For the whirlwind convention of the industry getting up to pat itself on the back known as E3, I was asked to talk about the games that leapt out at me. The ones that, from out of the gate, caused me to jump to my feet, scream “I want that now,” and then accidentally fall down an egg sorting machine.
Give it to me!
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
I can’t help it, I love the gameplay of Uncharted, especially as it slides more and more into Assassin’s Creed territory. Climbing puzzles? Sneaky skills? Sometimes having to climb on a train while dodging poorly-placed signs? Count me in!
t certainly helps that Nathan Drake is the antithesis of the “brooding, no-emotions-but-gas” hero so many other franchises use. He’s sarcastic, he breaks down, he can be vulnerable. God is clearly trying to kill this man in some weird Job-like deal. Also Elena. I could waste so much of your time talking about how amazing Elena is. She could have easily been a disposable love interest a la Indiana Jones, but somehow, from the very first game, they never fell into the trap.
We’re skipping over Nate, whose story is done, with the fifth game in the series and finally giving Claudia Black a protagonist to voice. Yep, it’s all about Chloe, which should be fun, but then I watched the trailer and learned they didn’t shoe-horn in a future romantic interest to be her Elena, but you get Nadine as companion.
Woo! The no-nonsense mercenary will be the companion Chloe can bounce her brand of biting wit off of. As long as they routinely drop entire buildings on our protagonist’s head the same way the Uncharted legacy did to Nate, I’ll be happy as hell. No going easy on her just because she’s a girl.
Horizon: Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds DLC
This is for my husband. I haven’t yet played Horizon: Zero Dear God is that a Bad Title, What Were You Guys Thinking? Aside from an easily-predictable plot (I honestly guessed Aloy’s big secret within the first two minutes of the game while watching him play), it’s a game that lets you fight robot dinosaurs. It delivers on that promise and that’s all anyone needs.
The DLC seems to have Aloy helping to mop up after the events of the main game. She heads up north to no doubt fight robot mastodons and other ice age robo-animals. It’s fighting giant robot monsters. Just run with it!
These are the games that I really wanted to be impressed with, but something’s off or I’m being cautious for reasons I’ll elucidate.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
(We don’t use numbers anymore because, much like Windows, we think that makes people hate it)
AC makes pretty games, it always has. For some reason when people are rushing over to tongue bathe Witcher 3 for the thousandth time, they always skip over the beauty of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. It ain’t the graphics, or ‘facial animations’ that has me stopping and pursing my lips.
Nor is it the setting. Ancient Egypt! Though, judging by the existence of the pyramids and the Roman soldiers who, I imagine, will stand in for the Templars that can’t be around, it’s not that ancient. Going back in time is smart. We were already bumping into the 20th century and they had nowhere to go. It also gives Ubisoft the chance to really explore time periods they skipped over in order to dig the hell out of colonial America in two/two-and-a-half games. God, was that a dumb choice.
What has me in a hold state is the gameplay itself. It doesn’t read like an AC game, but a simulacrum. Someone trying to jazz it up without getting what makes AC so much fun. When they called it an RPG, I audibly sighed and girded various loin parts.
Look at this menu system. Does that just scream of Unity‘s convoluted micro-transaction mess? Why would you want to invoke Unity?
It looks as if they replaced eagle vision with an actual eagle. Interesting in theory, but that’s gonna be a giant pain in the ass during combat. To rapidly switch from keeping an eye on the enemies on the ground to boom! in the air as a bird. Jarring would be an understatement.
The fact, the other gameplay released involved a boss battle that took forever doesn’t fill me with confidence either. Giant boss battles where your assassin runs right into an arena are antithesis to a sneaking game where you play chess and whittle down your opponents. I fear that in trying to get other people to play their game, Ubisoft is doing all it can to piss off the people who already like it.
It’s on the “I’ll wait and see” list. Also on that list, which I hate to say:
Bioware, dear, what is going on with you lately? ME:A seemed to be something you passed off to the overeager but inexperienced kindergartners who batted it around for awhile before kicking it out the door. And this…I don’t know what to think of this at all.
Is it an MMO? It sure seemed like it from the way the presenter kept talking about taking your friends with, but no one SAID it was. Is there even a story? Normally, I trust you. Bioware games aren’t the most dynamic when it comes to combat, which is fine. It’s good to have some cooler games that are more about story and characters, but there was nothing to grab me.
It starts out feeling like Fallout. Who here is sick and tired of post-apocalyptic wastelands? Especially as we march ourselves to our own climate apocalypse, assuming we don’t go full Gilead first. Maybe one, then the other.
Then you head out into the dangerous lands beyond to fight…things. I have no idea what the things are beyond bad things to shoot in your giant robot suit. Okay? Shoot the big monsters, get sucked into vortex of doom, looks like evil aliens? are running around. Maybe they’re the big bads of the world.
I don’t know, because it was all flash and no substance, exactly what I don’t expect or want from Bioware. Ugh. Fingers crossed, but hopes on simmer.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War
I’ve already written about how much I can’t stand Talion. He’s the anti-Nathan Drake, in fact. Brooding, boring, just there to yell at orcs and stab people. Guy had his wife and son killed in front of him, dies himself, only to turn around a week later and start checking out hot women with weird witch mothers. Dude, get some perspective.
The elf in his head is no better. He’s so bossy, I’d regularly chuck Talion off a tower just to piss off elf boy. So, if I hate the human characters so much, why am I cautiously optimistic about the sequel?
One, the orcs. Ratbag was the favoritest orc of them all, who they stupidly offed in the first. The orc we watched Talion take on in the preview footage looks just as much fun, and I swear sounds a lot like Slade Wilson from Arrow.
Two, the gameplay. You get to climb shit, sneak around, murder orcs quietly, and then turn them to your side to build an army. It’s an Assassin’s Creed-style game that I fear may be even more like the franchise than the one Ubisoft is putting out next.
About the only thing really remarkable about Shadows of Mordor was the nemesis system, which they’ve beefed up to include tower warfare. God help me, but I love that shit. Yes, even in AC. Sneaking in to take the enemy’s fort is a ton of fun.
So, that’d be it after a mad-cap weekend of gamers all crammed together in one space. A couple really grab me, a few were ehs, and a whole lot of “Oh god, this shit again.”
Read all of Nerdy but Flirty’s E3 2017 thoughts here! More to come.