It’s Gamescom 2015, the absolute largest video game convention in the world. Didn’t you wish E3 was 5 days like this??? As per usual with GHG, our Congregation of Cool will identify their favorite — and worst — picks from Cologne, based on all the footage and news presented at the Konferenz.
Update – Aug 12:
–Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
–Star Fox Zero
Update – Aug 10&11:
–Homefront: The Revolution
–Mirror’s Edge Catayst
Update – August 9:
–Forza Motorsport 6
–Plants vs. Zombies 2: Garden Warfare
–Rise of the Tomb Raider
–Star Wars: Battlefront
–Tom Clancy’s The Division
Update – August 8:
–Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
–Just Cause 3
–Need For Speed
–Rainbow Six: Siege
Update – August 7&8:
–Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
–Final Fantasy XV
Update – August 6:
–Call of Duty: Black Ops III
–Dark Souls III
–Halo 5: Guardians
STAR FOX ZERO (Nintendo/Platinum Games, Wii U, December 2015) – The Wii U may not be able to offer everything that the Xbox One or PS4 can, but there is absolutely value in owning a Nintendo system every generation; if only to play the handful of excellent exclusives that will surely be there. It looks like this generation is finally getting the Star Fox game we’ve been waiting nearly 20-years for with Star Fox Zero. E3 gave us a glimpse of retro “do a barrel roll” style gameplay that Zero will be offering us– but a lot more actual gameplay was finally shown at Gamscom, and it did not disappoint…
(cont.) They say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and Nintendo clearly knows that practically nothing was broken about Star Fox 64; so why change anything? However, Zero has added some kickass features such as more Arwing conversions; the sweet walker mode; more flexible, functional controls; and seemingly more expansive levels. Also, the “Zero” we now know alludes to the fact that this game is a re-telling of the Star Fox story, so Andros will once again be the primary foe, which is all good news. There is hardly a Nintendo gamer alive who won’t want to play this game–plain and simple.
SCALEBOUND (Microsoft/Platinum Games, Xbox One, Holiday 2016) – Oh look at that, self-proclaimed Xbox One fanboy Travis Moody starts off his Gamescom coverage with a perfect score for an Xbox One exclusive. But hear me out for a minute: I was dead on gushing about Sunset Overdrive, which wound up scoring well with critics and fans. Hideki Kamiya‘s latest could head much in the same direction–except this one feels far more ambitious. I had no idea what was in store when this game was announced way back, and then I thought it was a bad sign that it skipped E3. OH HELL NAW! Scalebound feels like that humorously over-the-top aforementioned X1 exclusive, but with dragons (in the fantastic flourescent world of Draconis, nonetheless). Oh, Khaleesi may have met her match…
(cont.) Let’s get down to the logistics, though: The action-RPG focuses on Drew and his scaled-up, firebreathing companion, Thuban, who acts far more intelligently independent than most video game sidekicks. Their relationship — their very special bond — takes precedence in Scalebound, not only narrative-based, but mechanical too. They’ll need each other more than “Saint” Patrick needs every Bossk figure on #ForceFriday; so, do expect some rather gnarly joint-attacks and traversal interaction. The fully customizable Thuban can take commands, but from any “mere mortal” (*Thor voice*), do expect the big guy to often do his own thing. Throw in Drew’s own pulse-action dragon arm, and things will get unpredictably awesome real fast. Scale.. bound is right.
FALLOUT 4 (Bethesda, Multiplatform, November 10) – There is no “on the fence” when it comes to Fallout 4. The fence was decimated when the game was announced at this year’s E3; you were either blown away like the rest of us, or you must have been underground in some cultural vault. But like the benevolent God that Todd Howard is he wants everyone to hear the good word, which means that even though we didn’t need anymore reasons to get Bethesda’s likely GOTY release we got 675 new ones anyway. 70 of those reasons come from the different perks that could be unlocked by assigning your stats, and, unlike most RPGs of this nature, those perks can be unlocked in any order depending on how many points you assign a different stat. But actually, because there are several different ranks for each perk, that total comes out to be 275 reasons to get F4. The other 400 reasons come from the amount of hours that it will take a completionist to finish the game, and thanks to the lack of a level cap that experience will just see you become more and more dominant in the wasteland…
(cont.) For the final cultural vault stragglers that are still afraid to come out and see the light because of the “slow and clunky” gameplay of Fallout 3 and New Vegas, reports from behind closed doors demos have all came out praising the game’s more shooter-like feel. The actual shooter mechanics have been honed to make real time combat feel more fluid and cohesive so that players won’t have to depend on the VATS system, which is the manual targeting system that literally paused combat so that you could select which part of your enemy’s body to target and shoot. VATS is still in F4 but it rarely slows down the game now, and you can now manually prompt critical attacks if you’re feeling lucky. F4’s improved combat also means the battles can scale up in massive ways. One BCD demo report talked about an encounter with raiders that turned into a four way fight when Ghouls appeared, followed by the Brotherhood of Steel. While previous Fallout games narratively built up these huge battles, F4 is going to show — not tell. Pete Hines, a marketing executive at Bethesda, says that Fallout 4 is “basically done” which means that consider your holiday plans officially leveled.
QUANTUM BREAK (Microsoft/Remedy, Xbox One, April 5) – I know what you’re thinking – a video game starring Scott Bakula? Hell yes!!! Well, not quite. If Drake from Uncharted were a scientist in Gotham and his experiment — which goes horribly awry — imbued him with time altering powers, there would be no need for Dean Stockwell to interrupt game play, which thankfully he doesn’t. At least not in the 16-minutes of actually game play your faithful Reverend reviewed. Quantum Break follows the plight of Jack Joyce, as played by Shawn “Iceman” Ashmore, and Paul Serene, voiced by Aiden “Littefinger” Gillen. Working together on a Delorian-free time travel device, shit hits the fan and time itself starts to break down. Naturally, the disaster bestows superpowers instead of lymphoma, given Paul the ability to see the future where Jack can pause time…
(cont.) Little fun fact: the writers consulted with scientists from CERN to ensure their story operated within the laws of actual physics. While the stylization and plot devices revealed so far seem to take their nods from previous successes, there is enough of a unique quality to Quantum Break to make me want to play, which is disappointing because I don’t have an Xbone. The dark scenery, character motion and basic abilities revealed give it an Uncharted/Arkham-esque vibe; but the ability to alter time during fire fights takes on a whole new level of cool. Shooter-wise, it’s a third-person POV, yet as the environment can become a weapon, the wide viewpoint becomes your ally, just like darkness is to a ninja.
LEGO DIMENSIONS (WB/Traveller’s Tales, Multiplatform, September 27) – If you’ve ever wanted to see Marty McFly throw down along side Gandalf then LEGO Dimensions is the game for you. Concept wise, Dimensions is taking what Disney Infinity is doing — and, essentially, what Skylanders began — and tweaking it more for the general fanboy. We geeks love our fandom, so a game of this magnitude is going to be nothing but pure fan service. Which is A-Okay with me. From the looks of gameplay, it seems to be normal LEGO fair. The Attention to detail so far looks ridiculous, as Traveller’s Tales has really taken a lot of care with the various fandoms that are scattered throughout this game. A smile couldn’t help but creep across my face while watching Batman rush into battle alongside the Wicked Witch. If nothing else, LEGO Dimensions might just be the most unadulterated fun you’ll have this holiday season, for all ages.
STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT (EA/DICE, Multiplatform, November 17) – So we’ve already seen the amazing ground battles of Battlefront — you know, the ones that stole the show at E3 — but the newest announcement coming out of Germany this weekend is the Fighter Squadron mode. Hallelujah, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! The fans have been heard, their prayers have been answered: DICE is giving us flight battles. Choose your side between Rebels and Imperials, and then choose your weapon of the skies. Should you choose the Rebel “Scum”, you can pick between X-Wing or A-Wing; should you choose the Imperials, you can pick between TIE Fighter or TIE Interceptor…
(cont.) Each vehicle has its pros and cons, such as the X-Wing being less agile than the TIE Fighter–but it has a shield boost where the TIE Fighter does not, and instead gets a speed boost. And, of course, there are even badass “hero” ships for each side, with the Rebels getting the Millennium Falcon (she may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts) and the Imperials getting Boba Fett’s Slave 1. No mentions of dogfights in space yet, but I can easily see this being slipped in before the game goes gold or even added later as part of a DLC pack. Nonetheless to say, this Saint is sold and itching to tear up the battlefield and burn up the skies in November.
BATTLEBORN (2K Games/Gearbox Software, Multiplatform, February 9) – So, I’ll be honest… I haven’t been following the development of Battleborn, despite some deep love for it around the GHG parish. But this latest trailer from Gamescom has me hyped as shit! For the uninitiated, this game, developed by the same folks who brought you Borderlands, is a team-based FPS (first-person shooter) utilizing a cast of 25 different — and uniquely deranged — heroes to chose from (the meleeing priestess Ambra,the nerve-gas pumping assassin Mellka, the glove-commanding rogue pirate Reyna, and the cocky, rocket-launching Birdman Benedict were all announced during the week, too) each proficient in their own area of expertise…
(cont.) One can only imagine the type of wall-to-wall chaos matches you’ll have with this dynamic. With a variety this big, there’s no doubt anyone can find a character to get behind. And a main driving point for Battleborn is the game’s accessibility. Being able to just pick it up, maybe spend a minute or two getting familiar with the controls and then blasting the shit out of your friends (even split-screen co-op!), much in thanks to a smooth gradual augmentation system (i.e. upgrading like a motha…), has this Dynast sold. If Battlefront was the best hands-on game at E3, then Battleborn wipes the frosting off that cake in Cologne.
UNRAVEL (EA/Coldwood Interactive, Multiplatform, Q1 2016) – I didn’t know about this one until Gamescom hit, and just watching the first bit of the gameplay of Unravel has me hooked. This is a must buy for me on day one. Unravel hits all the right marks for me–a platformer based on puzzles and adventure, with gorgeous graphics and an adorable character. The basis of the game is that you play a character made from yarn named Yarny (not the best name, but oh well) who has to reach the end of the level without running out of yarn. Sounds easy right? Well as you move along the path you drop yarn, like Hansel and Gretel dropping bread crumbs in the forest. No real reason was given for this, but on the upside every so often you run into extra yarn to replenish yours. Now the yarn doesn’t just provide a sort of health meter, it is also used for climbing, making bridges, pulling things and more. For this saintly gamer Unravel looks like a pretty solid choice and a welcome break from the usual fighters and shoot-em-ups that release every year.
HITMAN (Square Enix/IO Interactive, Multiplatform, December 8) – I’ve been a fan of Hitman for a very long time now. They have somehow made the same game over and over, and, yet, still hold my attention and keep me coming back for more. This time, however — while they have essentially kept the foundation of the game the same — they have added a few features that I’ve been looking for in gaming as a whole. First and foremost, they have promised that the game will cost $60, and not a cent more. There will be no buying of contracts or weapons or characters. They will not be selling you a partial game and then charging you to obtain the full package as most games do now. That makes me insanely happy. Now, don’t think you’ll get a small game with nothing fresh or dynamic. This time around, gamers will get updated contracts and missions every effing WEEK!! For free…
(cont.) It truly is a beautiful thing. Every single Hitman game, so far, has left me wishing there could be just a few more levels to play; now my dreams have come true. They’ve made a few changes to the story structure too. You can now pick and choose when contracts are accepted. There is a map showing the location of each available contract and you can choose where you would like to travel for your next kill. There are even temporary contracts that only exist for a few hours and then they are gone forever. The stealth, murder and mayhem aspect of Hitman has been classically preserved with the addition of a few extras to spice things up. With Fallout 4 being number one, and a tie between both Tom Clancy games, Rainbow Six: Siege and The Division (both covered down below) for #2, this is easily my 3rd most anticipated game of the year.
FORZA MOTORSPORT 6 (Microsoft/Turn 10, Xbox One, September 15) – Get your engines ready, because Microsoft has new info on the soon-to-be-released race simulator from Turn 10 Studios. First up is news of 2 tracks previously seen in Forza 4, now rebuilt for Xbox One: Sonoma Raceway (formerly known as Infineon Raceway) and Germany’s own Hockenheimring–2 amazing tracks that are a welcome addition to the list of those available. On top of that, X1 racers will receive 2 brand new tracks to Forza 6: Monza and Circuit of the Americas. I’m excited to try the fresh, 2-3-year old COTA that has an ringing reputation…
(cont.) If you want more, FM6 will also introduce online leagues, handled by the Driver Division and will ensure racers always have a proper match based on their skill level. Not only that, they are also scheduled matches. And should you decide to hop into a league race, there are scheduled lobbies you can join, again based on your skill level. Whaddya know? Turn 10 might actually make competitive online racing fun. And to top it all off, we are getting a live spectator mode, so you can enjoy a live race as well. Hmmm… anyone else noticing a trend at Gamescom? Germans must like to watch. (Scary.) Forza 5 was quite awesome, and this Saint is ready to hit the apex against our slow-as-molasses Monsignor and come out screaming for the win.
CRACKDOWN 3 (Microsoft/Reagent Games, Xbox One, Summer 2016) – A zany favorite returns for part 2 (of 3) of Xbox One exclusive presentations that were postponed till Gamescom. Yeah, Xbox 360’s comic book art-driven sci-fi open world 3PS, Crackdown, had its addictive moments, sparkling innovations, and relentless action (not to mention, a sub-par sequel). Now under the supermachine of a next-gem Xbox One, Crackdown 3 can finally set out to what it had always intended: Blow everything the fuck up. Players can carve shapes into cement walls for easy-access “doorways”, blow up bridges with opposing players standing on them, or even create sniper’s nests built from shooting bullets; not only is Crackdown 3‘s environment 100% destructible, you can always use it to your chiefly vertical advantages, as well. With this much cement, wood and steel at your physical disposal, Crackdown 3 sets trends for memory use and server use. How else would those mothereffin’ buildings come tumbling down? In fact, the game uses multiple servers — that can blend based on the environment’s explosive physicality — and even cloud computing(!) to support any huge spike in destruction. Sounds…toasty!
MIRRORS EDGE CATALYST (EA/DICE, Multiplatform, February 23) – The semi-quasi-not-a-sequel-but-more-of-a-reimagine gets some new footage at this years Gamescom. Protagonist Faith is back in rare form, with much of her moves from the original, and seemingly dropping the pace killing gunplay mechanics in favor of the more momentum based hand to hand combat. The developers have said that they’ve basically cherry picked their favorite parts from the original and improved them for Catalyst. So far, it looks like it has paid off. The world seems much larger and more spacious, while retaining much of the original aesthetic that made the original such a fan favorite. But to this dynast, the writing raises a few eyebrows. I mean– there were just a few too many “I have a bad feeling about this” and “Woah, what’s going on?” moments for me, but it’s still not too blatant to completely take me out of the game. Still, color me impressed.
RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER (Microsoft/Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics, Multiplatform [Xbox One first], November 10) – Lara Croft is back, and there’s less of her to love– which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This newest iteration of the Tomb Raider is more realistic on all levels, from the character herself to the vast landscapes you can explore through gameplay. Lara 2.0 is a lean, mean, guerrilla-fighting machine. She jumps, she climbs, she will leap from above and slit your throat. This is not your Father’s Tomb Raider. The newest released gameplay takes Lara out of the snow and ice and into a more jungle terrain…
(cont.) One has to wonder what new technique will be used to sell the game, as the ice luge fireball shots were a great compliment to the snowy landscapes of the E3 preview. Basecamp allows you to build your skills and improve your technique before setting out to take on opponents and explore different tombs and ruins– and, unlike many of the optional caves in the last game — there a plethora of tombs to raid. Fans of the original Tomb Raider series will enjoy the return of their beloved game, and for those that are too young to remember the originals (or think of Angelina Jolie when they hear Tomb Raider) this is a great introduction.
DARK SOULS III (Bandai Namco/From Software, Multiplatform, 2016) – Dark Souls III is the return of Hidetaka Miyazaki after a lukewarm reception of Dark Souls II and the exemplary performance of Bloodborne. The gameplay trailer released at Gamescom showed that Miyazaki’s unique art style is back in full force with churches and zealots as well as the monsters that dwell in our nightmares. From past experience with the series, it is almost a guarantee that the level design will be immaculate when compared to Dark Souls II, which had linear and a non-cohesive world structure. Dark Souls III is a return to form for the franchise and will probably be even harder than its predecessors. Prepare to die. Again, again.
MAFIA III (2K Games/Hanger 13, Multiplatform, 2016) – Even though there’s only been one cinematic announcement trailer and a few gameplay snippets from Gamescom, it already seems that the third entry in the Mafia series is going to be a polarizing one. The third person, open world adventurer is taking a big detour with Mafia III all the way down to 1968 New Orleans. The new setting and decidedly non-stereotypical mafioso characters aren’t necessarily the off-putting aspects of the new face of Mafia, it’s the adherence to what open world games have become since Mafia II came out that might be a little worrisome to fans. Some of the footage interlaced between interviews coming out from Gamescom showed a more bustling open world, which was the biggest flaw of MII according to critics, and it looks more or less like a serious GTA and a cousin to almost any Ubisoft game that has come out in the last few years…
(cont.) But for any newcomers to the Mafia franchise this might be the perfect jumping on point. Lincoln Clay, the main protagonist, oozes a Frank Lucas (of American Gangster) vibe, which fits with the time period. The violence is much more gritty and raw than it’s Rockstar genre neighbor and the ability to recruit gang leaders into your empire really puts the emphasis on the family aspect that defines the gangster (with a hard ‘r’) genre. Whether or not Mafia III’s gameplay will have anything to add to a genre that’s bursting at the seams is yet to be seen; but everything else about it is already a much needed fresh take on a world that Martin Scorsese has monopolized for decades.
JUST CAUSE 3 (Square Enix/Avalanche Studios, Multiplatform, December 1) – I’m completely new to the Just Cause franchise, but I’m quite familiar with The Expendables movies. JC3 looks like the game adaptation of The Expendables, which is not a bad thing at all, with its cinematically epic explosions, a warlords worth of weaponry, and the most useful grappling hook and wing suit the world has ever seen. At first glance I’m getting the vibe of Rambo weaponry, with the coincidental convenience of Batman’s utility belt, on a group of islands a few hundred miles off the coast of Far Cry…
(cont.) While I can’t tell from the previews how long or short the story is, the Choose Your Own Chaos feature has potential to make the game different every time. The replay value seems high and the fun levels seem even higher. My inner American can’t help but appreciate raining fire and bullets down on a city to usher in a new level of freedom to its residents. You get to blow up gas stations, hurl cars at people and buildings, fly around for miles with a wing suit, and single handedly bring down a full army of soldiers that would like you to stop being so awesome. As I said, I’m new to this game but now I’m really looking forward to it.
FIFA 16 (EA Sports, Multiplatform, September 22) – Closing out a media briefing with a sports game — no matter how huge the title, or how relevant the global location — is rough. With that said, FIFA 16 looks really.. really fucking good. At this point, EA’s #1 selling title is an already great title that only NBA 2K can rival in terms of quality. The key here, then, at Gamescom was to showcase slight gameplay improvements and new modes that will compliment that quality. While I skipped out on FIFA 15 entirely last season, the one mode I have traditionally had the most trouble with was Ultimate Team. It was damn grueling trying to earn enough credits to sign the world’s best players, or to even convince your own studs to stay (in career mode)–without having to break your real bank in the process…
(cont.) Ultimate Team Draft Mode — better known as FUT — changes all that. Select top players with a buddy and then go head-to-head. The only downfall with this new mode, which now includes Ultimate Team specific commentary, is that if you lose a game, it’s over. You have to win 4 in a row before redrafting as FUT champions all over again. Not sure of the reason for such a limitation with this mode, but I guess that’s what you get for playing “Fantasty Foosball (is the Devil)”. In addition to that and more enhanced goal celebrations, 12 National Women’s teams will be included; yet whether you can allow the Lady’s US Team to crush the poor Men’s has YTBD.
WWE 2K16 (2K Games/Visual Concepts, Multiplatform, October 27) – It’s a moment of redemption for WWE 2K, with this third game by 2K Games since picking up the rights from THQ. WWE 2K15 was an opportunity to breakout from the THQ legacy of WWE, yet sadly wound up falling flat like Roman Reigns’ title push. The game suffered from a lack of creative features and glitches like “OH, YOU DIDN’T KNOW!?” Luckily, 2K’s ass called somebody this time, as the new edition brags of a 120 WWE Superstar roster (rumored a.k.a. “falsely leaked” a plethora of NXT and legendary superstars; just don’t expect the likes of Hollywood Hogan!), a far more responsive set of submission and pin systems (praise Brother Love!), and a full-fledged creative suite (“You’re Welcome” Sandow says to Guy Padre!)…
(cont.) That’s not all. 2K16 will also feature cutscenes for in-ring entrances that will run seamlessly (that means no loading screens!), custom soundtrack (so, we can finally use our OWN, albeit copywritten material?), and a brand new set of 2K Showcases (maybe we’ll see Neville’s “[keep on] rising to the top”??). To ensure this game is a STONE COLD hit, WWE Attitude Era leader, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin will grace the cover. And if that doesn’t bring you back, Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator, from both of the first 2 films, will be a pre-order DLC bonus feature in the game. We can only pray to the wrestling gods — no, not you JBL — that WWE 2K16 delivers much in similar fashion to the NBA 2K franchise. Now, about them 25 CAWS from last year…
TOM CLANCY’S THE DIVISION (Ubisoft/Red Storm Ent., Multiplatform, March 8th) – Back in June, I had some hands-on time with The Division after being fairly ambivalent for the co-op/MMO third-person shooter. After being thrust into the leadership role, The Division made a believer out of me for their ambitious shooter. The Gamescom trailer gave people an idea of what the second screen experience will look like. A player on the tablet takes the place of one of the three members of your team and plays more of a support role. They can heal teammates and even put down some cover fire. It’s a neat idea that not too many games are taking advantage of so we shall see how Tom Clancy’s latest Ubisoft franchise balances these gameplay elements.
DEUS EX: MANKIND DIVIDED (Square Enix/Eidos Montreal, Multiplatform, Q1/Q2 2016) – While there’s been no blockbuster news from Square Enix and Eidos Montreal out of Gamescom, seeing more unbroken gameplay footage is already making Deus Ex: Mankind Divided one of my must-buys for 2016. “Papa Justified” and I got to see a lot of the new DE at E3 behind closed doors, but they bombarded us with so much information that –while we intellectually knew that the game had to be good — we didn’t get to see the complete visceral rush of a game in action. The main thing that we didn’t get a real good sense of at E3 was the scope of the game…
(cont.) The environments seem a lot larger than most first-person stealth games, not Far Cry big– but, because there’s more urban density in Mankind Divided, there seems to be a lot more that you can work with. Eidos also emphasized in all their gameplay clips their feeling that most players aren’t all stealth or all action. Certain game demos out of Gamescom showed protagonist Adam Jensen in the middle of a firefight, then ditching the last few enemies by rushing into a vent, only to finish them off in stealth mode. A specific release date for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has yet to be announced.
HOMEFRONT: THE REVOLUTION (Deep Silver/Crytek, Multiplatform, Q1/Q2 2016) – We are the Revolution! Homefront is back! The revolution continues. I’m not a big fan of the franchise–never got too deep into it (Hey! I’m more of a Battlefield/COD guy, but who isn’t?). But looking at the impressive guerilla urban warfare of this new installment peaks true interest, especially as a resistance fighter who has to think on his feet and not merely Rambo down the competition. From what else I see, there is a slight Far Cry comparison, yet one hopes you aren’t so isolated in a remote jungle once you clear our map progression Strike Points. In addition to the usage of vehicles, such as an amazing looking dirtbike, is more emergent, cyclical warfare. Yes, that means that there are other resistance fighters and rebel patrols out there doing the same thing you are. How those battles cross is possible what could help revolutionize your usual FPS.
METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN (Konami/Kojima, Multiplatform, September 1) – Right about the 30-minute mark of gameplay footage — just when I thought this was just another First Person shooter — they had to go and put “Take on Me” on the radio and TOTALLY redeem themselves. Seriously, though, that was the most redeeming part of the footage. Metal Gear, to me, looks like the typical next adaptation that barely improves on the previous version. Not to say that’s a bad thing; I still play a lot of my old FPS’…
(cont.) The focus on team-building is a tad bit overemphasized given the displayed results, though I suppose it’d be nice if someone had you back so you don’t get capped at your home base. Because that happened. All in all, MGSVTPP does look like a fun game to play, though not one I’d be as invested in as others. One thing that grabbed my attention, however, was an added sense of dynamism, from the expanded environment, to the weapons cache to the helicopter rides that blast Joy Division. Not only will love tear us apart, so will my M213.
PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES: GARDEN WARFARE 2 (EA/PopCap Games, Multiplatform, 2016) – Plants vs. Zombies, the addicting tower defense game, has seen quite an interesting evolution in its franchise. It evolved into a Free-to-Play price gouging mobile game and a third person shooter. My experience with Garden Warfare was more obligatory because it managed to release in the same month as Titanfall which I spent more time with…
But from what I have seen from Gamescom, PopCap is adding more to the series than most franchises. They announced three new plants: my favorite being a crab-like peach that can roll down and strike down zombies. The epic zombattle will also take place on the moon sans any wizards unfortunately. And with pre-orders, you will be able to pilot a mech that is colored in the Mass Effect colors which they have called Grass Effect. It’s fun to see these companies crossover like this. That’s how we got the awesome Dead Space armor in Dragon Age II and the Dragon Age armor in Mass Effect 2. Very chocolate/peanut butter of you, devs.
MAD MAX (WB, Multiplatform, September 1) – Call this show: “Two Man Enter….But This Guy Leaves.” Mad Max is going to annoy the hell out of me after a few hours, but it will be the best game to ever annoy me. There’s a massive map to explore, a billion different upgrades to throw on your car, awesome character animations, cool weapons, cooler vehicles, and what seems like a buddy/sidekick that is actually helpful and not just in the way. It doesn’t seem to be completely overun with car fights, either; but from the gameplay, it looks like there is too much for me…
(cont.) I enjoyed the days of Twisted Metal on PlayStation: weaponized vehicles in an arena of death, driving full throttle with guns blazing. It was hours of fun, in 30-minute increments. I personally get super annoyed with vehicular combat, having to drive to your enemy adjusting your steering to line up the guns aim, or positioning the perfect ram. Then having to drive away, U-Turn, then build up speed to land the next attack. This motorized form of jousting is cool for a bit and then it loses my attention as I lose my patience. However, I’m almost certain the majority of gamers will enjoy that aspect of the game, and it seems spaced out enough to keep the general public engaged and entertained. The out-of-car sequences seem great, the fighting mechanics seem fluid, and the fire and explosions have a cinematic feel. You’re gonna love this game…but I’ll pass.
FINAL FANTASY XV (Square Enix, Multiplatform, 2016) – Boy oh boy, does it seem like we’ve been waiting forever for this title. For this “Dynast” personally, way back when it was announced as VERSUS XIII. But with all great things–hopefully–it takes time. The “Dawn” trailer was shown at Gamescom, highlighting a tearful moment between father (King Regis) and son (Prince Noctis) 15-years before the start of XV. Then, finally today, we were hit with the “Marlboro” gameplay footage–and it looks great! The footage shows FF15‘s wondrous scale, and imposing terrain, that might just make this the most impressive looking video game. Ever. And that venom-spewing “Swamptopus” only went to show that combat is going to be as beautiful and dangerous–if indeed this damn thing really exists. Still no release date. Keep this in mind, Square needs to finish this, to finish Kingdom Hearts 3, to finally get around to the Final Fantasy 7 remake. Dear God, how long do we have to wait?
ASSASSIN’S CREED: SYNDICATE (Ubisoft, Multiplatform, October 23) – AC:S premiered a new gameplay preview at Gamescon this weekend, and it’s good news for fans of Assassin’s Creed. Set in Victorian England, the game’s scenery is drenched in a 19th century patina and features tons of familiar (and famous) sights. Syndicate differs from earlier games because you have the choice of 2 characters to play, each with their own unique set of skills. The new walkthroughs show off Evie, the first female character you can play as in the AC series. This is a welcome change for players looking to take the edge off their testosterone and get a sweet dose of estrogen. All of the parkour tricks from the previous games are present, so you can leap and climb to your heart’s content– but now you can do so even faster with the help of grappling hooks; you can be an old-times batman as you work your way across the city. Evie’s chameleon powers and sneaky maneuvers are an interesting change, and may make me want to jump back into a franchise I’ve sworn off.
TOM CLANCY’S RAINBOW SIX: SIEGE (Ubisoft, Multiplatform, October 13) – The term eSports is the new herpes of the video game industry: it’s not fatal, you can live with it, but we’re all going to be affected by it one way or another– even affecting the niche Rainbow Six: Siege. With the game’s October 13th release date just around the corner, it’s strange to see that the latest installment from developer Ubisoft Montreal’s biggest publishing push is just the debut of a spectator camera mode at the biggest gaming conference in the world. Dubbed the Overwatch mode, Rainbow Six now gives players the ability to move a camera around a match they aren’t involved in — you know, a feature that Counter Strike has had since 1999…
(cont.) The feature makes sense for how tactical Ubisoft wants Rainbow Six to be, and might encourage the more twitchy Call of Duty that shooters aren’t just about 180 degree quick scope rifle kills. Still, Overwatch seems like it should have just been a given from day one. A Secure Area game mode was also debuted at Cologne, which is essentially a mode where one team has to eliminate the entire other team within a time limit — but this news was a little swept under the eSports rug. Secure Area did, however, emphasize again what we already knew about Siege: the action still looks tight and tactical and if you can find a team that communicates, it may have a chance of not feeling like every other online military shooter on the market.
CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS III (Activision/Treyarch, Multiplatform, November 6) – It was cute when Activision announced the co-op campaign and return of zombie mode, but it took the COD vets until Gamescom to finally give their target demo the lowdown on the new tweaks to their multiplayer juggernaut and most of it…was unabashedly preaching to the choir. Call of Duty is in no way in danger of ever being usurped as the king of online shooters anytime soon; but, to their credit, they’re definitely still doing some work to hone that meat grinder that is COD multiplayer. Most of that work focused on players trying to game the game. First of all, the casual, working class CODBO player that’s just trying to release steam after a hard day at work might be able to matchmake a little better since those kids that are going to be playing COD for 12-hour days during winter break won’t be able to lose on purpose to lower their ranks and annihilate all the n00bz.
(cont.) Treyarch is also doing God’s work and allowing a ban and protect voting feature for any killstreak, weapon, specialist, or ability so that people won’t be able to take advantage of any overpowered item. Those days where people ran around with unlimited endurance and double shotguns in Modern Warfare 2 might just be over. Of course, someone somewhere will find even more workarounds, because some people just want to watch the world burn– but it’s nice to know that the development team knows that there’s a problem and have made almost every step to fix it, short of figuring out a way to live censor all the ugly homophobia and racism that spews out of your average 12-year old. One small step for a tired franchise, one giant leap for its blind followers.
NEED FOR SPEED (EA/Ghost Games, Multiplatform, November 3) – And the winner for “Douchiest Video Game Trailer of the Year” goes to…….. You guessed it. But, no matter how much I badmouth this new, reimagined direction of my favorite racing series as a youth, people just love it. The name Need For Speed, I’ll admit, has been synonymous with success. Forza might be the critical darling of the VG racing circuit, but NFS is never too far behind–no matter which direction they head. I actually got to play the game at E3 over the summer. While I wasn’t as in awe as I was with Forza at SDCC, I still kept this racer under my radar for Gamescom. Here’s why: 1.) The new Fast & Furious-inspired “street icon” story package. The game is ridding itself of any generic narratives and characters and using some real dudes. Because street racing is such an underground phenomenon, how much these personality’s particular recognition will affect sales or interest, is besides me. It does give the franchise some credibility that not even Aaron Paul could give it, though…
(cont.) 2.) Is too much, too much? While Forza usually contains the most in-depth customization of any racing game, will NFS’s five spectrums — speed, style, build, crew, and outlaw — be too much to worry about, for most people who just want to “pick up and play”? I sense and respect the character classes, but when it really comes down to it, will they matter? 3.) The whole “open world” setting for a racing game scares me. See The Crew and what a bust that turned out to be, for more. Racing is a simple thing. Why complicate it? Having the flexibility to go where you want is great and all, if you’re an adventure/action game. Just driving around meaningless alleys and side streets, instead of sticking to your goals and objects sounds like too much time to be a wasting. 4.) From the Gamescom gameplay demo I watched — and fell asleep during — NFS appears no more than a slightly prettier version of Sleeping Dogs or Watch Dogs. Yeah, Dawg. You feel me?
HALO 5: GUARDIANS (Microsoft/343 Industries, Xbox One, October 27) – Halo 5: Guardians probably had the most boring trailer and appearance at Gamescom. No new modes, no new campaign footage, or even a new cutscene to throw coal in the hype train. No, instead there was a trailer for multiplayer. Why does Halo need a trailer for multiplayer? I guess there’ll be some stuff for eSports, which I feel misses the point of a widespread game with mass appeal like Halo. Halo 2 never gunned for an eSports/competitive community. It just lucked into it and supported a competitive scene. But the Halo 5 Xbox One looks cool but that’s not a surprise. Not even a hooker in a birthday cake.