Monday Conferences – My E3 2013 Highlights

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With Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony setting many social media sites on fire with announcements, what were the highlights for me as I stayed up until around 4:30am in the morning? Spoiler… They’re mostly games!

Dead Rising 3 – Something I should have seen coming, but never gave a thought to. I’ve said previously, that Dead Rising was the reason I bought an Xbox 360, and it was looking like the reason I was going to buy an Xbox One. Being exclusive to the Xbox One is a huge kick in the nuts for me, and a real shame. It went multi-platform for the second game, so I did not call this to be exclusive. Anyway, it looked fantastic, both graphically and mechanic (no pun intended) wise. I just fear that the comedic side of the game is lost along with psycho boss fights and the time limit that I have come to love with many other fans.

Titanfall – Ex Infinity Ward staff created Respawn Entertainment, and their first ever game is an Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC exclusive. No PS4 version in sight which is a shame because this is right up my alley. Mechs, first person shooter, multiplayer with story, there’s a lot to be excited about with this game. A little downside though, it seems as though graphically it had quite a way to go, it wasn’t the prettiest game we’ve seen.

Battlefield 4 – The single player demo didn’t do much for me. It showcased pretty graphics and what seemed to be something I have already played in a Call of Duty game. The multiplayer on the other hand, my god. It impressed me so much that I simply cannot wait to get stuck into it, and it has already become and day one buy for me. From destroying pillars to get tanks to fall through the floor, to destroying and levelling an entire skyscraper. Sure it was all staged, but the beauty of Battlefield is that anything can happen, even what we saw on stage.

Tom Clancy’s The Division – I said in my previous E3 article (Click Here) that I wanted a standout game in the same vein as Watch_Dogs last year. Watch_Dogs stole the show for me and many others last year, so whilst it may not have quite stole the show overall, at this point, The Division, an online, open-world RPG, was the best thing I’d seen all night. Presentation was similar to Watch_Dogs and it was a Ubisoft title, they sure do love to surprise us. Set after an infection has swept the US, you’ll play as a sleeper agent who now has to survive on found resources like food and water, as well help civilians and fight back gangs. The US is in pieces and it is looking very fresh, with the ability to walk into other players as you play and get into fire fights.

PS4 – It stole the show. It did. The reaction of the look of it, to how they said the restrictions on the Xbox One surrounding used game and always online, were non-existent on the PS4. The price too, the crowd exploded when they announced the $399/ £349 price tag compared to the $499/ £429 price tag of the Xbox One. I said that it always falls down to price (See Here), like a friend of mine tweeted me during the conferences, he was simply getting which ever was the cheapest. I replied with it all about the games for me, and it was, the Xbox One price was expected in my eyes. But when Sony put that price tag on the PS4, I was sold, but there was a game (See Below) to help me with that decision, it may not be exclusive, but it will have exclusive content only on PS4.

Destiny – Possibly the game of the night for me. I may end up changing my mind once the hype boils down, but from what we saw towards the end of Sony’s conference, it was magical. Being a big Halo fan, the music excited my ears and the gameplay looked a solid as Bungie always makes it. The world events, drop in co-op, fantastic art style, great A.I. and addictive loot system made this new game from Bungie, best of the show.

-ast

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What I want from E3 2013

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With E3 just around the corner, news sites are exploding with leaks and speculation. It’s always the surprises that stick in your mind however. I remember last E3, Ubisoft showed off Watch_Dogs for the first time, it blew my mind and became a game a have followed very closely since then. But what do I want to see announced and talked about at this year’s E3?

Next Gen Console Release Details – With the Xbox One and PS4 to be released this holiday season, we still know nothing about the release of the consoles. Hopefully those details are revealed in the next few days. I want a solid release date, including a UK/ Europe date please. As well as the price of the new consoles and the launch titles we can expect to be able to pick up with them.

PS4 Design – We will see this. I’ve even had an email off Sony confirming it, but will it look nice? The design for the Xbox One is something I quite like, it’s simple, minimalistic and the use of both gloss and matt finishes work well. For the PS4, I’m hoping for something with a little more character though, the Xbox One is a simple box shape and I wouldn’t mind something a little more out of the ordinary for the design of the Ps4.

Games Everywhere – I want to see more of a focus on the game in these conferences. Sure if Sony decide to focus a little more on the console, they could be forgiven as they’ve shown quite a bit already, but Microsoft have an uphill battle to fight. From both companies and even Nintendo too (doing whatever they’re doing?), I want to see games that sell these console to us gamers. Times have change since 2005, we want more diversity and complexity to our games, but there’s a solid target audience for the smaller titles too.

The Show Stopper – It’s no secret that Watch_Dogs was the talk of E3 last year. I want another game to do that this year. The real shocker though, was it was a Ubisoft title and not a game from Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo. Maybe Activision will shock the world with Destiny? Or will EA have a surprise up their sleeve with a Mirrors Edge 2 announcement? For all we know a small Indie Developer may steal the show floor with a truly unique experience that gets everyone talking.

Day Z Console Release – This is a little more specific, but ever since Dean Hall revealed that he had a meeting with Sony, I have long wished for an announcement for the release of Day Z on the Ps4 when it launches. A launch on both next-gen console would be even better, but I feel like Day Z is the new Minecraft, and someone may try to get exclusive rights. All info currently points to Sony, but Microsoft have deep pockets they’re not afraid to reach into.

Expect more E3 thoughts and articles during the week. With The Last of Us and Man of Steel this week too, keep your eyes glued here, and click that follow button to be notified by email when I do a new post.

-ast

State of Decay – First Impressions

The Zombie Game we've always wanted

The Zombie Game we’ve always wanted.

Version Played: Xbox 360

Back in 2006 when I was gearing up to buy my Xbox 360, I was buying it for one game. That game was Dead Rising. With zombie games, no matter how many we receive, I’ll play them all regardless of seeking out reviews. Dead Rising remains one of my favourite zombie game franchises, but it wasn’t the zombie game we have all wanted. The survival zombie game we all crave has only really just been introduced with Day Z, yet that is only on PC. State of Decay is the survival zombie we’ve all been waiting for. Available on Xbox 360 and later to be released on PC, State of Decay puts you in the middle of an open world ravaged by zombies, with your main goal, to survive day by day.

State of Decay is the first game from Undead Labs, and by god do they impress. From the first few hours with the game everything is looking very promising. Having an open world to explore and survive in is what we have always wanted in zombie games. The world feels lived in, yet torn apart by the apocalypse. You start the game by returning from a 2 week-long trip with your friend. Upon returning your attacked by zombies and from there you find survivors and slowly learn what has happened in the 2 weeks you’ve been away.

Imagine yourself holding off a horde attack from the house.

The game revolves around survival, gathering food, ammo, medical and building supplies to help grow and protect your community of survivors. Keeping them happy and healthy is the key to success from what I’ve seen so far. Fractures can develop between people and at times you’ll be task to take people out with you to talk to them about the problems they may be causing within the group. Everyone you encounter can become your friend, and the more friends you have the better. This is because when you die, your character is dead for good and you will switch to one of their friends. All that levelling up you’ve done with the character, the bond you’ve developed, all gone and ripped apart if they fall victim to the zombies. You will be switching between friends regards of you dying anyway as your characters will need rest, so when they do, you should switch and take someone else out.

You can also use these friends you gain and survivors you choose to save to help upgrade your home base. Improving the food, helping with training people or even just being a good shot helping guard the base from the watchtower. The people you meet are just as important to your survival as you are. When out in the world searching through abandoned homes for supplies, if you come across more than you can carry, then radio your base and send out someone to pick up the rest of the supplies. Of course this is all risk and reward, you could just drop off the supplies you have and come back, but then it’s much faster sending someone out to help but they run the risk of getting attacked by zombies on the way.

The zombies in the game shamble around at first, but once they have spotted you or heard you, then they run straight at you. Usually in zombie games, I would welcome a large group of zombies to tear through, but in State of Decay, taking on more than one is always a risk. Melee weapons and firearms are your main zombie killing tools. With melee, much less noise is made, but weapons can break and they’re horrible for crowd control. Firearms on the other hand can take out a small group with well placed headshots, but make a lot of noise, which can attract more zombies than you may have bullets for. Each gun in the game can take different types of ammo, so having the right kind of bullets for the gun you’ve just found is an intense feeling. Tip: Raid the gun shop as soon as possible!

In your inventory (upgradable by the size of the bag your carrying), you also have access to consumables, from painkillers to snacks, these will fill your health and stamina bar back up. You also can carry objects to distract zombies and even kill them with the likes of homemade Molotov Cocktails and mines. This being an open world game, there’s plenty of cars to drive around too. Cars can deteriorate over too much running over of the dead, as much fun as it is. Also, this seems like a truly consistent open world too. Houses I’ve fully emptied out don’t respawn more supplies and cars, once damaged, don’t heal or respawn either. Maybe this will change once you’re a far enough distance from the location it may reset when you revisit it later. So far though, that hasn’t happened and I hope it doesn’t, it adds to the survival aspect of the game.

Driving is made more fun when your car is covered in zombies!

Driving is made more fun when your car is covered in zombies!

Even with being a few hours into the game, I’ve not touched the story very much. Not that it’s bad, in fact, learning more about the early days of the infection is very interesting and I can’t wait to see what’s in store later down the line. But with so much to do, so many people to save, so many houses to explore and raid, there’s always something for you to do. Early insight into the story though has me interested in what’s to come, and that can only be a good thing. The game is also quite good-looking too. Whilst not on par with a lot of major releases, it’s still nice to look at for a cheaper, smaller release.

State of Decay is a fantastic game so far, giving off every impression that it can only get better. The developers, Undead Labs have said this game is very much the foundation of an open world survival zombie MMO. Depending on the success of this game, we may get that game in the future. They do deserve every single sale this game receives, and if you have yourself an Xbox 360, I recommend picking this game up as soon as you get the chance. It does fall into the premium side of the Xbox Live Arcade price point, at 1600 Microsoft Points. But very much like Minecraft before it, it’s definitely deserving of the higher price point.

-ast

PS4 or Xbox One?

A week ago, the world witnessed the reveal of the Xbox One The reaction to the Xbox One was unfavourable at best. After the hour-long conference, the PS4 was now the first choice amongst console gamers, Sony’s stock value increased by 9% and Microsoft had dug themselves into a very deep hole. I have always been an Xbox 360 gamer, it was the first (at the time) next-gen console I bought. I ended up purchasing a PS3 about a year and a half after the 360, yet still used my 360 as my primary platform. To this day I’ve accumulated over 150,000+ Gamerscore and played nearly every game I’ve ever wanted to. So when I’m ready to throw that all away for a new start on the PS4, that’s a sign that at the moment, the Xbox One has failed to impress.

I might wait for the slim version!

I might wait for the slim version!

Let us focus on the positives of the Xbox One conference. Firstly, the Halo TV Series was a very welcome surprise. Even though Steven Spielberg’s role is no doubt a minor one, the very idea of a Halo TV Series is exciting. Secondly, Remedy has a new game coming out. From the creators of Max Payne and the fantastic Alan Wake, Quantum Break looked very interesting. Judging from the trailer too, this game may see a TV Series of its own, with the trailer to the game being a mix of live action and game. Lastly, all the minor things like a Blu-ray drive, Skype and of course improved hardware, are fantastic.

I won’t focus on all the bad news we heard though, why you may ask? Well it was a console reveal conference, not a game reveal conference. So having Microsoft show what the Xbox One can do to make life more lazy than it already is, I fully expected. The wait for E3 now feels longer than it has ever been, only 2 weeks until we will know everything about both the Xbox One and PS4.

Specs for both Xbox One and PS4 have been revealed, and with many people stating the PS4 is already a more powerful machine, that had no effect on the current generation. The PS3 may have been more powerful, but yet it was harder to develop for and was more expensive. That’s the real kicker here, the price. Prices have not been announced for either the Xbox One or PS4, and whilst many gamers have their hearts set against the Xbox One, it will always boil down to the price. If the Xbox One is cheaper than the PS4, then I can almost guarantee that will be enough justification for some gamers.

I don’t think the competition of ‘Which Console is Better?’ will boil down to graphics, look of the console or even what games will be available. It will boil down to what is the cheaper option. PC gaming may be the only way to get the best out of a game, but why do you think everyone still hasn’t adopted PC gaming yet? Convenience? Not at all, it’s because it’s too expensive. Every Xbox One will come with a Kinect 2.0 included, that already boosts the value for money right there.

Looks nice, but how does it feel?

Looks nice, but how does it feel?

The PS4 is what I am looking forward to, being a member of PlayStation Plus and slowly but surely moving my gaming to my PS3, I start to understand why Sony has had so much success with the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 in the past. They focus on giving the gamer what they want the most, games. Not new ways to change a channel or surf the internet whilst watching a movie. However I still reserve my judgement until E3 is over and the dust has settled. Microsoft could throw game after game up on their conference screens. Sony could announce that the PS4 is £500 and shoot themselves in the foot again. Only time will tell.

-ast