Posts Tagged ‘ E3 ’

Counterview from a Wide-Eyed Video Game Industry Fool

In a recent pre-E3 post at Scholarly Gamers, video game advocate Patrick Scott Patterson detailed his precarious position on the precipice of cynicism for the industry he loves. I’ve followed PSP for a while on social media, I’ve even had dinner at WingStop with the guy once, and I’ve agreed with a lot of his opinions and efforts, but I’ve disagreed from time to time as well. Where he’s peering into the pit of cynicism, hoping E3 2017 will deliver a swinging vine with which to grab and swing over, I feel quite different about the state of the industry right now.

PSP Pitfall

Totally professional artist’s rendition of Patrick Scott Patterson’s E3 2017 goal.

I think PSP’s lamentation of a time in the 90s where hardware was the focal point of discussion rather than games is fair. He specifically states: “…this time period seemed to focus too much on technology and not enough on games. All I wanted out of the industry – all my friends wanted out of the industry – were games.

I think that’s a fair statement and one that holds true for most gamers today. We saw that in the push back to X-Box One’s announcement focusing on television, television partnerships, a Halo television series with Steven Spielberg, and the multimedia capabilities of the system, to which gamers replied “where are the games?”

In fact, Sony “won” E3 that year and has been “winning” the latest battle for the living room by their message of being for gamers and putting the focus squarely on games at their presentations. Sure, they still had Netflix, were still working on a more a la carte TV offering, and were still a multimedia system too, but they knew that gamers want games and made that their focus.

Where Scott and I first diverge is on the opinion of delivering on this desire. I’ve talked with Scott via social media posts before have the impression he feels the PS4 doesn’t have the library to draw him in. I, on the other hand, have an ever growing library of games for the system that I can’t keep up with (as a typical gamer, my backlog doth floweth over), but I’ll touch on that a bit more later.

Hardware or Software? Who Gets the Spotlight?

GameInformer Issue 289

But is hardware overtaking the spotlight when it comes to games? Overall, I don’t think so. Let’s start by the fairest comparison we can have to the 90s with a print magazine. May’s Issue 289 of Game Informer dedicates four pages to VR hardware technology, but four pages to games coming out that will take advantage of VR headsets. Two pages discuss the Nintendo Switch, which is arguably a look at hardware.

A feature on indie games at GDC 2017 covers 12 different games with quick looks. 12 more games are given quick hit blurbs, then a page each for an afterwards look at Horizon: Zero Dawn and For Honor. Halfway through the issue, we’re on to reviews for Hellblade, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Injustice 2, Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Perception, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Sonic Forces, Kingsway, Hob, Tacoma, Into the Breach, Quake Champions, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III, Perception, Escape from Tarkov, Tokyo Xanadu, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Ghost Recon Wildlands, Yooka-Laylee, Persona 5, The Elderscrolls Legends, and Tumbleweek Park. That’s 6 pages for hardware with 47 games getting attention in the issue.

Moving beyond print media and looking at the online landscape of games sites, where does hardware fall?

What is Real? – Virtual Reality

Honestly, things are pretty sparse on VR coverage. Many are concerned Sony has already given the PSVR the same vaulted position next to the Vita and PSP under a rug. Where Scott wasn’t impressed with its presence at E3, many are worried about a lack of it this year, myself included.

Specifically speaking, Virtual Reality is another point I disagree with PSP on in general. Or at least, I’m hopefully disagreeing while fearful he’s right, but here’s where wide eyed fool meets at-risk cynic with more matured observational experience. I’m a firm believer that we can look to our actual future by looking to the science fiction of our past. Whatever we imagine, we eventually find a way to bring to life. From Star Trek automatic doors and communicators to modern day….well automatic doors was on the nose, but surpassing the science fiction with Smart Phones, we’ve made science fiction reality. Self driving cars have long been a staple of science fiction and we’re on the verge of reaching for that goal in the next decade.

Likewise, we’ve long imagined virtual reality, where we can be fully immersed in another world, transported through some form of technology, dreaming of a day when the virtual is near indistinguishable from the real. While I don’t think we’re on the verge of that, I actually am excited by the modern adoption and interest in virtual reality and want it to be pushed. I want games exploring the possibilities. I want the clunky headsets of today because they’ll become the sleek visor/ear covers of tomorrow. I want the groundwork laid out now to be deep diving into VR when I’m in a retirement home.

Morpheus

Obligatory Morpheus pic while talking about Virtual Reality…check!

I’ve never liked first person games, but based on my experience with Arkham VR, I look forward to an Elder Scrolls game in VR and am fully hoping next week’s E3 includes the announcement of Star Wars Battlefront 2 being fully playable in VR.  I haven’t played it myself yet, but most reviewers and commenters seem to agree Resident Evil 7 is a whole different experience in VR, and far more terrifying than it is without.

State of the Consoles Address

I somewhat agree with Scott’s view on the state of the consoles, though not completely. Nintendo needed to bring out the Switch to replace the Wii U. While the Wii U had some fantastic games and I agree will likely be seen as an under-appreciate system in the future, this fall will mark 5 years since its release. That’s only 1.5 years less than the Wii’s lifecycle. If the sales-struggling Wii U managed to reach that close to its juggernaut predecessor’s life, I consider that pretty good longevity.

The PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio, however, I agree are a bit unnecessary and I’m not crazy about the idea of half step generations becoming the standard, especially depending on how much more they start to offer in the future over their “lesser” versions. Right now, however, they haven’t seemed to be that much of a game changer. If Scorpio proves to be more of a true next-gen step with Microsoft stepping into a staggered cycle, that’ll be a bit different, but it remains to be seen.

However, going back to hardware overshadowing software, I’m not sure that spec comparisons of PS4 to PS4 Pro and XB1 to Scorpio, as well as PS4 Pro to Scorpio, are really overshadowing the games. Searching “IGN + E3” gives you IGN’s page featuring 29 articles on game expectations with only 2 on Scorpio. Searching for “Game Informer + E3” yields articles primarily about games. Similar results are found at GameSpot’s E3 page.

Obviously, Scorpio and its specs will be a big part of Microsoft’s presentation with them feeling they’re in a similar position as Nintendo and need to get back in the race. I’ll agree a stronger, more horsepower, console isn’t how I’d expect them to win gamers back, though. Scalebound and more exclusive first and second party titles would have done more than a beefier processor in a new system replacing what people already own. But that’s the course Microsoft is taking for E3, so…

Where’s the Beef Games?

When Scott says “I hope I can see an industry that is once again focused on providing wonderful and groundbreaking game play experiences, rather than continuing to hype the boxes that are supposed to run those experiences,” I think that’s a valid desire, one which I think is going to be delivered from Sony and Nintendo this year. Their boxes are out and they’ve said what they do, so now they can focus on the software for them.

He goes on to say, “If anything else, it’s a case of clarity as to where we need to put our hard earned money. There is a clarity and confidence in knowing that you have invested in a video game console that you know is going to give you joy for years to come. There’s a warm, fuzzy feeling in seeing a game library grow and grow on hardware you know will be the focus for quite a while yet, rather than this look-over-your-shoulder feeling the marketplace has created for itself now.

I really feel like here’s where we stop walking on different sides of the path and diverge in two different directions. I got a day one PS4 and I’ve not been disappointed with the first 3.5 years and I expect plenty more games in the next 2 or 3 years as well. I own 59 titles for the system (not including about 50 more from Limited Run games) and have completed less than half of them. And there’s no evidence to suggest PS4 is slowing down with God of War, Spider-Man, The Last of Us 2, Days Gone, Death Stranding and more on the way (though I suspect Death Stranding will be the system’s swan song at the end of its life cycle), not to mention third party titles that will be available on multiple platforms.

I jumped on the Switch at launch as well and I thoroughly enjoyed Breath of the Wild and look forward to Cave Story+ next (even though that’s not new, per se) and have heard ARMS is surprising people with how fun and challenging it is. I think Nintendo has something hot on their hands that isn’t going to cool off for a while still and hopefully that will be reflected in the software down the road for the next 5 or 6 years as well. Since this little device is so unique apart from XB1 and PS4, I don’t see it having to sweat the advance of technology as much for a good while still.

Khajit Has Wares, But Are They Worth Coin?

Sony and Microsoft need to show me something jaw dropping for me to trust them enough to buy their shiny new hardware.

I think Sony’s already made their position clear regarding PS4 Pro. It’s the console enthusiast version of the PS4. Much like a good $800 PC will play most games on high settings and you’ll thoroughly enjoy those games without missing out, there are going to be people with $1800+ PCs that play everything on extreme settings while running 100 resource hog addons at the same time without a hitch. PS4 Pro is merely that higher end one, but nothing demanding PS4 owners to plop down another stack of cash to replace their PS4. Sony’s not trying to convince you otherwise, and if you don’t have a 4K television, it’s a moot point to begin with.

Now, will Microsoft treat consumers the same? Will they assure customers that their X-Box One is just as valid and just as much a focus this holiday season as the Scorpio system? One can hope. I would certainly hope Microsoft wouldn’t be arrogant enough to think they can put all their efforts to the new system and expect everyone to jump on it, especially after so many X-Box fans jumped ship to PS4 at the start of this generation and even more are seeing the PC as the best option for the X-Box exclusives. An X-Box isn’t an Apple product, after all.

In Conclusion

I’ve been gaming for around 26 years, give or take, just about a decade (little more, little less) than PSP has been drawn to the industry and its offerings. Perhaps it’s that decade difference of experience and observation that still has me wide eyed and bushy tailed where he’s resisting what I expect will be a temporary threat of cynicism.

It could also be a shift in tastes. I know Scott’s voiced preference for shorter play times and quick plays with his kids, over the sprawling narratives and vast open world games while I remain single and afforded the free time to explore a large Hyrule or take in the story of games like Uncharted or the mix of both with Horizon: Zero Dawn. I think there’s definitely a difference in approach to games for a husband and father who is self employed versus a single bachelor with time on his hands.

I really hope this happens. For almost 36 years now, I have been one of the loudest advocates for the video game industry, save for that one confusing period in the 90s. I hate that I have been starting to feel like that again, but there it is. Just give me something fun to play, folks. Show me some focus.

Please.

I just feel if further rests on tastes and what you’re looking for. There are a ton of great looking games coming out and while some look similar to one another (yes, I noted the Assassin’s Creed similarities while playing Horizon: Zero Dawn), that doesn’t make them the same ol’ same ol’ either. Each definitely have their own flavor to offer.

I don’t platinum games often, but I try to finish every game I pick up. Even when games don’t hit the mark, I still find them enjoyable in some way and appreciate the different things many try to accomplish, even if they don’t quite get there.

I’d be curious to know what Patrick Scott Patterson’s top 15 games (total, not each) from 360 / PS3 / Wii (and Wii U) are. It would definitely be interesting when watching E3 to speculate what, if anything, catches his eye.

For me, I’m looking forward to all of it. I’ve never been burned by my own E3 excitement. Honestly, and seriously, not once. Bring on the games so I can start budgeting the rest of my year. I’m sure October’s going to hurt, as always.

E3 – Day 1

E3 Recap time!

Getting caught up on E3 news for the first day here.  I’ve said before I’m not an X-Box fan, so I didn’t watch the Microsoft presentation, though moreso because I wasn’t at the computer but was picking up a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on GameCube (what’s up?!) at the time.  From what I’ve heard second hand, nothing particularly stands out to me as amazing for me.  Halo fans will probably be thrilled at the variety of 100 multiplayer maps in Halo’s Master Chief collection, so that’s out there for fans of the series.

The things that intrigued me from Microsoft’s presentation are available on PS4, though.  Tomb Raider: Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Division, and Dragon Age: Inquisition are some games I’m looking forward to.

Ubisoft’s presentation was rather interesting.  I’ve never played a Far Cry game either, but the Far Cry 4 preview was a great hook. It’s a good start up to pull you into the story.

I’m not sure if I’ll continue following the Assassin’s Creed series with Unity as it looks like it’s going to grow in importance of multi-player which doesn’t tend to get my interest for console games, but on the other hand, the trailer did look pretty good.  With the open world design and problems coming up as you move, the game could be more interesting than other installations have gotten.  I was particularly interested in the way they showed the character running after a thief, but stopping when he came upon a murder scene. Coming out of the murder scene, you hear the comment “I can’t solve every problem” which could make the game very interesting if there’s some impact on ignoring some problems and addressing others, especially if there’s no way to resolve them all.

The Division looks interesting and if I can get a friend or two to play alongside me, I’ll definitely be playing that.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War.  We didn’t see the gameplay of this game, but the art style is very stylized and the central character it revolves around that ties all the characters together is a dog. Set in World War I, it’s an extremely unique game inspired by letters from soldiers in World War I.  It has support from historians and actual photos are apparently used courtesy of various historical sources.  Just from the trailer video, it looks like it will be a rather touching and emotional game in its own right.  It may be one of those games that every gamer should play when all is said and done.

I’m also not a FPS player, but the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six preview actually looked really cool.  Another one that looks like it would be a lot of fun with friends who play together regularly.  I have to give them credit when an FPS actually gets my interest.

Now I’m caught up….. I’ll blog thoughts live on the Sony presentation.  🙂

Sony Presentation

Sony kicked off with Destiny.  Again, I’m not a fan of FPS games, but this one has been doing a fantastic job of making me want to know more about it.  From the commercial last year with the law of the pack to this intro video just now, it looks like a cool world they’re building.  I’m not sure it’s enough to pull me into an FPS game, but it does look like a cool game.  Exclusives for Playstation with PS4 players able to play Destiny Alpha next week and July 17th for beta for Playstation.  Looks like PS4 will also get it released first.  Exclusive weapons, ships, and maps for PS4.

Next showing is The Order 1886, a PS4 exclusive IP.  It looks pretty darn good from what they showed.  Seamless transition from what looks like cut scenes and play footage.

Entwined. A game about two souls in love who can’t be together (looks like a bird and a fish).  Guiding two characters at once, one with each analogue stick (yikes).  It looks somewhat Star Fox-ish in style, flying through tunnels and hitting targets.  It looks like a very artistic game from a small development team.  Sony continues to promote the small and indie developers.  PS4 available now for $9.99 tonight with PS3 and Vita (cross buy) to come.

Getting more inFAMOUS content in August.  There’s another exclusive Playstation title.

Little Big Planet 3 is showing next.  From what I heard, the Project Spark game shown at Microsoft’s project looked a lot like Little Big Planet.  With LBP’s fan base, I’d say it’s already got the lead, despite Conker’s addition to Project Spark.  I played Little Big Planet 1 a bit, but honestly, this game with the 4 player team work really looks like it will be a lot of fun.  It will be coming out in November.

Big cheers for Shuhei Yoshida on stage.

Yoshida is introducing a new IP – Bloodborne.  Another zombie based world, looks like it’s set in a medieval time period. Coming in 2015.

Next up we see Far Cry 4.  The intro from UbiSoft was interesting, as earlier stated.  This showed more of the gameplay. Fairly standard FPS in terms of shooting, but still interesting.  Big news…you can invite friends to play with you who don’t have the game only on PS4.  That’s a pretty big thing.

They’re going through letters from players about things they’ve wanted to see next.  Here’s what we get in response to these letters:

Next up…Zombies.  Amusing style trailer.  Very different approach to zombie style game for Dead Island 2.  Funny trailer, check it out.  30 day exclusive beta and an exclusive character class for PS4.

Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition on PS4 will include zombies from Last of Us in a special dungeon.

Battlefield Hardline gameplay trailer up next.  It looks like it would make a great Bruckheimer/Bay film.

Disney Infinity exclusive edition on PS3 and PS4 with Incredible Hulk.

Partnership with Paradox Interactive.  More exclusive PS4 games, starting with Magicka 2.

Grim Fandango will be getting remastered exclusively to PS4 and Vita.

Console debut exclusive to PS Platforms: Devolver, Broforce, Titan Souls, Not a Hero, Hotline Miami Wrong Number, The Talos Principle – a lot of indy style games in there.

Another PS4 exclusive with a violent brawler game called Let It Die coming in 2015.

Giant Squid development team (creator of Journey’s new team) bringing us Abzu.  It looks a lot like Journey in style, but underwater.  This is also a PS4 exclusive.

Final game that will make its debut on PS4 looks like a Sci Fi exploration world. Interesting art style that reminds me of Wild Star a bit.  Looks like another FPS, though currently they’re flying a space ship…into space through meteors, able to shoot in the ship from cockpit view.  Looks like worlds can be discovered and the player who discovers them is marked as such.  Flying around the planet, did a barrel roll!  Shooting down other ships.  The title is No Man’s Sky.  Indy game as well and looks damn impressive.  Every player starts on a different planet.

They’re now talking about the Playstation Camera, an optional addition (nice jab at Microsoft), and how it can bring gaming to a new dimension. Yes, folks, Project Morpheous.  Sony’s Virtual Reality headset.  Creative teams are working with Sony to define this, the game’s in the booth with three game demos, two of which are new.  (Stay tuned, planning a solo blog post on this)

Shawn Layden on stage, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America.  Talking about the drive for innovation at Playstation.  PSN – Playstation Network – robust and evolving, reacting to what gamers want; to share experiences and connect with friends.  New tools are brought to the PS4 faithful with Share Factory and photo mode in inFAMOUS Second Son.  95% of PS4s are connected worldwide, social activity is astounding. 1.25B hours spent gaming, +1B multiplayer sessions, share button has been used 220 million times, and YouTube is coming to PS4 later this year.  With a press of the Share button, pS4 gamers can upload video to their YouTube channel.  Can see your friend’s shared YouTube videos in the “what’s new” activity feed.  150 million spectate sessions.  Twitch and Ustream will allow viewers to communicate with the players they’re watching.  Create broadcast sets for your broadcasts.

This YouTube feature is going to be an amazingly massive feature.  They brushed over it, but I predict this is one of the biggest features hitting any console.

Sony is committed to Free to Play games.  Currently 25 F2P games coming in the next 12 months – Kingdom Under Fire, Planetside 2, and Guns Up.  At point of entry, free to play is free to play.

Playstation Now hits open beta on PS4 July 31st this year.  Select Sony televisions will be able to access Playstation Now without a Playstation console.  Just need the Dualshock controller.  Wise move to help the sluggish television sales.

Support continues for the Playstation Vita.  It will have access to Playstation Now. It has 100 games in development. Child of Light and Tales of Hearts R, Tales from the Borderlands, and Minecraft (full console experience with co-op).  The US will also be getting Vita TV due to the unprecedented support and demand.  $99 for Vita TV or $140 for Vita TV, a Dualshock 3 controller, HD cable, and digital Lego Movie game voucher.

Mortal Kombat X footage premiere is up next.  Graphics look great.  New characters I’ve never seen before.  Graphics are smooth and the game is gory as ever. 😉

Entertainment offering is taking a “new superhero twist.”  Sony Picture Entertainment is bringing exclusive content to PS4 (this is sort of what Microsoft got burned for talking about last year).  Powers is the first series, based on Bendis and Omen’s graphic novel series.

RATCHET AND CLANK MOVIE!  I’m not going to lie, this looks like it will be awesome.

The Last of Us comes to PS4 (not news, but we get a look at it).  This game pushed PS3 to the limits…PS4 takes it further and it does look amazing.  July 29, 2014 release date.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain new trailer shown.

Grand Theft Auto 5 coming to PS4, footage shown from Playstation 4.  Comes out this fall, taking advantage of the system capabilities and features enhancements. Current PS3 and 360 players will be able to transfer their progress to PS4.

Batman: Arkham Knight footage up next.  I still don’t like the new suit, but the game looks amazing. Showing a lot of the gameplay footage of the Batmobile useage.  Movements look faster and smoother than past games.  Exclusive missions on Playstation.

And to wrap up the presentation…

UNCHARTED 4.  The crowd is pretty happy.  Just a trailer, really. It’ll be out in 2015.

End with a montage of footage from various games for Playstation 4.  Kingdom Hearts 3 was shown among them as well.

All in all, really impressive presentation from Sony.