These trailers were some of the most talked about from E3 2015 (aside from Final Fantasy VII obviously), but some of the best parts the public never got to see! We’re here to give you the scoop on what you missed from The Last Guardian, Uncharted 4, and Horizon.
The Last Guardian
The trailer everyone saw started out with the boy and catbird, named Trico we found out, on a bridge navigating some precarious heights. The trailer press was treated to in Sony’s theater on the floor started out about ten minutes earlier. The boy is navigating some very old ruins when he comes across Trico. The creature isn’t hostile to him, so it’s not clear whether or not the boy and Trico are already friends or not, but even if they weren’t, a quick rub on his face and some reassuring words have the boy on catbird’s good side.
The boy then runs around Trico and climbs on him. By the way, the feathers on Trico are so spot on, it’s incredible. Remember when you first saw LA Noire and were like “Oh god, faces can be that good?” Same thing, but for feathers. The boy notices that catbird’s been really injured, two large spears are embedded in him. Trico’s clearly tried to get them out himself with how splintered they are, but they’re at a weird angle to where he can’t pull them out himself. The boy ends up pulling both of the spears out, with small yelps of pain from our creature friend.
It’s then time for Trico to get up and eat his preferred meal, small barrels of something. Who knows. But Trico’s jonesin’ for the stuff enough that he stands up on his hind legs so the boy can enter a part of the dungeon he can’t in order to retrieve the barrels he wants. It’s very indicative of the symbiotic, caring relationship between the two, and really builds a bond the player’s mind between boy and catbird. After the boy opens the gate, both of them proceed out to the bridge where the press conference trailer picked up.
Though this extended trailer bit wasn’t terribly important, it did a great job of building the bond between the two characters and making you feel for Trico. Considering everyone thought this title was dead a month ago, it’s looking pretty damn good.
When Sony’s E3 2015 press conference trailer of Uncharted 4 last left Drake, he was being dragged by a large truck into a pile of wood while hanging off a bridge.. The trailer/gameplay continues from there as Drake is being pulled over the lake, past a pedestrian boat, narrowly avoiding wooden pillars until he finally slams in to dry land as the bridge ends. But that’s not where Drake gives up, oh no. He maintains his grip and is then unceremoniously dragged through the mud behind the truck, trying to avoid hitting things while also trying to pull himself up to the truck WHILE ALSO SHOOTING DUDES. After finally making it up to the truck and punching the hell out of some poor sap, it’s time to crank it up even further, as is tradition with Uncharted. While we’re not clear on the details, the car Drake is on catches on fire. Of course it does. So he’s forced to jump on someone else’s bike, kick off the owner, and keep driving with the caravan to get up to his brother. After two more vehicle hoppings, Drake is in a truck pulling up next to his brother, followed by a ton of troops. They both want the other to get on their vehicle. As brothers do, they start arguing about who will get on who’s vehicle.
Then Drake gets hit by a god damn truck. OF COURSE he gets hit by a god damn truck.
So as he’s getting his bearings in the flipped over vehicle, realizing he isn’t dead (a shock to us too), the damn thing catches on fire. Of course it does. IT’S UNCHARTED. OF COURSE THEY TOOK A BAD THING AND MADE IT WORSE. A few armed thugs comment that there’s no way he could be alive until he bursts the driver side door open and kills them. “Never underestimate a Drake.” He never says that, but in our fan fiction, he totally did.
His brother picks him up on the motorcycle and the chase is back on as the huge military truck is still on their asses. Nate’s shooting behind him, his brother’s driving, death is looming. Finally, they slide the bike under a large block in the road, which the truck hits and explodes. For the first time, Nate, his brother, and the audience all breathe an audible sigh of relief. Even just watching someone play this was stressful, playing it must be intense.
And just as we were ready for the demo to be over, Drake, his brother, and Sully all make it back to their hotel room, confident that they’ve found the location of a hidden treasure. Their excitement is interrupted by Drake’s wife unexpectedly showing up in his hotel room. She asks how the Monaco job is going and why he’s so off course. You can hear how disappointed she is that Drake lied to her about not being a thief anymore. It’s heartbreaking. Then the trailer ends.
GOD WE NEED THIS GAME.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Admittedly, the amount of content differing between the trailer press go to see and what the public saw is minimal. The demo we saw is functionally the same, but with a few more things shown off with combat. Aloy still comes down, hides in the grass, kills a robodino before it sounds an alarm, then shoots some of the grazing robots to take whatever green goop they’re holding. This murderous human, understandable, upsets mama dinosaur as it turns around and starts a huge fight. So in the press conference demo, it wasn’t quite clear why or how they were doing what they were doing and how to win against this huge foe, but in the private theater, they talked through the strategies that went in to it.
First off, Aloy has many different types of ammo with her bow. There’s explosive, electric, and armor piercing, among others, and they all have their place. First, after rolling around and dodging attacks, you slow down time to get a good shot with the armor piercing arrows to one of the mounted guns on the side, knocking it off. Then that weapon is used to knock off more of the armor plating around the dino’s weak point, somewhere around its upper thigh. This process is repeated for the other size, then you shoot cables to tie the beast down to get in a good shot and hit the weak point with an explosive shot. Boom, creature’s down.
Though it may not have been radically different, it’s at least interesting to get a peek into how Horizon Zero Dawn’s combat will function after its intriguing world roped us all in.
Every year E3 seems to have a few distinguishable patterns in its announcements. One year it was 3D, another it was camera support. So what are the trends we noticed in this year’s E3?
Pander Pander Pander
This year’s E3 was full of pandering, not that it’s a bad thing. After Microsoft’s fiasco of not listening to its consumers and Sony profiting from that negative response, both companies kicked “WE LISTEN TO YOU, BELOVED CUSTOMERS” in to full gear. Microsoft started off Pandercon 2015 with its announcement of Backward Compatibility, something customers have been wanting since the 360 and PS3 came out. Then they went ahead and showed off Gears of War 4 gameplay, which was totally unexpected. Hell, at the end of the Microsoft press conference we said Sony would have to hit with nukes to beat Microsoft.
And boy did they.
They dropped the biggest bombs they could possibly drop all in one press conference. Not only is Last Guardian not dead, but it’s being released next year. Shenmue 3 is happening and its Kickstarter went live during the press conference. And last, but certainly not least, the mother of all remakes is happening. The HD Final Fantasy VII remake for Playstation 4 is official. Not an uprez of the original, not the PC version available on PSN, a legitimate remake of the game everyone’s been requesting for years. Sony went all in with the pandering and it paid off big time.
Even Square Enix jumped in after the Sony presser and released more info on Kingdom Hearts III, more info on the new Star Ocean, and announced a sequel to Nier. Couple that with the Final Fantasy VII remake and their announcement of a game coming from a company literally named Tokyo RPG Factory, and hype was at an all time high.
The pandermachine isn’t necessarily a bad thing for gamers. It’s a great time to be part of a very loud crowd that hasn’t had enough attention. Who knows, maybe we’ll get another Chrono game, a PC port of the newer Halos, or even a new Red Dead game. If this rolling carnival of handouts for the loud and ignored continues, we may even get a Super Mario RPG remake.
Though the trend isn’t a HUGE one, it still definitely exists. After the success of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, fabric-based textures seem to be a growing trend in games. Both Yoshi’s Woolly World and Unravel are based around characters made out of yarn and how adorable they are.
Think about it, if Yarny wasn’t made out of yarn, but was rather a little dude running about through the woods, you wouldn’t care nearly as much. And the same goes for Mario’s dino friend. Yoshi’s New Island came out to a tepid response with its map color-esque graphics. We postulate that just maybe the game would have been more successful if it had just been a lot more cute. The game didn’t have bad gameplay, it just looked kinda meh. Slap a layer of yarn, fabric, and some cute details on it and you’ve got a hit!
Remember that trend a few years ago where everything was brown and grey and terrible? Like Fallout 3, Gears of War, et al.? Well we’re finally coming out of that, it seems. Fallout 4 seems to have finally shrugged off the terrible color palette that characterized its predecessor, allowing for a far more visually interesting title to come forth. At the time, Fallout 3 looked amazing and the world was huge, so the limited color palette could be overlooked, but playing it now, the game gets so visually boring so so quickly. The graphics in Fallout 4 aren’t even all that much better than in Skyrim, but the colors sets it so far apart from Fallout 4 that it looks like it was done by a different studio. We can’t emphasize how much better it looks.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was lauded as a great, beautiful game. But everything in the god damn thing was orange and black! Every. Thing. The new title, Mankind Divided, looks much less visually constricted, as if they finally allowed themselves to use greens. It’s a wonderful difference. Even Gears of War, the brownest brown that ever browned, had a nighttime trailer in which the camera showed off other colors. It was crazy. It’s like video games finally discovered the other side of the color wheel.
Funko Pop Toys are all the rage, embracing almost every fandom that’s ever existed, and the newest crop this summer is without exception. Summers feature some of the most prized Pops of the year, as SDCC draws near and Funko reveals its convention exclusives. This season in particular also catches Funko re-releasing some of its “From The Vault” toys in commemoration of the upcoming Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. (more…)
Star Wars Battlefront
It’s basically Battlefield 4 with a skin of Star Wars on top. AT-ATs are on rails. There’s no space battles.
Those are all completely valid criticisms of DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront game. That being said, it’s also fun as hell.
The demo plopped two people down in a sort of objective-based wave killing mode in which you’re two rebels fighting off waves of Storm Troopers while trying to complete missions. We were skeptical at first, but once we were in the game taking down Imperial scum, we knew we’d be getting it. The combat feels fluid and the environments are gorgeous. The planet we were on appeared to be Tatooine with its desert motifs and high cliffs. Even just looking across the valley we were stationed in looked gorgeous.
Then the Troopers came. And as quickly as they came, they were gone, banished by our blasters. First wave down, no biggie. Hell wave two came and went almost as fast. Then more heavily armored troopers were introduced and we were still okay. Then a walker with the troops and we actually had to start using our abilities. First off, the jetpack is incredibly fun. Getting a huge, fast boost up in the air in these terrains is an absolute joy and one we’re happy to have. It’s just so much fun bouncing about through the valley it’s hard to focus. There’s also a shield for deflecting blaster fire while you try and make a getaway. The valley also spawns random powerups from a group shield to a sniper rifle, encouraging you to do more than just hole up with your partner. After six waves and many dead Storm Troopers, we made it out alive and with far more enthusiasm about this game than we came in with. Though it may not be Battlefront 3 we were all hoping for, it’s still a really enjoyable experience. The gameplay is solid, fast paced, and a hell of a lot of fun.
We didn’t know much about this game coming in to it aside from what we gleaned from the statues by their booth — it had a giant man with a teeny tiny head in it. On the last day at the last possible time we could, we hopped in line and got to be one of the last groups of E3 2015 to try the game, which is pretty damn cool.
Battleborn is a new FPS game made by the people behind Borderlands. As you’d expect, there’s a multiplayer cooperative story mode in which you and three friends pick characters and go through missions together . The main difference between this mode and Borderlands are the amount of characters to choose from and the variety of options with those characters. Each of the 24 characters characters has their own unique abilities and play style. Instead of focusing on massive amounts of loot, players don’t pick up different guns, but instead shards with which they can upgrade their characters. This shift makes character selection much more important as all you’ll really have are the characters abilities and your upgrades. The graphics are also not in Borderlands pseudo-cel-shaded style, but rather something more akin to TF2 with its cartoonish, smooth style. The characters are also supposed to represent tropes from the FPS genre from military testosterbros to wee, but powerful dwarf warriors.
There’s a story for this game, but honestly, unfortunately for 2K, they were right next to the EA booth and we couldn’t hear anything the characters were saying over blaring bass. Hopefully it’s as clever and interesting as the Borderlands dialog. Though we couldn’t hear the story, we did get to experience a really fun multiplayer mission in which four of us fought some spooky looking demons. The demo level was fun to navigate and it was great fun hopping in with strangers, all of us figuring out our cool abilities, and taking down baddies with great prejudice.
Battleborn isn’t just a co-op game, however, as it also has various multiplayer modes. One such mode that has been shown off already is called Incursion, and looks an awful lot like a MOBA in structure, adding to the argument that this isn’t just reskinned Borderlands. Gearbox has promised more modes by the time the game releases this year, so we look forward to seeing what this new game can offer when we get our hands on it.
The most surprising demo we got to try, we didn’t even know was in development until this show. RIGS is Sony’s competitive gaming title for its upcoming VR platform Morpheus. It’s a 3v3 objective-based FPS in which the goal is to accumulate a enough energy to throw yourself through a hoop and score a goal. You get energy by finding it throughout the map or by killing your opponents. There are three classes all with different attributes that you can choose from, all with their own attributes and abilities. The one we picked had a hover ability that proved quite annoying for the team to have to look up to aim. Hehe, suckers.
The VR part is interesting. Instead of aiming with the right stick, you have to look at your target to aim. Upon first hearing this, we were skeptical of how it well it would work, but it was surprisingly intuitive. Once you realize you only see more of the map by moving your head, it’s already natural to be moving your head to stare at the enemy, so you just need to keep it there to keep firing at them. The only bad thing about this aiming system is that if they start moving, you also need to be moving to keep your target on, so it’s actually not terribly difficult to get out of your opponents line of fire. Luckily, it’s that way for everyone so although it’s harder to keep a lock on your target, it’s also harder for them to keep a lock on you.
RIGS was only allowed to shine, though, because of all the VR headsets we’ve tried, the Morpheus was by far the most comfortable. To be fair, we’ve only tried various iterations of Oculus Rift, but that terrible elastic strap on the back makes the whole thing feel uncomfortable. Morpheus, on the other hand, has a piece that extends and contracts to allow you to slip it over your head, kind of like headphones. The padding is a lot softer, it feels more secure, and the experience of taking it on and off feels so much better than Oculus Rift that it’s incredible. The VR itself is also pretty good with very minimal screen door effect and a 120 Hz refresh rate, which should help a lot of people with their VR motion sickness.
If you have PS4, Morpheus is awesome and RIGS is a really great game to show off what it can do. Look forward to both sometime in the future because lol what’s a release date.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
After years of off/on talk about another Mirror’s Edge game, the beautiful if flawed game finally has an official sequel. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst puts you back in the shoes of runner Faith trying to subvert a number of wildly powerful corporations controlled by a man named Gabriel Kruger. The demo starts off with Faith getting out of jail and having the guards basically be huge jerks to her. Once she’s back on the street, some snot nosed punk whose name we’ve thankfully forgot, takes off her government trackers and gets her back on the streets. He’s mainly annoying because he keeps questioning Faith’s abilities and come on, dude, she just got out of jail.
Anyway, the first part of the demo is on the rainy, dark streets as you try to get your runners legs back, jumping over and under obstacles and trying to keep a constant flow. The visual tone of this section is markedly different from most of the original Mirror’s Edge games with its dark colors and messy environment. As you burst through a door, the demo whisks you away to the rooftops at some other time with a style far more familiar with stark whites and a clean environment to run in. The only difference is the biggest one — you’re in an open world. Yes, the huge shift from missions to open world means you can now freerun across the city and explore in a non-mission context, something definitely lacking from the first game. Missions are placed around the environment, in the style of Assassin’s Creed, so that you’re never taken out of the game.
The desire to not break the flow of the game also translates to the gameplay as well. As you keep your running flow going, there are subtle atmospheric differences like a change in music or an increase in speed, giving you subtle ways to feel like running and keeping a flow are important. In that vein, there are really only a few buttons for freerunning, one for upward movement (jumping, climbing, swinging) and one for downward (sliding and dismounting). This configuration makes running a breeze, which is good because combat actually becomes easier the faster you are.
The demo has a few missions to do including a race, hacking a billboard, and delivering a package from one place to another. Running between missions and objectives felt really free, a feeling that Mirror’s Edge has always been pretty good at instilling. The missions themselves weren’t particularly hard and the only one we couldn’t do as good as you could at was the race. We blame the obnoxiously loud volume of the EA booth.
The game’s story promises to focus on Faiths’ origin, fleshing out our favorite runner in more detail. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until February 23rd of next year to get it. In the meantime, we’ll be painting our eye and buying red shoes. Not freerunning, that looks hard.
Arguably the smallest game that made the biggest splash at E3 this year was about a little guy made of yarn. Unravel is a game about the connections between people told through the eyes of a little creature made of yarn solving puzzles and going on adventures. The idea behind the game is that it’s harder to do things the further away you are from people you love. With that in mind, Yarny starts coming unraveled the further you progress through the stage, meaning you have you find more yarn to rewind yourself as the level progresses.
The demo starts off with a short video of an elderly woman looking at old photographs and smiling at them, reminiscing over tea at her table in her small kitchen. She then walks upstairs with her bag of yarn, taking care to adjust a baby picture on her way up. A small ball of red yarn then bounces out of her and we take control of Yarny from there.
One of the best things about this short demo was how well Yarny was characterized. From the moment you take a step out of the front door, he’s looking around, taking in the world around him. Any time you stop moving, and even a bit while you’re running, Yarny is constantly looking at stuff in the environment, showing how curious the little guy is.
The yarn mechanics also make for interesting puzzles to solve. You can rewind your yarn to pull yourself back up to an area if you’ve gone to far or done something wrong. In that sense, there’s no real way to fail a puzzle. Sure, there are environmental hazards like deep water and toxic materials that can take our little friend out of commission, but there’s no failed puzzle.
Yarny can also swing from his yarn to get in to new areas or cross gaps, kinda like a red, cuter Indiana Jones. You can also attach your yarn to two different static points to create a bridge or a trampoline for yourself. Using these simple mechanics, we take Yarny through the old woman’s front yard and very quickly get spooked by a butterfly. It’s adorable. You also come across bits of memory, which represent themselves as kind of blurry picture formed by light in the sky. This one in particular is of a smiling child running through the grass. The yard is basically a tutorial level, showing you how the yarn works, how attaching and swinging work, and letting you solve a few puzzles.
The second half is where things get intense. Yarny is in a dark forest while it’s raining outside. He still seems pretty excited to be outside until lighting strikes. His whole body language then changes to one of fear. Our friend is hugging his arms together, walking more slowly, and those same eyes that viewed the environment as a wonder now view it as potentially a threat, a big, scary threat. Yarny stumbles out onto a road and very nearly gets hit by a car, which really cranks at your heart strings, making you feel simultaneously bad for our friend and angry at the car that almost hurt him. Once the road is crossed, you’re met with a series of more intense puzzles, making you create and disassemble multiple trampolines or have large leaps of faith. The memories you find also take a more dark turn, one showing a man being dragged away by suited men, and another of people in hazmat suits pushing toxic barrels.
We were hurried out of the room before we could complete the demo, but what we saw really captured us. Yarny is our new best friend and the mechanics, though simple, are so much more charming through the eyes of this innocent protagonist that this is toward the top of the list of games we want to play.
Free to play game seem to be all the rage these days, specifically free to play versus games. Bethesda’s answer to this growing market is Battlecry, a 4v4 class-based shooter. The demo put us in a match of control points in which each controlled area added points to a total until time ran out. There were only 4 classes to choose from in the demo, but they were all very different form one another. From stealth killers to long shots to tanks, we weren’t bored by the class selection at all.
The demo was relatively short and unfortunately, it didn’t come with a tutorial beyond a sheet of paper with buttons on it. It took us until about halfway through to pick a class that we actually enjoyed and figured out how to use effectively. By that time, the other team had already beaten us back to the point that it was hard to make a comeback.
Regardless, the gameplay was fun, especially for the ranged character we played. As you aim longer, the damage your shot will do increases. He’s also got a few special abilities like stealth and shot modifiers that made him a lot more useful, if only toward the end of the match, when we figured out what everything did.
Battlecry is opening itself up to demo soon and you can sign up for it on their website.
Star Fox Zero
Ever since last year’s kinda-sorta reveal of a Star Fox game, fans have been clamoring for more details. The series hasn’t had a great entry in quite some time, and with the unique two-screen design of the Wii U, the hopes for this game were high. After playing the game at E3, we can assure you of one thing — if you’re looking for a true sequel to Star Fox 64, you got it.
The demo plops you down in Corneria where you learn how to control the Arwing. On first glance, duh, you know how to control the Arwing. That is, until you try to aim. You see, the second analog stick isn’t what you use to aim, that’s reserved for acrobatics and movement (boost, brake, banking, etc.). Your reticule is instead controlled by a combination of your movement and the Wii U Gamepad’s gyro. Like Splatoon, more precise aiming can be achieved by moving the gamepad about, but unlike Splatoon, the movement also shows you more depending on the mode you’re in. With All Range mode and the new Targeting mode, the gamepad gives you a cockpit view of your Arwing and allows you to shoot in any direction regardless of your current heading. Having a cockpit mode in which you can aim independent of your movement and see more than what’s on the top screen is useful for flyovers on ground enemies and dogfights. That being said, it does take getting used to and requires you to move about while sitting on your couch, something we’re not sure anyone is a fan of.
The only transformation we got to experience in the demo was into the ChickenWing (our name, not theirs), and while it wasn’t the most useful thing, it gives you new perspectives on the level by showing you areas you can’t access with the Arwing. The Corneria level culminates in a battle where you must destroy a ship from the inside and have to use the ChickenWing to do so. When you breach the structure, you’re met with a really simple boss that consists of a few whirling weak points that grant you the opportunity to really test the maneuverability of the land vehicle, and it actually feels pretty good!
All in all, if you were hoping for another game like Star Fox 64, then this game is for you. It’s a beautiful game that adds to the classic Star Fox 64 gameplay arsenal with transforming vehicles while also adding in the fresh element of the cockpit view.
Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes
Legend of Zelda: Four Swords was an add-on for the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past port for Gameboy Advance. The multiplayer Zelda title was so well received that it was then expanded on to make Four Swords Adventure, a full game in which you and your friends teamed up to take down puzzles and bosses. Now, Nintendo is releasing an all new multiplayer Zelda title called Triforce Heroes for your and your friends to hate each other in.
Though the rupee grabbing elements of the game seem to be gone, everything else is in tact, from picking up your fellow players to using your items in conjunction to solve puzzles. One interesting new element added to the game is costumes. Though they don’t seem to affect gameplay, they affect auxiliary things about the game, such as luck or damage modifiers. They also affect how super kawaii uguu~ you are.
The demo had three players work through a dungeon together. In our particular level, we were using the gust bellows and bombs to navigate across gaps, hit enemies from afar, and totem up to hit switches. All in all, this really seems like another Four Swords game, just running on the Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds engine. If you’re in to that sort of thing, and we definitely are, then you need not wait long, as it’ll be out later this year.
Yoshi’s Woolly World
Some games, you just know are going to be too cute for their own good. Kirby’s Epic Yarn was one such game, and now the fabric-texture cuteness sinks it claws into Yoshi in Woolly World.
As is with the previous two games, it seems Nintendo is taking a note from their past selves and bringing back the gameplay elements and feel from the Yoshi’s Island games to this new, saccharine title. One notable difference, and in our opinion improvement, is that you can do two player with a gamepad and a Wiimote, meaning more adorable Yoshi, more cute adventures, and new, slightly difficult puzzles to solve with your friends. The game feels very fluid, adds in some interesting fabric-based puzzles like platforms existing only when behind a piece of fabric that has a light behind it.
We’re sure there’s some amount of story here, but it doesn’t really matter. I mean, look at that guy. He’s slurping up yarn and pooping out yarn balls. How cute is that? Speaking of cute, while we were in line to play this, we spied the three Woolly World Amiibos, and they are just as cute and soft looking in person.