I think I’m finally in a position to review Destiny 2. I’ve spent 100 hours in-game, got the platinum, completed the raid, finished the prestige nightfall, went flawless in Trials of the Nine, and got all three characters to max level (only one is 305 but they’ll get there). Just like Destiny 1, I think I’ve burned through all the content within a month of launch, and I’m still not entirely sure how much I enjoy it.
Clearly I’ve got my money’s worth, 100 hours is a ridiculous amount of time to spend on a game I only paid £40 for and I would easily recommend it to anyone with any kind of passing interest in FPS games; but still there’s a nagging feeling that it should have been so much better.
For those who have been avoiding the pages of Eurogamer and have no experience with Destiny as a franchise, it is a new breed of FPS from Halo-developers Bungie. Freed from their Microsoft overlords they embarked on a mission to create a multiplatform FPS that fuses some of the best elements of MMOs and FPS games together, and they largely succeeded with the first Destiny. It wasn’t perfect and took a few patches and expansion to realise the dream, but they created a new genre that was definitely appealing and addictive. You play through a standard FPS story mode with some open world aspects then group up with other players to work your way into the ‘end-game’ made up of typical MMO tropes of dungeons, raids, and PVP. In return for beating the various challenges you get gear that increases in power, and thus begins the familiar MMO treadmill of getting better gear to be able to take on harder content in order to get better gear and so on.
The first Destiny did a fantastic job of introducing raid mechanics with the Vault of Glass raid and proved that FPS games could work with raid mechanics and large group strategy. While the game didn’t really find a proper voice in terms of story and progression until the later expansions, that first raid really hooked a certain type of player and we were all looking forward to the sequel to see what they could do next. Then Bungie decided to take a step backwards.
While Destiny 2 is an incredibly accomplished game, it moves backwards in nearly every respect to be closer to what the original game was before the DLC. The horde modes, sparrow racing, reputation grinds and even sparrow horns are all gone. Raid and strike gear has lost the interesting perks that made them unique to that part of the game. PVP has a very limited pool of maps and only three playlists to choose from. The Patrol zones (open world areas where you can complete various objectives for rewards) all feel strangely lifeless with the exception of the excellent EDZ.
That’s not to say what’s there is bad in most respects, it’s a beautiful game, the music is hauntingly memorable and evocative, the gunplay is as satisfying as ever, the strikes and raid are nearly faultless (with the exception of one strike that happens to be this week’s nightfall) and the campaign is much more effective and interesting than its predecessor.
It just feels like so much is missing and no one needs to ask why, they’re keeping it for DLC. The season pass is already on offer and will clearly reintroduce much of what we’ve lost to people that pay for it, over the course of the year. I’m sure by this time next year we’ll have at least one more raid, more strikes, more exotics, more multiplayer modes and more patrol zones, but by the end of it I’m worried that we’ll just be clawing our way back to how good the first game was by the end. Bungie had an opportunity to take their awesome framework, make a huge amount of content to justify a new game, then go even further with their DLC. Instead we have a stripped back game, almost devoid of real end-game content, and an offer to pay a lot more money to get what we’ve lost back further down the line.
The issues with end-game only really manifest after you’ve put in a decent amount of time already into the game. If you’re the sort of person who’s only going to be playing for an hour or two a week, ignore this and just go get the game. You’ll have an awesome time with it and never run out of things to do. If you’re like me and want to put in 5+ hours a night, you’ll run into the same problems I have. Firstly, the maximum level is too attainable. Once you get to level 20 (around 8-10 hours in for your first character) you can only progress by getting item drops that increase your average power level. The maximum currently is 305 and this can be achieved by simply grinding any of the activities available to you at that point. You can complete public events over and over in any of the open-world areas, where you complete objectives and kill enemies, possibly with the help of other random players or your friends. These are pretty entertaining but get repetitive quick as there’s only five or six that repeat every few minutes. You could go for strikes (dungeons) but these are quite slow and inefficient, only giving you a little bit of gear at the end. You can do crucible, which is the PVP mode where currently games take too long to be a good method of grinding, but you can get amazing rewards (not for being good, just for participating).
Then there’s the weekly tasks, each week you can take on public events on a certain planet, complete a more challenge form of a strike called a Nightfall, where you’re up against a time and various other modifiers, complete the Prestige Nightfall which is even more difficult, run through the raid, or complete Trials which is a special PVP mode where you see how many games you can win before you get a loss. Get seven in a row without losing and you get a huge amount of gear and a special emblem. Every week these tasks give you a new powerful reward that will boost your level considerably, and even with three characters it doesn’t take too long to get through all of them.
Now the problem is that after two weeks of completing all of these different events, I have maxed out a character, with the other two very close. Once you get to 305 there’s very little to strive for beyond finding certain weapons (complete luck for all but a few quest exotics). There’s no reputation levels to increase or progression for the PvP system at all.
So while I’m obviously a fringe case and not everyone will spend the amount of time I have on the game, Destiny fans are voracious and lots of people are already feeling a similar way, there’s just nothing to works towards. Think of WoW’s faction grinds, Call of Duty’s prestige modes or Battlefield’s ranks. There’s always progress, always a carrot to urge you on, and that’s what’s missing from Destiny 2 at the moment. It’s an incredible game, and I’ve loved all the time I’ve spent with it so far, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that there should have been so much more.
It’s strange to complain about a game based on what it’s not trying to do, but it’s almost impossible to avoid with Agents of Mayhem. It’s an absolutely fantastic, entertaining, polished, funny, fairly deep single-player experience. But it should have been a co-op game.
Agents of Mayhem is the latest game from Volition, famous for the Saints Row franchise, and this is evident in every part of Agents of MAyhem. Beyond the obvious links through the colour scheme and icons (and being able to play as Johnny Gat if you pre-ordered), AoM feels like a Saints Row game. The humour is on point, if a little crass, the violence is ridiculously over the top and gameplay trumps realism at every turn, and the missions tend to follow a similar structure. If you played Saints Row IV (and why wouldn’t you have, it’s amazing) you’ll be vaguely familiar with this take on the world, with superhero-esque powers and a massive open world city that serves more as a playground than something that feels alive. Certainly, with regards to the world and much of the game, you can see this has been partly inspried by Crackdown, with collectables shining on rooftops to clamber over and a wealth of ridiculous powers and vehicles to supposedly help you save the town as you ‘accidentally’ mow down innocent civilians in crossfire. This is Saturday-morning style superhero shenanigans at it’s best.
The basic structure of the game sees you choosing a squad of three agents from a pool of twelve to go out into Seoul and kill enemies, defuse bombs, and occasionally take part in a car chase. Down on the ground you can choose between the three agents on the fly and jump into any vehicle or call your own agency vehicle. Of course if you want to free-roam you can, and there’s plenty of collectables about to help boost your abilities and the agency, or you can just cause some mayhem with the tools at your disposal.
The city itself is by far the weakest part of AoM. It feels dead and lifeless, the civilians don’t react naturally and it’s hard to cause GTA-style chaos where your actions seem to have significant effects on the area. There’s no real destruction mechanics and car explode in a very unsatisfying way.
Thankfully the game is saved by just how much fun the mechanics are. Each agent plays differently with a unique main weapon, ability, and ‘Mayhem’ move. Each of these can be swapped out or modified for others back at the base. One uses a bow to get critical hits, one uses a freeze gun, one uses an SMG. Each character suits a different playstyle and you can switch between them at any time using left and right on the d-pad. Like tag-based fighting games when one gets low on health you can switch to another and let them heal up meaning the action never really stops and you get a lot of variety even within a single fight.
The enemies aren’t particularly interesting, but they are challenging and there’s a wealth of different difficulties (the menu seems like the one from Diablo 3) with the idea that you can push yourself to higher difficulties with higher rewards as you level up your agents and unlock more abilities.
The constant loop of missions, upgrades, exploration is unbelievably engaging and it’s wrapped up in some very funny writing and a visual style that is at it’s best when there’s a lot of chaos breaking out around you. If you hated the humour in Saints Row, you won’t be won over by this, but if you enjoy things that are a little more puerile and you enjoy the over-the-top excess of cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or the animated X-men series, you’ll feel right at home. It’s hard to get across just how important this is, the game is just plain fun.
Which brings us back to our main complaint about the game. It should have been co-op.
You play the game with a team of three heroes, each hero has a range of abilities that work best in different playstyles and situations, the levels are big and usually quite open, there’s loads of jokes and teasing between the characters. There’s even a per-character progression system. It feels like the game was built for co-op then it was yanked out at some point to save time on production. As it stands, we can easily recommend this game to Saints Row fans. If they brought out an update adding co-op, we would recommend this game to everyone.
Overcooked is a couch co-op cooking game in which you either try to control two hapless chefs by yourself (incredibly stressful and not recommended) or you are joined by one to three friends and you all fight over who’s fault it was that the kitchen lorry burnt down while you were waiting for lettuce to be chopped and passed over from the other lorry (incredibly stressful and highly recommended).
In terms of gameplay, it’s quite simple. You are given and kitchen and some orders, such as a hamburger. That hamburger order might say it needs lettuce, tomato, a bun, and meat. So you need to go and mince the meat, then start it cooking in a pan. Then you need to get the bun, chop up some lettuce, chop up some tomato, put all of that on a plate, then once the meat is done cooking you put the meat in. Then you put it in the little place where orders are served. Then once the dirty plate comes back you wash that up and do it all over again with a new order. If you leave something to cook for too long it’ll catch on fire and need to be extinguished, but other than that it’s not too complicated. Unfortunately only the first kitchen really works like that. Later on your kitchen is the victim of earthquakes, splitting it in two, or only has enough room for a single person to go past, or has customers walking through the middle of it, or is split over two trucks. On top of that you have a range of different orders coming in that require different ingredients and different preparation methods. You also only have a very limited supply of plates and cooking pans. Oh and your character controls like they’re slightly clumsy and drunk. And you might be a cat. All of this put together leads to plenty of chaos and the only way to overcome the challenges are to either split the work evenly between the two characters you control (and swap between with a press of RB) or to manage tasks as a group. It’s easy when you can have one person cooking the meat and another cutting up the veg, but often your roles will constantly be in flux based on how the environment is changing.
Each level is graded out of three stars and the more stars you get the more chefs you unlock (purely cosmetic). Trying to get three stars on the later levels is a real challenge, but an addictive one as you constantly strive to find ways to make your kitchen ever more efficient. When it’s all working, it’s brilliant, with chefs zooming about all over the place and food seemingly getting prepared miraculously out of the organised chaos. When it all goes wrong it’s often hilarious as people try to carry on cooking while others are fighting fires and some are just running around in circles in the corner. With four players this is often how things go and it definitely feels like two players is the sweet spot, but as long as you’re not on your own it’s always fun.
There’s a lengthy campaign but in addition as you go you unlock versus modes where you split into teams and try to do the challenges faster than your opponents. This is a lot of fun and being split-screen you can always see how they’re getting on and steal their ideas if you think they’re doing something better than you are. Sadly there is no online functionality at all, and while we can understand that couch co-op really brings out the best in this game, it would be nice to be able to try and use voice chat to organise things or at least to have some leaderboards to compete against others. Ah well, here’s hoping for a sequel!
Overall Overcooked is easily one of the most compelling split-screen experiences on offer on current-generation consoles, and there does seem to be a real scarcity of quality games that can keep people entertained. Don’t be put off by the cooking theme or the fairly basic-looking graphics, the gameplay here is genius and for the money Overcooked can provide hours of fun.
First of all, I understand that this is a beta. I can imagine how the conversation went over at Microsoft:
So do you have that Halo Wars 2 demo ready for E3?
I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that, it’s not ready. The animations are incomplete, it’s buggy, the performance is all over the place, and we haven’t even finished the assets for most of the units.
OK but we need something to send out, people need convincing that a console RTS can still work, it’s been a while.
This won’t do the job, it’s not ready.
It’s fine, just bundle together the unit’s you’ve done, put it on a weird game mode so people won’t notice the balance issues, lower the unit cap until it runs and just call it a beta.
But it’s barely even an alpha…
Call it a beta.
And so here we have the Halo Wars 2 beta. I was so excited to play it, telling everyone I know who played the old game to go download it so we could relive all that fun we had with the original. Two games in and I stopped telling people to download it.
The biggest problem, aside from the performance, missing animations and effects, and lack of game modes which is just down to it being a beta ( I hope) is that it doesn’t feel like a Halo game. When people think of a Halo RTS they want Warthogs being sliced in half by Brute Choppers, Banshees to be raining down Fuel Rod shots onto advancing Scorpions, squads of marines facing off against squads of elites and grunts, scrambling for cover, using grenades and getting decimated by vehicles that blaze through the combat. They want the opening cinematic of Halo 5, with a Spartan team laying waste to a downhill battle at breakneck speed.
Instead, we get pathetically anaemic skirmishes that mostly consist of a group of vaguely marine-looking people, firing shots randomly at a load of Brute-looking people, why vehicles park up and join in with the neon snowball fight. There’s no sense of impact, no velocity, no excitement in the battles at all. It even feels like there’s a delay in issuing commands so every battle happens at a tortoise’s pace, unlike the fevered warzones of Starcraft or Dawn of War.
The units simply aren’t what you’d recognise from a Halo game. Yes there are warthogs, scorpions, banshees and more, but the warthogs park up to shoot, the scorpions can siege up and are less intimidating that most of the marine squads, and those marines are just the basic unit of the UNSC, more advanced infantry types are flamethrowers units and cloaking snipers. Not cloaking Spartan snipers, just random marines that apparently go invisible. It’s almost as if 343 and Creative Assembly have had a hard time balancing the real kind of units in the Halo universe and just decided to copy Starcraft instead. Scorpions are now Siege Tanks in all but name, sniper units are Ghosts, Hellbats are thrown in for good measure despite not having an equivalent in Halo. On the Brute side you have some Brutes, but they’re not the rampaging death Gorillas we’re used to, instead they are just gorilla-skinned marines, standing there going ‘pew pew’. Grunts come in suicide squads but the explosion animations seem to be missing. There’s no Pelicans to quickly transport troops and equipment, the Banshees are weirdly weak and slow, particularly to marines, even the Wraith doesn’t look quite right. There’s plenty of new units, but they all have an uninspired design that simply copies another unit and makes it chunkier. Creative Assembly have clearly tried to stick to the rock-paper-scissors style of gameplay from their Total War games, but that doesn’t translate well if it means a marine with an assault rifle can easily down a Banshee.
The larger powers at least feature the MAC cannon, but here it does about as much damage as a large grenade, without any of the punch you’d expect from a space-station cannon that’s firing at a planet. You can also drop mines (remember that from Halo, when a load of mines were dropped from orbit and decimated an entire army?) and ODSTs, but the ODSTs look and move just like normal marines, there’s nothing special about them at all, nothing to make them live up to their fearsome reputation.
As it stands, nothing about this game is good. It looks terrible, with low resolution assets and tonnes of missing effects, played out on dull looking maps. The unit capy is unimaginably small, enough space for 2 scorpions, 2 warthogs, and maybe 4 marine squads in your entire army (until you get the upgrade that lets you have an extra warthog or so). The buildings don’t look like buildings we recognise from Halo, the upgrades are nearly all completely soulless and uninteresting, offering things like a flat 15% in damage for a single unit type. Nothing to change up the gameplay at all, just a stat boost to make you kill things quicker.
The controls themselves are barely functional, mostly due to the aforementioned delay in getting anything done. They need to be quick and snappy for any kind of competitive play to be bearable, but instead they’re so and sluggish, leading to all games consisting of players amassing one army (unit cap is too small for efficient smaller groups) that lumbers around the map occasionally coming into contact with another lethargic horde, trading tiny little ineffectual blaster bolts until one of them disappears.
If this had been a new RTS coming out in the era of the original Red Alert, I would still have been disappointed. To be coming out in 8 months, in 2017, and to not even feel like it carries the licence it’s designed with, is appalling. Hopefully 343 will take on board the criticism and delay it another year or two to rebuild most of it, because what exists so far just isn’t worth your time.
We haven’t been very good at E3 predictions historically. While much of what we predicted came to pass eventually, E3 is almost always less exciting than we want it to be. With that in mind we’re doing the predictions a little closer to the time now. E3 starts tomorrow at 9PM BST with EA’s conference, then continues with Bethesda in the early hours of the morning, Microsoft after work, Ubisoft Monday evening, Sony at an ungodly hour, and Nintendo never because Nintendo have decided this E3 isn’t worth bothering with. OK so they will have a Treehouse but we’re still bitter we’re not going to hear anything about the NX.
So here are our predictions for each of the big conferences. We don’t really have any insider information on any of these beyond the rumours floating around on NeoGaf and Reddit, as well as some tiny little bits of hearsay we hear from PR people, so treat all of this as speculation and let us know what you want to see this year!
Electronic Arts are kicking things off this year with a conference much earlier than we’re used to. Hopefully they’ve learned from their mistakes of past E3s, showing off games that are nowhere near ready or filling their time with bizarre interviews with Pele. This year we’re quite excited for what they have to show, purely because on one licence. They have Star Wars.
New Star Wars title
We know there’s at least one new Star Wars title in development that is being developed by Visceral (of Dead Space fame). We loved Dead Space and even enjoyed what they did with Battlefield Hardline so we’re looking forward to what they can do with Star Wars. All we know so far is that it’s going to be a third person adventure game similar to Uncharted or the cancelled 1313. We’re speculating that it’ll be based around the bounty hunters of Star Wars – with Boba Fett, IG-88, Dengar and more all making an appearance, possibly as playable characters in their own mini campaigns. We’d love to have a game with 6 mini stories, maybe released episodically like the newest Hitman, with a multiplayer mode pitting them against each other Overwatch-style. Add a bit of Visceral’s talent for horror with a darker tone for the Star Wars universe and we could have something really special
All we’re expecting from this is a very brief teaser trailer like we had for Battlefront in 2013, but perhaps an in-engine scene using assets from The Force Awakens, maybe just a First Order Tie going up against Poe’s orange and black X-Wing, just to let us know it’s coming.
Criterion’s racing game
Expect this to be the racing game for the GoPro generation. Massively multiplayer with a huge open world and a ridiculous array of vehicles, this is perhaps the game we’re most excited about from EA. We saw a snippet of this the year before last and by now if it still exists they must be ready to show it. Either that or they cancelled it and are working on Burnout Paradise 2. That’d be good too.
Obviously we already know about this, but we’re expecting to see a healthy dose of campaign. I think they might save the multiplayer for Gamescom, but we should see a decent section from a mission and see how they’ve decided to combat the impression that Battlefield campaigns are a waste of time.
This is one of the big games they’ll be pushing this year. We expect to see plenty of multiplayer, a new Titan unveiled and perhaps a glimpse of what they’re going to do with the single player if it exists. We’d be happy with a fleshed-out horde mode. With EA not having a presence on the show floor they won’t be able to let people play this, so we’re going to bold and predict that there’ll be a beta of this live during the show, so you’ll be able to download it tomorrow night and play on 3 maps with 1 new titan. We really hope this happens.
A load of football/Sims stuff
I’m sure there will be 2017 editions of their sports games and they’ll be the same but with some different names in. The Sims might get a new expansion or two. Unfortunately we don’t really care about this.
We’re cheating a little with this one, we pretty much know what Bethesda have to show off. Of course there could be a big surprise, but we think it’s unlikely. Treat this part of the article as spoilers
This is the most exciting thing Bethesda will be showing off as far as we’re concerned. The last title and expansion were absolutely fantastic and Doom is possibly our game of the year.. Wolfenstein is likely to be more of the same, but remember that ‘same’ included castles, a moon base and a concentration camp, so who knows where it’ll be next? Perhaps change up the setting to a German invasion of Britain/America? We’d love to play one set in London and maybe give Norwich a look in too?
As far as we know this is alive again but being created by a different studio. There’ll be a new look at Prey 2 which we expect to keep the open-world RPG-esque aspects alongside some solid FPS action and Native American folklore. We really don’t know what to expect from this but we enjoyed the first Prey so we’re hoping whatever we see is substantial and convinces us that it’ll actually come out.
The Evil Within 2
Continuing Bethesda’s theme of sequels for 2016, there’s going to be an Evil Within 2. We found the first one interesting at first but it quickly dragged and relied on sub-par combat far too much despite the horror aspects working much better. We’re hoping this will be focusing more on puzzles and exploration with some strong survival horror, rather than being a third person shooter with zombies. We’re not expecting too much from this sequel but maybe Bethesda will be able to surprise us.
We refuse to spell this the way they do even if it means people can’t search for it. Dishonoured was a fantastic vaguely open-world FPS with sprawling levels and interesting interactions and freeform gameplay that we’ve missed in this generation so far. The writing was top-notch, the world design was fantastic and the gameplay mechanics were innovate and refreshing. We think this will be very far along now so what we’ll be seeing is essentially the finished product. IF Bethesda are going to let people play anything at home, we expect it to be this, perhaps a single-level demo from the game. That would be an impressive announcement and get people hyped for what could be a 2016 GOTY contender.
DLC and expansions and cards
The rest of the conference will probably be taken up with that card game they showed off last year, the next expansion for Fallout and perhaps a new one for Elder Scrolls Online. We really don’t think they’re going to be coming out with anything of Elder Scrolls VI or Fallout 4’s New Vegas equivalent, you’ll have to wait until next year for this. At a long shot we might get a Quake reboot teaser.
We’re expecting quite a lot from Microsoft this year. Phil Spencer has clearly shown his passion for this kind of show so he’ll be bringing out the big guns to get people Hyped for the 2016 holiday season, just like he did last year. Some of these games might be pushed back to Gamescom, like Crackdown was last year, but we’re expecting a healthy amount of real gameplay trailers plus some nice surprises for people watching back home.
Halo Wars 2
We think this might open the show, along with the announcement of the beta that will go live on Monday. You’ll be able to play Halo Wars 2 all the way through the week and they need to start the hype machine so people who aren’t avid fans of the last one (like us) can begin to get excited. We’re expecting a new race to be shown (probably the Prometheans, but perhaps the Flood, as well a decent explanation of how they’ve enabled cross play between PC and Xbox and made it fair. We also think that the multiplayer might be free to play, with the campaign being released as premium DLC in episodes. Might explain why they’ve kept quiet about pre-orders.
All we’ve seen of this so far is a teaser trailer and if anything is kept back for Gamescom we think it could be this. But we’re hoping to see some gameplay and a better explanation of the lore and story behind this. We’re not really expecting it to make a 2017 release, perhaps early 2018.
This will be a big deal and again is a possible contender for a downloadable demo next week. This should be on track to come out early this holiday season, and there’s be plenty more gameplay footage to show, perhaps of one of the boss fights.
Forza Horizon 3
We’re not convinced the new Forza will definitely be a Horizon game, it might be a new branch off from the series, but there’ll definitely be Forza and we’re hoping for something set in a very different location like Scandinavia, Asia or Africa. All of these games have been fantastic and we’re not expecting anything less, but perhaps there’ll be a new way of connecting players together like on massive servers populated with real players.
Dead Rising 4
Again this has been leaked so we’re pretty sure it’s coming, but we don’t know much more about it. From the leaked images it looks like Frank West is back, possibly in the same town as the first game, but with more of it open than just a shopping mall. Dead Rising 3 was a lot of fun, even if it was a little janky, so hopefully this’ll be a smoother experience with a much bigger focus on multiplayer. Perhaps four-player co-op with some cloud-computing magic to increase the density of the zombie hordes? That sounds like fun.
Surely this is ready by now? It feels like we’ve been waiting ages for this game but we still don’t have a set release date or really a good idea of how the game is structured. There’s been a lot of confusion about the differences between multiplayer and the single-player campaign so hopefully that’ll be cleared up and perhaps we’ll get a look at how vehicles work this time around. We’re hoping for a September release date but we can definitely imagine this being pushed back to next year.
Gears of War 4
There’s clearly going to be a lot of information coming out about this, particularly for the single-player, possibly in the form of a single mission playthrough. We’re hoping to see some new enemy types and weapons, and possibly some on-stage co-op. Hopefully we’ll get a release date confirmation too.
We know Microsoft is working on new hardware but it’s hard to know just how far along they are. Now we know Sony won’t be showing off the Neo at E3 perhaps the pressure’s off and all we’ll get is a reveal of the Xbox One Slim, coming this November. With how excited Spencer gets about things we can imagine there being a bit of a tease of Scorpio and how it’ll work with Oculus Rift but we don’t think we’ll get to see the console or get any concrete information on just how powerful it is. That’ll be happening this time next year.
Ubisoft’s conferences are nearly always the most entertaining, almost entirely thanks to Aisha Tyler, one of the most charismatic and passionate hosts any of them can boast. Sometimes the jokes seem weird or in bad-taste but that’s half of the fun. The biggest problem we have with Ubisoft is that they definitely have a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver, so take whatever you see at this conference with a mine’s worth of salt.
Watch Dogs 2
There’s already been a stream and videos of this so we’re not entirely sure what more they’ve got to reveal. We’ll probably see a little more about how multiplayer works within a mission just like the first reveal of Watch Dogs. Expect there to be plenty of scripted but impressive looking scenes and some addressing of the problems of the first game.
Ghost Recon Wildlands
We loved the reveal trailer for this but hopefully this year we’ll see some real gameplay, perhaps one of those co-op point of view demos where four people play it on stage at once and talk like no-one does in any videogame ever (except ArmA because that’s serious business). This probably won’t be ready for release until next year but I’m sure that won’t stop Ubisoft from showing us what the pre-order bonuses will be.
This will probably be the focus of Ubisoft’s show and with good reason. We played it last August and were blown away by how accessible and satisfying the combat is, in the context of huge sieges and three-way battles. We can’t wait to see more of this and, like the other studios, we wouldn’t be too surprised to see a beta announced for this, possibly starting as early as Tuesday. It lends itself well to an open beta and as soon as you play it we’re sure you’ll be just as hyped as we are. They might announce a new ‘team’ in the game, like Pirates. We’d quite like some pirates.
Assassin’s Creed Movie
There won’t be anything about a new AC game this year (they’ve said they’re taking a break this year and Watchdogs is filling that release slot) but I’m sure we’ll get a new trailer or a small section from the new Fassbender film. We weren’t impressed with what we’ve seen so far but perhaps a better look at the modern day scenes (that apparently make up 60% of the film) might be able to change our mind.
The Crew 2
This is one we haven’t heard anything about, but just feel it makes sense. Ubisoft has gone above and beyond supporting the first game and advertising it, despite the lukewarm reception from the public. Perhaps this is because they’re on the cusp of announcing a new game in the series, but this time set in central Europe. Imagine being able to drive from London (maybe catching a ferry, or driving through the tunnel dodging trains) all the way to Moscow or Istanbul? With some of the weather effects added in Wild Run and the same anarchic multiplay, we’re thinking this is a very real possibility.
An Archer Game
Again this is wild speculation on our point, but who better to announce an Archer game than Aisha Tyler who voices Llana on the show? We’d love a FPS in the vein of No One Lives Forever, but set in the Archer universe. Cell-Shaded, with the original voice cast. This could be the Game of All Time. Perhaps have a Bob’s Burgers-themed take on Cooking Mama as an easter egg and Bojack Horseman as a DLC mount?
The Division Expansion
Despite buying the season pass for the Division, we completely lost interest in the game months ago. Hopefully Ubisoft will be looking to breathe some new life into their struggling game with a look at the first big DLC and how it will change up the game. Perhaps they’ll also address the legions of people who have unfairly got massive advantages over other players through exploits and hacks and how they’re going to redress this. It seems like the sensible thing to do would be to dramatically nerf every item that is out there now and start again with fresh tiers for the next waves of content. Or perhaps they’ll leave the Division to die and move on. Who knows?
Assorted Rabbids and Just Dance things
Even though this doesn’t appeal to the main audience for E3, I’m sure Ubisoft are keen to show off everything else they’ve got going which will surely be a new Just Dance with new music and something to do with the Rabbids like a movie or a new mobile game. That’s the time to go get a drink and some food.
Sony have got a difficult job this year. Last year they hardly released anything, this year they’ve already released their biggest hitter, Uncharted 4, so what do they show off next? Most of the games they have in the pipeline have already been announced so while we’ll definitely see some more of those, it’s a little difficult to predict what their first part studios will have to offer. We imagine most of their show will be taken up with their exclusive marketing deals for third-party multiplatform games. Expect to see a lot of games you’ve seen elsewhere in their show. We’re not expecting to see anything from FFVII remaster or Shenmue 3 at all this year, that’ll be for next year. We’ve been told explicitly that there will be nothing about the Neo here, they’ll save that for a separate show of it’s own later in the Summer.
The Last Guardian
Surely we’ve got to get a release date here? We’ve never been particularly excited about this game but we can understand why so many people have. This game has been a ridiculously long time coming and it’s hard to see how it could possibly live up to the hype. Hopefully we’ll see much more of this alongside a solid release date for this holiday season. Or we won’t see anything and it’ll return to being vapourware.
Uncharted 4 DLC
Uncharted only recently came out and Naughty Dog did well with the Last of Us DLC so it makes sense that we’ll be seeing some DLC for Uncharted. Perhaps a new chapter detailing some of Sam’s exploits we didn’t see? Who knows but it’s a fairly safe bet that we won’t see a new game from Naughty Dog, so this is all we can hope for.
God of War 4
This was leaked a while back but we’ll be seeing a level and boss fight from God of War 4, now set in Norse Mythology with a bearded and trouser-wearing Kratos. We’re really hoping there’ll be a new twist on the gameplay somehow but we’re not really expecting it. Chances are this will be more of the same, gorgeous, finely tuned brawler action.
Sony only really have one shot at this so they need to get it right. VR is almost impossible to show at a conference but we’ll definitely get solid details on price, what you get in the box, and what games will be available at launch. We’re expecting to also hear that Playstation Plus will include one VR game alongside the PS4 and Vita games from now on. Speaking of which…
PS Plus reinvigoration and RDR
PS Plus has been pretty terrible this year, we cancelled it a while ago and haven’t missed it at all. We think Sony have been aware of the lukewarm response all the offerings this year have got, so they’ll bring out something fairly impression. Like the Red Dead Redemption remaster and a teaser for the next Red Dead game. You heard it here first. It won’t be a full demo, but it will be in-engine.
Gran Turismo Sport
Of course Sony will be showing this off but first impressions haven’t been good. Due to release in November we wouldn’t be surprised to see a delay to the release date so they can add some new content and make it more worth your time.
Third Party Announcements
During Sony’s press conference we’re expecting to see trailers and DLC agreements for: Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, Titanfall 2, Destiny (the new DLC), and possibly Resident Evil 7. We think if Resident Evil is announced anywhere it’ll be at Sony’s conference alongside some kind of exclusive DLC like a horde-mode.
As interconnected and social as gaming is right now, it can often feel pretty lonely. If you’re playing through a co-op game like Borderlands by yourself it feels like half a game, but as you get older your friends have other commitments, they might not have the same game, or they might not even game at all anymore. You could set your game to public and let anyone in, but most of the time they won’t be using a mic, they won’t be wanting to do the same thing as you and there’s a decent chance they’ll be actively trying to troll you rather than enjoy the game alongside you. So what can you do? Sign up to Gridom.
Gridom is a website that allows you to sign up and create or search for game lobbies for a selection of games. It takes seconds to set up a lobby, select your platform and region and describe what you want to do. Then anyone can see what it is you want to do, whether you have a mic or not and then join if they’re interested. This takes you to a sleek chat lobby that lets you iron out the finer details. Choose the difficulty, decide who’s hosting, work out how you’re going to chat by sharing Teamspeak or Skype details. While you’re waiting for people to join your lobby you can still go look around for others without leaving and once you’re full, you just start up your game, get everyone in and then click on the shield icon to let the website know that you’re done. This closes the lobby down so people aren’t having to join dead games.
We spoke to the creators of Gridom and it’s reassuring how much they care about the finer details in this project. Yes you have to register but that’s by design. There’s no sinister data tracking or advertising, instead it gives them to capacity to avoid toxic behaviour, something that has been pushing people away from gaming communities for the last five years or so. If you’re giving yourself a bad name amongst the community, you could be banned. Hopefully this will lead to a faith that if you find a group on Gridom, you’re going to be able to have a good game with them.
At the moment there’s 28 games that can be searched for, but not all of them are the most obvious choices. There is Call of Duty, Halo and Destiny. But then there’s also Terraria, Hearthstone and The Golf Club. New games will be added and rotated through consistently but there’ll always be a wide variety to cater to different tastes. There’s no elitism present, no pretension of being purely for ‘pro’ players. Everyone is welcome, on any platform for any type of multiplayer game. If you’re a casual Smash Bros player who needs a sparring partner, you can find someone. If you just want to mess around with unlimited poke balls, you can do that too.
We’re excited about the potential for Gridom, but as with most communities, it’s only going to thrive once the word is out. So help out and tell your friends!
True to their word, Microsoft managed to pack a huge amount of games into their press conference. We saw Ryse, Killer Instinct 3, Dead Rising 3, World of Tanks, Minecraft, TitanFall, Battlefield 4, Forza 5 and loads more. We also found out a vague release date and the price point. But what do we think?
Leading up to E3, after the unveil and the subsequent interviews, Microsoft have somehow turned a very vocal group of people against them. Obviously within this group there will be the people who bash Microsoft whatever they do, the various ‘fanboys’ opposed to the Xbox and the internet people who enjoy getting angry about everything, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that there seem to be at least some previous Xbox 360 owners who are now looking to boycott the Xbox One for a number of perceived slights against them. As someone who enjoyed the unveiling and is getting excited about two new excellent consoles being released this Autumn, it’s a little disheartening to hear so much anger, so here’s my defense of the Xbox One.
In 359 generations’ time there’s going to be trouble
So Microsoft have just announced the Xbox One, coming out later this year (read: almost definitely early November, Call of Duty Ghosts launches 5th November so we’d be surprised if it was after that) with a media event in Redmond. Our thoughts on the announcements after the break.