So in the blink of an eye the E3 shows have come and gone once, as usual the gaming world is ablaze with news and hype. The console space is certainly alive and kicking with Microsoft and Sony sizing up to each other for the next bout. I have to say I think Sony nailed it this year with games the games being shown at a relentless pace. Obviously, I'm only going to report on PC comings and goings but I am very excited to see how Spider-Man turns out on PS4. So here are the games that either caught my eye or jumped onto my radar this year.
Mass Effect Andromeda
Myself and many of my friends hold the Mass Effect trilogy in high regard. The space-faring RPG from Bioware gained a vast following because it really gave the player the ability to chart their own path through dialogue trees. More than those decisions made in previous games would then carry forward to the later releases. The combat and exploration were more hit and miss but by the end of the second game, I had become heavily invested in my female Shepard (main character) and the many allies you meet along the way.
With a fresh start and new galaxy to explore Mass Effect fans are now chomping at the bit to see more of the new game, unfortunately, the trailer (below) was very light on actual gameplay. What we did see looks amazing, sumptuous visuals and stunning environments throughout. One item that did stand out was the new Mako, the meaty surface vehicle from the first game: I cannot wait to give it a test drive. Let's hope we see more at Gamescom.
Titan Fall 2
What a wonderful (if a little crowded) premise, lots of robots smashing ten colours of crap out of each other. When the original Titan fall landed (sorry) the hype was strong, the servers were packed and it seemed that Respawn Entertainment (EA as publishers) had a huge hit on their hands. However a few months later the servers were ghost towns and most people had moved on: what happened? Maybe the lack of single player was partly to blame but the multiplayer was also lacking maps and play modes.
So Titan Fall 2 is looking to address some of these issues starting with a substantial single player campaign. The visuals also seem to have had an upgrade and many new features open to players. The trailer we saw was certainly a crowd pleaser and I suspect initial sales will do well, how the game does long term will, of course, depend on the quality and quantity of the multiplayer maps/modes. Titan Fall 2 will release at Christmas this year, for now, check out the trailer below.
This is actually an easy one, hand up who hasn't heard of Battlefield? For a long time, Call of Duty and this combat series were equal rivals, at least in terms of size and fan following. However in the last few months, the Battlefield name seems to be on a different level entirely. Let's face it, even COD fans are now getting sick of the never ending turd that Activision push out every year and this time around it seems is the breaking point.
Battlefield 1 has gone right back to the start in many ways, to a time of cross-over between the old ways of war and the huge killing machines that appeared on the battlefields of World War One. It looks awesome, my only hope is that the simple weapons of WW1 have not been amped up for the sake of the casual gamers out there. Battlefield 1 will release on October 21st, 2016.
Dishonoured is easily one of my favourite games of all time and at the last count, I've played through it (and the excellent DLC) five times. I love games utilising clever systems that bounce off each other and Dishonoured was a master class in dynamic gameplay. Not only are the environments bursting with character and drenched in historical residue, but the way players could move around was sublime.
Dishonoured 2 is now set to continue the story from that last game with not one but two playable characters, Corvo (the first games silent antihero) and Emily who has now become a young capable fighter. We have now seen in game footage and it is clear the new 'Void Engine' is able to generate some spectacular environments. The gameplay itself looks like it will stay close to the flavour of the first game but with many new abilities for Emily (and maybe Corvo). Dishonoured 2 is set for release on November 11th, 2016.
Fallout 4 - new DLC and content packs
Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best games of last year was Fallout 4 and while not perfect, fans of this iconic series stepped into the most realistic Fallout yet. I played through the base game and loved every second of it but have been too busy since then to go back for another look. No the DLC and mind blowing mod support have reached ridiculous levels so in the next few months I'll be heading back into the nuclear wasteland.
At E3 this year, Todd Howard has announced some new feature packs for Fallout 4: Contraptions and Vault Tec. The former looks almost like content you might see in games like the Sims, offering elevators, armour/weapons racks and sorting machines. The Vault-Tec update will actually allow players to build and run their own vaults in the game, I'm intrigued to see how it all works.
The last Fallout 4 news that really got my attention was that the entire Fallout 4 game will be getting a VR version specifically built to work on the HTC Vive. This is awesome news considering how many games Oculus have swallowed up it will be great to see the other major headset getting some love. The idea of walking through the Fallout 4 world and using the hand controllers to reach out and touch objects is a mightily exciting indeed. You can check out the article on PC gamer here.
At some point or another I've dabbled in all the Mafia games and had some great fun, however, the experience has always seemed like authenticity was having a little bit too much say in the fun factor: for example, the cars in Mafia 2 just felt too slow and cumbersome. So after hearing Mafia 3 was shaking the formula up I was all ears.
From what I can see this a hot-blooded revenge story with plenty of balls to the wall violence along the way. However, it is the setting that intrigues me the most and with some of my favourite cars of all time of offer I'm really looking forward to the driving aspects. There also seems to be a degree of freedom being given to the player on how they tackle each situation. I personally think there are plenty of influences shining through in the demos such as GTA 5 and maybe even Hitman.
I have a real love-hate relationship with Watchdogs, we've seen plenty of Downscaling over the years but it never really caught my attention until this game landed. The controversy is for another time but save to say I was not happy with the game we received compared to the hype trailers put out by Ubisoft. I mention this because as I watched the recently released reveal trailer for Watchdogs 2 part of me was wondering: 'how much of this is real'?
However, for the sake of this article let's assume Ubisoft have learned their lesson and have decided to only show visuals and gameplay they can deliver on: how did it look? Very good indeed. The new setting is San Fransisco which has just been fitted with the CTos (smart city) system. We have a new anti-hero, new setting and plenty of new features. The most exciting of which is the return of a more advanced feature from the first game: the ability to link up with another player while in the single-player portion of the game. Invading other players in this way was astoundingly fun and tense. Watch Dogs 2 will release on November 15th, 2016.
Oxygen Not Included
I am a huge fan of Kiei Entertainment, their quirky survival game Don't Stave (and also Don't Starve Together) has absorbed many days/months of my gaming life. The elements that make DST such a good game are the way you can use the resources in the environment in clever ways, you can even grow a beard and use the clippings as a resource. The aesthetic also doesn't betray the deep systems bubbling under the surface.
So at E3 this year, Klei have teased a new game called Oxygen Not Included, from what we can see it is another survival themed game but in space. If this new game contains even a quarter of the inventiveness of Don't Starve it will be one to watch.
Dawn of War 3
Warhammer 40K is a monster IP and the sheer scope of the universe could bear gaming ideas for eternity. The Dawn of War games have always been a strong series and this E3 we saw some early footage showing off the new game. From what I can see the core gameplay is not jumping a mile away from what has come before and that's a good thing. As the demonstration clears set out this is at alpha stage so yes, it looked a little rough around the edges but I'm expecting good things.