Years ago I used to get excited about E3 and the myriad of game announcements that would flood from out of it. But these days it’s a little harder to get excited about the event for a variety of reasons. The strange way in which its ran has resulted in a lot of companies holding their own conferences and events outside of E3. Over the years its become more and more commercial with more and more stilted speeches.
This year felt like the big companies were mostly paddling water due to the next generation arriving next year. There were some good games shown but nothing ever felt properly amazing.
And there was a significant lack of actual gameplay footage. Instead, there was the usual barrage of badly scripted speeches, PR speak and big production values surrounding simple trailers. Splashes of gameplay footage here or there failed to give us a true look at the upcoming games.
Still, there’s a lot to talk about coming out of the show, so let’s delve into just a few things from E3, 2019.
Xbox Scarlett Will Launch Next Year
For me the biggest news coming out of the show was Microsoft’s officially announcement of their next console. New hardware is always an exciting prospect.
The console itself wasn’t shown nor were we given an official name, instead it’s still going by Project Scarlett. What we did get, though, were some specs to mull over. On paper the Scarlett reads a lot like the previously revealed Playstation 5, but that’s because we haven’t gotten any real numbers yet.
First of all, the new Xbox will have an AMD Zen 2 CPU under the hood. Even with the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro the processing power of this generation’s consoles has been horrible. With the next generation finally moving to stronger CPUs we should hopefully see improvements in physics, open worlds and, most importantly in my view, A.I. How many times do we play a shooter or something these days and laugh at the seemingly brain-dead A.I.? Anyway, the new Zen chips are a massive leap in performance over this generation’s Jaguar architecture. Most likely is both the Xbox and the Playstation will use the same 8-core Zen CPU.
For the GPU Microsoft again matched Sony by simply saying that we’re getting an AMD graphics card with custom ray-tracing. Ray-tracing is indeed a nice inclusion, but so far it typically results in big performance hits, so I’m curious to see how both companies will handle this.
Like the PS5 Project Scarlett will have an SSD of unspecified size. This will drastically reduce loading times. But while the price of SSDs has come down they’re still quite pricey when it comes to mass storage. If they can hit 1TB of storage I’d be okay with that. Hell, I might even take a drop to 500GB to keep the cost down while vanquishing loading screens.
That SSD is going to be backed up by GDDR6 RAM. Micosoft briefly mentioned using this as virtual RAM as well.
In terms of backwards compatability there should be no issues. Microsoft announced that all our Xbox One X accessories will work just fine on the new console. There’s no reason to believe that Xbox One X games won’t play perfectly, too.
Finally, Microsoft claim that their console will support 8K and 120Hz refresh rates. This is technically all true, but don’t expect to be gaming at 8K any time soon. Still, the new consoles should make 4K gaming much more viable.
The new console will arrive in 2020. Better get saving.
Halo To Be A Next-Gen Launch Title
Speaking of 4K gaming Microsoft also revealed that Halo Infinite will be a launch title for the new console, and will be running at native 4K. We got to see a short trailer that left me feeling…nothing, to be honest.
For the first glimpse at the next generation of games the Halo trailer was lacklustre from a graphical standpoint. Nothing stood out to me.
As for the content of the trailer, the music was exceptional as always but everything else was underwhelming. I did appreciate the tone and the focus on the stranded marine rather than just showing us a bunch of meaningless action. And I did get a chill when the marine wiped away the ice on the glass to reveal the Chief and the classic music kicked in. Yet it all felt…meh.
Still, as launch games go having Halo release alongside your new console is about as good as it gets.
Keenu Reeves in Cyberpunk 2077
No, wait, I take it back: Halo as a launch title isn’t as good as things get. Keenu fucking Reeves in your video game is as good as it gets.
There’s very little to say about this except that Keanu Reeves seems like a genuinely great guy and it’s fantastic to see him in the game. His short stage presentation came across as charming, with Keanu being humble while clearly loving being there.
And then the Internet blew up when Keanu used the word, “breathtaking,” in a sentence to which a now legendary man in the audience yelled, “You’re breathtaking!” Keanu called him breathtaking back, then called the entire audience breathtaking. Best freaking moment of E3 right there.
Exactly how much of a role Keanu will have in the game is impossible to tell at this stage, but he seems to be an integral part of the plot.
Game Journalists Being Idiots Again
Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like the modern world seeks to find offense where no offense was even intended. Take the recent furor over Cyberpunk 2077 as an example: an article written over at Rock Paper Shotgun by the otherwise superb Matthew Cox focuses little on the gameplay demo he was shown and much more ethnic minorities and other things. This isn’t to say that such topics are not worth discussing, but the way Cox handles it is…well, basic.
Cox raises the question of a gang named Animals that seem to be pre-dominantly black. He says, while watching the person playing the demo gunning down the Animal members, “I feel increasingly uncomfortable that we’re shooting at predominantly black people labelled as animals. ” This seems to deliberately ignore the fact that they aren’t being labelled as animals. They’ve called their gang Animals, which is quite typical gang behaviour.
But why does it matter that they’re black? Skin color doesn’t matter. Of course, this raises the argument that why shouldn’t the gang be made up of white people, then? Because that wasn’t the creators vision for them, would be my guess, and personally I believe the creators should be allowed to create their world and their characters as they see them in their own mind. If they want a per-dominantly black gang why can’t that be the case? It only becomes a an issue when we make it an issue.
Plus, in our own world gangs are typically made up of one or two ethnic groups. This is quite normal. The developers apparently told Cox that as you play through more of the game it becomes clear that the Animals are not primarily black, rather much more mixed. Right now what Cox is doing is in essence the same as taking one small quote from a sentence. Without context it’s meaningless and could be twisted any number of ways.
A later gang called the Voodoo Boys is mostly made of Haiti refugees. Again, the game is providing a reason for the gang being made up primarily of a single race: the Haiti refugees were placed in a single area.
Cox says, “He told me that most of the city were mixed race, but the backstory for this particular area concerned most people being immigrants from Haiti. By itself, that would be fine. But near the end of the demo, we meet a white man in a suit and tie who gives us the information we need. He also tells us the Voodoo Boys are going to turn on us the moment we’ve done their dirty work – and is immediately proved right.”
Cox goes on to describe this as a problem, but I don’t see one. The corporate man is likely to betray you as well since this is a dystopian cyberpunk game where the mega-corps are even more souless than they are today – which is really saying something. The fact that the man is white only becomes an issue when you choose to make it one. Why can’t it just be a character? Who is to say that racism and stereotypes aren’t to play a big part in the story? Perhaps in this dystopia there are clear racism problems, include white people being dominant. We don’t know these things yet, but instead of examining the entire work of Cyberpunk 2077 journalists are attempting to strip it down without context. Sure, you could argue that the demo shouldn’t feature stuff like this, then, but if the entire game is based around such topics then it’d be stupid not to show it.
The outrage has continued thanks to people spotting an advertisement where a drink is being advertised by a man/slash woman who clear has a pretty monstrous cock. The advertisement tells people to, “mix it up!” and thus a bunch of journalists have decided to take offense. I’m still honestly not sure why. All I see is a corporation in a dystopian, cyberpunk game exploiting a model to sell their stuff, just like they do in our world. Hell, the fact that the model is trans is actually a good thing, I would have thought. Here’s a trans person being represented just like the rest of us, by which I mean being used as advertising.
I’ve made it clear before that I don’t have time for SJW and political correctness bullshit, and even less time when it’s frivolous nonsense being spouted by those who seem intent on creating arguments where none need exist. As a world we’ve managed to come along way in combating racism, sexism and other issues. Yet the media continues to push these things as massive issues at the expense of other problems that must be talked about. The blunt truth is a model in Cyberpunk 2077 having a huge dick is only a big controversy because some journalists decided it was a controversy.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Looks Okay
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a game I’m really looking forward to, especially since its Respawn Entertainment developing it. The demo that was shown, though, didn’t excite me like I had hoped. Then again, I’m a cynical, jaded bastard.
Luckily for Respawn the new Star Wars films introduced special batons that can parry lightsabers has helped balance gameplay a lot. We get to see plenty of lightsaber action that looks fun, plus some cool Force abilities. There’s even some giant spiders, because apparently a video game can’t not have giant spiders.
Anyway, while the demo didn’t blow me away it still looks pretty damn good. Respawn did excellent work with the singleplayer campaign of Titanfall 2, so I have faith in them to deliver the strong Star Wars game we’ve all been waiting for. We just have to cross our fingers that EA keeps their dirtier practices away from it.
Watch Dogs Legion Has Some Great Ideas
Y’know, after Ubisoft taking the time to say that they aren’t trying to say anything political in their games it’s a little bonkers that Watch Dogs Legion is set in a post-Brexit London where everything has gone horribly wrong thanks to leaving the EU. Seems quite political, I reckon.
Anyway, Watch Dogs Legion has a very cool idea at its core: you can play as anyone in the game. Basically you can recruit any NPC in the world to your cause by doing a few missions for them or doing other things, like helping pay hospital bills and such. If you successfully recruit them you can then play as them. With each one falling into one of three classes and being upgradeable there’s plenty of reason to keep them alive, too. Plus, their jobs and relationships could come in rather handy.
It’s a bold and imaginative idea that sounds amazing. I have to be honest and say that I’m not sure if Ubisoft can really pull it off, at least not in the way they describe it. They’ve painted a picture of a vast, interconnecting city where everyone matters and could feed into other things, but I wonder if there will be very obvious “important” recruits and everyone else will be just generic playable avatars.
Regardless, I’m pretty hyped to see what Watch Dogs Legion can do. Even if it doesn’t live up to Ubisoft’s vision the demo shown was pretty cool.
Marvel’s Avengers Finally Gets A Release Date
Marvel’s Avengers has been known about for so long that the fact it finally got a release date almost feels impossible to believe. And yet it’s true; Marvel’s Avengers will release on May 15th, 2020. That’s going to be a tricky time because it places the game’s launch close to the likes of Cyberpunk 2077 and the Final Fantasy 7 remake.
Of the game itself all we got to see was a so-so trailer. According to Square Enix this is going to be a wholly new take on the Avenger’s, yet the character designs seem to mimic their film counterparts, if those film counterparts had been working in the local supermarket and eating too many bags of Haribo. There’s already been a lot of people wanting the designs changed, but Square Enix are standing firm on their character’s. I can respect, even if I personally don’t like the look of them, either.
Actual gameplay footage only got shown behind closed doors to the press. It seems to be a 3RD person action game where you get to play as the various Avengers (Hawkeye not seen, though) with a co-op mode as well. Square Enix are keeping pretty quiet about how multiplayer will work, though, which is a little odd because you’d think co-op in an Avengers game would be the biggest selling point.
From Software & George R.R. Martin Are Making A Game
Although some of the surprise was ruined thanks to the project being leaked early, it was still cool to get confirmation that From Software and George R.R. Martin are working together.
The project is titled Elden Ring and I have absolutely no idea what it’s going to be. Apparently there will an open world and George R.R. Martin has crafted the lore.
I’m not the biggest fan of Martin’s writing style, but when it comes to sheer detail, world-building and lore the man is an absolute unit of a writer. His Song of Ice & Fire series is incredibly detailed and excels at making the reader feel like they’re their in the world right beside the characters.
From Software’s track record is nothing short of superb and Martin has proven himself one of the best writers around, so needless to say I’m pretty excited to see what their alliance can bring.
DOOM Eternal Looks Awesome
While gameplay at E3 was a little lacking we did get a decent look at DOOM Eternal, and by God am I ready for that game. Oof.
The footage shows a lot of work has gone into new ways of moving around, making the action even more frantic. Considering how much I loved the DOOM reboot and how damn good the footage looks, you could say that I’m a little bit excited about DOOM Eternal.
Dying Light 2 Is Shaping Up Nicely
Another game got some proper gameplay footage, though the footage actually came after the press conference. Dying Light 2 is obviously the sequel to the original Dying Light, a rather excellent open-world zombie-fighting game.
The headline here is that Dying Light 2 promises to have branching storylines with decisions that have notable consequences. During the hands-off demo that was shown to the press it was noted that there were plenty of decisions to be made, and that it made the game feel more like an RPG.
The footage also showed off the improved parkour and the satisfyingly chunky combat system. There seems to be even fewer guns this time, so extra emphasis will be on scavenging materials to craft weapons.
Techland look like they’ve done a good job on Dying Light 2 so far. If they can weave the branching narrative into the existing parkour, melee and open world framework then they could have something special on their infected hands.
Aaaaand that’s it for another E3. There’s a lot of stuff I didn’t tackle like Gears of War 5 and Out Worlds and loads of smaller games, but I figure you’ll get plenty about those on other sites. I just wanted to chat about a few topics and a couple of games.
Categories: Patch Notes