Okay folks! We’re here. The final day of E3 2015. Just like days 1 and 2, day 3 did not disappoint. We checked out everything on our list except for Unravel. Sadly, the line for Unravel closed a bit early at the EA booth. Before getting into the rest of the action, we would be remiss if we didn’t stop for a moment to tell you how innovative Unravel looks. Kind of a similar concept to Yoshi’s Woolly World from day 1, but done way better from top-to-bottom. Instead of small mechanisms for throwing yarn collected, the main character is nothing yarn, and has to use his own fiber to create the steps, grappling lines and sails that helps him navigate each stage. Can’t wait to play this one. So sad we missed it. Nevertheless, it’s on to what we did have the good fortune to check out today.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst – DICE/EA
Before running over to Halo 5, we had just enough time to get hand’s on with DICE’s Mirror’s Edge sequel, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Faith Connors is again the focus of the story. This one is all about speed. The point here is to run, jump, slide and maneuver up and around a futuristic cityscape. Pieces of Faith’s past are hinted at, but most of the demo was aimed at showing how easy it was to navigate Faith at top speed. This might be the closest that any game has come to emulating the look of high-speed freestyle walking and running over rooftops like Jason Bourne.
Halo 5: Guardians – 343 Industries
In a private showing atop Xbox’s massive green makeshift office area we got to hear from Halo’s current director Tim Longo and previous director Josh Homes about Halo 5: Guardians. Like the days of long ago when Halo was helmed by Bungie, in 343’s hands Halo 5 shimmers like it always has, somehow impossibly proving that it understands first-person shooter dynamics better than 90% of the titles released in the genre. In Halo 5’s single-player campaign, the emphasis is firmly set on squad-based combat. In fact, two different squads interchangeably are used throughout the story. One team is led by the series’ traditional primary character Master Chief and the other by Spartan solider Locke. The squad mechanics are reduced to a couple of elegant controls, either directing them to attack a certain enemy, revive a teammate or hold a position. The game looks artfully immaculate. Even though we weren’t able to see many of the levels, what parts we did see were alluring and colorful, like a well-rendered SciFi movie. Longo and Homes spoke in detail about the title’s expansive 12 on 12 player versus player featured entitled Warzone. 343 went out of their way to take the already stellar mechanics of Halo multiplayer and make them work elegantly amidst the chaos of a 24-person fight. Special gear, weapons and vehicles are earned in the fight by gaining points. So, no more camping out by the Scorpion waiting for it to respawn. We would tell you Halo 5 will be a winner when it comes out on 10/27 of this year, but that’s a bit of a foregone conclusion isn’t it?
Star Wars Battlefront – DICE/EA
Speaking of immense player versus player action, we also got to play the immense Star Wars Battlefront. If you’re a Star Wars dork, this is the game for you. No question. The demo took place entirely on Hoth amidst the empire’s assault of the rebel base there. The rebel forces rally to raise their defenses to protect against an all-out assault by stormtroopers, AT-ST’s and two gigantic AT-AT’s. Players controlling the empire could eventually take control of the four walkers after successfully pulling off important objectives. Likewise, the players controlling the rebels could eventually pilot a snowspeeder and wrap a towline around the AT-AT’s legs just like in the Empire Strikes Back. Minus the fact that it can be hard (in a pure-white world) to see cleary whether the person in the distance is on your side or not, the detail in this game is stunning. It feels as close as to being dropped into the mayhem of the famous movie scene as any game has come yet.
Destiny: The Taken King – Bungie
Not long after, we were piloting the futuristic mechanics of runaway blockbuster hit Destiny’s newest expansion Destiny: The Taken King. Destiny fans will find this a fun expansion on the existing game, adding new subclasses, weapons and enemies. Oryx, the title villain of the story, can spontaneously warp in “taken” creatures, floating them into the battlefield, each with an ominous, silver, shadowy look. The three new subclasses available are Nightstalker, Stormcaller and Sunbreaker. The Nightstalker is armed with a bow. The Stormcaller floats over the battlefield calling out bursts of magical-ish energy. Sunbreaker takes advantage of a magical melee axe. We took a Stormcaller, but got promptly spanked by the more experienced players present.
Lego Dimensions – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
We would be hard-pressed to think there would be any room for another great Lego-themed game in our coverage this year, but that’s exactly what happened today. Lego Dimension is a game aimed at merging the physical product world with the digital gaming sphere. The title comes with a warp tunnel backdrop (called the Lego toypad) with several object sensitive light-up platforms and the game’s three main characters Wildstyle, Gandalf and Batman as standard Lego figurines. Predictably, given the mashup craziness of the excellent hit The Lego Movie, this game features a wide array of characters from all corners of pop culture. Middle Earth, The Simpsons, Scooby Doo, The Wizard of Oz and even Portal’s Aperture Science Laboratories all have a part in the story. What’s most inspired about all of this—even though it’s a surefire way to monetize more Lego’s as well as the game—is how the toy pad actually really matters to the game. Their aim to make the physical space and the digital space interact is noble, and often not even attempted by game makers. The game even provides for certain vehicles to be used by the characters. At key points, it provides instructions for how to disassemble and reassemble the vehicle into a different vehicle. We spoke with the game’s Assistant Producer at the demo and while it does recognize different characters exactly by their mounting pad signature, one could potentially cheat and claim they have assembled a different car when in fact, they haven’t. So, you’re on your honor kids. Don’t lie to Lego Dimensions. With random exceptions over the years not withstanding, this might be the first time since Nintendo’s Novelty peripheral R.O.B. has a developer worked so hard to bring the physical and digital worlds together.
Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 – PopCap
As the day wound down, we also got to demo the funny and colorful Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. This is a third-person shooter, where the user can cooperatively play with 3 others on either the Plant or Zombie side. Each character has two distinct attacks and one special attack. We used a short Imp in our time in the demo. The imp spins and semi-flies nimbly shooting two one-handed guns furiously. His special ability was calling down a massive warmech which he could then pilot. Needless to say, we spent most of our time blowing up plants in warmech mode. If life gets too low, you can just have the imp abandon ship and set a self-destruct mechanism, blowing up everything in the near vicinity. Working with your team you fight off hordes of endless progressively stronger opponents protecting your “base” (in the zombies’ case, a tombstone). It’s a little silly, but for a quick play, it’s mad fun.
Last but not least we went for something way different in the almost entirely drama-based Life is Strange. There’s no two ways about it, this is a game aimed squarely at teen girls. And why not? How often has any game ever actually been aimed at that demographic? Hasn’t there been enough games about blowing people up? In Life is Strange you control a 12th grade student named Maxine. Maxine is plagued with troubling visions of the visions and unwittingly finds herself able to make limited steps back in time and alter the course of history. There’s no fighting in this game folks. This is all about interaction and story, and like the wonderful Telltale Games’ titles, each decision you make will have a profound impact on the story and how the characters around you feel about you.