E3 2017, Exclusive Coverage
E3 2017, Exclusive Coverage

Show: E3 2017, Electronic Entertainment Expo
Date:Jun 13-15, 2017
Venue:Los Angeles Convention Center
City: Los Angeles, CA

E3 Exclusive Coverage
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E3 2017, Exclusive Coverage
Written by Jesse Seilhan and Joshua David Anderson

E3 Atmosphere intro

The rumors of E3’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. This year, over 15,000 people were able to purchase tickets and check out the show that had been exclusively for media, exhibitors, and the games industry. Those extra people brought a much needed financial lifeblood to the show, but the show itself didn’t accommodate the massive increase in foot traffic, making narrow walkways even tighter and demo lines even longer. But we braved the long lines and blocked out the sweltering Los Angeles summer sun to bring you coverage of the biggest week of the year. We kicked things off at Microsoft’s press conference on Sunday and were blown away by Anthem, Metro Exodus, and the unveiling of the Xbox One X. Sony matched with new trailers for God of War and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy while Nintendo did their usual online stream and filled it with glimpses at new Yoshi, Kirby, and Fire Emblem games for the Switch. EA had sports, Bethesda had blood & guts, but Ubisoft may have stolen the show with the insane Mario/Rabbids game and the long-awaited first look at Beyond Good & Evil 2.

We actually spent a ton of time this year wearing various virtual reality helmets, but had wildly different experiences in them. Fivefor’s Circle of Saviors gave us a glimpse at mixed reality, with one person in the headset swinging wildly at orcs and monsters, while another uses a crossbow to shoot enemies around them. But the twist is that this is all done in front of a green screen, and with a camera mounted on the end of the crossbow, onlookers can see exactly what the person wearing the headset sees, solving the problem of how to make VR fun even if you aren’t in it yourself. Seeking Dawn created a true co-op experience and introduced crafting into a massive first-person shooter world. Vindicta solves the motion problem by allowing you to run in place to create actual movement in the game, creating the feeling of being a badass in this fake world. Finally, Archangel was by far the most polished game we’ve played in VR, with a scale that felt massive while stomping around in a giant robot suit, shooting rockets at tanks and smashing bridges with our fists.

We played dozens of games, from the ambitious and visceral Raiders of a Broken Planet to the isometric assassination game Seven: The Days Long Gone, with all the big budget games in the mix as well. We wanted to highlight a few that really stood out to us, from Mario’s newest foray into 3D platforming to an anime fighting game that just might change the landscape.

 

Need for Speed Payback titleNeed for Speed Payback images

Racing games are a traditional genre for video games and one of the biggest franchises in racing games is the Need for Speed series. Taking a year off in 2016, developer Ghost Games spent that time making the new entry, Need for Speed Payback, a little different than what we have seen before and we played it on the new Xbox One X.

Ghost Games are very inspired by the success of The Fast and The Furious film series, as Need for Speed Payback features a full story mode with three playable characters. The protagonists seem to be special agents or mercenaries that specialize in car antics, which translates to exciting and cinematic stunts that you will pull off in the game. For example, one mission has you chasing after a truck that is carrying an expensive sports car in it. As you get close enough to the truck, your AI partner jumps from your car to the truck, and then bursts out of the cargo trailer driving the supercar in an explosion that would make Vin Diesel happy. Control then switches to the supercar and you race it away. Expect more stunts and craziness like that in the full game.

All of this would be wasted if the game didn’t control well or deliver a sense of speed. Thankfully, both of those things are on display immediately. Need for Speed Payback lives up to its name, giving you the feeling of incredible momentum, while still making the cars feel different from each other. Hitting another car feels weighty, and wrecking another vehicle provides a slowdown camera effect very reminiscent of the Burnout series, which just feels awesome. Control is tight and arcadey, making you feel like you are a much better driver than you maybe actually are. All this culminates in a racing package that feels exciting and different enough from the other car series coming out this fall.

Super Mario Odyssey titleSuper Mario Odyssey images

Nintendo’s chief mascot is back this fall and Mario is getting really weird! When you have a character that has been around for as long as Mario, the worry is that the character will get stale and there will be no more surprises. Thankfully, Nintendo has been incredibly brave with their main stars this year, with Link starring in an open world Zelda title and Mario even handling a gun in the upcoming Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Nintendo decided that wasn’t enough though, as Super Mario Odyssey looks to provide the classic platforming we love with some truly insane settings and worlds for their plumber to explore.

Super Mario Odyssey looks to be a bit more open than previous Mario titles, eschewing the time limit and rigid level structure for a larger map with wider places to play. The goal is to find collectable Power Moons in the game and these can be found all over, from climbing a high tower to helping a mayor find musicians to put on a concert, even by possessing a man playing with an RC car. This game is not afraid to go places Mario hasn’t been before.

Super Mario Odyssey also gets creative with settings. While you will still see fantastic locations like a desert world, or a ice world, Mario will also travel to “New Donk City” which essentially looks like New York. There are regular citizens walking around, minding their own business, along with buildings and streetlights and park benches. Seeing Mario jump off taxi cabs and climb fire escapes is really exciting, not only for the novelty itself, but hopefully for what it means for the rest of the game. Nintendo is not afraid to take risks with games this year, and it looks like those risks are really paying off.

Far Cry 5 titleFar Cry 5 images

The Far Cry series has always dealt with the exotic. Previous games have placed you in places like the Himalayas, Africa, the Stone Age, or an unmarked Pacific island. Far Cry 5 presents a new territory for the game: Montana. It is the first game in the series set in the United States, and it seems the developers at Ubisoft Montreal are not afraid to delve into the extreme in the Land of the Free.

The setting of Far Cry 5 has you play as a sheriff’s deputy sent to fictional Hope County, Montana, as you try to take down a doomsday cult leader who has taken over the small town with his gang of militaristic believers. The game will be open world, like the previous games, and will allow you to traverse the town and surrounding land a variety of ways, taking on side quests and wrestling outposts and resources away from the cult that has them. While you do this, you will rescue NPCs who will join your cause, helping you free the town.

These new “Guns for Hire” make up some new features in the game. You can employ these characters you meet to help you in battles. You can hire a sniper to take shots for you from a vantage point, or you can have the local crop duster carpet bomb an area to help you take over an outpost. You can even have a dog fight for you and rip an enemy’s gun away from him and bring it to you! All of this is in addition to some classic Far Cry staples, like collectables, story missions, gun upgrades, and hunting. In all, Far Cry 5 looks to deliver a similar experience to the previous games, while potentially having a much more familiar setting and story than before.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War titleMiddle-Earth: Shadow of War images

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor was many people’s Game of the Year when it released in 2014. The combat further expanded upon the Arkham series, the open world contained plenty to do, and the unique Nemesis system revolutionized the way organic storytelling could be told. With their sequel, Warner Brothers and Monolith Productions are looking to reclaim the throne. They’ve amped up their insane orc-management system, added a ton of new environments, and increased the entire scope of the game with Fortress Assaults.

If you’re familiar with the first game, you’ll remember the ability that allowed you to “flip” enemies to fight by your side. You could topple a nasty warchief by turning all of his underlings against him, sit back, and watch things take care of themselves. But now you can do that on a massive scale, as the Nemesis system in the menus now shows you your army, complete with captains and other badass monsters willing to fight with you. So if you spot a massive fortress ahead of you, filled with the worst orcs in Mordor, you can match them muscle for muscle, assigning your squad with their own unique powers to topple castle walls and rain hell from above.

Much like the first game, no two people will experience the same game. Orcs are randomly generated, as are their strengths and weaknesses, so while I may need to bring a horde of spiders into battle to tackle an arachnophobic warlord, you might need to ensure everything is on fire to scare your enemies into submission. The demo we played let us tackle the epic battle any way we wanted, so we satisfyingly strung together teleportation assassinations, exploding barrels, and siege monsters to tackle our foes. And as a nice surprise from the sometimes too-easy first game, Shadow of War proved too tough for us and made us rethink our strategy. We can’t wait to get a hold of this come October.

Dragon Ball FighterZ titleDragon Ball FighterZ images

Anime fans, fighting game enthusiasts, and 90’s kids rejoice: Dragon Ball FighterZ is incredible. First, it’s entirely loyal to the manga and anime on which it’s based, with flawlessly smooth animation. From the intros to the insane combos and super moves, every inch of this game is faithful to your memory of what Dragonball Z is, was, and could be. Even if you never watched the show, you will be impressed by the fluidity of the engine as it looks better than almost any other fighting game on the market.

But what’s a fighting game if it doesn’t control with some competence? Luckily, Arc System Works, the geniuses behind the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue franchises, are helming the project. They know a thing or two about complicated fighting games but this is way more streamlined than their previous efforts. Combos don’t take insane timing, super moves look and feel devastating, and the levels are works of art. Deflected spirit bombs and blasts hit buildings in the background, reducing them to smoldering ash. Round-ending supers destroy the environment, starting the next round off in the rubble left in their wake. All of this is occurring while running beautifully and without any hiccups.

Fighting games are coming back in vogue, with Capcom pulling double duty in support of Street Fighter V and the soon-to-be-released Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite. Injustice 2 was awesome, Tekken 7 was a breathe of fresh air, and now Bandai Namco are showing that they won’t be ignored. They also aren’t releasing this until next year, which is perfect as no other marquee fighter will stand in its way. If you’re not into the anime, give the game a chance. If you are, well, this might be the best game you could have ever hoped for.

 

Crackdown 3 titleCrackdown 3 images

You may have heard that Microsoft is releasing a “new” console this fall. The Xbox One X is out on November 7th and if you’re so inclined, they’ve created a game just for you to pick up on launch day in Crackdown 3. A sequel to a beloved cult classic of the Xbox 360 era, Crackdown 3 is going for bigger, better, and bolder in almost every way. Oh, and you can play as actor Terry Crews.

The demo showed off during Microsoft’s press conference was a bit underwhelming, super-cutting explosion after explosion. But explosions are a known quantity with this title and it providers more questions than answers, such as what makes this game different and how does it take advantage of the new console’s horsepower? We got to play the game and, while it was running on a high-end PC, we can safely say it is looking just fine. But your enjoyment will largely depend on your love for the old games, as they aren’t breaking any new ground here.

Agents can still jump super high, run crazy fast, and chuck vehicles like they were peanut shells, all while hunting down the sparkly orbs that upgrade your various skill traits. The cel-shaded graphics don’t pop too much, but the incredible draw distance and lack of slowdown shows where the developers decided to make their graphical compromises. We were able to stomp around the open world for 10 minutes, shooting black holes into busy intersections and tossing dudes off of 80-story skyscrapers. While it may not be the revolution we were hoping for a few years ago, Crackdown’s DNA is inherently fun as hell and no other game has quite the same level of destruction and mayhem.

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