Friday, 22 June 2018

What I'm Waiting For - E3 Special [Gaming]

This special E3 What I’m Waiting For is doubling up on the amount of games being covered. Usually there would just be two, but since I’m not covering thoughts from a previous version, I can afford to double up. I don’t think any of these things I’m covering will be surprise – except maybe one – so let’s take a look at the news games from E3 that I’m waiting for.

I’ll just get this one out of the way with first. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. The fact we don’t have any footage doesn’t quell the want for the game, nor does it supress ideas on what it could be about. All we know – from the official site – is that it follows a surviving Padawan of Order 66 shortly after that Order first fell.

We know there are surviving Jedi of Order 66. The second-tier canon had a lot of surviving Jedi, and even a few in the primary canon are known. But each survivor has a different story to tell. Since Caleb Dume – better known as Kanan Jarrus – has already had his story told, I highly doubt we’ll be getting that story in a different piece of media. That gives us a lot of freedom to explore where this Padawan goes.

My first thought is that it could follow a similar direction to that of the story found in Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader – where a few survivors try to find other Jedi but come to realise that doing so puts themselves in greater danger. The entire plot of the novel has relevance within primary canon with the mention of Murkhana and some business that Vader handled in the Tarkin novel.

There’s plenty of other ways to handle such a story – even tying it into the Siege of Mandalore if they wanted to – and I’m not going to mention all of them. I’m just noting that the story had better be a good one. Since this is a fair way off from a release, the first we’ll probably be hearing more about it is Star Wars Celebration in April.

I’m a big fan of Forza Horizon. I bought the Xbox 360 for the original and fell in love with it, and while I passed on the second, I soon bought it and an Xbox One [specifically the Forza Motorsport version] in 2016 just for the arrival of the third.

I’m all set for the arrival of the fourth at the beginning of October, then, and this is looking to be the largest of the series. Seasons arrive to give the world some visual flair and a change of events per season means there’s plenty to experience. Drivatars are still in the game for races, but the world will be populated by real players. Not to worry though, as they cannot mess you around unless a part of your co-op lobby, and you can revert to a Drivatar-populated world easily if you want to avoid seeing the randomness of others.

And as you’ve no doubt seen, that world in this game is the UK. We’ve already seen Scotland and the Lake District, but there’s a lot more for this country to offer, and with the visuals already looking vibrant it can certainly deliver. The visuals of the world are important, but so is the things to do. The Horizon Festival is now a year round party of automotive fun, with houses able to be bought in the cities and the countryside to live during the year-round festivities. While we don’t have all the details, I suspect the idea of the Festival is being changed up yet again for the better – expanding on what the third gave us but having it all open from the start.

The radio stations of the Horizon Festival are an important part of the experience, and have expanded each game. I suspect there’s not going to be much in the way of new additions this time, with the third game only adding one new station [not counting the Groove Music station]. I’m always tuned into Horizon Pulse, and it’s introduced me to several bands now in my music lists, chief among them Chvrches. For a new station, I wouldn’t mind one catering specifically to the old British rock classics, as I quite enjoy that particular genre of music.

Super Mario Party releases a few days after Forza Horizon 4, and is set on a return to the classic formula. I’m not a super fan of the series, having only had one per console on DS, 3DS, and WiiU. The DS game had that classic formula in place, and while I’ve had fun with the other two games, I’ve felt that the board game mechanics haven’t been the same. They felt more linear and restrictive, while the DS game had a lot more variety.

There’s not much that can really be said about it, but with what we’ve already seen it looks like the boards and minigames are offering variety. We’ve only seen two of those boards and a few of the minigames, along with the new multi-Switch games. The concept here is that two Switch consoles are linked and placed together to create a wider field of play, act as puzzle pieces, and possibly other ways. It’s a concept that was hinted at from a patent that Nintendo filed, and it looks as though that is finally a reality.

As for what the game includes, there’s eighty new minigames, possibly eight to ten total boards, and a wealth of characters both playable and non-playable. You’ve got the usual lot like Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, and Yoshi, along with the outliers such as Boo, Koopa, Shy Guy, Dry Bones, and new additions Goomba, Monty Mole, and Pom Pom. Toad has now become board game host again, with Toadette acting as star guard, and Lakitu and Kamek as helper and hinderer respectively.

It’ll be good to get back into the Mario Party, and also see how this rebooted series progresses in new games. These games are always good fun with friends, and this has one extra feature to do so in terms of online. While it is only minigames available to be played, it could expand in later entries to have online focused modes.

While I have little to say on this one, Daemon X Machina looked fun with an action-packed trailer, with the gameplay showing off just a bit of what is available in the full game. Seemingly based on the Armoured Core series, it features mech suits and fighting and an interesting visual of red and orange for its world.

Why I’m waiting for this one is more to see what it evolves into as a full game. The teaser was enough to get me interested in the world, but I want to see exactly what it is I can do within this world. There’s the fighting against enemies and using items within the world as weapons, but what of the other mechanics? What sort of missions can we be expected to take part in and will there be any side missions to make exploration worthwhile?

There’s a lot to be wondering about this game, including whether we will be able to organise some co-op bot-beating, but there’s time for seeing more on it next year. Hopefully the next time we see this game it has another trailer, this time focusing on the world and the lore of it. Probably wouldn’t make for as exciting a trailer, but it would get deeper into the game.

And that’s four games that I’m waiting for. Each of them offers something different, and it is no contest which I’m most excited for [hint: the one releasing the soonest]. This just covers the new stuff, though, with those we already knew about getting me more excited for them.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Post-E3 2018 [Events]

With E3 finished for another year, Microsoft won out. Nintendo had the bomb-shell of a new Super Smash Bros., but they failed to hold any interest after showing it off in the Direct for twenty-five minutes. And that wasn’t helped at all by the fact across the three days of Treehouse they showcased it for more than four hours total – not including the Smash Bros. Invitational which would add more than two hours to that total. I wouldn’t have minded as much if there was a showcase of different modes.

As for the other games at the Treehouse, the two showcases of Super Mario Party had me convinced that the series is going back to what made it fun while actually creating new experiences from that classic mould. Daemon X Machina is looking a fun action game, but it was the showcase of Starlink: Battle For Atlas that managed to raise excitement. The game looks great, as I’d already noted, but seeing the gameplay in action has me wanting to dive in myself. It was said that the worlds are always living, so visiting a world for the first time could have a large enemy presence that you’ve left to grow while exploring another world.

Microsoft won out, and I have to find a reason why that is than just Forza. The Horizon side series has won me over more than the Motorsport main series, and with the fourth expanding the world with the seasonal clock and a true race creator – plus a lot more – it’s easy to see why I would say Microsoft won just from this one alone. There was the Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer which was definitely a welcome surprise, but that comes under Square-Enix. I guess I could say that Microsoft are showing a willingness to move into the future, and that came through very clear.

Team Sonic Racing was featured, but I’m unsure about it. A racing game whose core mechanic is being in team. In every race, not only are you competing against all the other racers to get first, you also have to help your teammates to get into high positions. You can offer up items for teammates to take as well as offering them a speed boost while in front, but the system comes down to luck when racing with AI. Since you are bound by a team, it doesn’t matter if you come first if your teammates are stuck in last. In multiplayer racing that works out more as skill, but with a story mode confirmed to be here, I’m unsure exactly how I feel about it.

There’s not much to get interested in with just a name, and plenty of them were name-dropped throughout. There was Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order as one I’ve mentioned from EA’s conference, but Bethesda had The Elder Scrolls 6, and Starfield. Square-Enix did the same with Babylon’s Fall and The Quiet Man. Okay, it was technically a bit more than a name-drop for The Quiet Man as we had a small concept teaser, but it amounts to the same thing. And speaking of Square, they gave us a trailer for Dragon Quest XI, so I’m happy about that. It’ll have to be on the PC, as that and the PS4 are the only two platforms that seem to be in the marketing, but at least I know I can play it.

The conferences were fun to watch, and Sony seemed to have derailed at the start of theirs from what I’ve heard, but pulled it back for the second half. Nintendo seem to be holding back and waiting for the future, EA are being their usual selves, with Ubisoft pushing both the present and the future. There was enough this year for me to call it a good showing, and it would have been a great one if Nintendo had dialled back on that Smash gameplay. I get that they didn’t have all that much, but they could have reduced the Treehouse timetable instead of stretching themselves to the limit.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

E3 2018: Nintendo Direct [Events]

Nintendo gave little within their Direct, but really? Smash Bros. Ultimate is pretty all that was needed. There was a recap of Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu / Eevee, with a reveal that the Pokéball Plus holds a Mew inside when you first buy it. A new mech game was shown off called Daemon x Machina, and DLC for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 called Torna – The Golden Country was shown.

As for everything not Smash, Fire Emblem for Switch has been dated with a Spring 2019 release. It looks to be a larger upgrade in terms of visuals to the 3DS games, and the battles seem larger as well. It has the name of Three Houses, which seems to tie into the concept of the game.

There was a sizzle reel showing a lot of games, including Crash N-Sane Trilogy, Minecraft, Captain Toad, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Sushi Striker, and Splatoon 2’s Octo Expansion. Paladins also featured with the fact it is available right now. Fortnite had a trailer away from the sizzle reel, with that also coming today.

Octopath Traveller featured with a date for a new demo. Three indie games featured. Overcooked 2 with a date of 7-August. Killer Queen Black without a date. And Hollow Knight with a release of right now as well. Super Mario Party brings the series to Switch, bringing a host of minigames and new board types to the series.

And then we get to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. A love letter to the series, and possibly the final hurrah of the Sakurai-led games. It features every character from the series, including those who appeared as DLC in the last one. There have been changes to the mechanics of the game as per the norm, with a lot of returning stages as well. Inkling was shown off in gameplay, and Ridley from the Metroid series joins the fight. There has been a lot done with this game, and I can see why Nintendo are making this the focus for this E3. What was funny was featuring Gamecube controllers as a control method unless they bring the means to use them back. And, you know, this is a handheld as well as a console, so can we get wireless ‘cube controllers?

They might not have shown much, spending half of the forty minutes on Smash Bros., but they know what the fans were waiting for. They said they would only focus on 2018 games, and they did. The exception being Fire Emblem, but considering that is a big title announced more than a year ago that has had no information released on it since, it makes sense to feature it here. I could say I was expecting more, but there’s plenty of time for the things I want in 2019.