I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed in E3 this year. The absence of Sony was definitely felt and a whole lot of trailers shown were entirely cinematic in nature. A good cinematic trailer has precisely zero effect on whether or not a game is actually fun. However there is still quite a bit to be excited or concerned about, so I compiled a list of my top and bottom E3 picks and some of my thoughts on them.
Watch Dogs Legion:
Watch Dogs Legion has its hooks in me already. I’m a sucker for its theme of letting anyone be a hero. In Legion, you can recruit anyone, literally anyone on the street that you can see. Whether they are some street punk, ex-cop or nice old grandma. Each one has their own personality and mechanical traits. One might be a heavy hitter, while another is good with drones. Some of their animations even vary, the old women shown in the trailer moves and attacks differently than the younger more spry characters.
It very much reminds me of the nemesis system in Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War, except instead of enemies, it applies to your allies and playable characters. The nemesis system is one of my favorite innovations of this generation so I’m happy to see the concept expanded in new ways.
I’m a bit skeptical about how Ubisoft will pull off the various voice lines and story moments while taking in the ability to play anyone at any time. But I’ll be watching with great interest up until its release. It’s even inspired me to try the other Watch Dogs games, which I never found time to play before.
I’ve never been a fan of hero shooters like Overwatch and Paladins. However a 4v4 PvP game with varied characters developed by Ninja theory? Yeah, I have to try this. Ninja Theory’s resume includes Devil May Cry, Hell Blade and Enslaved Odyessy to the West. I really want to see how they take their expertise in fantastic melee combat and apply it to the hero shooter genre.
The heroes themselves look crazy and unique to one another and fulfill different roles. Buttercup is a heavy melee brawler using sawblades. While Zero Cool is ranged support with a healing beam. You are supposed to be able to customize your brawler as well. It looks like you can use environmental hazards to your advantage such as shoving an enemy into the path of an oncoming train which is awesome. Bleeding Edge has a technical alpha in June you can sign up for here!
The Avengers Project
While I wish we had more gameplay. I can’t help but be excited about a co-op Avengers game. We are lacking in good multi-player superhero games and while Anthem did a decent job of letting you feel like Iron Man, it had a lot of failings. Future heroes and missions were announced to be free which is great and the voice cast is top notch. They have both Nolan North and Troy Baker. But also Travis Willingham and Laura Bailey which you might know from the popular Dungeons and Dragons stream known as Critical Role, and if you don’t, check it out! It’s awesome!
It’s difficult to say much about it until we see more. We only got quick glimpses of gameplay, but I’m pretty confident that this one is going to be a quality game.
Dying Light 2
I took issue with Dying Lights lack of consequences for dying. But in spite of that, and implementing some house rules. I still very much enjoyed the game and still play it today. Dying Light 2 looks to expand on everything that made Dying Light great while also adding new features such as your choices affecting the world around you. It seems to take place in a much darker world that’s described as the modern middle ages and I can’t wait to parkour around it.
Starmancer is inspired by Dwarf Fortress and set in space. Regular readers will know that one of my favorite games is another Dwarf Fortress inspired colony sim called RimWorld. Design stations and keep your colonists happy and healthy, while dealing with dangers such as pirate raids. The art style of the colonists reminds me very much of Final Fantasy Tactics which is another huge win in my book.
Survival sandbox games are one of my favorite genres and this one is a doozy! You play in a world where the earth has stopped rotating and the surviving nomads must constantly travel to avoid being scorched, chased by the ever-moving ball of gas. Tribes use walkers to get around, gather resources and battle each other in ranged, melee and walker to walker combat. They can come complete with cannons, boarding, ramming, and grappling hooks. Most importantly, Last Oasis claims to have “no mans land” zones.
Provided you have enough water, you can log off in these zones and be safely protected from offline raiding. Normally the absolute bane of these games. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.
Evil Genius 2
I adore Evil Genius and have an embarrassing amount of playtime on it. I am equally excited and terrified at the prospect of a sequel. Evil Genius is an old game and the industry has changed a lot since its inception. There are hundreds of ways its sequel could be ruined and a cinematic trailer with no gameplay does absolutely nothing to alleviate my fears. In my opinion, it’s actually worse to get a bad sequel to a game you loved than to never get one at all. I will be eagerly chewing my nails waiting to see more on the game.
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
Fallen Order doesn’t look like a bad game by any means. But I was very underwhelmed by it. I feel like lightsaber combat and force powers could be so much more than they appeared to be in the trailer. The force powers didn’t feel impactful, and the lightsaber effects seem to similar to cutting plastic action figures with a blow torch.
I do not believe a game needs to have a mature rating to be good, but this is one such instance where I feel like keeping the game rating to a Teen might be hamstringing it somewhat. The lack of dismemberment looks just looks strange. I also got somewhat of a souls feeling from the combat. I love Souls games! But..in a StarWars game? I’m not so sure, I feel like combat should be faster paced and more acrobatic and flashy than that.
I’m very skeptical of Stadia. No matter how good they claim it will be, if you’re near a data center your ping may be low, but low isn’t zero and it’s going to add additional ms to your input delay on top of the delay that your display already has. This isn’t a maybe, its reality. The question is whether or not it’s noticeable or severe enough to matter. Or more terrifyingly, whether or not the lowest common denominator will care.
If Stadia runs poorly but is successful in spite of itself. It will send ripples through the entire gaming industry. I’m not sure that’s a path we want to walk. This all just speculation at this point however. It might run poorly and flop, it might run well and flop. Or it might run great and be successful. Time will tell.
Mount And Blade Bannerlord and Skulls and Bones
You will notice that I didn’t post a trailer for either of those games. That’s because neither of them was at E3. My disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined. They are both games I’m very much looking forward too and I was hoping to see both of them. In particular, I’m dying for a release date for Bannerlord.
Honorable and Dishonorable Mentions:
Age of Wonders Planetfall looks like a great 4X game and features dinosaurs with lasers, I’m sold.
Outriders also sounds great, but I don’t know it plays.
Commander Keen, a classic got turned into a mobile game…ugh…
Cyber Punk is releasing sooner than I anticipated and Keanu Reeves is in it, but we got a cinematic trailer without any new gameplay.
Starfield was absent, which not only means we won’t be getting it until the next-gen console launch. It means we won’t be getting anew Elder Scrolls until around 2024 to 2025. That depresses me greatly.
Remnant looks like Monster Hunter with guns, yes, please.
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