As a self-confessed Sony fanboy I knew that the highlight of the 2015 E3 event was always going to be the PlayStation Presser. I have watched them for many years now, even staying up to catch the 2am start. This year was no exception. the JoypadAndMe team spoke about what we were expecting to hear and were hoping to see in podcast Episode 73 which you can catch over on our podcast feed or on our podcast page on the website.
Sitting in my living room late at night feverishly writing notes about what was coming up might sound like madness to some but it’s always a good time for me as it helps me to judge whats being shown and what my thoughts are about it all.
Each event usually starts with some corporate suit coming up on stage and talking about how good the previous year has been and how important video gaming is while explaining how big a part Sony and PlayStation are to this movement and this year was no exception. Shawn Layden came out on stage and spoke about video games becoming a ‘cultural zeitgeist’ and the advances in-game development that have happened which help to shape and redefine how we as the consumer play games. All true all be it a little over the top but come on, its his job to make it sound as good as he possibly can.
Now I could run the list of everything that was said and regurgitate what was shown scene for scene and pixel by pixel but im sure there a hundred sites out there that are already doing that and that’s fine but id rather take a look at a few that piqued my interest and a couple that stood out from the crowd.
Firstly we have to talk about the game we as a gaming industry have talked about for years because its lack of absence. The Last Guardian. Well, it still exists and more than that, it’s coming! Its made the transfer from the previous generation to the current gen which we could all tell would have to happen if it was gong to come out at all. More than that we even got a semi release date, well, a year at least, 2016. That’s not much of a cemented date and we all know that games can be pushed back and back so I wouldn’t hold my breath on that just yet but still, The Last Guardian is alive and that’s good to see. The gameplay we saw was interesting. a young boy trying to traverse a series of bridges and buildings that look like they would fall apart any second and predictably did during the clip. The young boy was helped out by his oversized companion evidently called Eoobi (or some other such spelling of it) as that is pretty much all we heard the boy call out. It almost felt as though Eoobi will become the next gaming meme name after Jaaaassssoooonnn has now died down. The companion or I suspect guardian looked interesting, a strange mix of dog and bird along with other bits and pieces moved around to commands and helped our little adventurer make his way to the desired destination with the help of a few jumps and catches. The guardians feathers along the body looked as thought they were in the middle of being properly rendered but I can forgive that as I suspect they are going overboard in the detail department for this game and that is why its taking so long. Overall the detail and complexity of what we saw was very impressive. Wil it be a game for me? I’m not sure but what I do know is that this will be a game the whole gaming industry will be looking closely at due to its development time so I really hope it will hold up well under the microscope and become a highlight on the PlayStation for many years to come.
OK, now for a game that blew me away. I had no idea it was coming and nor did many in the audience I suspect. A completely new IP from Guerrila Games popped up on the large screen and the crowd went nuts! Horizon: Zero Dawn is the title and this is a game that seems to have so much that I like. From what we saw it follows a story of mankind loosing in a big way somehow and cities and towns being abandoned, left to rot and decay as the earth takes them back. Forest’s and fields take over and the world goes back to an earlier, more primitive way of life. Human tribes still exist and come together from time to time while hunting on the new landscapes. These humans aren’t sure what happened to ‘The Past Ones’ but what they do know how to do is hunt. Now here is where things get interesting. The humans have what looks like bits and pieces of tech from past generations including impressive looking bows all the while dressed and living somewhat like native americans used to. Ok, so a mix of generations and equipment, I can see how that would work and make for a nice hunting/crafting game but ohhhhh no, there’s more to it than that. Right out of the blue you find out that the animals roaming around the landscapes are in fact mechanoids of some form! ranging from small wolf like creatures to massive behemoth beasts, these robotic imaginings look like a cross between Transformers and Zoids in what can only be described as heaven for me. The mechanoids seem to be harvesting something and working together and I have a suspicion that there is some controlling force rather than independent thought process here. Maybe the ‘Past Ones’ aren’t so past after all? All I can say is damn I want to play this. It looks like something I could really get behind. An interesting mix of what looks like Assassins Creed style stealth through undergrowth mixed with an almost Monster Hunter style of combat looks to give this game some weight. This is one I will definitely be keeping a very close eye on.
The next game I was really looking forward to seeing and hearing more about was the intriguing No Man’s Sky. I’ve been looking forward to seeing more about this game than many AAA titles for the past year. Theres something that’s has me hooked with No Man’s Sky. This time round we got to see some actual gameplay. staged gameplay of proper gameplay, well I’ll leave that up to you to decide but still, any look at No Man’s Sky is always good. This time round Shawn Murrey from Hello Games takes the controller and jumps in the cockpit of the craft as it flies into a battle scenario where two forces seem to be going at it with both barrels (well probably more than 2 barrels as they were big ships and so probably had more than one gun each!) as he explained that what you do is entirely up to you. You could take sides and blast away at the opposing force or you could slip away and do what No Man’s Sky seems to be focused on and that’s exploring. Jumping into the map screen he explains that you can go anywhere. Boy did he mean it. Shawn went on to show the scale of the map and my god if what they are saying is true then DAAAMN! The map was a full on star map with thousand upon thousands of stars on show. He went on to say each star has planets and moons and all of them can be travelled to and explored! This is a star travellers dream. Exploring strange new worlds, Seeking out new worlds and new civilisations…..wait a minute, that’s from something else. Anyway where was I, ahh yes, No Man’s Sky. Well apart from finding unexplored planets it seems that you also go about looking to find new creatures and ecological wonders then adding them to a main database. Next on the agenda for Shawn was to explain that each world discovered also has a fully destructible environment and proceeded to show us by blasting at the scenery. Ok so things blow up but if no ones around to see it then where’s the fun? Well apparently there are sentinels that seem to take offense to any needless destruction and politely ask you to stop with their big blasting weapons. Where these sentinels come from and why they are on undiscovered worlds hasn’t been explained but I’m sure we will find out in due course. Shawn’s last piece of information was that Hello Games will be announcing a launch date soon. Well to be fair we could have guessed that but it’s still good to know and especially if it’s soon. I know for one that I will be whizzing around the galaxies when it comes out.
A game/experience that caught my eye was Media Molecule’s latest creation. I’m not too sure what it will end up being or if it will be a success or a flash in the pan but you have to give them credit for going off in a very different direction. I’m talking about Dreams. Alex Evans from Media Molecule came out on stage to try his best to explain this title. basically you can experience other people s dreams and recreate you own. Anything your mind can come up with can be added to your dreams on the PS4 and then let other people experience the inner workings of your mind whilst doing the same with theirs. See something in someone elses dreams that you like, well you can add it to your own and chop, change, twist and manipulate it into something of your own. Now, what this will actually be like upon release I don’t know and I have some concerns about what some less desirable people might try to create but it could be a really interesting experience. Is it going to be a game for everyone, more than likely not but I can guess being from the makers of Little Big Planet that it will be well supported with additions and such……as long as it takes off in the first place. Only time will tell on this one.
An announcement that seemed to give highs and lows and then highs again was that of Shenmue 3. Why was that do you ask? well, We had heard rumours of Shenmue 3 being announced a few days before the event started and I know many people were over the moon that this hugely long-awaited title might finally be coming. When it was first shown on-screen the crowd went predictably nuts with cheers and clapping abound. Great I thought, a fan favourite coming back in glorious current gen colours so to speak. Not so fast, there will be no preordering Shenmue 3 right after the event though. The reason, well, it hasn’t been made yet. The announcement was for the Kickstarter to fund the game or at least part of the game. The Kickstarter page went live while on stage although the didn’t mention what the goal amount was. I was almost expecting to see them have the page go live and before they left the stage for the goal to be reached but that wasn’t the case. $3 million is/was the goal so probably wasn’t going to be reached on the first night. It was however reached within 2 days so that has to say something about the demand for this game and the willingness for the fans to back this in any way, shape or form in order to get their hands on Shenmue 3. Now we wait and see how long before we see anything else. My prediction, E3 2016 before we see anything else.
The big title for me to be shown was of course Star Wars Battlefront. Being a Star Wars fan how could it not be. I’ve been dying to get my hands on thins since we saw the pitiful amount this time last year. We have seen more since but oh how I want this right now. It might even pull me away from my retro gaming binge at them moment but we will wait till release for the answer to that. We got to see some gameplay which ran smooth and crisp although again, you would expect it to as you know that particular scene has been tweaked and touched to look as good as possible for the event but you can’t blame them really. Rebels make an unexpected crash and have to defend themselves from the evil clutches of the imperial forces that bear down on them. Co-op modes were explained and gave me much more confidence that this will be a title with legs and will not only impress the Star Wars fans out there but the FPS fans out there too. I personally cant wait to take to the field with friends and pull down an AT-AT or jump head long into hoards of imperial storm troopers ridding them of their cloned lives. With a release date that plants it firmly in the Christmas sales running I expect to see this competing with the likes of Call of Duty for the top spot and hopefully winning. A game I will definitely be pre-ordering and I don’t often pre-order. To be honest though with other games coming from EA over the next 12 months, I might as well just plonk my wallet on the desk of EA and tell them to empty it.
Now the PlayStation show obviously showed off far more than I have mentioned here but as I said, I wanted to talk about the ones that piqued my personal interest. There was of course the latest Call of Duty on show. Black Ops 3 is no surprise and set in the future blah blah blah, its pretty much the exact speech we hear each and every year. The only exception this year was the usual Microsoft boast of playing all the DLC on Xbox first has been replaced with Playing all the DLC on PlayStation first. Yep, ok, nice but its all pretty much the same thing. Great for those that love the franchise but for those that have lost the interest it matters not.
Final Fantasy had a good show with both the latest title as well as the announcement of Final Fantasy 7 Remake. I have to admit that the video looked awesome and might tempt me into jumping in but as has been mentioned in previous podcasts, I haven’t played enough of any Final Fantasy game to be able to make a coherent statement on the franchise. I’ll leave that for others to do.
All in all I have to say that the show was indeed impressive. A huge array of games and announcements to make both causal and hardcore gamers jaws drop. It was sad to see the PlayStation Vita getting pretty much ignored in favour of Sony’s latest ‘must have’ creation, Project Morpheus. Will Morpheus be another flash in the pan like ‘Move’ or will it stand the test of time? Who knows, we will have to wait and see for that but for now I really think they should have put more love and effort into their handheld. I know many of our team love theirs and to not hear much about it will be a real shame to them.
The last thing that did make me laugh was even the best of them can still have the same problems that us gamers at home can suffer from. I speak of course of the guys at Naughty Dog while showing off Uncharted 4. On screen was a lovely cut scene of Drake chatting and then it seamlessly moved into gameplay where the intention was to pass through the crowd and inevitably get into trouble. I say seamlessly but unfortunately it wasn’t. You see, it seems that they fell foul of the battery dying problem that we have all experienced with our DualShock 4 controllers. Drake just stood there in the crowd not moving. Everything around him was moving fine so at least it wasn’t a frozen build but after a few minutes they must have realised the issue and following a short black out on-screen, the cut scene restarted and following his chat, Drake finally moved and as i said inevitably landed in how water followed by a downhill chase in a 4×4. Well, problems will always crop up when you least want them to, just ask Naughty Dog…..oh wait that’s right, they had issues showing off Uncharted 4 last year as well when Drake fell though the map live on stage. Oops!
Untill next time, this has been me, Jedi Junkie, going crazy for games and apparently emptying my bank account at the doors of EA.