Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo
After another year of waiting, one of the biggest events in gaming is upon us. E3, Electronic Entertainment Expo, is an industry only event where game developers from around the world showcase their latest video games. This year’s E3 managed to give way to some of the best conference in years from both Microsoft and Sony. To highlight a few of the games shown, I’ve prepared a list of my Top 3 from each conference with a small description. This list is purely personal opinion and I had a extremely hard time choosing between the games for Sony and Microsoft this year. Feel free to leave your own lists in the comments for people to see but without further ado, here is E3 2016.
#1: We Happy Few
Developer: Compulsion Games Platforms: Xbox One, PC Release Date: July 26, 2016 (Early Access)
The biggest surprise, in my opinion, to come out of the Microsoft press conference was We Happy Few. While the game has been shown off before at other gaming events, this was the first time I had heard anything about it and, let me say, I was absolutely stunned. Seemingly taking both visual and atmospheric ques from Bioshock, We Happy Few looks like a fantastic story driven, first-person thrill ride that will fill the void left behind from the absence of the Bioshock series. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this game when it releases later this year. The game will be available for Early Access and Xbox Preview this July which is an interesting choice but I’ll most likely be waiting for the full release. Definitely keep your eye out for this game in the coming months.
#2: Gears of War 4
Developer: The Coalition Platforms: Xbox One, PC Release Date: October 11, 2016
Really there’s not too much to say about Gears of War 4 except that it looks like more Gears of War with better graphics. When they announced Gears 4, I was extremely skeptical as a huge fan of the series. I firmly believe that game series deserve to end when their stories have been told and their developers are ready to move on. I’ve bared witness to what happens when Microsoft pushes their IPs to continue past their original run with Halo, Halo 4 being an absolute disappointment and Halo 5 having a great multiplayer, sure, but an extremely mediocre campaign. From the looks of the gameplay, it doesn’t seem that The Coalition is really innovating the series in any particular way. They’re sticking to exactly what Gears is and that’s not necessarily bad but it’s definitely not as exciting trying to reform the series with a new vision. I’m still skeptical that this game might be another let down but that doesn’t mean I’m not hoping it will succeed. If they’re going to continue the series anyways I can only hope they make it worth it. The only complaint I have about the gameplay demo is the voice acting. Not only is it in your face and distracting, it’s just not great. After seeing what Laura Bailey can do from Uncharted 4, I’m disappointed in the way they’re using her in Gears of War 4, providing a cheesy, almost-happy tone for the new female lead. All in all, I’m a massive fan of the Gears trilogy so I’m very critical because I want nothing short of the greatness I know it can achieve.
#3: Dead Rising 4
Developer: Capcom Vancouver Platforms: Xbox One, Others Unknown Release Date: December 6, 2016
Dead Rising has been one of my favorite Xbox series since the original game. What surprised with Microsoft’s conference is how little they showed Dead Rising 4. They didn’t talk about the game and just showed the simple trailer above. Dead Rising 4 looks to take the over-the-top style of its gameplay and triple it with exo-suits, new weapon combinations, and a seemingly more unhinged Frank West in a Christmas Wonderland, finally returning as the main character. While I thought Dead Rising 3 was pretty subpar compared to DR1 and DR2, I still found it to be a fun, wacky zombie game so I’m eager to return for this new installment (even if the new character model doesn’t really look like Frank West). Dead Rising 3, along with Sunset Overdrive, is the reason I wanted an Xbox One to begin with so that says everything you need to know about how excited I am for Dead Rising 4.
#1: Spider-Man PS4
Developer: Insomniac Games Platforms: PS4 Release Date: Unknown
After the success found with Rocksteady’s Batman series, it’s no surprise that the next superhero who could be given true gaming treatment would be Spider-Man. In 2014, Activision’s rights to the franchise expired, leaving Spider-Man up for grabs. Seeing Sony working with Marvel to bring Spider-Man to the Marvel MCU, it looks as though Sony had also struck up a deal to have an exclusive game made for the PS4 by none other than Insomniac, known for the Ratchet & Clank series and, more recently, Sunset Overdrive. There’s no other developer I would want creating this game as Insomniac is known for making action games bursting with fun and imagination. After seeing what they could do with an open world environment in Sunset Overdrive, I’m confident they can expand upon what they’ve learned and create a truly amazing Spider-Man game. This was easily one of the biggest surprises of E3 2016 and I’m happy to see my favorite superhero get a chance at being great again in video games (Neversoft’s Spiderman for PS1/N64 and Treyarch’s Spider-Man 2 movie tie-in being the last games in the franchise I’ve ever really cared about).
#2: God of War
Developer: Santa Monica Studios Platforms: PS4 Release Date: Unknown
After seven entries into the Greek Mythology world of gods, monsters, and extremely one-dimensional rage, God of War is looking spicing things up with their latest entry to the series. Changing the gameplay direction entirely, the new God of War looks to be taking a slower, over-the-shoulder action page straight from games like Dark Souls. The Norse Mythology world Kratos now finds himself in seems more grounded and less cartoony, aiming to be far more narrative driven. God of War has always been criticized for its main character, the God of “Teenage Rage”, and this trailer tells us that Santa Monica may be directly revolving this game around Kratos becoming a real character. We see him attempt to control his anger and even try to provide confront to his son, a big step for his character. I love the idea of chipping away at Kratos and watching him turn from god to human. There’s a lot of speculation as to whether this Kratos is the same man from the previous games and I am inclined to think he is. Still sporting his red markings with the Omega symbol and having “Spartan Rage” available to player seems to be very intentional. I doubt that this is a separate Kratos as it makes little sense that he wouldn’t have his key features changed to match the new mythology. Regardless of Kratos’ origin, I can’t wait to see more about God of War as a fan of previous games but also as someone who loves to see developers evolve their games. I didn’t think God of War could still find legs this far into its life and I was happily proved wrong this E3. With no released window stated, I anticipate that God of War will be aimed to release Fall 2017.
#3: Horizon: Zero Dawn
Developer: Guerrilla Games Platforms: PS4 Release Date: February 28, 2017
Since its announcement at E3 2015, Horizon: Zero Dawn has been one of my most anticipated new IP in a long time. Coming from the creators of Killzone, I never expected such a 180 flip from the developers, moving from a bland FPS “Halo Killer” to an Open-World, 3rd Person Action RPG set in a robotic, prehistoric world. The game looks absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to learn more about the world. I was disappointed to hear Sony’s big fall game would miss its mark yet again but if the game needs a few more months of polish then take the time it needs to get it right. From what we saw in the latest gameplay demo, the game looks to very much be a long, RPG in the vain of games like the Witcher 3. We saw an inventory/crafting system, a large open map with objectives to conquer, and a Bioware-like dialogue wheel. I’m suffering from Open-World fatigue big time these days but I’m willing to make an exception for a game like Horizon: Zero Dawn that brings us to an amazing-looking world, filled with intrigue.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Developer: Nintendo Platforms: Wii U, NX Release Date: 2017
The only new game out of Nintendo this year, not wanting to unveil the NX just yet, was the latest entry in the Legend of Zelda series, Breath of the Wild. From what we’ve seen in the four-hour live stream, Nintendo is looking to bring Zelda into the Open-World RPG space, completely changing how the game plays. With the addition of a completely explorable sandbox open world, changeable armor and weapons, and the inclusion of collectible/craftable resources (such as food replacing heart drops), Breath of the Wild is shaping up to be a system seller. Despite being late to the open-world party, Breath of the Wild seems like it will stun and amaze people as Nintendo adds their signature polish to the genre. I can’t say I want a 60+ hour long Legend of Zelda game over a tighter 25 hour experience but I fully intend to make another exception for a game that will be nothing short of great.