Reviewing E3 2015: Square-Enix Press Conference

Square-Enix had it’s first E3 press conference in a long time last year, and I was very excited for it.The biggest news that I could imagine Square bringing to E3 already happened at the Sony conference when they announced Final Fantasy VII Remake. So what could they possibly have up their sleeves to justify putting on a whole press conference themselves? Well, if my memory serves me right, not much. I remember this press conference being super boring. So, with that in mind, let’s conclude my series of looking back at last year’s press conferences by taking another look at Square-Enix and seeing how it holds up. Continue reading

Reviewing E3 2015: Nintendo Digital Event

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve probably noticed that I like Nintendo a lot. They are my absolute favorite video game developer and I’m always first in line to try out anything they have to offer. This is probably why I don’t have very fond memories of their 2015 E3 event. I hold them to a bit of a higher standard. But, it’s time to rewatch the event, and maybe I’ll come away from it a little more happy with it. Maybe. Continue reading

Reviewing E3 2015: Sony Press Conference

The last two weeks, I’ve taken a look back at smaller press conferences. One of them was not particularly great, the other was much better than I remembered. Now we move on to a big one. Not just any big one either. As far as I’m concerned, Sony’s press conference was the defining moment of E3 2015, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that opinion. But now we ask the question, how well does it hold up a year later? Only one way to find out.

sony1.png

The press conference opens with a fairly typical montage of games followed by a video game excutive, in this case Shawn Layden, walking out on stage to talk about how great video games are. Pretty typical stuff, but then he introduces the first game of the night. He refers to it as a game that people have been demanding for years and as a “poetic” adventure. The crowd’s already figured it out and have started cheering before the trailer even starts.

It’s, of course, The Last Guardian. I know that I’m in an extreme minority in this opinion, but I actually think that game looks really boring. It seems like it’s a fairly simple puzzle game where your large animal friend does most of the puzzle solving for you. But I understand why this game is such a big deal and why people are excited. Starting your press conference with such a fan favorite is a great way to set the tone for what’s to come. If you’re going to start with something this big, what could you possibly have for planned for the rest of the show?

Next up, Herman Hulst of Guerrilla Games introduces a brand new IP. It’s called Horizon: Zero Dawn, and it’s definitely more up my alley. The game takes place in a post-post-apocalypse, where mankind has been more less knocked back to the stone age and giant dinosaur-like robots roam the earth. Gameplay appears to revolve around hunting these robots with a variety of different weapons. It’s hard to tell what the actual flow of the game will be like from what they show, but everything we do see looks great. The visuals are highly detailed and the setting is unique. Hopefully it plays as well as it looks.

Immediately following Horizon is a CG trailer for Hitman. Although we don’t get any gameplay footage, we do get a little bit of info. It’s coming out on console and PC and will have some exclusive content on PS4. That’s pretty cool, I suppose. We then get a quick trailer for Street Fighter V that shows off Birdie and Cammy. Nothing too exciting, but that game’s out now, so this was probably cooler a year ago.

 

No Man’s Sky is up next, and Hello Games’ Sean Murray presents a live gameplay demo.This is a game that constantly intrigues me, but I don’t fully grasp what it is you’re trying to do. In the demo, Sean shows a little bit of space combat before warping off to a planet that he picked at random. He walks around a little bit and shows off how every piece of the envirornment is destructible. After being chased by some walking robots and scanning some fish, he goes to  what’s called a beacon to upload his discoveries. It all seems really cool, but I still don’t quite get what you’re trying to accomplish. I’m genuinely looking forward to figuring that all out.

Speaking of things I don’t fully understand, Media Molecule’s new game, Dreams, is up next. I really don’t know what this thing is. Is it a game? Is it a tool for animating? I really can’t tell, but don’t take that as me being dismissive. Everything about it seems unique and well made. We see a little bit of the creation tools, basically moving the PS4 controller to sculpt characters into existence. I wonder how well this kind of thing will work for someone like me who doesn’t exactly excel at art. Dreams is weird, but I’d really like to see what it ends up being.

Afterwards we get a quick trailer for Firewatch, which is already out so I won’t really get into it. But then, Adam Boyes takes the stage. He shows off a couple trailers for games that have come out since this conference, Destiny: The Taken King and Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. But then he announces a brand new Final Fantasy game. It’s called World of Final Fantasy, and we don’t really get a whole lot of information about it. The game has a cute art style and looks like traditional RPG gameplay. I’m curious to see more about it.

sony 3
AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH

And then we get a bombshell. A remake of Final Fantasy VII is in development and will be released first on PlayStation 4. In the months after this conference, we learned that it’ll be an episodic release, which has caused a lot of confusion. Regardless though, this was a jaw-dropping moment. This is a game that despite being demanded for years, showed no signs of being announced. There was no leaks or anything, just here’s a trailer. It was an incredible moment that is still great to watch again.

Next, we get a quick montage of some indie games from Devolver Digital. They look alright, but it’s kind of hard to get too excited after that last announcement. But it’s a good thing they gave us this little bit of a breather, because right after, they drop another bombshell.

Shenmue III is announced. I am a gigantic Shenmue fan, and in all honesty, I had completely given up hope on there ever being a third entry in the series. But here it is. Although the footage doesn’t show much, I can’t even begin to explain how exciting this moment was. A year ago when this actually happened, I fell out of my seat. I’m not exaggerating, that happened. And now, it’s still hard to believe that this is real. This might be my favorite E3 moment of all time.

sony 4.png
AAAAAAHHHHHHHH

Before Adam Boyes exits the stage, he presents a trailer for Batman: Arkham Knight. It’s pretty cool, showing the intro to the game, but little else. Unfortunately, it’s hard to be too excited by much of anything when you just saw an announcement you had been waiting fifteen years for. Andrew House appears on stage next to talk about a few things that aren’t really games. He discusses PlayStation VR (then called Morpheus), Spotify, and PlayStation Vue. I imagine PlayStation VR will have a more significant portion of this year’s show. Before leaving, Andrew House reveals Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

Black Ops III pretty much looks like a Call of Duty game, and since it’s already out, I can confirm that it’s exactly that. I know it’s popular to crap on Call of Duty these days, and honestly, am I pretty bored of the franchise, but it’s still a quality product. I was a huge fan of the Modern Warfare series, so it’s kind of a bummer that I can’t get myself too excited anymore. The bigger news here is that PlayStation 4 will be receiving all DLC for the game before the Xbox One. This is the opposite of how it had been historically and really goes to show how much the PlayStation brand has grown since the PS3.

Next we get a fairly lengthy montage of games coming to the PS4 and Vita. It’s kind of strange though because a lot of the footage is straight from trailers we had already seen tonight. Afterwards, Disney Interactive’s John Vignocchi takes the stage to talk about Disney Infinity 3.0. The big thing here is Star Wars, and it looks alright. I’ve never been a big fan of Disney Infinity’s art style, so it didn’t do a whole lot for me. But it’s cool to see anyway. There’s a little more Star Wars to be had as we get some Star Wars Battlefront footage, but just like at the EA conference, I’m pretty indifferent towards it.

sony5.png

 

The show closes with a live demo of Uncharted 4. The game is fast paced and exciting with the great character interactions that the series is known for. It was cool to see the fruit stands and tables that Nate uses for cover get destroyed as enemies attack. It’s also worth noting that there was a serious technical hiccup at the start that caused them to restart the demo. The reason that’s important is that it proves that the game actually was being played on stage and wasn’t just a prerecorded gameplay session to make sure the results were optimal.

And that’s the Sony conference! I really think this was the best conference in years. It not only delivered on the kinds of things we expected, but also announced games that fans have been demanding for years but had largely given up hope of ever seeing. Unfortunately, next week, I’ll be taking a look at the most disappointing press conference, at least for me.

To write this post and make my screenshots, I used IGN’s video of the press conference, which you can find right here.

 

Reviewing E3 2015: Ubisoft Press Conference

This week, we’re going to take a look at another publisher specific press conference. As I said last week, these press conferences tend to be a little less exciting than the ones that the console manufacturers put on. But I had a distinct memory of not really enjoying the EA one, whereas I don’t remember much about the Ubisoft one at all. That’s probably not a great sign, and with that in mind, let’s see what we’ve got.

The conference opens with an announcement trailer for South Park: The Fractured but Whole. Although the footage didn’t show any gameplay, an actual game announcement is a great way to start off. Afterwards, Aisha Tyler appears on stage and introduces Matt Stone and Trey Parker to talk a little about the game. We don’t get a whole lot of info though, basically just that the game is being developed by Ubisoft San Francisco instead of Obsidian, who made the last game. I wish we were given some more, but this is a pretty strong start.

ubi1
The Fractured but Whole reveal

Next, Aisha does a fairly typical “welcome to E3” speech to the audience. What’s kind of cool though, is that she acknowledges some of the criticism that Ubisoft had gotten in the last year or so. For example, this is the first E3 after Assassin’s Creed Unity, a game that’s famous for it’s almost terrifying glitches.She says Ubisoft is always listening and always trying to do better. Then, she introduces Ubisoft CEO, Yves Guillemot who presents a trailer for a new IP.

We see warriors engaging in fairly large scale combat. The trailer bounces around showing vikings, samurai, and medieval knights. It all looks pretty cool, but it’s just a trailer. Then, Ubisoft Montreal’s Jason Vandenberghe takes the stage and discusses the nature of the game. It’s a melee focused competitive multiplayer game. And then, in a pretty surprising move, he introduces eight people from the development team who take part in a four on four live gameplay demo.

ubi2
This guy’s great

The game itself looks awesome. Although the objective seems to be fighting off the other players, there’s also tons of computer controlled fodder running around, similar to Titanfall. Taking them out seems pretty simple, like a typical hack and slash, but things change up when two players encounter each other. The controls appear to get a lot more complicated, as you’re precisely moving where you sword is in order to block incoming attacks. It all looks really cool and unique.

Next, Aisha Tyler is back and she presents two trailers for upcoming expansion packs. One is for The Crew: Wild Run, and the other is for Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max. Neither of these are particularly exciting, for me anyway, but they’re still actual announcements, and that’s really cool and fairly rare for these smaller conferences.

The Division is next up. The footage shown is all pre-recorded, but it’s entirely gameplay. It shows off the Dark Zone, a part of the game that is kind of a mix between PVE and PVP style gameplay. I’m not going to dwell on The Division too much, as the game is already out, but what was shown still looks pretty cool. Another game that’s already out is Anno 2205, a city building sim. We get a short gameplay trailer, and that’s about it.

ubi3
Aisha Tyler’s all like, “What happened to my life? I used to be on Friends.”

After the trailer, Aisha Tyler is sitting next to some guy cosplaying the main character of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. She asks him a few questions, but he doesn’t really seem to know what’s going on. Aisha quickly gets out of there and introduces Just Dance 2016. Or, I guess I should say introduces Jason Derulo, and performs a whole song and dance number but, you know, doesn’t actually play the game. Man, and this press conference was going so well too.

Next up, a pretty dramatic trailer for Rainbow Six: Siege plays showing the premise of the game. Actress Angela Basset, who plays Rainbow Six’s coordinator, steps out on stage and talks to Aisha about her experience playing her character. I’ve never played Siege, but it’s my understanding that it’s a very multiplayer focused game, so this all seems really out of place. Next they show off the games co-op mode, Terrohunt. It seems pretty cool, but just your typical co-op shooter.

Up next is a trailer and gameplay demo for Trackmania Turbo. I’ve never played a Trackmania game, so I can’t speak with too much confidence, but it looks neat. It runs really fast and the track designs all look pretty crazy. They also show off a level generator, where you simply press a button and the game will randomly generate a level. This seems pretty cool, but I have to wonder how interesting levels that aren’t built by hand can be.

ubi4
That’s not how you drive a car

If you know me in real life, you probably know that I don’t like Assassin’s Creed. And thus, a new trailer for Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate didn’t do much for me. But visually, it does look pretty cool, and I like the Victorian-Era London setting. But, the last time I let the setting convince me to try an Assassin’s creed game was III, and that didn’t turn out so well. So yeah, it looked neat, but I don’t personally care.

For the final reveal, Yves  Guillemot reveals Ghost Recon: Wild Lands, a new open world tactical shooter. Although the game itself doesn’t really remind me of past Ghost Recon games, it all looks really slick. The footage shows off three different ways you can go about doing the same mission, and each looks equally satisfying. The whole thing has a real Metal Gear Solid V vibe to it, and that’s a good thing in my opinion.

And that’s the Ubisoft conference! This was way better than I remembered, with lots of completely new announcements and great looking trailers. It definitely had a few rough spots, but all in all, this was great. This time, I used Ubisoft’s video of the conference, which you can find right here.

Reviewing E3 2015: Bethesda Press Conference

2015 was a really exciting year for E3, and it started off with a bang. Bethesda Softworks had their very first E3 press conference, and it happened shortly after announcing Fallout 4. This was kind of a crazy move, you would think that kind of announcement would be saved for the press conference. But getting that out of the way beforehand only made it more exciting to think about what was in store.

The conference starts with a montage of game developers from Bethesda’s various studios. This is pretty cool, putting a human face on the company. It’s also a good reminder that Bethesda is a lot bigger than just the team that makes Fallout and Elder Scrolls. There are members of id, Arkane Studios, and Zenimax Online Studios all featured.

beth1

Next, Pete Hines, the VP of PR at Bethesda, takes the stage. He gives the typical “welcome to E3” speech that we’ve all come to expect from these things. Then he mentions a little game called Doom. Now, Doom was already announced, so this wasn’t exactly huge, but no one outside of those who attended Quakecon earlier had seen any of it. Pete Hines calls Marty Stratton, executive producer at id out on stage to present gameplay footage.

Even a year later, Doom is still stunning. The characters and environments are all impressively detailed. Character movement is noticeably higher than most modern FPS games, making it seem closer to the first few Doom games. The way the enemies just fall to pieces when hit with powerful weapons is incredibly satisfying, even if it is a little silly.

beth2
This screenshot taken from a YouTube video doesn’t do the game justice

Next up, we get a quick multiplayer trailer. It looks totally fine, but nothing particularly new or exciting. But then we’re introduced to Snapmap, Doom’s user-generated content system. It seems really flexible, allowing players to make new levels or even entirely new modes. I think it looks a little complicated, but Marty Stratton claims that it’s simple enough for anyone to be able to use it. I guess we’ll find out for sure in a little over a month.

Battlecry is next up, and honestly, I had completely forgotten this game existed. It’s a team-based multiplayer game, that seems to have an emphasis on melee combat, although there were some classes shown that use guns. It didn’t look particularly interesting and some of the footage looked janky at best. But, it sounds like they’re still early in development, so maybe they’ll turn things around.And for all I know, maybe it plays really well. That can be hard to judge from just watching a video.

After Battlecry wrapped up, Harvey Smith and Raphael Colantonio from Arkane Studios take the stage. They announce Dishonored 2 with a CG trailer. It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to see actual gameplay, but a lot of games are announced this way so it’s not too surprising. Unfortunately, I’ve never played Dishonored, so a lot of the context was kind of lost on me. We’re introduced to one of the games main characters, a woman named Emily Kaldwin. We see her jump around a steampunk-like world using special powers that seem to let her teleport. She gets to the office of some guy, kills two robot guards, and then attacks the guy. Yeah, that’s a pretty vague description, but like I said, I have no context for this game. Looks cool though. I have a copy of the first game, just never played it. Might have to check it out before this one comes out.

beth3

Next is a trailer for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. We get to see a bunch of new zones and it all looks pretty cool. I just wish it was for a new single player Elder Scrolls game. I’m not the biggest of fan on MMORPGs and have never played ESO, so there’s not a lot I can say about this, but it does look good. I’m sure people who like those sorts of games were very excited.

Finally, Todd Howard is brought out to talk about Fallout. I find it easy to forget just how exciting this was at the time. It seems like people fall into two camps with Fallout 4, either it was the next masterpiece from Bethesda, or it was a giant disappointment. Unfortunately, even though I do like the game, I fall into the latter camp. But at the time, this was all very exciting. We had just gotten a Fallout 4 trailer a little while earlier, and now we were going to see some gameplay.

Even though the game came out months ago, and even though I was ultimately pretty disappointed in it, Fallout 4 still looks really cool. They start with a montage of concept art, which is great to see now that I have actual context for it. We also get to see the character creator, some of the early story set up, and some combat.

beth4

Then they showed off the actual physical pipboy that came with the collector’s edition. It’s a neat little thing that let’s you wear your phone and access menus in the game,  and the audience goes nuts for it. Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone using it to actually play the game, but hey, it looks cool. Continuing to talk about phones, Todd Howard announces Fallout Shelter. I never played Fallout Shelter, being a Windows Phone owner prevented me from getting most of the big mobile games, but I’ve heard pretty mixed things about the game. It looks like a fairly typical free-to-play phone game, but with a Fallout flavor.

Now back to Fallout 4 to show off the building system. Admittedly, it looks pretty cool. However, having actually played the game, the building system is one of my least favorite thing about it. Thankfully, it can largely be ignored. But hey, it looks cool, and got people excited, and that’s really what E3 press conferences are all about.

And that’s the show. Overall, this was a really good press conference. Most publisher specific press conferences tend to be pretty boring, but this one wasn’t. Bethesda’s already announced that they will have another press conference this year, so let’s hope it’s just as good.