The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 14
I drank and ate videogames the first day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, partially because I forgot water but more precisely I ran out of time to do anything else. So here are the gory details of how this attendee starved himself of sustenance by gorging on virtual reality.
I made a beeline to Sony's booths, mainly out of curiosity. I'd told myself I would head first to Bethesda's so I could schedule some Elder Scrolls Online time, but ended up in the West Hall due to its proximity to the media lounge (which I didn't even enter).
First up was Beyond: Two Souls (PS3) by Quantic Dream. My familiarity with this developer was by virtue of having played Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophesy. However, I had little knowledge of this game except by reputation.
In retrospect, I shouldn't be surprised by its somewhat unintuitive controls. Despite being a quality game, I was never enamored with Heavy Rain's unique setup. Likewise, it was difficult to orient myself in Two Souls without a proper tutorial. I became stuck early on when I couldn't figure out what to do next.
At times you abandon Jodie and assume control of the spectral Aiden, who can travel unseen and collapse walls and choke or possess foes. When moving, one needs to scan the area for small orbs of light that indicate gameplay opportunities.
Action is controlled via the thumb sticks whether movement or attack (i.e. moving the sticks together to choke or apart to possess, if I recall). Jodie's melee combat, by contrast, involves face button quick time events, not to mention movement sometimes reliant on motion control. The combination can be daunting.
With practice, gameplay should be more fluid. Production values are top notch. However, I did overhear someone observe how much the demo level was reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid 4. Superficially it may be, but gameplay is decidedly different. Plus, faces are expressive and there is a particularly poignant moment.
Zombie Studios' Blacklight: Retribution (PC/PS4) is a FPS that benefits from standard, intuitive controls that rely on L2 to aim and R2 to fire. Targeting is precise though weapons have a pronounced recoil (albeit nothing that can't be accommodated).
An ability to see foes through walls and objects is nothing new but is well implemented and quickly becomes an important tool when vying online in team deathmatch. Good production values assist with such elements and combine with decent level design for intense firefights.
Also there was no noticeable lag, animations are smooth and effects are well implemented. Based on limited demo playtime, there isn't much that innovates, but it's a solid entry in the genre.
Contrast (PC/PS3/PS4/360), by Compulsion Games, is a revelation. From its beautiful, evocative art design to its fluid and unique platforming, this title appears to have all the elements of a success.
Its stylized design evokes the 1920s or '30s and has a noir sensibility; I overheard someone compare it to Tim Burton's style and while sharing some similarities, I frankly was reminded more of Ken Levine (BioShock series).
Platforming is lithe and precise, and implemented in a clever way. Your character can shift (R2) in and out of lit surfaces in order to climb shadows. You can also jump shift (X + R2) for an advantage or dash (circle) through thin shadows. Collectibles add further incentive.
Music, dialog and environments all establish an alluring atmosphere, while the gameplay literally adds a new dimension to an impressive game.
Digital Extremes' Warframe (PC/PS4) is a F2P cooperative third-person shooter or, perhaps more importantly, a game about space ninjas.
The Evolution 2 engine allows detailed graphics and particle effects plus fluid animation. The exceptional presentation holds up even during chaotic firefights that can involve up to four co-op players and many more foes. The variety of moves and attacks ups the ante where action is involved.
Associate Producer Patrick Kudirka (above, right) notes how Warframes was largely inspired by the original concept for Dark Sector. And while level cinematics help provide backstory and context for the action, the emphasis for now appears to be on the over the top action.
There are about 13 warframes and each have about four power sets (each assigned to a direction on the PS4 controller's touchpad). One even includes a glaive, standard issue for Dark Sector gamers. My warframe's powers also involved kinds of throwing knives and a bow and arrow.
These are in contrast to a (R1) melee attack, which can be charged. The triangle button switches between primary and secondary weapons. Every weapon is available to players. They can be unlocked through character progression or purchased.
Microtransactions might be available through companion apps, which could send alerts to gamers when rare items are dropped. Bosses, for instance, might drop rare items or pickups; so, while voluntary, fighting bosses can have a real payoff. Also, characters can be upgraded with new mods as they level up.
Other features are clan support and the ability to build dojos and dueling rooms (for one on one), as well as foundries to manufacture weapons and research labs to create blueprints.
Mutators allow for objectives to change, keeping the experience fresh. Jumping/sprinting/sliding likewise help keep the action frenetic. There are three to four character classes and about 11 game types, including defense/horde and search & destroy.
In my limited time, I was impressed with the responsiveness of the controls, though they do require some getting used to. Extra moves like firing when otherwise incapacitated or when sliding was appreciated.
The glaive attack proved useful and fun, though button mashing might lock you in to an animation at a critical function.
I pass the usual suspects at E3 on my way to the Miscrosoft booth.
Ryse: Son of Rome (Xbox One) employs "mashing to mastery" gameplay, wherein button mashing won't necessarily fail, but a gamer who's more methodical will earn more points, more upgrades, more quickly.
Moves include slash (X), shield bash (Y), execute (B), deflect (A) and archers (LB). When in a phalanx, cover (A) and spears (RT) are options. Despite simplistic controls, enemies will attack in droves, making strategic and judicious use of one's moves important. Indeed, the demo pointed out times I otherwise would have died.
It seemed as if your character's moves could be directed at foes other than the one engaged with, such as employing a shield bash or deflect move against an enemy attacking from behind. I might have seen an option mapped to a button, but can't recall for certain.
Such an option would prove invaluable when faced with more than one enemy, especially when attacked all at once. At least I was told the game will eventually have a dodge/roll button, which would make such encounters much more dynamic.
In the end, combat -- including brutal finishing moves -- was satisfying if not deep, and production values were excellent whether detailed graphics, rich sound effects or smooth animations. A promising launch title, especially as there are few quality ones covering that period.
Respawn demoed it's much anticipated Titanfall (PC/Xbox One/360) for attendees, and it lives up to expectations. This FPS features David vs. Goliath multiplayer combat between a human ground force of pilots and machines of war called titans.
The demo match involved competition for control points. Impressive pilot movement includes high jumps and kinds of double jumps, as well as wall running, all seemingly courtesy of jets. This allows for tremendous mobility amid well conceived maps with multiple elevations and paths.
Some standard weaponry including rifles and RPGs are augmented by alternate fire (like rapid fire grenades?) or abilities, as well as gameplay opportunities presented by the mech titans.
Highlights that drew a favorable reaction from attendees included wall running, shooting foes out of the sky, climbing and disabling a titan, and stopping rockets in midair (as a titan) before turning them on your foe.
The presentation was top notch and the action intense in this impressive shooter.
Speaking of shooters, Dice was on hand for its Battlefield 4 (multiplatform) demo. The setting for the multiplayer match was an urban environment reminiscent of Battlefield 3 map. Control points were spread among the numerous buildings.
As with previous installments, controls are standard and intuitive, targeting is precise, movement is fluid and firefights intense. Vehicles likewise control well whether driving or using their weapons.
It was a solid outing despite significant glitching in the rubble of a building, where I and others became stuck in the environment (excusable for a demo). In fact the experience was very similar to its predecessor(s).
In practice I didn't notice any real advancement. However, the gameplay shown in the waiting room wowed some in attendance, whether disabling support pillars to bring down a high-rise control point or collapse an overhead street to disable a tank, as well as base jumping off a high rise to control points.
Indeed, the environment did seem more destructible in general than I remember it, which is an achievement in a series renown for such capability. Another solid outing from Dice, who hopefully can implement such destructive -- and strategic -- opportunities on a larger scale.