In the second Rocket Chainsaw Staff Roundtable, we reflect on E3 2015 and our favourite titles from the show.
After attending E3 the last few years, the 2015 expo was undoubtedly the best for some time. Two years into the new latest hardware cycle and we finally have titles to be genuinely exited for. There was genuine enthusiasm among attendees fielding titles that finally demonstrate what the Xbox One and PS4 are capable of. You might think that Sony’s Press Conference was simply fan-fiction has you been informed beforehand. Announcements for Shunmue 3 and the Final Fantasy VII are exciting teases, but teases nonetheless. Seeing The Last Guardian, Horizon Zero Dawn and Uncharted 4 gave PlayStation fans plenty to be excited for, while Halo 5 and the Gears of War remake had my Xbox fanboy on edge.
Deus Ex Mankind Divided and Star Wars Battlefront were personal highlights of E3 2015. Witnessing Square Enix’s continuation of Adam Jenson’s story in a behind closed doors presentation left me picking my jaw up off the ground. The attention to detail and multitude of gameplay options in Mankind Divided is staggering. Furthermore, going-hands on with Battlefront was worth well worth braving the line of attendees stretching as far as they eye could see. Playing first-hand in a chaotic warzone filled with Imperials, Rebels and AT-ATs, I can say the Force is very strong with DICE’s shooter.
However, taking out first place for my personal favourite games of E3 have to be both Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Halo 5 Guardians. 343 Industries sci-fi shooter delves deeper onto the Halo lore and delivers a story of galactic proportions. The new Warzone multiplayer also promises hours of multiplayer mayhem. Meanwhile, Naughty Dog are bringing Nathan’s Drakes story to an end in their trademark fashion. A hair-raising demonstration of their hero’s wild escapades benefitting in spades from the PS4’s horsepower. My biggest takeaway from E3 2015 is that there are a still countless interactive adventures waiting for us embark on far into the future.
Staying up and watching the E3 conferences became a yearly tradition for me quite some time ago, but after some lacklustre showing in the last couple of years I was beginning to question the tradition. This year’s E3 went some way to ensuring that the tradition will stay alive for quite some time.
While CG trailers can definitely be interesting, and continue to increase the hype culture that is sweeping gaming, they don’t do much to show what a game actually is or how it will turn out. Guerrilla Game’s admission that they deliberately held back revealing Horizon: Zero Dawn until they could show gameplay was refreshing to hear. Knowing that it was all gameplay makes the reveal of Horizon: Zero Dawn just that much more impressive. With an interesting post-post-apocalyptic plot and some of the best looking graphics I’ve seen, it’s definitely my most anticipated game coming out of E3. The big half organic-half robotic dinosaurs definitely helped with that.
I’ve always been a big fan of explosions and chaos, and Just Cause 3 looks to deliver that in spades. The reveal that Rico will have unlimited C4 and that the grappling hook can now be used in much more creative ways is getting me excited. It looks like Just Cause 2, but with bigger explosions and more freedom in destruction, and that sounds excellent to myself.
With a close circle of friends who I play multiplayer with, I’m always on the lookout for new co-op games for us to play. Ubisoft showed two games that are exciting me and my co-op buddies in Tom Clancy’s The Division and Ghost Recon: Wildlands. They’re both very different games, with The Division seeming to be a smaller and more focussed co-op shooter and Wildlands being more open and free, but both were the standout co-op games of E3 for me.
I love E3. I love the hype going in, the conferences, the demos, the fails, the surprises and I love watching everyone’s reactions to all the madness that goes on in this crazy week. This year’s E3 really symbolised what the show is about to me, with pretty much E3 trope coming to fruition, from massive surprises, leaks prior to the show opening to absolutely terrible failures on stage. However, now that it is all said and done, all that is left for me to do and start figuring out what I need to start saving my money for.
To me, the games that typically stand out and have me ready to throw money at the screen are ones that are in a playable form. If I get to see a solid demonstration of what I will get to do, my anticipation heightens more so than just a CG trailer. Sony’s press conference, for example, had some massive surprises, but most of the major ones haven’t sold me at this point. The main one that caught my eye was definitely Guerilla Game’s new title, Horizon Zero Dawn. Not only did it show off a new IP with a unique game world, but they showed off a fairly comprehensive demo. It has been a while since I’ve seen a new IP and been so convinced that it is going to be something I want to play. The Last Guardian also has a special place in my heart. While we didn’t see much new content, the demo helped confirm that not only was the game coming out, but it was the kind of adventure game I was expecting.
However, as most people know, I am a BIG Nintendo fan and despite the fact they had a fairly disappointing E3, I still find myself most excited for two of their big titles. The first is Starfox Zero. Lylat Wars was one of my favourite games as a child. Since then, I purchased and completed every Starfox release, but none of them really felt like a true sequel. Starfox Zero seems like the perfect follow up to the N64 classic and I couldn’t be happier, especially with one of my favourite developers Platinum games co-developing it.
The other title is Super Mario Maker. The amount of detail and elements you can incorporate in to the levels is mind-boggling. Some of the levels people made at E3 rekindled a love for the 2D Mario titles I thought I had lost. I know this is going to be a title I am playing for months, maybe even years.
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Once again I experienced E3 from the comfort of my home (during the discomfort of absurdly early hours), and though my passion for this medium as a whole remains unbroken, this year’s gaming event extravaganza highlighted how disinterested in E3 I’ve become. I really feel the power of hype mongering game events has passed and are no longer necessary in this day and age, and value of their purpose has long expired. And yes, that’s including Sony’s undeniably memorable conference. Shenmue 3.
That being said, I’d be lying if E3 2015 didn’t birth a handful of exciting upcoming titles. Guerrilla’s Horizon is up there, as I’m glad to see the dev stray away from Killzone (a franchise I want to like more than I do), and seeing full gameplay reveals at E3 instead of pre-rendered rubbish is a great way to grab my attention. Conceptually it looks gorgeous, and I’m keen to see how traversal and the open world itself evolves. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided looks to be a true successor to one of my favourite games of the last generation (I asked for this), as does Dishonored 2. Neither of these games are particularly surprising, but I’m glad the overall vision doesn’t seem to have been lost. Mass Effect: Andromeda obviously has me by the balls, but it was a short, sweet, cheeky tease of bigger things to come. Oh, and Transformers: Devastation looks far better than it has any right to, capturing the visuals of G1 cartoons with Platinum’s trademark combat.
Without a doubt the biggest surprise (and most hypocritical, given my huge preference for gameplay reveals over nothingness) is the announcement that Platinum Games is partnering with Square-Enix and Taro Yoko to create a spiritual successor to Nier. One of my favourite developers contributing their talent to the wild genius of Taro Yoko is a borderline dream come true. Keiichi Okabe returning as composer is the icing on the cake. This one is surely a long way away, but I feel the deep burn of hype already.