EB Impressions: Our Thoughts On E3 2013 Day 1
After getting some sleep and taking time to process the events that took place at yesterday’s press conferences, the Entertainment Buddha team wanted to emphasize the pieces of Monday’s events that captured our attention the most. Scroll on down to see what your favorite EB writers were intrigued by.
Metal Gear Solid with open world gameplay. That pairing alone was enough to capture my attention and make me look forward to the upcoming addition to Hideo Kojima’s famous series.
Strong story telling has always been a hallmark of the series, but updating their gameplay from clunky to refined has been the most important development for the MGS team. Because of the fantastic character development and plot twists, it was easy to overlook the minor flaws of the older titles. Now that Kojima has been at it for a while, there is no room for excuses.
Metal Gear Solid 5 looks like the next part of the evolution, taking the same stealth gameplay people loved and mixing it with an open-world setting. At first glance the trailer looked like a potential sequel to Red Dead Redemption, but the familiar appearance of Snake quickly dispelled that. If an already beloved series is borrowing elements from other beloved titles, Metal Gear Solid 5 is shaping up to be a force to be reckoned with.
Gratuitous violence, distinct visuals, and fast paced guitar were the focus of the trailer for upcoming Xbox One exclusive from Insomniac Games. But the thing that stood out to me is something that can get overlooked in the modern assessment of games: it looks fun.
Granted, we didn’t actually get to see gameplay footage from Sunset Overdrive yesterday, limited instead to an 89 second trailer. There are more games than I can count that showed promise in their theme and concepts that ended up flopping big time.
But Insomniac has a rich history that suggests success, between Spyro, Ratchet and Clank, and the Resistance series, along with their recent venture into multiplat titles, Fuse. Combining the light-hearted humor of their cartoony titles with violence and creative weaponry seems like a perfect fit. You’re not going to find many other places to kill bad guys with a vinyl record gun.
To say that I’m a Bungie fan is an understatement. Halo was in many ways the defining video game series of my childhood. When we would LAN Halo and Halo 2 at my friend’s house with a group of buddies, we often had to kick his mom out of her own bedroom to use the extra TV. Not the most thoughtful of moves, but adolescents aren’t exactly the most conscious of demographics.
I’ve been waiting for something, anything from Bungie regarding Destiny. When the trailer dropped featuring the man who played Gus Fring in Breaking Bad, I was pretty excited. My favorite current show pairing up with a beloved developer? The mystique surrounding this game was almost too good to be true.
And yet, as last night’s reveal showed, there’s more to Destiny than just hype. Outside the obvious parallels of aliens and guns, Destiny bore little resemblance to Bungie’s former work. Many companies get stuck rehashing the same formula until it grows stale, but Destiny looked like a unique blend of several archetypes with inviting gameplay. I’ll have my eye on this one all the way until it is released to the public.
I won’t try to say that I am not a huge fan of the Souls series. Since I first booted up Demon’s Souls way back in 2009, I have been hooked. Upon hearing that Dark Souls 2 was going to happen, I was initially pretty worried. I was scared that DS2 would take the ‘over-simplification’ route that so many great games have fallen to in the interest of appealing to a broader audience.
Seeing yesterday’s footage of Dark Souls 2 has done nothing but fill me with excitement, anticipation, and a serious sense of calm knowing that all of my fears have been thrown by the wayside. DS2 looks to have taken the core elements that have earned the series so much renown and expanded upon them in meaningful ways. Combat looks to have gotten some serious fine-tuning and to say that the graphics look amazing for a current-gen offering is an understatement.
Even with the little we have actually seen of Dark Souls 2, I think it is safe to say that it is going to be my game of the year come 2014. From Software has already earned my perpetual respect for their past work, but from the minute of DS2 footage shown yesterday, they deserve the respect of the gaming world as a whole. Praise the Sun!
Atmosphere and immersion are the two most important things to me in terms of what makes a great game. Even rough around the edges titles like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Nier have earned their way into my personal hall of fame on the merits of the remarkable world and the atmosphere contained within the game.
Ubisoft’s upcoming MMO RPG/Shooter The Division looks to cater to my natural atmospheric inclinations, all with a unique multiplayer twist. The gameplay trailer showcased some stunning graphics, showcasing a detailed and derelict New York that pandered right to my post-apocalyptic sensibilities.
The online co-op focus looks great, and has me really excited to play The Division with a core group. The notion of entering a foreign building and scavenging supplies, all while keeping our heads on a swivel for any creeping threats, is something I personally couldn’t imagine not having a blast with. It isn’t all that often that a MMO is really capable of capturing the sense of truly engrossing atmosphere, but The Division seems to have that aspect nailed and I couldn’t be more excited.
The unofficial kick off to E3 2013 was full of impressive game reveals and new console rhetoric with MS, EA, Ubisoft, and Sony all holding their press conferences to pimp their new wares. I had the pleasure of attending all of these techno-music and laser light filled shows except for Ubisoft’s, and each event contained nuggets of awesomeness, as well as some troubling news. In reality though, the biggest events that had everyone talking late into the evening were the MS and Sony shows.
One of the first exclusive games displayed was RYSE: Son of Rome, a title MS has teased for years as being a Kinect game for the 360. Ryse has gone through some gameplay changes that led to it becoming a full fledged Xbox One experience sans motion controls (voice controls have been confirmed by the developer). The footage shown off at the show was all in-game, and I had the chance to play the exact demo at a press party.
I can tell you that it plays like the Batman: Arkham games as far as the fighting mechanics go, and all of the QTEs you saw don’t actually effect your ability to kill enemies. The button presses are for buffing purposes as it was explained to me by the developer. Gamers can choose to use the QTEs for health boosts, or if they’re concerned with progression they can use it for XP bonuses.
The demo itself played fantastically without any sort of technical hiccups. The visuals are what I expected a next-gen game to look like with amazing lighting and particle effects that brought the battlefield to life. The new controller felt great in my hands as I controlled Marius Titus en route to the “game over” screen. Overall, RYSE: Son of Rome provided a fun and enjoyable gameplay experience, and it offered a great sneak peek at what the Xbox One can do.
I didn’t get the opportunity to attend a Sony press party, but I did go to the show, and like most of you I felt that Sony laid down the gauntlet in regards to the next-gen console war between them and MS. In all honesty their show kind of dragged on because nothing that new was shown outside of a few non-exclusive reveals like FFXV. Where Sony shined was in their commitment to remind gamers why they should spend their hard earned cash on the PS4 rather than the Xbox One. Their stance on used games, always-online, and price brought the show attendees to their feet as if we were all watching a famous band perform in concert.
I think Sony made all the right moves, and said all the right things to set themselves up as the early winner of the next-gen console race. The nail in the coffin is the $399 price tag for the PS4. As it stands the PS4 can do pretty much anything that the Xbox One can for $100 less. It also won’t regulate how you go about used games, and more importantly it won’t force you to be online. All three of these factors have set Sony up for success as they transition into the PS4 era.
Outside of the pressers and parties, I think the TitanFall and Destiny gameplay trailers made the biggest impact on me in regards to next-gen video game experiences. The fact that MS locked up Respawn’s newest IP is huge, because this franchise could take off like another wildly popular FPS created by Infinity Ward (mind you Respawn is essentially the IW team who created COD). I also found the Destiny footage shown at Sony’s event to be spectacular, and it seems that Bungie has once again created a world that gamers will flock to and play in for years.
It was a heavy day of information and trailers, but overall it was a great kick-off to E3. Hopefully I’ll get some hands on time with the PS4 so I can make a better comparison to the Xbox One, so stay tuned for my thoughts as I get them relayed to the EB squad back at the Mothership!