Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Microsoft @ E3

Considering how dominant they were last generation, it’s still unusual to think of Microsoft as the underdogs this generation. Three years after unveiling the one system for all entertainment, Xbox have been playing catch up to remove all the stigma that have plagued them for so long. This year, Microsoft came out arms swinging and guns blazing to show how much they know and care about the gamer. 

We Happy Few

Coming next month to the Xbox One Preview Program, We Happy Few is probably the game that stuck with me the most in my head when everything was said and done. An absolute trip in a drugged-up world, the demo had many influences in the best of first-person atmospheric games like Bioshock and Fallout.

The demo shown wasn’t particularly long nor did it show a ton of gameplay but its promise of procedurally generated levels and stealth mechanics in such an intriguing world definitely deserves to occupy. The demo showed a stunningly colourful world and voices that ushered you into the next room which saw some people trying to smash a piñata. After being giving the bat, you smack it splashing blood back at you. You then see it wasn’t a piñata at all but a rat. They become aware that you need to take your drugs and when you don’t; you are labelled a “downer”. Messed up but mesmerising.

Dead Rising 4

Dead Rising is one of those series that is just so much goofy fun, even if the gameplay is never quite as smooth as you would want it to be. There’s something about finding things in the environment to then whack a few zombies around. Dead Rising 3 was a launch title for Xbox One and while it showed some promise in terms of control and ingenious weapon and vehicle design, it lacked a performance punch that was needed. Dead Rising 4 certainly seems to taking all the right steps to make it one of the most exciting titles to release this year.

You once again play as Frank West (he’s covered wars you know) as he returns to the location of the first game except this time it’s Christmas. Not only will you be visiting the beloved shopping mall but you will also be exploring the surrounding areas crafting new weapons and vehicles to make it probably the silliest and most enjoyable game in the series yet. The trailer was fairly short but the snippets shown definitely seems to show that this game looks and performs so much better than Dead Rising 3. Slay bells ring indeed.

Sea of Thieves

A multiplayer open-world type game where everything seems based on emergent gameplay doesn’t sound terribly exciting. I mean, look at Steam’s Early Access list and you’re bound to find about 50 trillion of them but there are two aspects that make Sea of Thieves worth drooling over: Pirates and Rare. Developers of Banjo Kazooie and my favourite, Viva Piñata are taking the high seas in Sea of Thieves that really seems to allow you to do everything you wanted as a pirate. You can gather a crew and hunt for treasure and gather riches. You and your crew can be scurvy dogs and attack other ships, sinking them and laughing as the other ship’s mate try to swim away. Of course you can just sit in a bar and get drunk with your mates too. There’s promise of questing, progression but ultimately freedom to do literally whatever you want. I haven’t even mentioned that it looks gorgeous with that signature Rare art style. This one could be riding some high waves when it releases. You know what didn’t help it though? Those idiots screaming over everything. What are they called? YouTubers? Garbage.

Forza Horizon 3

We just don’t get many good open world racing games any more (we miss you Burnout) but Microsoft have been doing an incredible job with the offshoot of the Forza Motorsport series with Forza Horizon. Forza Horizon 3 is setting its sights on Australia and it looks like you won’t be only sticking to the roads. In what we’ve seen vehicles break out into fields, on eventually on to beaches and it seems like races themselves will incorporate all of that to make variety the spice of festival-based racing life. Forza Horizon 3 is the first game to leave Xbox 360 behind and it definitely shows. From the setting sun on the waves to the bright and colourful environments, Forza Horizon is definitely looking like something special. The map is twice the size of Forza Horizon 3 with a diverse landscape and with a garage of 350 cars, there will be no shortage of things to be wowed by when this one releases. Also, the way your friends can join your game so seamlessly is a big plus.

Xbox Scorpio

I don’t know if you picked up on this but the future of Xbox One was announced to be coming next year boasting 6 teraflops of power. Holy crap!! 6?!! Eh, what is a teraflop? Well, even if you might not know what all these numbers are and what they mean one thing was promised: 4K gaming on a console. One that also promises to be powerful enough to handle and run virtual reality gaming. If all the promises are true and can be delivered for a decent price (launch Xbox One price with Kinect) then we could seeing the end of generations and the beginning of accessible ultra-high-end gaming on consoles. We’re a ways off from seeing what is capable but it doesn’t stop the brain from thinking of playing all new games at 60fps with incredible resolution. Xbox want to win the gamers back and this is their promise. The cynic in me though makes me feel with the push between Xbox One and Windows 10 becoming more of the same, if the price isn’t right on Scorpio then why wouldn’t you just buy a decent gaming rig? They’ve got to get this just right but if they do it’ll be massive.

Jason Redmond

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