Takeaways from E3 2016

Another year, another E3. This one was a bit more subdued than last year’s, with lots of followup information about previously-announced games, remakes and remasterings. There were a few big announcements, especially from Nintendo, but overall it was a quieter event that seems to have sparked less excitement, nervousness and vitriol than Expos past. That being said, there’s still plenty of games that have piqued the Con Artists’ interest, so read on to see what excited us this year.

DAN:

Dishonored 2

The sequel to Dishonored still has me very giddy, with the latest gameplay trailer demonstrating new powers and environments. After a brief introduction in dreary Dunwall, we get to see more of Karnaca, the southern city where most of the game appears to take place. The game has clearly kicked the level and visual design up a notch, with more distinct locations and what appear to be larger levels with more room for creative approaches. What little voice acting I heard still seemed a bit uninspired, but with talents like Vincent D’Onofrio on hand, I’m hopeful they manage to go beyond the dodgy and inconsistent level of the first game’s script.

I’m especially excited to learn that the powers in the game will be much more customizable than before. In the first game, most powers were decidedly lethal, so anyone going for a more sneaky/merciful approach were left without some of the most interesting toys. In the sequel, many powers have lethal and non-lethal variations, which should help encourage a greater variety of skill sets. I look forward to seeing what new powers and mechanics are introduced to make exploring Karnaca more exciting.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

 

While I’ve dabbled in a few of the more recent titles, I haven’t really dug into a Zelda game since Majora’s Mask. Breath of the Wild may just be the game that brings me back into the series if it turns out as great as it looks. The developers are clearly striving to build a more open and dynamic world, with opportunities to use environmental objects and physics for both exploration and combat (take that, you lousy goblins!). Link feels like more of the old adventurer I grew up admiring than the pretty-boy everyman they made him out to be later, and I’m hoping that the story is able to change up the standard formula without completely disregarding the lore that’s been built up over so many games.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Also following on from E3 2015, Bioware got to show off more details about Mass Effect: Andromeda. It looks like the emphasis on exploring wild and bizarre alien worlds is still strong, and they’ve begun to give us a peek at the huge supporting cast that inevitably appears in every Bioware game as is usually one of the best parts of the experience. The news that the game would ignore ME3‘s ending is unsurprising if a little disappointing, since the entire series so far has been built on the choices you made (at least most of the time).

While I’m super excited to see exploration remain the overall focus of the game, I do have a few reservations about the rest of the experience. The aesthetic is so close to the look of the earlier Mass Effects that I’m afraid it won’t find its own personality to differentiate itself from its predecessors. I’m also excited to see the return of vehicle exploration, though considering how well they handled that in ME1, I just hope the lesson was well-learned. Overall I’m still very excited for the continuation of one of my favorite series, but I’ll reserve the right to fret a little until I see it in action.

SU:

I am extremely excited!:

Horizon Zero: Dawn:

This was at last year’s E3 so I don’t want to go into too much detail on this one. This year we got to see some more gameplay and it looks beautiful and fluid.  The story seems to have massive mysteries and  I just cannot wait to get my hands on this game and explore this world. The voice acting sounded great and it’s easy to see that a lot of time was put into this game’s creation and vision. On a personal bias note, I am so pumped for a badass machine fighting female protagonist.

Yooka Laylee

Let me reveal something.  I freaking ADORE Banjo-Kazooie.  That game had the humor, simple yet innovating gameplay and level design that just lit up my day.  I played that game until I got every last Jiggy and Musical Note.  I sometimes sit around going “Waheeeeeyyy” like Boggy the Polar Bear in Freezeezy Peaks.  I say “Woo-ja-jow, Woo-ja-jow” when I am cooking because I like to pretend I’m Mumbo Jumbo doing magic.  This game was just wonderful and had so much fun poured into it.

The fact that the same cast and crew came together to make Yooka Layless has me OVERJOYED for this title.  If you look at the PS4 lineup it’s zombies, desolation, and whatever the hell God of War is doing these days.  This game is colorful, silly, and in a rare category of being a pure Platformer title.  I actually barely listened to the dialogue in this interview because I could hear the little sounds in the background…and it was straight outta Banjo-Kazooie…I was bascially fangirling the whole way.

I am excited but cautious:

Final Fantasy XV

Oh Final Fantasy XIII-Versus Final Fantasy XV…I so badly want you to be good. I’m one of the few people in the universe that liked FFXIII and enjoys the way Final Fantasy tries to reinvent itself. I think gaming as a whole is an industry that has such a fear of failure, that many things stagnate. I don’t need my games to be art or sports, I just want them to be fun and if they tell me a compelling story along with the fun I am happy.

All that being said, I think FFXV looks a bit desperate. It put a weird foot forward at E3 by having shots of a larger than life boss, and then showing the boys in the game… pushing their car… down a desolate highway. I wasn’t sure what to think.  The game also has a movie (Kingsglaive) and anime (Final Fantasy XV: Brotherhood) in addition to the elaborate (albeit expected) special addition. It all just seems like an overload and a massive attempt to reap back the money that must have been sunk into this game for more than 10 years. I really hope this game does well and brings back the flavor that made Final Fantasy so special to fans around the world.

I am Setsuna

The trailer for I am Setsuna is worrying if only because of the terrible voiceover. I will also admit that looking at it when it was in the infancy stage (aka just artwork), I wanted its graphics to be a little better. Even still, I am hopeful for a game that might bring back the old school style of powerful storytelling in JRPGs. The story of this game seems to rip pretty heavily from Tales of Symphonia with it’s super sweet yet doomed protagonist (Collete) and her band of protectors. Here’s to hoping the game pulls off something spectacular and rekindles the flame of good JRPGs here in the states.

Honorable Mention:

Detroit: Become Human

I haven’t played Quantic Dream’s other creations (Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls) but I’ve read mixed reviews. Despite the mixed responses by gamers I want to give a shoutout to this game. I thought this trailer was fascinating. I loved the sequence where the screen breaks into all the decision choices and how they effect the result of the scenario presented. Whether this soars or falls short, Quantic Dream is trying new and cool things. We should all celebrate that ideal.

Zelda Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild looks really cool. It has the aesthetic of Wind Waker but introduces open world in Zelda on a massive scale. The game seems to play beautifully and have classic combat techniques. It also doesn’t have any gimmicky controls so that gives me hope for the Nintendo NX (since Zelda will undeniably get a port). I’m concerned for this game, however. It seems like people are drinking the Kool-Aid and automatically assumes this will be the best thing ever. I’m not totally convinced yet. The idea of an open world in Zelda could be headache inducing. Aonuma admitted that there are over 100 shrines in the game and you could wander into one where you simply can’t do anything because you aren’t leveled or equipped right. That doesn’t sound fun.

In the demo video we got to see the map of the MASSIVE open world. I can’t imagine that you are going to have to traverse that whole thing by foot or even with Epona. Eventually warping seems like it will be a thing and then it’ll be like choosing Megaman stages. Your open world won’t matter as much. The survival angle of gathering resources from the land and eating them sounds cool but could be rough in practice. I liked finding random hearts in the grass while slicing around with my spin slash, however unrealistic that may have been in previous games.

I don’t mean to be a downer but Zelda needs to be seen in action a bit more for me to be convinced it’s the epic everyone is already declaring it to be.

Dishonored 2:

I never played the original Dishonored because it looked like a throat slashing fest (not my kind of game). It wasn’t until I read a review that I heard it praised for it’s methods of allowing you to not kill people and even awarding you with a good ending/trophy for being less violent.

Dishonored 2 makes me want to get into the first one REALLY BAD. The new setting looks STUNNING and the way the designers discussed the creation of the world was just beautiful. They built a history around this setting. A history you may never know but will catch glimpses of in weathered stone and old flyers. THAT is world building and love behind a game that gets me excited.

The gameplay vidoes make the game look like a blast and I already love Emily’s power set.  I was disappointed that after all the stealth discussion, the actual offical E3 trailer was a throat slasher fest, but I guess that sells. Here’s to hoping this game showcases all the passion that went into making it and still gives you innovative ways to be less violent.

SCOTT:

I’ll admit to not paying too much attention to E3, but there are a few games that broke though.  Let’s take them in ascending order of my personal excitement.

Final Fantasy XV

It’s been a while since the last numbered console Final Fantasy, a fact I’m sure Square Enix feels all too keenly.  FF XIII showed that they weren’t afraid to experiment with the formula, so I’m interested to see what this one’s going to play like.  I enjoyed Final Fantasy Type-0, so it seems like they’ve kept their skills sharp in the interim.

I am Setsuna

I had never really heard of this one before now, but I’m sure paying attention now.  If they can really nail the “feel” of old JRPGs but avoid some of the more egregious nonsense of the era (save points, lots of grinding), they will likely ride to victory on a wave of nostalgia cash.  It doesn’t hurt that the story already looks pretty interesting, and some of the art is downright gorgeous.  At the time of writing the game is only 4 weeks from release, and I’ll be watching the days tick by until then.

The Last Guardian

Oh man.  It’s finally happening!  I never thought this game would see the light of day. The spiritual sequel to Ico and Shadow of the Colossus being available to play this year seems almost unbelievable after its almost decade-long development.  Now, there’s still a lot of reasons for caution, most notably the departure of many of the core Team Ico staff (though they remain creative consultants for the project), but it’s still hard not to be excited.  Here’s hoping it has the excitement, atmosphere, and heart of its predecessors.

 

 

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