Game Console @E3 – Day Three

Suffering a horrendous jet lag, Game Console’s Darren Price recalls the third and final day of E3 2014.

I had a bit of time to spare on the morning of day three of E3, so I took a wander over to the Ubisoft booth. On the show floor the Far Cry 4 demo offered a hands-on opportunity to take down one of the game’s huge enemy fortresses. As well as the traditional sneaking about approach I could choose to rain down fire from above using a gyro-copter – which was, of course, the option that I took.

Whilst I’d caused plenty of aerial mayhem, I’d also given the enemy plenty of time to call reinforcements. Under heavy fire I landed the gyro-copter and hide by the entrance as the trucks full of soldiers approached. A couple of well-placed grenades and the trucks were blown through the huge wooden gates, taking out both the truck occupants and the guards waiting for me inside the compound.

Very awesome.

Next up, more enemies arrived- this time by helicopter. A lucky couple of grenades took out the helicopter, but not before it dropped of its passengers. It was time to go all Rambo- shooting out ammo dumps and picking off snipers until the fortress was mine. Awesome and breathtaking fun in a beautiful mountain setting!

My first formal appointment of the day was with EA Mobile, who were occupying the upper level of the huge EA Games booth. In a quiet series of lounge-like settings, a number of portable games were on show.

King of the Course is a golfing game that takes the PGA formula and turns it into a series of challenges that get increasingly difficult as the player progresses. Shots are taken in a similar way to the PGA games with carefully timed swipes getting the ball in the air and on course. But then you can add spin to the ball in after-touch, guiding it to your target. This means there’s none of the fait accompli waiting post-shot, as you can change the final resting place right up to the point that the ball stops moving. It’s a great looking game that’ll provide a decent bit of golf for fans on the go.

King o the Course menu

EA’s indie mobile publishing arm, Chillingo, was showing of a karting game that caught my eye, if only for the familiar-looking landscape of the demo race- a track entitled “South Island, NZ”. Street Kart is intended as a full-on karting simulator with a fully integrated social system that allows players to bet on friends fulfilling self-set challenges. If you’ve played the likes of Real Racing, Street Kart is right up there with a very similar level of racing realism.

Next it was over to Microsoft for a meeting about an “unannounced title”. Along with a handful of other journos I was ushered into another of Microsoft’s lounge rooms, this one all decked out with tell-tale Halo inspired wall coverings. Perched on a stool in the corner was Halo studio boss, Bonnie Ross.

The presentation began with Bonnie recapping on 343 Industries’ vision for the Halo universe- how they’ve use the fiction to provide them with a richer story-telling environment with which to use in the games. They’ve also use animation and the live action web series Forward unto Dawn to enhance the gaming experience.

Bonnie then handed the presentation over to 343 producer, Dennis Reis for a demo of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. This is a collection of the four Halo games featuring Master Chief as the protagonist. ODST and Reach will have to wait for now (according to Bonnie Ross 343 are listening- make of that what you will).

That’s four Halo games on one disc, with all single and multiplayer content intact. That’s four thousand achievement points to be had in total. Also, all the single player levels are unlocked, with the ability to select and create playlists of your favourite levels from any of the games.

This is an incredible package and with Halo 2 getting the anniversary treatment, the perfect time to jump aboard the Halo franchise if you’ve not done so already.

Halo poster E3

Next is was time for a presentation from ID@XBOX, Microsoft’s showcase of indie talent coming to Xbox One. First up was Get Even, a Polish time-travel detective game featuring photo-real digitally-captured environments. Players manipulate time to change reality and solve crimes. An interesting premise but, to be honest, a bit too mind-bending to be shown to me this late into the E3 Expo.

Nero, another mind-bending affair, this time from Italian indie outfit Storm in a Teacup. The game looks beautiful, coming across as a sort of interactive novel very similar to Dear Esther. As players complete puzzles they are rewarded with narration that drives the narrative. One to watch.

My final appointment was upstairs in a meeting room with CD Projekt Red for a look at The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and for Geralt of Rivia’s third outing they’ve pulled out all the stops.

Wild Hunt is an open world adventure in the same vein as Skyrim- but with absolutely mind-blowing visuals. If you can see something in the distance you can go to it, there’s no unnatural barriers to get in your way.

For this demo we continued Geralt’s adventure following the defeat of the griffin in the publicly available “Griffin Hunt” demo footage. Geralt enters a city on horseback with the griffin’s head swinging from his saddle. The city is alive, as if it has been going about its business before we arrived and will continue to do so long after we have departed.

The Witcher 3 entering the city

The Witcher is after the location of a woman in trouble. Instead of a horseback ride that we were told would take about twenty minutes we were shown the game’s fast-travel mechanic. Now, you can’t just fast-travel anywhere, you have to already have visited a location. By going to a signpost outside the city a map was pulled up and a location near our goal was highlighted.

A small child-like creature, a godling with his voice trapped in a bottle, was Geralt next lead. But first the diminutive creature needed his voice back. Which was on a ledge up above them.

The was a perfect way to illustrate Geralt’s climbing abilities, which are not far of Lara Croft’s in Tomb Raider. The rest of the quest played out with hags masquerading as beauties and a lopped ear as a trade before ending. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has collected many accolades at E3 this year, and I can see why.

As the dust settles after the first E3 after the launch of the new-generation of consoles there’s the inevitable question of who won. Was it Sony? Nintendo? Microsoft? The Witcher 3? Or Evolve?

I think it was us, the gamers, that won this year’s E3. With graphical fidelity reaching new heights and an unprecedented amount of high quality triple-A titles heading towards us for the end of the year, along with some amazing indie titles (I’m looking at you No Man’s Sky), it’s never been a better time to be a gamer.

I’d like to thank the ANZ publishers and their PR representatives for arranging for Game Console to have access to the video games on show at E3.

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