E3 – Anthem, Sekiro, Cyberpunk 2077, Fallout 76

895 wc

Fine! I’ll write something about the E3s and whatnot. I’m not a big fan of these kinds of game conferences but I actually sat down and watched some showcases this weekend, because really, who among us can honestly say they’d pass up a chance to write snarky tweets and ruin people’s fun on the Internet.

I missed most of the EA show on Friday. I started watching right before the Anthem gameplay footage, which was followed by approximately 20 continuous hours of FIFA gameplay.

I heard there was a new Star Wars game but I’ve never gotten into Star Wars games. I’ve played SWTOR, and maybe two other Star Wars games in my lifetime. Dark Forces I think? Way back in the Doom/Duke Nukem days. I think I have the Lego Star Wars games but I doubt I played even a full hour.

I’m not even close to sold on Anthem yet. I read something that says it’s possible to play solo, but it’s definitely intended to be played with friends, so that pretty much rules it out for me. Beyond that, while the game scenery and environments looked gorgeous, the gameplay looked like yet another recycling of a game we’ve already played, and a shallow one at that. So far, the only reasons I can see to buy the game are a) peer pressure and b) boasting about your graphics hardware.

I watched the entire Xbox show on Saturday, but only one game jumped out at me as something I might actually buy and play: From Software’s Sekiro. We didn’t learn very much about it, but it looked like a more story-driven Dark Souls in an Asian setting, and if it’s available for the PC, there’s a good chance I’ll buy it.

The rest of the show didn’t do much for me. I’m not a console player and I didn’t see any games that made me feel like I needed to buy an Xbox.

I’m obviously interested in Cyberpunk 2077, since the Witcher series is so good, but it’s too early to devote brain cells to thinking about it. I’m a tiny bit too old to “automatically” love the cyberpunk genre. My internal pre-game hype usually only begins on launch day, or whenever the game is downloading to my computer. I’ve been around games way too long to fall for any attempts to get me excited about something that I can’t put my hands on and play. Roughly 90% of all games are average or worse, and there’s no reason to think these new ones will be different, and wishing and hoping they’ll be different just leads to disappointment.

Saturday night, Bethesda finally told us something about Fallout 76. I started laughing when they chose this as the very first multiplayer footage to show: You shoot another player, that player kneels down in surrender, and then you shoot him in the head execution-style. That was literally the first multiplayer gameplay footage of the game shown. Later they showed a group of four people jumping and skipping and having cooperative fun or whatever, but the first thing they showed was your basic animalistic gankbox-style PvP.

That’s got to be sending a message.

Later they told us that you and your friends can find the codes to launch nuclear missiles to blow up anything on the map. So that tells me not to bother putting much work into building a house or a settlement or whatever, because roving gangs of Random Internet Strangers can just wipe it off the map anytime.

Also, for some unknown reason, there will be big fantasy-style monsters in the Fallout world.

I’m not saying I hate what I saw, but you could just feel the waves of despair from PvE MMO players rolling out across the world. Everyone wanted a happy, friendly, let’s-play-together Fallout MMO, and this isn’t going to be that. This sounds like it’s going to be an indie survival sandbox, scaled way up to AAA size. I personally have wanted to see somebody finally make a full-blown AAA survival sandbox (Conan Exiles was a disappointment), but Bethesda is going to have to be really, really careful or they’re going to alienate a lot of Fallout fans here. (Trying to find a picture for this post, I saw that the YouTube stream chat just exploded in outrage.)

I’m sure they’ll be looking closely at feedback from E3, but if they really are planning to launch in November 2018, it’s too late to do a whole lot of course correcting on their basic design.

The rest of the Bethesda stuff meant nothing to me. RAGE 2 looks like a continuation of the averageness of RAGE 1 (I didn’t dislike it, I just lost interest after a couple hours-it suffered from “this is the same game I’ve played a million times before” syndrome). Skyrim Blades would be great if it was a PC game, but I’m not going to play a first-person 3D game on a phone, ever. The announcement of The Elder Scrolls VI was great, but also inevitable. Considering the runaway success of the previous games, I never had any doubt there would be another one. Starfield sounds … like a title, and nothing else. (Though I’d be shocked if it wasn’t a Mass Effect clone, and considering how Bioware abandoned their franchise, it’s the perfect time for it.)

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