It is 8:40pm Los Angeles time, and I am sitting in my hotel room sipping a water, and listening to some classic rock (America’s ‘A Horse with no name’ just finished). As I gather my thoughts for the many articles/opinion pieces I have to write tonight, I cannot help but feel giddy. I have been a huge fan of video games for over twenty five years, and coming to E3 has been an item on my bucket list for the past ten.
Getting to rub shoulders with industry veterans of media, such as IGN, Gamespot, and a personal favorite, Kinda Funny is a personal dream come true, as I have followed many of the ‘faces’ of these company’s for quite some time. That’s not to say we are schmoozing in the back lounge drinking scotch, but many of these people are very pleasant and will return a handshake and hello. Case and point, I briefly met 4/5th of the Kinda Funny crew who took the time out of their busy schedule/break time to have a quick chat, and a hand shake. Class act in my book.
While I am not a member of the press, I think the press conferences are the lynch pin for the entire event. The best analogy I have heard is “they are like the home run that won you the game, but its at the beginning of the game.”
Whether you believe this analogy or not isn’t so much the point, as it is a fun way to jump into my own experiences of hitting the show floor and wandering around.
Day 1: Line Simulator 2015
If you have been to any convention, be it PAX, SDCC or any host of other conventions from anime to scifi, you know the ‘Line simulator’ experience. The doors to the convention floor open, and unless there is heavy security (which there is here for the start of each day) there is a mass of people running towards the hot demo’s/booths to be first in line, or as close as they can be. My first stop was to the Battleborn booth, as it is high on my list of games to play when it comes oiut. a 5 player coop horde-mode? Sign me the hell up!
I hit the booth line at 12:15 which is 15 minutes after the doors open. I didn’t get to play the game until 2:30. Standing in line for over two hours is murder on your feet, even if you were at a healthy weight and had the proper shoes, of which neither apply to me, the pressure can be incredible, but I digress. The line was slow and no one was very talkative around me. I tried engaging in conversation with some people/ behind me, and they were not interested in it at all. I looked to strike up conversation with people in front of me, but it was a group of people from Ubisoft and they were busy in their own world. Alas, it was a wait in silence, except for the kick ass music that Battleborn trailers; play to. Seriously, go and check out this trailer and just see how well the music pairs with the video.
Anguish aside, everything feel into place once we got to sit in and get the ‘pep talk’ from the games cortana, which is actually an old man who bears a striking resemblance to Master Roshi. The quick fifteen minutes video introduces us to a handful of the full twenty five characters that will be playable at launch, and shows us their power sets and a small back story.
Once our info dump was complete, we were unleashed upon. . . . another line. This time it was to actually play the game. Fast forward five or six minutes and we were in our seats. Five player co-op against an enemy A.I, almost like Borderlands and Left4Dead smashed together. Its a very fun concept, as it melds the combat of something like left for dead with the objective/kill/collect aspect of borderlands to keep you engaged on each map. We played one of the three demo levels available (do not know the name) and had a blast. I played Miko, a fungus being known as a ‘Combat Botanist’ who is a support class and can heal allies/poison enemies. There will be a full write up of that a little bit later.
After Battleborn, I needed a palette cleanser, so I made my way over to Ubisofts side of the show floor to see what would catch my eye and get some pictures. The game I saw, had (I thought) a small line so I jumped in,, little did I realize that IU had entered round two of line simulator, and almost two hours later I finally made it into the booth to play. That game was For Honor.
For Honor is a melee-centric combat game which focus’s on bringing the weight of the great sword and swift strike of a katana to players as they battle it out in a Four versus Four battle. The Battle we played was a Capture the objective fight. Three objectives laid across the map, which had ‘minion’ style waves pushing against each other, while the players themselves battled against them and each other. There will be as big write up coming on my experience with the game itself, but I can say this, if you are a fan of hack and slack games but have always wanted to have something ‘heavier’ and more realistic, this is your game. We only played as the knights, but so far there are Knights, Vikings, and Samurai being shown around in the trailer. The rest of the day was spent sitting for 20 minutes to get some feeling back in my feet and getting my bearings for day two’s adventures.
Day 2: Let’s go exploring!
Day two started off much better. I arrived on the second wave of shuttles, which meant that traffic had delayed us enough to not be standing outside in the heat waiting for the show floor to open. This time, I thought I would make the smart move and go over to the west hall, to checkout the big boys, such as Microsoft, Sony and Ign’s set up.
This image should tell you everything you need to know, but just incase it doesn’t lets break it down. Microsoft and Sony took up one third of the entire hall. Nintendo also had a massive presence on the floor, taking up as much room as Sony did.
Navigating through the South Hall was a little easier as the ‘big three’ took up the majority of the space, so you could jump between each of them Microsofts booth had a monsterous line that was cut off by the time I got in, as it was a five hour wait! It was for the holo lens, and after seeing their press conference, it kind of makes sense that it would be a highlight attraction at their booth. There were smaller lines for games like Tomb Raider, Gears of War, and Forza 6 as well as multiple terminals for Indie games on one side of the floor, and Rare’s games on the other. The Gears booth is on my list of ‘must get to’ for Day 3.
Sony’as booth also bristled with activity. A second massive line wrapped around their section for Project Morpheus and the game Rigs, a three vs three mecha combat game. God of War also made an appearance on the floor, with a dozen terminals dedicated to God of War 3 remastered. The indie games filled in a good portion of the floor as well, and the indie scene will also be a ‘Day 3’ exploration for me.
The last thing I saw on day two was the ‘Theater experience’ or ‘demo cage’, not really sure what to call it to be honest. This was three mini theaters that showed a demo in each. We started with Horizion Zero Day, and let me tell you, this game is my ‘Game of E3’. Beautiful, smooth, and crazy robot dinosaur mecha action! Sign me up right now. We got an extended demo, and they talked about some of the arrows you can use, as well as how some of the dynamics work for the different creatures. This demo was played live, so there was a bit more franticness to it as the Thunderjaw (name of the Trex looking dino) was on the offensive up until the very end. The Second game we saw was an extended demo, though not played live, of The Last Guardian. If you were/are a fan of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, then this should be on your radar every year for E3, and we finally got it. Showing more of the platforming and interaction between the boy and the creature, everything just ran smoothly and beautifully. I think this will be a great game to sit and relax over an evening with to unwind.
The last demo, was Uncharted 4. This played demo showed just how gorgeous a game in motion can be, as right from the get go we were shown a action set piece to rival the best movies have to offer. Weighty feeling cars, zippy one liners and some fun looking gun play were all in this trailer, which ended with a lovely lady we all know; Emily. Each of the three demo’s were fantastic to watch, and the chatter between each room was high as people briefly discussed everything they had just seen. The rest of the day was spent wandering around, taking pictures and catching five minutes with the gentlemen from Kinda Funny. A quick hello and a handshake while they had a spare moment between shows/lunch bites really made my day.
Today is the last day of the conference, and I have Gears, Destiny and maybe some more Nintendo stuff to try and get into, as well as walking around to see things I missed on the other two days. As as a first time experience for E3, this has been fantastic, and I cannot wait to finish out the day with some more stories/news to talk about.