The Hype Train: E3 2014 Edition.

bcdm_hypetrainNow that Nintendo’s pre-recorded E3 presser has been broadcast, the show is officially underway. The last of the five shows rounded out what could possibly be called the E3 Hype Train. There’s plenty of liveblogs out there that cover the five conferences, but here’s what I think are the biggest things to know from each.1

Microsoft 2

  • There’s a new Call of Duty. It’s called Advanced Warfare and it will be $60 USD of shooting people in the face circa the future. You can recreate the game’s experience by modding a Counter-Strike 1.6 server with any RPG mod you like along with HookMod.
  • Sunset Overdrive is oozing with style and should be one of the titles to watch out for that seems to be exclusively Xbox One. It’s Jet Set Radio with an extra ounce of kickass based on this trailer.
  • The new Fable game looks nice, but it won’t be outshining anything else. If you want a 4v1 game, wait for Evolve.
  • Halo 2 in the Halo 4 engine on the Xbox One? That’s reason enough to consider the Master Chief Collection. There’s also a pre-Halo 5 video series called Nightfall bundled in, but don’t worry about that. Dual wielding SMGs is officially back along with a ton of other stuff. Halo fans, get in line.
  • The Witcher 3 needs to be on your radar. IT NEEDS TO BE THERE.
  • The Division might seriously get some following on the Xbox scene, especially with how social the trailer shown off at this presentation seems to be. It took me a second to realize that these aren’t the characters in the game talking, the voice over in the trailers is meant to be coming from the players of those characters.

EA 3

  • Teased development and alpha assets are the new voice-over teaser trailers as far as video games are concerned. I’d rather a traditional trailer or two. See: Star Wars Battlefront.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition looks bad. Avoid.
  • The Sims 4 should be good fun, just don’t let your child play it. It’s not a child’s game, it’s for your teenager.
  • Any EA sports game that isn’t FIFA can be ignored as garbage. Even so, FIFA 15 is the first game in the series to be made for the current generation of hardware. It should look and run cleaner than it ever has before.
  • They made an Dota-clone called Dawngate. They claim that it has a meta. They probably expect you to pay for it. Go play Dota 2 or League of Legends instead.
  • The concepts for the upcoming Mirror’s Edge reboot are looking good. I hope they continue to invest in the development of the game. The world that DICE has dreamed up has a lot of potential and I believe you shouldn’t ignore this game simply for it being a first-person perspective game.
  • Battlefield: Hardline is a mod for Battlefield 4 that is being released as a whole new game. Avoid.

Ubisoft 4

  • FarCry 4 is another CryTek show-off fest and an edgy storyline. Just like FarCry 3. Just like FarCry 2. Just like… well, FarCry was okay.
  • The Crew is Ubisoft’s attempt at dethroning Gran Turismo or Forza from relevancy. They will fail if it has anything to do with Uplay.
  • Assassin’s Creed: Unity is supposed to be set during the French Revolution, in Paris… but not a single character is speaking French. How difficult would that have been?
  • A proper Rainbow Six game is being developed? BE STILL MY BEATING HEART. Siege looks likes it intends to undo every bad game made in the name of Tom Clancy since Rainbow Six, because they were all bad since Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon.

Sony 5

  • Destiny was the first game to be shown off, and for good reason. It’s going to be an important release for Sony console owners, with PS4 owners getting the first access to the game before the other platforms. A great trailer that explains the universe more than had been up to this point was released. Look forward to seeing leaked footage from the alpha all summer.
  • For non-PS4 owners, like myself, there’s a console bundle that will be available with Destiny. And I might pick it up. Because it looks pretty.
  • The Order 1886 is a game that looks like a CGI movie the entire time. It achieves this by being locked to 30 frames per second, but the graphics it can constantly produce make it worth while. It may be a gimmick, but it’s a good one.
  • From Software announced the spiritual successor to Dark Souls 2, a PS4 game called Bloodborne.
  • You don’t have to own FarCry 4 to play a multiplayer game with a friend that does. A huge feature that seems to be Sony taking a cue from Nintendo.
  • Double Fine is remastering Grim Fandango.

Nintendo 6

  1. Image at right completely lifted from somewhere on the Internet. I don’t own it. Chill out though. It’s an image macro. It’ll be okay. 
  2. Ars Technica: Microsoft’s pre-E3 2014 press conference 
  3. Ars Technica: EA’s pre-E3 2014 press conference 
  4. Ars Technica: Ubisoft’s pre-E3 2014 press conference 
  5. Ars Technica: Sony’s pre-E3 2014 press conference 
  6. Ars Technica: Nintendo’s pre-E3 2014 press conference 

It seems to be Titanfall or bust for FPS games.

One of the most viewed posts on my site is entitled “Will the next big competitive FPS please stand up?” in which I waxed nearly-poetic about how I thought that either Infinity Ward or EA were going to reclaim the FPS estate with Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3, respectively, only to find out that neither title lived up to the competitive goal they had set for each other.

bcdm_fps_titanfallA few other games have also come out into their own set of successes and failures that might have had an effect or two on the FPS genre as a whole. A little retrospective is in order, I’d imagine. A word of warning: I am incredibly ignorant when it comes to actually rating a game, but I have a reason for blasting through these games like I have. Just keep reading.

Oh yeah, this is a rant. I don’t even want to claim that anything following is factual, because I am dumb. This is just, my opinion, maaan.

Some good games, some bad games

Battlefield 3 enjoyed some success in its reboot of the famed name, thanks to the massive new vistas it created in both its single-player and online components. Seeing a radio tower collapse from ground level as an infantryman onto a tank driven by an enemy player right in front of me is one of those first-time experiences you don’t forget, even if I was playing the game 800×600. However, EA was not able to carry that momentum forward into its follow-up title, Battlefield 4. The latter is an exercise filled with game crashes and network issues that is so poor their Premium content calendar is open-ended, compared to the stable beat of content provided for Premium members in the previous title.

Fake Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 3 gave way to Treyarch’s Black Ops 2, a Call of Duty franchise addition which, in nearly every way, advanced the series forward with the focus being placed on keeping the experience at a fluid framerate while pushing the bounds of graphics on console systems. While dedicated servers and PC-specific support failed in this release, everything else about it felt great. I have to say, it reminded me so much of how good the original Modern Warfare (made by the true Infinity Ward) felt online. To this day, I have registered Black Ops 2 as one of the finest online experiences I’ve ever had with the Xbox 360.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been the only FPS game that I can really think of that has found its own success in not being like the others. Embracing a few of the new tricks that Valve and series co-developer Hidden Path have picked up from other multiplayer development and experimentation, CSGO has become a premier competitive title that isn’t only proven to be entertaining for spectators, but has become the pinnacle of what showcasing professional-level talent is all about in its high stakes format. I’ve been recently trying to give this game a serious go and I think that I am almost well enough versed in what to do that I could soon start playing competitive modes and get ranked. It’d be interesting to see how far I could get. Just another reason why this game has found success–and it’s not even a free-to-play game.

Activision’s truckload of money addiction made eventually allowed Fake Infinity Ward’s turn came back up to try to ship a title that people would buy en masse. Their Ghosts product certainly changed a few things. Instead of Treyarch’s easter-egg-turned-puzzle zombies game mode which eventually rated its own executable, Fake Infinity Ward decided that a future-looking design could be paired with aliens. This is just the co-op feature. Forcing a meta game shift into all other game modes while defacing or removing staple game modes helped turn off the most amount of vocal Call of Duty fans who keep YouTube channels or prop up the game’s competitive scene.

Thanks for the history lesson, but what am I supposed to grasp from all of that?

The trend one should notice is what types of FPS games have not really achieved any progression: the mainstream shooters. And it’s killing them.

That’s not to say that skill-based shooters aren’t worth investing in time into, but it’s just that there is an audience behind each game that is exclusive to that franchise or series. My thinking is that they more bells and whistles that they add to make the game more fun for casual players and players who have grown up with a particular series (fake-Infinity Ward, I’m looking at you, you sorry bunch of sellouts) increases the likelihood that the developer will miss the mark and eventually drop competitive-friendly features and support from future iterations in the series.

This was the case in the removal of a realistically usable spectator mode from Call of Duty in favor of the lobby-based multiplayer experience that crawled over to PCs from the booming consoles. When it takes a mobile television studio worth of HD A/V switchers and so on to effectively broadcast a game, of course the only realistic broadcasters for that title are going to be bigger competitions with a lot of money and capital behind them—MLG and Activision’s own million dollar competition.

Call of Duty, the proverbial titan of the genre, introduced meta gaming elements into a more traditional ruleset—chase after a player and they drop free points you can have for doing something completely stupid that forces you to play differently. Oh, and how about those killstreaks, man? I could give you a free one just for running around with a knife and playing Rambo for a split second.

Titanfall will have an impact on the level of what Modern Warfare brought to FPS

Forcing 6v6? Two roles for players? Proper balancing? No extra bullshit? Good matchmaking?

All of these are things that Titanfall will bring to the was-next-hen-now-current-gen table. Will the Call of Duty folks will be waiting for Treyarch to fix their series or Halo: The 343 Trilogy: Episode 2 to right the wrongs? Perhaps the Call of Duty faithful, but overall, the imting of Titanfall’s upcoming release is perfect. A late Q1/early Q2 release window for the title across several platforms ensures that only naysayers and legitimate EA boycotters (of which there are probably none, but just for the sake of suggesting all of the angles here…) will undoubtedly be wishing they didn’t have to drop another season’s pass worth of money on a game that appears to be more fun than Call of Duty or Halo—even though Halo 4 wasn’t really a step forward for the arena/hybrid shooter.

With a delayed Xbox 360 launch coming up, an on-time release for the Xbox One might be enough of an incentive to get the Xbox faithful, like myself, who are waiting for the right time to step up to the current generation console to decide that the right time is at Titanfall’s release. It might just be, speaking for myself, but that’s not the biggest reason that Titanfall will bring about a huge swing for the competitive FPS that isn’t Counter-Strike.

The biggest reason is that, thanks to League of Legends and other Dota-clones, small-team matchmaking is making a serious comeback into mainstream gaming culture. Forcing 6v6 into Titanfall is going to make the game become an even bigger deal in such a way so that the game could only become a genre-shattering title of even greater importance if it were free-to-play, pay-to-customize title akin to League of Legends. However, this is a EA joint, so I’m guessing that won’t ever happen in a million years to a title that will be released on console platforms because guaranteed money is better than free-to-play money for consoles.

I can’t think of any other FPS title that could see a release at this point that could dethrone a series like Call of Duty… but thanks to the lackluster attempts from EA’s DICE team to repair a broken-at-launch title and Activision’s fake-Infinity Ward group’s efforts to make a good game full-stop, Titanfall has the biggest chance to steal the industry’s spotlight away and run off with it.

At least until Treyarch gets up to bat again. Then we’ll have an old-fashioned one-up contest.

Here’s what I learned from CheckPoint S3E28 and S3E29.

Yeah, double post. Because holidays.

  • TV integration is half of the point of the Xbox One, isn’t it? This joke is trying to be funny. Eh.
  • Goth Kathleen on this episode? I don’t even.
  • Another DragonBall Z game that’s better than most of the television series? Standard.
  • Nintendo’s naming schemes for their first-party games reeks of some sort of Engrish that was corrected by native-English speakers for the sake of trying to save what’s left of Nintendo’s honor as a great gaming company. The only two titles holding that honor as close as possible are the latest Fire Emblem and Zelda titles for their 3DS handheld as far as I can tell.
  • I fully support CheckPoint being included in MSFT’s Xbox Live content plan for the upcoming year. They used to have Major Nelson and those two Brits do stuff on nearly a weekly basis. Why not bring those guys back? Oh wait–because Larry Hyrb is nothing more than a corporate mouthpiece and the two gamer tag show people weren’t funny at all.
  • More Nintendo news? STOP IT.
  • EA is just stealthily trying to rip off new IP to blow them up into the annual sequel plan, as most of their studios seem to be actually trying to make great new games for the latest generation, with this hackathon business.
  • Baww. But they’re Canadian, right? DEM JOKES, FOLKS.
  • Zach Galifinakis as Sonic? Comedy and game-to-film adaptations must be the two worst genre of movies that exist. Combining them surely creates a black hole of cinema, right?

  • A console commentary! Yaaay~!
  • Shin Megami Tensai 4 and Saints’ Row 4 as their games of the year? Boo.
  • ShiftyLook has some pretty funny stuff. The latest Scott & Kris creation is published there. And now a dating sim based on classic Namco properties’ characters? And the ship from Galaga is a romantic option? Is this the new CandyBox? It could be the new CandyBox.
  • A Tomb Raider card game for iOS? PASS.
  • A tie at retail but a clear win for the PS4 when you consider the second-hand market. Although the same number of systems have been sold overall… so maybe it’s still more of a tie, with the stipulation that PS4 owners are more likely to throw obscene amounts of money away in marked up prices.
  • Zoo… what?
  • A best-of-season sequence masqueraded as a finale review. Pretty good stuff.

And the ultimate sad news: I’m not going to cover this anymore if it means having to watch Twitch videos-on-demand. Having to watch unskippable pre-roll commercials longer than 10 seconds is not acceptable. I hope they continue posting these episodes to YouTube.