E3 2015 Day 0 Thoughts (Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, Sony)

The single greatest day for video games ever.


Microsoft

Microsoft led the day off with Halo 5 Guardians.  My interest in Halo has dwindled over the last few years, but this gameplay looked really sharp and fun to me.  They brought back the squad based combat from Halo Reach, which I really enjoyed.  I thought those extra characters added to the emotion of the story more than any of the other Halo entries.  The campaign is split between a Spartan squad led by Commander Locke, who I know next to nothing about, and another squad led by Master Chief.  This demo showcased the Locke squad and it looked very impressive.  After showing off a small mission, a new multiplayer mode was introduced, it appeared to be your team vs. everybody, other humans and AI alike, in a huge, hellacious war ground.  I thought that was an interesting take on the tried and true Halo multiplayer.

After Halo, a new IP was announced in Recore, which is a fantastic title.  No gameplay was shown, but it did get my attention.

Then came my biggest take away from the Microsoft conference, the Xbox One will soon be able to play certain Xbox 360 games, both physical and digital, for no extra cost.  Not the entire library of 360 games, but quite a few with more certainly coming as they stated it is up to the developers to decide if they want it to be backwards compatible or not.  It seems like Microsoft is going to bundle last-gen games with upcoming games to help build that backlog.  For example, it was announced you would receive a free copy of Fallout 3 when you purchase Fallout 4, and Rainbow Six Vegas 1 & 2 when you purchase Siege.

Todd Howard took to the stage and showed off what seemed like the exact same Fallout 4 demo from last night until halfway through, then finally we got some new content.  It was announced that Fallout 4 will have mod support for Xbox One (and later confirmed for PS4 as well).  PC, Xbox One, and PS4 will all have access to the same mods too, which is great.

I think mod support is a huge step forward for console gaming that may have gotten overlooked.  Not only is the mod support a step forward, but Microsoft also announced their own version of Steam Greenlight.  Gaming consoles and PC’s are quickly fusing into one and I am all for that.

CUPHEAD CUPHEAD CUPHEAD

Rare Replay was announced, which features 30 of the greatest Rare games of all time, like Battletoads, Banjo-Kazooie, Blast Corps, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day.  It’s great to finally have those back (even though most were available on the shop) but this felt like Microsoft’s way of saying “okay please stop bugging us about these IPs take this and shut up.”

Hololens was up next and was quite impressive as far as VR goes.  Until I hear a price point from any of the different pieces of hardware, be it Rift, Hololens, or Morpheus, I won’t get excited.  It looked like a neat toy though. 

Lastly was the reveal of Gears 4 in a gameplay demo that was incredibly dark.  It’s more Gears.  Take that how you will.

Overall Xbox had a pretty good conference.  The addition of backwards compatibility makes me somewhat interested in owning an Xbox One now as opposed to the total indifference I had towards it prior to the show.


EA

Next on the agenda was the EA conference, which could have been canceled and still would have been better than last years.

EA led off the show by announcing Mass Effect Andromeda.  Another wonderful title.  What little of it they showed just make me think of Destiny though, it felt very generic and stale.  But the good thing about Mass Effect is how huge and varied it is, so I’m sure this one section was just a tiny, tiny slither of the full product.

One of my biggest surprises of the show was a newly announced game from EA called Unravel.  This game looked visually striking and super heart-warming.  It somewhat reminded me of Limbo, judging by the platforming and movement.  I’m totally in support of EA doing something completely different, good on them.

HOOPGOD CAME OUT.

The sports section lasted entirely too long and pulled the conference down as a whole.  They had Pele on stage, which was cool but served absolutely no purpose as far as I’m aware.  Between this and the constant reminder that Frostbite is theirs and is the best thing since John Cena, this conference began to suffer.

Mirrors Edge Catalyst was shown off and looks fun.  I wasn’t a fan of the original Mirrors Edge but I’m glad this new one exist.  I hope it makes a penny or two.

Star Wars Battlefront was the big finale we were all hoping for.  Let me say I had the lowest of expectations and expected a reskinned Battlefield.  To an extent, it was, but I was expecting it to be 60/40 in favor of Battlefield, but this gameplay really came off as 60/40 in Star Wars favor.  The match they showed off looked fun as hell, but makes me wonder how big the map was and what the player count was.  This particular match looked somewhat small, but had a ton of players and aircraft fighting everywhere.  That is exactly what I want this game to be.  Recent Battlefield games really lost me when their maps got so big I would have to spend 3 minutes walking if I wasn’t fortunate enough to get a vehicle.  The third person view looked absolutely fantastic as well, I really want to get my hands on that.

EA had what I would call the worst conference of the day.  It had some cool bits but was so bogged down by things that shouldn’t take up so much time.  I get that sports games are huge, but we know what to expect from them at this point.


Ubisoft

Ubisoft led off with what was my biggest surprise of the show to that point, a new South Park game, titled South Park: The Fractured But Whole, which is my new favorite title of E3.  The Stick of Truth was one of my games of the year and if you didn’t get the chance to play it, you need to immediately.  It’s South Park, so you should know what to expect, and I can’t wait to play it.

A brand new title was unveiled in For Honor.  A combat simulator where you play as a viking, samurai, or knight and partake in melee combat against other players.  The demo shown was really awesome, and the gameplay appeared that it could possibly be very intricate and tense.

The Division, of course, peaked its head up again.  I was tired of seeing footage of this game and just wanted to play it, but the demo they showed off here was great.  It showed off how you can’t trust anybody in the world of The Division, your best friend can stab you in the back and steal your loot.  I love the aspect of having to trust other players.  Also, the HUD looked really great and again, the third person perspective looked really good and natural.

A mystery trailer appeared after that, wait, no, it was just a trailer for Rainbow Six: Siege, which looked nothing like what I was expecting.  It was a story trailer and looked pretty interesting.  The HUD really bothered me in this demo, I’m not sure if it was because I had just seen the clean, crisp HUD featured in Battlefront and The Division prior, but it looked really clunky with a ton of symbols on the screen representing… stuff?

Trackman Turbo was shown off and really grabbed my attention.  I’ve been itching for a good series (but not so serious) racer lately, and that looks like it would fit the mold.  It didn’t look like a ton of game though, so the price point could be a make or break for a game like this.

Ubisoft closed their show with a brand new game, Ghost Recon Wasteland.  It looked fine, but also looked like a standard Ubisoft game.  It wasn’t mind-blowing, but I’d play it.

Ubisoft made me pretty excited with their announcements, but it’s hard for me to get too excited by Ubisoft after being burned so bad this last year.


Playstation

IT. HAPPENED.

ALL OF IT. HAPPENED.

The Last Guardian kicked off the show and looked true to its roots.  It looked really endearing and interesting, but they didn’t show off too much aside from some puzzle solving.  The big thing was the 2016 release date posted at the end.  Let’s hope that last.

Then Guerrilla Games showed off their new game “Horizon Zero Dawn.”  This, like most of this conference, really took me by surprise.  I knew the Guerrilla guys were working on something new but I didn’t expect it to look anything like this.  A third person hunting game against giant mech-dinosaurs and from what little we saw, destructible environments.  Count me in.  I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this new IP.

After a very quick No Man’s Sky demo, we got to see more of the new Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.  EA is making up for their remarks about female game models, as this trailer featured one of the main characters, Evie, who absolutely slayed jerks left and right.  Vicious.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake.  I never thought I’d see it, I really didn’t.  I had a slither of hope for The Last Guardian, but this came way out of left field.  Bravo.

After the FF7 reveal, there was a quick indie game spot, then SHENMUE III.  Sony announced every long-lost game sans Half-Life 3 in this conference.  Talk about a quick way to get on the good side of people.  Although they didn’t announce Shenmue III per se, they announced the Kickstarter.  The goal is $2,000,000 and as of writing this, it sits at $1,522,656 after about 4 hours.  I think it might get funded, guys.

Sony ended the show with Uncharted 4, showing off brand new gameplay.  For the second straight time in Uncharted 4, Sony’s live demo went horribly wrong.  First, Drake fell through the world, and this time the controller stopped working or reading inputs, leaving Drake just standing there for what felt like an eternity.  Eventually, he moved and got into a wild on/off-road escape in a jeep from a tank.  This demo showed off the driving, which was somewhat open, but still linear.  Multiple paths will take you to the same destination is what Naughty Dog later said in an off-stage interview.  It doesn’t seem to be reinventing the wheel for Uncharted games, but it looks like it will be a fun and proper send off for Nathan Drake.  Oh and why would you yell “Heads up!” to a guy you’re about to punch? C’mon Nate.

Sony put on, what I think, is the greatest E3 conference of all time (OK that I’ve seen).  It really did feel unreal at a few parts, and I’m not a huge fan of any of the big 3 announcements.  The only possible downside I saw was that there were few announcements for this year.  I would have preferred Persona 5, but that’s not something they’d dedicate much time to at an E3.  It’ll definitely be at TGS though.


I’m not sure how it can get any better from here, but I’m almost positive it will tomorrow morning during Nintendo’s show.  Followed by Square Enix show which I’m really excited for.  Deus Ex in particular, and as much as I hate to admit it, I’d like to know some more about the new Kingdom Hearts.  For research sake. Stay tuned!

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