The Big E3 Round-Up [Strong Language]

Well thank Christ it’s over. This shouldn’t have been my reaction to the end of the biggest gaming conference on the world, but it was… The bad and mediocre vastly outweighed the good, but what was good, was on the whole a very positive thing for the industry. So in case you missed it here is a round-up of the E3 conference.

EDITOR’S NOTE – Be warned, our new writer does not withhold any punches and can be very… uhh, vocal about it. If you are a sensitive fanboy and dislike the use of some explicit language, turn away now. If you feel you are strong enough, check out Snowy’s brilliant write-up after the break!

Bethesda:

For complete openness, I didn’t see this conference personally because it was on at 2 AM in Britain and I didn’t have the patience, nor the will to wait for it. The information I got for this conference, I got from reading articles on PC Gamer, which may or may not have spared me from crushing boredom, but I’ll never know.

So Bethesda, along with Square-Enix and the PC Gamer Event, they were the newcomers to the event and had a lot to prove. Their big announcement was, of course, Fallout 4 [November 2015], a franchise which has basically passed me by with every game, however I do get the hype, even if it means that, whilst the mewling shits who have been harping on about wanting it released for the last 2/3 years will now be endlessly droning on about every little bit of information like it was handed to them from the heavens. (Also a version that includes a wearable pip-boy wrist thingy is available should you want to spend a year’s wages.)

The announcement that got me excited was that of Dishonoured 2 [Spring 2016], I loved the first game for being a better Thief game than Thief 2014 and simultaneously a very cathartic stabby-stabby-bye-bye-head type game, with each style of play giving you a different ending.

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Doom 4 [Spring 2016] was also given a fresh gameplay trailer that looked like someone had pissed on the camera, I suppose they’re aiming for the realistic kind of look, but the thing that made Doom good was its campy, bright colour palette, we shall see as more is revealed.

Other games announced in the conference were Battlecry [Beta opens later this year], basically a reskin of TF2 that does nothing new; The Elder Scrolls: Legends [Out Now] which is basically Hearthstone with a different theme; and finally Fallout Shelter [Out Now], a F2P mobile game where you manage a vault and look after its residents, apparently the Micro-payments are implemented well with no wait timers, but the game itself is shallow. If I get return slot on this site I may tell you what it plays like.

Microsoft:

Microsoft had a mixed bag this year for me, while there was a LOT of announcements, most of them left me a bit cold and wanting more or were just a bit insipid, there were however some great moments that saved this from being the worst conference. Bear in mind though that every conference I watched was through the stream with the NerdCubed team providing commentary, this will come up again later.

The announcement of Dark Souls 3 [Early 2016] left me feeling confused, while I welcome the idea of more Dark Souls, couldn’t they have moved on like they supposedly had done with Bloodborne, but I suppose if a franchise is worth milking, you might as well milk it until its nipples rot off.

The Halo 5 [October 2015] reveal didn’t bother me in the slightest, as didn’t Gears of Bore 4 [Late 2016… Could’ve waited till next year guys…] along with a re-mastering of the original [August 2015] since both these franchises thrive off mediocrity and offer nothing new or challenging to the formula (Halo might have done once but it’s now a blackened husk in terms of innovation) and will undoubtedly provide us with extremely bland, predictable experiences so as not to scare their comfortable audience. (UPDATE: the Halo 5 multiplayer has micro-payments, I’ll say no more about that than what a bunch of dangle twats they are being.)

Rise of the Tomb Raider [Late 2015] seems to be following in the steps of its predecessor by forgoing the puzzle focus for an action packed game of large set pieces, and while that formula has its merits, it shouldn’t be used to describe a TR game, and the preview provided us with 10 minutes of very scripted gameplay and only a far off glimpse of anything “tomb” like. I’m not expecting much.

Forza 6 [December 2015] provided a moment of lunacy for the conference when they thought it would be a fabulous idea to parade a real life car in front of an audience of gamers and gaming journalists, I really don’t know what they were thinking when they thought up this idea, but it made me chuckle, unlike the actual game, which is just a prettier version of Forza 5.

Cuphead

I feel like old style Mickey will walk in frame at any moment

It seems the indie games that were oh so briefly shown off turned out to be the most interesting of the conference, Cuphead [2016… so far away…] is a platformer with the art style of a 30’s Disney cartoon, it looks absolutely spectacular. Superhot [2015], a game that has a really fun demo online looks extremely promising if it’s anything like that demo. Beyond Eyes [2015] is a gorgeous game where you play as a blind girl trying to make her way in the world, and every screenshot looks like a watercolour painting, seriously go check out the art of this game.

Taking concepts into space seems to be a common theme over the course of the whole event this year as demonstrated with the other indie games, starting with Ion [TBD], basically DayZ… in spaaaace! Admittedly without the zombies and more focus on resources, but it is an MMO survival made by the same guy who made DayZ (maybe he’ll finish this one). Tacoma [2016], conversely, is to all intents and purposes the game Gone Home… in spaaaace! This is, however, ad much more interesting concept than Ion as the idea of exploring a mysteriously deserted space station is a very interesting one, and it certainly looks pretty.

Aside from indies and the big releases, an exclusive compilation of games from Rare was shown called Rare Replay [August 2015], containing 30 of their best known titles. The company also announced a new pirate MMO called Sea of Thieves [TBD] where you and some mates (or rather ship-mates) have to manage a pirate ship, not something for me, but if you like co-op games then this might be for you.

The final games revealed were Re-Core [summer 2016], but all I know about this game is that there is a robot orb thing that can possess metal things, there was no clue in the trailer as to the type of game it is (AKA: pre-rendered bullshit). And finally, Ashen [TBD] a strange looking, open world RPG with a non-linear story, it looks like a promising idea, we shall see when it is released.

Last bit of MS, I promise, there were several hardware showcases throughout the show, including a live demo of Hololens using Minecraft, which looked absolutely amazing, I’d love to play a city builder with it. The Xbox 1 Elite Controller which has the advantage of interchangeable buttons, however the £130 price tag is a deal killer for pretty much anyone. What seemed like a good move towards the end was the introduction of Backwards Compatibility for the Xbone, and yes this is great because there were some great releases from the last generation, but the selection turned out to be aggressively narrow, I’m hoping for it to expand in the future. A less good idea is that of Xbox Preview, this is effectively Steam’s Early Access service for console, and we all know how well that went in the majority of cases…

EA:

Hopefully this won’t take as long since EA spent more time on each thing, although rather too long on sports, but we’ll come to that. I was prepared for EA to be the worst conference, and for the most part, this seemed to be the case, but it was not to be.

For me the announcement of Mass Effect Andromeda [Late 2016… See Gears of War for comment] was a welcome start, the ME games are particularly fine examples of storytelling and they’re actively distancing themselves from the previous games in a Star Trek: TNG style by having the game set in the far future, so far I’m not sold, but we shall see.

The best announcements for me were Unravel [TBD] a platformer based around a knitted demon with the most adorable art style, and Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst [Feb 2016], a prequel to the original with an open world and less combat, which is frankly an amazing prospect, provided the open world doesn’t ruin the flow of the free running. During the Unravel announcement, the developer came on stage, it was hard to not like him because he was so nervous and shaky, he even brought on a real life version of the knitted thing, he was adorable.

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Transformers Devastation [TBD] seems to be somewhat of a wildcard here, it certainly LOOKS like an improvement over the last 2 games and the execrable movie franchise, of which I am ashamed to have seen all 4, by making the art look like the original 80’s Transformers, very campy and colourful, let’s hope the gameplay improves in tandem with the looks.

The self-described “Year of Star Wars” has decided to begrudgingly excrete 3 games into our laps this year, one a mobile game so barely worth a mention, the second and expansion to Knights of the Old Republic so it can go fester in a corner for all I care, and Star Wars Battlefront. A series I love for their over the top battles in vast maps and crazy space battles, sadly this is no more as it appears to have been cannibalised in favour of looking prettier, with insipid, shallow maps, At-At’s on rails and NO space battles, coupled with a multiplayer that’s 6 times smaller in terms of players than Battlefront 2, all of my hype for this game has been dribbled away like food from a toothless baby.

And now to the section I like to call “Shut up About the Fucking Sports Games”, maybe a catchier title is necessary. For a solid half hour, EA prattled on about the latest, prettiest versions of all their sports games, a series which has remained static gameplay wise since the 90’s but they insist on releasing yearly like albums from a boy band, same shit, different year. I don’t know if it’s come across that I don’t like sports games but to clarify, I really don’t, making this part of the conference incessantly dull. But this was made worse by the appearance of the footballer Pele, a man who I though was dead, whom they interviewed for what seemed like an eternity talking about football, in the middle of a gaming conference that you could tell neither the audience, or Pele himself wanted him to be there, although the spectral appearance of him on the stream during a glitch after one trailer ended provided some amusement and a running joke through the commentary I was listening to.

Ubisoft:

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Ubi as their conference started, game wise all I knew about was Ass Creed. But it turned out to be the best presented conference of the whole event, with Aisha Tyler providing a genuinely witty patter and the best hosting from any event.

The games were, however a bit of a mixed bag, starting with South Park: The Fractured But Whole [TBD], a sequel to The Stick of Truth, which would probably seem to be a good game if you are a fan of the show, I personally am not and therefore won’t be using my spare time on it. Trackmania Turbo [Nov 2015] however, certainly seems to be worth my time, a racing game that has some fun and character to it, which makes a change from recent years, that also includes a level editor and the option to create randomly generated tracks.

Sorry Forza, you loose to a game with character

Sorry Forza, you loose to a game with character

Anno 2205 [Nov 2015] continues the theme of concepts in space seen in the Microsoft conference by showing us Cities Skylines (that game is amazing by the way)… in spaaaaace! This genuinely looks like an interesting game and I’m looking forward to see how they tackle it, especially if they incorporate resource management elements.

For reasons best left to Ubi, the deceased Tom Clancy is still releasing games, maybe they have his brain wired up to a computer in their HQ. And this conference has proven to be a very lucrative year for him with no less than 3 games being revealed. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege [October 2015], Tom Clancy’s The Division [March 2016] and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands [TBD]. The last of these seems the most interesting, being an open world, secret agent type dealy, The Division appears to be the standard battlefield/COD shooter type game and Rainbow Six Is Counter Strike with destruco-scenery. So nothing of ground breaking innovation, but probably competent games none-the-less.

For Honour [TBD] gave us the character of the show with the main runner of the game being some sort of mystical wizard with a voice like chocolate (I want him as DLC in this game). The game itself is very promising look with a stunning melee combat engine where every strike looks heavy and impactful, like it’s actually doing something, the live demo providing a very good look at the game as a co-op deathmatch.

Finally, I have almost nothing to say about Ass Creed: Syndicate [Oct 2015] other than the trailer was pre-rendered bullshit and the franchise should’ve died after Black Flag.

Sony:

I didn’t watch Sony for the same reason as Bethesda, but I’ll talk about the games announced none the less, but I have nothing to say about the presentation whatsoever.

The Last Guardian [2016?] was hopefully given a final, very vague release date of 2016 and a 5 minute gameplay trailer. It looks stunning, no question, and like its predecessors everything feels to scale. All the big things, including the strange bird/dog, seem massive and that they could crush you so easily.

Will it live up to 8 years of hype?

Will it live up to 8 years of hype?

A remake of Final Fantasy 7 [TBD] was also teased, with no release date, this is a classic game that many people will love to see re-made, I would like to see it on the PC personally but that’s not likely. Uncharted 4 [March 2016] was also shown, a game which I frankly don’t care for, mostly due to the characters, Drake in particular is one of the most humongous thunderc**ts in gaming, although I can appreciate the influence the gameplay of the series has had on the world of gaming in recent years.

COD [late 2015] reared its ugly head for the yearly Shooty-shooty-regenerate-my-missing-leg festival for right wing nutters… I really have nothing to say about this other than yearly releases are getting tedious and will eventually kill the franchise that takes milking the consumer to a whole new level.

In stark contrast to my cynicism, No Man’s Sky [2016] is looking amazing, being a space exploration game with a procedural, extremely vast universe, I can’t wait. It is now confirmed to be on PC & PS4. Shenmue 3 [TBD] was revealed to be part funded by Sony and part funded by a kickstarter set up. They made their fundraising goal after this slot in 10 HOURS! That shows you how much people want this game. And finally, Horizon: Zero Dawn [TBD] which looks like a game about hunting robot dinosaurs after the apocalypse… you have my attention Sony.

Nintendo:

Nintendo Nintendo, you have disappointed me… You had some good moments, the Muppets style version of your head honchos was fun and one or two strong titles, but come on, we know you can do better than this, you have the ability to create great new IP’s but you insist on milking the old ones like a cattle farm…

The news of Mario Maker [September 2015], Xenoblade Chronicles X [December 2015] outside of Japan and Zelda: Tri Force Heroes [Late 2015] are all very positive things, and games which I would very much like to play, I’m even semi interested in Yoshi’s Woolly World [June 25th] but aside from that, nothing was offered that was of any interest. The new Starfox Zero [December 2015] looks like it was made for the original Wii, the Skylanders/Amibo crossover thing is completely asinine, Metroid Prime Federation Force [2016] is frankly insulting and nothing you’ve shown me outside that holds my interest for more than 5 seconds.

Like I said Nintendo, you are better than this, please oh please get back on form, although the lack of announcement of a new Pokémon game is a good thing, this hopefully means they’ll put more effort into the next generation and produce a well-polished instead letting it become a yearly franchise.

Square-Enix:

Square started out strong with their conference, giving us exclusive trailers and gameplay, but suffered from a severe case of prattling on towards the end of their time slot, maybe because Nintendo finished late and they didn’t want to be robbed of screen time.

They came out swinging with a new trailer for Just Cause 3 [December 2015] full of explosions and even an in-engine/gameplay demo, with a voice telling you what to do that went on ever so slightly too long, but I am still so excited for this game and cannot wait for its release in December.

Continuing their list of games I’m excited for are Deus Ex: Mankind Divided [2016] which has the same look and gameplay style that made Human Revolution a good game. And Hitman [December 2015] an annoyingly titled sequel that purports to take the franchise back to its roots, although the idea of missions in game being on a real timer before they disappear makes me slightly wary of this title until release.

One of the most surreal moments of the day was the reveal of Nier 2 [TBD] with an interesting, but Pre-rendered trailer, followed by the creative director addressing the audience in a giant moon mask… I wish I was kidding. It was the most terrifying moon I’ve ever seen, yes more than Majora’s Mask, and I still see it when I sleep at night… it talks to me.

Oh God...

Oh lord this is terrifying… (Image from Reddit)

Alongside the Re-release of FF7, which was further expanded on here, was the reveal of World of Final Fantasy [2016] a game we know very little of, I personally think that it’s a spin-off title, that has a chibi art style, this is apparently to make a more child friendly FF game which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just think it won’t be challenging for the traditional audience, although it looks cute as a button. And the final game revealed was Kingdom Hearts 3 [TBD], not before they teased us with a mobile phone game to crush the hearts of all the KH fans, which was very funny. The game looks promising and quite genuinely pretty. And that should’ve been it, it could’ve ended right there and we’d have been happy, but for some reason the CEO of SE came to the stage and talked for a good 10 minutes while an audience politely say there, probably thinking the same as me and the commentary I had “Fuck off! End this god damn this now!” I still can’t fathom why he did it or why he was allowed to, common decency suggests either he or I should’ve been euthanized.

PC Gaming:

Oh dear, oh lord, oh fuck me. Remember when I said EA were going to be the worst, no, they have nothing on this, they couldn’t have got the tone of the whole event more wrong if they tried, the only reason I stuck around for the whole 2 AND A HALF mother fucking hours was the commentary from the NerdCubed team, I told you they’d come up again.

So I’ll start with the conference and what they did wrong. There was too much hardware, AMD had 2 whole segments devoted to their hardware and it bored the crap out of me. There was almost no focus on actual PC games, instead they thought an interview focused, pseudo-Conan style thing was the best approach and they couldn’t have got it more wrong. The talking to the developers to gameplay/trailers ratio was so heavily in the part of the former that I nearly fell asleep on several occasions, bearing in mind that this was on at 2AM for me and it was almost light outside when it finished. So in short, too long, not enough games.

Now the commentary, the one thing that made this bearable, started at 1AM with an hour long interactive game of Google Feud, which if you haven’t played, I recommend you go play now, it’s free. The conference itself became a culmination of all of the things that the event had generated in the Twitch chat. Hashtags such as MattFuckedUp and PreRenderedBullshit were rife but one surpassed it all and this is the story.

During the Microsoft conference, Phil Spencer (no not the guy from those property shows) came on stage and the chat was filled with people saying “twat” and Dan (the face of NerdCubed) decided to change this to a Rik Mayall reference, namely “Have A Wank” this was quickly hashtagged and used for a while before fading away. Then by sheer luck, Phil returned during the PCG show, whereupon Dan reminded everyone of the hashtag, which quickly filled the chat. From there it grew, first from Dan saying to go into the main stream, comment “#HaveAWank” and leave, leaving the people watching that stream bemused. This then moved to Twitter, with people tweeting it left, right and centre and then tweeting specific people, mostly gaming commentators such as Boogie 2988 and Jim Sterling amongst others, to the point where it was 7th in trending topics in the UK.

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This was why I stuck around, it was the most fun of the whole event and it was in tears, as were all the commentators. But the fact is this, as juvenile as you might think this was, it wouldn’t have happened if the conference itself was in any way interesting, but it wasn’t.

And that’s everything, a very long winded round-up of the 2015 E3 conference, overall I was happy with it, certainly a strong event compared to the last 2 years, and in case you were wondering, there were no “winners” because it’s a conference, not a bloody sports day, incidentally well done if you’ve read everything up until here, gold star for you.

CountFrackula

A lifelong gamer, weaned onto it from a young age through the Gameboy and gradually onto other platforms. I am now a mostly PC gamer but my pet franchise remains to be (somewhat appropriately) Pokémon.

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