MOST WANTED – E3 2018 EDITION

MW E3 2018 Main

As 2018 continues to race on, we find ourselves with another E3 just around the corner. It’s the time of the year that the gaming world fills with rampant speculation and expectations soar.

So it seemed as good a time as any to take a look at which titles I’m excited to see more of at the conference in early June.

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BORDERLANDS 3

MW E3 2018 Borderlands

I was a big fan of the previous Borderlands games, their mix of stylised graphics, humour and sheer volume of weapons made for a fun experience that you could shape for yourself, depending on how you upgraded your character. So I’m looking forward to seeing what Gearbox reveal – the gaming landscape has changed massively since the last time Borderlands hit the shelves, might the new title even be a ‘games as service’ type affair?

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NEW DRAGON AGE

MW E3 2018 Dragon Age

It may have taken me until last year to finally finish Dragon Age: Inquisition but the game originally landed in 2014 so we are long overdue some fantasy, tactical RPG goodness. Confirmed to be in development but not officially announced, I’m hopeful we might get a teaser or some sort of update at the EA conference this year.

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LAST OF US II

MW E3 2018 Last Of Us II

The last footage we saw of Last Of Us II was harrowing and pretty disturbing. In lesser hands I might’ve been concerned but Naughty Dog’s track record speaks for itself and I suspect, in context, the violence will be in line with the tone and feel of the game and world. The first title was a game changer and, after the amazing Uncharted 4, I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

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GHOST OF TSUSHIMA

MW E3 2018 Ghost

I’ve been saying for years, we need a new Samurai game! I thought it would be the history-hopping Assassin’s Creed that would deliver but instead it’s Sucker Punch, of Infamous erm… fame, that are bringing some Katana action to our living rooms. For all their faults, I enjoyed the Infamous games and I think Sucker Punch could really deliver something special with Ghost Of Tsushima.

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DEATH STRANDING

MW E3 2018 Death Stranding

Ah Death Stranding, three trailers in and still no sense of what this game is actually going to be. From the creator of Metal Gear Solid, it appears you’ll be playing as a character attempting to protect a baby from supernatural forces in a post apocalyptic world. Or is it all a Dallas-style dream? Who knows? It has all looked great so far though, now I’m hoping we get to see some actual gameplay on stage.

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CYBERPUNK 2077

MW E3 2018 Cyberpunk 2077

We still don’t have many concrete details about Cyberpunk 2077 but E3 2018 looks set to change that. The makers of the successful Witcher series have a large presence planned on the showfloor – could this mean a playable demo? Or is it too early? Details are sparse but we’ve been told the game may take some cues from Deus Ex and is set to take place in Night City, an existing location in the Cyberpunk pen and paper RPG game on which this title is based. The biggest game at E3 this year? Quite possibly.

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So those are some titles we already know about but where’s the wild speculation I mentioned earlier? Oh ok, here are a few ‘long shots’ – not completely random but games that are probably very unlikely.

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DISHONORED 3

MW E3 2018 Dishonored

It might be too early for this announcement but as a fan of the last two games I’d love some more Dishonored. The universe is so rich and different to anything else around, it’s a real pleasure to explore, not only the city itself but also the game mechanics and different ways of interacting with the world.

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NEW GUERRILLA GAME

MW E3 2018 Guerilla

I loved the Killzone series and Horizon: Zero Dawn knocked it out of the park last year. So what are Guerrilla working on now? Well I’d really love to know, so fingers crossed for at least a tease at E3. I suspect it might be more Horizon, given it’s success but something new – or even something Killzone – would be most welcome.

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NEW SKYRIM

MW E3 2018 Skyrim

Skyrim came out over six years ago. Six years! And it’s now available on every platform possible. Surely it’s time to bring us some new adventures, potentially in a different region of the Elder Scrolls universe. It would be amazing if we got a glimpse of something new at E3 – fingers crossed!

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THE ORDER 1887

MW E3 2018 Order

This is probably the longest shot in here, given Santa Monica studio only recently wrapped on the well received God Of War reboot. The Order was a game with a phenomenal look, some great acting and a decent story. At times it played well but for the most part the combat was rote and it descended into moving from one ‘shooting gallery’ to another. If they revamp the combat and design more interesting combat encounters, a new Order game could be amazing. It’s time may have realistically passed but I would be really happy to see a sequel.

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So, there you have it! Early June is right around the corner, I can’t wait to see what surprises are in store.

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Playing Games Like You Watch TV Or: Why It Took Me Over Two Years To Finish Dragon Age: Inquisition

DAI

I’ve spoken about my gaming habits plenty in the past but I’ve noticed another shift in the last year or so. If I have an hour spare now in the evening I’m much more likely to play an online game, not something single player based.

While it sounds contrary to the above, I feel like I want to invest more time in single player game sessions than ever and really lose myself in that world, which conflicts with my gaming schedule – essentially the odd hour here and there in the evening. I’m finding that I don’t want to play something story based for 45 minutes or an hour. Or at least that’s how I feel about open world games, I’m certainly still happy to play an hour long session to complete a chapter of Uncharted or a main mission in Tomb Raider. More linear games still lend themselves to that style of play. I’ve always played those kind of games like TV shows anyway, a chapter or two at a time over the course of weeks rather than days. I’ve never been a gamer who will rush through a 15-20 hour game in a weekend.

Horizon

Horizon: Zero Dawn is a good example of this new play style, a game I likely would’ve rushed through before is now a title I’m planning to play over the course of months rather than weeks. Crucially, I also feel like I’m getting more enjoyment out of the game by taking the time to explore and discover smaller content along the way.

I think there is an accompanying parallel change in multiplayer games, which are doing a much better job of getting you to come back and play more often. There has been a positive change in a huge amount of games whereby new content (new levels/maps or characters) is being added free of charge for all players. This is important because, firstly, it means the player base isn’t split (some that paid have the new content but others don’t and they can’t all play together) and secondly it gives people a strong reason to come back to games they might not have ever returned to before this trend. In addition a lot of games are rewarding players for logging in and playing, which keeps people interested for longer.  I also feel like there are a ton of pick up and play online experiences that last 5-10 minutes per game, which align perfectly with the time I have available.

If I only have 30-45 mins spare why waste my time on an open world title and have to turn it off just as I’m getting into the rhythm of the game? I’d rather play a few rounds Overwatch and a game of Rocket League. It’s also occasionally quite nice to play something that has a set beginning, middle and end. I guess it’s similar to watching a really good eight episode TV show knowing it only has one season and tells a complete story within that.

OverwatchTV

Big, sprawling open world titles are definitely still attractive to me, Horizon is one of the best games I’ve played in the last 4 or 5 years, but I just need more time to play and invest in them. Dragon Age: Inquisition took me over two years to finish. Why? I suspect the TV season-like structure helped, along with the change in my own gaming habits. What I loved about the structure of Dragon Age in particular was that your main hub in the game was your ‘War Table’, where you and your colleagues/advisors would plan your next tactical move and which mission to take on. On this table you had a selection of smaller missions, including favours for your colleagues that would reveal more about them and strengthen your relationship with them, but also one bigger mission that moved the main story on considerably. So for me, the game became like a TV show in so far as I would spend a few weeks playing side missions, levelling up and getting some character development for my team before doing the big, climatic ‘end of season’ mission and then putting the game down for a month or two.

Another huge title in terms of scale is Fallout 4, which I’m still playing 18 months after I started. Why? Well for similar reasons to Dragon Age but with the added decision from the outset not to follow the direct path for ‘character reasons’. I decided to make my character more selfish than my usual created characters, for example my elf Inquisitor from Dragon Age or Commander Shepherd from Mass Effect. In Fallout, Bella would be a character that was, for the most part, more interested in her own current affairs than any grander goal – which has been great fun and I’d recommend everyone to try playing a character like it at some stage!

FALLOUT4TV

Another issue with mainlining games is burnout, doing the same thing over and over again is certainly not fun and can severely lessen your enjoyment of a game. However, I think there is a huge difference between repetitive gameplay over a longer period of time in hour sized chunks and repetitive gameplay experienced in bigger 3 or 4 hour time slots.  I genuinely believe that the reason I still enjoy long running game series like Assassin’s Creed, where you are essentially doing the same thing in every iteration of the game in a different setting, is because I’ve never really sat down and played them for 4 or 5 hours at a time.

Episodic gaming kind of solves this play style problem, although it doesn’t always necessarily do the best job. Titles like The Walking Dead and Life Is Strange are great games, although each episode usually runs the length of a film which runs into the same problem for me time-wise. Hitman, which is perfectly suited to the episodic format, is another title with lengthy levels (a positive when I have the time to invest) although the inclusion of smaller one off assassinations does mean that is a game you can also dip into here and there.

Life Is Strange 1

Some people are quick to mainline these huge games and I just don’t get it. Why would you want to rush through these big titles? Where Uncharted is like a film, games like Skyrim, Mass Effect or Dragon Age are like having 10 seasons of a TV show in front of you. Finishing these open world games as quickly as possible by doing just main quests would be like having a cut down version of the TV show that just focuses on the main character and no-one else. Sure you’d get to experience the story at the centre of the show but without any focus on other characters. Imagine a Buffy The Vampire Slayer without any development of Willow or Xander? Or an Orphan Black with no focus on Donny or anyone except Sarah? Indeed, imagine a Mass Effect that didn’t bother to flesh out your crew but just double downed on the main story.

I’m as guilty as the next person of binge-watching TV shows but I do feel that for games it is a little different – as I mentioned above my confusion isn’t really based on people playing games quickly, it’s what you might be missing along the way. Even if I binge something like Jessica Jones I am still seeing all the story the creators put in there and want us to see. If you mainline a game you could be missing a wealth of interesting content and potentially things that might be integral to the wider plot of the game.

hITMANtv

Even in this age of on demand binge watching it can be nice to watch a TV show week by week – one of the biggest luxuries of the ‘old’ approach to watching TV or playing games is that you have time to think about and appreciate the content you’re consuming. I’ve found that in games but also in TV. Recently, Legion was a delight to watch week by week and I actually think I needed that time between episodes to process what I’d seen. Sure, there is a rush from getting through something you’re enjoying – it can exhilarating knowing that you are just a click away from another episode or main mission but I’d recommend giving slower paced gaming a shot. It’s definitely a different experience and one, for me personally, that means I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of open world games.

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