Gamer Headlines at E3 2015 – Day One Recap
A huge part of E3 has – and always will be – the exciting conferences coming from the industry’s biggest names unveiling new and exciting experiences to look out for in the coming months. Now that they have come and gone, it’s time to check out the games and what they have to offer beyond their scripted stage demos that are supposed to wow people right from the beginning. It’s been a long time coming but here it is: Gamer Headlines’ preview extravaganza of Day One of E3 2015.
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Release Date/Window: TBD (Closed Beta in August 2015)
Gigantic is one of those games I had literally no expectations as to the quality and overall enjoyment of the experience before first hopping in. I am not the biggest fan of MOBAs, in fact I’d consider myself a really inexperienced player when it comes to that game genre, however Motiga’s upcoming competitive free-to-play experience – or as the development team likes to call it: a Shooter MOBA – was a true surprise, as I did not expect to have as much fun as I did with it, and certainly wasn’t anticipating it being so easy to pick up and play.
Enchanting you its vibrant, colorful visuals that just want you to hop right into the game experience, Gigantic essentially works the same way as any other MOBA you’ve experienced before: Two teams of four battle it out to level up their heroes and destroy the enemy base, which in this case is a gigantic (pun intended) beast called the Guardian. While it essentially works the same way as Smite with an Xbox One controller, Gigantic is a vastly different experience that keeps the action centered on the players within the match, and not other components that are beyond your control.
Probably the main reason why I had such an amazing time playing Gigantic is the fact that it is super easy to wrap your head around it. Some of the more popular titles in the genre (i.e. League of Legends, Smite and Dota 2) require a staggering amount of hero, stat, and overall game knowledge to have a complete understanding of the game’s intricacies, level of depth and strategy. However, it’s not the case with Gigantic; upgrades are done with just the press of button, you just focus on the arena action and not multiple other elements that can truly impact the final outcome of the match, attacking and dodging is responsive and really intuitive, the hero line-up is not overwhelming and very well balanced, and your objective is clear right from the get-go. I am not exaggerating when I say that anyone could boot up this title and have a full understanding of what it is all about after five minutes of experiencing what it has to offer.
Motiga obviously has plans to add in more modes in Gigantic, with their Community Coaches constantly seeking user feedback as to what they’d want to see in this title. For my part, the 30-minute-long bloodbath I witnessed playing as Voden, a bow and arrow-wielding deer-like hero, flew by in an instant, and I can’t wait to spend more time with it when it’s Beta launches this August.
Alone in the Dark: Illumination
Developer: Pure FPS
Release Date/Window: June 12, 2015
It’s been nearly eight years since we’ve seen the Alone In The Dark license showcased through a video game experience. While recent installments have been notable (and divisive) departures from the original games, the franchise is still recognized as one of the pillars when it comes to the Survival Horror genre. With Illumination (which is currently out on Steam), Pure FPS hopes to bring a new “kind” of Alone In The Dark by blending in ideas from Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil’s Mercenaries mode, but stumbles to recapture that sense of dread and terror with its mission-based design and clumsy text-based narrative.
Choosing from one of four customizable characters with unique traits, abilities and “backstories,” you are put into objective-based scenarios where all you must do is follow the yellow square depicting your objective while avoiding the constantly respawning enemies at the same time. Said enemies are afraid of the light, which brings out an underutilized – and pointless – mechanic with the many light sources that can be used to keep the creatures away to a certain degree. The main reason for that is, using the ridiculously overpowered flamethrower, killing enemies becomes a cakewalk, enticing you in keeping the same play style and just trying to find more fuel to eliminate even more foes. At one point, I decided to not even bother with turning on the lights because it changed nothing to how the enemy behavior ultimately.
Illumination was designed from the ground up to be hard – even on the Easy difficulty setting – with permadeath being implemented the entire way through, which is why co-op plays a big role within the overall experience. That said, this alienates the isolating feeling that Survival Horror has always been known for, and doesn’t really add anything in terms of gameplay diversity. The development team does have big plans to when it comes to player feedback and patching in elements to make the overall game much better than it is, sadly I don’t think updates will be able to save Alone In The Dark from its impending doom.
Halo 5: Guardians
Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox One
Release Date/Window: October 27, 2015
Going into my Halo 5 demo, I was convinced that Warzone was going to be the big showcase out of 343’s latest effort with the legendary franchise involving Spartan 117 at E3 this year. However, what I walked into was something that I would have never expected, and something that was – and forever will be – only available at an event like E3.
Before even jumping into the demo, I was asked to calibrate my eyesight using some special lenses provided by the folks handling this Halo showcase, which were all dressed up like scientists. 62.5 was my received Spartan Optic Calibration, and I then proceeded to walk into a War Room where I was greeted with more scientists, 11 other players and – wait for it – Microsoft HoloLens. Yes, this Halo 5 “E3 Experience” put players directly in the shoes of a Spartan, displaying objectives markers through Microsoft’s augmented reality headset that led to a briefing on the new 12 vs. 12 game mode from Commander Sarah Palmer. It really felt like I was in the game, but is something that will unfortunately never be experienced again because of the believability brought by the booth where this was all taking place in.
Simply put it: 343 and Microsoft went all out with this showing, and really makes me hopeful for the future that HoloLens will bring with the titles coming out on Microsoft’s platform, and even where games can go moving forward. Regardless, this out-of-this-world experience set the tone for the 18-minutes-long Warzone match that followed shortly after.
When 343 first unveiled Warzone at the Microsoft conference, I was immediately put off by its concept because it is such a departure from what Halo is all about. 12 vs. 12, AI-controller characters roaming through the map, vehicles galore; this is not what Halo is all about, at least from a competitive perspective. Halo has always been the perfect balance of teamwork and grounded objectives, whether it be through Slayer, CTF, King of the Hill, but Warzone’s constant action still had me hooked to my screen, even though I was overwhelmed with things to worry about.
In a nutshell, Warzone is a mix of Big Team Battle, with some Firefight elements coming into play with the bosses and AI-controlled characters that require more attention than you’d think if you want to win the game. Killing enemy Spartans will help you getting close to that 1000 point goal if you want to win the match, but capturing points, weakening the enemy base, and killing the Covenant and Promethean threats are far more efficient than just focusing on opposing players. Your team could be actually crushing the enemy in the slaying department, but killing a boss can switch the matches’ momentum in a heartbeat. It is constant action, but certainly gets a little out of hand when vehicles come into play thanks to the new Requisition loadout feature.
Through the respawn screen or respective REQ station located within the bases, you can switch your primary and secondary weapons on the fly by spending points acquired throughout the match, and also attack in full force with vehicles if you manage to rack up enough of them. I appreciate the fact that I can buy a Sniper Rifle, Spartan Laser or Rocket Launcher whenever I need it, but vehicles certainly are too omnipresent when it comes to Warzone. It becomes really frustrating because whichever team has the most vehicles on the map at once is sure to win it all. I’m still skeptical about Warzone, but I definitely do not hate the idea as much as I initially did. Other than that, Halo 5‘s Multiplayer is just as good as it was when it was in Beta.