E3 2013 Exclusive Coverage
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E3 2013, Exclusive Coverage
Written by Jesse Seilhan
E3 is always gaming’s biggest moment. It allows the main developers, publishers, and manufacturers to gather their audience around and get them excited for the one surefire money-making quarter, one that starts before Thanksgiving and ends in January. All of the major players have dozens of games on hand to show off to the press, their fan base, and those looking to the future of the industry. This year, Sony and Microsoft debuted two new consoles, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, pitted head-to-head in a holiday war for your living room. Sony offered a cheaper box that features a ton of first-party games while Microsoft stole a few exclusives away from Sony and offers a progressive take on the digital future. Both came out swinging but by the end of the show, Sony’s cheaper and less-controversial model looked to be victorious. We all know that the systems don’t mean squat if the games suck, so let’s take a look at some of the best stuff RUKUS Magazine saw during E3.
The most exciting new title was definitely Titanfall, a first-person shooter that has more mobility than Mirror’s Edge and more mechs than Pacific Rim. This is the first title from Respawn Entertainment, a company built from the ashes of Infinity Ward co-founders’ fallout with Activision. In their first game since the Modern Warfare series, the Call of Duty professors are delivering something truly unique in the heavily-contested shooter sphere. The graphics are brilliant, the gameplay is frantic and fluid, and the mix of single-player and multiplayer looks more persistent and engaging than any rehashed modern military shooter.
Speaking of modern military shooter, the battle of Battlefield vs. Call of Duty raged on, with both titles showcasing a new engine and attention to detail. Call of Duty: Ghosts didn’t seem to steer too far from the course, whereas BF4 is allowing 64-players on next-generation consoles and a new Commander Mode that allows one player to dictate the strategy of his or her team.
The next best title is definitely Bungie’s first series since Halo changed the world, and it is called Destiny. It is a shared-world shooter that supports at ton of players (the demo we saw had seven people holding PS4 controllers) and has all the loot-grinding and public events that games like Borderlands and Defiance have made popular. The graphics are stellar and should get even better before now and next Spring, when the game is due. If they can recapture the gameplay bliss that was the original Halo but take the connectivity and role-playing to another level, then Destiny will be the franchise of the next console war.
EA would not be ignored, however, as their new Impact Engine was fueling their Madden, FIFA, and NBA Live displays running on the next-gen consoles. This graphics engine pumps way more realism into each game, giving dynamic crowds the chance to be a part of the action, as opposed to the cardboard-cutout seat-fillers from prior iterations. All three will be featured on all four consoles, but only the PS4 and Xbox One will get the fancy stuff. They also had a playable version of NHL 14, a game that’s shaping up nicely with all new fighting, checking, and deking mechanics. The fights are now all in real-time and use their Fight Night programming, the checking is based on their FIFA tackling system, and the dekeing is relegated to one button instead of one button and two sticks. These changes should bring more fans to the fold and let veteran players get even better at an already addicting game.
Bethesda was in full force yet again, showing off a trio of titles that includes Wolfenstein: The New Order, The Evil Within, and The Elder Scrolls Online. The latter is an MMORPG that they’ve been showing for over a year and looks mostly like the exact same thing they showed prior, but big shows like this are not the best place to show 1,000-hour RPG’s that require personality and dedication. Wolfenstein is a return to form, with Nazi-killing in the limelight as well as some pretty awesome weaponry that mixes up lasers and plasma ammo with the standard ballistic munitions. The graphics were better-than-normal, but the faces and character models were not up to par with games that have been out for years. The Evil Within is a survival-horror game where the players are placed in an insane world filled with monsters, chainsaw-wielding maniacs, and a world-bending narrative that constantly keeps you guessing. It didn’t look very fun, which isn’t a bad thing: the game is designed to make you uneasy and hopefully scare you into submission. While Fallout 4 was nowhere to be seen, that is the game most Bethesda fans are dying to see and will have to wait at least one more year.
Beyond first-person shooters, third-person action games had plenty of showings in Los Angeles. The Marvel anti-hero Deadpool stars in his own game, giving some comedy and sharp writing to a bland genre filled with generic characters and dull combos. His in-game antics and consistent breaking of the “fourth wall” makes for a unique gameplay experience, even if the ten-minute demo I played had me shoot what looked to be the exact same enemy hundreds of times. Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is Tecmo’s attempt to reboot the franchise with a new art style (cel-shaded), story direction (sillier than serious), and the same old Ryu Hayabusa. The demo featured the same frustrating enemies and tried-and-true Dragon Sword combos from every other Ninja Gaiden game, showing little creativity beyond the newer graphics. I’d probably skip that game and pick up Suda51’s Killer is Dead instead. This is a game unlike any other, with a storyline akin to the wildest Japanese anime, creating memorable characters on a per-level basis and giving the fulfilling swordplay usually found in Ninja Gaiden.
Konami had a small showing this year, showing off the newest edition of Metal Gear Solid. The fifth entry is dubbed The Phantom Pain and stars Kiefer Sutherland as the new voice of Solid Snake, something that has sparked some controversy with longtime MGS fans. Konami had two more sequels lined up for the next calendar year in PES 2014 and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. While the soccer game is just more soccer (although this time it’s using the Metal Gear Solid engine), Castlevania looks to really step it up this go-round. Dracula is back but this time in a modern setting, letting the player take control of the vamp baddy and reign supreme. The puzzles look bigger, the enemies more ferocious, and the semi-open world more enticing than the very linear original title.
Racing is always on display when new consoles are part of the conversation, and we had another entry into the Need for Speed, Forza, and Gran Turismo franchises announced. A few new challengers have stepped up, including Ubisoft’s The Crew and Sony’s Driveclub, games built around community before anything else, offering fun ways to complete missions with your friends or be part of a larger driving network.
Beyond how a game looks is how it sounds, and Astro and Skullcandy were at the expo to show off their new and existing line of audio headwear. For the under $200 club is Skullcandy’s sleek series: the Plyr and the Slyr. These wired and wireless headsets aren’t too heavy, have a movable microphone, and look cooler than most headsets on the market. For those willing to invest a little more in their gaming experience, the Astro line of headsets (A30, A40, and A50’s) are the top-of-the-line option. Their 5.8GHz (read: super clear) wireless technology, swappable mic, Dolby processor, and stellar comfort change the way you play videogames. If it’s good enough for the top Major League Gaming players, then it is good enough for you during those late night Call of Duty sessions.
In the end, both companies featured a ton of new games that happen to be sequels or remakes. Killer Instinct, Halo 5, and Dead Rising 3 came from Microsoft’s show while Sony announced another Gran Turismo. Some of the biggest games announced (Final Fantasy XV, Kingdom Hearts 3, Mad Max) are going to be on at least both of the new consoles, not to mention your PC. Since the games were so similar and nothing really won the software war, it came down to price and feature set and Sony won this round coming out at $399 and allowing all used games, never requiring an online-connection for offline play, and offering region-free gaming for all of their consumers. The Xbox One will run you $499 and had the opposite of all of Sony’s stances, until they changed their entire philosophy one week later, meaning both systems will now allow used games, not require installs or online checks, and will be available in any region and work with any disc.
So now that we have two Blu-ray based machines with 500gb hard drives and a plethora of cool games, who will emerge victorious? That’s up to you, but the wonderful thing is that no matter which one you pick, you can bet that digital versions will be offered on day one of a game’s release and that those pesky online passes certain publishers were fond of are things of the past. We are ushering in a new generation of videogames, one built on the idea of connectivity, user-generated content, and enhanced immersion. This year’s E3 did a lot to breathe life back into a stale industry, so prepare for an insane holiday season where hundreds of games will be available for half-a-dozen platforms.
BEST OF E3 2013
Square-Enix is helping to reboot this classic stealth franchise, largely thanks to the popularity of the Assassins Creed, Hitman, and Dishonored franchises. The one that started it all is looking to show off some impressive graphics, tweaks on traditional movement, and adaptive gameplay that allows players to explore environments in many different ways. It’s looking like Eidos is trying to move the genre ahead with verticality and versatility.
Bungie has made some fantastic games, none more impressive than the original Halo. They look to follow-up their last epic with another, Destiny, a game being released on nearly every platform but built for the next generation of connectivity and gameplay. The shared-world first-person-shooting looks immersive as all hell and the visual fidelity and sense of scope is mind-blowing. This might be the Game of the Year for 2014 so keep an eye on it.
The Evil Within
Survival horror has been surviving horribly these past few years, ever since Resident Evil 4 came around and made it fun again. Well, the man behind RE4 is back with a new game built to please horror fans, putting your character in some of the most twisted situations imaginable, playing mind games and splattering buckets of blood along the way. The combat looks light, the tension looks high, and nothing is going to creep you out as much as this game.
Respawn Entertainment finally unveiled what they’ve been working on since departing the Modern Warfare series and Titanfall is the answer. Mech-based combat gets an overhaul when you can leave your giant robot to do some shooting on the ground, including hijacking the mechs using some nifty parkour. The game looks gorgeous and seems to have the type of combat needed to sustain a thriving online community.
inFamous: Second Son
The sequel to Sony’s best open-world franchise is taking the frantic and fulfilling gameplay to the max with a main character that syphons other people’s powers. This leaves a doorway to numerable moves and attacks, all built within a gorgeous Seattle landscape and told through motion-captured actors. This might be the best reason to buy a PlayStation 4 thus far as it looks like a true step forward.
Saints Row IV
The over-the-top franchise is going to have a tough time topping their last game, but making the main character the President of the United States and giving him super powers is a great start. The demo I played put a dubstep gun, a black hole launcher, and a lightsaber in my hands. Add in super powers like flight, telekinesis, and super speed, and you have the makings for another top-notch experience, especially given Volition’s track record of delivering ridiculous and fantastic missions within their twisted story.
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