grated on my nerves in the demo. The graphics look pretty next gen but the game play looks like the same old ideas again and I am not really up for that. The troop commanding aspects are cool and it was neat to see the inside of a phalanx but I hope that there is more to this than hitting buttons when it tells you to for slow motion combat.
I really liked the look of this. It is hard to tell of course because it was a demo and not game play but it looked pretty fun and kinetic. Parkour is all the rage this year so it may be tired by the time this comes out but it looks like the locomotion is interesting and fun to integrate into combat. The weapons look decidedly Ratchet and Clank and that is a good thing.
You command the environment! Another title that seems to integrate well with Xbox Glass. You can finally own that pet rock you missed out on as a child and sail across the sky like Iceman. This game looks interesting but has a tremendous amount of depth that must be considered.
Looking like a cross between Kameo and Little Big Planet, this is a really cool looking game for people who are into that. I am not really sure I am in the target audience for this though as the depth on display suggests a pretty big time commitment to get the most out of it and I am not sure I am interested enough to invest what extra I have on it.
I was pretty surprised by the EA conference. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting but they were impressive. EA is kind of the Evil Empire in gaming and I think I took that attitude into the conference with me but there were a bunch of things they showed that were impressive and exciting. After seeing the Microsoft and Sony conferences I have to say that I was more excited by EA’s.
Not a whole lot of information was provided on the nature of this engine, but the games it is driving look spectacular and it appears they can do some amazing things.
EA Sports might be in the game, but Ignite is driving that game down the block and back again. NBA gets a dribbling focus, Madden does not seems to benefit a whole lot, FIFA seems to take the biggest advantage of this new technology and looks brilliantly put together.
Plants Vs Zombie: Garden Warfare
This game just looks like the spoof of the genre we need AND deserve. If it can deliver on it’s promises I can see this being a huge seller like the game it spawned from.
This got a deservedly huge crowd reaction and I was right there with them. If they pull it off it should be a whole lot of fun.
Titanfall is unique take on the FPS Multiplayer game from the folks at Respawn, the gameplay looks incredibly tightly knit and the jump from Mech to pilot and back seems just as natural as driving a vehicle but not nearly as cool. Did I mention Jetpack Parkour?
Or how about how the Mech acts like a Mama Kangeroo and puts you in her pouch gently like a wee Joey? Or conversely how you can perform a brutal Falcon Punch to remove an opposition pilot from that comfy chair.
So far this is the game to beat at this show. That it is an Xbox One exclusive should really cool the jets of people ready to tell Microsoft to go to hell. This looks pretty amazing and I hope that there is hands on with it on the show floor.
Star Wars: Battlefront
Easily the hugest pop from the crowd, if the AT-AT foot hits you must lose your shit.
Need for Speed: Rivals
A return to a classic formula with an interesting twist, drop in and chase your friends down. Got a friend with a tablet… why not let them fly the helicopter?
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Not nearly enough for my taste here but I love Dragon Age like most parents love their children. We know it is open world with decisions changing the environment. And that is Morrigan up there. It looks pretty good but I want to know a lot more. Winter 2014 is too long to wait for it as well.
Enjoy the big smelly UFC foot, this game looks absolutely brutal with the moves are your disposal as well as the damage that is inflicted upon your opponent in real time. Ribs cracking and jaws smashing.
Battlefield 4 was quite and impressive preview. One part of the sequence we witnessed would have James Cameron diving back underwater too cool off. After taking down a tank with some team work and a well placed piece of C4 and a support beam. The team found themselves stranded on the top floor under heavy helicopter fire. They took that bird down, but the building begin to be shelled. Logical solution? Have you friend on the tablet aka ‘Commander’ drop some ordnance on said tanks then take to the air and watch as the building collapses. The reaction this got was a bit fascinating the Patrick and I, I guess some people forgot to Never forget?
What is being labeled as a reboot to the series, a well timed return to the series giving the amount of parkour combat that we witnessed. As EA reminded us, in the words of George Michael…
You gotta have faith.
Sony spent an awful lot of time on Vita and PS3 stuff before showing us what the PS4 looks like and that is fine but I was really hoping the PS4 would look cool and not like four PS2s super glued together with a color scheme that looks like it should have been around in the early 80s. I am actively surprised that there is not wood paneling on this thing. I am not saying the Xbox One is super snazzy either as it looks like a top loading Beta Max machine but jeezy creezy I think the aesthetic designers are either in their 60′s or have been hit in the head with a brick…or one of these things.
Looks aside, the big bomb was that the PS4 does not have any DRM and are not putting any restrictions on used games and game lending. This is good news, of course, although I don’t know that it was quite the bomb that everyone on twitter was acting like it was. As soon as this was announced the internet erupted with people yelling about how Sony won E3 and that Xbox was done. I think that is a bit much. With a $399 price tag it is hard to argue with the PS4 until you get to the games they showed. There is very little on their exclusive slate right now that excites me. This isn’t Xbox fanboyism as the only thing they have that would sell a system to me is Titanfall. But they have the one.
At the end of the day I am not going to declare a winner before E3 even officially starts and before I get my hands on these things. For Charles and I, the hands on is going to be the true test and both of us are of the opinion that there is no clear front runner at this point and both are a little disappointing. Time and games will tell. I am sure there are still surprises in store for both the machines both good and bad.
(Editor’s Note: The lack of game photos in the Sony portion of this article have nothing to do with bias but rather the simple fact that we weren’t at the conference and didn’t take any pictures. We will get plenty from the show floor.)