E3 2016 Round-up

E3 is a conference that has greatly diminished in the last few years as a source of gaming excitement.  The days of massive new game releases, console reveals of consequence and shock-and-awe moments are long gone, and while the gaming industry’s biggest conference it remains to be – E3 is no longer a must-watch for fans of video games.

This year was particularly tame, with no major surprises offered up by Sony, Microsoft or any of the big publishing houses.

There were a few games that caught my eye though, interestingly enough all from EA’s event on the first day of the conference, and they’ll all be must buys from what I’ve seen so far.  Here’s what I thought of them:

 

FIFA 17 – September 29th (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PC)

FIFA 17 will mark a new era for the popular football series, as it moves to EA’s wondrous Frostbite engine which should bring stunning new graphics to the game to make it look like the next-gen game it should be.

The main new feature of this FIFA entry will be “The Journey” mode where you take control of a player off-the-pitch and guide them from Premier League rookie to superstar.  It seems as though it’ll take the form of a traditional gaming single-player game interspersed with games of FIFA, and it’ll be very interesting to see how it actually pans out – and whether it will make the traditional career mode obsolete.

The last few FIFAs have floundered a little, but there’s enough in this to make it warrant a buy from me.

 

Titanfall 2 – October 28th (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Origin for PC)

Building upon the last game, which featured amazing shooter qualities but not enough depth to make it mainstay title, this game will feature a single-player campaign as well as improvements to the already fantastic movement: with the addition of grappling hooks and more dynamic.

Most importantly though, it seems there’ll be much more variety in terms of classes and gameplay styles – which will make a big difference.  There will be six new Titan variants (compared to just three in the last game) and a new progression system which should hopefully make ranking up feel a little more rewarding.

The main game will launch October 28th, putting it just a week behind Call of Duty from where most of the developers of Titanfall started their trade.  It’ll be interesting to see how it does – I’d imagine Titanfall 2 would get the better reviews but the Call of Duty branding would see Infinite Warfare do better in terms of sales.

 

 

Mass Effect: Andromeda – Early 2017 (PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One)

While we’d all hoped for something more concrete about Andromeda, we’ve again been given a teaser trailer for the game which is set to launch early next year.  Now the visuals look incredible, and the snippets of what appears to be gameplay suggest that the exploration element of the game will be, ahem, out-of-this-world too – it’s a bit unusual that we’re not being treated to anything more than the basic premise of the game yet.

There have been a few titbits released over the course of the conference though, with the news that the main protagonist Ryder will be female by default and that, unlike Mass Effect 3, there will be no multiplayer impact on the single player experience.  This great Polygon article with the game’s lead Mac Walters goes into a lot more detail about the ideas behind the game and expands upon what we’ve seen in the teaser trailers so far.

Whether the intrigue is by design or by lack of it, I still don’t really care.  By the time of release it’ll have been 5 years since the last Mass Effect and high time for another Bioware adventure to sink my teeth into.

 

 

But aside from those titles there wasn’t much else to shout about.

A new SKU of the Xbox One was released with a much slimmer build and a $299 price point, aiming to take back some of the considerable ground it’s lost to Sony since the launch of this generation back in 2013.  Also shown was Gears of War 4, a long overdue sequel to the blood-and-guts shooter that did so well back on the 360.

Sony had its’ usual jam-packed conference but there weren’t many games shown that really lit the world on fire.  The Last Guardian will finally, finally make its’ appearance this year we were told, Hideo Kojima will be working with the Japanese company to bring forward his next post-Konami visionary project and Insomniac have earned the reins of the new Spiderman title – but aside from these three points, all of which aren’t of major interest to me, there wasn’t much doing.

So E3 was a bit of damp squib, but there’s likely plenty more to come soon.  The biggest games of the last few years Grand Theft Auto V and Fallout 4 both had their announcements separately of any conference, because the people behind them knew that that way they could manage and build their own hype without being overshadowed by anything else.

That’s what keeps my confidence in the next year’s gaming alive – with the likes of a Red Dead 2 or perhaps something entirely new.  E3 isn’t the place it once was, but that doesn’t mean that there’s any less excitement in games at the moment.

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