E3 Guesses and Leak Thoughts

It’s my favorite time of the year, E3 season, and that means that there are all kinds of news and rumors floating around out there. We’ve already seen a couple pretty big leaks sneak out – Destiny’s Rise of Iron, Injustice 2, and a Final Fantasy XII Remake all were leaked in the last couple weeks. There are still a couple rumors flying around now as well – a Skyrim Remake? Wolfenstein 2? EA’s new Star Wars game? Each announcement could very well pop up next week at the show. On one hand I’m always a fan of finding out the newest games and DLC announcements as soon as possible, even more so for games that I really love; but I think overall I would rather the announcements be made on the developers own terms. I think leaks can be good in some cases, but these leaks happening literally the week before E3 bum me out a little. A huge part of what makes E3 so awesome is the initial announcements of these surprise games. This year’s show could have had the big moments – showing Destiny‘s next phase, the reveal of a super hero fighting game sequel done right both now have no impact behind them.

Now, that having been said, there are still a couple potential surprises that could pop up next week at the show. One thing that I think everyone does leading up to E3 is to try and figure out what those surprises could be. I’m no different, so I have a couple things in mind that could be sneaking into the show this year. First – my long shot predictions are the announcement of Borderlands 3 and Elder Scrolls VI. The timing works for each – both series are due for the next main series entry in their catalogs, but there are a couple factors that make it still seem like an unlikely move this year. Gearbox and 2K just put out Battleborn and are focused on that game – in truth, I think what we may actually get is some kind of DLC for that game that is Borderlands themed. Bethesda still has Fallout 4 to support, along with DOOM and the Skyrim remaster coming – that’s a lot on their plate without adding a full new Elder Scrolls game to the mix. I think that both games are coming, but probably are a few months away from announcement. I do have a couple more likely predictions though – I think we get actual release dates for Mass Effect: Andromeda and possibly Kingdom Hearts III or Final Fantasy VII Remake. I think we see the next Black Ops III DLC as well, along with the full Titanfall 2 announcement. There’s been a lot of leaks and announcements already this year, but I still think that this year’s E3 has a lot of good games to show us. Next week is going to be quite fun.

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Titanfall 2 Talk – The Way Pre-E3 Edition

TitanfallA couple weeks back, EA dropped a teaser showing off Titanfall 2. We had known that it was in development, but this was the first official word and look at the game. It’s a really short teaser, barely 30 seconds so we don’t get much. It’s really just a glimpse to get us all hyped up for the eventual E3 full announcement. Of course that hasn’t stopped people from already talking about the game. OXM has an article out saying that Titanfall 2 has to learn from Destiny, Black Ops III and Evolve to succeed. We know no actual details about the game – anything we talk about is just gleaned from the original game and the teaser. It’s pretty hard for me to already look at games out there now and say that this one needs to draw from them to succeed. And honestly, I kinda disagree with the sentiment – I don’t want Titanfall 2 to draw from the other FPS games out there. I want it to stay as unique as it is.

That said, there’s a couple points to look at that we do know about. First, EA and Respawn said that the sequel is going to feature an actual story campaign. As cool as the multiplayer campaign thing from the first game was, I’m definitely in favor of a true campaign this time around. Titanfall has, I think, an actually pretty cool universe to explore with different stories. That could have been a strength in the original multiplayer campaign, exploring the motives from both sides of the conflict. Hopefully with the sequel that can still happen. The other cool detail we learned was that there’s going to be a new Titan weapon – and it sure looks a lot like a sword. Swords have been popping up a lot in FPS games lately – Destiny, Black Ops III, of course Halo – so seeing it in Titanfall really shouldn’t be a huge surprise. I’m glad that it’s going to be a Titan weapon too – I can’t wait to do my best Gundam impression. I can easily see it paring well with a Strider chassis and electric smoke for a strong melee build. We have to wait until probably E3 to see any more changes to the Titan formula, in particular any new chassis. I would expect that we’ll learn the release date at E3 too, my guess is Spring 2017 since the original was a March release.

Fallout 4 – The E3 Game of the Show For My Money

Fallout 4 Box Art

Every blog and gaming website out there always gives a game of the show. Mine was going to be Fallout 4 going in to the show – and after everything we saw about it during the show, it was cemented. I think it was probably the game that we learned the most about – especially of the games coming out this fall. Going in, all we knew was that it existed. After the Bethesda showcase, we knew so much more. Release date, confirmed setting, details of character creation, world building/customization and combat all got expanded on. Add in Fallout Shelter, the upcoming companion app along with the Pipboy Edition and I think it’s a really strong pick.

Personally, Fallout is one of two games that I will get this fall, no matter what (the other is Rock Band). Sure Halo, Call of Duty and Taken King all look good too, but they just didn’t grab me like Fallout 4 did. And that’s all just from a gameplay standpoint.  Then we get to two big details that really should be getting more attention then they are. First, for Xbox One gamers, there’s the added bonus of Fallout 3 along with it. For players that maybe missed the game almost 10 years ago, that’s a fantastic bonus. The details are still missing – is this a download on the Xbox One, or is it just a Xbox 360 download and it will be one of the new backward compatibility options. Will it allow people to double up on gamerscore? Will it include the five DLC packs for the game? All that needs to be answered before November, and I expect them to.

Pipboy Edition

The other great detail is the prospect of the Modding community being able to share their work on consoles. Some details here have been confirmed. The PC dev kit will be out early next year, and Xbox One will get access to the mods shortly thereafter through the Bethesda.net service. This honestly could be the biggest game changer in Fallout 4‘s lifespan. Bringing mods to consoles has been a pipedream for players for years now – really ever since consoles went online. Bethesda being at the forefront on this also just feels right – their games always seem to benefit greatly from the modding community. Granted the mods will be a little curated for the consoles – probably looking for trademark breaches and mods that would impact the rating (ultra-violence/nudity mods) – but they definitely look like they’re going all in here. And that could make Fallout 4 the most flexible console RPG in years – the potential mods here are crazy.

November may only be a few months away, but we still have the slow months of the summer to get through. There are definitely a few games worth looking into this summer for sure, but damn, the fall can’t get here fast enough.

E3 2015 – Final Thoughts and Wrap-Up

E3 LogoNow that the insanity of E3 week has come to a close, I want to take a quick look back at the show as a whole. After a week of long posts, today’s is going to be a bit quicker.

E3 last year was pretty strong – there was a strong focus on games, from all the developers and publishers. Going into this year’s show I think we had a feeling there might be a bit more tech shown. VR is picking up now, with Microsoft and Sony both embracing it in different ways. And while both publishers did devote a little time in their press conferences to VR, it wasn’t a focus for either one. Instead we got a second year running where games took the spotlight. And really, that’s how E3 should be.

E3 is the one week of the year where developers know that the entire industry is transfixed on their games. They’ve spent a ton of time and effort on these games, and this should be a showcase of them. The show has evolved over the years for sure, and I think that we’ve gotten to a format now that not only makes sense for the exhibitors, but also helps legitimize the industry. And this year in particular was awesome. This year might have had the strongest lineup of games ever. It certainly had the strongest in any recent memory.

It’s a really popular thing to grade the show and declare winners and losers when it’s all said and done. I think that’s only partially worthwhile. Grading the show makes sense – two years ago was weak, this year was much stronger. That helps the developers and publishers know more of what we’re looking for with E3. In that regard, this year’s show was easily an A. There were huge announcements – both games and news – and the games shown looked incredibly strong. With winners and losers though, I hate doing that. The answer to that question is always the gamers. We’re the winners, and there really isn’t a loser of E3.

Fallout 4 Box Art

I do like picking a game of the show though. Really it isn’t any question for me. It was probably going to be Fallout 4 going into the show, and after Bethesda’s and Microsoft’s conferences that decision was cemented. There were a ton of awesome games this year – Horizon, Halo 5, Kingdom Hearts III the list goes on. But for me, Fallout 4 is just the game that I am far and away the most excited about. It comes out this year, so the wait is much less; the game looks like a major step forward for the series, and on top of that just look amazing.

E3 2015 – Third Party Press Events Wrap-Up

Today may be the last day of E3, but we still have a few more press conferences to look back over. Instead of going through each of the three shows (EA, Ubisoft, and Square-Enix), game by game – like I did with the Microsoft and Sony shows – I’m just going to hit the heavy hitters today. Much like the rest of the show, there are plenty of big games to talk about.

EA Logo

We’ll start with EA – the first of the third party pressers. The early focus was all about the new Need for Speed – due out this November. We got our first look at gameplay – it does look gorgeous, I’ll give it that. But the focus of the game looks a little dated to me – the idea of a Fast and Furious style car club/underground racing club seems like it was made for about 10 years ago. Add to that the fact that there’s serious competition – Forza 6, and I think there’s trouble for Need for Speed. Luckily EA had a couple other early moments. In particular the combo of the reveal of Unravel – a new physics puzzle platformer with a really cool main character; and the follow up with more Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. The combination really helped lighten up the mood, both games have a fantastic character about them. However, EA still struggles with how to handle their EA Sports games at E3. They need to talk about them – they are consistently the biggest selling games around the world, but really aren’t exciting to talk about. They try different things, but this year was pretty rough – I love Pele, but man, seeing him do an interview on stage really killed the flow of the show.

EA I think knew that a little because they kept the heavy hitters for after – starting with the reveal of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, and closing with Battlefront. Both games stand to be massive games, for different reasons. Mirror’s Edge for it’s unique gameplay and storytelling, along with a strong player character. Star Wars: Battlefront for being Star Wars, and also an amazing shooter. Overall, I think EA had a show with pretty strong moments, but man, they continue to have real issues with the setup of their show. And also that Mass Effect: Andromeda was announced, but not shown during the show. Weird.

Ubisoft Logo

Next up was Ubisoft – always a fun show to watch, with a pretty unique format and Aisha Tyler hosting. Ubisoft knew enough that the tone of E3 was surprises this year – so they started with a couple. A brand new South Park game – The Fractured, But Whole; along with For Honor started the show strong. We got a look at more Division footage that looked really cool, except for the part where you can dick over your own friends in the Dark Zone. To me though, the first real highlight was seeing Rainbow Six: Siege again in action. This time was the return of Terror Hunt, the co-op mode that looks super great. This was also when we got the beta details – this September on all platforms, featuring PvP and Terror Hunt. Ubisoft had to show off Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate – since this was before the Sony show, this was actually our first look at E3. The trailer from the Ubisoft show did a good job of setting the game up, introducing Jacob Frye and the setting of the game. And again, the show closed with a surprise, just as it opened with – the triumphant return of Ghost Recon. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen the team, and it definitely looks like there have been a good number of changes. Assuming that we’ll get hands-on next year with it, that would mean that Ubisoft is really pushing Tom Clancy games again, which is a smart move.

Square Enix Logo

Finally, we had the Square-Enix show on Tuesday. Square had an…interesting show. The format maybe hurt it, but damn, the games were really strong. Just Cause 3 looks like the kind of mindless, over-the-top crazy fun that the series is known for, just kicked up more. I was surprised to see a new Nier game announced, but at the same time, Square does things their way. We got more Tomb Raider, but just a little. To me though, the real meat of the show was coming up. We got the Final Fantasy VII trailer again, along with the news we’ll see more this winter. They then of course played with us a little bit, showing off Kingdom Hearts Unchained, a new Mobile game coming that will tie in with Kingdom Hearts III. Square didn’t tease us for long though, and we finally got our first look at gameplay for Kingdom Hearts III – and man, that game looks great. It immediately got me back into that state of mind – it looks just like Kingdom Hearts should, bright, colorful, and full of character. Unfortunately, we have a long wait ahead – I would be surprised if it came out next winter, but it could. Most likely it’s looking like early 2017. Square also showed off more of Hitman, which does look pretty cool. This was also the first glimpse of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, showing some looks at gameplay, but still in the form of a cinematic trailer. The close of the show though was a little weird to me. After Deus Ex, I expected them to close with Final Fantasy XV. Instead we got a super super early announcement that a new studio – Tokyo RPG Factory – is making a new series. Final Fantasy XV, probably their biggest in-house name, only showed up for a few seconds in a trailer montage. That seemed really odd to me.

Ultimately, when the Square-Enix show wrapped up, we were done with the press events and could really start looking for smaller, more focused reports. The press events this year were top-to-bottom strong. There were slow moments, in every conference, for sure. But there really was less of them, and hardware talk was way lower this year than it has been recently. Now that we’ve gotten some hands-on reports too, it really does look like this year has had one of the better E3’s in a while. It’s why I just plain love this week.

E3 2015 – Sony PlayStation Press Conference Wrap-Up

PlayStation 4

Last night, rounding out a really busy Day 0 of E3 2015, was the Sony PlayStation conference. The day had already been a really busy day, with all kinds of big announcements across the board, so Sony had to really have a strong show. And good lord did they ever.

Sony started off huge – finally showing new info on The Last Guardian, a game that a lot of people thought was lost to the ether. We got a new video, that admittedly looked a little bit more like a PS3 game, but really did get the excitement going early. We do have to wait a bit longer – at least until 2016, but at this point, that’s cake. We then got a confirmation on what Guerrilla Games has been working on. They’ll be bringing Horizon: Zero Dawn to the PS4, most likely next year. The trailer showed gameplay, with some pretty cool visuals – giant robot monsters, being fought with really low-tech weapons. In an age with a lack of dinosaur hunting (Turok in other words) this is a pretty cool sight. Rounding out the first batch of games we got a look at a CG trailer for Hitman – the latest entry in the long running franchise. While it’s going to be multiplatform, the beta for the game will be on the PS4 first, and the game will also feature 6 exclusive contracts on the PS4.

No Mans Sky logo

Sticking with the theme of exclusives, we got another look at Street Fighter V, which is console exclusive for PS4 – along with the announcement of two new fighters. Really though, the first huge highlight for me was that we next got a gameplay look at No Man’s Sky. I have been super, super high on this game, ever since last year – it has been the game most driving my desire for a PlayStation. Seeing it in action was insane – I cannot imagine what the code is for that game, now that we’ve seen the scale and scope of it in action. Sony has a really strong exclusive lineup – continuing with the new game from Media Molecule – Dreams. It, while looking really cool, really didn’t seem like something that I’m particularly interested in. It looks neat – creating anything you want, based around dreams – but just didn’t really grab me. Maybe I have to play it to get it, we’ll see. Rounding out the indie lineup here we found out that Firewatch will be making its console debut on the PS4. I hadn’t heard about this game, not really being an indie PC gamer anymore, but it really grabbed me right away. The art style looks cool, the premise is unique and engaging and it looks like the writing and acting is strong.

Destiny Taken King Collectors Edition

Then we get to the heavy hitters. And oh man, did we get some heavy hitters. First, Destiny is getting The Taken King, this September, focusing around Oryx – Crota’s father. A lot of those details we kinda new from speculation – but seeing it in action in trailer form was fantastic. The new subclasses were announced, and look awesome; but perhaps most impressive was that the DLC looks like the story content will actually be pretty strong. I’m curious about the transition from Year One to Year Two, but that’s a question for not E3 week. After Destiny showed off new DLC, we got a different look at Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate than we did at the Ubisoft show (wrap up for that later). This bit was all about showing off Evie Frye, the twin sister of Jacob. It looked pretty cool, and also announced some PS4 exclusive missions, the Dreadful Crimes.

This first section already had some serious players. But nothing compared to what we got next. Square Enix came out to talk about Final Fantasy. First was World of Final Fantasy – a chibi styled FF game with some monster battling in it due out next year only on Sony consoles. That’s great, but again, nothing else in the show compared with the next announcement (to me). After the biggest dick move ever with the fake Final Fantasy VII update at PSX, Sony finally – FINALLY – stopped messing around. Yes, there is a real remake of Final Fantasy VII in the works. It’s real, and that means I have to put my money where my mouth is. I said way back in 2006, when they had the PS3 tech demo showing the intro cutscene that if they ever did remake it, I’d buy that Sony console. So I’m in the market for a PS4 for really two games – No Man’s Sky and FFVII.

It’s hard to really stay at that same high level, but Sony did have a few more games to show. We got a four pack from Devolver Digital. The Kickstarter for Shenmue 3 was announced – and it’s already been met. That’s $2Million in less than 24 hours. We got a glimpse at the PS4 content for Arkham Knight, due out next week. Then the one part that Sony always seems to put in their show – hardware. It always seems to pop up, and never really gets any reaction from the internet which bugs me. When Microsoft talks Kinect or Live stuff, they get killed. Sony talks Project Morpheus and PlayStation Vue and nothing. I don’t get it. Both companies need to talk those things – maybe E3 isn’t the best place – but it should go both ways.

Regardless, Sony knows that talking hardware like that does really drop the energy. So they had the perfect announcement to pick it back up. This is one of the bigger news bits of the show, that isn’t a direct game announcement. We knew Black Ops III was coming. It was absent from the Xbox Show – which was noticeable. We now know it’s because Activision is doubling down on Sony. The DLC early access is now a Sony Exclusive, flipping from Xbox for the first time. That also extends to the MP beta this August – first on PS4. I think this is probably partially due to the success of their partnership with Destiny. It’s a big deal, especially when we get to the next franchise – Star Wars. EA has been pretty up front saying that the footage they’ve shown of Battlefront has been recorded on the PlayStation 4. They haven’t said anything about exclusives, yet, but that honestly wouldn’t really surprise me at this point. Now, Battlefront isn’t the only Star Wars game – the franchise is also coming to Disney Infinity 3.0, with an exclusive early access campaign.

To close out the show, there really was only one choice for Sony. Uncharted 4 is by far their most anticipated exclusive. We already know it got pushed back to next year. So instead of just retreading what we’ve already seen, Sony gave us an actual live gameplay demo. And it was clear to see that it was live – the game looked like it crashed on stage – not a bad thing necessarily, it is still really early. The gameplay we saw was pretty exciting for sure – driving is new for the series of course. Not being particularly vested in the series, I was still impressed with it. Sony had an all around great show – some serious big announcements across the board. I hate declaring a “winner” of the show – I always say that we are the winners at E3 – but Sony might have had the better show this year. Microsoft has a great 2015 lineup; but Sony has great games this year, and a crazy lineup for next year.

The Calm Before the Storm: What I’m expecting from E3 2015

E3 LogoE3 2015 starts this weekend with the Bethesda press conference, their first solo conference ever, at 10:00 PM, Eastern Time. While that might be a little odd for a start time, I think it’ll benefit Bethesda, and really set the tone for the show as a whole. Since it’s so close, I thought we’d get things started early with my pre-E3 thoughts on what we’ll be seeing this week.

Let’s start with the Bethesda conference, since it’s kicking off the show. We already got to see Fallout 4 announced, but we know that there’s plenty more on the way Sunday night. Whether that means a gameplay demo, potential gameplay on the show floor, or just a longer cinematic trailer remains to be seen. My money is on a good gameplay demonstration. But I really don’t think Bethesda has this whole press event just for Fallout. We know that there’s a DOOM announcement coming our way, probably something along the Fallout 4 trailer – a nice announcement trailer showing off the engine and revisiting an old friend in the DOOM world. The big surprise potential I think comes from Dishonored. It’s been a few years since the first game came out, and back then there was already talk about making it into a franchise. The timing this year I think is perfect. The assumption is that Fallout is a fall release, based around retailer listings (which could easily be placeholders); which means that 2016 could be looking for a big name. DOOM satisfies that in one genre, but Dishonored is a whole different beast. With how flat Thief fell last year, the current generation is looking for a good stealth game – Dishonored would fit that perfectly.

Sunset Overdrive Xbox Bundle

With Microsoft leading the show on Monday, I fully expect them to try to set the pace. Nintendo has bowed out in recent years, opting for their digital deliveries, which really puts the pressure on Microsoft and Sony to put on good shows. With that said, we already know the two biggest games Microsoft will be showing – Rise of the Tomb Raider and Halo 5: Guardians. The rest of the rotation could be a little interesting. I would bet on seeing Call of Duty: Black Ops III here, just because of the past relationship with the franchise and Xbox. There’s bound to be some Fable Legends demo, most likely a release date set too. I also fully expect them to put their Indie lineup out there to shine – we saw that last year with a good focus on Ori. I don’t really see any crazy surprises coming here – Microsoft knows they have a great lineup coming for the rest of the year, especially with Uncharted 4 pushed back to next year. The surprises I think we’ll see are probably going to be more focused – DLC exclusivity deals, maybe some third party release dates – that sort of thing.

PlayStation 4

The Sony conference is the one where I think we really need to see some big moves, especially focused on this year. Uncharted 4 and the Nathan Drake collection will be shown for sure, but Sony is going to need something big for the fall. My guess is that ends up being Assassin’s Creed and Destiny. They went that route last year, and while both games are multiplatform they focused on the PS4. Both just had some issues at launch that maybe hurt the PS4 pairing a little bit. Losing Silent Hills hurts a lot too, but they still have Metal Gear Solid V to point to, along with No Man’s Sky – which still looks unreal. They’ve said that Ratchet and Clank will be playable at the show, so I would expect that to take up a good bit of conference time. Sony is a bit of a mystery going in this year – there has been plenty of shake-ups with the PS4 lineup for this fall, so this could be a pretty entertaining conference.

Nintendo

Nintendo is, once again, going with a longer version of their Nintendo Direct style PR videos for this year. While that’s great for those of us not able to make the show – I think it takes a little away from the mythos of E3. But what Nintendo does best is be Nintendo – they’re the company that’s just play different these days. In terms of games for this year, we know we’re bound to see two of the Core Nintendo Three – Mario and Zelda. Whether this is the year we finally see the return of Metroid remains to be seen, but I really hope that it is. It’s been five years since the debacle that was Other M. We’re ready for Samus to come back. I also expect to see a good chunk of Star Fox and Yoshi on display, with a potential showing of Donkey Kong. What really intrigues me with this show is how much we’re going to see/hear about the new Nintendo console – NX.

EA, Square Enix and Ubisoft round out the press events before the show floor opens. EA has a strong lineup this year – Star Wars: Battlefront, Need for Speed, Mirrors’ Edge, Mass Effect, and EA Sports titles. That’s just what we know they’re going to show. There’s always the possibility for some kind of Battlefield demo, probably Hardline DLC; as well as the announcement of Titanfall 2. While that hasn’t been announced at all, it really shouldn’t be a surprise – it’s bound to be in development after the success of the first game. Ubisoft will obviously show off Assassin’s Creed, but I think the real meat here will be the Tom Clancy games. We know that The Division got pushed back to next year; but Rainbow Six: Siege still is a bit of a question. If it ends up being this year, which console gets the exclusivity could be a big detail. Square is the wild card here – we know that they’ll show off Final Fantasy, as well as Rise of the Tomb Raider (probably the same demo we’ll see at Microsoft.) Beyond that though, I’m a little curious as to what they’ve got on hand. I would be a bit surprised if it ends up being Kingdom Hearts, but I want that so bad.

All things considered, this year’s E3 is shaping up to be just as strong as last year’s show was, if not even better. There are tons and tons of great games on the way, which means that the conferences should be pretty jam packed. I never rule out hardware details – they’re a good way to provide breathers in the show. Regardless, be ready for a lot of news in the next week or so. Here at Infinite Lives, I’ll have wrap ups for each conference, starting Sunday night after the Bethesda show; and as always, check out Twitter, where I’ll be sharing my reactions to the show live.