Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Looking Forward to E3 2016

I'd just like to start this list by saying I'm writing it because I don't want to break tradition, but this has to be the worst year for E3 speculation and anticipation in a long while. I initially started to get into the hype, as per usual, but that was short-lived. The big three companies - Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft - have been pretty good to quell any sort of backlash or anger by fans who might be anticipating games or news that won't be forthcoming at this year's expo. As a result, there is a definite lack of wild expectation surrounding the event, which in my opinion is half the fun!

The long and short of it is that Sony and Microsoft will probably announce new "slim" versions of their current consoles for a lower price point as well as more powerful versions, which will support virtual reality attachments. Hopefully they have some new game announcements, but for the most part it looks like they'll give updated information on games they've already announced. Nintendo is not showing their new console, codenamed NX, and is only showing a handful of games that we already knew about. It doesn't leave a lot to write about!

Here are a few games that I'm excited to hear news about at this year's expo. A lot of them were already announced and some were teased at the last E3, but will most likely feature prominently this year, as well.

5. ReCore

Keiji Inafune isn't very popular with gamers these days. After several delays surrounding his Mega Man-inspired Mighty No. 9 and a few suspect Kickstarter campaigns, most fans are speaking his name with much disdain at the moment.

That said, I think just about anyone who saw the teaser for ReCore at last year's E3 are still looking forward to the game. In development by Inafune's Comcept and Armature Studios - a company created by Retro Studios alumni - the game is being developed for Xbox One and looks very promising.

From last year's E3 teaser, the game appears to be a 3D puzzle platformer. The protagonist, a unnamed female character, uses weapons and a grappling hook to pull "cores" out of robot enemies, either destroying or de-powering them. She is accompanied by a robotic dog and, from what the teaser trailer suggests, you can pull the core out of the dog and place it in other robot bodies, which can then be controlled.

The graphics and style of the trailer, coupled with what appears to be interesting gameplay, make me excited to see more of ReCore at E3 this year. Really, all we've seen is a video and no real gameplay at this point.

Inafune is producing the game, while Armature - reponsible for games like Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (as Retro Studios), and the upcoming Vita and Wii U ports of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - will be developing the game. It looks like a refreshing title in a world of bland first person shooters and will hopefully garner lots of positive attention at this years show.

4. Final Fantasy VII Remake

There certainly hasn't been a real lack of news surrounding Square Enix's remake of what is considered their most popular game of all time, Final Fantasy VII. The game was initially teased at last year's E3 and since then there's been a trickling of news; some gameplay was shown at the 2015 Playstation Experience and the announcement that the game will be released episodically. That said, there still isn't that much information out there for the remake and E3 is a great time to remedy that.

This is a game that most gamers are absolutely clamouring for and it would be in Square Enix and Sony's best interests to show off - at the very least - some more gameplay and another trailer for the game. I think a release date of the first episode, a price point, and some idea of how much content these episodes will contain should be released at E3. That said, Square Enix is usually quite tight-lipped with details like this and they also take their sweet time with development, as evidenced by FFXV, which has been officially in development since 2006.

One can only hope that the episodic release schedule will result in a quick turnaround for the FFVII Remake, which officially went into development in 2014, and that there will be news that 2017 will be the release year for this hotly anticipated title.

3. Hideo Kojima's New Game

Kojima's had a rocky few months. Whatever went on behind the scenes is up to anyone's imagination, but something occurred in Konami that resulted in them unceremoniously firing Kojima at around the same time as the company was releasing his newest hit chapter in the Metal Gear series, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

As a result, Kojima briefly disbanded his development studio, Kojima Productions, and then reopened the company as an independent studio after the dust settled on the Konami situation.

Since then, Kojima has done little else but reveal the mascot for his new company, a character called Ludens, who appears to be some sort of space frontiersman. This is inline with Kojima Productions' new motto, "arming the new world with the latest technology and pioneering spirit".

Kojima was seen touring several different production and hardware studios with Mark Cerny, a consultant who is heavily embedded in the Sony PlayStation 4, and recently announced that he would be developing a new game exclusively for the console. Other than that, we know nothing.

Where Kojima has ramped up advertising his new company in the past few weeks I think that the hype for his new project is at an all-time high and E3 would be a great time to at least tease whatever Kojima Productions has in store. Described by Kojima as a game that fans of Uncharted would enjoy, it's sure to be a hit and a hotly anticipated title at next year's E3, as well.

2. Tokyo RPG Factory's Next Game

You might not be familiar with Tokyo RPG Factory. They only have one game to their credit, thus far, and it hasn't even been released in North America yet.

I Am Setsuna is the first title by Tokyo RPG Factory and it looks absolutely amazing. The company was created by Square Enix to produce games that have the old look and feel of SNES and PlayStation RPGs. I Am Setsuna was specifically modeled after Chrono Trigger and uses all the hallmarks of an RPG from that era; a top-down perspective, Active Time Battle System, and a playtime that matches games released on the SNES. It will be released in North America this July for the PS4 and PC and I can't wait to play it.

What I want to know at this year's E3 is what else Tokyo RPG Factory is up to! I Am Setsuna just released in February in Japan, but with the game fully localized and already garnering a lot of positive press, what else could be on their radar?

The idea of creating a studio that makes this style of games speaks to me. This is the stuff I want to play. Modern remakes of classic titles are cool and all, but I'm much happier playing new titles that act and play like the games I loved as a kid. If I Am Setsuna is the measuring stick of what Tokyo RPG Factory is going to develop then I'm in high hopes that they'll announce a new title at E3 and that it will hopefully use another great title from Square Enix's back catalogue - say Final Fantasy VI - as it's template.

1. The Legend of Zelda

As I previously mentioned, Nintendo has been very transparent with what they are going to show at this year's E3... which isn't much. In a statement released a few weeks ago, they made it clear that their newest console, codenamed Nintendo NX, would be released in March of 2017 and would not be shown at E3. They also announced that there would be no Nintendo Direct accompanying the event and that the crux of their show would be gameplay stations for the newest Legend of Zelda title, which will simultaneously release on the Wii U and the NX.

This news certainly ruffled some feathers with most gamers, but was probably a good call if Nintendo decided they weren't ready to show their newest console. I won't get into all that, but the one positive here is that they will finally be showing off gameplay for the next game in the LoZ series.

We've seen some live gameplay for the title already last year, but it was just Link riding a horse in a lush green environment. We still know little about the game, except for a few crumbs that the game's director, Eiji Aonuma, has dropped here and there.

The game will feature an open-world environment, which will be entirely new for the series. It was explored to some extent in A Link Between Worlds on the 3DS, but it's expected this game will take the idea to an all-new level. There is also speculation that Nintendo may allow players, for the first time, to choose between a male or female Link, but this is all rumour and conjecture as I'm writing this.

The game has had several delays so far, initially aiming for a 2015 release date, and some positive press along with actual gameplay is going to go a long way to help with Nintendo's press as of late.

All that business stuff aside, ever since I played Ocarina of Time back in '98 I've been a follower of this series and the videos that Nintendo has released thus far have left me highly anticipating any and all news surrounding the newest game in this storied franchise.