Checkpoint: Humid Weekend Edition

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It’s been a nice weekend with the significant other but only because we’ve spent most of it indoors with air conditioner. When not doing couple activities, I’ve been catching up on GiantBomb’s E3 2017 coverage and playing Puyo Puyo Tetris on the Switch. 

The GB crew are getting better and better with their night shows. Jeff has a real knack for hosting these shows by asking good questions and getting everyone involved (no awkward segments this year!).

While the coverage has been solid, I thought E3 2017 was a bit of a downer. Dragon Ball Fighters Z was the highlight for me but that’s about it. It was good to see previously announced games show off their wares but they are known quantities. The big surprise for me was Metroid Prime 4 but it was nothing more than a logo. I don’t know what to make of MercurySteam’s Metroid: Samus Returns yet but I’m not getting my hopes up after Nintendo’s last Metroid outing with an external developer. 

Impressions of E3 2016 Press Conferences

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Electronic Arts

TitanFall 2 and Battlefield 1 were the big tentpole titles that bookended Electronic Art’s press conference. Between the two EA shooters and Activision’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, I am throwing my hat in the TitanFall 2 camp. The multiplayer looks looks like a hell of a time and the promise of free modes and maps seals the deal.

Battlefield 1 looks like a technical masterpiece but it didn’t register an excitement on my end. It looked like Battlefield + WW1 which was exactly what I expected and that’s why it was so disappointing to me. The shift to a more mobile and able player makes the grounded approach to Battlefield 1 look static to me. I guess what I wanted was a sequel Battlefield 2142 with mechs, wall running, jetpacks and other ridiculous possibilities and not the dirty grit of World War I.

They showed off Mass Effect: Andromeda but it’s so tough to muster any excitement for a game that we’ve seen so little of. I need to see a Bethesda style 20 minute blowout session of the game.

B-

Bethesda

Quake is back in hero shooter form and since I have no reverence for that series whatsoever, I came away indifferent. I’m more interested in the fact that Bethesda are doing their very best to revitalize id Software’s franchises. They teased a new Wolfenstein which is by far the most exciting reveal of the conference.

The highlight of the show was Dishonored 2 receiving same gameplay showcase that Fallout 4 received last year. It’s a great looking game and the fact that I haven’t played the first Dishonored is a crime. I’m going to pre-order it but I have no idea if I’m going to keep that pre-order or just wait for a Black Friday discount. It does look very impressive though.

If there’s one thing that Bethesda nailed for the past two years is the pace of the press conferences. Even when they’re talking about a game that I have no interest in, they make it entertaining and brisk.

B+

Microsoft

Microsoft’s entire press conference lineup leaked and I still came away entertained and informed.

That Xbox One S is beautiful. I don’t see myself picking one up but I am glad it exists. I just wish it didn’t start at $399 CAD because that’s the exact same price as the original which isn’t the case in the U.S where it starts $50 lower than the old Xbox One.

The two standout games for me — and not in a positive way — were ReCore and Scalebound. ReCore looked a little rough from a tech perspective and Scalebound just looks boring.

On the flip side, Gears of War 4 and We Happy Few impressed. I’m ready for a new Gears of War 4 and it’s good to see a disconcerting dystopian adventure game featuring clowns.

Project Scorpio’s confirmation for 2017 and its promise of 4K gaming and VR in a console was the showstopper and makes me wonder what Sony are going to do with their Neo. This upcoming Xbox will be more powerful than Sony’s Neo so how will they pitch it. They had the tech advantage with PlayStation 4 and if the rumored specs target are true, then Project Scorpio will have that talking point.

A-

Ubisoft

Ghost Recon: Wildlands? South Park? For Honor? None of those resonated — especially with their canned demos filled with unrealistic banter. The South Park demonstration went for far too long. Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Watch_Dogs 2 are Ubisoft open world games and For Honor doesn’t look like my cup of tea. There was even an entire Assassin’s Creed movie segment that I took a washroom break for because the entire conference up to that point was plodding along at a snail’s pace.

The highlight of the show for me were Aisha Tyler, the enthusiasm of LeVar Burton for Star Trek VR and the reveal of Grow Up. But outside of those handful of moments, the Ubisoft press conference was disappointing.

D+

Sony

Sony enjoys announcements and so do I which is why I was a fan of their press conference. They didn’t showcase as much PlayStation VR as I thought but that was perfectly fine by me. There’s a new God of War which appears to be a reboot of the franchise. Resident Evil VII looks interesting by being first person and more intimate. Kojima’s new game was weird and perfectly Kojima.

The most impressive demonstration was Horizon: Zero Dawn. They showed off everything they needed to show without overstaying its welcome. Sony’s Bend new game Days Gone was one of the less impressive titles shown but it was new and needed a person pitching it.

The Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was okay; I wasn’t sold on it. The Spider-man exclusive by Insomniac Games was a genuine surprise to me. Rumors were pegging Sucker Punch as the developer of the game so seeing Insomniac Games’ logo was quite the swerve. They made Sunset Overdrive so I’m optimistic that they can pull off an open world title but it’s been a LONG time since we’ve seen a decent Spider-man title.

Overall, this was the best conference of E3 2016. It was brisk with plenty of announcements and game demonstrations.

A

 

Checkpoint: E3 2016 Edition

Checkpoint: E3 2016 Edition

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E3 2016 starts today with Electronic Art’s press conference at 4 PM today. That’s weird huh? E3 has sprawled out from a week to a two week affair. Pre-E3 announcements like Watch_Dogs 2 and Injustice 2 are the norm now. I’m in the camp that appreciates these announcements outside of E3; giving these announcements space to breathe is a plus.

Unfortunately for Watch_Dogs 2, I didn’t bother watching any of what they’ve showed. As for Injustice 2? I only watched the trailer.

If you haven’t noticed, the number of posts highlighting announcements and other gaming related news have dwindled on this site. I’m still keeping tabs on the latest info but I don’t feel compelled to regurgitate every little bit of news with my own take anymore. I’m also drawn towards GameDealsCanada a lot more these days which doesn’t leave me with much spare time. I’m still writing reviews and these Checkpoints though. I’ll likely chime in with an E3 round-up post if it’s warranted.

I think I’m nearing the end of Ratchet & Clank. I never played the original so I don’t know how faithful to the original release this is. Regardless of that fact, I wish they invested more time establishing how Ratchet met Clank and how their relationship was established. Unless I missed it, I don’t believe they even addressed why Ratchet decided to wear Clank on his back; it just happened.

I started Ocarina of Time 3D. I started it with adjusted expectations after my time with A Link to the Past but I’m finding myself being impressed with it. I hope this trend continues.

Oh and I’ve been playing that little game called Overwatch.

Checkpoint: Unreal Uncharted Edition

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It’s magical until somebody points it out. It’s even more impressive when somebody points it out.

And that’s how I feel about the recently released Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End extended E3 2015 gameplay video. Say what you will about the actual gameplay (I’m still excited for this kind scripted action) but you cannot deny the technical and artistic expertise at work here. Just keeping in mind the fact that the cutscenes are rendered in real-time is enough drop jaws. This NX Gamer walkthrough does an excellent job explaining the latest tricks in Naughty Dog’s arsenal. If you’re interested in in 20+ minute videos that scrutinize graphics, then give that video a look.

I’m equally impressed with Batman: Arkham Knight which is essentially this 2011 Unreal Engine 3.0 technical demo brought to life. I didn’t even put the two together until Digital Foundry pointed out in their Face Off.

These consoles are quite limited in horsepower but as always, it’s what developers do with that horsepower that matters. Arkham Knight looks good and runs well and it’s no wonder that people are focusing on the divisive Batmobile more than anything else. And that’s how it should be.

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