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E3 2015 Afterthoughts

My favorite time of year has come and gone.  I love E3.  I love the spectacle. I love the bombshells and I love the competitive atmosphere.  Ain’t no business like video game business.

by Robert Graves

Undoubtedly you’ve seen at least bits and pieces of E3 this year, even if you’re not in love with it like I am.   Now that the dust has settled, lets recap what coming in the future.

The Bombshells

The biggest bombshells this year were all fired from the past.  First up, we have Earthbound Beginnings from Nintendo, a localization of the first Mother game on the NES.  Brought to Wii U, immediately.  This is a game that nobody thought would or could happen and its been surrounded by controversy for years.  Could this open up the path way to Mother 3?  God I hope so.

The next bombshell to drop was Final Fantasy VII Remake.  Considered by many to be the best Final Fantasy ever, fans have been squealing for a HD remake for decades.  VII originally released on the Playstation, right at the time when games were shifting from 2D to 3D and this game had elements of both.  The producers of VII Remake promise that this wont be the same story, rather a remix.  With Square Enix, that could be good or bad, but here’s to optimism!

Finally we have the biggest bombshell of them all.  Shenmue III.  This is a game that been a myth since the fall of the Dreamcast.  Thanks to the new age of crowd funding (and a little help from Sony) Shenmue III will be a reality.  The director is already promising Shenmue IV, but lets not start making promises we (historically) cant keep.  Shenmue III will be on both PS4 and PC, which seems strange to me.  I wish they would make a DC version!

The Conference

Most of the line ups were games you expected.  A new Call of Duty is coming, which is fine, these things sell tens of thousands every year let the kids have their fun.  There is a new Madden, and this year they allow you to pay $60 for it.  Ubisoft, as per usual, handled their show with all the grace of a Thanksgiving TV special.  Nintendo presented itself as Muppets (by the Jim Henson company, spared no expense).  Sony presented good idea after good idea, and Microsoft said one day you can play some of your old 360 games on your Xbox One, so long as the developers say its ok.

Fallout 4 was announced, which made people giggle like school girls, and made a colleague of mine rush out and by a PS4.  He has also written a review on Fallout Shelter, a game Bethesda  released on mobile at the time of the announcement.  The Last Guardian made an appearance after years of development.  The game play is puzzle/maze style, and it turned out to be a little bit buggy.  Maybe a little too buggy for how old it actually is.

Games to Look Out For

Horizon: Zero Dawn is a post apocalyptic game that lets you pit your cave woman self against giant robot dinosaurs.  Picture a world from The Matrix, but less meta and more I Am Legend.  The game looks interesting, but its too early to tell if it just ends up being a boring romp around.  Crafting is fetch quest 2.0.

Unravel is the newest game in the yarn style line of art.  In this game, you play a yarn doll who must leave the house and travel the world in search of your lost owner.  This is a game thats going to make you cry.  I swear to God, if the game ends with the doll sitting down against the gravestone of its owner, together at last, I’m going to punch a cow.

Star Wars Battlefront has become the next gen step child, berated when its bad and glorified when its good.  When first announced, Star Wars Battlefront took the most anticipated game of this generation and completely ruined it.  6 maps, 8 vs 8 multi-player,  0 vehicles, 0 single player campaign.  This year, all of that is changed. You can drive whatever you want, whenever you want.  Multi-player matches have risen to a staggering 40 player count.  It still remains to be seen whether or not this is just a Battlefield clone, but its still a game I’m very interested in playing.

Super Mario Maker is a game about making Mario levels.  But its also a Mario game.  In fact, this game comes packed with 100 levels – more than any other Mario game ever.  Beyond that, new levels are added as soon as the community makes them.  Super Mario Maker also carries on the attitude of the Remix franchise, so players are able to teach old sprites new tricks.  The game looks like amazing fun, and I haven’t seen a video yet where I haven’t said “OH SNAP THATS AWESOME!”

Tech to Look Out For

E3 isn’t all about the software and games.  Several companies showed off their future tech.  Most centered around AR/VR, which in my opinion is awesome.

Oculus Rift  – The OC (don’t call it that) Rift showed us its final product.  The Kickstarter turned Facebook owned group showed off its new control system as well as a partnership with Microsoft to use the Xbox One Controller.  While the Oculus has games being produced specifically for it, consumers will ultimately be able to view anything on the headset.  The Rift’s biggest problem still has to do with tactile feedback, but that is an issue with anything VR.  Further, Oculus anticipates Rift uses will be sitting for the majority of its use.

Hololens – Microsoft’s own AR system Hololens is almost ready to launch.  Microsoft showed off some new tech demos including a Halo mission briefing.  The classic Minecraft demo was shown, this time with multi-player.  Hololens is interesting because its inherent in Microsoft’s Generation X – Windows 10 will be available on all Microsoft’s platforms.  Since Hololens is lighter and built in to things I already own (well not really, but more than say, the Rift) it becomes an extension of things I like to do already.  Wanna crank on Pandora?  Just tap in the air.  Want to read a recipe? Google it and tack it to your kitchen wall.  Want to watch Netflix?  Crank that sucker up.  I believe convenience will move Hololens forward.  The problem I hope they fix – multiple users seeing the same AR space.  There may be a solution in Valve’s Lighthouse, but it still remains to be seen.

Playstation Vue – Forget everything that Sony said in its press conference.  Playstation Vue is turning your PS3 or PS4 into a cable box.  Now that TV has gone digital and Cable is on the decline, Broadcasters are looking for ways to stay competitive online.  Using Playstation Vue, you can watch your favorite channels on your Sony Console – no other box required.  Watching the Sony Conference, I was under the impression that one could pick and choose which channels to stream.  But in actuality, Sony is taking the place of your cable provider.  While Playstation Vue is a big deal, it is ultimately a let down.  $50 a month for basic TV is an outrage, $70 for the elite package is a travesty.

The End is the Beginning

E3 2015 came and went to fast for me this year.  Now that its over, Ive cooled my brain and taken stock.  I know what I want in the coming year (show me the Star Fax!), and I can see what will be a train wreck (PSVue).  I was not disappointed and I can’t wait for E3 2016.  Until then…

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