Xbox E3 2018: Top 5 Announcements

Microsoft’s conference didn’t miss a beat this year, with trailer after trailer broken up only occasionally by short game demos or concise developer monologues.

Its no secret that Sony has had the edge when it comes to E3 shows in recent years, and the pressure has been on for Xbox to address its comparative lack of system exclusives and first party games. This year they met that citisism head on, with head of Xbox Phil Spencer confirming as many as eighteen exclusives, and over fifty games.

There were so many exclusive ‘world premiere’ trailers and exciting footage for upcoming titles, that you could be forgiven for not catching everything Xbox put out there. To help you out with that, here are the top five announcements, plus a summary of every last thing Microsoft announced at E3.

  1. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

There has been much speculation about this one since the teaser at last year’s The Game Awards, with fans predicting Bloodborne 2 or a sequel to Tenchu.

The Xbox E3 conference revealed Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a brand-new property and the latest game coming from Bloodborne and Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki, brought to you by both FromSoftware and Activision.

The trailer showed off a beautiful, bloody world and intense action, as you follow the journey of a “hard-hearted warrior whose mission is to rescue his master, a young lord, and exact revenge on his arch nemesis.”

  1. Devil May Cry 5

Rumours have been circling lately about the future of Devil May Cry, but Capcom has finally announced the long-awaited sequel.

A whole decade has gone by since Devil May Cry 4, and five years since Ninja Theory rebooted the franchise. Game director Hideaki Itsuno took to the stage to announce the project, which is set to launch in Spring 2019.

  1. Acquisitions

Phil Spencer announced that several of the team’s behind the games shown off at the conference had been newly incorporated into Microsoft Studios. This included State of Decay developer’s Undead Labs, We Happy Few’s Compulsion Games, Forza’s Playground Games and Ninja Theory, the developers of the 2013 Devil May Cry reboot and more recently Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

  1. Gears of War 5

The best thing about was a masterclass in trolling, as Microsoft teased the Gears logo only to show off a Pop! Figurine mobile game.

Microsoft went on to announce what they promise will be the “biggest and most beautiful” Gears world to date, with Gears of War 5 coming 2019. Players will be able to play solo, split screen co-op or online multiplayer.

Fans were treated to this along with the new mobile game, plus a new strategy game for PC, Gears Tactics.

  1. Cyberpunk 2077

The conference ended on a high with a brand-new trailer from Witcher 3 developers CD Projekt Red for their next big title.

In a dramatic late announcement, the Xbox conference appeared to glitch out just as Phil Spencer began to bring the show to a close. It wasn’t a deep dive into gameplay, but it did give us a good look at the world in action, with the kind of detailed, fleshed out worldbuilding we’ve come to expect from the studio.

No release date has been announced and it isn’t clear when we’ll see more of this, but hey its better then another Gwent.

 

Here’s the full list of every announcement at Xbox’s E3;

Halo infinite

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Fallout 76

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

Crackdown 3

Nier: Automata

Metro Exodus

Kingdom Hearts III

Sea of Thieves: Cursed Sails and Forsaken Shore

Battlefield V

Forza Horizon 4

Studio acquisition (Compulsion Games, Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Undead Labs)

We Happy Few

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds War Mode

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

The Division 2

FastStart

Xbox Game Pass (The Division, The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, Fallout 4, Halo: The Mastear Chief Collection, Ashen, Warhammer: Vermintide 2)

ID Xbox (Outer Wilds, Fringe Wars, Below, Conqueror’s Blade, Waking, Super Meat Boy Forever, Planet Alpha, Sable, Children of Morta, The Wind Road, Generation Zero)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Session (not Sakte 4!)

Black Desert Online

Devil May Cry 5

Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course

Tunic

Jump Force

Dying Light 2

Battletoads

Just Cause 4

Gears 5

Gears Pop!

Gears Tactics

Next Generation Console (well, a shrouded image of the future of Xbox)

Microsoft AI

Microsoft Game Streaming

Cyberpunk 2077

 

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Review: South Park the Fractured But Whole

Its quite something that South Park: The Fractured But Whole manages to deliver a really entertaining super hero themed turn-based RPG, whilst constantly and mercilessly mocking super hero franchises, and turn-based RPGs.

Throughout the game you’ll encounter combat in the streets of your quiet mountain town, and just when you’re beginning to take the grid-based battle seriously, you’ll be interrupted and scorned by passing cars yelling for you to get out of the road. Its an occasional friendly reminder that many of the game’s enemies are just children with tinfoil on their head, and there’s something very endearing about watching them break character mid-battle to scurry out of the road.

The Fractured But Whole is full of these moments, from the name itself to the items you collect or the powers you amass. That isn’t to say that the game is suddenly a sweet, nostalgic dive into childhood make-believe – rest assured it is still very much indicative of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s sharp, satirical humour. Whatever your background or beliefs, this game is out to insult and offend you in the most inclusive way possible.

Boss fights don’t get as dark as the zombified aborted foetus of a reality TV star (an actual enemy in the first game), and this time round no scenes warranted European censorship, but Fractured But Whole has its moments. Among the worst of these are scenes in a strip club and a church, though I’ll refrain from spoiling just how terrible they are.

If you’ve played the Stich of Truth, you’ll be familiar with all this, but the sequel builds on its predecessor by expanding combat and adding enough content to almost double the length of the game.

sp2-chaos-1920_208824The biggest upgrade is in the game’s new grid-based combat, which adds greater complexity to the turn-based mechanics introduced in Stick of Truth. The moves are still largely fart jokes, true, but the system itself has matured to give the player greater agency over play-style. New considerations for your team’s moves based on positioning, range and knock-back potential gives the combat the depth it was missing in the last game. These mechanics also evolve throughout the game, introducing more moves and demanding more from the player, with real-time timers that endanger or incapacitate multiple team members in a set zone and enemy summons that prolong the battle. There are also several battles that include swarms of  enemies that don’t stop coming until you make it from one end of the battle to the other, to escape the battle. It doesn’t do much for the game’s difficulty but it keeps battles from getting too stale as the game progresses.

Equally you unlock more options for your team, each with a specialised set of moves to try out. Knowing the strengths and styles of your teammates is vital, and it fits in perfectly with the narrative of the show. The (slightly) more considerate Kyle has a focus on shielding your team and pulling them close to heal, where Clyde’s moves are largely centred around grossing out your opponents, and the seemingly immortal Kenny’s are typically rash.

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One of the things I found most impressive around this is the tailored banter between the characters. It gets repetitive if you continually use the same team as is often the case with RPGs in this style, but each of your team mates has dialogue specifically targeted toward certain members. Super Craig might single out the Human Kite during a fight to call him lame, whereas you would get entirely different dialogue if you swapped one for Cartman or Clyde. It’s a clever touch that makes each team feel fresh.

You also have a similar level of customisation with your own character development. Armour and clothing continue to be largely cosmetic, but Fractured But Whole introduces new ways to tailor New Kid to your play style. You begin with choosing a class of hero from three distinct styles based on speed, strength and range, but you can return to Cartman to amend this even in the early game. As you go on however, you have access to a greater range of choice and can mix and match within that selection, including Cyborg, Elementalist, Psychic.

Rather than levelling up in the traditional sense, your level is based on artefacts you assign to your character. Starting off you have one slot, but this expands to multiple slots each with greatly varied options. You can choose artefacts that not only increase your overall level, but buff your abilities in particular moves. You could choose moves that focus on knock-back for example, and select artefacts that give a boost to knock-back damage.

Despite the added complexity of combat, it is at times a little too easy. Personally I didn’t find this to be a negative thing, as the variety of experience is still engaging and the hilarity of writing kept me hooked, but if you are someone who needs a challenge to keep you interested you may find this somewhat lacking even on the most difficult setting.

This is also true of the game’s ‘puzzles’, which given their simplicity shouldn’t be considered puzzles at all in the sense you might expect from an RPG. It reminded me a lot of Zelda games, not for clever memorable dungeons design but for those moments where you notice a hookshot target early on but don’t have the right equipment yet.

That said, there is a lot to keep you interested outside of actual gameplay. Exploration of South Park is still entertaining as ever, with plenty of inside jokes to stumble upon or familiar characters to seek out and take a selfie with. Mini games like this will appeal to completionists, as will collecting costumes or seeking out memberberries. Its not that they’re exceptional side quests but they give you an excuse to go out an explore every inch of the town, which will expose you to how much effort has gone into hiding jokes in every corner.

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If you’re a South Park, fan you should absolutely invest in this game. It isn’t your average licensed game, like some of the early South Park titles. As someone who played South Park, South Park Rally and Chef’s Luv Shack on the N64 in the late nineties, I know what happens when you lazily slap a well-known-name on something that’s below average. This is a world apart from those early games, and its very apparent that a great deal of work has gone into this both from the studio and Trey Parker and Matt Stone themselves.

Essentially what you’re getting for your money is an epic, twenty hour episode of the show wrapped up in a parody of super-hero films and turn-based RPGs. If you’re a fan of all three, you’ll be blown away.

TL;DR

Pros

  • Combat is more complex, with new grid-based mechanics
  • It is likely the funniest game around, both in narrative and dialogue
  • Looks and feels like you’re in a South Park episode

Cons

  • Fairly easy and unchallenging
  • Less daring than the first game, in terms of dark humour (this could easily be a pro depending on you)

FIFA 18 on Switch: How does it compare?

With the release of FIFA 18 on Switch, Nintendo gets its first home console FIFA in five years.

It is missing some of the features that have made PS4 and Xbox One versions so popular, but the game successfully delivers modern FIFA at home and on the go – and that’s quite something. You would however be forgiven for having second thoughts about investing in one of Nintendo’s pricier titles, so here’s a look at some of the ways it compares to other versions.

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Switch Features
The biggest tick in the Switch’s favour of course is its portability. It’s the thing that sets this version apart from its home console competitors and it’s the one thing they can’t match right now.

The only problem with this is one of the best features I could imagine when the game was announced is fundamentally flawed. Playing single player FIFA on the go is great, as is connecting to consoles for multiplayer or playing with two pro-controllers. The issue comes from the classic shot from the adverts, with two players grasping a JoyCon each as you might in Mario Kart or 1-2-Switch. In FIFA however, these little controllers aren’t built for the complexity of the game and its an awkward experience at best. It’s significantly jarring to be with so few buttons.

Not a problem if you have already invested in extra controllers, but it does detract from the dream of quick and easy multiplayer action.

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Ultimate Team
FIFA’s relationship with Nintendo consoles has traditionally been a rocky one. FIFA 13 for WiiU was seriously lacking major features, and vastly inferior to its equivalent on Sony and Microsoft’s consoles. Since then we haven’t had a single FIFA game on any Nintendo home console, so expectations for the Switch version are understandably cautious.

One of the biggest complaints with FIFA 13 was the lack of Ultimate Team in its WiiU version, and players will be happy to hear the popular feature is present in FIFA 18 for Switch. A few things are absent, such as Squad Battles and Weekend League.

The most notable omission is Champions mode, the competitive online tournament that pits you against the best of the best. From this, players can dream of reaching FIFA’s Interactive World Cup, a major eSports tournament which this year had a prize of $200,000. Players compete at the highest level and are divided throughout the competition between PlayStation and Xbox. But not Switch. Not yet anyway.

Considering both the popularity of FUT and the growth of eSports, it does seem like something Nintendo and EA will have to address in future iterations.

Online Multiplayer

Whilst you can play multiplayer matches online and engage in Ultimate Team, one of the biggest hang-ups of the Switch is still issues with online play. Namely, you can’t play FIFA online with your friends.

The console is still lacking in online service, and has no invite or party systems that would allow for match-ups with friends lists or invites. It’s a bit of an oversight, and one that extends to the whole system rather than the game itself.

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The Journey
Last year, FIFA 17 introduced “The Journey”, a full single-player story mode with a good few hours of narrative woven between games. The reception was mixed, with so many players buying the game purely for competitive play, but it was a quality inclusion to make that annual release worth the upgrade.

Unfortunately this content, as well as its FIFA 18 sequel, is absent from the Switch version. EA explained the reason for this omission was due to the Switch version’s custom-built engine, as oppose to the Frostbite engine. Whilst this might not be a massive loss for many players, it is just another mark against the game on Nintendo’s console. An immersive but segmented single player experience would be perfect for the Switch. A game or two and a few cut scenes seems tailor made for your morning commute, and it’s a massive shame that this content was omitted.

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Career Mode
Again, a chunky single player campaign is perfect for the Switch, and thankfully this one did make the cut. Career Mode is included in the game and plays well enough, but predictably there are a few omissions. The newly introduced transfer negotiations for instance are missing, which doesn’t ruin enjoyment of the game in the slightest but does make it feel more outdated.
Gameplay
Overall FIFA 18 feels and looks remarkably better than any handheld in the series. Compared to the PS4 version, the controls feel a little sluggish and the pace is noticeably slower, but not so much to strip enjoyment from the game.

If you’re a stickler for the latest graphics and mechanics, you should absolutely look to Xbox and PlayStation versions. But if the idea of endless FIFA on the go, round your mates house or in bed appeals to you, this isn’t going to disappoint.

10 of the Greatest Video Game Legends

We’ve all heard our fair share of urban legends over the years. These are the kind of  stories often traded on the school playground and corroborated with cold hard evidence, from the classic ‘a friend of a friend at a different school saw it happen’ to the infamous ‘my uncle knows because he worked at Nintendo’.

For video games it’s a blend of conspiracy theories, secret glitches and creepypasta oddities. The truth is out there, and it’s not for the faint hearted.

So, if you think you have the nerve for it, here are ten of the most legendary stories in video games.

  1. The Pokémon Tower Suicides

Lavender Town is the most melancholy area of Kanto, with a tower full of dead Pokémon and the spirit of poor adorable Cubone’s mother. Between the obvious themes of grief and the creepy tone to the area’s background music, one creepypasta emerged suggesting it drove hundreds of Japanese children to take their own life. According to internet legend, a dramatic number of young kids committed suicide after reaching that point in the game. The high-pitched tones apparently affected children specifically and caused nosebleeds, headaches and the general feeling of dread.

It’s a story that seems to have been mixed up along the years with the Pokémon shock incident. When the Pokémon anime episode Dennō Senshi Porygon aired it featured intense flashing lights that caused vision problems, severe headaches and epileptic seizures in hundreds of viewers. This entirely separate event seems to have added credence over the years to the idea that the Japanese version of Pokémon Red and Green’s Lavender town is somehow dangerous for the mental health of children. Thankfully there is no evidence whatsoever that this is the case.

  1. The Ratman of Liberty City

This legend began when a user posted a blurry, indistinguishable screenshot of what looked to be half man, half rat in Grand Theft Auto IV. Other players were quick to trade their own experience with the fabled beast and uncover clues to its existence.

No solid evidence has ever been found that the creature exists but, as you wander through the streets of Liberty City, NPCs will occasionally trade mutterings about the rat problem in the subway system. They are also prone to mention a recent chemical accident in a local factory spilling into the underground and leading to mutations. You might even find strange a strange orange substance, graffiti of a rat headed man or adverts for human lab rats.

The best evidence for Ratman’s existence is the nature of GTA and its history of burying secret, often supernatural easter eggs into its games. Just recently the Mount Chiliad mystery, a theory around the cryptic wall paintings at the summit of GTA V’s tallest mountain, was reignited after the community found new extra-terrestrial evidence hidden in the new Gun Running expansion.

Rockstar have a habit of building these bizarre secrets into their games, so a mysterious Ratman roaming the subway is absolutely plausible.

  1. The Exorcism of Minecraft

Legend has it Minecraft creators Notch had to build in an exorcism to their 1.6.6 update after reports the game was haunted by a mysterious figure named Herobrine.

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In 2010 a user reported seeing the figure haunting his game in the distance, describing it as identical to the default player but without eyes. The user also posted a foggy screenshot of the sighting and claimed to have been contact by a user named Herobrine who demanded he stop.

It’s the classic haunted game story, and lead to multiple ‘sightings’ of the ghoul until Notch answered the rumour perfectly with one line into the patch notes of their 1.6.6 Beta update; “removed Herobrine.”

  1. Excel 95 Opens the Gates of Hell

It’s an unlikely window to a demonic plain of tortured souls, but rumour has it Bill Gates is actually the antichrist and the 1995 edition of his Microsoft Office spreadsheet program is the deliverance of Satan’s will.

Bizarrely, some of that sentence is actually true.

If you select row 95 cell B, open help and hit ctrl-alt-shift on the tech support button in Excel 95, you’ll trigger a doom-like mini-game ominously titled “The Hall of Tortured Souls”, which is in fact a light-hearted Easter egg containing the faces of some of 95’s programmers.

They’ve also hidden mini games in other versions including Dev Hunter (Office 2000), a flight simulator (Excel 97) and a pinball game (Word 97). These little Easter eggs were in fact a regular occurrence until 2002, and served as a fun way for devs to leave their mark on the programmes.

  1. The SS Anne Stowaway

When Pokémon Red and Blue took the world by storm in the late nineties, one of the most prevalent rumours surrounded a secret method to obtain the final, 151st Pokémon – Mew.

The character was not present anywhere in the game, but its data was built into the background so that it could be distributed as a freebie at Nintendo events and competitions. Rumour had it Mew was actually hiding in the game in a very specific area.

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In order to tackle the third gym and progress through the game, you need to obtain the HM cut from the SS Anne captain by curing his sea sickness, after which the boat departs and the area becomes inaccessible for the remainder of the game. If however you could trade in a friend’s Pokémon that already learnt the cut ability, you could leave the boat until later in the game and return with HM surf – which would allow you to explore the surrounding area where, of course, Mew was being held in a truck.

Right.

Interestingly there is actually a glitchy, convoluted way of obtaining Mew in the game via a glitch involving the Pokeball tutorial man and HM fly. I know this because a friend’s mate saw his brother do it.

  1. Polybius

Not only is Polybius rumoured to be a Last-Starfighter-like military recruitment test, a psychological experiment and a brainwashing device, its very existence is the stuff of legend. Reportedly an incredibly popular and addictive arcade game, Polybius allegedly arrived in Portland in the early eighties and mysteriously disappeared sometime after.

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Interestingly several young people in the greater Portland area did fall ill due to gaming around that time, though none reported the existence of Polybius, and the FBI were genuinely staking out arcades in the early eighties, but this was in relation to gambling and drug busts.

Although its actual existence has never been verified, a string of games inspired by the legend have been released over the years, most recently Llamasoft’s PSVR game of the same name.

  1. BEN Drowned

The greatest use of obscure game glitches mixed with campfire story telling came from 4Chan (of course), where user Jadusable posted the peculiar tale of an old copy of Majora’s Mask he picked up at a yard sale.

The cartridge was missing its cover art, and someone had written Majora across it in black sharpie. Already it appeals to your nostalgia, as we’ve all seen a second-hand cartridge like this or with someone’s name written across it in big black writing. Not to mention Majora’s Mask is surely one of the creepiest games on the N64.

It gets weirder.

 

The game apparently already had a save file titled BEN which was almost complete, so the user started a new game as Link and experienced some really freaky glitches; NPCs still calling him BEN, creepy statues following him around and the faint sound of the happy mask salesman’s laugh haunting him in random places which, let’s face it, would freak anyone out.

Now obviously the game cartridge wasn’t haunted (even by Jadusable’s own admission) but it’s a fantastic ghost story and well worth a read.

It also ties in perfectly with another conspiracy theory that could easily feature on this list, the idea that Link is actually dead throughout the entirety of Majora’s Mask and everything in that game is and allegory for grief. It’s a freakishly plausible theory that makes an unsettling game even creepier.

  1. Exposing Lara

Looking back at early 3D graphics, it’s strange to think anyone would care in the slightest about undressing the pixelated, polygon form of a fictional woman. The idea that somewhere in Tomb Raider there was code to undress its heroic protagonist really captured the imagination of nineties pre-pubescents, and the internet was awash with ‘nude codes’.

Total nonsense of course, but the power of the internet has grown exponentially in twenty years, as has its ability to provide us with mods and fan art – so if you really want to see any incarnation of Lara Croft naked, I’m certain there’s plenty to accommodate you in 2017.

  1. Just put your lips together and blow

The most iconic aspect of the bulky cartridge era was the unspoken knowledge that bugged or broken games could be fixed by breathing a little burst of air onto the inside of the cartridge. It makes some logical sense to clear out the dust that might be causing the game issues, right? The idea was so prevalent that NES games came with the explicit instruction not to blow on them, but that didn’t stop us using this tried and tested method.

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Yet it seems in reality blowing on cartridges would have made very little difference. What actually helped was the process of removing and re-inserting the games, and the moisture in your breath might actually have damaged and eroded the pin connectors over time.

  1. The Lost Console

This one is my favourite because, against all odds, it’s true.

Like all good stories, this one begins on Reddit where user ‘analogueboy’ posted average quality photos of what looked like the fabled unreleased Nintendo PlayStation. The story was this user’s father had worked for a company with a guy named Olaf and, when the firm went bankrupt in 2009, he found the unlikely console in-amongst the junk and kept it all these years.

Now forums are full of users posting faked photos or spurious ‘leaks’ claiming to have relatives who have, at some point, worked for a major firm or studio. You’d be forgiven for assuming this was the case but analogueboy, Dan Diebold, continued to post evidence of the legendary machine and its existence.

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It turns out Dan’s dad did indeed work for a company run by Olaf Olafsson, the former CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment who oversaw the division during their budding partnership with Nintendo. That relationship fell apart in 1991 when Nintendo favoured Phillips as a partner and ditched Sony entirely, with only two hundred prototypes of their Nintendo PlayStation ever made.

Not only is Diebold’s console one of these extremely rare surviving prototypes, but thanks to the talented hardware hacking of Ben Heck it now actually functions to some extent. It’s a fascinating story that will make you think twice before dismissing blatant liars on Reddit.

 

7 New PSVR Games announced at E3

When PlayStation VR hit the shelves in late 2016, it did so with a solid day-one line up. Launch titles delivered a range of fresh, impressive virtual reality experiences from VR Worlds, SuperHyperCube and Job simulator, plus brand new VR chapters for existing franchises such as Tomb Raider and Until Dawn.

The strong catalogue of games from day-one was enough to see the PlayStation peripheral in high demand for the 2016 holiday season, and in February this year Sony confirmed the headset was on track to exceed their modest goal of a million units in the first six months.

Since then Sony has been relatively quiet about the future of PSVR, but thankfully E3 2017 has turned the tides on that. Without any major hardware to focus on, Sony’s E3 press conference went all in on games and delivered a much needed VR boost.

In case you missed them, here are seven new virtual reality games announced at Sony’s press conference.

The Inpatient

This unsettling new VR horror/thriller is actually a prequel to Until Dawn – and we know exactly how that turned out.

Set 60 years before the events of Supermassive’s decision based filmic horror game, The Inpatient explores the story of the sanatorium where sinister experiments went so very wrong. Much like Until Dawn, your decisions and the subtle ways you choose to interact with characters will affect the story. There’s even a creepy, mysterious man interviewing you, akin to the psychiatrist cut scenes in the original game.

Supermassive are quick to point out however that you don’t need to have played or indeed know anything about Until Dawn to enjoy their new release, which might explain the omission of the series from the game’s title (unlike last year’s Rush of Blood).

Final Fantasy XV: Monster of the Deep

The best part of Final Fantasy XV was, for me, its quirky road-trip narrative and the relationship between its four main characters. So the fact that Sony’s conference revealed FFXV’s VR component will be focused on hanging with the guys doing some fishing is perfect. It also looks slow and steady enough not to trigger the nauseating side-effects associated with virtual reality.

This of course differs entirely from the demo we saw a year ago at E3 2016, which was a much more generic, arcade-shooter experience where you fire at monsters from a distance as Pronto. It looked great and worked well, but admittedly felt more like a VR tech demo than an extension of the game.

This fishing spin-off incorporates the distinctive personality of FFXV and admittedly it looks a bit weird – but I for one would much rather have an odd Final Fantasy fishing simulator than another generic shooter.

Skyrim VR

A big E3 headline-grabber was the revelation that Bethesda’s popular open-world fantasy RPG Skyrim is coming to PSVR.

It’s a real testament to Bethesda that this is the second time Skyrim, a six year old game, has had a presence at this year’s E3 – and the second year running we’ve had new versions of the 2011 open-world game announced.

Last year we got a remaster, this year Bethesda confirmed the game was coming to Nintendo Switch with motion controls (and a master sword), and now Sony are bringing the Elder Scrolls world to life in virtual reality.

Skyrim joins Bethesda’s VR ranks alongside Fallout 4 and Doom which both featured in Bethesda’s E3 conference. Rather than a short, specially designed add on, it looks like Skyrim VR will be a new way to experience the full, original game. Considering the popularity of games designed for shorter play sessions, a huge binge-worthy open-world game seems like a brave proposition for anyone who hasn’t quite got their VR sea-legs.

Superhot PSVR

Superhot is already playable on console, but the VR experience began as an Oculus exclusive. Earlier this year it made its way to the HTC Vive, and now Sony have confirmed the quirky FPS will be available on PSVR at last.

Superhot is a first-person shooter where time only moves when you do. That means you can take your time and pull off some really satisfying moves without burning your eyes on the intense, rapid pace that is usually associated with shooters. It’s engaging and fun without being overtly fast-paced and janky, making it well suited to virtual reality, and letting you feel like an actual hitman ninja.

On top of that the visual design of the game is beautiful, and the peaceful soundtrack of the trailer incorporates just how zen Superhot really is.

Star Child

One of Sony’s brand new games is being developed by Playful, the studio behind the adorable Oculus Rift exclusive Lucky’s Tale – a colourful game that wouldn’t look out of place on the N64. Lucky’s Tale plays like a solid platformer that happens to be in VR, rather than a game designed to showcase the strengths of virtual reality headsets, and what little we’ve seen of Star Child suggests it will adopt a similar approach.

The E3 trailer shows off bright neon sci-fi environments that look perfect for VR, but it doesn’t give too much more away.

Bravo Team

Whilst it doesn’t stand out massively in terms of gameplay, the trailer for Bravo Team suggest this basic cover shooter has the potential to be quite engaging in VR. If you’ve ever found yourself distracted by the little things in virtual reality, you might enjoy this imagining of conflict in an eastern European city, complete with attractive landmarks and threatening graffiti.

Supermassive Games, who developed Until Dawn and the aforementioned Inpatient VR, say the game has been designed with co-op in mind, playable both in single player and in a two player mode that tests your team working skills. The idea is that you work together with a partner, covering each other as you progress through the level.

Games like Star Trek Bridge Crew and Werewolves Within have proved VR is a really entertaining avenue for multiplayer, so that aspect might elevate this from a generic shooter to something special.

Moss
Arguably the most adorable addition to Sony’s conference was the delightful Moss. This gorgeous game sees you exploring tropical ruins, solving puzzles and fending off enemies as a seriously adorable mouse. Again, it’s the colourful art style and detailed environments that really make this interesting, and playing with scale is something that really works in VR. Exploring ancient temples is surely a hundred times more intimidating and fascinating from the level of this miniature, big-eared adventurer.

That brings me to the most striking part of the game, which is not the clever design or whimsical art, but its quirky protagonist. Moss lets you interact with its rodent hero Quill, who is (oddly enough) entirely aware of your presence, and you are even tuned to her heartbeat which quickens during combat and low health. It’s a subtle addition that ups the odds of conflict as you work to keep your little friend safe from danger.

 

E3 2017: 7 Highlights from Nintendo

Nintendo made clear ahead of time that their E3 Spotlight would focus on 2017 Switch games, leading us to expect a Mario-heavy presentation with little in the way of surprises.

The reality wasn’t far off, but there was certainty a few unexpected titles in the mix.

Here are seven highlights from the Nintendo E3 Spotlight;

  1. Kirby heads to Switch

 

Kirby is so freaking adorable, and news that the little critter is heading to Switch was delivered with a deliciously self-aware trailer. Dramatic tone, calling for a hero is answered with a montage of Kirby tackling challenges in a variety of outfits that boast specific powers. The game will also support co-op for up to four players, making it perfect for the Switch’s snap and share vibe.

 

  1. Yoshi is also heading to Switch

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trailer for Yoshi looks like a crafts project you made as a kid – and that is by no means intended to be derogatory. Channelling the same homemade art style as Wooly World, this Yoshi has a really charming feel and looks pretty fun.

 

  1. Rocket League Switch

 

 

 

 

 

By the end of the year, you’ll be able to play multiplayer car-soccer on your Switch. Rocket League an incredibly fun game to play with friends, and considering Nintendo made a point of pitching their new console towards eSports in early marketing efforts, its about time we got more competitive games for the console.

 

  1. Breath of the Wild Amiibos & DLC

 

 

The first of Zelda Breath of the Wild’s expansion packs will be out at the end of the month, 30th June. As hyped as I am for more content in this beautiful, endless game, I was more excited to get a glimpse of the four new Amiibo representing the four heroes of the game. Zelda amiibo have flown of the shelves consistently, and Nintendo would be mad not to bank that craze whilst its hot.

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  1. Super Mario Odyssey

 

 

 

Its hard to overstate both how good and how weird the new Mario looks. In the same way Breath of the Wild evolved the Zelda franchise, Odyssey adapts 3D Mario gameplay in a way that is both completely out there, convention-breaking brilliance and yet still maintains the nostalgic Mario feel.

 

  1. Pokémon is coming to Switch.. Eventually

Yeah, this is happening, but when is still completely in the wind. Tsunekazu Ishihara confirmed the Pokemon Company are indeed working on a Pokémon RPG for Nintendo’s hybrid console, but stated it might be more than a year before we see the game.

On a brighter note, we’ll finally be getting a mainline Pokémon game on console. Not a spin-off or a stadium-style peripheral, a full RPG, and in the mean time Pokken Tournament has got some decent upgrades for the DX Switch edition.

 

  1. Metorid. Prime. 4. Happening.

 

 

 

 

We don’t know much about this project, at all really, but lets face it – a forty-second teaser was more than enough to satiate the masses who have wanted this for so long. Metroid Prime 4 is officially on the way to Switch at last, and we’re also getting a remake of the Gameboy classic Metroid II on 3DS coming in September.

Most importantly, we’re getting a squishy Metroid amiibo.

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E3 2017: 7 Highlights from Sony

Without major hardware to announce, this year’s Sony E3 press conference was all about the games and, with so many exclusive titles on display, we wouldn’t have any other way.

There was no sign of the Last of Us sequel, nor did we see any surprise Bloodborne 2 announcement, but we did get a hefty dosage of trailers and gameplay footage – many of which happen to be strong Sony exclusives.

Here are seven highlights from the E3 event;

  1. Uncharted Lost Legacy

If the Last of Us ‘Left Behind’ is anything to go by, Naughty Dog know what they’re doing when it comes to DLC. Sony first showed off footage of the upcoming Uncharted 4 expansion with a cinematic trailer late last year, but the latest footage shows off more of Chloe and Nadine’s artefact-hunting adventure around the world.

With a release date set for 22nd August, it’s pretty safe to get excited.

  1. Horizon Zero Dawn: Frozen Wilds announced

One DLC we didn’t see coming was an expansion for Guerilla’s post-apocalyptic, open world epic. The short trailer didn’t give too much away, but the exciting news is its due out by the end of the year. Hype.

  1. Days Gone, again

Another look at Day’s Gone, this time with a more in-depth look at gameplay. The trailer showed off hordes of enemies to contend with, as well as some human antagonists, and demonstrated how you can pit the two against each other with clever stealth mechanics. The game is due to come out late December this year.

  1. God of War

The first trailer for God of War introduced a side of Kratos we hadn’t seen before, and the introduction of his young son adds an emotional element that was never part of the original games. At this year’s E3, Sony showed off more of how that relationship works with gameplay – with Kratos tearing down enemies whilst his son, Atreus, picks them off with elemental arrows.

With giant serpents and awesome weaponry on show, it looks like God of War fans won’t be disappointed – and the game’s new-found depth might appeal to a wider audience also.

  1. Detroit Become Human

Sony treated us to another look at David Cage’s project, and it didn’t disappoint. The robot revolution story seems really interesting, but the branching butterfly-effect decision mechanic is the real hook.

The trailer unfolds in a way that sees the protagonists fail their primary objective of freeing fellow androids, but introduces the idea that it could have been very different – showing us multiple, varied paths.

  1. Skyrim VR (and more virtual reality gems!)

It’s a real testament to Bethesda that this is the second time Skyrim, a six year old game, has had a presence at this year’s E3 – and the second year running that we’ve had new versions of the epic open-world game announced.

Last year we got a remaster, this year Bethesda confirmed the game was coming to Nintendo Switch with motion controls (and a master sword!), and now Sony are bringing the epic Elder Scrolls world to life in virtual reality.

PSVR got a big helping of support with a look at several really promising titles for Sony’s virtual reality peripheral. The delightful Moss sees you exploring tropical ruins, solving puzzles and fending off enemies as a seriously adorable mouse, and Final Fantasy XV will let you chill with the foursome as you enjoy some fishing in ‘Monster of the Deep’.

A darker trailer showed off the creepy asylum-themed thriller The Impatient – which looks thoroughly unsettling. The reel also included Bravo Team, a fairly average looking shooter that might be more engaging when you’re actually in VR, and space side-scroller Star Child.

  1. Spider Man

Finally, Sony ended their show with more footage from Insomniac’s Spider-Man. It wasn’t quite the mic-drop moment of Kojima’s Death Stranding in 2016 or Last of Us 2 at Sony Experience, but oh man does this look like a cool game.

It looks like a cross between Arkham mechanics and Uncharted QTEs, with a strategic stealth level, some one-on-one combat and a cinematic cut-scene, followed by a fairly scripted chase through what looks like it might be an open-world (based on the presence of the map in the bottom left corner). It isn’t clear if it leans more towards the fairly open Arkham model or sticks to Uncharted-like set pieces, but my guess would be the former.

It looks impressive, fun and absolutely gorgeous.