Black Nerd at E3 2016: Long Time Viewer, First Time Attendee

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***This is a running diary of my experiences at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It will be updated for each of the three days I’m in L.A. at the expo, taking in as much gaming goodness as I can manage and report back on.***

If you nerd hard in these gaming streets, you know what E3 is and its impact on the video game industry. Though the pervasiveness of the internet and various social media have provided adequate platforms for video game news to reach the people, E3 is still the king of big release news for games and hardware. Even with big publishers and developers pulling out of E3 this year such as Activision and EA (who is running an offsite event as EA Play), there is still so much to take in. Just some random musings and observations from my time on the floor.

Day Three (Thursday)

What I Watched:

Gears of War 4 – Ok, this is how you Gears. From this point on, this is how you Gears. If you have been skiddish on the the last few Gears of War games, such as Gears 3 or Gears of War: Judgment Day, then you’ll be happy to hear that this feels like the original version of Gears of War and that’s a very, very good thing. You step into the role of Marcus Fenix’s son, fighting a new enemy with new comrades in arms. The campaign we saw looked spectacular, but all the perks such as crossplay and play anywhere features from XBOX, in addition to getting the digital copies of the previous Gears games on the 360 (all backwards compatible with the XBOX ONE. Kind of crazy not to grab it.

I didn’t get to play Recore, mostly because that line was insane, but I watched a lot of gameplay while standing in line for something else. It looks pretty damn cool. An innovaitvate plat-former with tight shooting controls and a cool companion mechanic. It could be a star for the XBOX if it continues to progress like this.

What I Played

Halo Wars 2 – Definitely an upgrade over it’s predecessor, namely it’s not boring. The intrigue of this game in comparison with other RTS games will always be the glimmer and shine of the Halo license, but this seems to be headed a little bit more in the functionality department over aesthetics. There’s still a lot to see an analyze (with the Beta out now), but from what I saw, it could be interesting when it ships.

Gran Turismo Sport – Short and sweet, but man, GT is awesome anyway, but playing in a driving car with a steering wheel and driving paddles is pretty great. It looked amazing, even if the tight course meant me and 11 other cars were constantly bunching up.

Horizon Zero Dawn – Aiight let me spit my shit on this real quick. I was trying to calm Omar down about how ain’t nothing but White people left in the dystopia future where humans have went tribal. I was like, man, I gotta see it up close, I gotta wait. Yeah, look like Black folk extinct in the future, fam. My girl ain’t even got an accent, yo. I might have accepted if it were British or Scandanavian or some shit. But nah, she sound like she from Pittsburgh or some shit. So…that’s a thing.

The gameplay…might be best in show. Seriously. It plays incredibly. Innovative setting and gameplay with really unique characters and interactions. The gameplay we watched was stellar and satisfying, then we got about 10 minutes to play around with it ourselves. While we didn’t get to go on a mission, we got a feel for the controls and this might be my most anticipated game for next year…especially if they find a way to interject some melanin into that thing.

Day Two (Wednesday)

What I watched:

Days Gone – I hadn’t seen the Sony Press Conference, so getting an extended look at this really was a first impression for me. It’s pretty damn cool — an open world game where you play a bounty hunter who happens to be living in a time of zombie apocalypse. The live demo we witnessed started with scavenging for weapons while trying to track down your bounty. It turns into a run for your life where you are literally being chased by 1,000 zombies through a lumberyard. Like, for real, a thousand, fam. There were scripted parts, but ultimately a lot of the action was organic and entertaining. It wasn’t a perfect demo, but I definitely left that viewing pretty interested.

God of War – I’m gonna give this one some time. I am a huge God of War fan, but I also realize that I didn’t fuck with God of War: Ascension and didn’t feel one bit bad about that. But any time that a new God of War is announced, you immediately have my attention. So look, there’s some good stuff in the demo that was played, and some over the top action. It looks outright incredible and the new setting is pretty welcome. On the questionable side, the combat, by virtue of the new weapon that Kratos wields, almost completely changes the look of the game. The Norse Mythology is cool yet weird in terms of what we’re used to. And, we’re gonna have to wait see on the whole Papa Kratos and son thing. But the beard is cool. The beard is very cool.

Call of Duty: Infinite War – I’ve had Call of Duty fatigue for a few years now and I don’t know that this made me want to break my streak, but the prepared demo was pretty damn good. Bombastic, new, and innovative future tech and a focus on space and intergalactic dogfights as a pilot… not bad, yo. The even bigger shocker was the reveal that Infinity Ward is releasing a Call of Duty Modern Warfare in remastered glory. Fam. That might be worth it just to play the “All Ghillied Up” level on current gen hardware, let alone the MP maps it promises.

Mafia III – Okay, I won’t bore you about how Take Two does business and had folks wait literally 2 hours to see the showing because they kept letting VIPs in 30 at a time (or maybe I just did). What I will say is that this might be one of my most anticipated games so far this week. This was already on my radar because of the diversity present in the reveal trailer (and the horrible track record of how diversity was treated in previous games). But the depth, the visceral action, and huge world this inhabits make this look like a must own come this fall. Sign me up.

What I Played:

Battlefield 1 – Fam. FAM. This shit right here be the truth that Edward Elric has seen. This shit is GLORY. While Call of Duty wants to go far enough in the future that the warzone is indescribable, DICE is taking it back to WWI in what could be one of the best historical shooters we’ve witnessed. Even playing the Pre-Alpha build as it was labeled, Battlefield 1 looks and plays AMAZING. The way you would expect top tier Battlefield to be (i.e., not Hard Lines).

Dead Rising 4 – Pretty much what you would expect, Dead Rising is a game you love, or you REALLY love it. Not much has changed. Over the top combo weapons. Silly ass outfits or no outfits at all. And tons of different ways to kill zombies. Except it’s Christmas time.

Day One (Tuesday)

First off, you should know that E3 is really cool. Like, really fucking cool. While the number of events where you can just unapologetically nerd out on something is growing, it was still nice to see so much novelty, passion, and interest from thousands of people in a confined space. It is huge though, as you might imagine. I’ve told a few folks that going to E3 is very much like going to an indoor amusement park. You will probably spend 65% of your time waiting in line for the attraction you are looking to experience, be it a game demo or a closed presentation. It makes you prioritize just what you want to experience, because you won’t catch it all in a day or even three. As a result, games that might seem borderline to you may not draw your commitment, because nobody wants to wait an hour to play a game that ends up not being very good. Without further ado, here’s what I saw:

Dishonored 2 looks incredible and appropriately terrifying
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Dishonored 2 looks incredible and appropriately terrifying

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Spent much of my day ducking between these gaming mainstays and as you could imagine, you could literally spend all day doing just that.

What I watched:

Injusctice: Gods Among Us 2 – I played the hell out of Never Realms’ first attempt at the superhero skin over the newly revamped Mortal Kombat fighting engine. And I enjoyed the hell out of it. We only got to see a few of the characters, but if you liked the first one, it looks like you’ll feel pretty at home with the sequel. The biggest changes will be the addition of new characters such as Supergirl, Grodd (who looks amazing) and Atrocitus.

Hopefully the Batfamily won’t take up 40% of the roster and settings like last time. The biggest jump in the sequel will be the collection of gear that drops after each fight. Equipping armor not only gives a new aesthetic to your hero, but also adds stat attributes and possible unlocked moves as well. I’m split on this. I simultaneously like and dislike the idea of my Batman not really looking like a Batman I know, but we’ll see how that works out. Also, if there is this much customization and stat modifying, is a create a hero option possible? Since this won’t be out till next year, we’ll see what the future holds.

Ghost Recon Winterlands – The Open World tactical team shooter looks cool. Really cool. Ghost Recon has been doing the squad tactical shooter right for a long time and this looks like no exception. Seeing it run on the PS4, I thought the graphics looked good but not spectacular, though I imagine going open world is a calculated hit on the graphics themselves. Still, the coordination, options, and execution of certain missions was pretty impressive, along with just how large the map was.

Final Fantasy XV – What do you do with a Final Fantasy game that doesn’t necessarily look that much like a Final Fantasy game? Well, you’ll probably play the hell out of it, to be honest with you. A little more modernistic look with some memorable combat juggling, there seems to be a cool level of customization for each of your characters. The combat is real time, so we might be past that turn based approach for good, but who knows. It did look fantastic though and brought a level of intrigue for me that I didn’t previously have.

What I played:

I won’t stand on ceremony, I waited an hour to play Doom in Virtual Reality (VR) and my gawd. I mean, that’s all I got, yo. Shit was straight up insane, but really likable and I want to do it again, insane. I mean… sorry, that’s all I got.

For Honor – The melee combat game announced at last E3 was available to play through a mission that played like a straightforward demo. The game has some potential, really making you get good at predicting moves of your opponent and timing your strikes. It also looks gorgeous. I do wonder how varied the combat will be moving through the game and if how different MP will feel compared to the story mission. But so far, it seems interesting.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – I really, really loved the Deus Ex: Human Revolution reboot, playing through it multiple times for multiple branching stories and endings. The sequel feels like much of the same, which isn’t a bad thing. There just didn’t seem to be too much different that made me want a full sequel besides the advancement of the story. A few new mechanincs, but it does seem that Square Enix went with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, which may have been wise. I just wonder what is going to draw previous fans out with so few upgrades to it (and a game that looks graphically the same as well).

Keep checking back for more updates as we attend the rest of the event this week!

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  • William is the Editor-In-Chief, leader of the Black Knights and father of the Avatar. With Korra's attitude, not the other one.

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