Tag Archives: No Man’s Sky

PlayStation E3 2015 Recap

PlayStation E3 2015

Sony this year came out with some heat. We all thought most of it would just be rumors because—let’s face it—a lot of it sounded absurd. A comeback? A remake? Oh come on. We should know better by now. Go back to your village and take your pipe dreams with you.

But wham, bam, holy shit. We really shouldn’t be calling out “winners” for this sort of thing, but this press conference did actually bring down the Internet. Feel free to read on or rewatch the entire thing.

The Last Guardian

Ummm, what? I guess sometimes vaporware comes back from the dead. After being in and out of development and existence for the past 2007, it was pretty safe to assume the long awaited project was simply dead and buried. After the trauma of numerous rumors, the latest rumblings that we’d see The Last Guardian at this E3 seemed to only freshen up old wounds.

But it’s all true. Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida confirmed it would release for PlayStation 4 in 2016. Coming from Team Ico and director Fumito Ueda, the same combo that brought you Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, its expectations were high. After all these delays, are they just as lofty?

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Guerrilla Games, developer of the Killzone series, is throwing quite the delicious curveball here. Going from a stock FPS to this is rather incredible. Perhaps filling the PlayStation 4’s required space marine quota earned them some laterality.

But Horizon: Zero Dawn has a fascinating premise. Something along the course of humanity’s development caused them to plunge back into a pre-civilization structure except machines are still rampant and necessary. So instead of hunting for food, they hunt for parts. Sure, the gameplay looks fun enough, but that setup is incredible.

Hitman

Even if you don’t care for the Hitman games, this is a well put together trailer. It finely composes the idea that he’s a killer of tactics, brutality, and skill. Also, the backing track that surreptitiously features ragged breathing slowly sinks in and is reinforced by the kill shot.

The trailer itself, however, doesn’t reveal much except that the series still animates people a bit too cartoonishly. I guess Square Enix assumes we already know what to expect from the game, which is kind of a sad notion anyway. Hitman lands on PlayStation 4 and PC on December 8. (Franchise reboots that simply start off with the same name is an organizational nightmare, by the way.)

Dreams

Media Molecule is still very much about games in which you create, if you were wondering. The latest is Dreams, and while the trailer is very obtuse about what you’ll actually be doing, you’ll definitely be creating…something.

It looks like you’ll be using your controller to sculpt out characters inside of scenes. The “dreams” motif comes in where everything is fast and impressionistic rather than details and builds upon a previously known (read: made) lexicon of items. You can then grab your creations and puppeteer them to life. (The short demo preceding the trailer shows more than anyone could ever say with words.)

Destiny: The Taken King

While I found Destiny to be somewhat lacking in its original release, the more that Bungie puts out for the game, the more I want to go back and play it. It seems like they’re solving the two biggest problems simultaneously with each DLC, being the lack of content for a massive world and a refinement of how to use that world in interesting ways.

Coming September 15, The Taken King will cost $39.99 for the regular edition and $79.99 for the collector’s edition, both of which will also include Destiny itself. The expansion will include new Guardian subclasses and super moves.

Final Fantasy VII

Part of the crazy heat Sony threw around yesterday. Even more dubious than The Last Guardian comeback rumors, we heard voices on the wind talk of a Final Fantasy VII remake, something fans have been clamoring for since dinosaurs walked the Earth.

And now it’s happening. This isn’t a tech demo or a PC version or an upgraded PC version for PlayStation 4, but this is a remake. At this point, it’s unclear as to what that means. This could end up just an HD remaster for all we know, but hopefully they’re not just misleading us with the word “remake.”

The bigger question, however, is if anyone still cares. Tetsuya Nomura is coming on as director after guiding the Kingdom Hearts series (and directing Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) while Yoshinori Kitase, original director of Final Fantasy VII, will be returning to produce. Is that enough to garner interest beyond the 18-year-old fan base?

No Man’s Sky

This is the first lengthy gameplay demo anyone outside of the press has seen from No Man’s Sky. Hello Games co-founder Sean Murray hopefully imparted upon the audience the sheer size of what they’re attempting with this procedurally generated universe simulator. (If you still don’t get it, read this piece over at The New Yorker.)

Still no release date, but we do learn that every world is fully destructible. Plus there are fish!

Shenmue III

And here’s the real surprise of the event. No one was even expecting this, but Yu Suzuki, creator of an immense number of classics like Space Harrier, Out Run, After Burner, and Virtua Fighter, came out on stage to announce that he’d like to revitalize the Shenmue franchise through Kickstarter.

And then everyone lost their god damn minds. Which is the appropriate response, I might add. It brought down Kickstarter itself for a brief time as it rocketed up hundreds of thousands of dollars in a matter of minutes. It’s already hit its $2 million goal in its first day. If you’re not jacked for this, then you’re a fool. Or you were too young to have played the first two.

Call of Duty

Now we know why Call of Duty was mysteriously absent during Microsoft press conference. PlayStation CEO Andrew House announced that Sony will get all of the military shooter’s map packs first. The deal will start up with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, coming to PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One November 6.

Map packs have traditionally gone to Xbox platforms first since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare back in 2007. While not necessarily everyone’s thing, this is a huge move for PlayStation.

Firewatch

Firewatch is pretty much exactly the kind of game I love playing. Or at least it’s the kind of game I love thinking that I would love playing based on the trailer because the trailer sells a very particular kind of game.

The adventure game from Campo Santo and director Jake Rodkin (co-host of the Idle Thumbs podcast) tells the story of a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness in 1989. Numerous mysteries begin to unfold as he goes about his patrols.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

While the return of the Uncharted series still doesn’t seem like the best creative decision, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End still looks pretty incredible. Like, visually, I mean. It seems like it’ll play like the other games, so you probably already know if you’ll be into that or not, but there’s certainly something to be said for a masterful refinement of a craft.

After a little technical hiccup where protagonist Nathan Drake froze in front of a still animating crowd, we go on a classic Uncharted whirlwind ride of shooting bad guys, running from overwhelming odds, shooting more guys, and (as a franchise first) driving a vehicle. Oh, and crackin’ some wise. Don’t forget that.

There are some other odds and ends that came out of the conference (like a new Street Fighter V trailer), but that’s the gist of it. There were several genuine surprises, capping off a rather momentous start to this year’s E3. Look for more coverage as the show continues the rest of the week.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Highlights from Sony at E3 2014

Highlights from Sony at E3 2014

Well, as good as Microsoft was on Monday morning, the general consensus seems to be that Sony somehow surpassed the Redmond efforts. Honestly, I’m inclined to agree. Not only did we get a far more varied selection of game demos thrown at us with Sony, there were more significant surprises, which is really what a press briefing should be for.

Granted, journalists really shouldn’t be cheering or hollering (as someone much better at this job once told me, you only clap for people and not for spectacle), but some of the announcements Sony pulled out of their seemingly rabbit-filled hat really made me want to fist pump. I guess, however, it only serves to highlight how even press has been reallocated to something on par with seat fillers at the Academy Awards.

But let’s put such depressing ruminations behind us (and likely save them for another time). Let’s relive Sony’s numerous tweet-worthy shenanigans like they didn’t just happen on Monday!

Entwined

My immediate reaction to this was similar to everyone else’s: this is Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons + Tempest. But once I played it, I realized you definitely need to throw a little Panzer Dragoon and Child of Eden in there, too. Its one-line summation is heartbreaking (“it’s about two souls that are in love but can’t be together”) and it plays just beautifully. And it’s out now for $9.99! A review will come sometime when it’s, you know, not god damn E3 week.

The Order: 1886

The Victorian Era aesthetic is one of my favorites. And I’m not crazy about the button prompt situation going on in the video, but the lurking in the darkness and the pacing and pretty much the other 99% of what was shown on stage seems pretty great. Besides, it’s about time those Ready at Dawn guys get a shot at their own IP. Look for it on February 20, 2015.

Infamous: First Light

You know what? I liked Infamous: Second Son. And more than that, I thought Fetch was a pretty cool character with an interesting backstory, so I’m pretty excited at the prospect of learning more about her within a framework that I already know I enjoy. The only problem is that instead of multiple powers, now we’ll just get the neon set, but come on, that was everyone’s favorite anyways. Releases August of this year.

LittleBigPlanet 3

While substantial that LittleBigPlanet 3 is indeed being made, it’s hard to not notice that 1) it’s being made by Sumo Digital and not Media Molecule (and their attention is being split a high profile exclusive for Xbox with Forza Horizon 2), and 2) it seems to feature basically every fundamental problem that has not been addressed in LBP 1 or LBP 2. However, it does look as charming and fun with friends as ever. I loved that the demo seemed so natural. Expect it this November.

Bloodborne

This is where the hype led. Project Beast is now Bloodborne, though I honestly like the name Project Beast a lot more. But this game, led by Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki, looks to be everything we’ve been hoping for: creepy, gross, and wholly compelling. It also kicked off the day’s trend of trailers with double title cards. Double! Set for release sometime next year.

Dead Island 2

The complete polar opposite of the original Dead Island announcement trailer. That’s what this is. It’s unfortunate that trailer even exists because this is quite fun and the E3 demo is quite solid as well. But my god that trailer hard to live up to. Also, it’s not being developed by Techland (they’re busy with Hellraid and Dying Light) but Yager Development. Expected early 2015.

Grim Fandango

This was basically the surprise of the briefing. This is what these sorts of things were made for. Journalists get big news pieces and questions to ask and interviews to set up while fans get to drool and hoot and holler while executives roll around in their money pits. Also, Tim Schafer confirmed via Twitter that this remastered version will eventually make its way to other platforms. I’m also going to go ahead and guess John Vignocchi had something to do with this.

Abzû

Much like the Mesopotamian breakdown of the title itself, Abzû is a beautiful game. I do mean on a purely visual level since I’ve yet to play it, but it surely seems like this game was made just for people like me. It looks a bit like Journey (not unexpected considering Giant Squid was founded by Journey art director Matt Nava and the project itself includes composer Austin Wintory and thatgamecompany’s lead designer Nicholas Clark) while certainly something all its own. It will launch in 2016.

Magicka 2

I love how stupidly and impressively absurd every Magicka trailer has managed to be despite, you know, reality. I mean, I also like Magicka and how surprisingly deep the co-op elements were, but the trailers are just so fun and ridiculous. I guess that also applies to the game as well.

No Man’s Sky

I can tell you firsthand that even hours after the event, this trailer and this game is all people were talking about. It’s still something I want to talk about. It looks like the game has grown even more impressive and that’s considering that the studio Hello Games flooded around Christmastime and had to redo quite a bit of work. And this quote: “We’re dealing with planet-sized planets. Even if a million of us played on one planet, we’d still be really far apart.” Yes please.

Let It Die

Yep, definitely looks like a Suda game. And apparently it’s being shown somewhere at E3, but you have to either know the right people or be lucky to see it. I have one more day to find out if I’m one or both of those things. I’m not even entirely sure what Let It Die is about, but I’d really like to find out.

PlayStation Now, Free-to-Play, and TV

The free-to-play thing was weird. It was more like they were trying to get away with saying “these games are free!” and then whispering “…to play.” It was definitely not well received. PlayStation Now and PlayStation TV, however, were pretty well on point. Now is Gaikai rebranded but still totally a gaming streaming service and TV is a little $99 microconsole that pairs with a controller to play games and watch things. PlayStation TV come this fall, as will PlayStation Now, though the latter will go into beta on July 31.

Ratchet & Clank Movie

It was only a matter of time. It and a “reimagined” game will be hitting PSN in 2015.

Remastered The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V

I promise you I will play both The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V in their entirety over again just because. I did it for Tomb Raider and I will do it again because I think all of them are fantastic games. The Last of Us will come out July 29 and Grand Theft Auto V sometime this fall.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

If the title wasn’t telling enough, Nolan North, voice actor behind Nathan Drake, also believes this will be the last Uncharted game that Naughty Dog will make. It makes sense and I sincerely hope so. No matter how good Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End ends up being (or bad, who knows), I don’t think anyone wants to see this storied franchise end up becoming a commoditized burden, especially without Justin Richmond and Amy Hennig behind the wheel. Look for it in 2015.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

While not as classic as last year’s E3 trailer, this is classic inscrutable Kojima. I can’t wait to look at my TV with a dumbfounded layer of confusion plastered across my face.

Batman: Arkham Knight

One word: Batmobile. Glad to see Rocksteady Studios back at it. Comes out in 2015.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Procedural Thoughts

Procedural Thoughts

The first VGX (or 10th VGAs, if you want to look at it that way) happened over the weekend. If you missed it or any of the news that came out of it, you can catch up with our recap. But the big one you should pay attention to is the premiere trailer for Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky.

It is, without a doubt, a stellar debut. Totally unexpected and absolutely mind-blowing. On the order of the first half, Hello Games is a tiny indie studio in the UK that is primarily known for the fantastic but equally small Joe Danger games. The series gives a macro look at a physics-defying interpretation of motorcycle stunt riding.

All three Joe Danger games are fun but fleeting. Until I saw the name Hello Games, I totally forgot they even existed. But way out from left field, managing director Sean Murray for the studio comes onto the VGX and shows off a trailer for No Man’s Sky.

“Every atom procedural.” Every leaf, tree, bird, fish, rock, and anything else in the game is thrown together by randomizing bits of code. This includes, by logical conclusion (and explicit statement in the trailer), that if the game were to go so far, whole planets and galaxies would also be ginned up on the fly, unique and special just for you.

Of course, the trailer does go there, but not before maintain a healthy veneer of humdrum. You see an ocean with some wildlife and bobbing bits of underwater foliage, but it’s nothing special. The autumn-colored trees and laser-versus-aircraft scenes that follow are rather mellow as well. But then you get in a spaceship and start to fly.

Towards a little rocky island you go, gentling accelerating towards an imminent (and probably procedurally generated) crash. But then you slowly veer skyward, flashes of space intercut with the gravitational escape. A ship appears in the hazy atmospheric distance. No, several ships, and several planets. This game has the potential to be huge. No, bigger. Hubigger.

No Man's Sky

But who cares? The initial prospect is, obviously, immense. Every single atom is unique to your game. But that doesn’t mean anything. Swap out an atom in some tree I know nothing about and I guarantee I won’t be able to tell the difference. It is marketing in the superlative.

No Man’s Sky is, instead, trying to make you forget that it is climbing atop the corpses of those that came and fell before it. Do you remember the promises laid at our feet for Spore? Do you remember how it felt as you kicked them around in the preceding months as the game became nothing more than a multimillion dollar penis generator?

There are obvious successes in the same realm, though. Borderlands has built a sizable following on the idea of the nigh incalculable number of guns it offers and Minecraft has built an empire on sticking cube-based lifeforms in randomly generated worlds. Spelunky and FTL: Faster Than Light, two of the best games in the past few years, succeed precisely because of their procedural nature.

No Man's Sky

But they are also all built around the concept, not on top of. It’s an important distinction to make. Rolling dice on its own is novel for about five seconds, but playing craps can encompass your whole night. Or Dungeons & Dragons. Or Monopoly. These are all games that rely on the act of rolling dice, but they do so in the service of other aspects like real estate and fighting goblins and winning money.

Games like Spore, however, are built around the generation, the act of creating and spawning. It is the least interesting facet of wielding godlike powers. Even Dom and Mal got bored of it in Inception. It’s much more fascinating to engage in protecting that progeny or creation in spite of some external will, hence the god game genre and it success.

Of course, we still don’t know what kind of game No Man’s Sky is going to be. The ability to peruse a world, no matter how special and grand, is still going to feel like a museum unless the interaction and design can expand on it. This trailer shows a world small enough for fish and big enough for asteroids. But can Hello Games make that world interesting? We’ll see.

But who am I kidding. I’m still excited.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Highlights From the VGX 2013

Highlights From the VGX 2013

This Saturday saw the first VGX, the successor to the VGAs, or Video Game Awards. Or it’s just a rebranding. Whatever. It’s the video game awards show trying to be the Oscars of the industry, but since it’s coming from Spike TV, expectations are, quite honestly, low.

Regardless of the show’s successes and failures from this year, there was quite a bit of news streaming forth from our computers and televisions over the course of three hours. (That still seems ridiculous to me, but here we are.) Here are the big ones.

No Man’s Sky Blows Minds

Let’s start off with the biggest of the big. This absolutely blew up my Twitter feed as well as my mind. No Man’s Sky comes from UK studio Hello Games who you may know best for Joe Danger. In fact, that is the only thing you’d know them for since that’s the only thing they’ve put out.

But here comes this game that we’ve only heard buzzes about (namely from Giant Bomb’s Brad Shoemaker), one that you should, from this point forward, pay extremely close attention to. No Man’s Sky is an exploration sim that procedurally fills an entire universe. I don’t want to spoil it, but there’s a moment where you just might go OH FUCK YEAH. Managing director Sean Murray calls it a “huge game.” To that, I say, “No fucking shit.”

Elijah Wood Joins Broken Age

Even if you don’t like adventure games, it’s worth watching this new Broken Age trailer just to see the art. Seeing it all in motion is absolutely beautiful. Lead artist Nathan Stapley has quite the eye for making fantastical yet realistic worlds in a painterly style.

And then if you’re into it anyways, you’d be happy to learn that Elijah Wood is joining the voice cast of the likes of Jennifer Hale, Jack Black, and Wil Wheaton. He’ll be playing the male half of the two protagonists, a boy held captive by a ship originally intended to save him from his dying homeworld. Apparently Wood also loves to make Rice Krispies treats. Look for (hope for?) the game to finally launch in January.

Telltale and Gearbox Confuses Us All

The first announcement of the night was also the most befuddling. It wasn’t bad but it also wasn’t…desired? It’s hard to explain. Telltale Games, developers of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, is teaming up with Gearbox Software, the studio behind the Borderlands series and taking Duke Nukem Forever to the finish line, to make an episodic adventure game called Tales from the Borderlands, the first episode of which will come 2014.

Yeah, right? Unexpected, but not unwelcome. I’m just not entirely sure anyone was asking for this to happen. Are people really that invested in Pandora and its mythos? It’s not a bad thing if there are; I just always went into Borderlands to shoot guns and loot corpses. It also begs the question of how many teams are going on at Telltale at the moment. They’ve still got The Wolf Among Us going and the next season of The Walking Dead coming up. Will we see the A-team or will we see the Jurassic Park: The Game team?

Game of Thrones Game from Telltale

Oh yeah, Telltale is also making a Game of Thrones game for 2014. Aaaaaaand that’s all we know.

New Destiny Trailer

From Friday, we know that we have quite a ways to go before Destiny actually comes out on September 9, 2014. To tide us over, Bungie has given us a new, sprawling trailer that includes highlights on music, weapons, characters, and the world of the game.

Two New Titan Classes for Titanfall

You know what? I really can’t wait for Titanfall. I played it at PAX Prime and E3 and then and now, all I want to do is play Titanfall. It is quite the game from what I’ve seen, though more extensive play once it releases only can tell if it is good as whole. But seeing these two new trailers for the heavy Ogre and the nimble Stryder class Titans just reminds me of what excites me about the game. Look for it on March 14, 2014.

Time Control in Quantum Break

Aside from all the buzzwords Remedy Entertainment creative director Sam Lake throws around, this look at Quantum Break actually seems kind of interesting. I’ve been marginally tepid on the game for the longest time, but seeing that the time manipulation looks nothing like Max Payne‘s bullet time has me looking forward to seeing more.

Oh, and Naughty Dog is the Best

To accept awards for the VGX, studios got to create videos instead of having to go up and awkwardly say words out of their mouth holes. Irrational Games may have had the most endearing and charming, but Naughty Dog went full Banderas. It’s amazing.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,