E3

Oh, E3. I remember the days when I’d count the days until your arrival, eagerly awaiting the leaked photos and dropped hints of what games I could see. And then a few years ago, I started getting less interested. E3 was becoming less about the fan and more about the shareholders. You started hearing the shows throwing out numbers like how many millions they would sell or what the anticipated pre-orders would be rather than how many missions would be in the game and how long the game would be. For a few years, E3 wasn’t quite as much about the fans.

Thankfully, it hasn’t taken long for things to change. And once more this year, I found myself excited for E3, looking forward to seeing a preview of the games I could dream of playing at some point.

And E3 delivered. Here’s what I’m excited about. And yes, expect lots of links.

Doom
Okay, first of all, a warning on this one: It’s amazingly violent. So do not click these links if any of the following sound alarming to you—slow-motion blood sprays, chainsaws biting through demon flesh, executions where demons heads are ripped off … that kind of thing. We good? Okay.

Here’s the trailer. And here’s some gameplay footage.

I am excited. Seriously pumped. Doom is the granddaddy of shooters, the next in line after its great-grandfather WolfensteinDoom is the shooter for a lot of people. The original run-and-gun bulletfest that spawned the whole genre. And now it’s back in all new ways.

I love the contextual executions. You have to watch for it in the video, but the executions that Doomguy is doing? They’re determined by the player, sometimes in stages. You see the player look at stumbling imp’s leg and then tap a key before looking at his head, and the execution goes “remove leg, bash head.” But if you notice in the gameplay, if he looks at another part of the body, something different happens. Contextual executions. Oh, and a free-form chainsaw, sort of like the sword in Revengence. Awesome.

There’s other good stuff too. Massive modability. Drag and drop map creation. Visual game rules so that newbies who aren’t programmers can still do scripting. All cool stuff.

Now, I have heard some people complain about the way enemies drop health and ammo. Some of them seem to think that it means the classic “search for secrets” gameplay won’t be represented. While I think those are valid concerns, I suspect that Doom will be a bit like last year’s Wolfenstein: The New Order in that it will probably give players a choice. If you pay close attention in the gameplay videos that have been released, health and ammo dropping enemies only seem to appear if certain conditions are met: Being in a crazy firefight. My guess is that if you want to play a bit more cautiously, you’ll find the secret areas you want to look for.

Oh, and the violence? It’s ridiculous. And deliberately over-the-top in a caricaturistic type of way, the kind of “how could you take this seriously” sort of aspect. I know some places and groups are going after it already, but it’s mostly just for attention-seeking. Have these people not heard of Mortal Kombat X? That game is disturbing. This is just goofy ridiculousness.

Fallout 4
This game is going to ruin me. Well, at least ruin my backlog. I don’t see how I’m going to find the time to be playing anything else when Fallout 4 hits unless I just get tired of the wastelands for a few days.

For those not in the know, Fallout is one of those RPGs that demands hundreds of hours to explore it in its full glory. Expansive worlds, lots of people to meet, discoveries to make, medicines to craft. You can be a killer, a talker, a swindler, a thief … the game really does handle a lot of things pretty well. Throw full mod support on top of the last few games, and, well … you get something that can devour a lot of your time. I finally started playing Fallout: New Vegas about two-and-a-half weeks ago, and despite having put (checks Stream) 21 hours into it thus far, I haven’t even made it to the game’s titular city and really started the main game yet. But that’s okay. I’m wandering around a wasteland, meeting people, killing radioactive scorpions, and scavenging nuclear ruins.

Anyway, now comes Fallout 4, arriving this November to suck away vacation days and give us a fresh breath of irradiated air once again. And what a breath! Speaking main characters. Fortnight-style building of not just buildings but towns, complete with people that will move in, even bringing with them trade route options. Weapons customization, power-armor customization, customization customization … it’s an insane list of features. Absolutely insane.

And all wrapped in the best-looking shell seen yet for Fallout. Gunplay in the series has always been super clunky compared to other games, clunky enough that most of the time in Fallout 3 combat meant “click vats, click targets, win” rather than shooting. But perhaps due to the influence of working with ID (those guys who make Doom), the shooting in Fallout 4 actually looks like shooting. Lovely!

Add in a character that actually talks, mod support even for the Xbox One version, and you have a juggernaut.

Gears of War 4
love the Gears of War series. To an insane degree. I love the lore, the way it’s presented, how the series doesn’t hold your hand and just expects you to figure things out based on the thousands of little clues strewn about the game in everything from the visual design to the small chatter passing back and forth between the characters. For a game that to most was a “dudebro” shooter, Gears had a lot of depth in its characters and world, depth that went 100% missed by about 90% of its playerbase who were too busy waiting for the game to grab them by their ears and shout “LISTEN TO THE PLOT” to bother paying attention to some of the dialogue going back and forth between the chatty characters.

Yeah, it’s no surprise to me that a good chunk of players still seem to think Gears is set on Earth after three games (technically four, but we’re not really counting the abomination that was Judgement).

Anyway, Gears 4 was one of those alarming rumors for me. Gears 3 gave the series a solid send-off, sort of like Halo 3 did for that series. Hearing that there was another game coming … well, I won’t lie, I mocked it often. And I’m still not 100% sold on Gears 4 … but I want to believe it will be good. Especially after the six-minute demo shown at E3, where there was plenty of good stuff to go around. It’s already clear the game is set years, perhaps even decades after the end of Gears 3, which is good, and involves new characters, which is again, good. Apparently the Gears loremaster is helming the plot, and some of the dialogue in the video hinted at that. For example, the way the characters get nervous when they seem something glowing. Immulsion and the Lambent may be gone, but the legacy lives with these characters.

Then during the PC game show the hint was dropped that it will likely come to PC, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I really don’t want to buy and Xbox One, and I’ve always wanted Gears on my PC anyway, preferably with mod-support. Time will tell with Gears 4, but I’m feeling pretty optimistic.

Rise of the Tomb Raider
I almost don’t know what to say about this one. Oh wait. Yes I do. Sequel to Crystal Dynamic’s incredible 2013 Tomb Raider reboot that rebuilt the series from the ground up, Rise of the Tomb Raider looks like everything I could want it to be. How do I put this … of all the games I’ve just talked about, none of them are going to break my work schedule. I’ll pick them up and then go back to work until I’ve reached my daily writing quota. Then I will play them … though I will admit Gears 4 has a chance to break this.

Rise of the Tomb Raider already has. It will be a glorious vacation day when it hits my PC. Tombs, survival, action … all worthy of an Indiana Jones flick. I expect this one to deliver. And I can’t wait. I don’t know what I can say. This one is “stop everything and play” when it arrives.

Everything Else
Halo 5 looks interesting, I guess. I still have a love-hate relationship going with the way 343 has so casually butchered canon, but dang it if Halo 4 wasn’t fun to play at times, especially in Spartan Ops. At the very least, the soundtrack will probably be awesome.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst continues to bounce across my radar. Loved the first one. Watching the second.

No word on any good RTS games coming out of E3. I guess my hopes for a follow-up to Outpost 2 go unabated. Not that I expected otherwise.

Sony keeps doing its dirty little habit of sticking slides that say “Only on Playstation 4” between games shown off during its trailer. At least people noticed this time. I don’t know why developers let them get away with that. It’s downright dirty pool. Sure, it’s their slide, but it’s misrepresentation galore. As reddit later observed out, of all the games shown at Sony’s E3 conference with the “Only on PS4” moniker, only 3 or 4 games actually are “only on PS4.” The rest are coming to PC and other consoles. Then again, Sony has always played dirty, so I’m not surprised. It’s just annoying to see all that misinformation out there.

Cuphead looks insane. In a good way. Also very retro.

Not much else to say. I know I’ve probably missed things, but those were the highlights for me. In either case, time to work! Got another short story to finish today.

How about you? What were your favorites?

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