Monday, June 10, 2019

E3 2019 Highlights: Microsoft & Bethesda

E3 has only just begun and there have already been some pretty exciting announcements! Since these conferences tend to be jam-packed with far more info than I could ever accurately summarize. , I'll be rounding up my personal highlights from each presentation.

Here's what stood out to me from the first two major press conferences of E3 2019:

Even though I haven't owned an Xbox since the OG, I always watch Microsoft's presentation because it tends to cover a broad range of games and their announcements tend to have far-reaching implications on the rest of the game industry. This year was no different.
  •  Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order - The gameplay looked like it could be a lot of fun. I liked that you get to ride in an AT-AT (a quadrupedal mech) at one point. Star Wars games tend to appeal most to me when they offer vehicle combat since on-foot sword and gunplay are so common in other video games. The protagonist of Fallen Order seemed incredibly bland, however. I'll still keep my eye on this one. (trailer)
  • Cyberpunk - This new RPG from CDProjekt, makers of The Witcher, made another appearance, this time showing off more story but only a tiny glimpse of gameplay. The real highlight of this was the announcement that Keanu Reeves would be playing a character in the game. He even appeared on stage to make the announcement himself! (trailer)
  • RPG Time - I'm not entirely clear on what this game is, but it has a really cool handmade visual style that reminds me of Yoshi's Crafted World. It seems to be an RPG about a person making an RPG? (trailer)
  •  Xbox Game Pass for PC - Microsoft announced that the new PC version of Game Pass would include over 100 games and that the first month would only cost a dollar! I signed up immediately. I'm hoping that most of their upcoming first and second party games will premier on both the PC and Xbox version of the software at the same time.
  • Psychonauts 2 - While this game is a known quantity, and looks like exactly what you'd expect from a sequel to the original, the big part of this part of the show was the announcement that Microsoft has acquired Double Fine studios! It's nice that they won't have to rely on Kickstarter any more for funding but I hope their creative freedom doesn't become limited as a result of the deal. (trailer)
  • 12 Minutes - It appeared to be a narrative-driven puzzle game in which the player travels back in time to avoid catastrophe. Looping through the same sequence over and over but getting different outcomes based on the player's choices made it seem like Groundhog's Day the video game. Seems like it has potential. (trailer)
  • Forza Horizon 4 Lego Expansion - This was another big surprise, an expansion that turns the otherwise realistic Forza into a Lego racing game! In a call back to a previous Forza presentation, they unveiled a race car on stage that was entirely made of Lego bricks! I'm looking forward to trying this on Game Pass when it comes out on June 13th. (trailer)
  • Tales of Arise - The newest entry in the Tales series of action RPGs looks gorgeous! I've only played Tales of Symphonia for GameCube, so this is light years ahead of my experience with this franchise. The world looked very lush and combat very fast-paced. (trailer)
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 - While this MMO has been available for several years in Japan, Microsoft will be the ones to bring it to the West. I don't know much about Phantasy Star and I'm typically not into MMOs, but what I saw in this trailer reminded me a lot of one of my favorite RPG franchise, Xenoblade, so I'm definitely curious to know more. Supposedly the game will be free-to-play, so there's a good chance I'll give it a shot. (trailer)
  • Xbox Project Scarlett and Halo Infinite - The new Xbox system was formally announced and it boasts 120 FPS framerates and 8K resolution. They also announced that the system will launch with the newest game in the Halo series, Halo Infinite. While I'm not entirely sold on the system based on specs alone (I still haven't even switched to 4K yet!), a new Halo game could be pretty exciting and I think it's wise for Microsoft to use it as a launch title. Both the game and system are coming out late next year. (trailer)
Much of Bethesda's show was devoted to online or mobile games that aren't really my thing. However, the handful of things that caught my interest have me really intrigued.
  • Ghostwire Tokyo - A horror action-adventure game from the makers of Evil Within. Only a cinematic trailer was shown, but a paranormal mystery set in Tokyo seems like it could be pretty interesting. I also have to give a lot of credit to the game's director, Ikumi Nakamura. Not only is she making her directorial debut with an ambitious-sounding game, but she explained the game's premise live in front of a global audience in English, which is clearly not her first language. She did a great job and definitely has guts! (trailer)
  • Commander Keen - This long dormant franchise is making its return as a mobile game. I doubt the game will be for me, but it was certainly surprising to hear the name Commander Keen come up at E3 2019! (trailer)
  • Wolfenstein Youngblood - Bethesda showed a cinematic trailer of this first-person shooter last year, but this year we got to see much more gameplay. The co-op aspect of it looks particularly interesting. This game is supposedly coming to Nintendo Switch in addition to PC, PS4, and X1; I'm very curious to see how it runs on a technically limited platform. Switch is usually my preferred co-op platform, but I'm not sure it can do a graphically-demanding game like this justice. (trailer)
  • Deathloop - A mysterious new game from the maker's of Dishonored. This appeared to be another game with a Groundhog's Day-esque premise. If the level design ends up being anything like Dishonored, I'm definitely interested. (trailer)
  • Orion - This isn't a game, it's some sort of technology used to optimize games for streaming/cloud gameplay. They did a live demonstration of it being used to play Doom 2016 on a cellphone. If it's actually capable of playing a fast-paced game like Doom on a phone in normal network conditions, that's very impressive.
  • Doom Eternal - There was much more gameplay showed off the next Doom, and it looks like exactly what I want: a continuation of Doom 2016. This game will also feature a multiplayer mode in which two players will control demons to try to take down a lone player controlling the Doom Slayer. It's an interesting concept but I could see it being difficult to balance. (trailer)

Keanu Reeves presenting Cyberpunk
RPG Time
Forza Horizon 4 Lego Expansion

Tales of Arise
Phantasy Star Online 2
Halo Infinite
Ikumi Nakamura presenting Ghostwire Tokyo
Ghostwire Tokyo
Commander Keen
Wolfenstein Youngblood
Doom 2016 running on a phone via Orion
Doom Eternal

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