Some reactions to games “unveiled” at E3, and some reasons why one would care… or not. Note that this is not intended to be absolutely comprehensive coverage of E3 at any level, but is instead simply one man’s opinion.
If you visit IGN today you can gain access to a fairly comprehensive review of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, the yearly convention that has ranged from absolutely industry defining to utterly without meaning in its scope of relevancy. To say that its current iteration is overrated might not be entirely correct, but it is within the scope of the discussion. In general, most of the games that were “revealed” or “unveiled” or whatever at E3 were things that were already in the public consciousness – at least at some level. To say that E3’s tech demos fleshed some of these games out significantly would likewise be stretching the truth – a demo is a demo is a demo. Those are words to live by.
Until we hold these upcoming titles in our hands, we know nothing. This is a truth that should have been driven deep into each gamer’s brain by this late stage. In case you are a newcomer, or one of the very young, please internalize this lesson right away: Game companies are trying to sell shit. If they incidentally create a great game… so much the better. But if you buy the game they are peddling, regardless of its comparative quality, then they have achieved their goals. Their salaries are secure for another round. Never make the mistake of assuming that a great demo will yield a great game. Ever. No matter the pedigree of the franchise, or the publisher involved, or whatever else.
Obvious, given that paragraph of raw cynicism, I would not advise you – dear reader! – to take any of the following impressions any more seriously than they are intended to be. I am simply reacting on instinct to things that I have seen from E3. Not even all things I saw from E3. In fact, in my more candid moments, I would probably admit to you that I would be delighted to see people argue with me in the comments section below. So keep that in mind.
Alright, all that’s done. Let’s take a look at some upcoming releases swept from behind black curtains at E3…
Billed as the Alien game that fans have always wanted, Alien: Isolation is a survival horror title published by SEGA, and created by The Creative Assembly, the studio behind innumerable “Total War” franchises. What Total War has to do with evading an unbelievably lethal xenomorph is a question best left to the philosophers. This is a game that people have ostensibly actually played. For real. And those people liked it. I remain incredibly skeptical, but not totally immune to the charms of the idea…. After all, many serious gamers have labored many long years hoping to see an Alien game that captured the essence of the original film. At this point, though, aren’t we looking for survival horror rooted firmly in the unknown? How many surprises are there left for the xenomorph to gift us?
My Prediction: For achievement whores and survival horror junkies only. Ends up on a stack of “Oh, yeah, that was pretty good. I haven’t finished it…” for … everyone else.
Assassin’s Creed: 5,6,7…
Does anyone else remember when this was trumpeted as a trilogy of revolutionary action games, with contextual controls, a fascinating science fiction plot… and… well… three games? The first of the two Assassin’s Creed games talked about at E3 would bring the total number of distinct AC titles listed by Wikipedia to 16. The original Assassin’s Creed was released in 2007. I’ll let you do the math here.
Incidentally, I freely admit that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, was heralded almost universally as an improvement over a series that I had long since lost interest in… but why are people still hooked? Is there even a story being told here? I’m all the way out on Assassin’s Creed. I’d much rather Ubisoft just kept the engine and released something altogether new. Does this have to be the “Spider-Man” of gaming?
My prediction: An embarrassingly overrated (critically) offering from a series that was tired eight offerings ago. The announcement of Asssassin’s Creed 7 (or whatever) follows almost immediately.
Batman: Arkham Knight
This opinion is going to be unpopular… but… did you really love the third Arkham game? Are you even sure you loved the second Arkham game? Believe me, I am the first to admit that Batman is something of a badass. To be put in his skin, with a variety of his capabilities, like stringing villains upside down beneath statues on cables, is rewarding to say the least. Honestly? I got my fill the first time around. Increasingly implausible setups revolving around the same core gameplay just serve to make things even more thin and stretched than ever. Barring a significant improvement in gameplay, this is just another clone.
You should be waiting for a substantial Steam sale here, folks.
My Prediction: Increasingly thin premise leads to thin reviews and even thinner popular support. The end of this latest revival of Batman video games.
Wii U exclusive? I am, in fact, laughing out loud.
My Prediction: Exclusives are a disaster when you’re the Wii-U.
I have heard preliminary reports that this is… underwhelming. At best. I am not surprised. From the footage, it looks like the folks at DICE have decided to merge the successful Battlefield franchise with Payday: The Heist. I’m not sure why. Battlefield’s appeal, to me, has a lot to do with its portrayal of a battlefield. I have no patience for this nonsense. After the catastrophic launch of BF4, and its continuing problems, I have very little patience for DICE, either. This one is going to have to prove a lot to get back into my good graces.
My Prediction: Absolute disaster. The least successful BF since before Bad Company brought it back.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
I, personally, might be out on Borderlands.
But it’s not because of some fundamental flaw that I see in the games. The infusion of humour into a “Diablo”-style game model of increasing loot drops makes for a very refreshing experience. For some. Your own mileage may vary. Still, this is a franchise that has the liberty to extend itself, from my perspective, in ways that Assassin’s Creed has not earned. The simple fact about Borderlands is that a simple frame story is adequate… as long as it’s stitched together with hilarity.
I think we can assume that it will be.
My Prediction: The new Diablo. I grow ever further from people conceptually, as I have an increasingly difficult time understanding why anyone would want to keep playing.
Call of Duty:
This Year’s Call of Duty Star Wars Battlefront Advanced Warfare
Is any franchise more predictable? My own experience, and people that I personally have met, were turned off by CoD: Ghosts. Were you?
My Prediction: It’s CoD, for whatever that’s worth.
Civilization: Beyond Earth
Any new Civ is a big announcement since the advent of Civilization 4, which probably still remains the gold standard by which all similar titles must be judged. Civilization 5 failed to employ Leonard Nimoy to read its narrative dialogue, but otherwise improved substantially in some areas even upon Civ 4. There is little reason to doubt that this latest foray, whatever its inevitable practical issues might be, will provide new and unique opportunities to “civ”. I expect that all serious Civilization players are already planning to buy it. But if that list doesn’t include you yet…
… Why not?
Perhaps this is, finally, the Civ you’ve been looking for. I’d be the first to accept you if you said that Alpha Centauri was simultaneously what you wanted Civ to be, and yet fell short of all your expectations. Alpha Centauri definitely had its problems, even though I would defend it as a superior game of the last twenty years or so. Beyond Earth has the potential to far exceed anything that has come before in Civilization, however. One disappointing idea is that it may also mean that Civilization has explored Earth’s history as thoroughly as it can. I suppose I’ll be pouring out a 40 as I board my shuttle to the moon.
My Prediction: A game that is absolutely worse than Civ IV (no crime, actually!), but is almost as good as Civ V. Shows the potential of the franchise.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Inquisition has vowed to return more to the ideals of the original DA (gameplay wise). I think this is undeniably a good thing. In fact, you could generate an almost perfect WRPG experience if you combined the tactical gameplay of DA:O with the sophisticated characterization and long-reaching multi-layered plot of DA2. Name games for me in each respect which are superior to DA:O (tactical RPG gameplay) and DA2 (characters). Do not use the phrase “Baldur’s Gate 2”. Go.
My Prediction: Disappoints both fans of DA:O and DA2. Becomes overly conservative after chance-taking DA2, but also unwilling to create the tactical difficulty levels that players are hungering for. Demonstrates a continuing lack of awareness from Bioware of what their players actually want.
Something literally no-one wanted! An RPG that can only be played online with other people.
No, I’m sorry. I can’t say for certain that no-one wanted it. If you wanted it, please respond in the comments below.
My Prediction: HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Far Cry 4
Considering the games in this franchise have literally nothing connecting them.. do they really need to be a franchise? Seeing the number “4” after almost anything just bums me out. Still, Far Cry 3 was a triumph. If Ubisoft can continue on that successful path this is a game that is worth serious consideration as it releases.
My Prediction: A series of incredible trailers that make the game look better and better by the day.
My Prediction: A competently arranged sports game. C’mon. There’s a 0% chance that there will be any surprises here, one way or the other.
Forza Horizon 2
This really is a disappointment to me. Forza Motorsport 5 continued the successful Forza franchise on next-gen consoles, and it is an adequate representation of the genre. Forza Horizon (take one!) was a pleasant diversion from the world of racing established tracks with established racing cars, and so on, and so forth… The “refreshing” part starts to dilute right away when you make it into a sub franchise though, right?
All that being said… there’s promise here. The original Horizon was an undeniably fun game. A worthy side-diversion from the historically great Forza Motorsport 4. This one probably bears watching.
My Prediction: Less compelling than Horizon 1. Less compelling than Forza 4. A misguided attempt to score twice with the same franchise in the same year. Bad, bad…
Gears of War 4
My Prediction: Does anyone give a shit anymore?
My Prediction: R.I.P.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Presumably realizing that there’s no new ground left to tread (and there hasn’t been since Halo 3), now there’s an HD collection which brings all of the previous Halo titles up to snuff. Everything will be in 1080p. All the old multiplayer environments will return. All the old games have been remastered. What Microsoft really wants here is a time machine… if we could actually go back to the era of Halo 2’s multiplayer, that would be one thing… but just recreating it now? Let’s just say that I have my doubts.
Please don’t buy this collection.
My Prediction: Startlingly unpopular. Please don’t buy this collection.
Kingdom Hearts 2.5 ReMix
It’s sort of like the FFX/FFX-2 remasters, only it doesn’t bother to include Kingdom Hearts 1. The staggering volume of peripheral titles is well represented here, so your own mileage may vary.
My Prediction: If this is the HD collection you wanted, buy it. If not, boycott it.
Kingdom Hearts 3
My Prediction: More to say, have you?
Mass Effect 4
We don’t know that much yet, even after E3. Still, it sounds like there will be a new, original story, with new characters, in the universe of Mass Effect. Given the scope of the setting, and the absolute masterpiece that was Mass Effect 1-3… I’m going to give Bioware some slack here. I’m going to wait until I have some solid information on what they’ve come up with before I start trying to hack it to pieces.
My Prediction: This will spawn 70 billion angry emails and internet comments, and 63 billion angry fanfics. It will also probably be excellent, if you can get over yourself.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
We all know this game is going to be terrible right? I mean, people who love the lore of Tolkien are going to riot… it’s going to be mechanically or emotionally inferior to Bioware products like Mass Effect, or to the sophisticated blend of The Witcher…
I guess the jury is still very much out on this one. But I just don’t have high hopes at all.
My Prediction: My least fair judgment of all. I think this game will fucking suck.
Mirror’s Edge 2
Top of my “did not need a sequel” list. Great cash grab, guys! I loved the first one, but it actively bothers me that you can’t come up with another brightly lit setting to run athletic characters through. Booooooooooooooooooo.
My Prediction: The birth of another unnecessary series. Still, if the games remain bright and colourful, they have a niche over the browns, greys, brown and greys of, say, Gears of War, or Call of Duty.
Mortal Kombat X
Please make Story Mode repeatable.
My Prediction: Mortal Kombat was already a pretty good start on rejuvenating this franchise. I think it has an upward trajectory… but it needs to make some smart decisions. I don’t think it will. Underwhelming filler game!
Pokemon Alpha and Omega
The beginning and the end.
The first and the last.
My Prediction: Doth thou desire the power?
Rainbow Six: Siege
One of those oddball franchises that pops up with no regularity whatsoever. Still, I gleaned a great deal of enjoyment both out of Rainbow Six: Las Vegas and Rainbow Six: Las Vegas 2: The MGM Grandening. Or whatever. This is one of very few franchises that inspires an immediate “perk up” from me, instead of a sad shake of my head. This is a game that I will be keeping my eye on in the coming months.
My Prediction: My top multiplayer game for exactly three weeks. Then back to business as usual.
Star Wars Games
Star Wars games suck. They sucked before Disney acquired the rights, and they still suck now. Don’t get your hopes up.
My Prediction: Lens flares. They put JJ Abrams in charge, right?
Warhammer 40k: The Eternal Crusade
Too much lore, too much backstory. You will never find what you’re looking for in a video game. I’m sorry. I feel your pain.
My Prediction: A competently executed but ultimately very forgettable title.
The Witcher 3
As soon as censors get hold of the good sex cards, the appeal ends. Well, that’s not fair… this is definitely an above average RPG series. Actually, I have high hopes for the third installment. They still range about 35% lower than the average retail price. Bummer.
My Prediction: Way less nudity than everyone is hoping for. Bummer.