More than 70,000 people gathered in Los Angeles this week for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the world’s largest gaming event. Virtual reality and shiny new consoles played a major role, but I’m always more interested in the game announcements.
I wasn’t there, but here are my thoughts on some of the major reveals.
‘South Park: The Fractured But Whole’ wins E3
There can be no arguing that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are the comedy geniuses of our generation – maybe of any generation. They have won every entertainment accolade in existence.
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It took them a long time to find their footing in video games, but “South Park: The Stick of Truth” was an absolute masterpiece. Despite its intended mockery of the genre, it may be one of the best role-playing games ever made.
The trailer for their latest game, a parody of the superhero action genre called “The Fractured But Whole,” had me rolling with laughter. Although the gameplay is different, it appears to have received the same attention to detail as “Stick of Truth” did. And the entire world knew it will be the funniest game released until Parker and Stone decide to make another one.
Although it wasn’t a shocking reveal, this was the best in show.
Hideo Kojima’s ‘Death Stranding’
The “Metal Gear Solid” creator started his own company and created what looks to be a new creepy franchise. The trailer is basically just “The Walking Dead” star Norman Reedus standing naked on a beach with a bunch of dead animals. I’m sure that alone is enough to draw enough people in.
‘Call of Duty,’ but in space
In a renewed effort to assert itself as the Michael Bay movie of gaming franchises, the latest “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare” gameplay video shows an epic spaceship battle followed by a ridiculous infantry fight. Soldiers are essentially fighting in zero gravity on the side of a space station. Gadgets and slow-motion scenes are everywhere.
As always, it’s pretty. Really pretty. I think the franchise has lost a step, but it’s still the king of the mountain. I’m sure we’ll get another blockbuster on Nov. 4.
Sony brings the VR heat
Sony announced that its $500 PlayStation VR will get games from three major franchises: “Batman: Arkham,” “Final Fantasy” and “Star Wars: Battlefront.” There were brief trailers for each, but their true scope is not known.
I expect they will be quite brief. Our bodies aren’t ready for 40-hour VR experiences, and even if they were, the technology isn’t there yet. They will probably be a few hours each – if that. It may be one quick mission for each game.
I’m encouraged by the immediate inclusion of big-name franchises. A lot of companies are staking their futures on VR, so why not go big?
‘Resident Evil 7’ brings the nope
Capcom’s franchise has strayed away from scares over the last decade, but that seems to be over. We got a “Resident Evil 7” demo, and it was super creepy. I spent my entire demo time screaming “Nope!” as I walked around a creepy old house. And why is this dude breathing so hard? Get an inhaler, bro.
I won’t go near the VR version. You can’t make me.
‘Horizon: Zero Dawn’ is some sort of caveman ‘Terminator’ game
I have no idea what is going on in the game. You’re part of a Scottish cavemen group battling against a ruling class of machines. You use spears, bows and slings, but they all have some sort of modern technology upgrades. Some of the machines are nice and will let you ride them.
Apart from some extremely stiff voice acting, the game looks solid. Too bad we have to wait until February to play it.
Kratos goes Nordic in new ‘God of War’
This was a solid reveal. I’ve never been a fan of the franchise, but even those who love it will agree that it has played out the Ancient Greece setting. In the new “God of War,” Kratos trades in his twin daggers for an ax. He’s also much older and apparently a father. The new installment looks fine, but I’d be lying if I said I would play it.
Xbox gets two new consoles
Although I am against the “half” consoles, Xbox head Phil Spencer made a convincing argument for the souped-up Scorpio.
Spencer basically told the crowd of gaming journalists what we already knew: The current Xbox One cannot play its top-tier games in full high definition without dropping the frame rate. He used “Halo 5: Guardians” as an example. This new console will fix this.
That’s something I hadn’t thought of when I wrote last week’s column: Some existing games are already too much for the current consoles. But that means developers will keep making games that have performance issues on the current generation, which is no fun for people who don’t want to buy the same console twice.
The slimmed-down Xbox One – dubbed the Xbox S – is pretty cute, though. At $300, it’s also quite affordable.
Don’t sleep on ‘Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord’
It’s a somewhat obscure franchise, but “Mount & Blade” titles account for a huge chunk of my PC gaming time. It’s essentially a medieval role-playing franchise in which you start as a lowly soldier with no lands or titles. You have total freedom with what to do next. You can join a faction, become a mercenary, start a prosperous trade empire – or all of those.
Check out the franchise if you haven’t yet. Most of the games are $10-$20 on Steam, and it will prepare you for this expansion.
‘Dead Rising 4’ has me excited for Christmas
Three words: candy cane crossbow.
The reveal for “Dead Rising 4” had everything we wanted: violence, over-the-top gadgets, a shopping mall full of zombies and Christmas spirit. In my opinion, this is by far the best zombie franchise around. It has some serious moments, but it’s meant to be a fun fantasy, not a realistic horrorfest.
My mission is clear: Obtain an Xbox One or S before the holiday season.
‘Sea of Thieves’ is the drunk multiplayer pirate game we deserve
This looks like another solid Xbox offering. It’s a bit cartoon-y for my liking, but the concept of a pirate ship being manned by me and my five drunk (the game includes grog-drinking) friends is too good to pass on. “Sea of Thieves” would have been a major hit back when people were having LAN parties, but online will have to do.