Posted Sun Jun 8, 2014 at 07:11 AM PDT by Trevor Ruben
These games look great, but can they truly deliver?
Remember when 'Watch Dogs' first publicly debuted, and the hacking possibilities seemed endless? That game has finally been released, and it's like more a collection of interesting ideas and older open-world tropes than the successful amalgamation Ubisoft was pitching. It's an entertaining, if unfocused game, and it reminds us that not every game can achieve the heights it sets out for.
What about 'Titanfall?' Have you seen 'Titanfall? Did you buy 'Titanfall?' Did you enjoy the "campaign?" Even a well-received game can become too hyped.,especially if it's for a new console.
Perhaps too many questions went unanswered about 'Watch Dogs' and 'Titanfall' in the lead-up to their release- months of hype giving way to the reality of poor campains, low resolutions, delays, DLC, etc. This E3 there are a number of upcoming games with lingering shadows, unknown qualities upon which the shedding of light may just turn mild anticipation into fever rush. These are those games:
'Destiny' – Bungie
There are two halves to 'Destiny,' and only one of them has ever been seen. That's the combat side of things, down on the ground where bullets are flying, enemies flinging from one vantage point to another and loot is sought with vigilance. That's the 'Halo' meets 'Borderlands' side of things. Everything else about 'Destiny,' everything that's much, much harder to show in a gameplay demo, is the scale Bungie seems to be going for. Hopping from planet to planet, literally uncovering the mysteries of our solar system and building your character along the way are all grandiose and all without lacking in visible execution.
Interestingly, those are the things Bungie has never done before, even if 'Halo' attempted a façade of it through storytelling. This time around, according to Bungie, it isn't an image on the outer edges of a level, 'Destiny' is its world and its scope, and hopefully we'll see a glimpse of that this week.
As a special mention, Ubisoft's delayed-to-2015 'Tom Clancy's The Division' falls under similar scrutiny, and this is the week for more a more substantive demonstration of what is being promised.
'Alien: Isolation' – The Creative Assembly
In terms of scope, on the opposite end of the spectrum from 'Destiny' lies the cramped, claustrophobic ambitions of 'Alien: Isolation.' But cramped and claustrophobic isn't tough to do, seeing as we're pretty much in the midst of horror game trend right now. 'Alien: Isolation' sets itself apart in one meaningful way, and that's the singular, stalking beast that The Creative Assembly hopes will puncture your each and every tepid move through an abandoned spacecraft.
The trick, however, is to ensure the Alien actually looks, acts and reacts like a living, thirsting predator, and just a scripted set piece. As the isolated enemy presence in what is expected to be a full-length single-layer experience, his every move will be tracked by the player. Commonly, games depend on the chaos that multitudes of enemies encourage in a single scenario to mask any irregularities in their behavior. In 'Alien: Isolation,' any trip up in the alien's programming is going to scar the experience and break the immersion. Combating that possibility is far more difficult than it sounds.
'Evolve' – Turtle Rock Studios
As for lone beasts, 'Evolve' has a different sort of context. This asymmetric multiplayer game from the creators of 'Left 4 Dead' stars one player-controlled monster against four hunters decked out in accordance with their classes. Trappers slow the beast down, scouts find him, etc. Meanwhile, the one player frantically dashes around a massive arena, leveling up his monster until he's ready to turn around and take on the group. The dynamic is compelling and the visuals really bring home the atmosphere, that much feels certain.
The lingering question is can that dynamic be sustained? Turtle Rock has promised a multitude of playable monsters and classes of hunter in addition to more arenas than shown off so far. The game is due out this year, which means the team should know by now just how much they can fit into the package. Most eager gamers would like to know themselves.
Beyond the actual content, though, is whether Turtle Rock can encourage the same kind of metagame that gave the original 'Left 4 Dead' so much life. Essentially, are the classes and mechanisms in place for in-depth and intelligent experimentation, or will strategies become finite early on in the game's lifespan and thus deaden prolonged appeal?
'Valiant Hearts: The Great War' - Ubisoft
Ubisoft released 'Child of Light' to decent reviews, myself initially taken with the turn-based combat but totally turned off by the erroneous writing and dopey story. Basically falling under the same, indie-style brand within Ubisoft is 'Valiant Hearts: The Great War,' a side-scrolling puzzler from the perspective of multiple WWI participants. From the trailers, though, it's not the narrative that worries me. (As it did in 'Child of Light') It's the gameplay.
Early reports have described the game as more tedious than entertaining, at least from a gameplay perspective. The characters are interesting, and the surprisingly mature setting comes with its own intrigue. Actually moving across these environments, reacting to context-sensitive moments like "Cut the Barbed Wire" isn't as appealing. The good news is moments like that also sound like the opening act to a game, rather than the brunt of it. E3 is Ubisoft's chance to show a little of what comes next.
'Battlefield Hardline' – Visceral Games and EA
Amidst the leaks and rumors, one thing seems clear. 'Battlefield Hardline' is EA's take on 'Payday,' a cops-and-robbers fantasy crafted within Frostbite 3. The possibilities are tantalizing for any pair of brothers who chased each other down hallways at fingerpoint, but there's that other, near-insatiable crowd to please: the first-person shooter crowd. The question of 'Battlefield Hardline' is a question of balance. It's up to EA and Visceral Games, the latter new to the genre, to make these online heists we keep hearing about feel legitimate and new, and not just another 'Battlefield' romp of the ridiculous and over-crowded. But it also needs to be another 'Battlefield' romp.
Visceral's other job, it seems, is to craft a single-player campaign worthy of the 'Battlefield' name, as none ever have been in the past. That means open-ended missions with a choice of vehicles, weapons and strategies. That means not shooting down one hallway after another. The team's experience with 'Dead Space' should come in handy.
On a simpler note, it falls on EA to make sure the game's online component actually works, but an appearance at E3 won't convince anybody of that anytime soon. No helicopters up that mountain.
E3 Versus Release Day
Of course, living up to hype and developer/publisher promise is a challenge for just about any big game. And yet, when promising something new and different, gamers can't help but be wary of the tendancy to over-promise and under-deliver.
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