This week in video games: June 20, 2016—the best of E3
Last week, the Straight was in L.A. for the video-game extravaganza that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). This week, here are 10 of the most interesting things we saw, experienced, or learned about.
For Honor and Absolver are unlike any fighting games you have played before
Developed at Ubisoft Montreal, For Honor revolves around the conflict between three archetypes: knights, samurai, and Vikings. The game is set in a far-off, postapocalyptic future beset by medieval warfare. You get to play as one of the three characters, and you’ll learn how to wield a broadsword, katana, or long-handled axe, respectively.
Absolver, meanwhile, is being developed in Paris by a bunch of Ubisoft veterans who have set up a studio they call Sloclap. Absolver is also a fighting game but more martial in style. It gives players incredible control over the customization of fighting styles and moves and is set in a stylized world where Prospects wear magical masks.
Horizon Zero Dawn and ReCore are awesome
There are plenty of similarities between these two games. They are third-person action games and both feature female protagonists in worlds where technology and machines have evolved in interesting ways.
But that’s where the similarities end. While ReCore is an action platform with furious combat action using futuristic weapons, Horizon is an action role-playing game where you use a bow and sling to defend yourself.
ReCore takes place on an alien world that is being terraformed by robots and machines, while Horizon is set on Earth a thousand years from now, when animal-like machines roam and nature has reclaimed the planet.
The other thing these games have in common? They’ve got me excited to play them.
PS VR is the easiest way to get into virtual reality
Virtual reality (VR) is an emerging field, and the experiences are very limited as developers figure out what they can do with the technology and audiences figure out what they want from it all. The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are expensive and require high-end computers to operate, so they aren’t an option for most people.
If you own a PS4, PlayStation’s virtual-reality headset is the cheapest way to find out what VR is all about. The games are basic, but they show great possibilities. And by promising 50 different experiences before the end of the year, PS VR will be in high demand this fall.
I tried a couple of the PS VR titles, and the potential of this technology is apparent. Farpoint had me walking on an alien planet and shooting weird spiderlike creatures that were attacking me. And Robinson had me on a different alien world populated by dinosaurs. I didn’t get to try the Batman VR experience, but reports were that it was quite something.
Microsoft is giving people hardware options
By Christmas 2017, Microsoft will have four consoles that will all play the same games, and you’ll be able to pick up and play your games on any of the devices at any time.
It’s true that the Xbox One, Xbox One S, Project Scorpio, and the different Windows 10 computer configurations will all provide different levels of fidelity, but that’s true of different smartphones, too, which run the same software.
In the meantime, if you haven’t already got an Xbox One, the slim S edition will be available in August.
Two great games from Vancouver
This fall and winter you’ll have two new games made in Vancouver to play on your Xbox One. Both Dead Rising 4 and Gears of War 4 are being published by Microsoft Game Studios so are exclusive to the Xbox and Windows.
The former is in development at Capcom Vancouver, and is a raucous zombie-fighting game, while the latter, being made at The Coalition, brings another crazy enemy to the planet Sera.
Nintendo is staking a lot on The Legend of Zelda; good thing it seems to be amazing
Nintendo was really only talking about one thing last week: The Legend of Zelda. The new game, Breath of the Wild, is coming sometime next year to the Wii U as well as the new Nintendo console, code-named NX.
At E3, the game was playable on Wii U consoles, and Nintendo had 140 of them set up in the Los Angeles Convention Centre. They created a space that was like a theme park version of Hyrule, the world in which the game takes place. It was filled with living plants, a massive backdrop painting, and big statues of Link and some of the other characters in the game.
The game itself is its own thing. While each of the Zelda games features the same characters and elements, the stories are distinct. The art style in this one is soft and natural, with an almost cell-shaded look. In it, Link awakes after a 100-year sleep and has no memory of anything.
Breath of the Wild is an open-world game, and it’s a huge space to inhabit. I played it for about 30 minutes and didn’t want to step away.
Sony’s got two great games coming in 2017
Detroit: Become Human and God of War are two games for the PS4 that are coming next year. Become Human is from Quantic Dream and will have players embodying androids in a world where they are nothing more than servants to humans—until they start acting wrong.
God of War takes the protagonist of the series, Kratos, into the land of the Norse myths, where he and his son have to survive against all the things, gods included, that want them dead.
Astro’s new A50 headset is top of the line
Developed “in the pits of eSports”, Astro’s headphones bring professional gaming performance to your living room. The company’s flagship A50 line is getting updated this August, with two different models, one for PS4 and Windows computers and one for Xbox One and Windows computers.
The wireless headset come with a transmitter base station that doubles as a charging dock, and on a five hour charge, the A50s will give you 15 hours of regular use. Equipped with an accelerometer, the headphones go into standby mode to conserve power when you set them down and automatically start up again when you pick them up.
Deus Ex comes in two flavours this summer
Mankind Divided is the triple-A console game from Eidos Montreal coming in August. It’s a high-concept action adventure in which players can choose to play stealthy or come out guns blazing. It’s accompanied this year by Deus Ex Go, a clever mobile game.
This is the third version of Go created by Square Enix Montreal (the first two were based on the Hitman and Tomb Raider franchises) and it will have tie-ins with Mankind Divided.
Bound and Necropolis are delightful indie titles
Bound, coming for PS4 and Windows from the studio Plastic, features a young ballet dancer in a platforming game that is a curious blend of Journey and Monument Valley. The movements of the protagonist are sublime.
Necropolis, from Harebrained Schemes, is a unique take on a roguelike game, in which players travel as far as they can before dying, and the deeper into the dungeon you can go the better the loot you can collect. In Necropolis, even though you will die over and over, you collect tokens you can use to permanently upgrade your character.