A slightly different batch of news updates this week, as it turns out most of the news occurred in Los Angeles, at a quaint little gathering which is colloquially known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
E3 Kings of Orient Awe
This week saw the annual news fest that is E3 – bringing all the big names together for a game of “who has the biggest surprise announcement that wasn’t already leaked”. This year’s entries were as expected – some hardware, a few re-releases and a couple of new titles in fan-favourite series – but there were still a few welcome surprises thrown into the mix. Here’s a run-down of some of the convention’s attention-grabbing headlines from their big-name presentations:
Captain Scarlett and the Mysterxboxones
Microsoft’s show revolved around the long-expected next-gen console which incorporates most of the latest buzzwords that gamers will pay money for, and it is going to have bigger numbers for the things gamers want more of, and smaller numbers for the things they want less of. Oh yeah, and the focus was on being a “gaming machine” rather than an “all-round entertainment device” which failed to attract anyone when the Xbox One was revealed. Halo is getting a new instalment – Halo Infinite – which will be a launch title for the new console.
Not wanting to hammer the nails in the current generation’s coffin too soon, they also announced that the Xbox One would be getting a remote play feature – streaming off your Xbox One to “anywhere” from this October. There’s also a new controller which has an internal battery – because Microsoft have realised it’s now well into the 21st Century and we’ve gotten rid of all those old cell batteries now.
There’s a fifth instalment of the Gears of War franchise coming this September, except they’ve apparently given up with all that war stuff and so this one is simply going to be called Gears 5. We’ll be getting a new Microsoft Flight Simulator (Xbox One and PC), a new Dragonball action RPG title which looks suitably batshit, and they showed off a new trailer for The Outer Worlds from the fine peeps at Obsidian. We also saw a new trailer for Minecraft Dungeons, the dungeon crawling co-op spinoff which is due to come out next year for PC, Xbox, Switch and PS4.
In other developments, Tim Schafer’s company Double Fine is being added to Xbox Studios and we got to see a new trailer for Psychonauts 2. Microsoft also provided confirmation that the new game which has George R.R. Martin on board – Elden Ring – is being developed by FromSoftware and directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki of Dark Souls fame. Weirdly enough, we’ll be getting a Western release of Phantasy Star Online 2 – coming to PC and Xbox One next year – and it will be free to play.
There was also a new Battletoads game confirmed, a trailer for the new first-person multiplayer combat title from Ninja Theory, Bleeding Edge, as well as a new Blair Witch game because that franchise is just hot shit right now(!). I’ve not even mentioned the Lego DLC for Forza Horizon 4, the remastered Age of Empires 2, or the massive bucketful of indie titles coming to the Xbox Game Pass.
If Microsoft is serious about its next-gen console being “designed and built and optimised for one thing, and one thing only: gaming”, well, this presentation certainly seemed like they are making moves in the right direction.
Keanu. Fucking. Reeves.
We already knew that Cyberpunk 2077 is coming next year and we’ve already seen plenty of gameplay and learned about the long development of this futuristic epic. What nobody expected was John Wick.
This was actually during the Microsoft event, but I felt like it needed its own headline. When they introduced CD Projekt Red’s section, a calm and suave-looking Keanu Reeves strolled out onto the stage and introduced the new cinematic trailer, showing that the man himself will feature in the game and he just looks bionically amazing. They confirmed the release date too – 16th April 2020 – so we’ll just have to rewatch the Matrix trilogy a few hundred times to prepare for the big day.
EA’s showing this year wasn’t too spectacular. We got to see a shitload more footage of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order including a bunch of gameplay. It was impressive and the combat looked fluid and varied, which will pretty much make-or-break this title. There was also some jumping about and climbing, fighting some spider bug thingies and some reckless abuse of an R2 droid.
The response from those who got to demo the upcoming title was largely positive, although some are concerned that it could be too linear – which seems pretty likely from the short section in the gameplay video – however once the battles get a bit more hectic and the training wheels come off, you might get more flexibility in how you approach later missions.
Aside from that, we got a gushing video about how EA is working with “Small Studios” to make “Great Games” under the EA Originals programme which includes Rustheart by Glowmade, which is basically the Iron Giant in videogame form. I’ll admit that I smiled when Joseph Fares from Hazelight described the “3 Fs” of smaller studio development being fun, focus and fuck shit up. EA are also working with Jo-Mei Games and Zoink! on upcoming titles, but they were a little cagey about exactly what or when those are coming.
We also learned that a bunch of DLC is coming soon – including Island Living for the Sims 4, and some new maps coming to Battlefield 5 – plus a sneak peek at this year’s sports titles (Fifa 20 and Madden 20). There is also new features coming to Apex Legends, with a new character, weapon and ranked game mode being added a little after the start of “Season 2” on 2nd July.
Managing the Fallout fallout
Bethesda had a warm and fuzzeh “this is for our fans” presentation – even going so far as to acknowledge the absolute shitshow that was Fallout 76, with a beautifully-awkward moment where Todd Howard tries to make a joke about it, and an introductory video which included the line “you are definitely not afraid to tell us how you feel”. Yep. Well anyway, there were a few nuggets of good news thrown into the mix this year. Here’s what they announced:
For starters, Fallout 76 is getting a big content update called Wastelanders which will add in NPCs to the game (what a great idea, and the crowd agreed with an entertaining scream of “thank you”). The game is also getting “choices and consequences” and there will be dialogue trees (it’s almost like they’re making a Fallout game) plus a new main quest plus new weapons and gear. Whether Year 2 will heal the wounds from Year 1 remains to be seen, but the new update will be free and coming out later this year. Oh yeah, and there’s a battle royale game mode called Nuclear Winter coming where you fight against 51 other players for the chance to become Overseer of Vault 51. Because why not. If you want to try the “Year 1” version and get a sneak peek at the battle royale mode, there’s currently a free week to try the game until 17th June.
A new game from Tango Gameworks, who made The Evil Within, is called Ghostwire: Tokyo and it is described as an action adventure game – definitely *not* a survival horror game – even though it looks creepy as hell. The trailer didn’t give too much away, apart from there’s a bunch of people disappearing in Tokyo and some sort of spookiness going on. Another trailer giving away not very much arrived in the form of Deathloop from Arkane Studios Lyon, who created Dishonoured. There seems to be a time travel mechanic and it appears you’ll be able to play your own way – so long as your way involves shooting, leaping about and using Jedi-esque powers.
We saw a new story trailer for Doom Eternal, which is due to release on 22nd November 2019. They also announced a multiplayer mode called “Battlemode” (ingenious) plus you’ll not only smash your way through Hell but also pop up to Heaven for a bit of the old shooty stompy as well. Cooolz. Wolfenstein is getting two new spinoff titles next month, firstly a VR title called Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot and also a co-op shooter called Wolfenstein: Youngblood. They also mentioned that Rage 2 is getting a new expansion called Rise of the Ghosts.
The early access mobile title – Elder Scrolls: Blades – is coming to the Switch later this year with joy-con motion controls. Apparently, it will also be free-to-play and will allow cross-play with the mobile version, meaning you can adventure while out and about and then pick up the Switch to continue playing when you’re… out and about? Oh, and the mobile version has a new storyline involving dragons, plus a bunch of new jobs, decorations and the introduction of jewellery – that update is out now. The Elder Scrolls Online is also getting some new content – called Scalebreaker – and there’s a new expansion for the card game Elder Scrolls Legends. Nothing more about Elder Scrolls 6, although they did say that they are “working hard on it”. No word on the teased Starfield which made a showing last year either. Pah.
Finally, they showed off some new tech for game streaming called Orion, which is basically par for the course this year and they wouldn’t have been allowed in the club without a new streaming service. They also announced a reworking of Commander Keen in mobile form and it’ll be free-to-play. I haven’t played the original so I’m not really sure what that one is all about, but it’s coming to Android and iOS this summer and it looks like you place down a bunch of items to progress through colourful levels and beat baddies. It looks a bit weird, but it could very well be a good weird.
I am Legion, for we are many (bugs)
Ubisoft had difficulty keeping this one under wraps, but the proper reveal was still quite impressive. Watch Dogs Legion is coming on 6th March 2020 and has a nice twist on the sandbox action RPG format: you can “recruit” any NPC into your legion and they will be a unique playable character – all fully voiced, animated and ready to join your posse in game. It’s set in London with a dystopian vibe and widespread surveillance. The gameplay looks really smooth and interesting, with plenty of scope to make the most of your recruitment abilities.
The concept certainly seems like a development nightmare, and I’m fully expecting the day one game-breaking bugs to utterly ruin their reviews but… fair play for trying it. Legion caught my attention and the concept sounds like it would make a really entertaining game. Let’s just wait and see whether they can pull it off.
There’s a new adventure game that looks suspiciously like a Greek-style yoghurt Breath of the Wild which they are calling Gods & Monsters. It’s from the team behind Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, it’s got a beautiful art style with a focus on mythology and sword-swinging. In the short teaser, we saw some monsters, and an armoured hero who leaps into the air with bravado. It’s due to release on 25th Feb 2020 so not long until we learn more about this new title.
There was another surprise in the form of Roller Champions which is a roller derby game. They didn’t really need to say more, I’m sold already. It will be free-to-play and it’s a skills-based team PvP competitive sport title with plenty of flair and personality. It looks funky as hell and I can definitely see myself playing this game. A demo has been released so you download the E3 demo from the Ubisoft website to try this one out.
Ubisoft are launching a subscription Service called UPlay+ which is also coming to Google Stadia next year. You should be able to play all their new releases with this subscription, but $15 per month just for one publisher’s catalogue might be a bit steep – especially when you can get a nice selection of titles through services like the Xbox Games Pass and PS Plus. I’m reserving judgement on this one until we learn a bit more about it – it launches on 3rd September.
Just Dance 2020 is coming out on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Google Stadia and… the Wii. As in, the actual Wii. I almost didn’t believe it when I saw that. Rainbow Six: Quarantine, a 3-player co-op shooter is coming early next year. Plus, a new mobile strategy game called Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad. Adventure Time legends Finn, Jake, and Princess Bubblegum are coming to Brawlhalla as playable characters.
In a sideways move, Ubisoft are partnering up with the guys from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia to make a new comedy TV show about game development – Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet – which will be shown on Apple’s TV service.
And finally, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey gets the Discovery Tour treatment which Origins… er… originated, plus there’s a new quest builder called “Story Creator” and it’s in open beta now.
As expected, we got a whole lot of Final Fantasy remaster/makes at this year’s show, as well as a few unexpected delights which made me moist.
Obviously, the big news that everyone has been waiting for – yes, a Final Fantasy 8 remaster is coming! I might be in the minority when it comes to Squall’s adventure, but maybe the passage of time will make people realise how amazing this (admittedly complex and bombastic) role playing game was. It’s due to release on Switch, PC, PS4 and Xbox One at some point in 2019. (Squall will always be my furry collared love – Robin)
We saw a bunch more footage of the Final Fantasy 7 remake, which is looking pretty slick. Newly announced is the release date (for the first part) of 3rd March 2020 which is exciting but still no idea how many parts will eventually come out and when the whole thing will be finished. It was good to get a more in-depth look at the gameplay. It will have the action bar meter, party control switching, stagger mechanics and general frantic slashing of recent games. The revised combat system is now a mix of real-time attacks alongside a tactical mode, which basically freezes the action and brings up a menu a-la turn-based commands stylee.
The gameplay looks nicely balanced, bringing the game into the modern era while still holding on to the magic and tactical play which made the original so enjoyable. The cutscenes look gorgeous as well, reigniting my crush on Cloud, Barret, Tifa, and Aeris all at once. Apparently, the dialogue is several times bigger than the original, allowing personality and depth to shine through with each of your favourite Avalanche buddies.
Then there was the new trailer for the upcoming Avengers game, due to release next year and featuring Black Widow, Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor. The game will have content released over several years and will have 4-player online co-op, with no lootboxes or pay-to-win.
If we get to save the world accompanied by 3 friends with action looking even nearly as good as the trailer indicated, then this should be something quite special – it’s expected to come out on 15th May 2020.
Aside from that, we got confirmation that Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is getting a re-release on mobile devices as well as Switch and PS4 later this year (hell yes). The Last Revenant was released on Switch on the day of the presentation – so be sure to check that out – and then there’s a Western release of Romancing Saga 3 on pretty much every device, a 1-3 player co-op shooter called Outlanders from the developers of Bulletstorm (People Can Fly) and the game previously announced as “Apex Racing League” has rebranded as Circuit Superstars and will release in 2020 (although they haven’t gotten round to updating their website yet).
Oh, boy, did Nintendo drop a raft of new trailers and game announcements on us this year! We knew about several of these games from previous Nintendo Directs, but many of them were totally new (and possibly what Nintendo were trying to keep under wraps by threatening legal action). So let’s get stuck into the list of shit that Nintendo revealed at E3.
The sequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is “in development”. Apart from a dark-as-shit micro-trailer we don’t really know anything else about it (does it feature the Lich from Adventure Time?). Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is coming to Switch on 27th September this year and it looks gorgeous. Luigi’s Mansion 3 – featuring Gooigi as a co-op partner and a new multiplayer co-op mode called “ScareScraper” – is apparently coming to Switch in 2019!
The new Animal Crossing game – New Horizons – is sadly delayed until 20th March 2020, having originally been scheduled to release later this year. The Link’s Awakening remake has a new trailer and will come with dungeon builder – out on Switch on 20th September. We got another trailer for Cadence of Hyrule, the rhythm game Zelda mashup, which is out next week! Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games are at the starting gate ready for Tokyo 2020. There’s 2 new fighters coming to Super Smash Bros in the form of Dragon Quest’s Hero and Banjo-Kazooie.
There’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics – yes, it’s a frigging Dark Crystal game – tying in with the new series on Netflix this summer. A Trials of Mana remake is coming to Switch in early 2020, plus the original 3 games have been bundled into a collection (Final Fantasy Adventure, Secrets of Mana, Trials of Mana) and they’re available on the Switch shop now! Then we have Fire Emblem: Three Houses which is confirmed to be coming out on 26th July 2019 (just over a month away!).
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition is coming to Switch this year. Resident Evil 5 and 6 are coming soon to Switch (alongside RE0, 1 and 4). No More Heroes 3 has been announced and it’s coming to Switch in 2020. A new Contra game called Rogue Corps is coming out on 24th September 2019 with both local and online multiplayer gameplay. It’s 3D but it has wacky characters and explosions so it’s surely going to be great fun. There’s also an anniversary collection of 10 Contra games which is out on the Nintendo eShop today!
Whoo-boy! I’m pretty exhausted after all of that. You can take a look at the full Nintendo Direct video to see them all for yourself, but many of the above titles will get a proper airing during the next few days in the Nintendo Treehouse videos.
While we were getting carried away with all the exciting stuff that’s coming out in the next year or so… some games were actually being released right now. Like, actually right this second. Ah, too late – you missed it.
|THE LAST REMNANT Remastered||NS||Square Enix||10/6/2019|
|A Duel Hand Disaster: Trackher||NS||Ask an Enemy Studios||11/6/2019|
|Top Speed 2||An||T-Bull||11/6/2019|
|Verlet Swing||PS4||Flamebait Games||11/6/2019|
|Animal Notes||An/iOS/PC||Jinny Lab Inc.||13/6/2019|
|Dragon Star Varnir||PS4||Reef Entertainment||14/6/2019|
|Verlet Swing||NS/XO||Flamebait Games||14/6/2019|
And no News Hit would be complete without a quick look at other stuff that happened this week outside of E3. Good lord those gaming gremlins have been busy this week.
- Your favourite regular-sided aquatic Bob game is getting a remaster
- Apparently Xbox gamers smell of mint, sage and shame
- Bungie admits that it can’t convince players to pay money for Destiny 2
- Google Stadia is going to have some games, but even the paid subscription won’t be enough to play everything they offer
- Divine inspiration must have struck the (Baldurs) Gate
- Borderlands 3 DLC leaked… err… actually it’s for Borderlands 2!?!
- The current climate feels appropriate for Destroy All Humans to make a return
- Yooka Laylee has achieved the impossible (lair)
- Ni No Kuni 1 is getting remastered for PC and PS4… and just re-released for Switch
- Play a bunch of fake (real) Devolver games with this collection
- A heartwarming tale about game development-cum-actual game announcement for Spiritfarer