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E3: Best of the rest

It’s been a few weeks since E3 but as promised here is my best of the rest, a closer look at some of the PS4, WiiU and cross – platform games announced  at this years expo. A quick disclaimer this list is based on my personal interest in gaming so will not see any sport titles making the cut. With out any further delay …

Final Fantasy VII Re-make

Platform: First on PS4

Release Date: Late 2016/2017

One of the headlines from Sony’s conference which grabbed a lot of attention. This full re-make of the iconic role-playing game first released in 1997 is still in the early stages but has fans excited. Information is vague but what we know is the game will feature new content to expand on the original however the inclusion of any new characters has been officially ruled out. Additionally, developers have not eliminated the possibility of expanding release beyond the PS4 but for now it’s all just speculation. This is defiantly one to keep track of over the next year or so.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Platform: PS4

Release Date: 2016

This Action RPG was my favourite exclusive from Sony, thanks to the stunning looking scenery, style of gameplay and a unique world. Horizon Zero Dawn see’s players take control of Aloy in a post – apocalyptic world fighting against  collection of monsters including robotic dinosaurs using a variety of weapons including a wicked looking bow. The clips from E3 and additional material from Sony also suggest some type of crafting system which has become a hallmark of a quality RPG.

No Man’s Sky

Platform: PS4 & Windows PC

Release Date: TBA

An open universe science fiction exploration game which promise to deliver an experience on a whole new scale. Players are introduced to a previously undiscovered universe to explore. The E3 demo gives us some idea of individual gameplay with resource gathering, interaction with alien species and space exploration key features. We still don’t have any ideas about any overriding story arc but it’s definitely a game I’ll be following during it’s continued development. Thankfully it’s coming to windows the same time as it lands on the PS4 so I’m not going to miss out.

Have a look at IGN’s exclusive look at No Man’s Sky this month.

Street Fighter 5

Platform: PS4 and Windows PC

Release Date: Early 2016

The next chapter of this icon arcade fighting franchise promise more of the same classic gameplay with a couple of new additions. Namely the inclusion of the ‘V-Gauge’ which allows players to use a variety of unique character techniques and skills like temporary power-ups or reversals. Street Fighter is always going to be a known quantity and fans of the series like myself can only be satisfied by this newest version.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Platform: PS4

Release Date: Early 2016

The fourth and final instalment of the Nathan Drake story finds the series protagonist is forced out of retirement for his most trying challenge yet. Gameplay follows the same third person shooter style of action adventure which fans of the series have come to enjoy. Not having played any of the previous titles before I can say the clip below does make me a little jealous as gameplay is varied and combines different elements in a fluid experience.

Sea of Thieves

Platform: Xbox One & Windows PC

Release Date: 2016

Growing up I was always a fan of the Monkey Island games due to their swashbuckling adventures, gameplay elements and Guybrush Threepwood’s comedic timing. As a result I always look at any new pirate themed game with interest and am generally disappointed as they often lack the same light-hearted approach that I enjoyed growing up instead focusing more on gritty realism. Straight away with Sea of Thieves its obvious that Rare is not going down this over done route and will likely be a bit more playful then games like Assassins Creed: Black Flag. That being said Sea of Thieves still raises a lot of questions regarding first – person melee combat and the presence of a story within the MMO format which I feel is a must for any open world game. This article from Godis A Geek goes through a couple of other features that I’ll be looking for over next year before I make up my mind.

ReCore

Platform: Xbox One

Release Date Q2 2016

Another Xbox One exclusive with limited gameplay details but it does have a unique concept in the presence of robot companions who have their own consciousness that can be transferred into different bodies through their blue core’s. The trailer also suggests that Joule, the game’s protagonist,will have access to a variety of weapons and abilities to use in combat. ReCore has some experienced developers on board in Marc Pacini and Keiji Inafune so the expectation is high. We will just have to wait and see if they deliver.

Star Fox Zero

Platform: Nintendo WiiU

Release Date: Q4 2015

Out of all Nintendo’s announcements this is the one that grab my attention and for the first time actually made me think about getting a WiiU out of nostalgia. Star Fox 64 was an old favourite of mine back in the day so the look and feel of the latest chapter immediately brought back memories, especially with the return of the old gang, Felco, Slippy and Peppy. The main difference between Star Fox Zero and it’s predecessor is the addition of the game pad which allows `players to see a cockpit view alongside the traditional rolling screen. Still not sure if it’s enough to convince me to pick up another console but who knows if the price is right.

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate

Platform: PS4, Xbox One and Windows

Release Date: October 23 2015

I’m glade to see Ubisoft are mixing things up a little with introduction of a female protagonist. Hopefully this acts to vary the gameplay as players are able to switch between the twins, Jacob and Evie. My main criticism of the franchise has been the repetitive experience which has not really changed since the first game despite the addition of era specific elements like pirate ships. The supposedly faster combat and other changes show that Ubisoft might be listening to fans but we will have to wait and see. I’m looking forward to this one partly because of the era as a scholar of Dickens I have an image of Victorian London and couldn’t give up any chance to explore this world.

I know there are other games that could have easily made this list but as I have said before games are very subjective and these are the ones that have caught my eye. Feel free to let me know what has got you excited from E3.

Jono

Why 2015 is the Year of Xbox One (Op-Ed)

Why 2015 is the Year of Xbox One (Op-Ed)#xtor=RSS-980.

I think Mike from Tom’s guide is spot on with this one. He raises some of the same points I made about Microsoft’s out performance of Sony at E3 last week. Especially focusing on the potential growth of the Xbox One in the backend of 2015.

Mike’s article highlights the strength of Microsoft’s exclusive titles which includes franchise favourites Halo 5, Gears of War ultimate edition and Forza 6. Others have been raving about the offerings from Sony but Mike has recognised the long wait for these titles will likely lose Sony the momentum during the end of this year. Additionally, he points out the up coming software updates including backwards compatibility and Windows 10 that will make the Xbox One far superior come Spring/Fall. Finally he touches on the Elite Controller as an added extra but with a focus on this year Mike doesn’t discuss the future potential of HoloLens or VR for either system.

Click on these links to read my own take on the Xbox vs PS4 battle at E3 or to look more in detail at some of those Xbox titles.

Jono

E3: My Games Wishlist

E3 2015 is done and dusted so I thought I’d look more in-depth at the games that really caught my attention and those I personally can’t wait to get my hands on.

Halo 5 guardians

Platform: Xbox One

Release Date: 27/10/15

A new Halo is always a big deal for the Xbox community and the first instalment on the new console will be expected to boast overall console sales just like the past. The small snippets of the story line have got fans like myself sitting on edge, is the Master Chief a traitor, is Spartan Locke friend or foe and the inclusion of Buck voiced by Nathan Fillion from ODST is a welcomed addition. At E3 we were given a glimpse of the campaign that diverges a little from the traditional formula as it seems more like ODST and Reach with two teams of Spartans led by Locke and the Master Chief made for drop in & out coop play. In addition 343 industries gave us Warzone a new 24 player multiplayer mode combining elements of PvP and PvE where two teams compete with the added fun of AI opponents in a crazy overload of Halo awesomeness. Suddenly the 27 of October seems so far away.

Forza motorsport 6

Platform: Xbox One

Release date: 15/9/15

Recently I have really got into playing Forza 5 as it has outstanding graphics and is perfect for gaming when you have time constraints. The 6th instalment promises much of the same running in 1080p it looks stunning and with an extensive list of 450 cars it’s perfect for car enthusiasts. However, the main development is the addition of meaningful racing conditions, this goes beyond the basic visual effect and includes real world experience as rain doesn’t just look pretty but actually make the track slippery and effects your handling. A subtle inclusion but one that will make it just that little more challenging for seasoned racers.

Fable Legends

Platform: Xbox One and Windows

Release date: 2015

This free to play cooperative title has been promoted before at Microsoft events as it demonstrates the capabilities of Windows 10’s cross-platform gaming as PC and Xbox users can play alongside each other. Legends offers gamers a different experience than previous titles as players can choose between the traditional hero game play without the exploration alongside possibly up to 3 friends or as the villain who plans the obstacles faced by our band of heroes like a strategy game. It seems like an interesting combination of different game styles and I’m looking forward to testing it out later this year.

Fable Legends hands on

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Platform: First on Xbox

Release date: 10/11/15

Crystal dynamics sequel to their 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider promises a lot with different combat options and more opportunity for discovery. Learning from the feedback after the previous title developers have incorporate a new ability for Lara to use her environment to create weapons and make choices as to how she will engage combatants. Most notably this includes the ability to avoid lethal engagements using items as distractions and finding other methods to take down the enemy. In addition crystal dynamics have stated their aim to make Lara the most realistic and humanised character in gaming by focus on the emotional impact of decisions and the storyline. We shall have to wait until November 10th to see if Rise of the Tomb Raider delivers.

Gears of War ultimate edition and Gears 4

Platform: Xbox One

Release date: 25/8/15 and holidays 2016

The other Xbox franchise also had its time at E3 with two announcements. Gears of War Ultimate Edition was unveiled and its more than just a remastered HD version of the 2006 original but more of a full rebuild. The Coalition has gone back to basics with new motion capture and animation to help bring the game into the next era of gaming. Beyond this the remake incorporates new game elements from more recent titles in the series including an enhanced  multiplayer. Even thinking about it gives me a pang of nostalgia.

Gears 4 the first game in the franchise since Microsoft took over the rights shows more of what we expect, chainsaws, weird creatures and a post apocalyptic setting. Still scarce on details all we really know about Gears 4 is that the gameplay looks similar to the other titles in the series. It’s still far away but any new chance to saw through your enemies can’t easily be passed up.

Rare Replay

Platform: Xbox  One

Release date: 4/8/15

This collection of 30 classic Rare games is a steal for the $30 price tag. Many of the games pre-date my  gaming experience  but classic 64 titles like Banjo Kazooie, the sequel Banjo Tooie and Perfect Dark are enough for me to jump on board. Adding  some Xbox 360 up dates to those series alongside a host of other games to explore for the first time and I’m counting the hours of game play. The only disappointments are the absence of GoldenEye and Diddy Kong Racing due to legal restrictions. Click here to see the full list.

Star Wars: Battlefront

Platform: Xbox One, PS4 and PC

Release Date:

A self professed Star Wars tragic I have been looking forward to this one since Battlefront 2 was released years ago. One of my absolute favourite Star Wars games because it allows players to jump into the epic battle and key events of the films like no other game. Gameplay follows the same basic format as the earlier titles in that it is primarily a third person shooter with different class options and you need to complete a series of objectives in order for your side of the Star Wars conflict to gain victory. It doesn’t look like there are any real changes to this basic formula but the new Battlefront takes advantage of the next generation consoles through new game modes and refinement. Personally I can’t think of a better way to get in the spirit before the release of The Force Awakens.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Platform: Xbox One, PS4 and PC

Release Date: Q4 2016

Details are still scarce about the new Mass Effect but we learnt at E3 that the game is set outside the milky way in the Andromeda galaxy long after the events of Mass Effect 3. This means that developers have the freedom to imagine a new host of planets and new alien species without being restricted by the previous games. Despite this scope for innovation its clear that this next chapter will maintain most of the elements we have come to expect of the series as the game will still follow a human protagonist leading a team made up of different specialists. Beyond this we also know that Mass Effect Andromeda will use the Frostbite 3 game engine behind Dragon Age Inquisition which promises a rich experience. I’m very excited about this one as I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing through the previous titles multiple times, I’m just shattered its such a long wait.

Check back later as I preview the best of the rest from E3

Cheers

Jono

E3: Tale of the tape

E3 2015 has unleashed a wave of surprises and exciting new games for Xbox One and PS4 fans alike but with all the announcements done, it’s time to reflect and see who won this heavy weight fight. To give a detailed comparison I thought I would break this down into three categories; System, Games and Peripheries.

System

Xbox One: Possibly the biggest surprise of E3 was the announcement of backwards compatibility coming to Xbox One this spring (Fall for my friends in the Northern Hemisphere) but currently only available to those lucky enough to be invited to the Xbox Preview. So far the list of Games is very short but it will grow quickly before the app goes live and personally I can’t wait to start playing Mass Effect on my Xbox One. Not only has this caught Sony by surprise but they have since disappointed fans by quickly killing any rumours that they might be doing the same any time soon. In addition Microsoft gave us a look at the new Xbox dashboard complete with Cortana that we will see later this year with the Windows 10 update.

MCV – Sony on backwards compatibility

PlayStation 4: Compared to the Xbox event Sony was much more game focused but they did talk about some exciting changers to PlayStation Vue. The live streaming TV service is being released in new regions and with a chose your own channel service. Notably this sees Sony move further towards the all in one entertainment system that was the original goal of the Xbox One.

Verdict: Got to give this one to the Xbox One as backwards compatibility has the potential to be a game changer as any one needing to replace their 360 can simply upgrade and still play all their old games. Some people like myself may have even put off the decision to upgrade because of this limitation. In contrast the upgrade to PlayStation Vue will benefit existing owners but probably won’t be that nudge to jump on board.

Games:

Before getting stuck into the exclusive titles it is important to recognise that comparing games is always going to be very subjective based on your past experience and your existing emotional attachment. This year that perhaps is more important than usual as most of the big titles from both our contenders have a touch of nostalgia and are the newest games to pre existing game series. Personally that means for me any new Halo is ultimately a kill all since I have been hocked from the very beginning but as always I will try to keep a critical mind.

Xbox One: The line up from Microsoft’s conference didn’t hold to many surprises as they emphasised the favourites; Halo 5 Guardians, Forza 6, Fable Legends, Rise of the Tomb Raider  the official conformation of Gears of War ultimate edition and the 4th instalment in the successful shooter. However, there are a few completely new titles like the action RPG Ashen, run and gun Cuphead, free to play Gigantic, adventurous Sea of Thieves and the action adventure ReCore. In addition to all these new titles the Rare Replay a collection of 30 classic Rare games for $30 including Banjo Kazooie and Prefect Dark is an absolute steal for a quick hit of nostalgia dating back 30 years.

PlayStation 4: Games was defiantly the focus of Sony’s conference and they had done well to keep the biggest announcements secret before the expo. Leading with the long awaited The Last Guardian was always going to be a hit with fans and that was only the beginning then came the remake of Final Fantasy VII and the kickstarter Shenmue 3 which completed fans wish list. New titles like the borderless No Man’s Sky and the stunning looking RPG Horizon Zero Dawn as well as other exclusives including Street Fighter 5 and Uncharted 4 helped demonstrated Sony’s focus on hard core gaming fans. The steal however was Call of Duty as the lucrative franchise departs from its recent partnership with Microsoft to release exclusive content

Verdict: Despite my preference for Xbox i’m going to give this one to the PS4 due to execution, since Sony had been able to keep things quite in the lead up to E3 and pulled off the steal of the year by getting Call of Duty to jump ship.

Finally … Peripherals 

Xbox One: Microsoft got the ball rolling here before the conference with the announcement of a partnership with Oculus Rift to take advantage of VR gaming. Extending this strategy Microsoft committed to a similar partnership with one of the other major developers in this exciting new avenue for gaming in Valve VR. The real star of the show was HoloLens as Microsoft showed off 3D Minecraft to a captivated audience but it doesn’t stop with the obvious applications as reviewers got the opportunity to test out the augmented reality headset with Halo 5’s new Warzone mode. If that wasn’t enough Microsoft have given us the Elite controller which is fully customisable with adjustable parts and settings to let users play their way.

GameSpot – Halo & HoloLens

PlayStation 4: Leading up to E3 every one was hoping for more information about Project Morpheus, Sony’s own VR headset. Unfortunately, I felt this was a bit of a let down since Sony spoke about the headset and showed an interesting trailer for RIGS a VR game that allows multiple players to enter the same virtual world the information and WOW factor was limited with only some vague assertions of a 2016 release. Thankfully reviews got to test drive the headset during the expo and it seems like it is going to offer a rich VR gaming experience.

Android Authority – project morpheus 

Verdict: This one was a clear win to Phil Spencer and his Xbox team, not only did they bring the mind blowing demo but they also made sure they didn’t forget hardcore gamers with the elite.

Overall:

It might not surprise anyone but i have to give 2015 to Microsoft as they seam to have finally learn’t and brought their A game. Overall Microsoft have taken more into account and listened to feedback with backwards compatibility, a real demonstration of HoloLens and a new controller. In addition the only category where Sony have out performed Microsoft this year is highly subjective as personally I’m looking foward to adding at least 6 of those exclusive Xbox titles to my collection ASAP. Meanwhile there are a couple of caveats to some of those surprises, firstly No Man’s Sky will release on PC at the same time as PS4 and most games will not be released until 2016 with Final Fantasy VII and Shenmue 3 without even that level of guidance.

But don’t take my opinion for it, check out the links and make up your own mind and leave your thoughts.

Cheers

Jono