In this world of Geek, it’s one thing after another–especially if you are a video game lover. From Witcher 3 to E3 to Arkham Knight to, hell, even SDCC (where video games took precedence; don’t trust me? Read our panel recaps down below) to now Gamescom (August 5-9) and the rest of the industry’s holiday release onslaught, you can bet GHG won’t be catching any sleep anytime soon…
So, why not break down what happened at — the still relevant, mind you! — Electronic Entertainment Expo via podcast, and take what we learned from the States’ largest video conference to an even bigger one: Cologne, Germany’s own Gamescom. If you didn’t already know, it’s only Europe’s largest interactive games and entertainment trade fair.
It’s E3 on steroids, yo…
If the above Podbean widget isn’t working for ya, I feel bad for ya son…luckily you got 99 ways to listen to our GAMESCOM/HOLIDAY 2015 PREVIEW PODCAST and iTunes ain’t one (yet). Feel free to download or stream the show via Mediafire.
So, from “Papa Justified” Spencer Fawcett, “The Apostle” Lance Paul, “Brother” Myke Ladiona, “Bishop” Richard Zom, “Dynast” Dana Keels, and your host “Monsignor” Travis Moody, we hope you enjoyed your time here spent with us, and you can bet we’ll be back here for a huge Fallout 4/Star Wars Battlefront Blowout Show!!!
P.S. If you haven’t yet read our video game recaps from San Diego Comic-Con, please do now, just down below. We even threw a new one up there for ya: Rise of the Tomb Raider!
August 1 – Update:
–Rise of the Tomb Raider
July 11 – Update:
–Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
–Halo: The Hunt for Truth
July 9 – Update:
–Call of Duty: Zombies
–Street Fighter V
CALL OF DUTY: ZOMBIES (Thursday) – This was easily the best video game panel based solely on a co-op mode…ever. It’s not often a mega-selling franchise would dedicate an entire -hour of a panel to DLC, either; but with the immediate jubilation from a rocking Hall 6BCF crowd Thursday afternoon—who was to blame ‘em? Not only was Treyarch Studios’ very own Jason Blundell and Craig Houston there, but the panel wound up more star-studded than expected: Heather Graham (Californication), Neal McDonough (Band of Brothers), Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager), and Ron Perlman (the Hellboy actor is now the “65-year old mothafucker who got to play a boxer.”). If the new cast of COD: BO3’s 40s noir-fringed Zombie story “Shadows of Evil” wasn’t enough, “The Giant” Zombies story DLC voice team was as celebrated as you’d imagine: Steve Blum (Star Wars Rebels), Fred Tatasciore (Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.), Tom Kane (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), and some guy you may have heard of before, Nolan North (Deadpool: The Video Game), who even found himself at one point sounding like a spazzed-out Grant Morrison.
(cont.) As entertaining as they were — even Picardo, who was fond of his very ambiguous, dark role in the game, took a dead serious selfie with a Jugger-Nog (a mini fridge that comes with a special collector’s edition of the game) — the 53-year old Kane pointed out his approval of the grittier, more cinematic realism of their soldiers than the cartoony voices they performed on the original “Der Rise”. The panel was packed with several trailers, funny character voices, and even insight on many of the screen actors’ new life change. McDonough compared the “guilty pleasure” of performing for Call of Duty to farting in church. “You keep laughing at it.” Call of Duty: Black Ops III, with its all-new L.A. Noir-meets-Left 4 Dead Zombies Mode, releases November 6th.
THE EVOLUTION OF AN ICON IN “RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER” (Saturday) – Being the “Lady Croft,” I couldn’t be more excited to attend a panel featuring the voice — and movements — of Lara Croft herself, Camilla Luddington. Also on the panel was Jonah’s voice, Earl Baylon, Writer Rhianna Prachette (Tomb Raider reboot, Dark Horse Comics’ Tomb Raider), Game Director Brian Horton, Crystal Dynamics Community Manager Meagan Marie, and Moderator Jessica Chobot (Nerdist). The panel centered around the history of Lara Croft as a character and the direction of the new Rise of the Tomb Raider, where our adventuress transforms from the role of survivor to trusting her instincts, experience and studies. The game will be including certain iconic features that the older games had: swimming, water puzzles and more story behind her family and origin (to read more specifics of the game, check out my piece from E3).
(Cont.) A big focus of the panel was Lara’s character as an icon for strength to her fans, as Meagan said “she has helped some people go through some very tough times”. The new reboot has given her a vulnerability that makes her more relatable, allowing her to get passed the worst of situations by battling through on her own. During the Q&A I couldn’t help but ask about the shift we see in Lara (at the end of the last game) from surviving Yamatai Island to wanting to continue her adventure; I was reassured that the first 10-minutes of the new game will answer this pivotal change in her character arc. Actress Camilla also spoke about fans initial response to her before the Tomb Raider reboot to be one of weary fearfulness that she would somehow screw up the Lara we know and love. She now speaks confidently, as fans now approach her with respect for her portrayal and great excitement for what is to come. Moreover than the panel, the team offered a ton of fun photo shoot activities for their fans at the Xbox Lounge and two photo shoots throughout the day for Lara Croft Cosplayers (of course I was there!). This game could not come any quicker– look for it on November 10, 2015 for Xbox One, during their timed exclusive.
GEARS OF WAR: ULTIMATE EDITION (Thursday) – San Diego Comic-Con is the type of place that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. In my haste to get to the Gears of War panel in Room 6A, your “Sister” found herself asking Rod Ferguson and the rest of the panel where the entrance was. Hopefully, they found some humor in that. We began with the great Marcus Fenix — or better yet, John DiMaggio — who moderated the panel Thursday and presented The Coalition, the new team working on the remastered classic. Studio head and Gears co-creator Ferguson began with the process of modernizing a classic. Their first goal was to highlight nostalgia; how do we rebuild the game and keep the core aspects of the original? They re-motioned the gameplay to captured more action, adjusted the multi-player, and added 60 fps; unfortunately there is no Horde Mode and — when wounded on all fours — your soldier will not be able to crawl to safety. Yeah, both features were in Gears 2. I get that.
(cont.) The Coalition continued with new cinematics, rebuilt in-house, with one example illustrating Lt. Minh Young Kim’s death via Genral RAAM. Ferguson discussed that he didn’t like how the original portrayed a near clueless, wild-shot Kim. Here’s the change: In the Ultimate Edition, a far more aware Kim actually turns to face RAAM. Although his fate still winds up the same (RAAM picks him up and shoves a long blade through his stomach.. eww!), it feels an awful lot like what happened when George Lucas made Han shoot first. It may seem like a simple change — and not nearly as dramatic — but it’s still story changing and, in Han’s case, it’s character changing. Finally, even GOW diehards may not have known that Cole “Train” was almost Gus… Gus the Bus! GOW: UE will also feature new missions from the original PC version to play on Xbox One, which releases on August 25 for $39.99. Or, better yet, you can purchase a 500GB HDD Xbox One with the Gears: Ultimate Edition inside for $349.99. Yes–it’s time for Sister Jennifer to finally barrel down and purchase an Xbox One!
HALO: HUNT FOR THE TRUTH (Friday) – After 343 Industries focused on the multiplayer portions of Halo 5: Guardians at E3, SDCC’s panel presentation shifted the company’s focus towards the franchise’s current legacy and story campaign. That makes sense, for Comic-Con is the perfect place to focus on character. Following the events of Halo 4, where Corta’s death and legacy defined the shape of Master Chief’s current state, Guardians takes Spartan Locke and his newly formed Team Osiris into a new deep and controversial search. Since players have control of both teams down the rabbit hole, 343’s Franchise Director of Development, Frank O’Connor recalls a bigger narrative that will “play much differently in 4-player co-op, in larger, more intricate ways.” As Halo 5 is also the first game to explore the Elite Homeworld, O’Connor joked that geek god Nathan Fillion wasn’t quite as reluctant as his character, Buck, to become a Spartan. And, according to 343, Buck will be involved in a much richer, physically bigger sandbox — especially in terms of verticality — than Halo 4, with much more replayability, all due to the sheerness of multiple team scenarios.
(cont.) The Halo team also plans on expanding the video game with 3 new novels: New Blood (How Buck becomes a Spartan IV); Last Light (A detective thriller that should remind players how big the world of Halo 2 was); and Hunters in the Dark (this Olympia Vale introduction also explores the Covenant). The Fall of Reach (Halo Channel, October 27th) is an animated adaptation of the novel/graphic novel of the same name, which expands on Master Chief’s origin, his Blue Team’s youthful abductions, and the direct connections to Halo 5. The #HUNTtheTRUTH podcast, which sees a journalist hooked on breaking the conspiracy of Guardians through further exploration of Chief’s origin, will also see a Season 2. In all, while there was much intrigue swirling the highly-anticipated Xbox One game, there was no gameplay footage shown at Comic-Con’s third biggest hall. Yeah.
STREET FIGHTER V (Thursday) – Of course, only Moody would yelp out “MORTALLLL KOMBAAAAAAATTT” when asked at the beginning of a Street Fighter V panel as to which fighting game is best. Actually, as much as I adored MKX, Street Fighter is my all-time favorite fighting series—so much so, that I was willing to cover an entire hour of a PlayStation 4 game. Yup, this loyal Xboxer took a seat on the wild side. Of course, this was one of my favorite games coming out of E3, regardless of the feel of the controller, so I was excited to see what was next. Will I buy a PS4 for this game? Well, why do you think I was in the panel for!? The usual game system giveaway!! Of course I didn’t win won, and the legendary series’ exec producer, Yoshinori Ono, did perhaps the right thing by picking out select fans from the crowd. But, not only were they chosen, they were chosen to battle each other in front of a very high-energy Ballroom 6BCF crowd.
(cont.) Unfortunately, the rest of the panel was bland. Spokepersons from Capcom, as they typically do, spent as much time promoting near endless pre-orders for gear (even MMA garb), ULTRA-expensive statues, and arcade sticks (including a sweet Chun Li pad out this fall) as they did with focus on the highly-anticipated fighter As for SFV itself, Ken was today’s “special” reveal, and he promises to be a far more aggressive, more stylish, character who packs both flashier combos and bigger damage. Ken will finally erase himself from “the blonde Ryu”! His specific V-Trigger technique — special augmented moves that can turn the tide of battle — is a neat Heat Rush that will channel flames in his body (Flame On!), while his V-Skill — unique special moves that players can freely perform at any time — is a Quick Step that will allow himself to run and kick, or implant further special attacks. The other big news coming out of the booth was a licensing crossover that sees M. Bison join forces with Cobra! Yes, SF X GI Joe will be a 6-issue mini-series coming in 2016, courtesy of IDW.