E3 2018: XBox Press Conference.

 

xbox-e3-2018

Microsoft had a great showing this year showing 50 games over the course of their conference. They opened with a trailer for Halo: Infinite which shows Master Chief returning to a Halo ring in a world that seemed to be very open, so maybe that is a hint that this new game will be more open world than the traditionally linear campaigns that Halo has had before.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider got a new trailer that hinted at a bit more of what we can expect from the story when it releases in September.

Forza Horizon 4 will be set in Britain and was shown to be a shared world where you encounter actual players while you race around the game world. The other big selling point was seasons that drastically change the way the game is played, such as a lake freezing over in winter to allow access to previously unreachable areas.

Crackdown 3 got a new trailer and a release date for February 2019 a month that has become the hot new game release month for a number of big titles.

Kingdom Hearts 3 showed a glimpse of the games new Frozen world, with seriously amazing graphics that are comparable to the way the movie itself looks. Accompanied by a song from singer Utada Hikaru who did the iconic openings “Simple and Clean” and “Sanctuary” among other songs for the other Kingdom Hearts titles.

Sea of Thieves had a reveal of two more content launches for the next few months.

And Dont Nod developer of the critically acclaimed Life is Strange had a trailer for a brand new game in the same universe titled The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit which looks to follow a child in his active imagination and his relationship with his father, and it is FREE which is a bonus.

Metro Exodus finally got a release date joining in the melee that is February 2019 on the 22nd of that month.

From Software fans will be excited that a new game called Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will be joining the Dark Souls, and Bloodbourne franchises. From what was shown Sekiro follows a Samurai cursed with un-death out for revenge using his grappling hook replaced left arm for traversal and boss fights.

Fallout 76 had a proper reveal from Tod Howard of Bethesda Studios on stage where the game was revealed to be FOUR times the size of Fallout 4 and take place in West Virginia and follows a vault of people tasked with rebuilding America.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps had a gorgeous new trailer, yet again reminding me that I need to play Ori and the Blind Forest.

We Happy Few had a trailer to showcase the games story mode and its release date of August 10th 2018.

This reveal was around the time Microsoft announced that they had acquired four new studios. Forza Horizon developer Playground games, State of Decay developer Undead Labs, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice developer Ninja Theory, and We Happy Few developer Compulsion Games. Showing just how commited Microsoft is to catching up with Sony’s lead on great exclusive titles.

The Division 2 had a teaser trailer and some scripted game-play showing of the new Washington DC location. Xbox is also getting a remastered version of Tales of Vesperia releasing in Winter 2018 (summer for those of us in the southern hemisphere).

Xbox Game Pass got a lot of love, announcing that a bunch of titles will be coming day and date to game pass the day of the global launch of some games. Such as Forza Horizon 4 and Crackdown 3.

Devil May Cry 5 was revealed, as was an expansion for Cuphead and The Black Desert MMORPG beta is getting an Xbos One release.

A cute one person developed game called Tunic was revealed showing a Fox in a tunic running around a beautiful isometric world with a great Legend of Zelda vibe.

Microsoft continued their reveal of Japanese developed games with Jump Force, which looks to be a 3D fighting game using Shonen Jump characters. Goku from Dragonball, Naruto from Naruto, and Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece were in the trailer fighting Dragonball’s Frieza. At the trailers end Light Yagami and Ryuk from Death Note were teased as well. It looks like it could be a great deal of fun.

In the vein of open worlds both Dying Light 2 and Just Cause 4 were revealed. Dying Light 2 looks to be focusing on the consequences of your choices having physical impacts on your game world. The example they gave was whether to help a faction secure a water reservoir. Helping the Peacekeepers gives everyone water, but the Peacekeepers are  ruthless in making everyone follow their laws and ONLY their laws. Or you could help the outlaws sell the water on a black market but this makes the area a beacon to raiders who want the water for themselves.

Just Cause 4’s trailer focused very much on the story of the game which seems to me a pivot from the usual mayhem and destruction that the franchise is known for. Although that was seen in a game-play trailer as well.

Apparently Battletoads is getting a new game. I don’t quite know who this is for.

Gears of War had a three reveals, the first being Gears of War Pop a mobile game in partnership with Funko Pop toys. Followed by an X-com style Gears of War Tactics, then finally the game the audience was waiting for Gears of War 5. Which looks to be the game that all the fans of that franchise will love.

Finally Phil Spencer’s Closing note was hacked by Cd Projekt Red for the cinematic reveal of Cyberpunk: 2077. Cyberpunks world seems to be a future where digital technology is a part of everyday life. Most people look to have some sort of cybernetic implants and the world is fantastically colorful. We also see the man who could very well be our protagonist as he escapes from someone in his future car. The trailer showed me just enough to start getting me excited for this game when it eventually releases.

Clearly from the wall I just wrote Microsoft is well on their way to providing a number of great games. Some of which may be on whatever the next generation of consoles might be, as Phil Spencer teased that Microsoft’s hardware team is working on whatever is next to come for Xbox. I am certainly looking forward to a lot of what Microsoft showed of this year.

 

 

 

 

 

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Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

Uncharted

I have only recently been able to pick up a PlayStation 4, and I thought it would be a good idea to start by playing some of the games I missed due to not owning a PlayStation 3. So I went and picked up Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and The Last of Us. Given that both of these are Naughty Dog games I figured I would start with the oldest game and work my way through and try to see how Naughty Dog has developed over the time it took to create these games.

Going into this collection I was all too aware of how beloved these games are and how well they were received at the time they were launched. I have heard many a person over the years say how much they loved these games, and how excited they were for the release of the next game in the franchise.

Unfortunately for me I didn’t really like these three games that much. This was an odd realisation for me as the setting and story for the uncharted games should be right up my alley. I love the Indiana Jones type of story where someone is set on a journey to uncover a long-lost treasure that turns out to have some mystical properties.

I guess as a concept I love the idea behind each of the stories for the uncharted games, for example finding El Dorado, and Shambala. I do have to say that the story of 3 was probably my favorite as finding a place like Ubar, deep in the desert that is somehow connected to King Solomon, adds up to a great idea.

However Uncharted 3 also ends in a similar way to the previous two games, where we find out that the treasure being searched for is unbelievably dangerous. My biggest problem here is that we are never given an explanation as to why, or how these artifacts have the power they do. They are destroyed or hidden with no explanation. I don’t at all mind that they are destroyed as in these types of stories that is always the outcome, but I always felt like I needed something more to be said about the artifacts themselves.

Perhaps part of my problem was playing these three games in succession over a week, where they were the only games that I played. In doing so I saw similarities between the games that felt almost like a template to me. These similarities make the games feel like they run together in my memory, making it difficult to remember in which game a particular sequence took place.

I think if I had played these games when they were current I would have loved them the same as everyone else. This is because of the simple fact that at the time there were no other games like this out on the market. Whereas now I have already played games like the Tomb Raider reboot, and Rise of the Tomb Raider, that to me are much better games.

I realise that this might seem strange loving the Tomb Raider games so much when they are known for having average stories when the uncharted series is beloved for its story telling. I think for me it is the combination of story and gameplay together that make the game better. I love the game play in the new Tomb Raider series, it is just plain fun and I never get bored with how it plays.

Uncharted on the other hand, I found myself frustrated by the gameplay. Platforming and puzzle solving was fine, but the combat felt like a series of wave based arena battles. Each time I went into a new area and there was a pillar lying halfway across a hallway, I knew I would be fighting my way back out, as I could tell that pillar was supposed to be used for cover. So as I went through the games I found myself liking combat less and less, as each time it only felt like a way to increase time spent between set pieces.

The strangest thing for me, is that although I didn’t care for the story of these three uncharted games, I love the characters. The quick-witted thief that is Nathan Drake, The wizened Mentor that is Victor Sullivan, Elena Fisher and her strength in taking her experiences with Nate in Uncharted 1 and using that to improve herself, and grow even more fearless as the series moves on. I also loved Chloe Frazer, as among these larger than life characters, she was the one reacting how I think a person normally would in her situation.

I believe that a big reason for this is the use of fantastic voice actors that are able to bring out the personalities of these character so well. Some of these actors are Nolan North as Nathan Drake, Richard McGonagle as Victor Sullivan, Emily Rose as Elena Fisher, and Claudia Black as Chloe Frazer. Of course it helps that I am a fan of Emily Rose as Audrey Parker in Haven, and Claudia Black as Vala Mal Doran in Stargate-SG1.

Given that I like the characters so much I am still waiting in anticipation for Uncharted 4 when it releases on May 10 2016. I hope that this supposed conclusion to Nathan Drakes story can fix the problems I have had with the story in Uncharted, even if it doesn’t I can’t wait to be see how these characters develop further. I just hope none of my favorites die, but that seems unlikely when the title of the game is Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.