Day 3 has finally ended and with it so has E3 2012. What did we get a chance to do today? Closed door meetings with Bethesda and Epic games? Read more to find out!
The Elder Scrolls Online
My Bethesda showcase highlighted two games, the first of which was The Elder Scrolls Online. As the title suggests, this is an MMORPG based in and around Tamriel, the world of The Elder Scrolls series. While hardcore fans of TES and Fallout groan any time the letters “MMO” are used in a discussion, I have to say this game didn’t look nearly as bad as I was expecting.
On a visual level, the game looked impressive. The worldspace is fairly expansive and includes locations from all across Tamriel. The player can pick from a fairly extensive variety of races, each of which will affect his alignment. Tamriel has been divided into 4 warring factions, of which the player will be able to align himself with one of three. The game is designed to allow for greater social interactions but does not require them to beat the game. It does, however, reward players for working together or helping each other out. For example, if I am struggling with a particularly difficult enemy and you come and kill that enemy, we both get full XP and full loot for the kill. It’s a pretty fair system.
One thing that was somewhat helpful was the fact that the game includes very little UI, meaning that you’re looking less at toolbars and health/magic stats and more at the actual environment. This is good because the environment looks awesome. Instead, the game relies more heavily on simple hotkeys that are fairly easy to remember. Anyone familiar with MMO gameplay knows that it’s almost required to learn hotkeys anyway, so this shouldn’t be too surprising.
The developers included a demonstration of what they expect PvP to be like as well. The demonstration was a 150 player melee that included characters of all races and classes. Evidently the game is designed to encourage melees of this size and greater, which could be a lot of good chaotic fun.
There’s a lot more about this game that will be discussed and showcased in the months leading up to its release (scheduled for sometime in 2013). While I probably won’t preorder this game, it would be higher on my list of MMOs. Those who enjoy playing MMOs might want to ditch the lightsabers and check this game out.
I hadn’t heard anything about this game until I managed to see a video of some of the gameplay right before I entered E3 way back on day one. It looked interesting and I was pleased to find out that it would be the other game that Bethesda was showcasing behind closed doors. This game actually looks pretty awesome.
Dishonored is a first-person action game. It emphasizes (and often encourages) stealth, but the entire game can be played in obviously, wrecklessly violent way if the player desires. The game is affected by the number of innocents that are killed on the hit missions, though, so gamers will have to keep that in mind as they use the wide variety of weapons and powers available.
I’m not sure what the back story is, but the player is some sort of assassin hire to kill a number of people to forward some underlying storyline. The game plays a bit like The Darkness meets Half-Life 2 and Splinter Cell. It may seem like an odd combination, but it actually works out well. In the section that I was shown the player is able to use one of ten potential paths for entering a building and killing two targets. Each path has certain advantages and disadvantages, but the stealthier paths are almost always the best.
Without going into too much technical detail, I can say that the developers spent a good deal of time tweaking extra details and potential paths. While there are better gameplay styles, there is no particular “best” style, so the player will be able to take the path that seems the simplest or most opportune. These elements (combined with a few others) make this a game worth watching over the coming months.
Doom 3: BFG
There are few PC shooter fans that can forget how much they looked forward to Doom 3 and fewer still who can remember how truly terrible it was. The game was marred by poorly designed AI, unfair enemies, and “surprises” that were less scary as much as they were frustrating. The vast majority of the game was far too dark to see without a flashlight, but the only one that was given to the player could not be used in combination with any weapon. This led to a predictable pattern of flashlight, enemy, shooting at the darkness, rinse and repeat for a few hours or until rage-quit sets in.
So why on earth is Bethesda bringing back Doom 3? Well because it’s getting improved graphics (including 3D capabilities), new missions, and a shoulder-mounted flashlight. The BFG edition bundles Doom, Doom II, Doom 3, the expansion pack, and a few new single-player missions. Would this be enough to make me shell out more money for what was one of the most disappointing games I have ever played? Definitely not, but someone who hasn’t become automatically biased against anything with “Doom” in the title might consider it. Besides, the first two Doom games make up for it (kind of).
Dead Space 3
The original Dead Space game was clearly designed to be a Survival Horror game first and a shooter second. Dead Space 2 reversed this, favoring greater use of ranged weaponry in open combat and less item and ammunition conservation. Dead Space 3 takes one giant leap further along this path by adding in cooperative capabilities in the entire campaign.
Don’t get me wrong, I love coop campaigns. In my opinion there are far too few games that include the ability to play a full split-screen coop campaign. But Dead Space never really felt like the game that needed it. It was supposed to be about that lonely feeling of dread that a player gets when they have no idea what new horrors will be around the next corner. With an ally you are stronger and when you are stronger, you are a predator. When you are alone, you are weak, and when you are weak you are prey.
Still, the developers did an excellent job of making the coop gameplay make sense. The cutscenes and dialog are completely different when playing cooperatively. So while the overall story and result still remain almost exactly the same, the game will feel different when played in coop mode. The coop is also drop-in/drop-out, meaning that if one player has to leave there’s no need for the other to quit and reload a single-player campaign.
My encounter with Neverwinter was brief, but here’s what I managed to find out. Neverwinter is an MMO based around the city of Neverwinter that many RPG fans know and love. However, it is not a continuation of any Neverwinter games. It includes Dungeons and Dragons rules, but overall wasn’t really impressive. It looked a lot like Neverwinter Nights meets Everquest.
There are two things that it has going for it. First of all, it’s going to be free to play. While I do have issues with this type of model (namely that it tends to cost well more than $60 to get a “full game” worth of content), this will allow a much wider user base to get started. Unfortunately this also removes the sense of loyalty that those who pay for a game have, but that’s another issue entirely.
Secondly, the representative that I talked to mentioned something called “The Foundry”. While she knew very little specific information, she was clearly coached enough to mention that it would have something to do with user-generated content. This could be awesome if the game allows for modding, but also could lead to some very overpowered items.
Gears of War: Judgment
I was surprised to see this game announced at Microsoft’s press conference. I was initially confused since the Gears of War series ended with Gears of War 3. So is Judgment going to be some sort of DLC or expansion pack? No, evidently not. Gears of War: Judgment is a full game that Epic is hoping to release sometime next year.
The game will take place 14 years before the events of the first Gears of War. Baird, at that time a Lieutenant, is put on trial for endangering the lives of millions of civilians and stealing military technology in the fight against the new Locust threat. Humanity is having a difficult time transitioning from combat against other humans into combat against the Locust, so when a major engagement goes wrong Baird and his team take the fall.
My closed-door talk with Rod Fergusson revealed a number of interesting elements about this game. First of all, the control scheme was redesigned to create a faster, more streamlined gameplay experience. Instead of having to rely on the dpad for switching weapons and being able to use grenades, players will be able to use other buttons for the majority of these actions. While cover will still be necessary in many parts of the game, speed and timing will be much more important than they were in previous Gears titles.
The campaign also includes an interesting element to encourage replayability. The first time the player goes through the campaign, much of the information of Baird’s trial will be classified. As the gamer goes through the campaign, some of that information will be revealed and will change the way that the trial progresses on a second playthrough. For example, it may be revealed that the COG messed up in some way, which would affect the dialog (and potentially the outcome) of the trial. Using specific weapons / equipment or fighting specific enemies may also change the dialog of the trial.
I’m still not quite sure what to make of this game, but it can be assumed that I will be watching it closely for any further developments.
Avengers: Battle for Earth
While I didn’t get a chance to test this game out, I did spend a couple of minutes watching two people battle head-to-head with it. It’s a fighting game that uses Kinect but instead of being a side-view like Soulcalibur or Tekken it basically gives each player a third-person over-the-shoulder view. It’s an interesting way to do a fighting game but it seems to be okay. The only slight problem with this type of view is that the character usually takes over the vast majority of the screen in splitscreen mode, which can make things seem cramped.
The game seemed to allow for a two-character tag system like Tekken Tag, which could be cool. I didn’t get to see the character list but it seemed to include an extensive list of Marvel characters including a number of X-Men. The controls seemed somewhat responsive but using the kinect to activate offensive powers seemed a bit clunky. This may have simply been a problem with the people that I watched, but unless there’s some sort of tutorial for each character’s attack moves this game could get annoying to figure out.
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale
Think of Super Smash Brothers. The original one, not the new ones. Now upgrade the graphics to Wii quality. Now replace all of the classic Nintendo characters with semi-classic Playstation characters. That’s Playstation All-Stars in a nutshell. I’m not sure if all of the characters were unlocked, but the ones that I did have available left a lot to be desired. While Kratos, Nathan Drake, and that guy from Killzone are clearly Playstation 3 staples, I’m not sure if I consider Fat Peach (aka Fat Princess) or Big Daddy as Playstation “All-Stars”.
I didn’t enjoy this game at all and see no reason why anyone would pick it up over its Super Smash Brothers counterparts, but if you only own a PS3 you might want to take a look at it.
Fable: The Journey
The last game that I got to test at E3 2012 was also a game that I first saw at E3 2011. Fable: The Journey is a Kinect-based rail shooter that allows the player to use a small variety of magical spells in order to defeat enemies and complete the story. This year I was actually able to test out the game and see how it felt. This is one of the best Kinect games that I have tried so far and gives me hope for the device in the future.
First, and most importantly, the game was very responsive. I’m not sure how the developers did it but they somehow almost completely negated any of the lag that is normally associated with Kinect games. I’m serious, there was practically no lag. When I threw a spell, that spell reacted in a realistic way. The vast majority of the time the errors were made on my part and not on the part of the game. This is a huge plus for a device that has been constantly plagued by buggy movement and absurdly slow response times.
The game will give the player a number of paths along the way, but the average playthrough should last somewhere between 10 and 15 hours. This game is designed to be played at least twice, and the spells are all pretty interesting and fun to throw. While I will likely still hold off on buying a Kinect until I find out what Microsoft has in store for the next generation of console, I will be getting Fable: The Journey when I get a Kinect.