An E3 filled with redemptions and high expectations…
Ah… The yearly razzle dazzle of E3 is finally upon us and this year’s line-up was for the lack of a better word: safe. The majority of titles in this year’s line were either highly anticipated sequels or re-treads of existing formula; although with games costing in the millions to develop, I’m honestly not surprised – throwing millions into a voyage into uncharted waters might not the most prudent move publishers can make. These are the top 15 games that have either showed the most promise or just tickled my fancy.
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
Nazi killing machine B.J Blazkowicz is back for another instalment of Nazi killing action and this time, he’s not just looking to spill Nazi blood, he’s looking to inspire the entire Continental United States to spill Nazi blood. The game is set to take place months after the death of series antagonist Dr Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse at the end of The New Order with Frau Engel taking the place of Deathshead as the main protagonist – Frau Engel is the crazy Nazi grandma you disfigured in The New Order. According to an official statement from Bethesda, the game would see players blast Nazis in places like Roswell, New Mexico (Nazi Aliens ?!), gator filled swamps of New Orleans and even a post-nuclear Big Apple. I positively loved The New Order and I can’t wait to jump back into the fray as B.J.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
Finished Dishonored 2 as both Emily and Corvo and still craving more that signature magical assassination action? Well, developers Arkane studios got you covered. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is a stand-alone sequel to Dishonored 2 that’ll see Billie Lurk (a former assassin turned pirate) team up with Daud aka the Knife of Dunwall – and also the murder of Empress Kaldwin in the first game as they take on the mysterious Outsider – who’s responsible for Daud, Corvo and Emily’s powers. The stand-alone game is scheduled for release in September 15th and it’ll put us back $30.
Returning to the irradiated wasteland of mother Russia for the as series protagonist Artyom, Metro: Exodus is the third game in the Metro series based off a series of novels written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky – think Fallout but with a lot more grime and none of the campiness. In the gameplay trailer we saw at the Microsoft conference, everything that made Metro such as cult hit was there: weapons held together by rust and tape…Check! Giant mutated mole rats…Check! And an eerily beautiful post apocalypse…Check! Metro: Exodus would dump the linear structure of its previous iterations and adopt a more open-ended approach to mission structure. Not much is known about the story but in an interview with twitch executive producer John Bloch confirmed that the player would play at Artyom and that Exodus would not be confined to Moscow, players would be able to traverse across post-apocalyptic Russia.
Need for Speed: Payback
Finally, sick of street racing and vehicular combat, the Need for Speed series finally just gave up and went full Fast and Furious – when the FnF series were about high-speed heists. Developed by Ghost Games, who developed both Need for Speed: Rivals and the 2015 reboot of Need for Speed. The game’s campaign would take place in an open world filled with races, vehicular combat and heist missions. Finally, Need for Speed’s defining feature, car customisation would make a triumphant return in NFS: Payback. I’m excited to see if NFS: Payback is the shot in the arm that the Need for Speed series desperately needs – I’m holding my breath, hoping the game don’t repeat the mistakes made by Need for Speed: The Run who had a similar concept…Yeah, I remembered The Run. Need for Speed: Payback is slated for a Nov 10th release worldwide.
Ahh…Crackdown, the game that made me fall in love with jumping across buildings, shooting bad guys and collecting orbs. For the uninitiated, Crackdown puts the player in the shoes of an Agent in the Agency – a bureau of super human police officers tasked with taking down organised crime. The game pointed the player at a bunch of gang leaders and set them loose in a humungous open world. The trailer shown at during the Microsoft press conference was just simply Terry Crews doing his thing which was quite apt because Terry Crews personifies what the original Crackdown was in its purest form, unadulterated action. Unfortunately, the series took a drastic downturn in the form of Crackdown 2 which was not only an abomination of the original but also shoehorned supernatural elements that made combat a frustrating drag. Crackdown 3 looks to be an exciting return to form for the beleaguered series, developers looks to deliver the same campy fun that made the original such as cult hit.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
Shadow of Mordor was my favourite game of 2014, with its quick visceral action and its claim to fame, the Nemesis system. However, I had a minor gripe, Shadow of Mordor didn’t really have a sense of scale that the movies had. You’re one singular ranger skulking around heavily defended outpost; once alerted, the inhabitants would descend on Talion without mercy, the odds were never in his favour – there was never the massive battles that the books and movies had, it was always Talion against the orc-ish world. The sequel Middle-earth Shadow of War looks to even out the odds by allowing Talion to raise his own army of Orcs under the banner of the Brightlord. Instead of trying to assassinate your way up the orc-ish chain of command, Shadow of War will require you to storm the fortress itself with your band of orcs.
Bioware, the creators of memorable RPGs like Mass Effect and Dragon Age have decided to jump into Co-Op action shooter space with their newest IP Anthem. Players would take control of one of several different mechs, all with their own playstyle – although not much is known about their different abilities but from the trailer the different mechs does seem to slightly resemble emblematic RPG archetypes. One thing I noticed from the trailer shown was the sheer amount of mobility the mechs have, each mech was equipped with a jetpack that allowed them to traverse long stretches of terrain with ease. In addition to the jetpacks, each mech comes strapped up to their eyeballs in firepower, we saw the Colossus mech suit vaporise an entire group of enemies with a single mortar shell and the Ranger mech suit unleash a swarm of homing missiles on a group of enemy reinforcement. Bioware might just be able to deliver what Destiny couldn’t: a grand story that complements the frenetic action.
Despite countless games featuring our friendly neighbourhood Spiderman; no game managed to capture the tone and style of the comics better than 2004’s Spider-Man 2. You truly felt what it’s like to be Spiderman, from the speed and momentum of each web swing as you zip around the boroughs of New York city to stopping random criminals in the streets. The game became the gold standard for the Open-World superhero genre that came after it – Infamous and Prototype being prime examples. This iteration looks to recreate the feel of being Spiderman while including some contemporary sensibilities of the action genre – big cinematic set pieces and erm …. QTEs? The trailer showed off some Arkham styled combat which involved Spidey swinging from I-Beam to I-Beam, silently dispatching foes. The actual combat looked visceral and acrobatic, which kinda blends well with Spidey’s style.
Development is being helmed by Insomniac Games – the studio that also developed the Rachet & Clank series so I believe we’re in good hands.
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
Modern flight sims are rare. Fun arcade-y flight sims that doesn’t force you to perform an actual pre-flight check before takeoff are elusive. But only the Ace Combat series allow you to carry hundreds of missiles while executing high-g turns to get on an attack vector to down an enemy’s flying supercarrier. Based on the trailers, it seems that developers Project Aces listened to the mountains of fan complains and AC7 make a return to the world of “Strangereal” which is the alternate earth that most of the franchise take place – with the only exception of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, which is based on locations in our world. In all honesty, the Ace Combat series haven’t change much in the past several years and I do not foresee any big changes this time around – although I really loved the “Close Range Assault” system introduced in Assault Horizon. The overarching theme of Skies Unknown looks to be a tale of man verses machine – “Soon there will be no one gripping a control stick and taking to the skies.”, now that’s just a heaping serving of foreshadowing. Ace Combat 7 is slated to release in 2018.
Call of Duty: WWII
Call of Duty have come a long way, the series started out as your typical WWII shooter back when killing Nazis were all the rage, went to the modern world and created one of the most cinematic games every made, toyed with Vietnam and the cold war and finally ventured into the future. Along the way, the COD series had forgotten what made the original great, each progressive COD game strayed further and further away from the horrors and camaraderie of war, each progressive COD became less of a reflection of war and more of a superhero power fantasy. We went from storming a compound with memorable characters that we care about to superhero-ing our way into a heavily defended fortress with teammates who feel more like side characters than anyone we’d remotely care about. COD: WWII looks to change that; the team seeks to re-create the iconic feel of early CODs, from the vulnerability of your player character to the grounded gritty story of conflict and death. Playing as soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division aka The Big Red One, players would experience the major Allied offensive into Germany. It’s a surprising return to form for the Call of Duty series, I really hope the game turns out well.
Total War: Warhammer II
One year since Creative Assembly’s foray into the world of Warhammer Fantasy, CA is ready to expand the world with a brand-new sequel featuring an entire new campaign map and 4 new races – the Lizardmen, the Dark Elves, the High Elves and a final unannounced race. The campaign revolves around the new races and their intentions for a powerful vortex of pure energy that manifested itself. The campaign map would re-worked due to the fact that TW: WH2 takes place on a separate continent but players would get to experience interaction with the prequel races in the grand campaign-even the DLC factions. Some might say a sequel might be a little too soon but hey, as long as there’s more Warhammer content to keep me going.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
One of the worst kept secrets of the year. Assassin’s Creed Origins the next iteration of the Assassin’s Creed series would take place in ancient Egypt. The culmination the series’ two-year hiatus, AC Orgins hope to get back into the graces of the general gaming public after the lacklustre performance of AC: Syndicate and the technical disaster that is AC: Unity. Reeling from the lessons learnt from Unity and Syndicate, the AC team went back to the drawing boards. Set a thousand years before the original Assassin’s Creed, ACO tells the tale of Bayek, an Egyptian Assassin and the last of the Medjay – an elite police force tasked with the protection of valuable areas. ACO might just look like any other AC games on first glance but the upon closer inspection, ACO resembles more like an action RPG than an AC game. ACO now feature loot…yes loot, each equipment come with their own stats but I’m not really looking forward to managing my inventory and A/B-ing my equipments. Combat have also seen a couple of tweaks; Ubisoft decided to opted for a more movement based combat system akin to Dark Souls which made it a lot more kinetic. After a two year long hiatus, ACO might just be the game that elevates the AC series back to its original glory.
Skull & Bones
Just coming off talking about the AC series, think back and try to recall one of the most innovative feature the AC series had in recent years. Did your mind just conjure AC: Black Flag’s fantastic naval combat. In all honesty, any gameplay sections not involving the game’s naval elements were mediocre at best. Publishers Ubisoft decided to take a chance with the concept of an entire game revolving around Naval Combat. From what we have seen so far, the Skull & Bones looks to keep general gameplay intact while expanding on the depth and complexity of the naval combat itself. There is even an inclusion of a class system; a sloop might be small and vulnerable but it packs a long-range mortar that could rain fire from the skies. I’m actually pretty excited to see how Skull & Bones turn out; with a strong studio pedigree behind it, I have very high expectations. I honestly can’t wait to sail the high seas in search of plunder and loot.
Far Cry 5
Far Cry have always given us great characters, from the psychotic Vas from Far Cry 3 to the egomaniacal Pagan Min. Far Cry have always followed a formula; guy comes to town, guy meets crazy ass villain, guy links up with or forms a resistance group and finally guy takes down villain. It is a formula that worked and as long as the execution remains top notch, fans will remain loyal to the franchise. Far Cry 5 is not different, with a single glaring difference: the setting. Gone are the exotic locales, there are not snowy mountains and beaches where FC5 is going. For the first time in the series, Far Cry 5 would be taking place in the United States. The villain this time would be a militarist cult leader named Joseph Seed, his cult “Eden’s Gate” believe that all shall be cleansed whether they want to or not. New weapons, new setting but the same winning formula, FC5 looks set to bring the open-world fun of Far Cry to the Homefront.
Star Wars Battlefront II
I shall be really honest here, I really LOVED the concept of battlefront; the concept of recreating the huge battles that I’ve watch and red have always appealed to me. So, when the 2015 reboot of Battlefront came out, I had really high hopes for it but unfortunately the open beta was extremely disappointing. Microtransactions and mandatory season pass killed the game for me – I know the season pass is optional but the game felt half-baked without it. The general gameplay was also mediocre as best, it failed to capture the essence of the original. So, when I saw the initial trailer of Battlefront II; I was very apprehensive, that is until I saw the gameplay reveal at the EA press conference. I had flashbacks of my old Battlefront days on my old PS2; the same frenetic action and massive battles that I my friends and I spent huddled in front of a TV. I’ve decided to give Battlefront a second chance and I’m just hoping I won’t be disappointed again. Oh and a single player mode that’ll be canon; featuring the Inferno Squad, a team of Empire Special Ops on a mission to “avenge their emperor”.
Best E3 Press Conference
Just go watch it, trust me.
by Chen KangYi
© POPCulture Online 2017