Deus Ex: Mankind Divided trailer blast

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It’s no secret that I’m hyped for SquareEnix’s Deus Ex Mankind Divided.

So, while trawling the net tonight, I came across two more Mankind Divided trailers: One showcasing the Dawn Engine that will be used in the game and the technology behind it, and the other which shows the work that went into the Mankind Divided announcement trailer (anyone else think that the dude speaking in the video has a hairstyle and beard that looks sort of like Adam Jensen’s?)

Both are impressive and have hyped me even further.

Enjoy.

Xbox and PlayStation bring the games to E3 2015

Firstly, I guess I’m sitting at two for three when it comes to pre-E3 predictions then, given that my three most anticipated games for E3 2015  were Mass Effect 4, a new Hitman game and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

OK, the Mass Effect reveal didn’t show game play footage but hey, EA has still announced it, as has SquareEnix with the latest game in the Hitman series featuring old baldy, Agent 47. All I need now if for SquareEnix to showcase the new Deus Ex game and I’ll be a happy man.

I was thinking earlier today about how I was going to cover today’s press events from Xbox and Sony: Would I write it up, game by game, announcement by announcement, giving my opinion on everything? Or would I just let the trailers speak for themselves?

I’ve decided that I’ll let the visuals speak for themselves. I’m not going to do these “Xbox/Sony Won E3″ write-ups that inevitably appear after E3’s pre-show events.Frankly, they’re pointless (and I probably did them in the past).

Do you want to know who won? Gamers won, that’s who. Let’s stop this “X won E3!”bullshit. There was plenty there for Xbox gamers, plenty there for PlayStation gamers. Gamers won.

Tomorrow, I believe there is a dedicated PC gaming event so I’ll watch that as I’m sooooo close to plonking down close to $NZ600 on a new nVidia Geforce GTXC970 GPU so I want to see what I can do with it.

I got up at 4.15am to watch the Xbox press event and it had games like Rise of the Tomb Raider, Halo 5 Guardians, a compilation of 30 games from British developer Rare, backward compatibility with Xbox 360 games (I’m guessing it’s some form of emulation where you’ll have to download a digital version of the game, even if you own a disc copy), a rather impressive game from New Zealand development studio Aurora 44 (where are they based? Call me! Lets talk!) called Ashen (which had a real Shadow of the Colossus/Journey feel to it), a game from another Keewee Dean “Rocket” Hall called Ion, a rather impressive demo of Hololens and Minecraft (although, I’m sceptical about Hololens until it’s actually at retail and we can see it in real-world conditions) and a re-mastered version of the original Gears of War, as well as Gears of War 4.

It was a solid showing. I’ve got trailers for some of them below.

Gears of War 4: 

Halo 5 Guardians: 

Ashen: 

Ion: 

Sony

From what I’ve heard about Sony’s press event, it seemed to be full of fan service (I didn’t watch it. I was working) and no doubt wooed the crowd by finally showing The Last Guardian, a game that seems to have been written off as vaporware after around eight years in development.

Among the games Sony announced were: a remake Final Fantasy 7 and that Shenmue 3 was in the works, a new game (not a FPS) from Killzone developer Guerilla Games called Horizon: Zero Dawn, No Mans Sky (which looks fantastic but, if I’m being honest, I still have no idea what you do apart from fly around and discover other planets), a new Hitman game, a game that looks genuinely interesting called Firewatch, Dreams from Little Big Planet developer Media Molecule,  and, not surprisingly, an extended look at Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

The Last Guardian: 

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End: 

Dreams: 

No Man’s Sky: 

Firewatch: 

Hitman: 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you liked from Sony & Microsoft.

Pre-E3 day one: Bethesda brings the Doom, Dishonored & Fallout 4

Bethesda

Bethesda opened up its pre-E3 press event today, revealing the new Doom and, if I’m being honest, I was shocked by the gore on show.

I’ve played the Doom games (I played the original Doom on my father’s 486-power PC when I was a teenager) so know about the Over The Top violence, but the graphic nature of the new Doom, thanks to the realism a new generation of hardware can provide, took me somewhat by surprise. Maybe I’ve reached Over The Top Violence critical mass?

Maybe I’m getting old, but part of me wondered whether the gore was entirely necessary. Look, I’m not shocked by violence in movies or games if it’s central to the narrative but part of me saw the gruesome nature of Doom’s violence as perhaps fuel for anti-video game advocates to further have a go at our pastime. Clearly, the new Doom will be R-rated..

Doom is out in November for Xbox One, PC and PlayStation 4.

Bethesda also announced Dishonored 2, the follow-up to Arkane Studio’s great FPS game where you played an assassin in a steam-punk inspired London. This time, players will be able to play as either master assassin Corvo Attano or Emily Kaldwin, the daughter of the murdered Empress from the first Dishonored.

No release date was given for the game, which leads me to believe that it won’t be out till next year some time.

The biggest announcement, not surprisingly, was saved till last (although, it wasn’t a surprise: Fallout 4 was teased last week in a short trailer), with Bethesda’s Todd Howard taking the stage to reveal more details about the game. Here are some of them:

  • The character customisation is freshly unique in that players can change facial features on the fly , while looking at themselves in a bathroom mirror  – and you can play as a woman, which is a big step up from the normally male-dominated lead game roles. Hopefully more developers will follow Bethesda’s lead and give players the option to play as their preferred gender.
  • You’ll have a canine companion that you can issue commands to. Bethesda’s trailer show the video game dog staple, the German Shepard dog as your companion but tongue in cheek here, why can’t they have a dog like a Samoyed (like I have) for a chance? Although, I’m sure a Samoyed would lick an enemy first then flop on them, smothering them to death. That’s what my fluffy Samoyed would do.
  • There will be a Pip Boy Collector’s Edition which features a replica Pip Boy that you slot a smart phone into. There’s also a working Pip Boy app (iOS & Android) that is a working Pip Boy interface.
  • Fallout 4 is highly customisable where players can scavenge parts from the game world and use them to make new settlements, weapons and new structures. There’s also an iOS game Fallout Shelter that’s out now. It looks quite cute. I’ve already downloaded it and might play it tonight. No word on whether it’s coming for Android.

Fallout 4 is due out on November 10. Looks like November will be a busy month.

Quote of the show: “As far as stupid gimmicks go, this is the best fucking one I have seen.” Todd Howard, from Bethesda,  after revealing the Fallout 4 Pip Boy Collector’s Edition.

Xbox has it’s pre-show press event tomorrow morning (4.30am NZ time). If I get up, I’ll watch it. If I don’t, I’ll watch it later in the day.

My most anticipated games for E3 2015

Ten years ago this month, I went to my very first E3 gaming convention.

It was 2005, and I’d managed to convince my bosses at the metropolitan newspaper that I worked at in Christchurch, New Zealand, that  video games were a big thing and if the company was serious about keeping up with trends it needed to send me to E3, the huge three-day gaming show in Los Angeles.

It worked and after a few months of planning I jetted off to what would end up being a memorable experience, perhaps not so much for the games – I can’t actually remember much from that show – but for the memories:

  • Catching a taxi from the hotel I was staying at – The Standard in Hollywood (which was really quite average actually but one afternoon I saw actor Forrest  Whittaker milling about the lobby)  – with Alex Garden, the founder of Relic Entertainment. I didn’t realise it was him until he handed me his business card.
  • The incredibly sore feet after three days of running from hall to hall after realising that I should have left more time between appointments.
  • Seeing the game Stubbs the Zombie in action at a hotel near the LA Convention centre.
  • Chatting to Peter Molyneux and being swept away by his enthusiasm for the industry (it was to be the first of three interviews I did with him over the years).
  • Walking what seems like miles with James Burnett from Gameplanet in 2010 after we just decided to walk from Hollywood to somewhere. I can’t remember where we were going but a shop assistant was flabbergasted that we were contemplating walking rather than taking a taxi.

I ended up going to E3 two more times: In 2009, once again as correspondent for Fairfax NZ and The Press,  and in 2010 as part of the team for NZ gaming website Gameplanet, and each time I have fond memories of what happened and what I did probably more than the games.

Looking back on my trips to E3, part of me misses the noise, the buzz, the flash, but mostly I don’t. It’s a lot of hard work, especially if it’s just you, and frankly, a lot of the games on show are in a state that is quite different from the finished product. Besides, I’m too old to attend major gaming shows now.

This year, I don’t have a lot of anticipation for many games at E3 and I don’t know how really relevant it is any more, given that leaks are common place and one of this year’s major games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is already out.

Maybe I’m cynical, but I think that the gaming industry is in some sort of stagnation at the moment where re-masters are all the rage and the easy option for publishers.

That said, there are probably three games that I’m particularly keen to learn more about (and one that I hope will be announced). Here they are, in precise, particular order in terms of most anticipated.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (Eidos)

What: Mankind Divided is the sequel (of sorts) to 2011’s DX Human Revolution, an action/stealth/RPG game set in a cyberpunk universe where human cybernetic implants and augmentations are all the rage. Set two years after Human Revolution, Mankind  Divided sees the return of gruff-voiced hero Adam Jensen.

Why: You’ve seen the latest trailer, right? Man, that captured my attention right away. How could you not be impressed by it? Deus  Ex Human Revolution is still one of my most loved games in the DX  series: I just love that cyberpunk setting, despite the game’s bosses being complete arseholes to defeat before they patched the game (it was later revealed that the boss battles were outsourced to another studio), and I loved that you could play it all guns blazing or creeping in the shadows, remaining unseen. I liked it so much I bought it on PC when it was on sale during a Steam sale. I have high hopes for this game.

Likelihood: It’s already been confirmed. We just need to see it in action

Mass Effect 4 (Bioware)

What: This game hasn’t been confirmed or officially announced (I don’t think) so this one is pure conjecture on my part, but [hopefully] Mass Effect 4 will be the sequel to one of the best series in the last  gaming generation, pitting the male/female Commander Shepard against a domination hungry race called the Reapers.

Why: I loved my time with Mass Effect 1 through to 3 [although, I must confess I didn’t actually have the stamina to finish ME1] and ME3 had some genuine contemplative moments where the fate of characters you’d interacted with for three games depended on your decisions. The ending [s] of Mass Effect 3 had gamers up in arms because it didn’t gel with decisions that they’d made but I didn’t have a problem with it. Rumours circulating the web indicate that ME4 will move away from the Shepard story arc, which will be welcome, but I really  hope ME4 tells us what happened to the Reapers.

Likelihood: Possibly but nothing has been confirmed. It would be nice, though.

[And one totally out of left field] A new Hitman game

What: The Hitman games are the ultimate for fans wanting to pretend they are an elite assassin. Featuring the bald-headed Agent 47, the Hitman games are well known  for giving gamers the ability to complete missions in a number of ways, using the environment to take out a target.

Why: I love Agent 47. He’s one of my most favourite game characters and while Hitman Absolution had flaws, I still played it  through to the end There are rumours that developer IO Interactive are planning a new Hitman game sometime this year [or announce one] so my anticipation levels are high for this one.

Likelihood: Nothing has been confirmed that it will be shown – yet – but IO Interactive have hinted that it’s working on a new game. I have high hopes.

While I was writing this I thought to myself “Oh, there will probably be more games as I watch the press conferences that I’m interested in” (I’m mildly interested in Fallout 4, but I didn’t like the previous games) but these are one that I’m really, really excited about and two that I hope happen.

Tell me what you’re most anticipated about from E3 this year.

Get to grips with The Witcher 3’s card game Gwent

I have to admit that Gwent, the optional card game that is rife around the world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, confuses the hell out of me. Perhaps it’s because most card games in general confuse me but getting to grips with the game is crucial if you want to play it as you travel the game world.

If I’m honest, the in-game tutorial is not the best in helping you get to grips with the game so developer CD Projekt Red has provided a handy 12-minute video tutorial on how to up your Gwent skills and start winning.

Good luck.

 

Watch The Witcher 3 running on my Geforce 660Ti

OK, so I last night I used nVidia’s Shadowplay video capturing software to record just under 10 minutes of game play from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I just wanted to show you how the game looked on what is considered the minimum specced GPU for the game.

As I said yesterday, I’m running the game on what I  consider to be an ageing GPU: A Geforce GTX660Ti but it seems to handle the game OK.

Every thing is set to medium and I have locked the frame rate to 30FPS so I can ensure a consistent  experience. Things look nicer on medium settings than on low, especially the grass and other foliage. It’s just a pretty game, to be honest.

Sadly, I forgot to activate the FPS counter while I was playing so can’t see what the  frame rates were doing but everything seemed smooth and very much playable. There was no combat so I can’t see what happens during heavy combat but if I get the chance over the next day or so (work commitments dependent) I’ll record some more footage with the FPS counter running.

Any questions, post a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer. Thanks for watching.

Well, well, my Geforce GTX can make The Witcher 3 look good!

While my PS4 copy of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hasn’t materialised yet (it was mailed out on May 15, apparently), I was lucky enough to get a PC code from the game’s distributor in Australasia (clearly my annoying him with emails worked).

I’m nowhere near a review yet – nor impressions – but I thought I’d post some screen shots taken using Fraps. My PC is has the CPU grunt – it’s running an Intel i7 – but only meets the minimum for GPU: An nVidia Geforce 660Ti.

I was expecting it to struggle but, frankly, it hasn’t, posting frame rates in the high 50s on low settings and the mid to high 40 frames per second on medium settings. Imagine what a more recent GPU will do!

In the meantime, feast on these images (low graphics settings) and I’ll post more impressions as the days follow.

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The Witcher 3: Monsters!

I’m excited about The Witcher 3. I’ve even pre-ordered the game from nzgameshop.com – that’s how excited I am for this.

May 19  can’t come soon enough but to help pass the time here’s another developer diary from CD Projekt Red.

This one’s about the monsters in the game and how the developer wants them to be as believable as possible (believable as monsters can be) and not be impossible things that can defy the laws of physics.

Enjoy.

State of Decay Year One Survival edition: Still rough around the edges but fun

 

It seems the video game industry has a fascination with the Remaster, a phenomenon where games that were released on last gen hardware are given a spit and polish and released on current gen hardware.

Resource management: In State of Decay, it's not just about smashing zombies. It's also about managing your scarce resources.
Resource management: In State of Decay, it’s not just about smashing zombies. It’s also about managing your scarce resources.

One of the latest to receive the Remaster treatment is State of Decay, a game that originally released on the Xbox 360 (and later Windows PC), and while it still has the game play that made the original fun to play I really don’t think it deserved the Remaster treatment.

Set after the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse, State of Decay did things a little differently than just task the player with smashing his or her way through countess hordes of shambling undead to reach objectives in that the player had to lead a band of fellow survivors and consider things like morale and trust, base defences and dwindling resources.

Zombie smashing: OK, there is a lot of zombie killing in State of Decay.
Zombie smashing: OK, there is a lot of zombie killing in State of Decay.

Yes, you can bash an approaching zombie in the face repeatedly with a stick – and you will, often – but you also have to consider that bashing said zombie will make a lot of noise – potentially attracting nearby zombies – so do you want to take that risk?

What I liked about State of Decay was that killing zombies wasn’t the focus. The focus was assessing situations, building defences and collecting resources (food, ammunition, building materials) to help your survival. Players can build bases, defend them then relocate if the current base is overrun by the undead. The game is all about finding other survivors and making things work (or not, depending on the direction you want to go), rather than piling up the bodies.

So, the Xbox One version is just as much fun as the Xbox 360 version for game play, and being a remaster must mean that it’s got all matter of graphical wizardry to herald its appearance on new hardware? Well, not exactly, and if I’m being honest, while the graphics might have received a bit of a tart up, I actually thought I was playing the Xbox 360 version at times. It suffers from low resolution texture, and even has some of the original game’s technical issues, like constant clipping and weird AI quirks of NPCs. One chap was so keen to descend the ladder that I was descending that he passed right through me!

And that surprised me because for most Remasters, the power of new hardware promising shiny eye-popping resolutions is the draw card but for State of Decay that doesn’t seem to be the case, despite apparently now outputting at 1080p. Yes, yes, it also has new Achievements and supports the Xbox One’s game DVR function but still I expect more from a game labelled a Remaster.

This new version does have bundled DLC, new weapons and some other stuff, but ultimately, it’s not enough to warrant a repurchase if you’ve played the game before,, despite it being fun.

Make no mistake, State of Decay Year One Survival Edition is a lot of fun, but it’s not worth an upgrade for those who have already played it before. It’s a Remaster that wasn’t needed and if you already own it on Xbox 360, fire up that console and play it on that instead.

State of Decay Year One Survival Edition’s target audience is players who haven’t played State of Decay at all. Those are the people who will be attracted to the game, keen to play a different take to the zombie genre where the focus is survival, resource management and the tough decisions that go with that rather than piling up the bodies.

Game of Throne’s Tywin Lannister is in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

British actor Charles Dance will be known to many people these days as the man who plays Tywin Lannister in the rather wonderful Game of Thrones TV series but he has branched out and lent his rather remarkable voice to CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Voicing Emhyr Var Emreis, the emperor of Nilfgaard and one of The Witcher 3’s most formidable characters, Dance admits that this is the first time he’s been involved in a video game and he found it “quite exciting, actually”.

In the latest hype blast on the game, Dance says that the rise in popularity of fantasy [as a genre] was quite extraordinary and was no longer the realm of “children’s entertainment … the whole thing now appeals to quite discerning adults”.

I’m seriously starting to regret cancelling my pre-order of the game’s collector’s edition now: The game is looking superb.

I think I’d better start saving some pennies so I can pick it up when it’s out next month.