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Some Thoughts on E3

Game on

Alright folks, this is it. We’re only a week away from E3, when the Video Game Industry makes most of its major announcements, and it’s looking like it’s going to be one hell of a show this year. Between what we know, what’s rumored, and speculation, there’s a LOT to cover, and I can’t cover all of it. So, let’s get right to it.

Full honesty, I only have a PS4, so most of my thoughts will be related to the PlayStation and multi-console games. I will do my best to be fair though.

Electronic Arts: OK, if we want to get technical, EA stopped participating in E3 a few years ago and hold their own thing the day before, but it’s still going to be covered along with everything else. EA is coming in this year with a LOT of baggage. They’ve already been voted the worst company in America twice, and they currently hold the spot as the 5th most hated company in America. To put that in perspective, EA is currently liked less than the Weinstein Company and the Trump Organization. That’s not me making any sort of political statement one way or the other; it’s simply a fact, feel free to look it up. They’re still reeling from the Star Wars Battlefront II loot box fiasco, as well as the negative reception to Mass Effect Andromeda and the closing of Visceral Games. The fact that instead of listening to customers, they’ve doubled down on loot boxes by arbitrarily deciding “it’s not gambling,” has not won them any fans. And quite frankly, we’re about this close to seeing the U.S. Government step into regulating video games; the governments of other countries already have. I won’t lie, I’d personally rather that not happen, but if this behavior continues then they’re essentially leaving consumers with no other choice. Hopefully they’ll get their act together. Anyway, here’s what games we know EA has coming down the pipe and can expect to see.

Battlefield V: Announced last week, this is probably the biggest one. Battlefield V returns to WWII, which makes sense. Battlefield 1 was well received, and Call of Duty, Battlefield’s main competition, went back to WWII last year. I haven’t actually played a Battlefield game, even though I have copies of 4 and Hardline, but everyone I know who plays it regularly lists it as one of the better shooter franchises currently on the market. The trailer, looked cool, but didn’t feature any gameplay; it was very clearly a cinematic trailer. Supposedly there was controversy because the trailer featured a woman on the frontlines, I can’t speak to that. Personally, I was more confused by the fact that the lady in question had what looked like a bionic arm, which I wouldn’t expect in a WWII setting. That said, someone else in the company who was either American or British was carrying a katana on their back, and yet the trailer was very clearly in the European theater, not the Pacific theater. So maybe Battlefront V is going to be a kind of alternate world WWII? That could be interesting, although as a history buff, I’d prefer to see something more historically based. Still, if an alternate WWII is the direction their going, it’s at least an original idea. For now, I’m a “wait and see” on this.

Anthem: Hooboy, where to start with this one. Anthem is a MMORPG in development by BioWare, the former golden boys of RPGs. I say former not out of any disdain or anything, BioWare is one of my favorite developers. I always buy their new games, or I did. BioWare is treading on thin ice right now. Dragon Age: Inquisition was released four years ago, and it did a lot to win back the goodwill they’d lost over Dragon Age II and the ending of Mass Effect 3. I’ll actually defend Dragon Age II as a seriously underrated RPG that deserves more love, but that’s for another day. Dragon Age: Inquisition was released at the start of this gen/end of last gen, and was really the first truly great RPG to be released this gen. It won a lot of critics and naysayers over, unfortunately Mass: Effect Andromeda killed all the goodwill that Inquisition had brought back. I won’t get into what went wrong with Mass Effect: Andromeda, because that’s its own article, but the fact is that it was a critical and commercial disappointment for BioWare and EA. BioWare has faced a lot of accusations of diminishing quality games since EA bought them out, and Andromeda only exacerbated the problem. On top of that has a reputation, and a history, of shutting down studios that don’t perform up to expectations. See Visceral Games. So, there is a very good chance that Anthem is a make or break for BioWare. If Anthem doesn’t hit the commercial or critical expectations EA, a lot of people (myself included) think it will probably be shut down. That's a lot of pressure on the Devs, and quite frankly, the fact that several key figures have left BioWare, including Anthem’s lead writer Drew Karpyshyn, is not encouraging.

The release of Anthem got pushed back an entire year following the Battlefront controversy, which has led to speculation that loot boxes or micro-transaction may either be a heavy part of the game or was going to be so ingrained that they needed a year to remove it and rework the game. Again, this is only speculation, but it definitely feels plausible. Lastly, we still really don’t know what Anthem is about. This is BioWare’s first new IP in nine years, and we know almost nothing other than its a Shooter/RPG/MMO in the vein of Destiny. I get that EA wants to move towards “games as a service,” as a recurring revenue stream, and away from story focused single player games. Personally, I don’t think games like Destiny have the same audience as the games BioWare makes. The vast majority of their games have been single player RPGs with deep emotional stories, insane amounts of lore, and interesting characters that fans love. People who enjoy those types of games tend to not be super into multiplayer or online gaming; and that’s not speculation, I speak as someone who mostly plays single player story driven games, and rpgs in particular. Furthermore, gamers that are already playing Destiny or Overwatch or any of the other multiple Shooter/RPG/MMOs don’t tend to be single player gamers, and I have a hard time seeing them jumping ship over to Anthem. If I’m being completely honest, I think EA is trying to grab a share of the market that’s already over-saturated and are going to again be disappointed.

I hope I’m wrong, I really do. I desperately want to be wrong about Anthem, and I can guarantee you that I’m hoping to be wrong more than you. I hope Anthem ends up blowing everyone away, leaving nothing but money and praise in its wake. But the signs aren’t looking good. EA really needs to have something to show off this E3, or I think the negative speculation regarding Anthem will continue. And if by some astronomically small chance you’re a BioWare employee reading this, know that I am on your side here. I’m rooting for you. I WANT you to succeed. But as someone who pre-ordered Andromeda, I have to be honest: you have an uphill battle here. Best of luck.

Sea of Solitude: I literally know nothing about this other than it’s a thing.

Untitled Star Wars game: Presumably this will be what Visceral was working on when it was closed, although it will probably look significantly different from what Visceral was doing as EA announced “market shifts” as the reason for closing Visceral and making a pivot on what type of game this will be. Translation, probably something multiplayer that's a “game as service.”

What I assume will be any number of various sportsball titles: I don’t play sports games and I honestly can’t give any intelligent thoughts regarding what may be coming. For those of you who do like sports games, I hope something that gets you excited is announced.

Microsoft: I can already hear the complaints of bias regarding Xbox. Sigh, let's get this over with. I’m not here to hate on Xbox, far from it. I had a 360 last gen and really loved it, but Xbox has had a rough time this gen. Many people much smarter than I have pointed out Xbox’s exclusive problem, they don’t have very many. Honestly the only upcoming exclusive that I can think of offhand is Crackdown 3, and that keeps getting delayed. I think it’s most likely that either Halo 6 or Gears of War 5 will be announced, maybe even both. Fable also seems like a safe bet since we know Microsoft is working on it. Honestly, I think what Microsoft really needs to do is announce some major exclusives; games that make PS4 players want to play them. Right now, as far as I know, they don’t have any major RPGs, or Platformers, or really anything compared to what Sony is putting out right now. I’ll be interested to see what Microsoft has up its sleeve this year.

CD Projekt Red: Even though CD Projekt Red is an independent studio that publishes its own games, they’ve traditionally announced their games at Microsoft’s stage, which is why I’m putting them here. Cyberpunk 2077 is all but guaranteed to be shown off this E3, and this might be the game with the most hype surrounding it. First announced in 2012, Cyberpunk 2077 is (wait for it) a cyberpunk role-playing game set in the year 2077; it's based on the tabletop RPG Cyberpunk 2020 created in the 1980s by game designer Mike Pondsmith, who is working with CD Projekt Red on the game. Other than that, we honestly don’t know much, as CD Projekt Red has been pretty tight lipped about it. What we do know (or at least what I’ve heard) is all of the following: It will be open world and set in Night City, the original tabletop setting, it will have multiple classes, the map is said to be 3 to 4 times the size of The Witcher 3, it will be a “true rpg” for mature players. Given that this is being done by CD Projekt Red and cyberpunk as a genre is almost notorious for its insane levels of sex and violence, I think it’s a safe bet that this will get an M rating. Full honesty, this is the game that I’m personally most excited for by a long shot. I’m very much an RPG kind of gamer, and as a nerd, I’m a huge fan of cyberpunk. On top of that, The Witcher 3 is an incredible game, and one of, if not the, best RPG of this console generation so far. So, the premise of this game is hitting me on all levels. I’m not sure how I feel about the rumor that this will be a first-person game. I’m not opposed to first person perspectives, but I was personally hoping for, and expecting, a third person game. That said, until the Devs confirm it, take it with a grain of salt. CD Projekt Red also has another game in the works that we know absolutely nothing about other than its supposed to be out by 2021. Officially, CDPR hasn’t announced what game they’ll be showing off at E3, so while it could be whatever this is, my money is still on Cyberpunk 2077. I really wish I knew more about this game, because I can’t wait to play it.

Bethesda: This is where I start to fanboy out. Bethesda is one of my favorite studios, and I’m not even going to pretend that I’m trying to be objective here. Best known for The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, Bethesda also acts as publisher for smaller studios that operate under them, and lately they’ve been putting out awesome games like Dishonored, and the reboots of Doom and Wolfenstein. There’s a lot of excitement and speculation regarding what Bethesda is going to show off this year, and we have at least three games confirmed.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset. Already out on PC, and coming next week for PS4 and Xbox, Summerset is the next expansion to the popular Elder Scrolls mmo, a game I keep meaning to play. Its set in Summerset Isle (obviously), home of the Altmer (High Elves). Since this game comes out next week, I doubt Bethesda will spend much time on it.

Rage 2: This is a bit of a dark horse. Rage 2 was leaked a couple of weeks ago by a Walmart employee who wasn’t paying attention, Bethesda gave it an official announcement a couple of days later. Rage is a post-apocalyptic first-person shooter developed by Id Software, and while it did well enough, it didn’t exactly blow people away. I’ve heard good things, but quite frankly it’s one of those games that I honestly meant to play last gen and just never got around to (oh, hello Dark Souls). Between Doom, Wolfenstein and Quake, Id software all but created the first-person shooter as we know it. I’m guessing this was supposed to be an E3 surprise that got screwed up by that leak, and with E3 so close, it’s no wonder they haven’t given us much information yet. Supposedly it’s going to be open world, and based on the trailer, looks like it’s going to be wackier than the first installment. I’m interested in hearing more about this, and quite frankly, I’m always down for some post-apocalyptic mayhem. Speaking of which...

Fallout 76: The 76th game in the long running Fallout series; ok, not really. Announced just two days ago, Fallout 76 is the new Fallout game that surprised everybody. There have been rumors of a new Fallout game floating around for a couple of months, and while most figured on a remaster of Fallout 3, I was personally betting on a New Vegas style spin-off. According to Jason Schreier, Fallout 76 is going to be an online survival RPG akin to DayZ or Rust; neither of which are games I’ve played. I’m of mixed feelings here. On the one hand, I’m a HUGE Fallout fan. I platinumed Fallout 4, and I can’t even guess how many hours I’ve put in across Fallout 3, 4 and New Vegas, and as I said before, I’m always down for some post-apocalyptic mayhem. On the other hand, I haven’t really played any survival games, and I’m honestly not the biggest online player. Given the success of Elder Scrolls Online, a Fallout MMO isn’t really that surprising, but until we get official word, it’s just speculation. That said, Jason Schreier is a reputable source, and I’m inclined to believe him. And not just because of his fantastic first name. Several YouTube folks have already broken down the teaser much better than I could, so all I’ll add is that since the song played during the trailer is a (very well done) cover of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” the setting will most likely be in Virginia or West Virginia, unless Bethesda is simply trolling its audience, which I wouldn’t put past them, but in this case I don’t think they are. Also Vault 76 is mentioned in both Fallout 3 and 4, so it's an established part of the lore. Personally, I’m going to reserve judgement until we find out more. For now, I’m going to cross my fingers in cautious optimism.

Starfield: The long-rumored SF RPG about which we know nothing but the name. I think there’s a good chance that it shows up at this year's E3, but I thought that last year too. That said, Bethesda has a habit of not announcing games until they’re all but done. So, if this does get announced, it would mean three major open-world games potentially releasing before the year is over, and if nothing else, it seems like releasing two post-apocalypse games close to each other might not be the best idea. Needless to say, Bethesda’s conference should be interesting this year.

Devolver Digital: I couldn’t even begin to speculate here as I don’t know enough about them, having only played a couple of games. Probably some weird/neat indie games.

Square Enix: This is another studio that a lot of folks hold in high regard whose games I haven’t played much of. That’s not a statement about quality or anything, I just haven’t. I do have copies of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Tomb Raider that I hope to play sometime in the next decade. Regardless, they do have some major releases coming down the pipe.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: The third game in the very well received Tomb Raider reboot. I don’t know if this is supposed to be the “last game,” or if the series continues afterwards, but supposedly it directly follows Rise of the Tomb Raider, so I’m guessing if nothing else, it closes that story arc. My friend Stella is super excited for this, and I swear I’m going to play the first one, someday, hopefully… All kidding aside, despite knowing pretty much nothing about the story, the trailer does look pretty cool. It looked like Lara was witnessing a human sacrifice in South America. So maybe she’s up against some type of Aztec or Mayan cult? I guess we’ll find out in September.

Kingdom Hearts III: I will believe that this game is real when I hold an actual, physical copy in my hand, and not a minute before.

Final Fantasy VII Remake: This is a game I know a lot of people are SUPER excited for, but for whatever reason, I’ve never really been able to get into Final Fantasy, even as an RPG fan. I played 15, thought it was ok. But for those of you stoked for this, I honestly hope you get to see something.

Life is Strange 2: This I’m legitimately excited for. Life is Strange is probably the best adventure/point and click game I’ve ever played. I enjoyed it so much that it made me go back and give the Telltale Games a second shot after I’d originally been turned off of them. I’m not entirely sure how they’re going to do a sequel given that there’s two main endings that are MASSIVELY different. I’m guessing they’ll introduce a new protagonist, but I’d love to see more adventures with Max Caulfield.

Ubisoft: I’m tempted to make a joke about how whatever Ubisoft’s shows us will no doubt be an open world game. That said, I generally like Ubisoft’s open world games. Assassin’s Creed Origins managed to win me back after III turned me off the series, Far Cry can get repetitive, but it’s fun and the villains are always interesting. And while reception was mixed, I personally liked Watch Dogs. Yeah, Aiden Pearce was kind of bland, but I thought the hacking mechanics were really innovative, and I liked being able to hack your way through situations instead of using combat.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey: This was actually leaked yesterday just as I was writing this, funnily enough. But even if it hadn’t been leaked, I’d have assumed it anyway. After the success of Origins, it makes sense they’d announce a new AC game. I just hope it doesn’t come out this year. They managed to right the ship with Origins, and I don’t want to see them fall back into the mistake of making Assassin’s Creed a yearly game. That works for sports and heavy multiplayer games, but it really hurts single player games. Odyssey will take place in Greece, which has been rumored for months, which I suppose makes sense after doing Ptolemaic Egypt. But I’ll be honest, I was really hoping for something different location wise. I’d love to see Japan or China as game locations. There’s so much you could do with those settings, and other than in Chronicles (which isn’t a main game), we’ve yet to see a game set in Asia. Something like the Three Kingdoms era or the Ming Dynasty would be great for China, either the Warring States or Edo periods would be perfect for Japan. So, would the Meiji era come to think if it. I still hope to see an AC game in Asia in the future, but I’m definitely interested in seeing more of Odyssey. Origins was great, and I think it would be smart for Ubisoft to continue Assassin’s Creed in that vein, so long as they don’t dilute themselves. Again.

Skull & Bones: The Assassin’s Creed spin-off that focuses on Naval combat. I think it’s been pushed back a year, but I’m sure it will at least make an appearance.

The Crew 2: I don’t play racing games because I’m hilariously god-awful at them (Mario Kart and Star Wars Episode I: Podracer being the only two exceptions). All I know is that this is one of the more popular racing game series, so I’m pretty confident they’ll show it off.

Beyond Good and Evil 2: A long awaited sequel/prequel to an acclaimed cult game for the PS2 that was a commercial failure. Another game I unfortunately never played and can’t really evaluate. I know it’s going to be open world (insert joke here), and I don’t know how well that will translate to the type of game Beyond Good and Evil is.

Watch Dogs 3: This hasn’t been announced and I honestly don’t know if it even exists. While I liked Watch Dogs, I know it undersold what Ubisoft was expecting, and despite Watch Dogs 2 being a better game by most accounts, that sold even less. Games are expensive, and consumers tend to be discerning. I certainly hope this series isn’t dead, because it has a lot of potential. I’m about 50/50 on this making an appearance.

Sony: Sony has been absolutely killing it with their exclusives lately, and I doubt that will slow down anytime soon. Sony has said that there will be four main games that they’re focusing on this E3; Death Stranding, Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us Part II, and Spider-Man. While these are going to be the focus, I’m positive Days Gone will at least make an appearance, and I’m sure Sony has a couple of announcements up their sleeves that we don’t know about yet.

Death Stranding: The mysterious new Hideo Kojima game. I know as much about this as you do, which means I’m completely in the dark. I know Norman Reedus is in it, and so far, there have been two weird-ass trailers. While I’ve never actually played any of Kojima’s previous games (for which my best friend continues to give me no end of grief), I do know he’s a brilliant game designer, and I’m just as curious as everyone else to find out just what the hell this game is about.

Ghost of Tsushima: The new game by Sucker Punch Productions, the studio behind the inFamous series of games. Ghost of Tsushima is an open world action game set on the real-life island of Tsushima (part of Japan) during the First Mongol Invasion (a real historical event). You play as the last samurai left on Tsushima, waging a one-man war against the Mongol Invaders. I am SUPER excited for this game. I’m a student of history with an interest in warrior cultures, and the samurai are my favorite. I’ve long thought that samurai culture and history would lend itself well to video games. The samurai were some of the most dangerous warriors in Earth’s history, they followed a strict code of honor known as Bushido, and their influence can be felt in Japan to this day. Samurai films have a long tradition in Japan, with some films even being remade in the U.S. as westerns. I can only think of a handful of games about samurai, Nioh being the most current. I hope this does well, and I hope we see more samurai games in the future.

The Last of Us Part II: If you played the first one, you know it was a masterpiece. I guarantee you this is going to be the crown jewel in Sony’s line up. So far only two trailers have been released and we don’t know much. Ellie looks older now, so I think it's a safe bet this takes place a few years, if not several, after the first game. Someone, I want to say the game’s director, but I honestly don’t know said that “The first game was about love, this is about hate.” Or something along those lines. I’m going to predict that Joel is killed, and Ellie is out for revenge. Personally, I hope I’m wrong, simply because I don’t want to see Joel die. Supposedly the game will also feature a canine companion for Ellie. I guarantee you that dog will be dead by the end of the game. Calling it now, Fluffy either dies saving Ellie, or gets infected and the player has to put the dog down themselves. Yes, that’s an awful prediction. But if I was in charge of this game and wanted to give players a punch in the gut that’s almost guaranteed to get a visceral reaction? That’s exactly what I’d do. And on that happy note I’m going to say I can’t wait to see more of this game.

Spider-Man: You play as Spider-Man, that's all I got.

Days Gone: While this isn’t one of the games Sony will be focusing on, I’d be stunned if it didn’t at least make an appearance. Normally, I wouldn’t be interested in another open world zombie game, but this one has piqued my curiosity. The game-play shown at last year's E3 looks promising, and Sony’s first party games of late have been fantastic. Hopefully we’ll learn more about the world and the “freakers,” as these infected are called.

Nintendo: I don’t have a lot to say regarding Nintendo because I don’t have a Switch. It’s not an issue with Nintendo, it's that I can only afford one console. I think it’s fair bet that we’ll see Metroid Prime 4 and Super Smash Bros since they’ve already been announced. In all honesty I really haven’t been following Nintendo news, and the only rumors I know of are a new Fire Emblem and the N64 Classic. I’d probably be more excited for the N64 Classic if I thought there was a chance of actually getting one.

Other Stuff: Rockstar Games: Red Dead Redemption II. I didn’t play the first one, so I don’t think I can say much. All I know is that it’s a prequel and all but guaranteed to outsell every other game this year.

Activision: Another Call of Duty game. Shocking.

Indie Games: I’m betting on The Banner Saga 3, Death’s Gambit and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. The Banner Saga is the third, and I want to say final, in a series of tactical rpgs that I need to play. Death’s Gambit is supposedly coming out later this year, and it looks to be a pixelated 2D soulsborne style game. Go check out the trailer for the artwork if nothing else. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is the Kickstarter Metroidvania game by Koji Igarashi, the man behind Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and one of the godfathers of the Metroidvania style of games. Being a major Metroidvania fan, I’m hoping we finally get to see some gameplay.

Games I have no reason to expect but still desperately want to see:

Prince of Persia: There hasn’t been a Prince of Persia game since 2010’s The Forgotten Sands, a midquel to the Sands of Time trilogy mostly made to cash in on the movie that came out that year. Prince of Persia is one of my favorite series, and it kills me that Ubisoft isn’t doing anything with it.

Doom II: It seems unlikely with Rage 2 being announced, but with how well the 2016 game did, a sequel seems like an inevitability.

Dragon Age 4: I’m nervous about this one. We know it's being worked on, but they’ve already had to reboot development once, and if Anthem doesn’t succeed then I think this will probably get cancelled. Which would suck because Inquisition was great, and the last bit of DLC hinted where the next game would be going, and it’s a story I want to see unfold.

The Elder Scrolls 6: Nuff’ said.

E3 is only a week away, stay strong folks, we can make it.

E3 is only a week away, stay strong folks, we can make it.

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