First up, you might notice that I have an awesome new masthead featuring my traditional Final Fantasy XIV “Bunny Samurai Warrior” appearance. I commissioned the always amazing @AmmosArt to get this ready for me in time for the Stormblood launch. However instead of waiting and sitting on it… and then revealing it this coming Friday when head start begins… I simply could not hold off my excitement and spent a chunk of yesterday morning switching it out. While the form factor does not exactly fit my blog I am posting the full version regardless. The amount of work that she put into getting everything just right, and even accounting for the fact that I have a blue color scheme to get the reflections in there just fight, along with those coming off of my Palace of the Dead axe… is just phenomenal. Over the years she has sort of become the official un-official artist of whatever the hell I happen to be doing. While I still adore the Chibi work that Rae did all those years ago, Ammo’s art style really speaks to me and has thus-far been pretty malleable to make work with literally anything I want to have her create for me. For example… the Tam commissioned Twitter Warrior Bel, or the extremely amazing Destiny themed Sunbreaker Bel. Other than that… this weekend was largely about the beginning of E3 when they cram a whole slew of not officially part of E3 shows into the days before the doors open. So far I have seen Electronics Arts, Microsoft, and I stayed up for the silly late Bethesda show. It has been a truly mixed bag of experiences.
Electronic Arts Show
Firstly on AggroChat I gave the analogy of Electronic Arts being the Dursleys from Harry Potter fame… and Bioware being the boy kept under the stairs. Bioware is the only reason why I care about Electronic Arts in the least, and all we saw from the studio during the show was a 52 second teaser video for the new IP Anthem. There was a follow up of course during the Microsoft event with more footage, but never have I felt like Bioware was more of a red headed stepchild. It feels like EA is trying to them of their Biowareyness, but I will talk about that a little later when I talk about anthem. As far as games… we had plenty of sports.. now with a focus on roleplaying elements and campaign storyline. This was so much the case that I literally thought for a second that they had dropped the madden name and instead decided to call this years football offering “Longshot”. As far as games I was interested in… Battlefront II seemed really cool and they talked about how they plan on having this cinematic campaign experience. However when it came time to show a demo… they instead showed us more Star Wars Battlefield game play on and over the planet of Naboo… which was cool but didn’t exactly show off any of the promised new features.
There was an extremely interesting prison break game called A Way Out by the folks that created Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. The gotcha here is that the game must be played in multiplayer either couch co-op or networked. I am not super keen on needing to complete a game with another person in tow, nor do I really have a ready “player two”. They also showed off Need For Speed Payback, which is cool… but literally should have been branded a Fast and the Furious game because it feels like those movies feel. Don’t get me wrong, Need For Speed is a really fun experience but they are also not pre-order or even day one games for me, but instead something I pick up when prices drop. Battlefield 1 moves to the Russian front, which I would probably care about a lot were I actually playing Battlefield… or if I even owned it. The Russian front at least in World War II games is always the awesome front… so I imagine that will probably be the case for Battlefield 1 as well. All in all it was a pretty disappointed show filled with a few truly awkward moments as people not used to using a teleprompter had to suddenly use one. At least one of these moments served as our reminder that YouTube content is highly scripted, and doesn’t exactly translate to extemporaneous speaking. The highlight of the night was twitter errupting with a bunch of people asking how the hell this “iJustine” person was.
Leading into E3… Microsoft needed to come out swinging. This has been an entire console generation where they have been lagging far behind Sony and it all started with a poor reveal of the Xbox that focused on its multimedia capabilities. This years E3 started with the announcement of the Xbox One X… or XBoneX the Edgelord from now on. Its a horrible name… if they simply dropped the one part and went with Xbox X it would make a lot more sense. I think part of this is cognitive dissonance from the fact that Xbox One is still a really stupid name for the third Xbox in the product cycle. All of this aside however it does look like a good platform, and the $499 price point seems reasonable… for folks who actually care about what it is offering. My problem with this and the Playstation Pro (which is also a stupid name) is the fact that I don’t own anything 4k for this to take advantage of. Honestly nor do I have any real plans in the near future to shell out the money to purchase something 4k, and if I did… it wouldn’t likely be in my office but instead in the living room where I wouldn’t hook up a console anyways. Basically I am not the target demographic but of those who are… they seemed okay with the announcements. The games however… that was where the story was for me given that they announced something like 42 games… albeit a lot of those were in a lengthy montage that always seems to say “we wanted to name drop but didn’t care enough to really show it”.
This game looked so damned amazing, but also seemed extremely scripted. I am interested to see what the moment to moment gameplay is like. Functionally it just proved that the new Metro cranks up the already pretty high quality bar.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
This game looks really interesting… but unfortunately as I have learned while attempting to play 2, 3 and 4… I really don’t like Assassin’s Creed games. The sneaking about is exactly the opposite way that I want to play. If there were more stand up fights, and if I could simply go from one end of town to the other systematically exterminating the enemy faction… I would probably like the game a lot better.
State of Decay 2
My criticism here is the fact that nothing about the trailer that they showed… revealed anything about the game or at least did not explain why State of Decay is not “just another zombie game”. I loved the first game and purchased it when it first launched on Xbox Live Arcade… and then again on PC… and then again when the Year One Survivor bundle came out… and again for a handful of people when it went on sale. I am a huge supporter of Undead Labs and what they bring to the Zombie genre, but I am always disheartened when the take away on twitter is that we really don’t need any more zombie games. We need good games regardless of genre, and if this is anything like the original… it is going to be an amazing game. My hope is that this game will allow them to go beyond the scope limitations they had with the first. My other hope is that we finally get multiplayer, because the first one would have been such an amazing experience if I could have drug a few friends into the world to scavenge with me. While I am writing this I am getting the severe itch to fire back up State of Decay.
I am really not sure how I feel about this game. On one hand every possible nerd nob was turned well past 11 in the demo, and if you had told me that this was Destiny with the storytelling that Bioware is traditionally famous for… I would be throwing money at the screen. However there isn’t a lot in the demo that covers what the story will even be like other than a brief mission that was given to you as you wandered through town. The suits themselves… remind me of this amalgam between Pacific Rim and Fallout 4 Power Armor. I love the Jet packs… and I really hope you start out with those. Jet Packs felt amazing in Mass Effect Andromeda, and more than anything I wanted to use them as a means to traverse the areas… even though the Nomad was freaking amazing. The first strike the game gets for me though is the fact that it is a third person shooter. I really prefer first person, however when scoping it felt like maybe the perspective is going to be a reasonable one. I have old eyes and I just found it hard sometimes to sight in head shots in Division when they were at the actual ranges you would want to use a sniper rifle for. The other big strike against the demo is just how much it feels like the initial Division demo did. The same sort of bullshit fake voice chat, and the same sort of “we can do anything” open world game-play showcasing a bunch of stuff without really zeroing in that deep on any of them.
I was burnt by The Division, because what they showed at E3 never really seemed to materialize in the full version. The final game was fun enough but was definitely the sort of game you needed to have a squad with you in order to progress at reasonable levels. I still have yet to hit the level cap because there is this weird doldrum where my gear isn’t really good enough to make the harder content easier… but I am also not getting enough cash to be able to fix that problem. With Anthem I am cautiously optimistic, but also concerned that this is a steep departure for Bioware. Mass Effect was never really known for its combat prowess… and what made Destiny work and the Division not for me at least was the moment to moment feel of the gunplay. For Anthem to ultimately be my game they are going to need to make it feel unique each time I pick up a different kind of weapon, and be more than just a mech suit fantasy. There is a huge part of me though that wants to throw abandon to the wind and join this hype train. However there is that other part that is just cautious before I give my heart away to another game.
At this point I am just running out of time… but if you have the couple hours at some point you just watch the full press conference. I will talk about my general disappointment in the Bethesda conference at another time.