This is what this year’s conference was to me: a sequence of ups and downs, that could have been the best Microsoft presentation in a while, and was pretty good, but not an All of Famer, that’s for sure.
This year’s keyword was cross-buy, a feature i always found incredibly useful with multiplatform games, and that not many of them actually pull off. A feature that Microsoft decided to turn into their defining trait, allowing cross buy between Xbox One and PC using Windows 10’s shop, giving players a reason to not just use Steam for every game they want to buy on PC, and to incentivise the use of those features they also announced XBOX ONE S, basically a “Slim” version of their current flagship console: 500 gigs of memory for 300 dollars, which is quite the offer for a “next-gen” console, if you ask me.
Unfortunately, even though now i’m pretty confident the games presented will probably turn out really good, what they showed ended up being that aforementioned rollercoaster between good looking and lackluster trailers, which in quite a few instances had me either not that interested, or straight up worried for the games that were shown.
Enough chit-chatter, though, let’s get to the memorable stuff (which won’t include Minecraft):
Now, i’ll be honest with you, even if i try my best to stay as neutral as possible, i’m quite a fanboy when it comes to Platinum Games, and when i saw Hideki Kamiya, co-founder and mind behind most of the company’s best titles, walking on stage, i couldn’t help but grin.
It was a short lived grin, though, since the little speech Kamiya gave about wanting to do something like Scalebound since forever, sounded really bored, and was followed by a pretty…lame boss battle, where four players, each one with a dragon and different set of weapons, faced this kraken-like monstrosity that filled the entire level. Now that’s sounds exciting, right? Four dragon riders facing a freaking kraken, what a videogame! Well…let’s say they probably weren’t the most skilled of players, and the boss was probably tuned to the easiest difficulty, since it behaved pretty passively for the whole sequence.
What came out of it was four unexperienced players trying to take down a sleepy seamonster with a hole-ridden plan, which is pretty bad pubblicity for what is supposed to be a big semi-open world RPG with character action elements, dragon aside.
While i’m confident this might be a screwup on Microsoft’s end, since paradoxically the gameplay trailer showed one year ago turned out much better, let’s say this wasn’t the best way to show off a co-op mode.
Sea of Thieves
This for me was unexpected, since i gave Rareware for dead since they when published Banjo & Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, and the announcement of Yooka & Laylee by Playtonic Studio, ex-rare developers gone indie, was the last nail in the coffin. There was no way this husk of a studio could rise from their ashes to me…then Sea of Thieves came around, with both a trailer and a gameplay showcase, and made me think that maybe who’s left has actually idea of what they’re doing.
This game is supposed to be a cartoony-looking pirate crew simulator, with an obvious focus on multiplayer: you take a bunch of friends (or make new ones on the spot), try to get a proper vessel, then you’re off to the seven seas, looking for treasure chests, other crews to murder in cold blood or just an island to leave your newfound friends on while escaping with the ship and all there is in it. What i really liked about it was the “trust” factor: everybody can screw you over, and you can screw over everybody, but if you don’t want to walk on some other crew’s board right into a pack of sharks, after getting your ship destroyed, you might want to play cooperatively. Because yes, to properly man a ship teamwork is a must, much like in Guns of Icarus, a multyplayer-only airship simulator with a similar premise, but a simpler execution.
So, will Rareware return to be a somewhat successful software house? Let’s find out in the next episode of Microsoft Z!
Gears of War 4
…And down we go again, with a Gears of War 4 that just feels…uninspired: it’s got the signature gameplay, it’s got the guns, it’s got the (slightly less)overmuscular characters, both women and men, and it’s got the aliens, that apparently seem to have some degree of control over the human race (having played only the first one, i’m a bit out of the loop plot-wise, so take my words with a grain of salt). It’s more of the same, like i said, and it’s good for the fans of the series, for sure…it just wasn’t that impressive.
The one thing i really appreciated was Marcus Fenix’s new appearence, all Big Boss-ed up, looked slightly cooler than it’s GoW 1 counterpart.
Dead Rising 4
If only Marvel didn’t took the title first, this game should have been called “Welcome Back, Frank”, because guess what? He IS back! The war covering, zombie slaying, FAAAN-TASTIC Mr.Frank West is back (although with a different voice actor), and the Willamette Mall is back too, a “memorial mall” built over the original Willamette, that got destroyed after the event of the first Dead Rising. This might have more than a few connections with the source of this new outbreak, and looks is up to Frank to make it sure…when he’s done taking selfies and having the time of his life impaling zombies with candy shooting crossbows (yes, the absurd weapons are back, no need to worry).
So, Dead Rising is gonna be cool again, good job Microsoft and Capcom!
Next time show a longer trailer, though, will ya?
This is all the teaser trailer shown.
We know it’s from the guys that made Limbo, and that’s it.
We Happy Few
So, i had this game under my radar since its kickstarter campaign ended, a year ago or so: it’s from the dev team that made a really neat “shadow based” platformer called Contrast, which i enjoyed quite a lot, and seeing how they stepped up their game is amazing.
While Contrast was a “simple” 2.5 D platformer with a charming mid-1920s/early 1930s atmosphere, almost a la Skullgirls, this one is a bit more diesel-punkish, set in the british town of Wellington Welles, in an alternate timeline where nazi germany invaded the UK, and to stop the invasion the british had to to a “very bad thing”, an act so dire that the surviving inhabitants developed a drug specifically to counter their sense of guilt and perception of reality, killing on sight who refuses to take it, a drug called “Joy”.
You are one of them, Arthur Hastings, who realized that, after not taking joy for around half an hour, you start seeing how the world really is: the pinata you were bashing a minute ago? That was a giant rat, and people were eating its organs after you killed it. The people around him also realized he didn’t take his Joy, so they called in the happy little policemen (in the picture above) to crack hid skull open in, a similar fashion to that pinata earlier on. So now he has to book it.
And that’s the goal of the game…just the “goal”, though.
You see, under this roguelike first person survival game there’s also a whole layer of lore, secondary characters and hidden subplots that the developers won’t seem to reveal until full release: as of now all we have are the heroes who played the Early Access build for +50 hours and already put together all the bits of lore they found, which, right or not, it’s still “just” speculation. You guys did a good job though, i probably couldn’t even figure it out myself.
Needless to say is that i’m pretty hyped about this game, it’s surely going to be a…Joy to play.
…thank God i kept that one for last.
So, this is all for now: i’m not including Project Scorpio, the new Super Ultra Xbox Ex Plus Alpha because it’ll be in a separate article along with PS4 Neo, an i’m not including Tekken 7 because the trailer was just Akuma fighting Heiachi Mishima, which is a big deal in terms of story, and was followed by an actual in-game fight, but all it did was reconfirm stuff already well known about Akuma’s peculiar mechanics, having a Street Fighter moveset (originally 2D, with actual “special” moves like projectiles) in a Tekken context (3D, where special moves are just “big” normals)…technical stuff, basically.
What i AM including is this majestic picture of Katsuhiro Harada, creator of the Tekken Series, because this man, like many other japanese developers, is a blessing to this world.
Next on the list are Nintendo and Square Enix, i hope you found this report entertaining and somewhat insightful, this is The 3rd Runner, signing off.