E3 is almost done and dusted, and it’s been a humdinger. As the show comes to a close I thought it might be a good time to reflect on some of my favourite games unveiled at the show.
Would love to hear your thoughts. What were your favourite games of E3 2015? Here are some of mine.
The Last Guardian
Until E3 2015, The Last Guardian was a running joke on par with Duke Nukem Forever. Rumours the game would be shown got people talking again but my position was this: no. fucking. chance. This game is dead in the water. More chance of a Loch Ness Monster sighting in Parramatta Lake than The Last Guardian making an appearance at E3.
"When it doesn’t turn up again: that’ll be funny". I said that to a few people. But you know what turned out to be even more hilarious? The fact that it actually did show up. The pure absurdity of it. The strangeness of the moment. Sony opened with it. They opened the show with The Last Guardian. A knockout blow. The reality: the battle for E3 lasted about as long as a Ronda Rousey fight. It was over then and there.
I couldn’t believe it. I could barely believe it when the demo was done and dusted. Now that the news has finally sunk in I have other questions. Mainly this: will The Last Guardian be good? It’s difficult for me to retain any real kind of critical distance with what we’ve seen so far, but I’m optimistic.
This is what gives me hope: part of the reason why The Last Guardian struggled in development was its scope and ambition. The technology on the PS3 wasn’t really up to scratch. Maybe now is the right time for this game. I can’t wait.
No Man’s Sky
I heard a friend say this, but it echoes my thoughts.
The more people complain about how they don’t what No Man’s Sky is, or openly complain there will be nothing to do – the more excited I get about this game.
Is No Man's Sky nothing more than an ambitious space exploration game with a handful of underdeveloped mechanics? I kinda hope so. I hope No Man’s Sky is as aimless as Proteus. If I start playing this game and I’m told I have to save the Galaxy or some shit? I’m going to be very disappointed.
The allure of No Man’s Sky is its scope, and how insignificant it makes you feel. The allure for me will be the exploration. Hours spent trawling through space for that moment when you find something truly magical. The randomness of it: this will provide a real authenticity to No Man’s Sky. Can’t wait to see more.
EA’s E3 presentation is always a grind. We have to sit through the sports presentations, which are lame, even if the games themselves are not.
But this year Unravel cut through all the shit with a presentation so sincere it dropkicked my cynicism directly into the sun, where it was smelted down into schmaltz. The game’s Creative Director: his hands were shaking as he showed us the handcrafted doll he made whilst designing Unravel – a game featuring a main character made of yarn. The yarn represents love and the connections we make, he said to a worldwide, collective “awww…”
Unravel itself seems like a Limbo style puzzle platformer with an enormous beating heart. It looks absolutely gorgeous. I think, more than anything, Unravel is a video game that reminds us that real people make these games. They are special to that person. Sometimes video games can be these delicate creations and we should handle them with the utmost care.
Tacoma had a short showing at Microsoft’s E3 conference, but in that minute it felt clear this was the work of a small group of developers stretching their creative legs.
Fullbright’s last (and first) game was Gone Home – a critically acclaimed exploration game that dialed in on the nostalgic re-experiencing of small things. Things most of us could relate to: home life, family history, small town teenage drama.
Tacoma looks like it may have a similar structure. It will also be an exploration game of sorts. But it’s set in a science fiction universe that – even in that short demo – felt well-designed and well developed. The key to all the best created universes is the sense of depth that we don’t see, but feel. I think (and I hope) that Fullbright will get that right with Tacoma.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
AKA – the dinosaur robot game.
When I say that Horizon looks like it came from the mind of a ritolin-riddled 8-year-old boy – for the first and probably last time ever - I actually mean that as a compliment.
I can’t wait to see precisely how Guerrilla Games tries to justify high-tech robot dinosaurs in a post apocalyptic world with a tribal aesthetic in its fiction; but another equally sizeable part of me doesn’t even really give a fuck. That part of me is happy to just roll with it.
Because let’s be honest here: it looked fantastic, didn’t it? Visually it looked utterly gorgeous. Horizon followed The Last Guardian in Sony’s E3 press conference, and that made perfect sense because – realistically – what other video game could have followed The Last Guardian? The fact that Horizon managed to follow The Last Guardian and still stand out, still make a massive splash. That’s testament to the enthusiasm surrounding this game.
I feel like Guerrilla Games has a lot to prove with this one. It’s a studio well known for creating gorgeous games that deliver visually, but disappoint in other areas. I thoroughly enjoyed the Killzone series, so I feel a little different about that, but I’m hoping that Horizon is the true coming out party for a truly talented, world class studio.
So far so good.
Honourable mentions: Star Wars: Battlefront, Cuphead, Ashen.