The last time I covered E3 I decided to split my highlights into three separate parts, simply because there is always a lot of content to unpack at these events. For the first time in years, I was genuinely excited for this year's E3 conferences; due in a large part to some big reveals being teased. In this first part, I will cover EA and Bethesda which seems like a decent fit in terms of the number of awesome games I think you need to check out
EA didn’t do a great job this year and they really do need to start waking up to how their customers see them. They are now up against an increasingly vocal section of the gaming media who have been calling them out on bad consumer practice for years. When your company is responsible for the death of so many cherished game series (Dead Space, Mass Effect and now Command & Conquer) you can’t really complain when you are voted the worse company in gaming. The big problem is that they are up on stage saying one thing but then doing the complete opposite out in the industry. This year's tone-deaf announcement was cannibalisation of the much loved Command & Conquer series into a mobile game. This is a new low and speaks to where EA see the games industry going and I suspect makes investors very happy. However, a few games did shine through the corporate speak and inane platitudes.
Sea of Solitude
In a sea of sequels and remasters it is always refreshing to see a game that is new and fresh. This little gem shone out the brightest from the droll that was the EA conference 2018. Even the developer who appeared on stage to present it had more sincerity than the entire collection EA finger puppets we see swaggering around on stage. The idea is simple, when human beings get too lonely they become monsters. We play the game as Kay, who has started to transform into a creature of darkness and it seems it is down to the player to help her change back. The game is played from a third person perfective as she tries to survive the many horrors that lurk in this fantasy setting. The visuals look striking and I love the core concept, I cannot wait to see more from this game
Release Date: early 2019
Developer: Jo-Mei Games
There are only so many bullets you can fire in a day. It has often been the case that gamers who love their multiplayer shooters fall into one of two camps, Call of Duty or Battlefield. I am and have always been sat squarely in the camp of the latter. Apart from some ropey net-code, I don’t think DICE have gone far wrong with the last few Battlefield games: they provide beautiful settings in which we can run around blowing everything up. I was a huge fan of Battlefield One, unfortunately, my time ended with the game when DICE stated asking for more cash so soon after launch. Now jump to today and we have a new Battlefield on the horizon and this one has come full circle, with a setting of World War 2. I won’t lie, this era of war is by far my favourite and for this fact alone I am onboard. The big news is that DICE is getting rid of the season pass entirely, so when you buy the game you will always be able to play with friends.
Grand operations are the new big thing which sounds like a natural progression of the operations in BF1. The single player stories will also make a return for this game which is great, as long as they are as good as the ones in BF1. The developers have also very awkwardly announced on stage that we will be getting some type of battle ‘Royale’ mode which will include all the things that make a Battlefield game good. Battle royale games are obviously the hot shit right now and in a way it’s a little bit sad seeing so many studios clambering for a piece of the pie. With that said, I’m not going to judge something before I’ve even seen it and in fact, I do like the idea of a battle royale game in a Battlefield setting.
Oh Bethesda, sometimes your conferences are like opening Christmas Presents with your parents: they make you open all the tat you don’t want before getting to the good stuff. I really wish they (and other offending companies) would stop the onstage cringe-marathons and just stick to the games: something Microsoft nailed this year. However once Todd Howard breezed onto the stage and rescued the show, all was good in the world. Here are my highlights from the Bethesda E3 show.
We have all done it: bolted the favourite aspects together from our favourite games and for ten minutes planned a career in game development. Well, it looks like we will be finding out exactly what the devastating car combat of Mad Max combined with the blood pounding slaughter of DOOMs gunplay will look like when jammed together. The original Rage had plenty of potential but lacked that spark to make it a classic: this new game looks to correct this in spades. There really isn’t any more to say, check out the trailer below and see if this gets you excited.
Release date: 2019
The Fallout series has been one of those game series that has always brought a smile to my face. Sure, it is a gloomy proposition on paper but the style and personality that we see in these games cannot be denied. There are so many cool anchors we now associate with a Fallout game, the Pipboy, the Vaults, Nuka-Cola, killer robots and vast landscapes of dangerous encounters to take on. I think Bethesda could have just made a new Fallout game, changed the setting and added a few new features: but they didn’t. This Fallout seems like they are trying to take that wonderful game world in a new direction and let’s face it, new is something we sorely need these days.
This new title is the earliest Fallout game yet made (in the series timeline) and according to Todd Howard is four times the size of Fallout 4. The setting is the hills of West Virginia (a stunning location) and from what we can see the visuals are certainly improved (sixteen times the detail); you can even see distant weather systems. What is by far the biggest game-changer here though is the fact that Fallout 76 is entirely online. It also sounds like Todd and his team have removed some of the many pitfalls we see when it comes to open world games that allow other players in, such as server issues. You can also play the entire game solo, which is a welcome bit of news. I urge you to watch the entire presentation I have linked below but one last feature I think is incredible: you can find, arm and launch nukes at other settlements! I am very excited to play this game. If you do want some more information on this game, Danny O’Dwyer from Noclip has produced a fantastic behind the scenes documentary you can see here.
Release date: 14th November 2018
Ok, this one is easy. The Doom games have been around since Adam and yet the series had lost its way in recent times. Then two years ago Bethesda and ID studios relaunched DOOM and it was a marvel of single player FPS chaos. The combat was furiously addictive, the visuals just dripping with hellish goodness; it was so good I played it twice back to back. Well, it looks like we are getting a sequel to that game and that for now is pretty much all we know until QuakeCon later this year.
Release date: More information on the 10th of August at QuakeCon
It has been a year since I walked the halls of Talos One and yet I can vividly remember how much fun I had with this game. Before it was launched I remember it gained the title of ‘Dishonored in Space’.. yes fucking please. Well, there is no doubt it didn’t make everyone happy out there including one nameless idiot over at IGN; but regardless most folks agreed that Prey was deep, intricate and an instant classic. This DLC looks great, set on the Moon and has a real emphasis on repeating actions leading to varied outcomes. There are also a few new modes that are free, which are a game plus and survival mode. My plan is to get through E3, clear my current review and then start Prey again in its wonderful entirety.
Release Date: Out now
Developer: Arkane Studios
Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 confirmation
Right at the end of the Bethesda conference I had already forgiven them for the naff start, after all, we had now seen a very promising Fallout game announced. Then our good friend Todd Howard started talking about a mobile game and my heart sank; why ruin the ride after such a great finish. However, as we now know he had two more aces to play. For a long time, gamers have heard rumours of a brand new IP in the works from Bethesda. One which will be some kind of RPG and that would be set in space: ‘Elder Scrolls in space’ people would muse. Well, now we finally have this project being confirmed: Starfield is real. Unfortunately, we didn’t see much of anything, apart from a small CGI video of a space station orbiting a planet. I guess watch this space? (Sorry)
Then if that wasn’t enough we were also shown another very short teaser, this time with the camera flying over a rocky landscape and the words ‘The Elder Scrolls VI’ faded in. Yes, this much requested next game in the Elder Scrolls series has been confirmed. As I type this, Scrolls fans are pouring over enhanced pictures of the landscape shown, trying to work out the location of this new game. For now, I am happy to know that these two games exist and we will be seeing more of them in the future.