The final day of E3 2015 had us start off with an appointment at EA to see its lineup of upcoming games. We first took a look at DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront, which is a reimagining of the original series by Pandemic Games. E3 was the first time gameplay has been shown for the highly anticipated title since its longtime rumors and eventual reveal at last year’s EA press conference. The demo we tried lasted about 15 minutes and placed 40 players against each other on the snowy landscape of Hoth. The objective was on the show floor consisted of a 40 player battle taking place on the icy landscape of Hoth. The game will not have classes, and you can pick your own loadout. This is a bit of a change compared to the previous games, and it’s a bit disappointing that you won’t be able to pick a Wookie class. Perhaps we will see this in future DLC if anything. The gameplay feels great, and not that much different from Battlefield, except for the inclusion of Star Wars specific weapons and abilities. Visually the game looks fantastic, with the unique worlds of the Star Wars universe being represented in great details. Star Wars Battlefront has a release date of November 17, 2015.
Next up was Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, a title that I was personally really looking forward to playing at this year’s show. Being a fan of the original game’s beautiful vibrant visual style, I was curious to see what DICE would do to the world with another reinvisioning of a previous title and I can safely say that not much has changed. It seems like the developers respected the original vision of the game and decided to stick with it, basically just making an even better version of Mirror’s Edge. The most interesting aspect is that the whole city is now an open world with no loading, you are free to parkour your way around wherever you wish to go. Different sections of the city will unlock as you progress within the game, but eventually you will be able to go wherever you desire, which works perfectly with Mirror’s Edge fluid gameplay. The eight minute demo included three different missions, the first having protagonist Faith race through the city, another vertically scale a building and hack a billboard, and the final one showing off some of the combat elements of the new game. Overall it seems like a beautifully designed game, and I can’t wait to leap all over buildings within the futuristic metropolis. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is set to launch on February 23, 2016.
With VR being a hot discussion at this year’s E3 we had to see Sony’s Project Morpheus in action, especially after previously having tried the finalized Oculus Rift and being curious as to how they compared against each other. We only got to see one demo out of around a dozen different demos available, and the game we did get to try out was The Playroom VR. While not necessarily complex game, it was actually fun and an impressive display proving that the Morpheus headset can most likely compete in the VR space. The demo itself is a two player experience and consisted of two different sequences, with one player taking on the role of a green dragon rampaging through a city, and the second player controller the cute little robots we have seen before in Sony’s games. The first part of the demo had the dragon player wearing Morpheus rampaging on-rails through a city, and moving your head with the headset would destroy obstacles and buildings around you, and you could ricochet objects that are thrown at you to hit the little robots who are running away ahead of you. The player with the controller would need to avoid the dragon’s objects flying at them. In the second sequence, the roles reverse and the player with the controller has to pick up objects around a pier and throw them at the dragon, who has to then dodge the attacks with the movement of his head. The demo required a lot of head movement, which wouldn’t make for a good long term gaming session, and personally for me was a little too barebones as I am not a fan of VR gameplay without the use of a controller. I did have some intermittent video blackouts during my time with the game, and according to the person giving the demo it may have been due to tracking of the headset. While I don’t think the game was what I would personally like to play on the Morpheus, it’s nice to see that Sony has a response to Oculus and console gamers can experience VR without an expensive computer rig.
Right after Project Morpheus I had another appointment to visit Oculus one more time, as I was curious to see what Insomniac Games created with their exclusive game Edge of Nowhere. For my first Oculus experience I decided to go with EVE: Valkyrie, thinking that its first-person gameplay would lend better to the VR experience. Edge of Nowhere initially turned me off from picking it given that it is a third-person adventure, and naturally that doesn’t seem like it fits within the VR experience. Surprisingly, the demo was an interesting view into how we may be experiencing video games in the future. Placing you into an unknown snowy landscape, the main character of the game traverses through the area. This worked well with the environments, as when you have to guide your character down a crevace of a mountain, you really get the feeling of climbing down hundreds of feet when you look down and see the depths. Towards the end of the demo, mysterious creatures start chasing the protagonist as he runs away and leaps over cracks in the snowy mountains, and the intensity of being chased and feeling threatened was intensified when you could turn around to look behind you and see who was running after you. The end of the demo has the character come across a room with a chair, candlelight, paintings and a note. All of a sudden a creature brings forth tentacles in front of your peripheral view, and the level of concern and fear for you and your character cannot be achieved without the use of VR. It was really an impressive showcase of Rift’s ability to change how we play video games in the future, and it was a surprise that it did not necessarily need to be a first-person experience to be enjoyed.