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Published on June 11th, 2018 | by IceCube

The Good and The Bad – Microsoft E3 2018 conference

Halo Infinite: Halo – the extremely overrated first-person shooter series that just won’t die – is predictably back for another huge budget waste of resources. I guess once you create a mascot, you’re stuck with it, right? Master Chief was mentioned, but the small bit of cinematic footage told us little, other than a planetary setting and a helmet and vehicle sighting. There will be more on this later.

Unlike EA, Microsoft is supporting a legitimate charity: Microsoft announced their support for gamers outreach, a charity that supports kids in hospitals to play games. Unlike EA’s fake charities used to fund a subjective cause, this legitmately helps kids in need have the access to experience the joys of gaming.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps: We saw a teaser of this last year, but it is a beautiful-looking platformer that is evolving quite nicely. The simple controls of the first game look to be expanded on here, with some new moves and ways to progress through each level. The art and music looks to have evolved to the next level. A great looking game worthy of a sequel.

Sekiro – Shadows Die Twice: Wow! Wow! Wow! The creators of Dark Souls and Bloodborne have gone with a new IP here – a third-person action RPG about a Samurai in a creepy ancient Japan, filled with evil and vile monsters. It looks AMAZING! Even though I am the world’s biggest Dark Souls fan, I have no desire to push a series beyond it’s true ending. The fact that they chose to put down the paint brush on Dark Souls and Bloodborne to create something new and exciting, further displays their greatness in an industry full of decision makers who are too scared to break away from sequels. Bravo, FROM SOFTWARE, Bravo!

Fallout 76: This was announced about a week before the show, but we learned a few new things today. It’s a prequel to all the other Fallout’s and also four-times the size of Fallout 4, set in West Virginia. A trailer showcased a number of scenes that are similar in ilk to what we’ve seen in previous Fallout games, so that’s all for now. More on this in the upcoming Bethesda Showcase. My only concern is Fallout fatigue; A little like all the new Star Wars films in succession, too much of a good thing can get tiresome. We’ll see.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit: Okay, I appreciate that Dontnot Entertainment (Life is Strange, Remember Me) are going for something new-ish here, the direction is just a little disappointing for me personally. The trailer showcased a story of a young boy with a big imagination, running around the home and playing. If not mistaken, the gameplay style will be story-heavy much like Life is Strange, but even more bright and light-hearted. As a fan of the cyberpunk thriller, Remember Me, this intriguing studio direction seems old now and lost in the past. So, while Dontnot Entertainment is not catering to my personal taste any more, it could still shape up to be a good game for others.

Crackdown 3: Another year, another trailer for this game. I’m worried about it. Like most, I really enjoyed the first game, but snored through the sequel. The series was done, but surprisingly reared it’s head for a third game as Microsoft started running out of IP’s to copy. I don’t even think Microsoft wants to do this any more, but so much has been invested it’d be mad not to see it through. The trailer showcased celebrity actor Terry Crews yelling out a list of all the things you can blow up in the game. The graphics looks poor and the original novelty has worn off.

NiER Automata: Become As Gods edition: Alright! Microsoft recruiting all the talent. NiER Automata, formally a PlayStation exclusive, is my favourite game of the generation. It’s a beautiful, brilliant game – an undeniable masterpiece. This edition will be Xbox One X enhanced and include the DLC. Microsoft is seriously picking up their game.

Metro: Exodus: Announced last year, it’s looks like little has evolved for this series (so far). I’ve played both previous games and remember “kinda” enjoying them at the time. This looks like more of the same, just a few more trainyards, outdoor settings and snow. We grew tired of the whole Russian, post-apocalyptic, neo-nazi scene back in the PS3 era with Killzone and Resistance and stuff. While I’m sure the fans of next-level graphics and lighting effects will find something to cheer about here, I’d much prefer to see this quality team of developers attempt something different.

Kingdom Hearts: Worlds are colliding… What’s this doing on Xbox? Sony had better watch out. We knew that Xbox general manager, Phil Spencer, was on the prowl to buy up some Japanese titles, but didn’t realise he’d been so successful in his recruiting. I’ve always scoffed at the concept of Kingdom Hearts – Disney characters and anime kids don’t mix. But the 50/50 crossover here merges almost the full Disney universe, including Frozen, Toy Story and Tangled, among others. After watching the trailer, I think this will work – the kids will love it.

Battlefield V: As it turns out, we won’t see much more of the game here. A very short preview of the story showed a montage of some Germans searching for a young girl character who is pushed over a bridge and survives under the water. At least Battlefield is committed to its story mode, unlike Call of Duty, who I’ve long lost all faith in.

Forza Horizon 4: I’ve always preferred the Forza Horizon series over the standard Forza series – it takes the genre-leading realism of the standard series but makes it all open-world fun. Set in open-world Britain now, it’s basically the same, shared, open-world style with drop in/drop out racing. The main talk here was about how dramatically the annual seasons affect the world you drive in. It looks beautiful, but kinda as you’d expect.

Microsoft has been busy buying up the universe: Phil Spencer announced that they’d bought up five major independent studios that they can now call their own, swearing that they will provide the financial support while leaving them with the creative freedom. The most notable inclusion is my favourite studio, Ninja Theory (Heavenly Sword, Enslaved, DMC and Hellblade). If this is as true as it sounds, it’s the proper way Publishers SHOULD work with their developers. In recent times, too many developers have opted to separate themselves from Publishers due to lack of creative control. Maybe – just maybe – Microsoft is discovering the value of artistic integrity over investors and accountants who only want to see sequels.

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2: Look, I unlocked the full map and finished the first game, enjoying most of my time in it – but even I don’t know if I want this sequel. It was an enjoyable game that I don’t need more of. The gameplay demo looked high quality and quite fun, but ultimately it was just more of the same thing, set in a slightly different area that appears a little more open. If they can manage a decent character creator options this time, I’ll be interested – but if it’s anything like previously, they can forget it.

Xbox GamePass is pushing hard, so we need to push back harder: Like EA, Microsoft is doing the annoying: pushing the online streaming market and subscription based models. Basically, you pay a monthly subscription to have access to a bunch of old games to play sporadically any time. Sounds okay in theory but seriously damages the industry market value. This renting model also means you wont ever own a game again. The scary part about Microsoft’s approach is that they are now offering big launch titles on the stream on the same day as the retail release. So it’s now on us. We either: concede to Microsoft’s new rent-a-game streaming model and ruin gaming forever, or stand true to the model we love, spare the retail industry and own the games we buy.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Thank god they’ve come up with a consistent look for Lara Croft this time, as opposed to the unfamiliar person created out of SJW fear in Rise of the Tomb Raider. The new Lara Croft – so far – looks like a reasonable merger between classic and realism, but more importantly, the game itself is looking fun and exciting. Thanks to this reassuring trailer, I’m back on board the Tomb Raider train.

Session: Looks like a skateboarding game. Not a genre I’m personally in to, but one that the industry is missing and sorely needing. My only problem is that the game doesn’t very fun at all.

Black Desert: This MMORPG has been on PC for a bit over a year and is by far the best one out there. Yes, I will argue with you on that, and win. It’s now coming to Xbox One with simplified accessibility to cater for a controller use and no keyboard. It has the best visuals and character creator of any MMO out there, a huge, active, online community and combat mechanics that competes with the best of any action RPG. It’s also the most addictive game I’ve ever played. Don’t overlook this game.

Devil May Cry 5: At first I was exciting that this was a segue story for Dante as he grew out his white coloured hair between Ninja Theory’s DmC and Capcom’s Devil May Cry quadrilogy. Instead, it’s actually a guy called Nero from Devil May Cry 4, the worst game of the series, and some seriously goofy-looking female sidekick, in a legit sequel after number 4. Disappointing. Still, it may turn out to be pretty good.

Tunic: An isometric view game, a little like Zelda goes Diablo, but starring a little fox dude in a tunic and sword. It looks quaint but also quite difficult. Time will tell more details.

Jump Force: All of those long washed-out kids anime’s we either hated or grew tired of years ago that Bandai Namco can’t seem to let go of (ie; One Piece, Naruto and Dragonball Z) are back for another game – this time converged into one. It’s a 1 v 1 fighter with a bit more effort onto the visuals than usual. Man I hate all these franchises so, so much. Who keeps… watching this crap?

Dying Light 2: Holy s**t will these developers ever try something else? This series, like Dead Island, is SO generic and boring. We saw a trailer that looks exactly like the previous game: a faceless, first-person character pointlessly parkouring around a zombie infected place. This is so redundant with actually-engaging zombie games like: Telltale’s The Walking Dead and State of Decay (despite their bugs) out there. This sequel is introducing a choice system where you can say yes or no to some NPC’s and it changes some stuff down the road. It’s all an epic waste of development resources.

Battletoads: Is coming back with 3-player couch co-op! Yay! I mean, I think, “Yay”. We hardly saw anything except for some nondescript toon-heavy icons and identifiers. The snippets teased looked horrible and underfunded – but I digress – it’s way too early to judge. This is good news overall, I just hope it gets the funding love and attention it deserves.

Just Cause 4: Oh for f**ks sake. What the f**k will it take to just kill off this f**king series already? This game has never, ever, once been good in the entire existence of the series. It offers nothing. To think, there are so many great games they could be making right now, but instead they are going ahead with this s**t. What idiot decision maker thought this was a good idea? Come on, own up. I feel sorry for the workers on their dev team who have to pretend that they like their own product – because if it were me, I’ve be looking at other developers wanting to neck myself.

Gears 5: Gears of War is a great series that had run it’s course a while ago and is already into money-milking territory. Like all series that gets over-saturated like this, I’m against it. However, after reviewing this trailer, something feels fresh about this latest entry, something we didn’t feel with Gears of War 3, Gears of War: Judgement and Gears of War 4. These games were all good to great, but this one feels a little special, and I think it has to do with the choice of trailer in this reveal. Realizing this game is more than just guns and guts, we were shown a cutscene that cuts right into the drama of the story. It was also followed by some snippets of gameplay that instantly appeared more fluid and different. I’m a little torn but definitely walking away with the sense of promise.

Cyberpunk 2077: Saving the best for last, this is the moment everyone was waiting for – the next game from CDProjekt Red (The Witcher 3). The reveal was just a cinematic trailer to set a scene for the futuristic Sci-Fi RPG, so it gave us look at the world without explaining much detail about the direction to be taken. My expectations are mind-blowingly high, so I was a bit disappointed not to learn anything. The trailer itself was also a bit generic, encompassing pieces of the world rather than something more focused. This is okay for now though. We’ll just have to wait a little longer for a more meaty preview.


SUMMARY

Show Highlight: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (probably)

Show Lowlight: The Xbox Game Pass threat to our future

Overall Grade:  A

Final Comments: I haven’t given an E3 conference a higher grade than C for several years, so this one was huge. While offering day one access to certain games on Xbox Game Pass is a horrible threat to the future of gaming, the games on display today is all our hopes and dreams packaged in a nice little bow. Microsoft have woken up and made some seriously bold moves that are going to certainly pay off for them. Finally the show we’ve been waiting for!

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