Friday, July 1, 2016

E3 2016 Impressions - Additional Game Coverage

I've already organized my impressions into my favorites, indie games, toys to life, and VR, which left me with a handful of others that didn't fit into any particular group. And so, here is my final E3 2016 coverage article, with no organization at all.

ReCore (XB1, PC)
After Zelda, ReCore was my second favorite game that I tried at E3 this year. It's a blast to play in every way. The presentation is full of color and full of action - explosions are everywhere, the main character looks awesome, and enemies are unique and color-coded based on their weakness. The controls are wonderfully smooth, even while being complex enough for an experienced gamer. While running around, double jumping, gliding, and dodging, you also have to manage targeting and shooting enemies, which can be done with bursts of shots, charge shots, special attacks from your partner, and constant quick switching of your gun color to match the enemy's color. I loved how fast-paced ReCore was and how nicely it combined platforming and shooting. And it was actually fairly challenging as well; it was nearly impossible to actually finish the demo on your first try. According to the demo attendant, ReCore is a story driven game of sequential levels rather than another open world exploration game like so many games on the market these days.

This is definitely a game to pay attention to. It felt like a 3D interpretation of a crazy SNES run-and-gun game mixed with Metroid Prime with better controls, and I loved it.

Final Fantasy XV (PS4, XB1)
Anyone following this game probably already knows more about it than I do. ...But I did play the demo. It mostly felt like a battle tutorial, with a few simple enemies to beat up in a linear canyon, and then a boss battle against an enormous giant. I barely had a feel for all the controls by the end of the demo, but basically, you use magic, switch between melee weapons while you wait for others to regain their power, guard, and fly through the air to hang onto terrain with your weapon. The boss fight developed slightly over the course of the demo with a few different mission objectives which mostly just told you to guard and counter the giant's huge hands that would try to crush you, or to run away, or to attack while flying through the air, or finally to attack with Blizzara and finish it off. Even though the demo mostly just amounted to following a series of on-screen instructions, it still felt pretty epic.

One random thing I took note of and which I was impressed by was how using Blizzara would actually make the nearby terrain look frozen and cover your characters in frost. At one point, I used Blizzara before a cutscene by chance and was pleased to see that my characters remained covered in frost even during the cutscene. Neat.

Bound (PS4)
(Official Trailer)
It remains to be seen how fun Bound will actually be, since the demo pretty much just consisted of very simple 3D platforming and wall jumping. However, while the gameplay was nothing special, the super creative and mesmerizing art style blew me away. I keep thinking that I've seen everything when it comes to stylish and unique art in games, but once again I was shown something new and different in Bound. The world is built out of paper-like walls that fold and unfold as you approach them, ladders with rungs that spin oddly into position, polygons flipping into existence under your feet, and distant views of waves of oscillating cubes. It's bizarre, but it's a visual delight, and I'm curious to play more if only to see what crazy abstract 3D art they came up with next.

Steep (PS4, XB1, PC)
Remember SSX Blur on Wii? ...yeah, I didn't think so. But Steep is a whole lot like it; you pick a spot on one of a few perfect snowboarding/skiing mountains and then go. Or you can use a glide suit and parachute. Anyway, as you go down the mountain, you can simply screw around and have fun or you can find one of many challenges, usually races or score attacks. Races are straightforward, but I found score attacks to be particularly interesting because they weren't simply about doing tricks (the only tricks I learned to do were rotations and grabs anyway), but you'd also get points in the style of Burnout or Excite Truck for nearly missing trees or gliding dangerously close to the ground. Also, there's multiplayer, but you can't collide with the other player it seems, so it's more just simultaneously competing in the same challenge for a higher score or faster time with a live opponent. Steep was fun and satisfying, and there were challenges with fairly high difficulty, but unless there are more movement options and tricks that I wasn't informed of, I could see it getting old after not too long. It felt more like a good $20-$30 game to me than the $60 they'll probably be asking for on release.

Gravity Rush 2 (PS4)
I never did get around to playing the original Gravity Rush, but it always looked like fun. Unfortunately, since I don't know much about the original, it's hard for me to tell what is new and different in Gravity Rush 2. You still switch the position of gravity for yourself and basically fly all over the place and kick enemies out of the air. The controls certainly took some getting used to for me and this was perhaps the only game for which that was the case, but the main reason for that was simply not bothering to set my preferred camera invert settings. Don't get the wrong idea and think that I'm complaining about the controls though; I'm sure they can be learned in no time and that it's very satisfying to fly around when you have the hang of it.

This was also the second of three games where I encountered a major glitch preventing me from progressing (a soft lock), but it appeared that the glitch was likely due to having abilities in the demo which wouldn't have been available at this point in the final release. It happened because, at the demo attendant's suggestion, I did some kind of transformation coincidentally right into a cutscene trigger, causing my character to stand and wait for a cutscene that never came. It was kind of a bummer, but I wouldn't worry about it happening in the final product.

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X (PS4, Vita)
(Japanese version gameplay, not from the English E3 demo)
I needed to play two Atlus demos to get a free hat, and Project Diva X was the first one I saw. I'm a decently big fan of Project Diva f 2nd, so I was already familiar with the gameplay, which hasn't changed much in X. The game has already been out in Japan for a while, so you probably don't need me to tell you much about it. The menu and song/item unlocking system seems different, though I don't know the details. I do know that songs are divided into categories like "Cute" and "Cool" now. Also, the gameplay now has "Rush" icons which require you to mash the corresponding button. And the score calculation might be different now, judging from the percentage thing in the bottom left. Whatever. You probably already know more than I do. I just like pushing buttons to overly happy Japanese music.

Kingdom Hearts II.8 Final Chapter Prologue (PS4)
It's not Kingdom Hearts 3, but it has some new content in the form of two new stories, in addition to an HD version of Dream Drop Distance. It plays like a typical Kingdom Hearts game. What did you expect? The Dream Drop Distance remaster looks pretty nice, but isn't mindblowing since it's just a remaster. The original content, on the other hand, is very very pretty. The fractured world shown in the video above had lots of detail and every attack had a rain of particle effects that flew off. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of the series, but this seemed good enough to help tide over fans for yet another unknown length of time until the next KH3 announcement and eventual release.

Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness (PS4, PS3)
(Official Gameplay Trailer)
It's hard to get a feel for an RPG from a demo, but the feel I got from the new Star Ocean is that it's pretty, but has fairly mindless and repetitive combat. I just explored a nice looking outdoor dungeon and fought a bunch of enemies by mostly mashing a couple attack buttons and moving out of the way of their attacks when possible. I didn't dislike it, but it didn't feel like anything special either. Still, with just a demo, I can't say for sure how the combat might develop over the course of the game or whether there's a good enough story to keep the player motivated through what could end up as a grind. At least the graphics are fairly pretty though.

Just Cause 3: Mech Land Assault
This is DLC, I guess? I've never played a Just Cause game, but I've seen some neat gifs on Reddit. My experience was basically those gifs: hopping into vehicles and driving them into other vehicles or off cliffs to watch the explosions, and grappling onto everything (like a windmill!). And also throwing grenades and everything. So, uh, no idea what the Mech Land Assault DLC adds (I didn't see any mechs, but I did see land), but I get the feeling that I've been missing out on Just Cause 3 in general. I couldn't wipe the grin off my face every time I succeeded (or failed) in an attempted epic maneuver.

LEGO Worlds (PC)
LEGO Worlds is already available in Early Access on Steam (which I would never recommend), but for just jumping on this demo because it had no line, I actually enjoyed it a good deal. It looks like a Minecraft clone at a glance, but it's more of a Lego-building sandbox of pre-built terrain, structures, and NPCs that you can screw around with and mold to your liking. (I realize that still sounds exactly like Minecraft, but it's different, I swear!) There are a surprising number of options for quick terrain editing (adding or deleting large cubes, sphere, etc.) and laying down bricks of all shapes and sizes. You can play as lots of different Lego characters, which tend to have cute unique animations (like a werewolf running on all fours) and attacks (like a guy that attacked with a camera or bagpipes).
After I sat down for the demo, two others soon joined me on my right and left. On my right, the guy had quickly spawned armies of werewolves and cavemen which he was going to pit against each other. On my left, someone else had spawned a digging machine with giant drills on it and was plowing through the terrain and even making an "impossible" shelf of water out of the ocean's edge. Meanwhile, I was playing with a grappling hook and flinging myself from tree to tree, until I encountered a glitch which got me stuck in an infinite jump, but hey, early access. Anyway, LEGO Worlds seems a tad rough around the edges at the moment, but I had a lot of fun with it, so it may be worth checking out when the final version is released.
Additional E3 2016 Coverage

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