E3 2019: Most Anticipated

The 2019 Electronic Entertainment Expo has wound down to a close and just like years prior, I thought I should give some commentary based on what we saw. This is the first year in a while that I didn’t actually watch the live streams, so I don’t have any commentary on the show itself, the presenters, any of that. Instead, I have a list of games that interest me the most, and some commentary along with a video for those curious to learn more. This has become an annual affair, and as such I thought I should probably collate all of the past years’ posts in one place so we can see how things line up.

E3 2014

E3 2015 (Podcast Episode)

E3 2015 (Written Post)

E3 2016 (Podcast Episode)

E3 2016 (Written Post)

E3 2017

E3 2018

Looking back through these lists, there are a couple of things I can glean. First, this is the only year from this selection that doesn’t have Sony present at the conference. They have started doing their own thing for the last few years at a later juncture in the year, but this is the first time I can remember them not being at the show. It also appears that I have played/own all of the games on these lists outside of the ones that haven’t released yet. Some of those games are coming down the pipeline sooner than later, finally. I suspect Sony is saving their big PS5 announcements for their own conference, as rumor already has it that we’ll see the console’s release in 2020. Now I just have to decide if I should grab a PS4 Pro this holiday season when the deals come around, or just say fuck it and wait for the new machine. Whatever the case, despite Sony’s absence there were still quite a few games and bigger updates that were worth taking a look at, so let’s dive into the list!

CD Projekt Red has a pretty decent reputation due to the success of their The Witcher series. I hadn’t played it, but grabbed the GOTY edition of the third entry in the series — I couldn’t get over the wonky combat mechanics and uninstalled it. Initially hearing about Cyberpunk 2077, I assumed it would be a similar type of game in a different setting, and so I didn’t have any excitement for the title. However, after seeing some gameplay footage and seeing that it’s an FPS in a cool setting, I became more interested. Seeing Keanu Reeves’ involvement doesn’t really sway me one way or the other, but I like most of his movies so that’s a plus I guess? Whatever the case it looks like it’s going to be a fun game so it makes the list.

I mentioned this title in prior E3 posts, as we were teased with information about it in years past. It’s finally coming out next month, and it looks to hold true to the standard the recent Wolfenstein games have set. I loved both The New Order and The New Colossus and to a lesser extent The Old Blood. Adding co-op is cool but I’ll likely play through it solo. Still, I’m ready and will be picking this one up day one if I can help it.

My girlfriend actually bought me a copy of Fallout 76 for my birthday last year. I played it for just a couple of short sessions before putting it down. One of my chief complaints would be the lack of a cohesive story and NPCs. It felt like a typical sandbox game with very little direction and I was disappointed after being hyped for the game since it was announced at last year’s E3. Apparently there have been a succession of good and bad patches/changes in the time since, and like No Man’s Sky before it, this is a game that is likely better after a year or more of development compared to the release product. Apparently they are changing up the story and adding NPCs, along with adding a Battle Royale mode (yawn). I’m hopeful that it can eventually be called a “good” game, but whatever the case we always have The Elder Scrolls VI (which was missing from this year’s show) to look forward to.

This is probably the game I’m looking forward to the most. The DOOM reboot was fantastic and made me fall in love with the series all over again. This being the sequel to that reboot, I think we’re in for a treat. I can already tell that it’s more of the same but the graphics and animations look kicked up a notch and I already know I’ll be paying $60 for this on day one.

Star Wars games tend to be pretty awful. Apparently Knights of the Old Republic was good but I never played it. Battlefront was fun for a minute, but it’s not story driven and thereby you don’t really care. I didn’t care for the MMO despite being a Bioware fan. This game looks pretty good, all things considered. I’m cautiously optimistic. We’ll see when it releases what the kids are saying about it.

I’ve talked about this one before, and holy hell does it meet and/or exceed my expectations! Finally being able to see combat and more of what this game will look like, I’m sold. Final Fantasy VII was my first game in the series, and as such has a special place in my heart. The only confusing part is that apparently it’s being released episodically, so I’m hoping that they split up the game into thirds, and just use the original break points between discs (the Playstation version had 3 discs). Anything more than that might ruin the experience, but it looks pretty sweet at this point.

The only game I probably won’t ever play unless they port it to PC, but still a game I remember with a mixture of fondness and hate. The original Battletoads on NES was a painfully difficult game that was a childhood rite of passage. This game doesn’t look like it will be remotely as difficult, but still hits me in the nostalgia feels. As of now I believe it’s only slated to release on Xbox, hence why I’ll probably not end up playing it.

Another title I talked about before, I enjoyed playing the original and think this one looks familiar but intriguing nonetheless.

Panzer Dragoon was one of my favorite games on my Sega Saturn, which was the system I backed during those console wars in the 90’s. Sony was the new kid on the block but they ended up causing the demise of the Saturn, and as a result a bunch of unique and cool games never saw the widespread fame they deserved. This one being remade is interesting because it was such an unusual title. I might get a Switch someday, but I’d hope this gets ported elsewhere.

Borderlands 3 is another hotly anticipated game for me. It’s been a long time since Borderlands 2, and The Pre-Sequel didn’t hold my attention in the same way the original two did. There isn’t much to say here, as it’s not really anything new but it’s a great looter shooter and something I co-op through with friends, so I’m in!

Strangely enough, a new DLC for Borderlands 2 was announced as well, and this time we’ll be getting a story bridge between 2 and 3. Coincidentally (or maybe not?) the PS4 version of the game, The Handsome Collection was just given away for free via Playstation Plus, so we should all be able to try out this new DLC before the new game drops.

A new game by From Software? Typically that’s an automatic win. Demons’ Souls, Dark Souls and Bloodborne were all excellent games, and though I’ve heard mixed reviews with Sekiro, I can’t imagine it’s bad, just misunderstood. The only difference here is apparently George R R Martin has something to do with the story telling, so perhaps it will be something completely different. I imagine Souls gameplay will still be present, and I look forward to hearing more.

So there you have it. These are the games that I’m looking forward to most from this year’s conference. What are you looking forward to most?

I Am Forsaken

It’s been a minute since I reported on my Destiny 2 progress, and well, there hasn’t been much. It’s actually been almost a month since I completed Expansion II: Warmind and almost immediately I dove into Forsaken. I had a good session, and then I got sick, and didn’t play much of anything for a couple of weeks. Then I went ahead and got distracted by a new release, World War Z and I just finally got back to playing Destiny 2 again last night. Anyhow, Forsaken picks up where we left off, and now Cayde wants you to meet up with him for some mission in the Tangled Shore. First though, we’re treated to a video of Cayde presumably being killed by a mysterious figure (pictured above) and then it flashes back to you going to meet him. Foreshadowing is tricky, especially if he isn’t actually dead, but I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Flashing back to the current time frame, we meet up with Cayde and wade through some enemies before being more formally introduced to this new villain who leads some rather potent looking Fallen Generals. It appears that eliminating them will be the first hurdle before getting revenge for Cayde, though at this point it’s still unclear if he’s actually dead.

After a couple of missions in this new quest chain, we’re given a new class quest that is supposed to allow us to unlock some new powers. We’re supposed to follow a signal to IO, wherein the planet is “speaking” to us and leading us on a new journey. We’ll see pulsations like this a few times while on this moon, culminating with a fight with the Taken to unlock a new portion to our skill tree for all three sub-classes. However, you only get one seed at this time with which to unlock said branches, but I assume there will be ways to get more seeds later.

I’m still the most partial to the Gunslinger sub-class, so I went ahead and opened the “Way of a Thousand Cuts” which allows you to throw a volley of explosive knives in front of you. Not as long range as our normal golden gun routine, but seems like it kills groups much more effectively. There are additional tiers to this new branch, but you have to earn experience with the ability before those unlock.

Eventually we meet Spider, who is a fence of sorts in the Tangled Shore. He’s not a very trusting guy though, so before giving us the information that we’re looking for, he sends me out to do a bunch of bounties for him. I managed to completed both the class quest and these bounties last night, and am now set to go on the offensive, with the new mission given to me sending us to go at attack those generals head on. It’s not a lot of progress, but it is progress nonetheless. Hoping to get some more time in over my days off and I’ll report back once I have something more substantial.

World War Z Impressions

I mentioned on Twitter the other day that I had pulled the trigger on World War Z, after having read elsewhere that it was likened to Left 4 Dead. I was a bit skeptical at first mainly because video games based on movies are rarely a good thing, let alone video games based on movies based on books. However, this doesn’t really correlate with the movie or the book, save for the setting of the real world being overrun by “zeke.” Yes, they went ahead and used a different word for zombie, yet again.

Similarities between World War Z and Left 4 Dead can surely be seen, as it is a game that is level based, and you’ll see various “special” zombies that do things differently than your standard zeke. The co-op campaign pits you and three other players against the zombie hordes, though there are objectives to complete along a fairly linear path. At certain points you’ll encounter huge waves of enemies, and these aren’t the slow plodding zombies of some games, no these guys are fast and pissed off. Specials like the “Bull” or “Stinkbag” can really put a hurting on you, with one charging in to pick you up and slam you on the ground until one of your partners guns him down, while the other releases some toxic gas when it dies, blinding you temporarily. Really, the way the zombies move and the way they climb on each other like ants to scale walls are the only similarities one can make between this game and its movie counterpart.

The game plays like a third person shooter, but does not have cover mechanics. You can attempt to use stealth by crouch-walking and using silenced weapons, but I found that it was just as effective to wade into groups and slash away with my knife. You’ll take more damage that way, but you also save ammo. Each episode is broken down into sections, so you’ll be at that particular location for a few chapters before moving onto a new part of the world. So far I’ve cleared all but the final level which is Tokyo. New York, Jerusalem and Moscow were all increasingly difficult, but we managed to clear them nonetheless. I convinced my best friend to get a copy of the game, as it was reasonably priced at $40, and co-opping our way through it has been entertaining. You would think that only four episodes isn’t really worth that price point, but we have only cleared the “starter” difficulty level (one skull) and there are a total of five difficulties. Much like Killing Floor 2 that we played quite a bit a couple of years ago, there is a progression system that allows you to eventually clear those higher difficulties.

There are two ways to progress in World War Z. Firstly, there are a number of classes that you can choose to play as, and each of them earns XP individually. This means not only is there the option to play these levels again on a higher difficulty, but also to level up additional classes. I really didn’t know what to expect from the game so I didn’t know which class would work best for my personal playstyle, but I ended up playing the “Fixer,” which is basically a support class. It starts with a scout rifle, silenced pistol, and a supply bag that you can drop for your allies so they can refill their explosive ammo. I figured playing something more supportive would mean my teams would be better balanced, and since I’m only playing with one person I know, you can’t rely on randoms to try and make a balanced team. In most of my games most players were using the Gunslinger or other more offensive classes, while my friend was playing a tanky role so we did end up fairly balanced anyway due to our efforts. As you earn experience you’ll unlock perks that can change the way your character plays. For instance, I started off with the supply bag, but eventually got access to “masking grenades” and then later put a point into a perk that makes the masking gas lethal to zombies. This allows me to contribute more to the horde fights, while most players were ignoring my supply drops. The perk tree is pretty long, so I imagine things will change up again before long.

When it comes to weapons, you will earn experience for them by killing with them. As a weapon levels up, you’ll be presented with upgrade options and can take your pick as to how you want to customize your gun. I leveled up an Assault Rifle first, and put a scope on it which gave more power and accuracy. On the Bullpup I went for an extended mag modification. Use a weapon more often and you’ll level it up faster, but having extra goodies on multiple guns is good because you don’t know what you’ll end up with. Apparently on the higher difficulties there are more zeke, they have more health and there are less supplies spread out along the map, so you’ll want to have more than one modified weapon.

Outside of the co-op campaign, there is also a multiplayer side containing several extra game modes. Things like capture the flag, king of the hill and deathmatch are present, but instead of bigger games with only players, these game modes pit small teams against each other, but throw zombies into the mix. For instance, I played a round of deathmatch and the two teams ran into each other quickly and started fighting. The goal of this mode is to get to 50 kills before the other team, but there is also a time limit — if that runs out the team with the highest score wins. After fighting for a while, a notification pops up that states “critical noise level reached,” and at this point a horde will swarm your position. You’ll have to fight off zombies and other players at the same time, but can also try and stay out of sight and let the zombies do some of the work for you. I believe if you die to a zombie the other team gets a point, but I’m not certain. That would make sense.

Looking forward, the dev team has already outlined their roadmap for the summer. All of the above updates are supposed to be free, and so far there are no microtransactions present, but I can imagine the “new weapon variants, new character skins and new character accessories” to be something they might monetize since everyone else is doing it. The new Tokyo mission is something that should have probably released with the game, as each other episode has 3 missions each and Tokyo only has 2 at present. A new special zombie is a nice add, and an extra difficulty level is probably going to be needed sooner than later. Rotating game modes are also a good idea, and I’ve heard they are also working on a wave-based survival mode as well.

Overall I’d say that World War Z is a game that feels like Left 4 Dead and Killing Floor had a baby. It mixes elements of many successful games that I’ve had a blast playing. I see this being in the regular rotation for the foreseeable future. If you’re on console, I’d recommend grabbing this immediately. If you’re on PC, you’ll have to get it via the Epic Games Store… so if you don’t have an issue with that, have at it. A worthwhile purchase for $40.

Warmind Complete (Destiny 2)

It took a little more time to get through Expansion II: Warmind mainly because the light levels required to complete the content jumped a bit between missions. I’m not sure exactly where I left off after finishing The Curse of Osiris, but I know that I had to get to light level 310 before I could move onto the new territory. As such, I took my time going through some adventures that I hadn’t cleared, some public quests that opened up after gaining access to some new planets, and I even played some Crucible and Gambit. I found that this time around I did pretty decently in pvp matches, but this time I chose to do a free-for-all mode so I was able to kill anything that crossed my path. Gambit is a new mode that was introduced with Forsaken, and it’s a PvPvE game type. You’ll be on a team and there is an enemy team, but you are in separate instances of the same level. You’ll kill enemies at certain points on the map in order to summon a boss monster that you need to kill before the other team. So it is competitive, but it’s most a PvE thing. However, portals will open and allow you to invade the enemy team’s instance, and if you get kills their boss monster will be healed. This play pattern continues in a best of 3 fashion. If you happen to get to that third round, you’ll no longer need to summon the boss, it is instantly spawned and you must race the other team in taking it down. Overall it was a pretty fun experience and I’ll do it again.

Once I met the light requirements, I started on this next campaign. Long story short, you are pointed in the direction of the “Warmind” which is a huge A.I. on Mercury. Or was it Mars? One of those places. Zavala fears that this machine would bring about more destruction that it’s worth, but it seems that the Hive are also trying to end the universe by summoning a worm god thing. It’s up to you to go through the tedium of getting pieces necessary to help get the Warmind back online and allow it to help you defeat the Hive. That boss battle was a bit of a chore, but overall I kept up in light level well enough between the missions that I didn’t have to try over and over again. Once completed, the Warmind tells you that he’s going to guard the universe from any and all threats. Zavala still seems nervous about having awoken this machine, and then you all go about your business as if nothing had happened at all.

I didn’t mind the story parts or the inclusion of these expansions on my way into the new expansion, but they weren’t as epic feeling as “The Red War.” I have a feeling that Forsaken will make up for that, and I can finally get caught up on the current storyline. As I finished Warmind I found that I was at nearly 340 light and just rolled over level 34. The cap is 50, so there’s still a ways to go, and I have no idea what sort of light levels 50’s have. Whatever the case, I’m still enjoying my journey through the game and I can’t wait to dive into Forsaken. I’ll check back in when I have more to share!

The Curse of Osiris Cleared

Similar to the cycle from the original Destiny, Destiny 2 had two smaller expansions that came out before a meatier content update. These are basically DLC questlines that will give some gear and experience on your way up. In conjunction with the base game, you’ll easily be able to hit level 30 in order to enter the proper expansion, Forsaken (or The Taken King, in the case of the last game). We already know there is a season pass for Forsaken, so I’d assume that means more smaller DLC packs like this one during that time, and perhaps we’ll get one more big expansion before the developers move onto something new (unless they actually take this game more seriously than the original, and plan to keep it alive for years like a proper MMO. None of these Looter Shooters have done this so far, as evidenced by the sequels coming out as of late. I’d like to see one actually raise the level cap further, give us more ways to spend skill points, and have more persistent bits of the world. We’ll see if that comes to fruition or not.

The Curse of Osiris expansion is all about one of the oldest Guardians, Osiris. His goal seems to be to conquer the Vex, a mechanical race that has created a place called “The Infinite Forest” which is a reality-creation engine. Sounds wacky, and also sounds waaaay more advanced that the stuff we saw in Terminator or The Matrix. Apparently Osiris figured out a way to create copies of himself to explore the various pathways in The Infinite Forest, and has been searching for an alternate reality where the Vex are defeated. You get sucked into the fray when Ikora turns up with the shell of Osiris’ Ghost.

Throughout the quest chain, you’ll fight the Vex on different planets and within The Infinite Forest. The quest starter is on Mercury, but soon you’ll be back on Earth, fighting on moons and ultimately you’ll find out that you need to destroy Panoptes, the creator of the algorithm that controls the reality engine. Fights along the way net much better gear than we’ve seen to this point, and it was nice to get new vehicles and trinkets.

Eventually the solution to the Vex problem is found, and you’ll go head to head with Panoptes. Overall the expansion’s difficulty was in line with my light level so it wasn’t too difficult, but I enjoyed the story and blowing stuff up as usual.

Osiris appears to have aged a bit through his Infinite Forest travels. Poor guy looks a little run down. I’m not sure if he ties into more of the story later on, but if not he was still memorable enough. I’m now moving on to Expansion II: Warmind, and it already looks like it’s going to be on par. I’m really looking forward to Forsaken though, and hope to be there by next weekend. I’ll check back in soon!