Day 2 of E3 2014 was once again packed full of details and footage of a huge amount of upcoming games and, as always, this is the place to catch up on anything you may have missed. Watching multiple streams isn’t easy so here’s a in-depth look at some of the best games shown off during yesterdays event.
Dead Island 2:
It’s safe to say that the Dead Island 2 trailer was one of the most entertaining and surprising trailers of the show so far, but it also gives quite a different feel to that of the previous games. With the previous developers of Dead Island now working on Dying Light, development of Dead Island 2 moves to new developers Yager who, while keen to keep many of the series’ signature features, are also looking to provide somewhat of a new experience. The trailer is a good overall description of the new tone of the game, that will be taking on a real sense of fun moving closer to games like Dead Rising and, as you may have guessed, it takes place in California.
Story-wise, Dead Island 2 remains in the same universe of the series, where the virus has spread from the original island to the mainland of America, forcing California to be completely sealed off, hence it being called an island. However, the individual story for the game, along with the characters are completely new and original so you wont need to have played the other games to understand what’s happening. Setting the game in a place like California, rather than a much more limited island, allows the devs to make use of a wider variety of weapons, equipment and tools; they mention in the interviews the fact that players will have access to places like hardware stores full of power tools and other goodies. There will also be a much bigger variety of vehicles and, though it hasn’t been shown yet, there is talk of even being able to customize and equip your vehicles with weaponry!
The original Dead Island, and the follow-up of Riptide were both entertaining games but somehow missed the mark a little to make them particularly great games. With a new developer at the helm and a greater emphasis on a fun experience, Dead Island 2 could be a zombie game to really look forward to. It’s currently scheduled for release sometime in early 2015.
Another big name that we’ve had to wait a little for to see at E3, Creative Assembly of course brought along Alien Isolation to give a closer look and a few more details. We’ve seen a few trailers so far and seen the game in action, playable demo’s have also made an appearance at various events, I’ve been able to play it myself, but so far the over all details of the game haven’t been all that clear. The game is clearly terrifying and the Xenomorph itself is a brilliant piece of design, but what else is there to the game? Well Creative Assembly took to the interviews to answer that question.
The story centres around Amanda Ripley, daughter of course of Ellen Ripley from the movies, who is sent as part of a small crew to investigate reports of what appears to be the flight recorder from the Nostromo. The crew end up trapped on a space station and of course find themselves face to face with the Xenomorph. What was nice to see in this new footage is the other parts of the game besides simply hiding from the Xenomorph. Playing as Amanda, players will come across a few other Human NPC survivors and also various synthetic android characters and it’ll never be totally clear whether these people or robots are friendly or hostile. Players have a choice really when they spot another NPC of whether to try and avoid them completely or approach them for help, which can either lead to some great benefits, or a very dangerous situation. Creative Assembly have mentioned before the use of some weapons in the game and, while none of them can do much to stop the Xenomorph, they can be handy to defend against hostile NPC’s. You’ll see in the footage below a scene where Amanda ends up in fight with a synthetic character and, though these enemies can be killed, there’s the added problem that the noise and commotion of the fight can easily attract the Xenomorph, leading to a much more dangerous situation. What’s great about the Xenomorph as well is that it follows no scripted path which makes it completely unpredictable and players need to be constantly aware of their surroundings, which adds to the relentless tension.
Alien Isolation will release on October 7th.
Far Cry 4:
One of the big hitters from Day 0, Far Cry 4 is a hugely anticipated game but there’s a slight worry of how similar it will be to Far Cry 3 with a big open-world playground and a twisted psycho villain. Ubisoft are assuring though that the game will be different enough and offer plenty of new features to bring fans of the series back for more and also attract plenty of brand new players.
The initial story trailer we saw shown off on Day 0 showed us the first 5 minutes of the game and, more importantly, introduced us to the game’s main villain, Pagan Min. Though there’s obvious similarities to Far Cry 3 in having another crackpot enemy, Pagan Min does seem to have a somewhat different design and as Ubisoft themselves put it ‘he’s a different kind of crazy’. Voiced by Troy Baker from The Last of Us, Pagan Min establishes himself straight away as a brilliant, interesting character and seems to make friends with protagonist Ajay. This odd relationship with Pagan Min will be the main focus of the story as players see more and more of his insane characteristics.
In terms of the huge open world this time around, setting the game at the foot of the Himalayas offers a very diverse range of environments for players to explore. You’ll be able to head upwards into the snow covered mountains, head down into the jungles and forests and travel across huge open plains. There’s also a much larger diversity of wildlife, something that became hugely popular in Far Cry 3, which includes of course the elephants that were shown off so spectacularly in the gameplay trailer. Players will be able to ride the elephants as living tanks in order to break through the walls of a fortress, take on enemy vehicles, or just provide a safer shooting position.
One of the main new focuses of the game is co-op, where a friend can simply jump directly into your game and join in with you within that same singleplayer world. There’s no separate co-op levels or missions, you’ll simply dive right in and play alongside you friends. One of the craziest reveals of E3 so far of course was the announcement that, on the Playstation platforms, your friends don’t even need the game to join you in co-op, they’ll simply enter your world and play alongside you until they’ve had enough, and you can carry on just the same in singleplayer. E3 2014 so far has seen a great deal of co-op being introduced and this is definitely one of the best looking co-op titles so far.
Far Cry 4 will be coming out on the 18th of November
Where do you even start with Star Citizen? The ridiculously ambitious, impossibly huge, sci-fi lovers dream should be exactly that, just a dream. With a total so far of $40million of crowd funding however, Chris Roberts is already getting the game firmly off the ground and has enough to not only show at E3, but to also give out those hundreds of thousands of backers for play testing. Up until now, all that was playable of the game was being able to wander around inside hangars and look at the ships that would soon be implemented. Recently though, Chris has put enough of the bread and butter of the game, the combat, together to be playable.
The dog fighting module, as it’s known, is one of the most complicated space sims ever seen so far that goes into ridiculous detail. Chris and his team have worked to model the ships precisely to include centre of mass, weight and inertia so that they handle realistically out in space. Forget the more instant response of other flight sims, to move anywhere on Star Citizen you need to fire thrusters, which push you in a direction, taking a moment to get you moving; likewise when your travelling at speed and try to stop, you’ll keep moving for a little unless you reverse that thrust. It sounds complicated, and it is, but once mastered, this realistic level of detail will allow for a much greater level of control and advanced players can pull off some crazy maneuvers. The detail goes further in to the damage modelling, where each part of the ships are individually sculpted and placed, meaning that they can be destroyed realistically as well. Some of you may think that all this sounds a little too overwhelming and maybe takes some of the fun away, but that’s the whole idea behind releasing this section of the game to the Kickstarter backers. There are hundreds of thousands of people backing this game right now and having that input is what helps to shape the game in the future.
It’s hard to get across just how small this section of the game is as well, I’ve seen comments on the internet when some of the gameplay footage was first released that the game didn’t seem to warrant its enormous funding. What has been released so far though is a small dog fighting part of the game with the smallest class of ships, there are much much bigger, multiple player ships on the way, along with an absolutely mind boggling amount of other content to flesh out the universe. This is likely to be the biggest game ever created so we’ll be keeping an eye on how it shapes up in the next year or so.
Sticking with the space theme, we have Eve Valkyrie which, unlike Star Citizen, is space combat in its purest form. Designed for both the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus, Eve Valkyrie is an all-out action space combat game that immerses the player in cockpit of an awesome, heavily armed spaceship. Though the footage of the game so far is obviously just on a regular screen, its not hard to imagine just how mind blowing this game would be when played on a VR headset. So far we’ve seen plenty of slower paced exploration games for the VR sets, but experiencing something like Eve Valkyrie is a whole different experience.
Created by CCP, Eve Valkyrie is of course set within the same universe as Eve Online but players will not need to have played the MMO to fully enjoy Valkyrie as its a completely different take on the universe. Whereas Eve Online is a massively complicated MMO that its players sink hundreds of hours into and often ends up being far too daunting for new players. Eve Valkyrie is designed to be a much more pick up and play experience. Valkyrie is made up of super fast, super intense combat missions that take place within set arena style zones in space. Its not meant for exploration really but for simply throwing players into the role of a starship pilot for some awesome dogfighting. Using the VR headsets, players can look all around them within the cockpit as though they are actually sitting there and can even guide lock-on missiles by simply tracking enemy ships within their line of sight.
What’s more, as the devs explain in the interviews, for fans of the Eve Online universe, Valkyrie has the potential to let players experience some of the iconic history of the MMO. For example, you may remember recently this year, the biggest battle in MMO history took place in Eve Online where somewhere in the region of 8,000 players took part. Valkyrie then could have battles that take place in the vast graveyard of ships that now exists within Eve Online. For anyone who’s eagerly awaiting the release of either the Oculus Rift or Project Morpheus, this in without doubt one of the top games to look out for somewhere around their launch.
Lords of the Fallen:
Next up we have Dark So…sorry, Lords of the Fallen. All jokes aside though, Lords of the Fallen obviously draws huge inspiration from the Souls series and its not something that the developers ever try to shy away from, they admit it, they are Souls fans and there’s nothing wrong with that! If you’re a fan of Dark Souls and have ever been asked the question ‘can you describe the game to me?’ you’ll understand its no easy task. That’s because, really, the Souls games are unlike anything else, they started their own genre of hardcore RPG’s and Lords of the Fallen is simply the first game to follow on in that new genre, so its bound to take some stick for it. Thankfully though, from what we’ve seen so far, its looking like a damn good game.
So Lords of the Fallen is a challenging, hardcore RPG and although it has a story you can hear more about that in the interview below; I’d rather look at the ways it may or may not differ to the Souls games. First up is the classes. Lords of the Fallen has three main class types, which doesn’t sound like a great deal, but it offers a lot more flexibility than most games. Choosing your class is basically a choice of what class specific spells and abilities you have access to; the gear and attributes are not locked which allows you mix and match however you want. That doesn’t sound a huge amount different to Dark Souls but I’d still rather see that freedom of choice than have classes locked down to gear. Perhaps the biggest difference with Lords of the Fallen is the checkpoint system. The bonfires of Dark Souls are of course part of the challenge but those lengthy run backs to boss rooms over and over again can really feel like a punishing task. It seems that Lords of the Fallen tries to differ somewhat from Souls titles by still keeping hold of difficult, challenging combat, but remove a little of the frustration. The checkpoints then do not respawn enemies when using them (at least in the gameplay I’ve seen) and are spread out a little better across the levels to prevent lengthy run backs. Another different feature is being able to bank experience points at these checkpoints to prevent yourself from losing everything upon death. The interesting part about this, as described in the interviews is that it poses a new type of tactic as players can bank their experience, try out a boss a couple of times and then return to level up the specific stats they think they’ll need to defeat that boss.
Overall Lords of the Fallen is an interesting looking title, it looks gorgeous on the next gen systems and may be a title that can bridge the gap between hardcore Dark Souls players looking for another challenge and slightly more mainstream gamers who were put off by a lot of Dark Souls’ more frustrating elements. The game is scheduled for release sometime in Autumn this year.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor:
Shadow of Mordor is a game that I think has actually surprised a lot of people. There’s an unfortunate history of LOTR games that really don’t live up to expectations and when a new one was announced, along with the fact that it wont follow the official works of Tolkein, lots of people dismissed it as somethjing that would turn into another complete mess. The game has also come under fire somewhat for being a little too similar looking to Assassins Creed in regards to animation and movement but when you see the game fully in action, and take in the details of that amazing Nemesis system, Shadow of Mordor is very much looking like it could be the LOTR game we’ve all hoped for.
If you’ve been following the game you’ll have no doubt seen quite a bit of gameplay footage so far with a steady release of trailers from Warner Brothers, but the live demo that was shown off at E3, along with the developer commentary describing just how much you can do in the game really takes it to a whole new level. Shadow of Mordor has enormous, open maps that let players explore its zones and take on the enemies as they see fit. The main aim of the game is to avenge Talion’s family and bring down the legions of Orcs and their leaders but there’s no real pre-set path to do it, players can approach the game however they like. The movement and combat does have some Assassins Creed similarities but there’s also plenty to differentiate it. Talion has a selection of weaponry with him throughout the game and, while this gear never changes, it can be upgrade using different types of runes to provide all kinds of new abilities and bonuses. The wraith that possesses Talion also plays a part in combat, allowing Talion to move like a ghost at times through his opponents, cover distances instantly, and dominate both enemies and beasts. Dominating beasts allows Talion to use them as mounts for both combat and faster travelling, and there’s a variety of creatures in the game too.
The Nemesis system though is what sets this game apart from anything else. We’ve been told snippets of information about it before but seeing how it works during actual gameplay makes you realise just how awesome it is. The entire Orc legion has a structure and hierarchy and everything you do within the game affects that and can change things dramatically. Different Warchiefs have different levels of power, different forces at their disposal and various levels of command. You can see in the gameplay footage below that even when the player is killed, it still has an effect on the game world. In that particular instance, the Orc that killed the player is promoted from a regular footsoldier into the hierarchy and the Warchief that he works for becomes stronger and gains a bigger influence. Likewise, killing off the powerful Orcs under a Warchief’s command will lower his power. Talion can dominate the Orcs he comes across and place them under his control, which he is then able to send back into the Orc hierarchy to perform tasks. The Orcs he controls can be sent to try and assassinate their Warchief, or betray them and create a separate, rival force. They can even be used to draw a Warchief out into the open so that Talion can make his move. Having a number of powerful Orc Warchief’s under Talions control that are nestled away within the hierarchy can help greatly with the later stages of the game where he moves to take on the highest of the Orcs. Whats more, the Orc Warchief’s left at the latter parts of the game aren’t pre-determined boss-style enemies, they are the simply the ones that have grown the strongest out of the actions that Talion has taken so far.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is out on the 7th of October and has very much turned around from a controversial sounding idea to one of the most interesting looking games of this year.
Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age:
Finally we have a game that may well have slipped under everyone’s radar but it’s something that any fan of co-op multiplayer probably isn’t going to want to miss. Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age comes from Crytek, a company that definitly knows how to make great games and is a 4 player co-op, third person shooter set in the 1800’s. It follows a group of hunters that are seeking out famous monsters from various folk lore tales around the world that the devs have turned into awesome boss fights. There’s no crazy abilities or super powers, its simply 4 Humans with pretty standard period weaponry and close combat gear, fighting through hordes of crazed cultists, monsters and of course those epic boss fights. A small amount of slightly advanced weaponry does come into it in the form of things like flamethrowers but the idea of overpowered hunters wading through hordes of enemies isn’t really what the game is about.
The game so far looks like a mix between Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil 4, but that 1800’s setting adds a huge amount of atmosphere to the game and, though the demo shown was only in one swamp style location, the finished game will apparently have a huge variety of environments. There’s a choice of characters and classes that can be customized in looks and gear to build the kind of play-style you want and players will then evolve their characters over time in an almost RPG style.
There’s an interesting mechanic around respawning too once your character is killed in action. When a player respawns they are trapped in a random location around the environment, the examples used in the gameplay were either hanging upside down from a tree or stuck in a locked coffin. That player will be in first person view and helpless until other players free him to get him back into the fight. Ammo is not infinite either, so choosing when to switch to melee and when to stay at range forces players to think a little more strategically than say Left 4 Dead.
Unlike Left 4 Dead, Hunt is designed to be based around intense boss fights and each boss is centred around various real world folklore. The devs said that they wanted bosses that after players encounter them, they can look it up on the internet and see the actual stories behind these myths. There was only one boss shown in the gameplay footage but it was more than a simple bullet sponge, making the players use some tactics to defeat it, which is always a welcome touch to keep boss fights interesting. Being from Crytek as well of course, the game looks great on the next gen systems, with beautiful lighting effects and detailed enemies.
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