E3 2013 Recap

Photographs by Daniel Boczarski

This year’s E3 was the E3 to rule them all. This year’s show  was nothing short of a monster of a show, from the games, to the next-gen consoles, to just the overall experience.  So without futher ado let’s get down to business and talk about some games.

The Evil Within, a new survival-horror game from Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami was being shown off in the Bethesda booth. We got a hands-off demo of two sections from the new survival-horror title and…just wow! Talk about bringing survival-horror back, and back with a bang. The demo started at the beginning of the game where you, Sebastian, and your fellow police officers go to investigate a series of grisly murders. The hands-off demo showcased some interesting things that will happen to you during your time with the game. Very similar to Konami’s Silent Hill series, Sebastian will move in and out of what he thinks is reality and is all just in his head. The few enemies that were shown were gruesome and hard to stomach. At one point in the demo Sebastian is being chased by a fairly large, and scary looking man with a chainsaw who is chasing him through him through the facility. Sebastian has basically no way to fight back so running, and hiding are his only options. When watching this series of events take place I was on the edge of my seat and felt like my heart was going to stop any second. The demo ended with a naked woman rise from the ground in an ever growing pool of blood, spouted about seven, or eight arms and then lunged at the player. This entire demo was terrifying. Any and all survival-horror fans should be nothing short of completely excited for The Evil Within.

Next up we have Wolfenstein: The New Order. This latest adventure in the shoes of B.J. Blazkowicz takes place in an alternate version of the 1960’s, where the Nazi’s have won the war thanks to supernatural weapons, and powers.  Wolfenstein: The New Order felt like more like an old-school shooter. It’s fast paced, kind of just running from one group of enemies to another, solving some simple puzzles to proceed to the next area.  We also had a hands-off demo where the developers showed off some of the game’s slower segments of the game. The part we saw had B.J. masquerading as a Nazi where he’s stopped by an officer and his girlfriend. She then tests you to see if you’re truly a German  by making you pick cards depending on how they make you feel. In the demo we had the developer made the right choices and met his fellow agent further in the train, but presumably that would be something you could fail and make that section of the game change for you. These new slower paced section of the game seemed to fit right at home with Wolfenstein while the shooting portions felt true to classic Wolf.

PS3 game The Last of Us was also being shown at E3 despite coming out the day after the show ended. That’s not supposed to sound negative or anything because The Last of Us had packed stations for the entire three days, and for good reason too, it’s amazing. The Last of Us is different than Naughty Dog’s last release Uncharted. This time around they go for more of a survival-action game with more emphasis of survival than the action. You’re not given much health or ammunition throughout the game, so you end up using supplies only when you absolutely have to.  I got stressed out when I found myself surrounded about four or five guys with only two bullets, a brick and two ticks of health. But it felt great after I fought my way through it.  It was a feeling I hadn’t felt since the olden days of Resident Evil. It’s also worth nothing that for a game being on what is now considered old hardware The Last of Us sure does look fantastic. The characters emoted, moved and just acted so real it’s almost hard to believe. One quick example would be when Ellie, the girl with you throughout your struggle is hugging a wall when sneaking around. If you also go up to hug the wall Joel doesn’t just clip through Ellie and get on the wall, instead he positions himself around her while hugging the wall, giving her space as if she’s physically there;  the game has a ton of little touches like this that really drive the game home and make it play, and look unbelievable.

Destiny also made its expected appearance at the show. We only had hands off time with it, sadly, but what was there was still promising. At first glance Destiny looks very similar to Bungie’s other first-person shooter series Halo, however after the initial first glance at the game, you see that Destiny is in a whole other league. The best way to describe Destiny would be to say it’s a mix of Halo and Borderlands. The theater presentation we saw had two players doing co-op through an area of the game, where they fought through some enemies, and took down a tank-like (think MMO) enemy. The demo ended with an ‘event’ where about six more players joined the fight against a much larger boss. Destiny is being referred to as an FPS MMO, without the baggage of most MMOs. Players will always be playing in the same world and eventually come together towards theses bigger fights. Destiny definitely looked interesting, and fun, however, the always connected world seems like it may scare off players who mostly play offline.

Some other games we saw at E3 would be the new Mad Max.  Max’s latest adventure will be set in an open world with car combat mechanics, as well as standard shooting and melee combat as well. It’s still in pre-alpha and the developers didn’t show much, however what they had looked promising. The new Thief looked pretty good as well. Everything we saw of it looked pretty standard for a Thief game. You play in from a first-person view where you sneak around, kill, steal and complete your objective. At this first glance of it looked alright, just nothing too mind blowing or new.

This year was a little weird with Nintendo. As some of you may know, Nintendo chose to not have a press conference this year. After hearing that some expect for Nintendo to be on their B game instead of their A game. Fear not! As Nintendo brought out some excellent game for the show. First game up is Super Mario 3D World. Let’s get the first thing out of the way, no, it’s not a 3D Super Mario World. Instead it’s the follow up to Super Mario 3D Land, the excellent 3DS platformer. Super Mario 3D World is pretty similar to 3D Land with the exception of the new cat suit; a new suit that lets you climb up walls and attack enemies without having to jump on them, crazy I know. Other than that it’s just more Mario. That’s not supposed to sound bad, because Super Mario 3D World seems like it could be the best one yet. Speaking of new Mario games Nintendo also announced and had playable versions of Mario Kart 8 during E3. Just like Super Mario 3D World; Mario Kart 8 might also be the best Mario Kart yet. Not only does Mario Kart 8 look better than the past Mario Kart titles, it’s one of the better looking games on the Wii U in general – it looks almost jaw dropping. As for everything else about it, it’s mostly what you’d expect. You can race, jump, power slide, shoot turtle shells so on and so forth. One new thing that they did add besides characters they haven’t announced yet, is the ability for the karts to race on walls and ceilings. These basically boil down to just being alternate paths to take during the race but it’s still cool never the less. We also had a chance to play Bayonetta 2. It’s kind of hard to describe this game other than just saying that it plays like the original one, but it plays like the original. Bayonetta can still use her hair as a weapon, she’s got guns, melee weapons and the combat is akin to Devil May Cry. Nintendo had a good showing at this E3. They had great games there to further reinforce the reason why you should buy a Wii U, or if you already own one, to make you stay in the Nintendo ecosystem.

Even though all of these games were there; the real reason to get excited about this E3 was for the new consoles and the games on them. We tried out both the PlayStation 4 as well as the Xbox One. The PS4 had more to show over the Xbox One. Besides titles like InFamous: Second Son and DriveClub, which although seeming a little standard visually looked absolutely amazing and unlike anything I’ve seen before. We tried out some games that were a little less standard. Octodad: Dadliest Catch was probably one of the most interesting games of the show. It’s not that it looked like it was pushing the PS4 to its limit or anything; it’s just that it was such unique controlling game and experience that had me laughing and actually having fun, which is sometimes hard to find in games. Octodad is also a uniquely controlling game that had my hands all over the controller like some sort of mad man. Doing so also got me familiar with the new DualShock 4, and just, wow, what a good controller. From just holding it to hitting all the buttons to moving the sticks, even down to the weight. The new analog sticks with the raised edged helped keep my fingers of the sticks, the buttons felt good to push down, the shoulder triggers not only now feel like triggers again, but they have a spring that pushes back that really just feels great. And it all came down to just the controller being a little bit taller now and fitting perfectly in my hand.

We also had a chance to play the new Xbox One. There wasn’t much to talk about in terms of Xbox One games being playable at the Microsoft booth. They did however have the new Killer Instinct playable at their booth. Talk about being a big surprise of the show. The demo only had two characters and one stage in it. For their two characters they chose to go with Sabrewulf and Jago, both of which who are from the two original KI games. They had their classic moves and the game played pretty close to what old KI used to play like. The demo was really early, and was the definition of a preview. With that said though it played great, looked, and most definitely sounded like a Killer Instinct game. The Xbox One controller seemed like a good fit for fighting games now. The 360’s controller was already pretty good with the exception of the d-pad; which was arguably the worst d-pad on any controller, ever. Good news is though that the d-pad is pretty good now and works like you’d hope it would. The new face and shoulder buttons feel good as well. Microsoft also put the battery pack inside of the controller now, so there’s no longer that big hulking battery pack sticking out of the back. The Xbox One’s controller does have a new vibration function inside of the shoulder bumpers. I personally never actually noticed the bumpers shaking separately from the controller; but that could have just been from the environment I was in and games I played.

So there you have it; E3 in a nutshell. Talk about an interesting show. It was reminiscent of older gaming trade shows in a good way. Having Sony and Microsoft out for blood from each other was like seeing Nintendo and Sega back in the 16-bit days. Things are only going to get crazier from here though. With the holiday season quickly approaching us, you can expect to see much more from all three companies, as well as from every game mentioned here. These are exciting times to be playing video games; and it’s only going to get more exciting from here.