With series reboots, remakes and much-longed-for sequels, E3 2015 was full of exciting new announcements.
This year and next have the combined potential to deliver on some truly great gaming premises revealed over the last couple of weeks. While we could talk for ages about each and every hit-in-the-making earmarked for the old “pre-order this right now” list, we’ve instead picked out the newly announced titles which most deserve your attention. Warning: appetites may be whetted!
Fallout 4 thrusts players once again into the role of The Vault Dweller, a fully-customisable survivor of the nuclear apocalypse who has emerged from two centuries of cryostasis into the devastated open-world ruins of Boston, Massachusetts.
The much-awaited sequel offers extensive weapon modification and town-building tools, both of which let you repurpose whatever you find whilst exploring the wastelands into your own creations, like Minecraft meets The Last of Us. This sandbox survival ethic extends to the revamped combat system, which still allows players to target specific limbs with the retooled VATS system, but is more kinetic in live action play and lets players call in attack choppers and all sorts of death-bringing perks.
If Fallout 4 can recapture the immersive atmosphere and dark humour of its predecessors, then gamers could be in for a whole new addiction come November this year.
The Last Guardian
The game that almost didn’t happen, The Last Guardian dropped off the face of the earth after being announced for the PS3 several years ago. The crowd reaction at the game’s E3 2015 reveal for PS4 confirmed that adoration for this Sony exclusive hasn’t waned.
The Last Guardian is a mysterious, beautiful and intriguing game about a young nomad boy exploring exotic landscapes with a giant wolf-like ‘Guardian’. There is a level of believability and seamlessness in the interactions between the boy and his fifty-foot mythical pet. Miss a jump and your guardian will grab you by the scruff of your neck with his teeth before tossing you up onto his back.
It’s fair to say the relationship between the boy and his protector has us pretty intrigued. Are there more of his kind out there? What secrets does this world hide and how will this gallant duo unravel them? With Lara Croft growing steadily more violent and Assassin’s Creed going bigger than ever with its new London setting, The Last Guardian wants to satisfy gamers’ collective itch for storytelling in a patient and evocative way. Plus, we guarantee your kids will fall in love with the titular Guardian (it’s so fluffy!).
Final Fantasy VII Remake
One of the most beloved RPGs ever made is (finally!) getting a next-gen overhaul and Sony has the “play it first” release rights. Although there wasn’t much revealed in the way of actual details, the beautifully pre-rendered reveal trailer teased fans with swooping glimpses of the iconic cyberpunk city of Midgar. The giant sword sheathed across hero Cloud Strife’s back was the icing on the cake for the adoring crowd, many of whom have waited years for this announcement. Hopefully the game will appease fans of the traditional RPG template whilst also modernising the overall presentation for those wanting greater cinematic value.
Dark Souls 3
The Dark Souls series has carved a niche in the market with the blood of its own players, whom have died over and over in an attempt to master its cruel yet striking world of undead monstrosities and intricate gauntlets of pain and suffering.
Dark Souls 3 promises an even deeper fantasy lore to peel away layer by layer whilst offering more of the interconnected level design fans know and love. There won’t be mercy with bosses like the Dancer of the Frigid Valley, whose spindly limbs and merciless fire-spewing closed the E3 show floor demo. But with new power attacks in the roster and an online community just waiting to dissect the depths of this new instalment, players will find ample reason to rise to the challenge once more.
As far as series reboots go, the reveal of Doom may just be the bloodiest. Considering Doom 4 was cancelled previously for being too much like other modern shooters, the fact that Id Software rebuilt this sequel all over again goes to show how much they believe in the series’ hardcore FPS roots. The melee executions come thick and fast. The shotguns kick like mules and splatter guts with gusto; and then there’s the chainsaw! Send the kids over to Grandma’s house, because when you sink your teeth into this, it’s going to get messy.
The fact that this new IP announcement brings yet more violence into the equation doesn’t diminish its potential. An online third person melee action game, For Honour puts you in control of either a Knight, Samurai or Viking in a 4v4 match, medieval-warfare style, with dozens of AI-controlled grunts rushing key choke points around the battlefield.
We’re intrigued by the nuanced sword-to-sword duelling system, which makes tactical play and split-second reflexes as important as map control. Yet For Honour’s greatest ambition is that it seeks to recreate the feeling of being part of a real warzone without the “luxury” of modern firearms, forcing combatants into grand battles more at home in Lord of the Rings than Call of Duty. If they can keep the combat deep enough to remain fresh with extended play, then this could well take its place at the king’s table of online gaming.
If you ever played Shenmue on the Dreamcast (or the sequel’s port to Xbox), then you already know why this newly announced Kickstarter project is such a big deal. The internet certainly hailed it with magnanimous support, smashing its two million dollar Kickstarter goal within nine hours of the E3 announcement, making it a Guinness World Record Breaker for the fastest-growing Kickstarter page ever.
It promises a direct continuation of Shenmue 2, which itself picked up from the original’s story of a young Japanese man’s quest to avenge his father’s death at the hands of a shadowy criminal syndicate. The original was hailed for its innovative, cinematic storytelling which went unrivalled until Metal Gear Solid. There’s no doubt that Shenmue 3 has a rich gaming heritage to draw directly upon, but with new towns to explore and new characters to engage with, it could really make a standalone artistic statement about what can be done without being privy to the whims of a big publisher.
The best approximation of what this ambitious indie title is attempting to create is that of an ever-shifting dreamscape in which you can create anything to your heart’s content and imbue it with a life of its own. Players can ‘draw’ entities into existence and give them different properties. You can then control your creations with motion inputs in a kind of ethereal 2.5-dimensional puppet theatre.
At first glance, it’s a bit like those flash games on PC that let you draw stick figures then move them all over the place in real-time, but it layers so much ‘dreaminess’ into proceedings, that it somehow transcends the sum of its parts into something far more beautiful and expressive.
The developers want players to look at the moon and not at the finger which points to the moon, which is a daring move considering it has to be intuitive without sacrificing depth. But if this cohesion makes it through to launch day, then the whole family and yourself could enjoy hours of unbridled creativity and “Did we just make that?” moments. Never mind what the artists’ community could do when putting the whole toolset to use, paint us excited!