New Destiny Content, Cross-Platform Play and Division Final Thoughts

At the tail end of last week, while I was putting down my Call of Duty: Black Ops III tips, we got a couple pretty big pieces of news. So to start off this week, I thought we’d hit those big points, along with my final thoughts on The Division now that I’ve finished pretty much everything the game has in store.

The Division BetaLet’s start with The Division since it’s pretty fresh in my mind. The more and more I played through the story content, I can’t help but cool on the game. I loved the first third or so of the game – I thought the early game missions were tuned, difficulty wise, pretty much perfectly for the level scale. The second third though felt like a major turning point to me – the main missions slow down during that level 14-20 area and in fact the game directs through a whole neighborhood without a mission. Normally, I’m totally fine with an RPG steering you towards side quests, but the side content in The Division is so repetitive that it really felt more like an obligation. That feeling really got hammered home once I hit the final section of the game – those last few levels and missions. Once you hit level 30, any side mission is, from a reward standpoint, useless. Once the Base of Operations is fully upgraded, those encounters don’t give you loot that really makes sense. Side content only rewards up to Blue quality items – by the time you’re in those last few neighborhoods you’re chasing purple and higher, especially once you hit level 30. I honestly only finished all the side content in order to reveal all the collectibles on the map for the achievements to collect them all. Add in to that that the actual story content feels really hollow as it comes to conclusion and the last taste that The Division left in my mouth was really bland. The actual ending was so anticlimactic that I really don’t feel at all excited for the free content headed our way next month. And that kills me because the foundation that the game has is so damn good. I don’t know where along the lines the decision was made to keep an actual confrontation with Keener out of the game, but that is the big misstep that I think hurts the story the most. I feel like, while I’ve been avoiding comparing The Division to Destiny because the games are very different, I find myself now going back to the same thoughts I had with Destiny’s story ending. It’s so blatantly setup for future content that we know is right around the corner that it just takes away any sense of accomplishment for finishing the story. I still think The Division is the first really good game of the year, but I’ve definitely cooled on my opinion with it.

Moving on though, we got a piece of news last week that I’ve been waiting a long time for. Microsoft announced that cross-platform play is not only possible on the Xbox One, but is essentially here. We all expected Microsoft to eventually push cross-platform play with PC, but last week they announced that Rocket League will feature it, and it will be cross-console – that’s Xbox One and PS4. That’s pretty huge – it essentially kills the console war idea – both manufacturers realize that working together is way more beneficial than not. That’s not to say that exclusives and that sort of thing are going away, but we’re slowing moving toward the idea of gaming being unified as a whole. I look at it the same way I do with movies or music. I love music, but I don’t listen to one specific label or band – I wouldn’t do that with gaming, playing only one console or developer. It’s just silly. Now, there’s still a lot of hurdles to get over before this is the norm – but Microsoft has basically put the ball in Sony’s court. By saying that it’s up to the developers, and giving them the power to put it in, that’s a good move – and important for them after their stupid GDC party move. Microsoft has a big year I think this year – they’ve been lagging a little behind Sony so far, but with Xbox One going down to $300 for the Spring Sale, and a pretty damn solid lineup of games this year, they could be a good position.

Finally, rounding out the catch-up from last week, we finally – finally – got some concrete details about the next update coming for Destiny. We’ve known about this amorphous “spring update” for a while now, but the little breadcrumbs Bungie had been giving us were starting to get a little stale. Finally though we know not only when it’s coming, but we have a little bit more concrete idea of what it is going to contain. The new update – now called the April update – will be pushed live to the game on April 12. It’s bringing with it patch 2.2.0, which will feature the first major sandbox (meta) update since the end of last year. We got a little more cemented list of what to expect from the update – sort of. Bungie did their usual trick of being vague – new PvE challenges, new gear and new light levels – but did say we’re getting a new quest and strike coming. The biggest talking point among the community though has to be the image that Bungie used as a header for the weekly update: Destiny Taken Guardians. It’s not too hard to see why we’ve been talking about this image since last week. To me, there are two big points that it raises. First, there’s the obvious visual look – those are guardians, and they are Taken. There’s a few possibilities to explain that – the boring, and probably right answer – is that it’s just a shader. A freaking cool looking shader, but still just a shader. The other options could be that that’s just how the armor looks – I doubt that is the case because of what that armor is, which we’ll talk about in a second. The third possibility is that this is a new enemy type. I think that eventually we’ll see enemy guardians in PvE – but I really doubt that we’re going to get that during Destiny 1‘s life. That seems like a perfect twist to put in for the sequel – which you might remember is something I said during my fantasy development for that game. The other major talking point from the image though is just what that armor they’re wearing is. If you’ve been playing Destiny since launch, that armor is probably very familiar to you. You were chasing it for most of last spring and summer – it’s the armor that was rewarded in the Prison of Elders. Hell the background of that image even looks like the Reef. That opens up a couple questions. Is the Prison of Elders going to be the new PvE activity that Bungie said is going to favor replayability? Again, that’s the boring answer, but probably right. The community has been asking for old raids to come back – technically, the challenge tiers of PoE were considered raids. Does that open the doors for the others? I actually hope not – as fun as the old raids were, I want to see the game moving forward. Add in that to make them work in the current PvE space would be a pretty involved undertaking, and I doubt that is something we’d see in a free update. I could see them adding the Taken into Prison of Elders as a new, selectable, tier – essentially acting as a new difficulty level for it. Since Bungie said that replayability is a big part of this new activity, I think that Prison of Elders is a good start, but definitely would need a little work. We’ll learn a bit more this Wednesday, and the next two after that, as Bungie does their usual livestream reveal thing. These are usually pretty solid watches, so if you can, I would tune in. I’ll offer up my thoughts on them afterwards of course as well. Regardless, Destiny definitely finally has some life injected back into it.


Sony PlayStation Experience Thoughts

PlayStation 4Over the weekend, Sony hosted their second annual PlayStation Experience conference. It’s kind of become a second E3 for Sony, where they’re able to show off their games right before the holiday and keep the buzz high on the coming year’s games. The keynote showed off a good mix of huge exclusives, but what I liked was the real focus on a lot of smaller titles. That said, there was one thing that kinda soured my feelings on the event – and it’s no fault of Sony this time.

Uncharted Nathan Drake Collection

First let’s talk about a few of those games they showed off. Opening the show with Uncharted 4 was a bold move. I wouldn’t say it’s a big stretch to say that game is Sony’s most anticipated exclusive – probably by a pretty clear margin. And while they really didn’t show off a whole lot, they did show a pretty big addition to the game – branching dialogue trees. There’s still plenty about it that we don’t know – including whether the different dialogue choices will have major impact on how the game unfolds. That, however, was pretty much end of the end of that level of game. Sure, Street Fighter V is a PS4 exclusive, and sure they showed some Call of Duty: Black Ops III – a DLC PS4 exclusive; but I think in general most of the games shown were a step down from Uncharted‘s hype level.

Where I think the keynote really shined was the last third – where Sony put the spotlight on third party and indie studios. We saw games like 100 Fr. Robot Golf, Ni No Kuni II, Ace Combat 7, and Golem all get announced. Also getting some strong time was the PlayStation VR. I think it’s a cool system, but VR is still so hard to show off on stage to really make it look exciting, plus I still think it’s a little gimmicky. What I think helps the PSVR out is that Sony has really bought in, and has a lot of developers working on games for it – and those games hit a number of different styles. There are more artistic games like Eagle Flight and Golem, very tongue in cheek games like 100 Ft. Robot Golf and Modern Zombie Taxi Company, and serious triple A quality games like Ace Combat 7.

Final Fantasy VII

Now, as cool as I thought the show was, there were two parts where I saw some issues show up. And like I said, they weren’t Sony’s fault at all. One revolves around Final Fantasy VII Remake – which we finally got to see some actual gameplay of. I thought that the Kingdom Hearts influence is perfect and helps bring that 20 year old game forward into the modern RPG world. That content isn’t where the issues showed up though – instead it’s that we got a press release Sunday night that seemed to say that the game will be episodic. Twitter exploded – I saw tons of professional people start complaining about it – and we don’t even have a release date yet! Never mind we don’t officially know that it’s episodic or how it will work. People really need to cool their jets on this and think about it for a second. Detach yourself from the fandom of the original. It’s a 20 year old game. If I want to play that game, I’ll play my copy of the original. I don’t want the exact game with fancy graphics. RPG’s have evolved a ton in those 20 years, and I think what Square Enix is doing could be exactly what the whole franchise needs. Think about what Square could do with an episodic set-up. Each episode could focus around building backstories for the characters. They already have built a universe around the original game with a couple spin-offs. I think that basically is a given now that stuff from those games will show up now. And I saw people worried about the story now. I would remind them that the pacing on the original was pretty damn slow. You have this intense first section in Midgar, then the pacing hits a wall. The story is still great, but streamlining it could actually be the best thing that has happened to FFVII since Advent Children. Focusing an entire episode just around the events in Midgar could help focus that section even more. I just think that people are really overreacting about the episodic announcement. Hell, if it is episodic, it could be coming out next year as opposed to 2017! Relax, enjoy the fact that we’re getting a remake of one of the best games OF ALL TIME, and one that we never even expected to get.


The other kinda nasty reaction was, perhaps unsurprisingly, in reaction to Destiny‘s announcement. We expected Bungie to show something off, and they detailed the new holiday event, which will begin tomorrow and run through the rest of December: the Sparrow Racing League. It’s literally content that we, as a whole community, have been asking for since the launch of the game; and I saw tons and tons of people yelling at Bungie: “That’s It?!” Again, relax, step back and think about this for a second. Yes, The Taken King is starting to reach its limits – I do think that Bungie needs to share with us the next content soon. But right now probably isn’t the best time. We’re expecting a massive live-game update this week, with a major rebalance to the weapon meta, along with the first class rebalance in a year. Which you might notice is another thing to we’ve been yelling at Bungie about forever, and can’t be a small undertaking. Add in the fact that this month holds the biggest commercial holiday of the year, at least in the U.S. with Christmas; which always brings with it a pretty sizable increase in players. Finally, after the Festival of the Lost, we kinda got the idea that Bungie was starting to figure out ways to have live-game seasonal events. Going into the weekend, I saw a few posts over on the subreddit wondering about a Christmas event. Instead of a specific one around the holiday, we get a three week long event with the SRL; which again, is something we’ve been asking for since launch. I think when you add those all together, this weekend wasn’t the right time to announce the next DLC. We are definitely getting close to that line though, so I hope Bungie has a good plan ahead for it; but again – chill out a bit folks. Enjoy the racing, enjoy the amazing games out right now, and remember that the point of playing these awesome things we call video games is to have fun.

Fallout 4 Combat Early Thoughts

Fallout 4 Box ArtNow that I have my Xbox One back and, more or less, back to the spot it was before it crashed on me, I’ve really been digging back into Halo 5 and Fallout 4. They’re both games that I’ve been looking forward for a big chunk of this year, so it’s fun to really dig into the mechanics of both games. Today I want to talk a little bit about the changes to the combat in Fallout 4, at least within the first handful of levels and quests. I know that there’s still a ton of little details to find out later on – especially once I really start putting skill points into perks instead of S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats.

Of all the changes from previous Fallout games to Fallout 4, I think the combat is the one that’s taking me longer to really adjust to. That’s a good thing though, because the real root changes are for the best. Bethesda brought in developers from Bungie and id Software to help really nail down the combat. Those are two of the strongest FPS developers ever, so the core fundamentals are certainly improved from the previous games. The gunplay actually feels more like a shooter, and puts a little more value in thumbskill than it used to. From an RPG standpoint, that can feel a little blasphemous. And honestly, I think if it had happened way back with Fallout 3, I think it would have been a much bigger issue. But RPG’s have evolved a lot over the last 7-8 years. Games like Borderlands and Mass Effect and Dead Island have really combined RPG fundamentals with more dynamic action. Fallout 4 is just the next logical extension of the progression, brought to probably the biggest stage in modern RPG’s.

Fallout 4 VATS

What I think is really keeping me from adjusting faster is just that I’ve been playing New Vegas so much in the last couple weeks. Those last generation Fallout games had a combat that was a bit more determined by your characters skill levels. Use a traditional lead and powder gun with low Gun Skill, and it’s going to be less accurate. That extends to the V.A.T.S. mechanic, which I always kinda thought was borderline cheating. Freezing time and getting more accurate shots directed at individual body parts seemed a little unfair. Both of those facets have gotten a pretty strong focus with Fallout 4. V.A.T.S. now slows time down, but enemies are still able to fight back while you’re trying to place your shots. It’s still a little cheap to me, but much more in line with the in-universe rules. That, combined with the new S.P.E.C.I.A.L. focus, helps decide if you’re really going to focus on V.A.T.S or real-time combat with your skill point allocation.

That real-time combat has evolved to a spot that I think really puts it into a good place. It’s certainly not setting the world on fire, especially compared with the current crop of FPS’s out now, but it’s definitely better than it used to be. I feel a lot more in control of my performance – where I aim, is where the bullet goes. That alone would be enough for the combat to feel better, for me. But Bethesda also added in more flexibility – with a melee attack and grenades mapped to a shoulder button. No more specifically equipping grenades instead of primary weapons – just have them equipped and you can toss them by holding down RB/R1 button. That means that I’ll be using them a lot more frequently. Same goes with the melee attack – you have a gun bash now, tied to that same RB/R1 button. Take out a Feral Ghoul’s leg and it’s immobilized – no more wasting ammo on it, go punch it till it’s dead. That extends to the more nuisance enemies – Mole Rats, Bloatflies, Radroaches all can be easily felled with a few gun bashes. It makes Strength important for any character build, not just melee and carry weight.

Combat is always an important part for any RPG, and Fallout has finally, I think, gotten a great system in place that really fits all the different combat styles. It works with melee or ranged, unarmed or explosives. It’s not flawless of course, but I think it’s a great step forward, and has me thinking about how Bethesda could apply what they’ve done here with Elder ScrollsFallout is a huge game, with all kinds of moving parts, so there’s a lot to digest. Hopefully I’ll revisit the combat in a couple weeks after I’ve really managed to get a lot deeper into the game as see how it holds up toward end-game content.

Why Those NPD Sales Data Numbers Aren’t That Huge a Deal

PlayStation 4The sales data for each console has recently been released. As they always do, the NPD reported on the numbers of consoles sold, and the manufactures then report those numbers to the press. I saw a couple of tweets talking about Microsoft’s take on the sales figures. In particular that they focused on their year-to-year growth continuing to be strong. What I saw was a lot of people shouting that, based on that thought, that Sony is “Winning” the console wars. And sure, that probably does mean that the PlayStation 4 outsold the Xbox One still, but thinking of it that frame of mind is just plain asinine.

It still bugs me that we all frame the world of console gaming as a “console war” that has to have a winner and a loser. We look at frame-rates, resolution, pricing and sales data with a microscopic focus and compare the most minute details. It all comes out of the huge boom in the 90’s with SEGA and Nintendo going after each other. And during the 90’s that actually made sense. We were an industry that was struggling for a foothold in the mainstream, and needed the competition to get that foothold. But that was twenty years ago – the industry has blown up, not only in sales numbers, but the money that comes with them. We don’t need to have a war anymore – at least not within the industry. Competition is healthy sure, but going for the jugular isn’t. I would much rather see the industry start looking at more clearly defining ourselves versus the other mainstream entertainment choices – movies and TV.

Xbox One

For the most part, a lot of this mentality is driven by the fans. We feel so fiercely connected to a brand that we see the others as an adversary. I definitely think of myself more as an Xbox gamer at this point – mainly because I really love the Xbox Live and Achievements systems. But I don’t hate the PlayStation. In fact, I think that the PS4 is a really great system – PSN has grown up a lot in the last five years. Nintendo will always have a special place in my heart – I still think they make the most innovative games of the three big names. We are living through the brightest era in gaming now – the industry hasn’t ever been bigger. At the end of the day, what these NPD sales figures say isn’t that Sony is winning and Microsoft is losing. What they say is that Gaming as a whole is winning. And that is really the most important thing.

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 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.

The Second Most Exciting Game Announcement of the Month

Megaman PALAs I’ve been saying for about the last week now, I cannot wait for Fallout 4. It surpassed Star Wars: Battlefront as my most anticipated game of the year. I certainly didn’t expect another announcement before E3 to get me anywhere near that same level of excitement. That was before Capcom changed that earlier this week with the Mega Man Legacy Collection.

I’ve talked plenty on this blog about Mega Man, from my currently on hiatus Minecraft project, to my thoughts on how perfectly the games illustrate excellent game design. I’ve always said that for all the great games in the last 10-15 years, my favorite games of all time are still the original Mega Man games. This isn’t the first time that Capcom has put out a collection of the classic games – 10 years ago for the 15th anniversary of the series they put out a collection of the first eight games. I bought that game then, and I’ll buy this upcoming collection too.

Mega Man 4 Stage Select

I actually think that this Legacy Collection could end up being the better product. Not only is it a more focused game, only featuring the first six NES games; but it’s got the added benefit of the new console power. I expect them to run smoothly – at this point there shouldn’t be much of an issue with any emulation for them. I’m also looking forward to the prospect of achievements/trophies – it’s on the Xbox One/PS4/PC. Depending on how they structure them, they really could open up a series of amazing games to a whole new audience. I really think that of the six games in the collection, four of them are absolute must-play games, and the other two are still really strong games. Those first four Mega Man games are absolute gems – not only individually, but as a series those first games are such a great example of refining the games features and updating the series. The idea of sequels is that they take the previous games’ strengths and weakness, and make better the strengths, and get rid of the weaknesses. Those first four games do that pretty much perfectly.

Megaman 2 Stage Select

Fallout 4Rock Band 4, and Star Wars: Battlefront had been my slate of games that I considered my must-buy list for the later part of the year. Over the course of the summer though, the Mega Man Legacy Collection has definitely popped up into the list. I’m definitely looking forward to playing through my favorite series all over again this summer.