E3 2014 Day 0 Aftertaste

I finished watching the first day of this year’s E3 Expo several hours ago (then I went to sleep, since it was 6AM in Finland at the time it ended), through IGN‘s webstream. In total, I was left with a feeling of a fun, entertaining day, but lacking something that would’ve made it remarkable. To be entirely honest, I’m glad I wasn’t there in person – I would’ve been majorly disappointed in what the Day Zero presentations had to offer.

The expo opened with Microsoft‘s presentation, and the first game they showed was the new Call of Duty. I’ve never really had strong feelings one way or another for CoD, and sadly, the trailer shown had no effect on that whatsoever. I’m sure some true fans of the series were excited, but I didn’t find that emotion.

All in all, Microsoft appeared to retain that lukewarm feeling (at least for me) throughout their presentation, and I didn’t really get all that excited about anything, save for one exception: Sunset Overdrive seemed like so much fun. It was, for me, the single high point in the entire Microsoft segment of the show.

Microsoft was followed by Electronic Arts, and them by Ubisoft. Both featured a number of titles in common with either Microsoft or the last-to-appear Sony, which was fine because the trailers shown were different enough from one another to keep them properly interesting.

Finally, Sony opened with an ambitious trailer for Destiny, that explained the game’s universe and mythos 1a little bit, and after a good while of varying presentation closed with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Now, I know the last one was a big deal, and the trailer looked fantastic, but it sort of made me a bit sad I never got into the series myself. That’s my own fault, of course, and it’s actually a compliment to the trailer seen. But it wasn’t really the content of the trailer that made me want to get involved, but the strong reaction of the live audience – it made me want to feel as strongly about this game as they did.

A definite standout throughout the expo was Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege, whose gameplay looked so fantastically fun (at least in the case you have 9 friends to play it with) that I instantly wanted to get my hands on it. It did, however, bring up a concern of whether or not the game itself would retain that level of entertainment, or like in many cases, after you see something cool in a trailer and then try it yourself, there’s very little else to keep you entertained. After all, video games are like movies in the sense that even a bad one can have a great trailer.

Another game that grabbed a lot of attention, even if it was no surprise, was Far Cry 4. I myself was very iffy at first about how to feel about it – I actually felt this game couldn’t possibly be very enticing, since it felt like they created it so fast. After watching the trailer, however, I’m getting more and more hopeful – I loved the look of the nature in the gameplay, and of course, the archnemesis played by Troy Baker, who looked genuinely interesting.

One remaining problem that I might have with this game, however, is if the developer repeated the idea of a “tourist kid” main character from Far Cry 3. I know the main character isn’t (probably) the same guy from the previous game, but I’m a little bit turned off by the archetype. It actually did kill a lot of cool moments for me in Far Cry 3, to do something absolutely bad-ass only to remember that “you” are just a kid on a vacation, not a kick-ass action hero. I understand the appeal and the depth in that, but I didn’t like it. And I’m not going to like it in Far Cry 4 if they repeated the idea.

We saw some footage on Tom Clancy’s The Division, which looked like a fun co-op action game, as well as a cinematic trailer for Dead Island 2, which actually caught me by surprise. While I’ve always loved post-apocalyptic games and such, something Colin Moriarty pointed out somewhere during an IGN Post-Show caught my attention: Maybe people will get tired of it, since there’s so much of it out there?

I have to say I agree, in the sense that I’m worried that the increasing volumes of dystopian settings and post-apocalyptic worlds could easily begin to saturate the audiences. In fact, as I started to reflect upon it, I noticed that I myself didn’t really want to see much more of it, simply because it wasn’t “cool” anymore with the way they’re basically forcing you to take notice, with the wide spread of games with such elements.

The same goes for zombies. I love zombies just like everyone else, but they too have become a diluted and stagnant source of content for any game. Besides, it’s very rarely that you see a zombie that has the qualities that make them effective – more often than not they’re just beasts, there to fill the space of “generic killable monster”. Myself, I like zombies the best when they’re haunting, tragic and grotesque, and carry the atmosphere of something that went terrible wrong in the past. Well… You get the picture. (Think the first Resident Evil game.)

That said, I’m conflicted on Dead Island 2. I’m sort of excited, but seeing as how the first game got boring pretty quick and how badly Riptide was realized, I can’t help but be a bit skeptical.

At least one more entry is worth mention: Magicka 2. I laughed my ass of throughout the trailer, and it was topped off by the tagline, “Learn how to spell!” Not sure what to expect from the game itself, but the trailer was simply so funny it needed to be acknowledged.

Finally, there were two entries that I personally was looking forward to, even if they contained few actual surprises. The first one was the gameplay trailer for Mortal Kombat X, which revealed not only a first preview on the visuals of the actual combat but also two entirely new characters. Both of which seemed interesting, but especially the little dude who rode the big chunk of a guy seemed like a very fitting addition into the Mortal Kombat universe. The combat itself made a fairly positive impression on me – if the gameplay in MKX is as fast and fluid as it seems, and if they somehow retained the ease-of-use of the previous title, it should be an awesome game to play.

The other game I was looking forward to was of course Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Sadly, like a lot of others, I had actually already seen the trailer several hours in advance due to a leak, but I was happy to watch it again. It conjured some major anticipation, but in truth the trailer didn’t really reveal a whole lot of anything. Most of the things featured in it were either events already established in what was known in advance, or clips that didn’t seem to make a lot of sense, or at least were impossible to understand without knowing the context. So even though I understood most of what was going on, some parts were just something you would have to dismiss since you don’t have the tools to attach meaning to. Yet.

So those were my topmost feelings the day after Day Zero. I’ll try to watch as much of the E3 Expo as possible and write down some of my reactions here later. Cheers.

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