To those of you who don’t know, E3 was on this week, and was a big time for gaming. The next generation of consoles got more publicly shown to the people, a whole heap of games got revealed or given new footage, and Sony gave Microsoft a sucker-punch right to the crotch. Seriously, I was beginning to feel bad for Microsoft by the end of the Sony conference. So, in light of all the things revealed, I thought I’d compile a list of five highlights, as well as the best moment of the show.

Highlight #5: Destiny

Okay, so Bungie would obviously make a good game. The developer’s next game after the Halo franchise, Destiny takes place in a much changed Earth after a cataclysmic event, Humanity only having been saved by the intervention of the Traveller, a mysterious orb which now rests over the last city on Earth. You play one of three classes of Guardians, either the Hunter, Titan or Warlock, and explore a huge world- or worlds, as may be the case- with some public spaces in which you can link up with a number of players and participate in huge public events with several fire-teams, groups of players, or just a whole host of lone players.

The reason Destiny grabs my attention is because it looks like a lot of fun. With customisable weapons and characters, independent character and weapon skill trees and experience, a loot system, some cool class gameplay and a world that looks like it will not only be absolutely massive but will be genuinely engrossing and fun to explore. The enemies look like they will be varied and challenging, areas look very well designed and the whole game looks like it has been extremely well crafted. The slight MMO qualities to it also look interesting, but I don’t really know how many players will be able to access one world at a time; I imagine that having millions of players in one area will get old fast.

I’m willing to bet that the class system will be fun if predictable. The Hunter is a longer range class, relying on stealth and rifle kills to quickly finish encounters. The Titan is a typical heavy class, with stronger armour and heavy weapons, which will probably be the least interesting of the classes to play. The Warlock is probably the more interesting class, a space-magic using class that can fling space-spells around to do damage or support allies. To be honest I’ll probably fall back on the Hunter. I’m a solo-player and always will be; if I’m playing a sniper I can sit back, take some kills and simply listen from the safety of my hiding place as the weaker or more brave/foolish players get ripped apart. I like to think that’s why I’d survive a zombie outbreak.

I don’t rank Destiny too highly because, frankly, Bungie were always going to make a decent game. It looks like it has taken some influences from Halo and Borderlands, but only very loose influences, and I wait to see more gameplay, because I think Destiny will be a definite release-day purchase for all platforms.

Highlight #4: Ryse

Crytek’s game set in Rome looks very interesting. It is an Xbox One exclusive, a launch title, and looks like it is very much a spectacle to shown the new tech. You play Marius Titus, a Roman legionnaire who goes on a revenge quest after his family are murdered before him. Not much is known about the story at all, but they are keeping things very much under wraps.

It is a very, very good looking game, showing off Crytek’s new engine and the Xbox One’s new graphics tech, with some fantastic facial animation, some absolutely breath-taking scenery graphics and lighting that is honestly beautiful. In the gameplay shown, you siege a beach in Dover, and the look of soldiers leaping from boats, ships being destroyed by catapults, towers falling, all look absolutely fantastic, and I think that, visually, this could be a game that sets the bar for Xbox One games for a good long while. However, graphics cannot be the thing that keeps a game riding along on their own, and the gameplay must be as good as the visual element.

However, gameplay-wise, Ryse does not look very innovative. The developers have been very keen to emphasise that the game is not dependant on quick time events, but they have also made it clear that you will be rewarded for doing them and hampered for not; buttons appear over weakened enemies and you can use quick time button presses to use executions, cinematic finishing moves that quickly eliminate possibly several enemies at once. You can, apparently, kill plenty of enemies by simply mashing buttons and not using said QTE’s, but apparently you will gain experience bonuses and health refills for doing so. It looks unimaginative and repetitive, but I shall wait to see what more Ryse can show us until release.

Overall, I am interested in Ryse, because it looks damn good. Or it may be because I’m an Ancient History student. Who knows?

Highlight #3: Watch Dogs

If you’ve seen anything of Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs then I should not have to explain why this is a highlight. It was a surprise game for last year’s E3 and since then it has generated enormous buzz. Seriously, Ubisoft, I do not want you to release any more trailers or footage. Concentrate on finishing the game, release it, and take my money. Seriously. I am not above travelling to their headquarters, sneaking in Metal Gear Solid style and stealing the damn thing. Not really, though; I’d probably have to queue for space in the air vents. We nerds tend to think alike.

Watch Dogs is an open-world game in which you play Aiden Pearce, in the city of Chicago, which has been linked to a central supercomputer which controls almost every piece of technology in the city, and contains a database on all of the residents and elements in the city. You can therefore hack into almost anything into the game as Aiden, as he is a great hacker. Gameplay shows that you can hack into traffic lights to control the flow of traffic, open gates, set off car alarms, listen in on phone conversations, hack cash machines, hell, so much stuff that it’s hard to go through it all. Frankly, that is one of the more intriguing elements of Watch Dogs; being able to control the world around you to manipulate and change your situation. It seems like an innovative element of gameplay and seems like it has been very well thought out and implemented in the game as a whole.

The graphics look great, the soundtrack and voice work seems fantastic, the concept is riveting and the whole game looks expertly crafted. From the studio behind all of the Assassin’s Creed games I’m not surprised. I love the idea of being able to traverse a city and cause havoc as I’m doing so, setting off car alarms as I drive past and then waiting until the distraction draws people away so I can steal all of their money. Yes, evil, but Aiden Pearce is an anti-hero and not a typical hero, and frankly I love causing virtual chaos, partly because I absolutely cherish the idea of being able to do it in real life. Again, not really; no doubt if someone gave me a magic phone that could hack anything and give me the abilities to beat up people and run away without having an asthma attack, I would probably still nominate to sit on my arse playing games.

Seriously, Ubisoft. Take. My. Money.

Highlight #2: Thief

I did not play the original Thief games, so I cannot comment from the point of view of a player who is a fan and wants to see the series revitalised. What I can comment on is that the game looks decidedly great, and from the point of view of a player who has never touched the series before, I want it. Thief is a stealth game, and I don’t know much about the story or the characters involved, but no doubt there is a trailer of video out there explaining just that; I’ve only just noticed the game at E3. I’m not usually one for stealth games- why sneak when you can stab, shoot and skewer?- but Thief does look cool.

If you like Dishonoured and that style of play, Thief definitely has that kind of vibe to it. A first-person stealth game, it can be as challenging or as easy as you like it. You can even disable the markers telling you where to go and what to do, showing just how much the game can be a hardcore stealth game, if you want it to be. I’m told the iconic Thief feature was the lighting metre, and that is back; as you traverse the levels and missions you will have to keep track of how visible you are and how lit up you are, because that allows guards to see you better. If you’re clever enough and quick enough- thanks to a dash ability which allows short bursts of speed from cover to cover- you can pickpocket keys and money from passing guards before they even notice.

It all looks like a very hardcore and in-depth stealth game. You can, apparently, play aggressively, attacking enemies and killing them with various trick arrows, which gain some help from a focus ability which acts like the vision power from Dishonoured or Eagle Vision from Assassin’s Creed- to use some loose examples- highlighting people and objects for you so you can better plan your approach. All in all, if you like Stealth games and want a challenge, Thief looks like the one to watch.

It helps that it looks pretty as well. Obviously for a stealth game that relies on lighting and surroundings they have to have realistic lighting effects, scenery and the like, and it looks like they have done just that. It looks like definitely one to watch. I could make some kind of pun about a stealth game being too hidden to watch, but I won’t lower myself to such levels. Even though I was tempted.

 

Highlight #1: The Division

Now, I don’t know if The Division has only been announced at E3, but I heard absolutely nothing about this game beforehand. Honestly, it looks fantastic. Another Ubisoft title, Tom Clancy’s The Division is set in a New York which has been hit by an infection that was spread via virus cells on cash bills during Black Friday. You play operatives in the self-supporting Division, activated to help deal with security and reclaiming the city. It is an online open-world RPG shooter game, with exploring with friends and with PvP; all the sorts of thing you expect to find it an online RPG game.

If you haven’t seen any gameplay, check it out on YouTube right now. The world map looks highly interactive, the skill menu looks very well crafted, the overall gameplay looks great- if not highly unique- and the hop-in, hop-out system of grouping looks like it will flow very well. In the footage shown, players saw each other pop into their area of the map and decided to party together, and one used a supporting drone to help a group of friends in the middle of a fight before quickly leaving. I like the idea of being able to group and then slip away as they want, and I like the idea of being able to link up with friends and lay down some sniper support for them from a nearby rooftop before heading off on my own mission- or watch them die, begging for help. I’m just sadistic like that, sometimes.

The world that Ubisoft has crafted is an emergent world, in which, rather than go through static missions and side-quests, the world evolves, events happen and you can deal with them as you choose. There is loot to gather, weapons to find, even random passers-by to help with cure packets or a rescue operation. The skills look like you can craft them to your play style as well to help with this. You can get an ability that can scan for enemies and people, or you can heal, or you can lay down turrets, and there are plenty that were not shown. You can even jump in from a tablet; you can use drones and equipment to interact with the battlefield of your friends in real time, buffing, healing and marking enemies. It looks like a really well-crafted world that you can easily become very immersed into and the gameplay looks very fantastic; it’s not just a shooter, but it’s an RPG, and there are even survival elements in it too, with gathering cure packets, food and water necessary, to keep your operative alive.

The game looks beautiful too. Seriously, check it out because I simply cannot do it justice. This is a real window into the technology available in next gen, with lighting, reactive scenery, fantastic animations and effects that blend with the game’s elements that look great, such as the map made out of light or the way that as the player moves along a car to use as cover they will actually close the car doors or move around the wing mirror. It really is a very interesting game, and while not much has been released, I am very, very keen to find out more. It seems that Ubisoft is the one to watch, because with this, Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag coming out, they look like they are making great game after great game.

Best Moment of E3

Hands down, has to be when Sony announced that they were going to do the exact opposite of Microsoft; when the kind man announced that they would support used games and would not require you to authenticate your games once every twenty four hours and therefore not constantly be online, there was such an almighty cheer that it seemed like he wouldn’t be able to finish his speech, having to wait as long as he did to continue. I think Sony got a lot, lot more pre-orders after that. Also, a possible hint to Microsoft; when the community announces its outrage that you are going to force us to pay more for pre-owned games, maybe use the time before E3 to change your mind. Do not allow your competitors to slap you across the face with their rather clever decision to gain public support by doing what they want. I have been a loyal Microsoft player for a while, but now, they have lost me. Completely.

I shall return to Sony. It has been a while, and I hope they will accept me back. I’m sure they missed me. I’m important. Really.