Nigmabox Rundown (6/11) E3 2017: Return Of The Busiest Time In My Life

E3 has begun, and thankfully the duties have been spread apart this year, with the previously mostly vacant Sundays are now being used by two major press conferences.  Meaning that I only have three more to go after pushing out this post right at the cusp of midnight because Bethesda thinks it is good to have a press conference at 9 PM PST.  Also, the title of this post is not a lie.  I do more work per day during the Monday and Tuesday of E3 than I do during any other time during the year.  Especially this year, as I have to work and attend class while E3 is going on.  Anyways, on with the rundown.

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, there was not much in the way of miscellaneous news prior to the press conferences, as every game company is presumably waiting to reveal things later or had already talked about their games in the weeks leading up to E3.  Instead, the morning was mostly occupied with leaks from Microsoft’s showing, all of which were completely correct.

The eternally 14-year-old Mika Shaft has been fighting an uphill battle ever since she started attending this event as a middle schooler speaker.  She may have sort accidentally strongly endorsed fascism and called terrorists “exceedingly bodacious” at one point.  She has been trying to make amends for it, but she is still struggling to convince the childrens that her favoritest video game system, the Xbox One, is the bestest of them all.  She has high hopes that Project Scorpio will bring all the boys back to her family’s yard, but this foolhardy little truffle has never been the brightest bulb in the box.

Focusing on the big question right away, Microsoft announced that Project Scorpio would be known as the Xbox One X.  It will be a high powered Xbox One that seems to be technically on-par with a quality gaming PC that would be able to play games at 4K resolutions, enhance all existing games playable on the system with supersampling and additional filtering, and feature a bunch of little technical details that really do not matter to people who want to simply buy a powerful console over a PC.  The system will launch on November 7th, 2017 for $500, and is visually discernable from the two pre-existing Xbox One models in no immediately obvious way.

Seriously.  They are all black rectangles with the same basic proportions, except the original Xbox One is black and has a ribbed left side, the Xbox One S is white and its left side is covered with tiny holes for better air circulation, while the Xbox One X is black and has no finish on the left side.  I suppose that size is another visual factor, but the Xbox One X is actually the smallest Xbox ever, which I just feel would confuse a lot of people more than how S and X sound rather similar when spoken out loud.  Plus, what does the X stand for?  Xtreme?  DirectX?  Xbox?  Is the full name of the Xbox One X the Xbox One Xbox?  Because I would laugh my butt off if that was the case

Kidding aside, Microsoft actually had a pretty substantial showing.  One that actually did meet its mission statement of offering the most diverse line-up Microsoft has ever had at an E3 press conference.  Unfortunately, they did a pretty terrible job at organizing the exclusives into one section, the console exclusives in another, and the launch exclusives in a third.  When combined with general multiplatform stuff, it is kind of a mess.  So I will be rearranging things significantly for the sake of consumer clarity.  I mean, it’s bad enough that the announcer just says exclusive when these games are first shown.

Starting off with the proper Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusives, the marquee game to show off the power of the Xbox One X was Forza Motorsport 7.  I never know what to say when Forza comes up, but the series has had consistent quality over the years and the ability to switch things up between a more traditional racer and a more arcadey one manages to presumably keep things fresh.  It looks nice, does what it needs to, and presumably has a fanbase who is happy with the series, so there is little more than I can do other than passively respect the series.  Also, they revealed a new Porsche or something.  It is coming out on October 3rd, 2017.

State of Decay 2 was shown off with some in-engine footage as the core mechanics of the game were explained, though they boil down to limited resources, survival being difficult, and zombies being an effective threat due to their quantity and potential lethality.  It actually does look rather promising, yet I am skeptical even when shown in engine footage of this kind of thing, as I am more curious about whether or not the game is enjoyable minute to minute.  Though, I suppose that question will be answered prior to this game’s release in spring 2018.

The Darwin Project was presented by an annoying screaming man whose ramblings served to tell me that the game is intended for the eSport scene, yet based on the small gameplay snippet shown, I have really no idea what it is.  Apparently it is some sort of rapid pace survival MOBA set in a world nearing an ice age, which is head tilting since Earth is currently leaving an ice age last I checked.  It is clearly another attempt by Microsoft to get a competitive multiplayer game out for their platforms, kind of like Gigantic from last year.  A game I completely forgot about until right now.

Sea of Thieves continues to be an open world multiplayer only pirate simulator, where character search for sunken treasure, explore caves, discover ancient maps, travel the seas, sell their findings for riches, and fend off against enemy pirates.  While I can see the appeal in these sorts of online affairs, I am skeptical of whether or not this will be that enjoyable.  It’s a lot of little things like how characters are unable to defend themselves as they are carrying treasure chests, the fact that sailing was never properly shown off in the game, and how combat seems a bit flat.  Over the past decade, Rare has worked on Kinect sports games and as a support developer for other studios, so I have to wonder if they still have even a semblance of the talent the studio once possessed.  Whether or not they do will be revealed when Sea of Thieves launches in early 2018.

After being in development for what has felt like the entirety of this console generation, Crackdown 3 was once again showed off, accompanied by an awkward live action trailer no less. The game looks like just about everything I would want out of a sandbox action game like this.  The rampant destruction, freedom of mobility, and drive to collect shiny objects that make the character more fun to control are all appealing to me on an almost primal level, so this is actually among the few western developed AAA titles that managed to catch my eye this generation.  The game will launch on November 7th, 2017

The second exclusive that truly caught my eye here was Ori and the Will of the Wisp, a sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest.  Now, as I detailed in my review of the original title, I had issues with Blind Forest, mostly on account of the rough learning curve, save system, and incredibly aggravating decision to tally player deaths, but I can still admit that it was a fine metroidvania, and that I would be very interested in a follow up if it changed what I had issues with.  Well, I will actually be interested in the game even if nothing changed because I still liked it quite a bit.  No date was given, but hopefully it is not too far away.

The next two were labeled as Console exclusive, though I am not entirely sure how that is different from a regular exclusive, except these might come out for operating systems other than Windows 10.  The first being the Xbox One indie darling Cuphead, which was finally given a solid release date of September 29th, 2017.  The beautifully animated 1930s boss rush throwback has caught my eye since it was first unveiled via a sizzle reel and I have been itching to finally play it since then.

The second is Super Lucky’s Tale, an almost insufferably adorable 3D platformer centered around a cartoon fox with a spiffy little cape as they go through a barrage of colorful environments and meet with simple yet endearing looking characters.  It looks to be a loving revival of the 3D platformer genre in a way that I’m sure some people are craving after Yooka Laylee.  I initially thought the game was a Conker title due to the similarly designed characters, but the game is actually a sequel of sorts to an Oculus Rift game called Lucky’s Tale, which I never heard of.  Anyways, the game will debut on November 7th, where it will hopefully not go unnoticed amidst the holiday rush.

Shifting over to the timed launch exclusives, Microsoft began by approaching the hotness that is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.  This massive multiplayer survival game has become rather popular since its release three months ago, accruing over three million players and causing a lot of joy for people as they were able to experience their own unique stories in a varied Battle Royale.  I know that a lot of people have been really enjoying the game, so it is nice to know that it will be available to an even wider audience sometime later this year.  

Deep Rock Galactic is a low poly 4 player cooperative subterranean exploration game where four players, who take on the form as space dwarves are tasked with going throught eh destructible innards of planets in order to uncover the riches that lay within while fending off hostile alien life that lurks within the underground.  Now part of me wants to draw comparisons between the visual style of this game along with another title, but for the life of me I cannot think of the name of that four player 3DS title that centered around a couple of bulky space faring men.  If this concept interests you, as the trailer did not show off much, it should be out sometime in 2017.

The gorgeous MMO Black Desert was announced for the system, presumably so it could make full use of its pretty visuals via the power of the Xbox One X, and the trailer proceeded to really undermine everything about it being an MMORPG and instead focus on the flashy visual effects and unique vistas.  I know MMORPGs are not the most engaging thing to show, but I really do not condone this type of presentation.  Mostly because it makes me tempted to check the game out, when I have enough things eating away at my free time.

The Last Night is a cyberpunk noir cinematic platformer  that originally earned attention as a Game Jam title way back in 2014, and since then has undergone development as a full retail title that I honestly have not been following very closely, as evidenced by how I was caught completely off guard by the incredibly stylish and lovely blend between pixelated characters and 3D environments that the game features.  It is incredibly stylish, and the few snippets of story and gameplay shown were enough to fully reinvest my interest in this game.  I am expecting great things from this game when it comes out in 2018.

The Artful Escape also adopts an art style that features 2D characters placed on a 3D backdrop, which somebody really should come up with a name for, yet goes in the complete opposite direction.  The game is set in a rendition of the modern world and follows a young man who Indulge in wild fantasies that take him to wild dreamscapes while he jams on his space guitar and wears his spaceman clothes.  It is a positively trippy and delightful looking game that manages to capture some truly lovely locations, and is supposedly driven by light rhythm game elements, which I think I could muster my way through.  No release date was given, but this is certainly going to be a game I will keep an eye on.

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm was formally revealed after being leaked almost two weeks ago, and as I discussed then, it will serve as a prequel to the first game that centers around Chloe Price, her relationship with Rachel Amber, and how she went from being a straight A student to a blue haired, weed smoking, foul mouthed lesbian.  Considering Chloe’s fate and involvement in Life Is Strange, I really do not find this storyline very interesting, although I am willing to give it a shot if the Before The Storm is reviewed well.  The game will be be released across three episodes, the first of which comes out on August 31st, 2017 for PC and Xbox One.

The final of the launch exclusives was Ashen, a game that almost immediately reminded me of Dark Souls with its narrator talking about the protagonist’s quest for light in a dark and dreary environment, but when paired up with the smooth low poly art style and co-op focus as shown in the trailer, my mind drifted over to 2016’s Necropolis.  The trailer was primarily cinematic, so I struggle to say much more about it other than it looks to be taking clean inspirations from the Souls games, and hopefully it will manage to offer something interesting while doing so.

Moving over to the non-exclusive games shown, for games that are coming out for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, this conference saw the announcement of Metro Exodus, the third entry in 4A Games’ post-apocalyptic shooter series.  While I am a fan of the games, and absolutely love their aesthetics and grimey worlds, I am also very picky and peculiar when it comes to the fine details.  Details like enemy AI, user interface, and weapon balance.  So I am naturally keeping these in mind when it comes to this entry, and unfortunately, this trailer did not aspire me with much confidence, but I am also pretty sure it was all scripted and is unrepresentative of the final game.

With intricate animations for small things, a very quickly dispatched boss, and a scripted train rescue, it reeks of being staged in-engine footage that admittedly does show a few interesting things.  The setting is changed from the subterranean tunnels of Moscow and into the Russian countryside, which contains greenery, breathable air, and entirely new enemies.  It is clearly trying to do something interesting, yet it still looks to be heading in the direction of an action game, when I like my Metro to be more of a survival horror style affair.  Regardless, I will probably check this one out sometime after its 2018 release.

Assassin’s Creed Origins was finally shown after being known about for… I don’t know, a year at this point?  As had been revealed about the game, it will be set in Egypt and follow an entirely new Egyptian protagonist as he goes on to found the order of the assassins and likely discovers something related to precursor race revealed in Assassin’s Creed II.  The game itself looks to be a refinement of the series up until this point that also draws a lot from other recent games by including a level system, skill trees, randomized equipment, and a fully reworked combat system with side stepping, blocking, and strikes that are no longer tied to context sensitive commands.  It actually looks rather promising and may help redeem the series to some when it released on October 27th, 2017.

Dragon Ball Fighter Z was briefly revealed via two screenshots a few days ago, but the trailer revealed that the game will be a hyper fighting title in the reign of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 developed by Arc System Works using the technology behind Guilty Gear Xrd.  It is a genuinely impressive looking fighter that manages to look completely inane and make me wish I could play the genre without feeling horrible about my inability to enter combos.  Instead, I will certainly be looking at combo footage of this title when it comes out in early 2018.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War continues to be something I do not really care for, being a straightforward dark fantasy setting driven by a lot of unappealing artistical choices.  This new trailer largely affirmed that viewpoint, except it also showed off the level of personality and uniqueness to the orc’s dialog that goes beyond them ranting about how they will take the protagonist’s head and crush his skull with their teeth.  I really like the idea of befriending these orcs and getting to know their true feelings, even if it is by brainwashing them.  But I doubt these fun moments and dialog sequences will be very commonly featured in the game, which will launch on October 17th.

The final game shown was Bioware’s new IP, Anthem.  The game is centered around humanity being forced to live in a small walled off community while the outside world has become reclaimed by nature and warped by natural disasters and a variety of monsters.  The protagonist is a tasked with patrolling and defending the settlement from the outside world by piloting a suit of power armor, known as a Javelin for some reason.  The gameplay is that of a third person shooter, and there are certainly some similarities to be drawn to Mass Effect Andromeda in particular.  As the player character is given a jetpack and is tasked with exploring an open world filled with goodies to gather and locales to discover.

However, there were three things that stood out to me, and not in a very good way.  One was how the game is apparently from the first person perspective while in the settlement, and third person when in the Javelin.  Which just feel incongruous and unnecessary.  The second was how the game will be multiplayer driven, and encourage players to explore in the hopes of something interesting happening on their journey, as the game features procedurally generated events.  

The third thing is how this game is multiplayer focused.  The demo showed featured drop in and drop out co-op and no party members of any sort.  If that is the case, then Anthem lacks my favorite aspect of all other Bioware games, and my interest in it will lower considerably.  The game will be released sometime in spring 2018.  Also, it may all be smoke and mirrors given how many things about this demo were scripted.  Who even knows.

To close things off with two miscellaneous announcements, Microsoft dropped the news  bomb that Minecraft for Windows 10, consoles, and smart devices will all support cross play.  In addition to this, the game will gain a community marketplace where players can distribute their custom made maps, textures, and character models, support for larger servers, and an optional visual update.  The update will give the game enhanced lighting, improved textures, and little features like having grass flutter in the wind.  It is all great news to hear, and all of this will be made available sometime this fall.  

The second announcement was that Xbox One will soon receive backwards compatibility for the original Xbox.  News that is excellent to hear from the perspective of game preservation, and continues to make any other console without backwards compatibility support look worse by proximity.  It is a minor feature, one that will not be used a lot due to the relatively small number of truly remarkable original Xbox titles, but should be appreciated regardless.

In conclusion, this was a good if unsurprising E3 presentation.  There were a lot of games, a lot of games that appealed to me, but very little in the way of new titles.  I ultimately did walk away with a list of games to keep an eye on, but nothing really surprised or shocked me.  It was safe, predictable, and fine.  Even considering the leaks.

Similar to Microsoft, there were a few announcements that leaked a day or a few hours before Bethesda’s E3 conference, and little to no news that happened in the preceding time period.  So without further ado, onto Bethesda’s conference.

Bethany Esda has grown accustomed to her role as a corporate spokesgirl to the point where she is legitimately viewing it as an idyllic career choice for her.  She has grown quite skilled at selling youths the joy of murder and violence in its most distilled and ultimate form, that of video games, and was able to speak about the company with immense passion that drew much attention from the children.  Especially those with fully fertile sex organs.

In actuality, Bethesda’s showing only lasted about 40 minutes and showed very little worth talking about.  Firstly, they finally followed up on their VR announcements from last year by showing off more of Fallout 4 VR and a modified version of the Doom reboot for VR, entitled Doom VFR.  Fallout 4 VR looks like a pretty straightforward conversion that would not be the ideal way to play the game for long sessions due to both eye strain and general boredom that would come from using motion controls and the like.  While Doom VFR looks more like a basic showcase of the game it is based on with tiny levels designed around the limitations of motion controlled VR.  

The Creation Club is a new platform for Skyrim: Special Edition and Fallout 4 that will allow players to purchase modes created by Bethesda themselves and the fan community in exchange for credits.  By credits, I am assuming they mean fun backs.  In which case, Bethesda is basically turning modes into paid DLC, which is a really baffling idea considering how disastrously their prior attempt at mod monetization went.  Honestly, the reveal of this was too quick and simple for me to garner fully formed thoughts on this, but when this launches in summer of 2017, I think there is going to be some completely justified complaining.

Dishonored: Death to the Outsider is set to be a standalone expansion to Dishonored 2 that… well, I do not really know, as the game was revealed via a CG trailer that I could not understand at all.  The only things I gathered is that the protagonist is a cool super powered black lady with a cool red robot eye who rescues a grizzled man and then sets off on a quest to go murder somebody.  Maybe I need to play the games for context, but that just makes this trailer all the more confusing.  The expansion is due out on September 15th for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC, and even after that day comes, i will likely have no idea what this game is even supposed to be about.

Quake Champions is Bethesda’s attempt to revive their classic arena shooter while introducing a class system into the mix, and showing their extreme confidence in this, they proceeded to show perhaps 30 seconds of gameplay while talking about how this is going to be the best big eSport, a claim that only means something if you are somebody who enjoys eSports, which is actually a very limited market.  The game ultimately looks like a fast and frantic team based arena shooter, but the announcement was wrought with arrogance over how Quake was the first eSport, which is just disingenuous.  Just to name one example of an older eSport: Street Fighter II.  It was released 5 years before Quake.

Following what felt like a year of knowing of the game, The Evil Within 2 was revealed, and due to the ever present quantity of CG in the trailer, I have no idea what it is about.  I know the first one involved protagonist man Sebastian going through the mind of a mental patient in order to uncover some sort of mystery in the process, but now the story is about him trying to get his young daughter back, and presumably going into minds of mental patients in order to look for her.  Combined with weird avant garde imagery of the grizzled protagonist drowning in wet white paint along with a dolphin, and I do not care if the gameplay is notably better, as I already have doubts about this game if it cannot effectively describe itself to others.  The title will be out for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on Friday October 13th, 2017.

Likely only to pad out this presentation, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Nintendo Switch was shown, and the game looks to largely be a port of the 2011 title, but with motion controls via the Joy-Cons and Amiibo support that will allow players to access Zelda items in Skyrim.  Which they could already do, albeit unofficially, on PC via mods, something that I doubt the Switch version will support, both now or ever.

The final reveal came in the form of a sequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order with Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, a strangely named sequel that builds upon the story of the series’ soft reboot by sending BJ Blazkowicz, who survived the ending of the last game by the way, to Nazi occupied America in order to stage a rebellion from within.  This time fully equipped with bulletproof super armor and a fire breathing robot dog friend.  

Now, while I did not have a super great time with New Order, I did fairly enjoy its world and storyline, both of which are on proud display here, with the American underground resistance being a group of colorful characters and the world being so vividly shown through the cutscenes that made up most of the trailer.  The game will be out on October 27th, 2017 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.  It will also serve as one of the first games where you can kill KKK members, which I strongly approve of.  

In all fairness, the games shown here only consisted of Bethesda’s line-up for the remainder of the year, and in that respect, they are going to have a rather stacked 2017.  However, there was very little worthwhile here, and the whole thing relied far too much on CG cutscenes, which I thought publishers were starting to recognize as a waste of money.  Regardless, things at least progressed quickly and the show did not outstay its welcome.  Meaning I was able to get this post done before my self-imposed bed time, so yay for that.

On that note, I will continue my coverage through tomorrow, but trust me what I say that nothing it will go up late.

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