By Mario Wario
On day two of 2018’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), I wanted to see what some of the heavy hitters were planning for this year, as well as for 2019. At the same time, I visited the Microsoft Theater so I could experience the Xbox Experience. So, let’s dive right in!
The first demo of the day was Treyarch’s Black Ops 4. The demo itself was showcasing the game’s new and improved 5v5 multiplayer mode on PlayStation 4 and PC.
In Black Ops 4, teamwork has become the focus again, and the game will reward any squad if gamers work as a team. But do not worry, after playing the demo, I can safely say that the game still had that Call of Duty feel. For example, it played fast/unforgiving, gamers still to need control certain areas to win, and the guns felt solid once more. Do note that the next game will not have a single-player campaign, although the multiplayer will be set between Black ops 2 and 3, thus serving as a ‘prequel’ to the previous installment. The “Specialist” system (a character’s talent) did not go away. It got better! Overall, the basic Call of Duty PvP formula was adjusted for today’s crowd, who are mostly playing a battle royale game such as Fortnite. For example, Black Ops 4 uses health packs; no more automatic health regeneration. Thus, it brought in a whole new way to play PvP, which I thought was interesting. Of course, Black Ops 4‘s new battle royale mode called “Blackout” could also entice that fan base to try the game.
Sadly, “Blackout” was not playable at E3, so I was mildly disappointed when I found out. By the way, the beta still does not have a release date, so stay tuned for that bit of news. As for the full game, it will be out this fall for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
After playing Black Ops 4, I went to the West Hall to see the Nintendo area. The game demo I tried was Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which is being developed by Bandai Nemco/Sora Ltd. I was able to play four two-minute rounds against another person, and I can safely say that the game played exactly like the previous Smash game: fun as well as engaging. That said, there were two new stages playable at the area: The Great Plateau Tower (Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild), and Splatoon‘s Moray Towers.
I selected Sonic for Plateau Tower and Ryu for Moray Towers, but I did use Link twice. It should be noted that the game’s entire roster wasn’t available at E3, but it did include two new characters: Ridley (Metroid) and Inkling (Splatoon). As for the characters I selected, Sonic plays fast while Ryu is a well-balanced fighting machine. Likewise, with Link and his trusty Master Sword/Hylian shield combo.
The two new levels played like your typical Smash level, which means gamers must avoid hazardous materials as well as level changes, that will affect the outcome of a match. Of course, using a Pokémon will do the exact same thing! (wink) Visually, the demo was stunning to look at.
As for my opponent, I, to my surprise, went against one of my Twitter friends without knowing it! Violet Krueger, who writes for Gender Biased Reviews, also didn’t recognize me at first until after she posted her Smash results on Twitter. Once I saw her post, I replied to her tweet. We both laughed once we found out. Overall, this was a neat experience that we won’t ever forget!
After playing Smash, which is coming out later this year on Switch, it was time to visit the Sony booth so I could to do one thing: play Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man demo! And wow, it did not disappoint!
At the very beginning, you are in a troubled New York City which, by the way, looked amazingly gorgeous. As for the controls themselves, the combat system/web-swinging mechanics were easy to understand, as well as neat to see in action. For example, you hold down R2 to get the web-swinging mechanic going, then you let Spider-Man’s forward momentum guide you to the next building. So, traversing around the city as Spider-Man was not only satisfying but crazily fun to do. It felt too perfect, in my opinion! And no, there is no fall damage to worry about so I was able to go crazy.
As for the combat system, you simply press the right buttons on your controller to get a powerful combo going (very similar to the Batman: Arkham series). Yet Spider-Man’s ‘spider sense’ will warn you of incoming danger so gamers can dodge anything if timed right. Yes, Spidey can web up bad guys against any wall or cars like seen in the movies/comic books. Oh, Spider-Man’s animations were spectacularly good!
The demo also had a couple of side missions available, so I decided to try two of them. One was about fighting henchmen/saving the day, while another was about stopping a bomb inside an out-of-control truck. Both missions were fun to play, yet I did find the ‘press a single button repeatably’ gameplay to be somewhat tedious after a while. It looks like all the smaller missions will use this type of gameplay, so heads up there gamers. Afterward, I took Spider-Man to a warehouse to continue the main storyline, but the demo’s timer ran out before I could face the main boss. My playthrough was over. (Gamers can get Spider-Man exclusively for the PS4 on September 7.)
Once I was done web-swinging on cloud nine, The Division 2 was the next demo to try out. But let’s rewind for a moment. If you need a reminder, this series is an action role-playing/third-person shooter that saw a smallpox pandemic affect New York City. The U.S. Government tasks sleeper agents (your Strategic Homeland Division group) to assess the situation, and to save the city.
In the sequel, which is being developed by Massive Entertainment (published by Ubisoft), the story takes place seven months after the previous game, and the new area is now Washington D.C. The 15-minute demo was centered on getting to a down Air Force One with four other people. A developer was my tour guide throughout the demo. The demo itself offered up to three builds yet I was given the Demolition class, and the other classes were given to two other people. They used the Survivalist (crossbow) and Sharpshooter (sniper) classes to get the job done. The Demolition class has a grenade launcher to blow things up, thus I had a lot of fun in using my ‘boomstick’. To use it, I had to pick up special ammo which was achieved by killing the enemy AI. The enemy would, however, go after you in multiple waves with the bigger guys being harder to kill. So, playing as a team became a must in order to be successful, but I could have called for backup if needed. You can use a flare gun to call in for help.
Overall, The Division 2 played like the first game but better! I mean, obviously, the game would since it is a sequel, after all. Finally, the full game will be out on the Xbox One, PS4, and PC early next year. (I played on the Xbox One.)
Rage 2 was the next game to see which was at the Bethesda booth, yet it was the booth’s free ice cream that won me over while I waited for my 2 p.m. appointment to begin! (Do note that the developers are Avalanche Studios, id Software.)
Rage 2 is a first-person shooter set in a colorful Mad Max-like world. The main character can do a dash/push/slam move or enter a rage mode called “Overdrive.” Basically, the main character has increased damage and more health. When you enter “Overdrive,” the screen will change colors as if our main hero is on an acid trip. Yes, it looked crazy onscreen, but in a good way! The demo also allowed me to use an assault rifle, shotgun, and a tri-bladed boomerang that will go after a single target aggressively. Of course, this in-game weapon was my favorite to use, yet I did find myself using the shotgun as well. By the way, the headphones I was using, the volume was up high! I could not adjust it, but I did find the sound effects to be awesome! (Thankfully my hearing is still okay.) Overall, I liked what I saw, just too bad fans will have to wait until 2019 to get their hands on the full game (Xbox One, PS4, or PC).
Staying at the Bethesda booth, the next game I tried out was the RPG mobile game called The Edler Scrolls: Blades. You basically play in first-person, yet you use your phone’s touch-screen to do everything else. When in landscape mode, gamers must use their left hand to bring up their shield (the defensive button is on the left side of the screen), while your right hand is for moving around/offensive moves. Yes, you can use magic in the game as well. Once you kill a giant spider or a nasty goblin, though, the AI will drop gold coins/green emeralds for you to pick up. Overall, the controls were very responsive which was great to see. Not many first-person phone games have great controls, in my opinion.
The visuals, meanwhile, looked good for being a mobile game (it was played on an iPhone X). But what I thought was cool that it can be played in portrait mode, although you do lose some of the in-game visuals by doing so. In general, I was pleasantly surprised by how fun this demo was. (This free-to-play game is scheduled for this year, unless noted, and will be playable for iOS and Android devices.)
Once I left the Los Angeles Convention Center in the late afternoon, I decided to check out the Xbox Experience, which was being held inside the Microsoft Theater. The games being played there was Forza Horizon 4, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and The Division 2. The Xbox store was also inside the Microsoft Theater, but my focus was on the games, particularly one that was being developed by EA DICE.
The Battlefield V E3 demo had the new “Grand Operations” mode available to try out, which caught my attention right away. It has that battle royale feel to it, while the mode itself allows up to sixty-four players to survive an attack against any faction, but for a certain amount of time. For example, if you lose, your chances of winning go down significantly. Yet if both sides are in a stalemate, this will lead to an all-out ‘day four’ match with gamers only having one life/limited ammo. Basically, it is Battlefield V‘s version of sudden death play!
I played on a huge snow-filled mountain level with three other people, while the rest of the roster consisted of AI players. I played as the Germans, but it does not matter which side you pick, because gamers can use gun turrets and/or tanks. Players can also build a barrier by piling up multiple sandbags all at once; this is the game’s new fortification feature. Of course, I was having fun making a wall.
As for the missions, it is simple: you go to a certain point in order to complete the in-game objectives. But be careful! If you get shot down, your character will bleed out unless a teammate can get to you in time. Speaking of health, there were barely any medics around, which I thought was odd. It’s a war game after all, so, where were they? The mode itself was intense to play, so I do not get it? (I think I only saw four on the battlefield, and my live teammates did not select the class at all.) I also found it easy to leave your teammates behind, due to the size of the map, which made the matches frustrating to play even more.
There were four classes to try out: the medic, recon, support, and the assault. I used the recon class since it had a long-range weapon, yet I found the in-game sniper-rifle to be rather weak in power. I did, however, like jumping off an airplane due to how awesome it looked in the visual arena!
As with every other Battlefield game, you can switch between your primary/secondary weapons by hitting a single button. Overall, I thought “Grand Operations” was fine, but for some reason, I wanted more out of this new game mode. Let’s see how the full game feels when it is out, though. (By the way, the game is scheduled for October 19 for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC).
So, there you have it! As you saw, day two was quite a busy day for me, although day three was no different.
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