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Ray’s 2015 E3 Report Part One!

Ray’s 2015 E3 Report Part One!

Ray’s 2015 E3 Report Part One!

Bethesda wows with Fallout and Dishonored. Square Enix unveils Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Sony swanks it up with 3 demos – Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last Guardian, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.


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Bethesda wows us with two of my favorite franchises

Bethesda is prepping new iterations in two of their best franchises: Fallout and Dishonored.

Fallout 4 takes place in and around Boston (it’s the largest game environment Bethesda has ever created, and these are the freaks who built Skyrim), and it also looks as if it’s the first game in the series in which you experience at least a little bit of what life was like before the bombs fell. You see a happy couple in their shiny retro-futuristic house, complete with robot servants. Then, naturally, all hell breaks loose.

It also looks as though you’ll have a dog companion again, a handsome German Shepherd. This time around, you’ll be able to give the dog commands: He can pick up things for you, attack things for you, whatever.

In another first for the series, the game will have the ability to build all sorts of things, from dwellings to power stations. This ambitious mini-game looks really fun. It also seems a good way to help make your experience in the game feel more like your own – always a good thing in an RPG.

The character creation system in Fallout 4 represents a terrific step forward in game technology. You’re actually watching a married couple in front of their bathroom mirror getting ready in the morning. You can sculpt and adapt the features of both the husband and wife, and then get to choose which one you’ll play! The modeling interface is simple, intuitive, and is actually the same system the designers used to create the NPCs in the game.

Bethesda’s Todd Howard also described a super-cool mobile game called Fallout Shelter, which is essentially a sim in which you completely control a vault in the Fallout universe. Howard promised that it won’t be one of those drecky “fremium” games. It’ll be free, require no internet connection, no pay walls, no timer walls. Even cooler: The game is already available on the Apple app store, with an Android release coming soon.

fallout shelter 640

Dishonored 2!

I’m thrilled that Arkane Studios is once again teaming up with Bethesda for a return to the fascinating world they created in Dishonored. In that game, you played an assassin named Corvo who spent most of the game attempting to rescue the child empress Emily. The new game takes place fifteen years later, and you have the choice to play as either Corvo again or the all-grown-up Emily. Since both characters will have a non-overlapping set of powers and abilities, and since the levels are built to accommodate both characters, it seems to me as though the game will essentially be two games in one. You could play through it twice, once as each character, and have two completely different experiences.

Dishonored 2 Emily

This is extremely impressive, particularly considering the fact that, in the first game, different approaches you could take with Corvo would result in very different types of gameplay. For instance, in my playthrough, I didn’t kill a single person the entire game, even though Corvo is an assassin!

Dishonored 2 Party Time 640

The mysterious, beautiful, faux-Edwardian city of Dunwall, the setting of the first game, is one of my favorite examples of world building in recent games, and I really look forward to returning to it. The game is slated for a Spring 2016 release.

But I won’t actually have to wait that long to get my Dishonored on. Bethesda/Arkane are also releasing Dishonored: Definitive Edition later this summer. This version of the first game will include all of the DLC as well as graphics brought up to date for the current generation of consoles.

Square Enix: More Deus Ex!

I got to see a gameplay demo for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

You may remember that the very first Deus Ex was a real game-changer when it came out in 2000. It was an action/RPG hybrid that gave the player an intriguing amount of choice when it came to overcoming challenges.

Mankind Divided will be the fourth major game in the franchise. In the last game, Human Revolution, the augmented humans (including the player character, Adam Jensen) were considered vastly superior to regular old people. In the world of the new game, this has radically changed, and the humans with electronic and mechanical augmentations are now a hated minority. (They told us, “Think District 9 meets Deus Ex.)

Deus Ex Cover 640

The gameplay is built around four pillars: Combat, Stealth, Hacking and Social. We got to see a little of all four during the demo.

We were watching alpha code and so the sound and graphics weren’t as tight as I assume they will be when the game goes gold. However, the environments had a lot of style and were very dramatic and interesting.

Cloaking is back this time around, which is always cool. Also, ammo has been greatly expanded upon, and you can use different types for different situations. You can even hack remotely now, which looks promising.

Deus Ex Ammo 640

Another thing I liked is how much verticality was used in the level design. Lots of levels, lots of available climbing and jumping. Always good to have in a Deus Ex game!

Other good stuff: The palette is much broader than the last game, which I often refer to as the “goldest” game ever released. I was happy to see more colors this time around.

Also, Human Revolution had a big gameplay problem. You could play the game in a completely non-lethal way (as opposed to run and gun, in your face, kill everything commando. The problem is the boss battles. You’d invest all of your skill points in hack and stealth skills and then find you weren’t burly enough to take down some of the tougher bosses. This seemed a real cheat to the stealth-pacifist kind of player.

I had a chance to speak with Mary de Marle, the Executive Narrative Director for the game (and the person who wrote the last game). She assured me that the developers had learned from that mistake and that yes, you could play non-lethally this time around and yes, this wouldn’t be a problem when it came to the boss encounters. Huzzah!

Two disappointments, however: First, you can’t play the game as a female. Boo!

Second, Elias Toufexis returns as the voice of the main character, and he’s as flat and colorless as he was in the last game. I really blame actor David Hayter for this, because when he created the English language voice for Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid (1998), he set the standard for this stilted, guttural, toneless, flat, emotionless kind of hero voice. For some bewildering reason, people thought he was brilliant, and it infected voice acting in games for the next two decades. That’s where Christian Bale’s horrible “Batman” voice comes from, too. He’s channeling David Hayter, just like Elias Toufexis is. I’m really ready to see this trend end, and I truly think today’s enormously talented voice actors like Nolan North and Troy Baker are changing this. Compare Nolan North as Nathan Drake in the Uncharted games or Troy Baker in anything and you’ll see what I mean.

At any rate, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided arrives in 2016 and I am eager to play it.

Sony Swanks It Up

We saw three impressive demos for big ticket PS4 games.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Guerrilla Games (heretofore most famous for its Killzone franchise) showed a gorgeous open-world RPG called Horizon: Zero Dawn. The game takes place a thousand years after the fall of man. Nature has taken over the ancient cities, and the humans that are left are at about late-Ice Age technology level. The only trouble: For some reason, they share the world with an astonishing variety of mechanical beasts.

We saw a brief gameplay demo where a beautiful hunter took down an enormous, school-bus-sized mechanical behemoth.

She used very natural looking foliage to hide in, and it was great to see the natural movement of the ferns bend and shake and wave as she moved in and out of them. The only thing missing was that the snow that sprinkled the leaves never budged. The game engine couldn’t quite handle the powdery nature of snow to show it shaking off of the quivering leaves. Maybe we’ll see that in the PS5 games!

It was a complicated fight, using different types of arrows (armor piercing, electrical to stun, rope to bind) and it took a good long time to bring the monster down. That’s about all they showed us, but it was enough to get us very interested!

The Last Guardian

The team behind the beautiful and influential games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus has been working on this title for eight years.

I don’t know if you ever played either of those games, but they share a sensibility and level of artistry that’s rare in the world of video games. Ico pretty much introduced (to me, anyway) the concept of the environmental puzzle taken to its logical conclusion: In other words, the room IS the puzzle. Many games have used this technique sense, perhaps most notably the Portal games.

Last Guardian fugly 640

This new game basically looks like Ico With a Nice Dragon Who Can’t Really Fly Instead of a Ghost Girl. It’s a little boy again, who befriends a huge sort of dragon-shaped thing with a rat head (really, it’s kind of ugly) and together they have to traverse the dangerous and gorgeous expanse of a sprawling set of ancient and crumbling ruins. Right up my alley, actually. If they ever finish it, I’ll be first in line to play.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

If you’re going to make the fourth game in a trilogy, you really need to bring it, and from what we saw at today’s demo, developer Naughty Dog has pulled out all the stops. It doesn’t hurt that the game directors are Neil Druckman and Bruce Straley, the game directors for The Last of Us (one of the greatest games I’ve ever played).

As the title implies, this is the fourth major title in the franchise that features sexy and sarcastic fortune hunter Nathan Drake and his amazing globetrotting action/adventures.

The demo sequence features Nathan Drake (voiced by the great Nolan North), his old pal Sully (once again performed by the solid Richard McGonagle) and Nate’s big brother Sam (voiced, I am thrilled to report, by the great Troy Baker).


It begins in a Latin American coastal market town. Nate and Sully get into a gunfight that escalates to a jaw-dropping degree, including a dizzying chase sequence through the town in jeeps, trucks, a motorcycle, ropes, and I don’t know what else. When it was all over, I had to catch my breath and remind myself that the sequence I just watched, while it would be spectacular as a set piece in a big budget action film, was in reality an interactive adventure that I would be controlling when I played as Nate. It kind of reminded me why I like modern video games and why they are so much more fun than television. I’d rather be the person having the adventure than watching someone else have one.

We won’t see Uncharted 4 until mid-2016.

Ratchet Returns!

We also got to play a little bit of Ratchet & Clank, Insomniac Games’ “re-imagining” of the very first game in the series. I’ve been a devoted fan of the series since it debuted in 2002. I’ve played eleven games in the series on four different platforms. I LOVE RATCHET AND CLANK.

This new game is set to dovetail with the feature film based on the series, which also comes out next year!

Ray Ivey

Ray Ivey

A gaming freakazoid, Ray enjoys games on all platforms. Also loves board games, mind games, and all puzzles. Co-wrote the Entertainment Tonight trivia game and designed puzzles for two Law & Order PC games. Also a movie freak, bookworm, and travel bug. Thinks games of all kinds are a highly underappreciated force for social good, not to mention mental and psychological health.   Ray's favorite adventures include the "Broken Sword" and "Journeyman Project" franchises, "The Dark Eye," "The Feeble Files," "Sanitarium," "Limbo," "Machinarium," "Riven," "The Neverhood," and "Azrael's Tear." His favorite non-adventures include the "Thief," "Uncharted," and "Ratchet & Clank" franchises, all of the Bioware RPGs, Skyrim, and Final Fantasy XII.   Ray writes about the movies for the Bryan/College Station Daily Eagle, which is the old-fashioned thing called a "newspaper." He's been on eight game shows. He's taught in seven countries and has visited twenty-one. His favorite classic movie star is Barbara Stanwyck and his favorite novel is "The Hotel New Hampshire" by John Irving.

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