Weekly News Recap: Week of March 23, 2015

This week has been pretty busy in the world of games – two big releases, the second week online for Battlefield: Hardline, and the usual news cycle. Let’s hit a few headlines that grabbed me.

Battlefield Hardline

MARCH ENDS UP BEING CRAZY STACKED
March is beginning to turn into a second November – usually the busiest month for releases. Over the last few years we’ve started to see more and more games launch in March – and big games too. Last year we got Titanfall in March. This month alone we’ve had Battlefield: Hardline, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection and Bloodborne. Add in titles like Ori and the Blind Forest as well as DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition and we’ve had a hell of a month. Definitely bodes well moving forward through the rest of the year. Best of all, the launches have been pretty smooth – a little hiccup with Hardline, but that’s about it.

Rock Band 4

ROCK BAND 4 NEEDS YOUR INPUT
Harmonix just today sent out a second survey in their email newsletter. Even if you aren’t a part of the newsletter, if you’re at all interested in the return of Rock Band (which you should be) you should check out the survey and fill it out. The more data they can get, the better the end result game will be. While you’re over at Harmonix’s site you should also check out their request page. If you have some songs that you really think belong in the game, submit them there, and who knows – maybe they’ll show up. I’ve already submitted a pretty damn good days worth of music – the more the better.

CALL OF DUTY CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!
This weekend is the huge Call of Duty championship tournament. You can catch all the action live on Twitch – it continues through the whole weekend. If it’s anything like the Grand Finals of the Halo tournament at PAX East, this should be a crazy tournament. It’s always worth it to watch the best in the world do what they do.

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E3 2014 Sony PlayStation Conference Impressions

E3 LogoSony held their press conference last night, after a busy day zero of E3 2014, and had a pretty big job to follow a really strong Microsoft showing. Overall, I think the show may have dragged on a little long, especially hitting a snag midway through, but there were definitely some really strong games shown. Just like I did with Xbox, here’s a quick rundown of the show and my thoughts.

Destiny
I figured they would open with new Destiny footage, and they did indeed. This trailer gave us a little bit more story background, told to us by Peter Dinklage. My only negative with the trailer, and this might be more to do with my stream having some issues, but the gameplay looked closer to a PS3/360 than the PS4/Xbox One that I would expect them to show. Not a major issue really, still hyped for it big time.

The Order: 1886
We got a new trailer for The Order: 1886, a game I’m admittedly not that knowledgeable about. But the trailer looked interesting, with what appeared to be a zombie/werewolf thing chasing a human. Could be a pretty cool game.

Entwined
Showing a bit of indie love, Sony brought out Entwined, a game which immediately had me thinking of Beyond: Two Souls based on the art style. It’s a twin stick puzzle/action game that looks like a lot of fun actually, with a pretty serious story behind it. The coolest part was that it is available on the PS4 now, with PS3 and Vita coming later.

Infamous: Second Son
Another series that, since I’ve not owned a PlayStation since the PS2, I’m woefully out of the loop on. From what I have been able to tell this year, Second Son has been doing quite well, and they announced new stand-alone DLC for it, Infamous: First Light which will be out August 3.

LittleBigPlanet 3
Another PlayStation exclusive that I’m familiar with, but haven’t really sat down with and played a lot of. The new trailer for the third installment showed off three new characters that join Sackboy in his adventure. The demo had such character and cuteness it was really refreshing to see. Also cool was that the levels created in the first two games will be able to be played on LPB3 when it comes out on PS4 in November.

Bloodborne
One of the big questions coming in was whether Sony would talk about Project Beast – the next game from Dark Souls creator From Software. We got our answer in the form of Bloodborne, a new IP from them, with a pretty gruesome trailer that really just served to get the name and game out there – it was pretty tough to glean any real story or character info from it. But it looked pretty damn dark and brutal and gruesome, just what Dark Souls fans want.

Far Cry 4

Far Cry 4
Ubisoft might have a real winner on their hands with Far Cry 4 if the pressers are anything to go by. It was shown not only at Ubisoft’s show, but had a much longer gameplay segment at Sony’s. Gameplay looked very similar to the previous entry, which was a really fun game. The big scoop comes with the announcement that there is drop-in/drop-out co-op, and that with the PS4, you can actually invite people without the game to play, and they can still hop right in. That’s a pretty damn big win for Sony right there.

Dead Island 2
Talk about a shift in tone between games – the reveal trailer for the original Dead Island was one of the most intense trailers from that year. Not so much with this one – much more irreverent tone to the trailer, but we have to wait to see if that translates over to the game too.

Magicka 2
We got a pretty clever trailer to introduce Magicka 2, an isometric hack-and-slash game. Looked pretty interesting, but nothing super extraordinary.

Grim Fandango
In one of the biggest surprises of the show, we got the announcement that Tim Schafer will be revisiting one of the best adventure games from the turn of the millennium – Grim Fandango. It’s first out on PS4 and Vita, with others to follow – that’s a huge win for Sony as not only is this a really beloved game, but it was probably the biggest surprise thus far.

Indie Support
Sony then showed off a number of Indie games coming to the PS4 in the coming months/year, including Broforce, Titan Souls, Not a Hero, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, and The Talos Principle. It’s always good to see indie games getting some good love on the big stage like that.

Let It Die
Another nice surprise was the announcement of a new Suda-51 game coming out. The PS4 exclusive Let It Die got a pretty crazy trailer, in typical Suda fashion. From what the trailer showed, it looks like it’s going to be Suda’s take on a zombie shooter/rpg – should be pretty crazy.

Abzu
Following the somewhat over-the-top nature of Let It Die it was nice to get a little refresher in the form of the new game from the creator of Journey. The same feel and emotion that Journey has seem to be present in Abzu, which reminded me of Journey just set underwater.

No Man’s Sky
In my opinion, No Man’s Sky really stole the first part of Sony’s show – the trailer looked absolutely incredible, and the scale and scope of the game look like it’s going to be a great example of what “next-gen” can be. The fact it’s an infinitely generating universe, with each player starting on different planets with totally different experiences blew me away. And it’s another win for Sony, as it’s going to make its console debut on the PS4

Now we run into the main issue I had with Sony’s presser – after this really great high from No Man’s Sky, they ran straight into talking about hardware. Project Morpheus (VR), PSN news, YouTube – nothing wrong with them, but after Xbox having 90 straight minutes of games, this just felt like hitting a wall. And you could tell online – twitter reactions were not pleased they had this big block of time set for talking about hardware and PlayStation TV, while only briefly talking about the Vita.

Mortal Kombat X

Mortal Kombat X
Following a pretty noticeable lull, they kicked right back in with gameplay footage of Mortal Kombat X, which we now know is pronounced as an “ex”, not 10. The gameplay footage showed two fights – the classic duo of Scorpion and Sub Zero going at it again, and two new characters, a bee-controlling lady, and a Master Blaster-esque giant. The actual fighting looks as brutal as ever, with the X-Ray attacks returning and fatalities as over-the-top as always. One other thing I thought looked really cool was the stages seem much more interactive in the actual fighting this time around.

Powers
After a really brutal trailer for Mortal Kombat X, the show took another hard turn into talking about TV and Film available on the PS4. The only real highlight I took away was the show Powers coming later this year, based on the comic of the same name. Nothing wrong with the announcement, but I don’t know that this was the time or place for it.

The Last of Us
The PS3 exclusive is getting an updated version coming to the PS4, and we got a trailer that really had me scratching my head. All the opinions were that this was one of the best games of last year, and the story was a big part of why – and yet this trailer started with a spoiler warning. It really just felt a little off, but the trailer was still strong.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Oh boy, where to start here. I’m way out of the loop with MGS games, having only played a little bit of the first one, so story-wise, I had no clue what’s going on in the new trailer. But that having been said, the trailer looked really really gorgeous. I think it’s one of those trailers that as an outsider I just have no chance of really “getting it,” but I’m sure that fans of the series really appreciated it.

Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar did a solid for Sony by showing off the PS4/Xbox One updates for GTAV on the PS4. GTA got it’s start on the Sony consoles, so it’s really only fair that the PS4 got the reveal I think. It was already a good looking game on the 360, but seeing it on the current-gen platforms was really eye opening – the game looks incredible.

Batman: Arkham Knight

Batman: Arkham Knight
Easily my most anticipated game for 2015 at this moment, I was a little curious what we’d see of it this year, especially considering that the date was just recently pushed back, so I figured it’s probably at a pretty playable state. Turns out we got an absolutely incredible looking bit of gameplay footage that blew me away. The scale and scope of this game look absolutely insane, not to mention the actual gameplay that they showed. I am absolutely on board the hype train for this one – it’s gonna be a major player next year.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Sony may have hit a wall in the middle of their show, but they definitely closed strong with Batman and then Uncharted 4. The trailer was showing PS4 captured footage, and looked absolutely gorgeous. Again, I’m a little behind with the series, but I do understand the importance to PlayStation the series has. I think this was definitely the trailer to end the show with, it was a great cap for the evening.

All in all, I think Sony had a strong conference, but to me it was just a little bit weaker than Microsoft’s. I’m not saying that as an Xbox fan, I just think that the middle section talking hardware dragged on a little long, not to mention the whole show felt long.┬áHad they gone the same route as Xbox with nothing but games, I think it might have been the stronger showing, but really, the ultimate winners of the whole day were us gamers. There are a ton of incredible games coming our way soon – it’s a great time to play games.