I’ve been away at the E3 show all week, seeing games that, for the most part, look cool but won’t be out until next year. It only seemed right that my Gameological colleague here at the show, Ryan Smith, and I talk about the E3 games that we wish we could play this weekend. We’d love to hear your answers, too. And of course, tell us what games you’ll actually be playing this weekend.
Matt Gerardi: We saw a lot of promising games this week.
Ryan Smith: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it was probably my personal favorite E3 ever. Granted, my expectations were basement-low because I figured this would be a letdown year post next gen system launch. But I was amazed at all the incredible games this year. The bigger publishers are making fewer games, but the quality seems higher. And the indies are in full effect.
MG: Yeah, some of the bigger companies really brought it this year, which is a pleasant surprise. This was the kind of show that was reassuring, especially after, let’s face it, a couple of pretty flat years.
Now, this is What Are You Playing This Weekend, but since we’re out here seeing all this stuff, I figured we’d tweak things a bit. So what did you see at E3 that you wish you could be playing this weekend?
RS: I’d like to be playing Oculus Rift games. This was the first time in my seven E3s that VR had a pretty large presence, and I’m sold on it being the “next big thing” in games. Even if I can’t play more than 15 minutes at a time because of motion sickness. I had a mild Neil Armstrong moment while moonwalking in one VR demo, and in another, I actually felt slight horror in a survival horror demo when I had to turn my body 90 degrees to see some zombie/mutant things running at me. Everything felt very fresh. How about you?
MG: The one game I won’t be writing up for a preview but really wish I could be playing this weekend is the new Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. There’s really not much to say about it. It’s Super Smash Bros. It feels a lot like Melee from the GameCube, which is a touchstone of my gaming history. I don’t even know how many hundreds of hours I sunk into that game. And since my friends and I were not fans of Brawl, the version on the Wii, it’s been a long time since Smash Bros. felt new and relevant. This Wii U installment scratches that itch. It’s fast and frantic and a lot of fun.
RS: Speaking of sudden relevance, I was impressed with Battlefield: Hardline. I panned it after seeing the initial trailer, in part because of the stupid title. Cops battling criminals in a city has nothing to do with neither battlefields nor “hardlines,” whatever that means. But I sat down with a big multiplayer demo and had lots of fun. My den of urban thieves were supposed to blow up an armored car and get away with the loot while escaping from the coppers. The whole thing felt like a modern Counter-Strike in the best way possible.
MG: How so?
RS: Okay, maybe Counter-Strike if made to play like the movie Heat. I like that instead of focusing on a character progression system that’s become fashionable in multiplayer shooters, there’s a Counter-Strike-like currency system where you get cash to spend on whatever weapons, accessories and gadgets you want to buy. The map I played felt much smaller and tighter than the ones in a traditional Battlefield. Also it has grappling hooks, and grappling hooks are awesome.
MG: Grappling hooks are pretty awesome. One game I was surprised to find myself so enraptured by was Metal Gear Solid V. That demo had everything: absurdity, great visuals, and the stealth options looked well thought-out. I think everyone in my demo session laughed whenever Snake—excuse me—Venom Snake, used one of those giant balloons to whisk an enemy soldier away to his home base, as you talked about in your preview. That’s not an entirely new idea, as they used it in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, but the animation of the balloon slowly dipping and then yanking the soldier away, combined with their Doppler-effected yelps, is pretty great.
RS: I’m with you on Metal Gear Solid V. I want to see a sequel to the movie Up starring Snake and his magic balloon device. I also think we both agree on the pleasures of Shadow Of Mordor. I’m still reeling from the idea of a Lord Of The Rings game that tries something new. The combat feels nearly identical to the Batman: Arkham series, but strategically taking down the leadership of the Orc army, sometimes while lieutenants and captains are infighting with each other, felt like a revelation. I also enjoy the idea of spending more in depth time with the orcs, who for all their screentime in the Peter Jackson movies, never have much to do. I want a Dragon Age-style game with just orcs. I want orc romance.
MG: Yeah, Shadow Of Mordor, with its emphasis on violent orc politics, is fascinating. We should have my article about it going up pretty soon.
There were a ton of smaller games around the show that I thought were great, too. Below, the next game from Capybara Games, is looking unsurprisingly good. It’s a very intense game. You’re this tiny little warrior exploring these massive cave structures. Some of it is randomly generated and changes whenever you die, but the more complex scenes that you stumble upon are prebuilt. All of it is beautiful, though.
There’s also Titan Souls, which started as a neat little game-jam game and is being turned into something much larger. We covered the original version in a Sawbuck Gamer earlier this year. It’s kind of a devolved Shadow Of The Colossus. All you do is fight boss monsters from a top-down perspective, like the old Zelda games. The trick is, you only have one arrow to shoot, but you can hold down the shoot button to draw the loose arrow back to you. The bosses can be pretty tough, but they’re supposed to be. They’re puzzles in and of themselves. You just have to figure out how to navigate them.
RS: Matt, I’ve got to be completely honest. This was all great conjecture, but I’m going to take the next 24 hours off from video games. Four straight days of constant demos, trailers, and PR people whispering sweet nothings into my ear about their games was great, but I need a short cleansing fast. And then maybe a beer.
MG: That’s probably a good idea.