We Got You: Microsoft E3 2016 Press Conference

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Microsoft was the third kid at bat to hit a home run with gamers at E3. And hit a home run they did. Xbox’s Phil Spencer started off the show by letting the gamers know that lots of exclusives for the Xbox One and Windows 10 platforms will be announced. This pleased the crowd and me as well. Most of these games were announced last year, so this was NOT a conference full of new IPs just popping everywhere. This conference was about cementing the future of Xbox and the games that will push the platform to new heights. A lot of stuff was announced, so I will give a couple sentences about the game and/or Xbox One updates.

The Xbox One S (S for Slim) was officially announced. Leaks of the new console were everywhere a day before the conference, but people were still excited to see the official reveal on the main stage. Xbox One S comes in 3 versions (500GB for $300, 1TB for $350, and 2TB for $400). Xbox One S launches early August. You can preorder now!

Gears of War 4 was the first game to grace the stage. Gears of War 4 looked amazing at last year’s E3 and it still looks awesome now! The gameplay video showed off the classic gears gore, but with some fresh graphics and weaponry. There is an all new Horde mode (Horde 3.0). Also, Marcus Fenix is back! He was revealed at the end of the gameplay video. Gears of War 4 will be released on October 11, 2016.

Killer Instinct made an appearance to announce that RAAM from the Gears of War franchise will be a playable character. He is playable during E3 week for free.

Forza is one of the most attractive looking racing games around and Forza Horizon 3 is no different. People on stage demoed the game while the speaker was giving his comments about it. The game looks cool and fun. Forza Horizon 3 races towards its release on September 27, 2016.

ReCore left everyone in bewilderment at last year’s E3, but now we have more gameplay and information about the character. The main protagonist, Joule, was accompanied with some awesome sidekicks. Mack is a robotic dog that has an electo-dash ability to destroy enemies, Seth is a robotic spider that Joule can use to grapple onto to traverse to other areas, and lastly Duncan is a robotic gorilla aptly nicknamed “Heavy Hitter”.  You pretty much guess what he is good at. ReCore hits store shelves on September 19, 2016.

The long awaited Final Fantasy XV made an appearance with a realtime gameplay demo against a GIGANTIC boss! I was never into Final Fantasy, but I know there is a huge fan base for this franchise, so I hope this next installment lives up to their expectations. Final Fantasy lovers can geek out with the release of Final Fantasy XV on September 30, 2016.

The Division is having its first expansion entitled, Underground, which will release on June 28, 2016. Umm…that is all for that.

The wildly anticipated Battlefield 1 made other press conference appearance with a new gameplay trailer. Basically, Battlefield 1 is going to give Infinite Warfare a run for its money even more so. Get your German warplane engines ready for Battlefield 1 launches on October 21, 2016.

So Xbox’s Larry Hryb released a video discussing an upcoming Xbox One update June. I guess Xbox wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page, so they announced (again) Cortana, Xbox One Background Music, and a language selection setting will be available soon. The new stuff are the new ways to connect with your friends and other people online. “Clubs on Xbox Live” will be a new way to meet with other gamers who have similar tastes in games and play styles as you. “Looking for Group” is “like a WANT ad” where the player can send out a message asking for people to help them with something in-game. Lastly, “Arena” is the competitive hub that allows players to host competitions and developers as well for their games.

Back to games now, Minecraft will now support cross-platform play between Xbox One, Android, IOS, and VR.

Side note you personalize Xbox One controllers now. $80 for regular personalization and $90 with engraving.

Independent games (which is still a very loose term) are important. Inside comes from the studio of Limbo. Inside seems promising, so I may check it out when it releases on June 29, 2016. We Happy Few made an appearance with a very creepy trailer. It looks like Bioshock because of the art style, but trust me, it is not. We Happy Few releases July 26, 2016.

Gwent players around the world your prayers have been answered. Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is happening and it comes with a single-player campaign. I have a friend who was very excited for this announcement. No release or price has been set, but I am guessing a Fall 2016 release with a price between $20 to $30 more than likely.

Dead Rising 4 has a brand new holiday themed trailer. Don’t worry. The constructive destruction of zombies is still alive and well! Slaughter and explode your way through hordes of zombies this Holiday season.

The stylish, yet Devil May Cry-esque looking character in Scalebound showed himself in a new co-op campaign gameplay trailer. I extremely excited for this game, so my fingers are crossed for it to be good.

Sea of Thieves was shown off last year, but this time a fun gameplay demo reel was presented to the audience. You can drink, you sail the ocean blue, and you drown by too much cannon fire at your ship. Cannot wait to play it with my friends.

State of Decay 2 had a trailer. I honestly do not know much else about this game, but I guess it appeals to some gamers to justify a sequel.

The real-time strategy Halo Wars 2 had a very dark toned cinematic trailer which got the crowd pretty hyped. You can sign up for the week long beta which takes place between June 13-20 (of this year).

Last, but not least Microsoft discussed the ever so mysterious Project Scorpio. This new xbox will support 4K resolution and high-end VR support all running on 6 Teraflops of computing power. Project Scorpio is set to be release in the Holiday of 2017.

So, if you made through this blog post then I wholeheartedly thank you. Microsoft did not announce really anything new, but it did give gamers reassurance that the games of last year and still be worked on (expect for Fable Legends which I am still upset about). Good job Microsoft. Just don’t cancel anymore games and/or studios between now and the release of Project Scorpio!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back at it again with the Surprises: Sony E3 2016 Press Conference

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Sony had a lot live up to because of the fantastic, mind-blowing, and unforeseen surprises from last year’s conference. Happy to report that they did not disappoint this year either.  Previously announced titles had more information revealed to the audiences, but lots of new IPs announced as well. There is a lot to cover, so I will be brief with each announcement.

First, can we just agree that it would be Sony to have a live orchestra playing the scores to the games on screen and playing music as announcers walked on the stage. Amazing!

Sony came out strong with the unveiling of the God of War sequel which they are simply calling God of War. This marks a brand new story for the vicious Spartan for he is now (or again) a father. The trailer, link here, was captivating , and the emotions conveyed from the innocence of Kratos’s son really had me misty-eyed. Cannot wait to see more.

Days Gone is the name of Sony’s new action-adventure zombie game. A biker versus hordes of zombies sounds and looks very cool. I will have my eye on that one.

The Last Guardian finally, finally, finally has a release date. That is right. The epitome of a game going through development hell will be released on October 25, 2016. That’s right, this year. I do hope it’s going to be good. Fingers crossed. Link here if you have not seen this masterpiece yet.

Seeing a new Horizon: Zero Dawn gameplay trailer reassured me that this is going to be a contender for game of the year in 2017. It’s beautiful, the protagonist is tenacious and quick own her feet, and the enemies are robotic animals! You have me sold. Hopefully, many others are sold on this new IP as well.

Detroit: Become Human made an appearance at last year’s E3 which starred a character named Kara. This time around we got a lot more information about what the game may have in store for it’s players. The cinematic trailer revealed some detective and choice-based mechanics, of course your decisions have consequences in-game as well. To what extent remains to be seen. The trailer is quite bad ass, so keep your eye out on this one. Watch the trailer here.

Resident Evil 7 showed itself in a very spooky cinematic trailer with a release date of January 24, 2017. I was never into Resident Evil, but with the strong fan base this franchise has I am clearly missing out.

With the Playstation VR headset releasing this October, Sony revealed some information about PSVR  games that are in the works. 50 games are being worked on for the PSVR which includes a StarWars Battlefront game called X-Wing VR mission. Farpoint is Sci-Fi FPS VR game where you and your crew must fight for survival on a treacherous planet. Final Fantasy 15 VR Experience was also unveiled on the main stage, but the biggest surprise was the announcement of Batman: Arkham VR. It is one thing playing as the caped crusader, but actually becoming him is a whole other level.

The controversial, highly disliked, Infinite Warfare showed off some very cool outerspace FPS action. We will see how much fans will like it or dislike it once it launches on November 4, 2016.

It was announced on Sony’s main stage that Crash Bandicoot will be getting not one, not two, but three remasters. Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2, and Crash Bandicoot: Warped are all being remastered for a 2017 release.

Lego StarWars Episode 7 made an appearance just getting the fans of the lego games hyped for its June 28 launch.

Probably the biggest story of E3 2016 was the grandiose return of Hideo Kojima. The profound developer was plagued by all kinds of controversy last year with the removal of his name from Metal Gear Solid 5 and his separation from Konami. However, Kojima proudly stated on stage that “I’m Back!” with a thunderous applause from the audience. He then debuted his new game called Death Stranding. It’s hard to describe what is going on in the trailer, so here it is. Yup, it’s weird!

The last new IP revealed was definitely a surprise to everyone. Insomniac Games is creating the next spidey-swinging adventure game entitled, Spider-Man. Sony showed an awesome gameplay trailer. I was never a big fan of Spider-Man games, but this has piqued my interest.

So the winner of E3 hands down goes to Sony. They put the other conferences to shame last year and this year was pretty strong as well. New exclusives, new experiences, anticipation of previous announced games, PSVR, and Kojima, Kojima, Kojima! Save up your money for we all be broke into a good portion of 2017! I really need to learn how to filter feed, so I can save on food costs.

 

 

 

 

A for Effort: EA E3 2016 Press Conference

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It is that time of year! Christmas in June! The Electronic Entertainment Expo 2016 has begun (technically it starts on June 14, but lots of pre-show lifestreams happens beforehand). Electronic Arts starts off with their own Pre-E3 Press conference called EA Play. EA decided to not have a booth at the LA convention where E3 actually takes place. Anticipation was built up to see what EA had in store for the gamers of the world. However, if you kept your nose close to the gaming forums and news, one could have saw exactly what was going to be shown off. Also, the press conference was shared between an EA Play event in London and the other in LA via satellite. That was…interesting to say the least.

Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall 2 came out swinging with some explosive and quick-paced gameplay. New weapons, new ways to kill enemies, Titans with swords, a grappling hook, New Titans destroying other titans with swords, and did I forget to mention the swords! A single player campaign was also annouced which strays away from the multiplayer-campaign idea of its predeccessor. Standby for Titanfall 2 to be released on October 28, 2016 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

The annual Madden franchise made an appearance with Madden 17. Then after a video highlight of Madden 17, the 8 finalist of the Madden 16 championship graced the stage for like 5 mins. Ummm…yeah that’s it.

The highly anticipated Mass Effect: Andromeda rocketed on stage with a short video-documentary showing off some new concept art and footage. No actual gameplay was shown and no release date announced. I was never into the Mass Effect franchise myself, but this game has piqued my interest.

Back to sports with FIFA 17. Announced was FIFA 17: The Journey, which is a single player experience that tells the story of a young man’s ambition to be a pro soccer player.
Sounds interesting… I guess. I am not into sports games, but some of you may find this appealing.

EA is known to be the worst gaming company around, so their announcement of EA Originals may help change some negative opinions. This is a new program geared towards helping small developments companies publish and sell their games. Therefore, a new action 3D platformer named “Fe” was shown off as an example. The game is about nature and our connection to it. Looks cool and gameplay was interesting, so I am excited to see how this game will fair with other 3rd party titles.

If you haven’t heard already, there is going to be several StarWars spinoffs coming soon, if not the near future. Battlefront was not the experience most wanted, so hopefully the other studios will create something awe-inspiring. DICE take notes.

Lastly and probably the main reason people tuned into EA Play was to see Battlefield 1. Battlefield heads way back in time to WW1. Not only did they show how a new gameplay trailer, but held a 64-player match after the press conference. Some of those players included, Terry Crews from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, and Jamie Foxx!

This press conference did not wow me at every moment, but when it did I couldn’t hold back my squeals of geekiness. A good attempt EA, but try again next year. Just make sure you give us a full game and not 50 percent of it while the rest is dlc. Also, if you need to delay a game to make it better than do it. Okay…cool!

Nicely Done: Bethesda E3 2016 Press Conference

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Quake. Check! Skyrim remaster. Check! Prey reboot. Check! Dishonored 2 gameplay. Check! Elder Scrolls 6…maybe next time. 4 out of 5 still is not bad, especially since no one saw Quake and Prey being announced at all.

Bethesda knows how to get gamers excited for their games. Build hype on anticipated franchises, show off something that no one saw coming, and then leave something out that they know gamers wanted to see. A simplistic strategy, but a winning strategy.

Bethesda kicks things off with the announcement trailer of Quake Champions. That is right. Quake is alive and well. The trailer looked pretty, but no actual gameplay footage was shown.

Quickly transitioning from Quake Champions, Elder Scrolls:  Legends was shown off again. This online strategy card game was announced at last year’s E3, but more gameplay was shown of this time. This begs the question, “Will Hearthstone players find this appealing?” The mechanics of ES: Legends looks similar to Hearthstone and with Hearthstone being one of the most popular online card games to date, massive appeal will need to come from Hearthstone players in order to validate how fun and balance Elder Scrolls: Legends will be.

Fallout 4 from what my friends and colleagues tell me is an amazing game. I have never played any of games from the franchise, but I definitely can see the appeal. Director Todd Howard was shown in a vidoc (short video in a documentary style) talking about the success of both Fallout 4 and Fallout Shelter. Before he wrapped up, he stated “Their is something else though that you’ve been asking about. And yes, we’ve been working on it.” Elder Scrolls: Skyrim Special Edition confirmed or how most would phrase it, Skyrim remaster. I wanted to cry on how gorgeous it looked in the trailer, but I remained strong.

Another unforeseen game was announced, Prey. Prey 2 was shown off in 2012 and then disappeared from the limelight. Apparently, it is back and better than ever, at least that is what the announcement trailer is suggesting. This definitely wowed the crowd and surprised me.

DOOM made an appearance to talk about the snap map feature. From my understanding is a level creator within the game. And that’s pretty much it.

The popular Elder Scrolls Online will bring the Dark Brotherhood dlc pack to consoles soon with Elder Scrolls Online being released in Japan on June 23, 2016. However, the crowd pleaser (especially to the lady who kept woohoo-ing during this segment) was the announcement of “One Tamriel.” This allows everyone to group up and play with other regardless of level. Absolutely no restrictions. That is pretty cool!

Next, Bethesda talked a little bit about their VR initiatives with both Fallout 4 and Doom coming to VR next year.

Last, but no least was the in-depth look of the world of Dishonored 2. Dishonored 2 is definitely my contender for game of the year. Co-creative Director, Harvey Smith, discussed the gameplay mechanics and aesthetics of this steam punk-ish dystopia. Protagonist Emily Kaldwin finally had her time to shine in a new gameplay walk through with a follow up gameplay trailer. Emily’s domino power brings other enemies to die in the same way as one of the first enemy guard. Her shadow walk power turns her into a shadowy-clawed presence that her can her enemies apart. This game is definitely my favorite part of the entire press conference.

Again, Bethesda knows how to stir up hype! Quake is back. Prey is rebooted. Dishonored 2 looks awesome! Cannot wait for all of these games to be released into the wild! Fantastic job Bethesda. EA I hope you were taking notes.

 

New State of Play: Beginning at the End

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It took me a while to figure out how to start the post. Should I start with some exposition or should I just jump right into it?

Well, I decided to jump right in. The time finally came. I just graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, ascertaining a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology. I feel elated, overjoyed, and a little nervous. I am happy because I graduated and have many good memories to reflect upon. Excited because this pushes the boundary of success within my family. I am a first-generation college student, therefore becoming a graduate of a 4-year institution means much more to my family than I can comprehend. Lastly, I am nervous because this changes things for my family and, of course, myself.

I have a lot to be thankful for and a lot of people to thank. Honestly, it would be impossible to mention everyone, so I will mention two that come to mind. First and foremost, my mother. My mother has done a fantastic job raising not only me, but my younger brother as well. She believed in me and gave me much needed support at every turn. My mother expressed to me a couple weeks prior to graduation that she “never thought [she] could raise a son to go to college.” Just to be clear, this is her telling me that with everything she went through trying to raise me and my brother, my chances of achieving success beyond what the family had achieved seemed improbable.

When I told her that I wanted to study video games as a discipline and a career she was behind me 100 percent. I just needed to make sure I had a plan of action. And I did! It was with the tremendous help of my mentor Dr. Rashawn Ray. I remember when I first told him that I wanted to study aspects of gaming culture while in the sociology department and as a future career. Instead of being struck with skepticism and pondering if I just wanted to play games all day and call it research, he said “Ok cool!” Then he went to his computer and started listing off all the people he knew who dealt or at least dabbled with visual interactive mediums. I knew he would be a mentor for life.

On another note, where do I go from here? Well, the answer to that is Indiana, specifically Indiana University. I will be starting a PhD in Informatics where I will be studying…wait…wait for it…wait for it…video game culture! Some of the academics that currently study video game culture got their start in gaming culture by accident, if not a loosely related field of study. To attend a institution, specifically for the purpose to study video games and the people who play them is awesome. I even asked the director of the program did they read everything? Do they know that I want to study video games? Of course, she answered with a reassuring “Yes!”

Video games, as I have mentioned before, can tell awe-inspiring and emotional narratives. The people who play video games are just as interesting as the games they play. I am very thankful that I am able to bridge my gamer identity into my academic identity which will hopefully guide me to think about video game culture in fresh and exciting ways. Again, thank you to everyone! Now it’s time to play all the video games that I have neglected for months!