Sunday, June 12, 2011

Post-E3 Wrap-Up

Another E3 has come and gone, and with it some of my hopes and dreams, forever torn asunder.

The Bad News

PlanetSide 2

So there was nothing about PlanetSide 2 at E3.  Not even a bite; not even a nibble.  I've got to say I'm getting quite pissed off by the stringing-along that SOE are doing with this game.  We were originally meant to get some information in March, which came and went with a big, fat nothing.  John Smedley assured us it was still coming but had been slightly delayed.  Well, now the biggest gaming show in the world has just finished without anything being mentioned about PS2 at all.

At this point I'm not even sure whether the game will be out this year.  We're almost half-way through the year and there is no release date or anything else, in fact nothing to suggest the game even exists except for a half-dozen screens floating around the Internets.  No site, no real screenshots, no videos.  I'm beginning to wonder whether this is some epic troll on SOE's part, to boost the subscriber numbers for PlanetSide at least for a while (since Sony have promised beta spots for PS2 to all current PlanetSide subscribers - a game that still weighs in at $15 a month I might add).

Perhaps they are holding off the "big reveal" for SOE's annual Fan Faire event (think Blizzcon but less successful) which this year takes place between 7th - 9th July in Las Vegas.  Maybe they are even waiting until GamesCom (aka Europe's E3) which runs 17th - 21st August in Cologne, Germany.  When there is actual news to report about this game then I will report it, but until them I am done playing the SOE guessing game.  All I will say is that there is a limit to my patience, SOE, and as of now you are right up against it.

The Secret World

Further to having no PlanetSide news, Funcom were also not showing at E3 this year so that meant not much information about The Secret World was available.  To be fair though, they did update the official site with information about a new area, Atlantic Park, so it wasn't a complete bust.  TSW still seems on-track for a late 2011 / early 2012 release, although Funcom and EA are still keeping details locked down.

Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online

Also on the negative side, there was next-to-nothing shown at E3 regarding Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online.  There was a new trailer released just for E3, but...well watch it below and you will see the obvious issue:

So yeah...not much content there, unless big, flashy graphics with little-to-no gameplay is your thing, in which case you really lucked out.  It's not exactly a surprise, since the game is likely at least a year away and probably closer to two.  It would have been nice to see just a little more than what we actually got, though.

The Good News

Fortunately for us there is a lot more good news than bad.

Mass Effect 3

Starting off with what will likely be one of the big games of 2012, Mass Effect 3 was demo'd extensively at E3 by BioWare, and had a new, shiny trailer to boot.  Shepard now sports an insta-kill melee move that should seem very familiar to Gears of War fans.  BioWare's new ME3 E3 trailer is embedded below:

As trailers go, this one presses all the buttons.  The key element here is plenty of gameplay (you listening Vigil?).  Insert whatever fancy graphics you paid all those tens of thousands of dollars to the post-production house for, but give us a lot of gameplay on top so we can actually see the game.

ME3 remains approximately 9 months away, and I would expect the information coming out of EA and BioWare about the game to be stepped-up dramatically over the next few months.

BioShock Infinite

Curiously, the game that seems to be getting the most attention (as well as several selections as "Best in Show at E3") is BioShock Infinite.  In development by Ken Levin and Irrational Games (who made the original BioShock - but not BioShock 2) it has been known for a while that this game won't be seeing the light of day until 2012 for some time, but based on the videos they have put out so far it looks good:

If you haven't already seen it you should absolutely check out the extended 10 minute gameplay video of BI that Irrational released last year; it's well worth it.

Irrational absolutely nailed the period atmosphere and immersive nature of the original BioShock and from these two videos it looks like they have done the same all over again with BioShock Infinite.  The rumour mill says that Irrational are shooting for a Q2 / Q3 2012 release so we've likely got at least a year to go, but BI is receiving a lot of attention based on this most recent showing at E3 and rightly so.  Definitely one to keep an eye on.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Next up there is the sleeper RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.  The first project by rookie developer 38 Studios (founded by former baseball player Curt Schilling) and Big Huge Games (acquired by 38 Studios in 2009), it seems to be your typical high-fantasy RPG, with a couple of notable exceptions.  First, noted fantasy author R.A. Salvatore is creating the game's world and lore, and comic book artist and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane is contributing to the artwork and design style.

This is the most recent trailer, made especially for E3:

Another interesting footnote is that 38 Studios are simultaneously at work on an MMORPG set in the same universe as Reckoning.  Known only by its codename, Copernicus, it is shrouded in almost as much mystery as PlanetSide 2.  Reckoning seems like it could be a welcome addition to the strong staple of RPGs hitting the market recently.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Due in November of this year, Skyrim seems to be your typical swords-and-sorcery fair that the Elder Scrolls series has become noted for.  Personally I have never really cared for the series myself and it has not grabbed me in any meaningful way, but maybe Skyrim will be the exception.  As part of their E3 coverage, G4 received an exclusive behind-the-scenes gameplay walkthrough from Bethesda's Todd Howard and it's embedded below for your viewing pleasure:

If you need to change your underwear after viewing I will find this completely understandable as the game looks amazing.  Ok, so the demo was running on an X-Box 360 but you can guarantee that the PC version will look at least as good if not better.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Although we got no firm release date (other than tacit confirmation to various outlets that we would be seeing TOR sometime this year), BioWare chose to release the introductory cinematic to the game at this year's E3:

BioWare also put up several other videos on their site, detailing the Eternity Vault raid instance (in TOR raids are known as "operations"), a scenario (quest) on Tatooine and a general video about various gameplay features.

After watching all of these videos I think my interest in TOR increased by about 10,000%.  Confirmation that space battles will be in from launch was a nice little addition as well, as this is something that Star Wars Galaxies took a lot of heat for not having off the bat (although it was later patched in post-launch).

EA and BioWare certainly seem to be in information dissemination mode, and that generally means that release is right around the corner.  I'm expecting to hear news of a release date for The Old Republic very shortly, possibly at GamesCom or PAX Prime which are both in August.  My gut instinct says November.

Battlefield 3

Running on DICE's new Frostbyte2 engine and with a slated release date of 25th October in North America (28th in the EU) Battlefield 3 seems set to continue the rivalry that EA have seemingly picked against Activision and the Modern Warfare series.  EA and DICE released the Thunder Run tank trailer at E3, which is embedded below:

Frankly, the new Frostbyte2 engine looks ridiculously good.  There were several parts of the video that were so photo-realistic that I would have had difficulty discerning whether it was real life or a game, if I didn't already know that it was a game.

DICE tend to cater a little better to the PC than Activision do, so dedicated servers for multiplayer are already a certainty.  If the game plays anywhere near as good as it looks then expect BF3 to be an extraordinarily good title.

And there you have it.  Of course there were dozens of other games detailed at E3, some of which may still be embargoed and so we haven't heard about them yet.  This is just my personal pick of what looked particularly good for us PC gamers over the next 12 months or so.

I guess it's time to upgrade my PC again.

I've given NewEgg so much money I should just buy shares in them.

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