Yesterday we saw Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, and Sony present at E3. If you would like to see these conferences for yourself you can head over to IGN and check them out. I’m only going to comment on the games that interested me (mostly new I.Ps) but there were plenty of sequels announced if those are your thing! Monday’s presentations were a roller coaster of emotions with Microsoft announcing backwards compatability (though so far it’s only for 22 games…), and showcasing numerous indie devs, to EA’s announcment of Unravel, whose sweet, nervous dev and his “yarn cat” set Twitter alight with feels, to the less than exciting and rather predictable titles announced during Ubisoft’s conference, and finally ending with Sony’s mindblowing line-up of unique and fascinating new I.Ps, some of which people have literally been waiting years for. Without further ado, I present to you my highlights from Monday’s E3 2015!
I feel like every E3 ends with me feeling bad for Microsoft. This year they truly shocked and awed their audience by announcing that backward compatibility is at long last possible for the Xbox One. Many were wondering on Twitter how Sony could possibly compete and some speculated that perhaps Microsoft might actually win this one! However, it didn’t take long for people to find the (short) list of games offered and the excitement began to wane just a bit. While it is a bit sad that they decided to bring such a small list to the table initially (more will come later), this is still a major step and I am very happy to see them do this. There is nothing worse than wanting to play an old game but having to dig out the console in order to do so. Just over the weekend I went to visit my parents and little brother, and saw that he had come up with yet another attempt to organize all of our old consoles so they would be easily accessible at any given moment. Can you imagine in another ten years when we have yet another generation to add? Anyway, I am digressing as this is not about the new titles, but it seemed like a somewhat important moment for the industry and I hope Sony and Nintendo take note.
ReCore was the only AAA game I was interested in during Microsoft’s conference. By the creators of Metroid Prime and Mega Man, ReCore features a woman protagonist wandering through a desert with an adorable robot dog. I’ll let you watch the trailer to see the rest for yourself. While there aren’t many details yet (who is she? Why is she wandering a desert? What is with all these robots??) it was one of the most emotional trailers of the entire day. But then, I am rather partial to puppies, even of the robot breed.
This was, as you may have guessed, my favorite portion of the show. It showcased the indie creators whose games were going to be featured on Xbox.
I am very excited for this game as it’s by the makers of Gone Home, but if I’m entirely honest, I still don’t have any idea what it’s actually about. I’ll be keeping an eye on it for sure, but the video wasn’t enough to get me too excited. The use of sign language to unlock the door certainly piqued my interest though.
Many have compared Ashen to Journey, but the similarities are few. The art is beautiful and sylized, but grim and dark. The world has no natural light as it has been covered in ash. The website describes it as “A 3rd person, action RPG about forging relationships. Players can choose to guide those they trust to their camp, encouraging them to rest at the fire and perhaps remain. Together, you might just stand a chance.”
The focus on relationships is what most people seem to connect with Journey, which makes perfect sense, but the atmosphere and general feeling of Ashen is very different. That said I’m quite excited to see just how these relationships work. Will there be any form of communication in this game? Are you randomly matched with a single player at a time, or are there many roaming around your game? Check out the video here and tell me your thoughts!
Beyond Eyes–Tiger and Squid
Now…I feel I should preface this by saying I kind of…freaked out when I saw Sherida up on stage presenting this game. She hadn’t told anyone that she was going to E3 to present her game and it came as one hell of a shock to see her up there, and in the most magnificent way possible. I was sooo busy freaking out while it was live I had no idea what she actually said because I was too preoccupied losing my shit.
WHAT!!!! HOLY FUCK! @SheridaEH how did I not know you were going to be presenting at E3!!!!!!!! <3 <3 Oh my gosh, grats!!!!
— Raeyn (@Raeyn10toFire) June 15, 2015
Why was I excited? Well, if you’ve been with me for awhile you know that I wrote about Sherida’s beautiful game, Beyond Eyes, back in 2013 when it was on Indiegogo. We’ve since become Twitter buddies and I literally could not contain my happiness and excitement. I am still just as excited for this game as I was back when I wrote that post, and to see it and the wonderful dev behind it on stage at E3??? It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Late last night I finally went back and actually watched her presentation (in a much calmer state) and it was absolutely fantastic. The game even trended worldwide and this gives me hope that maybe the gaming community at large is ready for a beautiful, intimate experience like Beyond Eyes.
For me, and for many others, there was only one game to steal our collective hearts during EA’s conference and that title was Unravel. We immediately fell in love with the adorable little red “yarn cat” and his creator, Martin Sahlin. The moment Sahlin came on stage and in his nervous, sweet way began passionately explaining his inspiration for Unravel, I instantly knew this game was going to be amazing. There was so much heart that had clearly put into it, and when Sahlin pulled out of his jacket the Yarny he had made by hand…well…the internet (myself included) melted.
I was delighted by the reception Unravel recieved. It seemed like everyone I saw was absolutely in love with Yarny and the whole concept of this little yarn character representing love. I generally try not to get too hyped over games, but Unravel is a game I will be making an exception for. Even their social media presence (which they seem to have kicked off after the unveiling) is so sweet that it literally makes me want to give them a hug.
— Unravel (@unravel_game) June 15, 2015
Yarny is just too cute for words.
Ubisoft didn’t have a single game I was interested in so…moving right along!
After Ubisoft’s lackluster conference (which many of us couldn’t wait to be over), we looked to Sony with hope. Would they be able to outdo Microsoft this year? And if not, surely they could at least do better than Ubisoft, right?
Yes. Yes to both. I am not alone in saying I was completely blown away right from the start by Sony’s demonstrations.
The Last Guardian
I…have a confession… While the internet around me was collectively losing their shit over this game, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. From what I gathered, The Last Guardian was first revealed at an E3 in 2009 and then…vanished! Until now!
The Last Guardian is a beautiful game about a child and a giant birddog. As I established with ReCore, dogs of any kind are my weakness, so to see this sad, beautiful creature (who I suspect is a baby given how tiny its wings are) instantly grabbed at my heartstrings. The gameplay, from what we can tell in the video, consists of the player calling to this creature to aid him in traversing the world. At one point he calls the creature to the edge of a cliff and then begins jumping, indicating to the birddog that it, too, should jump. The companionship between the two characters is where the game’s strength lies. In one scene the boy leaps across an enormous drop off, trusting completely that his friend will catch him. A few moments later he makes a similar leap but the creature is unable to grab his tunic in time. Just as you think the boy is going to fall to his death, the birddog swings its tail forward, allowing the boy to grab hold. Soon it becomes the boy’s job to return the favor.
While the world itself was pretty ugly and not much to look at, I’m hoping the rest of the game will offer a little more in the way of color and lighting. I am very excited to learn more about this game as it feels like exactly the sort of experience I look for.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Whew. Horizon Zero Dawn. This game is…really, you should just watch it first. Seriously.
Horizon Zero Dawn is the first action adventure game I’ve ever really been intrigued by, but intrigue me it did. Right from the start I was fascinated by this post-post-apocalyptic world. I have long been interested in the idea of what the world will be like after society falls (assuming any humans live on in the first place). The beginning of this trailer, with its soaring score, breathtaking visuals, and emotional voiceover brought me close to tears. Maybe it was because it was the end of the night and I was still emotional from The Last Guardian, but I don’t think so. There is something about this game, something I haven’t yet been able to figure out, that has me feeling deeply connected to it. Maybe it’s the fact that the protagonist is an amazing woman (with awesome red hair I might add, though no, I am not a natural red head *cries*), or that she wields a bow like an absolute badass. Maybe it was the fluidity of her combat, and the way in which she showed sympathy toward the young creature she was forced to kill. I really have no idea why I love this game so much, but I do and I am very eager to see what it’s about. Why is this world populated by these enormous animal-like robots? Why is she hunting them? For the canisters on their backs? Are they not just robots, but living creatures who eat and breath and reproduce? Who were the old ones and what on earth were they doing to leave the world in the state they did?
Only time will tell and this game couldn’t come soon enough.
My only big concern with it at this point is I didn’t see any people of color (a pretty common theme with many of the games I’m talking about, though there were two I’m not featuring which you may want to check out–Gigantic had a woman of color as a playable character, and Rise of the Tomb Raider has Lara scaling a mountain with a man of color who appears to be a good friend.)
Dreams is another game that you really need to see to understand. It’s a game built around creating (which I LOVE), and also around designing. It is one of those beautiful games that is not only an experience, but if you choose to use it as such, also a tool. Dreams gives YOU the ability to seamless make your dreams, not those of your goals and aspirations, but of the kind you experience at night, into an experience you can share with others. It is whimsical and artsy and I can only imagine the stunning scenes and environments people will create with it. I also can’t help but wonder how many people in the years to come will reference games like Dreams for being the reason they themselves wanted to start making games of their own. It will be interesting to see, won’t it?
Firewatch is described as followed by their website, “Firewatch is a mystery set in the Wyoming wilderness, where your only emotional lifeline is the person on the other end of a handheld radio.” The trailer for it was both funny, and mysterious. What happened to those girls? Who is in your watchtower? Ooooh, spoooky!
While there aren’t many details, it looks like it could be an interesting romp and I’m excited to learn more about it in the future!
And there we go! Those were the games that I found most fascinating from the Microsoft, EA and Sony conferences. I hope you found something you, too, are feeling passionate about!