So, we covered about everything you wanted to read about from #E32016… but what about the real shockers of the show? Which games came out of nowhere this past week in LA to STEAL our hearts and STEAL the thunder from the already proven contenders?
GHG’s video game department adds a little “Bruce Wayne” to their resume, and clues you in on all the details. I present to you, nerds, The Bible Scale: Dark Horse Edition.
AGENTS OF MAYHEM (Volition/Deep Silver – X1, PS4, PC – TBA Q1 2017) – Every year at E3, I always get an appointment or two that says “Unannounced Game”, and it’s always a risk attending an hour-long booking not knowing whether the game will suit the interests of your fanbase or yourself. Luckily for me, the Saints Row off-shoot Agents of Mayhem was a lot more fun than the anticipation. The game is sort of a mash-up of Saints, a non-post-apocalyptic Borderlands and Crackdown–which is particularly great, seeing how that game was completely absent from the Expo this year. Saints, because the game is based on a new world, rebuilt South Korean futurama that resulted from “Gat Outta Hell”; Borderlands, because of all of Seoul’s friendly droids, quirky weapon and character changes; Crackdown, because of its super colorful, futuristic setting.
(cont.) Better news than just awesomely familiar territory? You alternate between 3 unique characters with 3 unique skill sets (Hardtack‘s short-ranged, powerful weaponry; Fortune and Hollywood‘s medium-ranged assault, and Rama‘s long-ranged archery), while having the ability to recruit more heroes in the process. Switching between each character mid-battle was seemless, and each had 2 really cool special “Mayhem” attacks that are typically over-the-top awesome. I chuckled several times during my BCD playthrough, especially during the K-Pop antagonist’s dance choreographed spectacle. Let it be known that fans of comic books and superhero movies will especially enjoy this game!
SEA OF THIEVES (Rare/Microsoft – Xbox One – February 2017) – Rehab no longer. If you’ve gotten yourself in trouble with the bottle before, then I’ve got a solution for ya: soda. With friends. And an Xbox One copy of Rare’s newest and brightest IP, Sea of Thieves. If you ever wanted to “play pirates” with a bunch of your pals without the lame task of having to go all Hollywood Blvd. as Jack Sparrow, SOT is your cure. To seemingly everything–unless you only enjoy single player campaigns, of course, which is actually my preference; but the possibilities and the open mind of the developers in this #GeekSharedWorldAdventureGame are enough to hold up my bloody musket. You see, players will have plenty to do: quest-searching, treasure-hunting, crew-forming, crew-fighting, sea monster-hunting, ship-customizing, instrument-playing, and Captain Morgan-guzzling (and perhaps killing).
(cont.) While players can go at it alone, manning smaller ships and completing tinier tasks–not recommended, arggh–proper co-operation when playing with others is a must. You can’t be a Jack D’ to your fellow ‘mates until much later (still YTBD); and Rare has made sure crews will need all four of you to properly operate in the open seas, since there won’t be any NPC’s in the ships to do it all for you (but there will be a few around the game’s open world). During my BCD meeting with creators, it was mentioned that sinking/dying has its own high stakes, but nothing terribly absolute ala DayZ. They also looked at the success of Ark and Destiny as business models, listening to fan feedback through various development stages to get things right. Also, while much of the game indeed takes place over the seven seas, players will also be able to traverse among various islands through ports, shops, and, quite alrighty obvious me lady, a few taverns.
STEEP (Ubisoft – X1, PS4, PC – December 2016) – After years and years of Just Dancing, just stabbing and just shooting, Ubisoft pulled out one of E3’s newest surprises with its new X-Games inspired, open winter mountain set Steep. It’s also the first of its kind: a snowboard/ski game that allows you to venture around and do as you please. No longer are virtual snow bunnies relegated to linear speed-and-track segments; the massive Alps is shared online MMO-style, with a wild assortment of costumes to rock and events to plow through. There are even “shattered bone” events for purposeful self-inflicted damage, among them an extreme stunt-filled, Red Bull sponsored “Ultra Natural” snowboarding extravaganza.
(cont.) Players who just want to enjoy the view can quietly veer off and paraglide close to the drafty ice-capped cliffs for scores. Wingsuit races were probably my favorite of the bunch, and the skiing felt satisfying. While much of what I got to play BCD was clearly in its alpha stages (the fluffy snow felt real, but the surrounding mountain textures were a bit weak; camera angles were also pixelated-as-fuhh during the insanely cool-but-queasey GoPro view), do remember the huge visual improvement For Honor made in one year. Either way, Steep surely has enough promise to keep both new and old fans of the SSX Tricky/Amped variety a bit “chill” for hours.