Sunday, June 15, 2014

The E3 recap. It was awesome.

E3 has come to the close, and now we can look forward to a few weeks of pleasant preview articles from the media who went hands-on with titles at the show, or were lucky enough to watch the Bloodborne gameplay behind closed doors.  As a humble gamer, I can merely watch from afar, recounting tales of others and absorbing trailers - but gathered here are, for me, the best moments, trailers, announcements and games of E3 2014.

Awesomest Announcements

E3 2014, naturally, lacked the earth-shaking revelations and duelling of Sony Vs. Microsoft - Microsoft, for their part, focused on pure games in what was one of the strongest conferences of the show - but there's still a bunch of cool stuff you should know.  First of all?  Bloodborne.

Bloodborne is the next game from Hidetaka Miyazaki, the beautiful soul that gave us the genre-defining Demon's Souls and its spiritual successor, Dark Souls - an unqualified masterpiece.  Miyazaki didn't work on Dark Souls II, as he was off working on something terribly mysterious.  That mysterious title was first teased as Project Beast at the 2013 Tokyo Games Show, and was revealed at E3 as Bloodborne.

Developed by (Souls studio) From Software in collaboration with SCE Studio Japan (rather like Demon's Souls), Bloodborne is a PS4-exclusive title.  If you played Dark Souls II and wished it was in 1080p with a better lighting engine, this is the answer to those prayers.

In terms of gameplay, Bloodborne will be faster-paced and perhaps more tactical than the Souls titles, if what Miyazaki's said is anything to go by.  It doesn't sound, for example, like the game will feature shields - and indeed, everything shown thus far has a player-character with a blade in one hand and a torch or shotgun in the other - it's all about evading and being very, very aggressive when you can.

Elsewhere, Bloodborne looks as much like a spiritual sequel to Dark Souls as Dark was to Demon's, with the player character absorbing the souls of his defeated foes, fog gates and gigantic, horrific bosses - along with your standard Souls character creation.

Bloodborne is the single biggest announcement of the show, but there are tons more.

Rise of the Tomb Raider has a so-so announcement trailer and a bad title, but I'm still thrilled one of the best games of 2013 is getting a sequel.

In Microsoft's camp, a new Crackdown is on its way to Xbox One.  It got a CGI trailer.  This fall, Xbox One gamers will be able to enjoy the Halo: Master Chief Collection, which gathers up Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4 into a single package, containing every single multiplayer map every game ever had for the low-low price of $60. A new 5-player Fable game is on the way and (what we think is a remake?) of Phantom Dust, which Chamberlain is super-hyped about.  The single biggest announcement of Microsoft's presser was news that Platinum Games' Hideki Kamiya, legendary director of Bayonetta, Okami, Devil May Cry and Resident Evil 2 came on stage to announce the Xbox One-exclusive Scalebound, a new action game.  Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising game of Microsoft's conference, though, was one we saw for less than five seconds during their indie sizzle reel - a little 2D platforming shooter with the style of Betty Boop-era animation called Cuphead.

Other noteworthy indies on the One include Ori and the Blind Forest and the Shank-esque Wulverblade.

Nintendo didn't offer as many new titles, but it was a solid showing, with the adorable Yoshi's Wolly World and the simple-looking Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (which is coming this year).  The 2D Mario Bros. games are getting a LBP-esque level creation game called Mario Maker, and the 3DS is no slouch with Level-5 RPG Fantasy Life and strategy RPG Codename: S.T.E.A.M. announced.

For my money, the coolest thing Nintendo announced is the team-based multiplayer shooter Splatoon, which doesn't lend itself to simple explanation, so read this.  It's adorable and it looks like miles of fun.

Electronic Arts didn't announce a single new title at their presser, and Ubisoft followed suit right up until the end, at which point they revealed Rainbox Six Siege, a strategic multiplayer FPS.

Sony, for its part, announced more new games coming to PS4 than anyone, I think, could have expected - starting well before E3 week with a series of announcements on the PlayStation Blog, including a clutch of indies I'm dying to get my hands on.

The lovely-looking 2D humanity-exploration game Night in the Woods, starring a young cat who dropped out of college and returned home to find herself, looks so damned cool I wish they'd had it onstage at their presser.  Don't Starve is coming to Vita with the Giants Edition, which I'm thrilled about. The PS4 and Vita-bound One Way Trip looks just crazy, while PS4 Team Fortress-esque shooter Loadout looks crazy-awesome.

The indies kept on rollin' at the conference, with Abzu - from the folks who made Journey - and  a partnership with publisher Devolver Digital locked down standout titles like Not A Hero (PS4, Vita), Broforce (PS4, Vita), Titan Souls (PS4, Vita) and The TALOS Principle (PS4), which is described as Myst meets Portal.  The single biggest indie Sony announced, though, is easily that the only interesting thing from last year's Spike VGAs - No Man's Sky - is coming to PS4.

In addition to Bloodborne, Sony announced Let It Die from Suda 51 (PS4), LittleBigPlanet 3 (PS4), inFamous: First Light (PS4), told us that Grand Theft Auto V is coming to new-gen consoles (and PC), and announced that they were working with Insomniac to "re-imagine the original [Ratchet & Clank] trilogy for PlayStation 4.

They're also... deep breath... remastering adventure game ultra-classic Grim Fandango, in partnership with Double Fine.

It'll come to PS4 and Vita, and I think we're all kind of beside ourselves with joy at that one.  Also announced at Sony's conference was Dead Island 2, developed by the folks at Yager (of Spec Ops: The Line fame), its trailer avoids the ultra-serious tone of the legendary Dead Island trailer, and still manages to be one of - if not the best trailer of E3 2014, which make a fine segue into...

Awesomest Trailers


DOOM's teaser trailer got us all pretty hyped (that door sound effect at the end definitely strummed my nostalgia strings), but it wasn't a particularly good trailer.  No, a good pre-rendered trailer is... say, Ubisoft's trailer for The Division, which beautifully captures the emotional investment it wants to inspire in players, and casts the viewer as the only person who chooses to see and act in the face of soaring tragedy.


In times past, at least, the most-memorable trailers were those that showed us something unbelievable, running on console hardware - and this year (as in years past), that thing is Uncharted.  This is in-game assets running on a PS4, in-engine, and part of one of the game's levels:


One of the most entertaining trailers of the show was easily Sunset Overdrive's Microsoft conference trailer - which pleasantly shifts right into some gameplay.  The gameplay goes on a little long, but the trailer that precedes it is a breath of fresh, honest air.

Ubsoft actually had an excellent showing all-round, with some gorgeous-looking gameplay from the new-gen-only Assassin's Creed Unity, but it's this footage for Far Cry 4 that made me jump up and cheer like a hockey fan.

Sorry, I can't find a version without the commentary. The reveal of the Wii U Zelda title's art style and graphical capabilities (if what they're showing is real), made a million fanboys squee.

And speaking of fanboys, I am, I must admit, a sucker for the new Dying Light trailer.

Other worthy gameplay clips include The Witcher III: Wild HuntCall of Duty: Advanced Warfare (yes, seriously), Dragon Age Inquisition, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Batman: Arkham Knight, Alien: Isolation and - finally - some pure gameplay from The Order: 1886, which really killed my hype for the game.  I mean, it looks gorgeous, but it doesn't look very fun.

On the indie side of things, footage of CounterSpy and Helldivers massively increased my hype levels for both games, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture - from the folks who made Dear Esther - looks almost photoreal, and the trailers for Secret Ponchos and Source are both worth watching.  The two best indie gameplay clips are probably these, for Not a Hero and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, but if I'm being honest, my indie Game of Show is still Galak-Z from 17-Bit Games.

I'm ravenous for new footage and information about the game, and the best I've seen is this 20 minutes of the game's director playing the game for the dudes at Giant Bomb.  Check it out!

And that... that was E3 2014.  There's more, of course - but too much to list in a single post, unless that post is my E3 Homepage post, which literally lists every single thing.  And now, for the remainder of the afternoon, I'm going to go play some video games.


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