E3 ROUND TA­BLE

One day, eight of the world's sex­i­est, most charis­matic game crit­ics sat down to talk shop about E3 2014. This is their tale...

Hyper - - CONTENTS -

Four E3 at­ten­dees and four home­bod­ies dis­cuss the world's most fa­mous games show

Wilks: So E3 has come and gone. To my mind this year’s show was much more im­pres­sive than last year’s, de­spite 2013 fea­tur­ing the con­sole launch an­nounce­ments, a thing that should have cre­ated much more ex­cite­ment than I think it did. The prob­lem was the lack of games. Con­soles were an­nounced, but there was lit­tle of in­ter­est be­ing cre­ated for them. This year’s E3 fea­tured the first real crop of in­ter­est­ing XBone, PS4 and Wii U games.

Rather than sim­ply run­ning a bunch of pre­views, I thought we might lead our E3 cov­er­age for 2014 with a round ta­ble dis­cus­sion of the show. What we liked, didn’t like, what stood out to us as the games of the show and what we wish was brushed un­der the car­pet. To that end, I’ve in­vited our E3 at­ten­dees, James O’Con­nor, Heidi Kemps, Si­mon Parkin and Andrew White­head to share their opin­ions, as well as those of us who stayed home this year and par­tic­i­pated on­line – Dan Staines, Joab Gil­roy, Dave Koz­icki and my­self - to share their thoughts on the event. Let’s see what hap­pens, shall we?

The best place to start, I think, would be to get a brief over­view of the E3 ex­pe­ri­ences of our at­ten­dees and a gen­eral first hand im­pres­sion of the show. Who wants to start? HEIDI: I’ll start in my usual cyn­i­cal fash­ion by point­ing out what wasn’t at E3: Por­ta­ble sys­tems. No­tice how much the Vita was men­tioned at the Sony press con­fer­ence? Of course you didn’t, be­cause it wasn’t. 3DS al­ways has good stuff com­ing, but out­side of Nin­tendo’s booth very few 3DS ti­tles were ac­tu­ally be­ing promi­nently show­cased. These plat­forms tend to be where the sorts of games I en­joy flour­ish, so I was pretty bummed by this.

On the other hand, in­die games are gain­ing more and more pres­ence. Sony and MS had ded­i­cated in­die sec­tions, there was a mas­sive Indiecade booth, and in­die-heavy pub­lisher De­volver had their own lit­tle lot – a lot which, in pre­vi­ous years, had played host to the likes of com­pa­nies like 3D Realms. The times are truly chang­ing. PARKIN: For me, the ac­tual ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing on the show floor at E3 is al­ways sim­i­lar: the gar­gan­tuan booths, the flash­ing lights, the riot of noise press­ing in from all di­rec­tions, the heav­ing, aro­matic crowd. There’s a lot of pre­sen­ta­tional, mar­ket­ing stuff you have to get past be­fore you can get close to the games, and, once you do, it’s far from the ideal set­ting in which to play them. That was no dif­fer­ent this year. E3 feels anachro­nis­tic in that way, like a hang­over from the 1990s – bawdy, os­ten­ta­tious, slightly in­ef­fec­tual.

The press con­fer­ences prob­a­bly of­fered the strong­est over­view and per­spec­tive of the var­i­ous pub­lish­ers. Mi­crosoft’s re­newed fo­cus on games af­ter last year’s mixed mes­sag­ing was clear. Sony’s lin­ger­ing con­fer­ence had stand­out mo­ments (No Man’s Sky continues to be­wil­der with its am­bi­tion) too, as well as a rare seg­ment of gen­uine warmth and re­flec­tion by way of some fan letters bear­ing tes­ta­ment to people’s love of PlayS­ta­tion across the years that were pro­jected on screen. As has been the case for the past cou­ple of years, non-E3 at­ten­dees had the best ex­pe­ri­ence in terms of see­ing Nin­tendo’s show­ing via the com­pany’s in­ter­net-based pre­sen­ta­tions. Spla­toon was prob­a­bly the most ex­cit­ing game of the show, and the way in which Nin­tendo put the team in front of the cam­era, talk­ing about their process was qui­etly en­light­en­ing, and felt a far cry from the usual blus­ter and noise of these re­veals. It demon­strated the com­pany’s care for and pri­or­ity of for craft. In a sense, Nin­tendo’s ap­proach, at least in terms of its ‘use’ of E3 as a com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool, feels the most con­tem­po­rary and rel­e­vant. JAMEs: This was my first E3, and one thing that re­ally struck me was that ac­tu­ally be­ing there, in some ways, gave me less of an over­view of what was be­ing shown and an­nounced than I might have been privy to if I’d mon­i­tored it from home. The ob­vi­ous trade-off is that be­ing there lets you go hands-on with a lot of the big ti­tles, and in­ter­view the folks be­hind them, but for in­stance I saw EA’s press con­fer­ence in a restau­rant with the vol­ume muted while I ate my lunch and only man­aged to catch up on what was shown by Sony through word of mouth over the next few days.

As a first-time at­tendee I don’t know if I can re­ally say how good or bad an E3 it was com­pared to pre­vi­ous years, but I cer­tainly saw and played a lot of games that I’m highly an­tic­i­pat­ing. I was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed at how Nin­tendo just sort of got down to busi­ness with the Wii U, an­nounc­ing new ti­tles, giv­ing us new rea­sons to be ex­cited about Smash Bros, and stream­ing out so much con­tent and in­for­ma­tion through the Nin­tendo Tree­house. You wouldn’t know from look­ing at their space on the floor that they’re strug­gling. STAINES: So how about that new Zelda, though? Are we ex­cited about that? I didn’t go to show so I can’t speak for how it was re­ceived on the floor, but from here it seemed like pretty big news. I was hop­ing for a new Metroid – prefer­ably side-scrolling, prefer­ably on 3DS – but open-world Hyrule is good too, right? WHITE­HEAD: I felt that Nin­tendo won the show in many ways, but then again it's make or break for them so they were al­ways go­ing to try harder. They use E3 bet­ter than most com­pa­nies by en­gag­ing fans di­rectly on­line bet­ter than Sony or Mi­crosoft or any of the pub­lish­ers. I mean be­hind closed doors demos are great when you're at the show, but Nin­tendo re­veal their hand to the crowd a lot more. They have this way of mak­ing Nin­tendo feel like a club­house for gamers and they want you ev­ery­one to join them. I know ev­ery­one streams on­line but I feel that Nin­tendo make it seem more in­clu­sive by for­go­ing a lot of the ex­cess the other two seem to rely on. As for the forth­com­ing Zelda on Wii U, I live in hope. Sky­ward Sword was a flawed game but I still re­ally en­joyed it, A Link Be­tween Worlds was in­cred­i­ble and prob­a­bly my sec­ond or third favourite game in the se­ries, so if they con­tinue this up­ward trend the new game should be bril­liant. I mean it couldn't be any worse than Twi­light Princess. Hon­estly los­ing so much mar­ket share has been one of the best things to hap­pen to Nin­tendo. It feels like there's more fight in the old dog now and they're lis­ten­ing to what their au­di­ence wants. I do wish the 3DS had more of a pres­ence at the show, but re­ally it's the Wii U that needed to prove it­self here. And prove it­self it did. GIL­ROY: I'm sur­prised at the sup­port Nin­tendo is get­ting from folks at the show. What did we see – a bunch of

spin-offs and spin-off sequels, a new Zelda game clearly not demo'd via "in-game footage", and no sig­nif­i­cant third party re­lease an­nounce­ments. Maybe that only serves to show just how dire things have got­ten for Nin­tendo.

Watch­ing the show from home was a fun spec­ta­cle, es­pe­cially af­ter be­ing on the ground the pre­vi­ous four years. Thanks to the streams and pub­lisher YouTube ac­counts it was ex­cep­tion­ally easy to catch up on all the an­nounce­ments, and I never felt like I was miss­ing out dur­ing any of the con­fer­ences. With that said how­ever, I thought Sony's In­die game show­case was good but not be­ing there meant I didn't get a chance to spend time search­ing through those be­ing shown out­side of the con­fer­ence – in pre­vi­ous years I found many med­i­ta­tive mo­ments at IndieCade. KOZ­ICKI: It stuns me that I have to agree with Joab ‘Gob’ Gil­roy, given our well doc­u­mented ad­ver­sar­ial re­la­tion­ship, but Nin­tendo’s show­ing elicited a mas­sive ‘meh’ in re­sponse. It’s the same old deal, same half a dozen iconic char­ac­ters with an­other num­ber, HD re­make or rein­ven­tion added to the mix. Yawn. Much like Heidi, I was also dis­ap­pointed at the lack of por­ta­ble love. The PS Vita is a bril­liant bit of kit, I just wish there were more/any games com­ing for it, other than ports or re­mote play op­tions.

I thought the Franken-games stood out, ti­tles which may not rein­vent the wheel, but are an amal­ga­ma­tion of tried and tested me­chan­ics. I don’t think I’ve looked for­ward to a re­lease as much as Des­tiny for quite some time and it continues to im­press. Dat light­ing, Je­sus! Mid­dle-Earth: Shadow of Mor­dor feels like all the best el­e­ments of As­sas­sin’s Creed and the Bat­man Arkham fran­chises mashed to­gether and I’m re­ally dig­ging the strate­gic an­gles you can take as you build your orc army. Then there’s Bat­man: Arkham Knight, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (which I’ll leave for Wilks to fap over) and The Di­vi­sion which all gave

my gam­ing boner a boner. This year’s E3 was all about the third-per­son sand­boxes for me. STAINES: Dude, don’t un­der­es­ti­mate Nin­tendo’s “rein­ven­tions” – Su­per Mario 64, Metroid Prime, and Mario Galaxy are rein­ven­tions too. Su­per Mario 3D World is a rein­ven­tion of a rein­ven­tion of a rein­ven­tion and is still far and away the best game on Wii U. And the thing with Zelda par­tic­u­larly is that each it­er­a­tion’s take on Hyrule is so vis­ually/the­mat­i­cally dis­tinct that it doesn’t (for me, at least) feel rep­e­ti­tious or gra­tu­itous. At least not lately.

That said, I give pre­cisely zero shits about the new Smash Bros. Af­ter get­ting un­rea­son­ably ex­cited about Brawl and then be­ing mas­sively dis­ap­pointed in same, I’m re­luc­tant to give the se­ries an­other shot. If Saku­rai wants me back, he’s go­ing to have to do bet­ter than Pac-Man and Wii Fit Trainer. WILKS: As many people know, I have never re­ally been able to get into a Zelda game aside from Wind Waker, so the prospect of a new Zelda game re­ally did noth­ing for me, but I def­i­nitely agree that Nin­tendo did much bet­ter this year than they did last. Ev­ery­one did. I was lucky enough not to at­tend this year (and be­fore any­one com­ments about priv­i­lege and the like, I would like to point out how god­damn ex­haust­ing E3 is) but I did my due dili­gence ev­ery day watch­ing live feeds, read­ing re­ports and the like. I ex­pected last year’s show, with the new con­soles and all to show off some games, but that never re­ally hap­pened. This year it seems as though ev­ery­body re­alised last year’s mis­take and showed off a bumper crop of games. As al­ways, The Witcher stood out to me, but there were a num­ber of other games that got me ex­tremely ex­cited. The Di­vi­sion looks amaz­ing, de­spite the hammy, to­tally un­nec­es­sar­ily scripted con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the play­ers. The new Smash Bros. looks awe­some too. I have very high hopes for Sun­set Over­drive. And a num­ber of the indies. So then, E3 at­ten­dees, what stood out to you as be­ing par­tic­u­larly good? HEIDI: It’s pretty hard to avoid the hype for Su­per Smash Bros. I went to the In­vi­ta­tional tour­na­ment Nin­tendo was hold­ing for a bit, and the at­mos­phere was elec­tric. Hun­dreds of fans get­ting in­cred­i­bly ex­cited to see skilled play­ers en­ter com­pe­ti­tion for the first time was quite an ex­pe­ri­ence that was very easy to get swept up in. Helps that the game’s loads of fun, too! Though I must say, play­ing on the 3DS con­trol lay­out af­ter years of the GameCube pad just plays… weird.

On the in­die front, there were a lot of very cool up­com­ing re­leases. Ti­tan Souls, Nova-111, and Coun­ter­spy were per­sonal fa­vorites, but there was so much qual­ity com­ing from this side of the in­dus­try that it’s tough to pick out just a hand­ful of promis­ing ti­tles. For­tu­nately, Wilks gave me an en­tire sec­tion to do just that, so have a read, will you?

Lack of info on Per­sona 5 was a dis­ap­point­ment, but see­ing that Xenoblade Chron­i­cles X is a real thing that looks just as fan­tas­tic as the orig­i­nal game made up for it some­what. Oh, and if you like fight­ing games? Mor­tal Kom­bat X got the lion’s share of the press dur­ing the show, but I must say that Guilty Gear Xrd is amaz­ing. So many games have tried to look like playable car­toons, but GGXrd is the first game to re­ally look like anime that you can play. It’s tremen­dous fun to play, too! WHITE­HEAD: As much as it's a safe bet and such a known quan­tity The Witcher 3 still im­pressed me a lot. Graph­i­cally alone the game looks amaz­ing but the world just felt alive and re­ac­tive to Ger­alt and his (or your) choices. The small sam­pling we got of the writ­ing and the over­all nar­ra­tive dur­ing the 45 minute be­hind doors demo ce­mented my be­lief that it's the best writ­ten se­ries in games right now. Cer­tainly in the fan­tasy genre.

My big­gest sur­prise was prob­a­bly Lords of the Fallen. It's very sim­i­lar to Dark Souls in tone and set­ting and it's also a game about learn­ing from your mis­takes and plan­ning ev­ery step you take. But it re­minded me a lit­tle more of Monster Hunter in the way you move and the way you can cus­tomise your load­out. The de­vel­op­ers were very open about their in­flu­ences but were clear they wanted to stand on their own. It's not like there's a glut of su­per dif­fi­cult ac­tion-RPGs on the mar­ket so there's room for one more. PARKIN: Speak­ing of Dark Souls, one stand-out for me was Hide­taki Miyazaki’s Blood­borne, which is be­ing pub­lished by Sony for PlayS­ta­tion 4. The Gothic

aes­thetic is dif­fer­ent to Dark Souls’ knights and bur­nished ar­mour ap­proach, but the DNA is sim­i­lar. The use of firearms in com­bat along­side melee weapons ap­peared to al­low for a great deal of player ex­pres­sion, and it was un­doubt­edly one of the best­look­ing games I saw at the show.

At the block­buster end of the scale, I was im­pressed with Sledge­ham­mer’s at­tempt to re­vi­talise Call of Duty. It’s pretty un­fash­ion­able to be ex­cited about that se­ries right now (af­ter so many an­nual up­dates the en­nui has un­der­stand­ably set in) but the stu­dio’s ap­proach feels vi­brant and in­ter­est­ing. Like­wise, Bungie’s $500 mil­lion MMO-shooter Des­tiny seems like a strong at­tempt to add some fresh­ness and ur­gency to the medium’s still­dom­i­nant genre.

In terms of in­die ti­tles, Ti­tan Souls was the most won­der­ful game I played at the show, a 16bit style, top-down pa­rade of ex­cite­ment, in which you take on a se­ries of hulk­ing boss bat­tles, each one with a Zelda-es­que puzzle com­po­nent. The game is sup­pos­edly due for re­lease early next year and it seemed clear to me that it will be a big hit. O’CON­NOR: I went to E3 with­out many book­ings, and with slightly dif­fer­ent pri­or­i­ties (since I was cov­er­ing the event for a hand­ful of kids’ mags as well as Hy­per), so I missed out on a few of the big ac­tion games. I did man­age to get a solid half hour with The Evil Within though, which went from be­ing a game I had ab­so­lutely no in­ter­est in to some­thing I’m ea­gerly an­tic­i­pat­ing. The hor­ror genre has twisted and turned in some in­ter­est­ing di­rec­tions over the years, but not many hor­ror games have man­aged to get their rusty, blood-drenched hooks into me. But The Evil Within felt like a game that ramps up ev­ery­thing I love about Res­i­dent Evil 4, and that’s ex­cit­ing.

I ab­so­lutely loved Smash Bros for Wii U and Spla­toon too. Smash Bros has al­ways been one of the best ex­am­ples of how Nin­tendo likes to play around with their past suc­cesses, while Spla­toon feels like some­thing gen­uinely new. Be­yond that: Fan­ta­sia: Mu­sic Evolved is the best Kinect game since Child of Eden, Hot­line Mi­ami 2 is ex­actly what I wanted it to be, Fa­ble Leg­ends is far, far bet­ter than it looked in Mi­crosoft’s press con­fer­ence, Forza Hori­zon 2 is ex­cit­ing and fun... my cyn­i­cal heart was warmed by how many big ti­tles com­ing over the next two

years ac­tu­ally in­ter­est me. WILKS: Ev­ery­thing I saw of Sun­set Over­drive made me happy, but you in­sisted on piss­ing on my corn­flakes when you got back from LA, James, in­sist­ing that you could write 1000 words of neg­a­tive di­a­tribe about the game. O’CON­NOR: You know I live to sap your enthusiasm and sully your ce­re­als, Wilks. But yes, I haven’t re­ally been sold on Sun­set Over­drive since the be­gin­ning – the whole ‘you’re play­ing a videogame lolololol’ thing sort of ir­ri­tates me – but I wanted to give it a shot any­way, be­cause it looks just a lit­tle bit like Jet Set Ra­dio Fu­ture. I only got to try out the horde mode styled mul­ti­player in the end (and watch ex­tended demos of the sin­gle player, which looks... dull), and I found it lack­ing. The whole free move­ment thing feels a lot more re­stric­tive than it does in other games, in that I found my­self on the ground far more of­ten than I ex­pected, and the weapons, de­spite hav­ing OH-SO-WACKY names, all per­form ex­actly like the stan­dard weapons I’ve fired into bor­ing en­e­mies in a mil­lion other games. The en­e­mies in this game are par­tic­u­larly bland, ac­tu­ally, un­less they’re hid­ing some­thing re­ally cool from us. The frame-rate was stut­tery and de­spite the re­peated em­pha­sis on us need­ing to work to­gether we got by with­out a jot of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. A big ‘eh’ from me. WILKS: Well, I guess this as a good a segue as pos­si­ble into talk­ing about what we thought were the big­gest dis­ap­point­ments and/or the straight up worst things we saw from E3. To mix things up, I think the non at­ten­dees should go first this time. For me I guess the big­gest dis­ap­point­ment was the fact that many of the de­vel­op­ers and dis­trib­u­tors at the show still re­lied on en­tirely CG or bull­shot footage of their up­com­ing games rather than ac­tu­ally show­ing any­thing of worth. As much as I love Mass Ef­fect, and even though I am hugely ex­cited by the prospect of an­other game in the se­ries, the whole “this is some­thing like what an­other Mass Ef­fect game could look like” trailer thing was in my mind a waste of time. All they needed to do was say they were work­ing on an­other game and I think most people would have been just as happy, if not more so. And then there is One Way Trip, a game that looks so de­lib­er­ately aw­ful that it left me speech­less af­ter I saw the trailer. Ev­ery­thing I see of the game strikes me as be­ing one of those strange antigames that come out ev­ery now and then, like Takeshi’s Chal­lenge or Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mir­rors. Imag­ine an ad­ven­ture/ turn based cover shooter in which ev­ery­one looks like the most dread­ful hip­ster douche as viewed through the lens of Tim and Eric. Ac­tu­ally, I just made it sound a lit­tle awe­some. Ig­nore the pos­i­tive things in the last sen­tence. STAINES: Oh man that Mass Ef­fect “trailer” had me yelling ex­ple­tives at my mon­i­tor. Is this what passes for a teaser now – footage of slumped and pal­lid de­vel­op­ers dick­ing around in 3D Max? It re­minds me of that no­to­ri­ous “4 min­utes of dancing lo­gos and gui­tar mu­sic” trailer for Duke Nukem Tril­ogy, which, if you haven't seen it, is to­tally worth look­ing up on YouTube.

Other than that, I don’t think I was ma­jorly dis­ap­pointed with any­thing at this year’s show – mainly be­cause I didn’t have any big ex­pec­ta­tions. Like Heidi men­tioned be­fore, I would have liked to see more por­ta­ble games – sequels to Metal Gear Acid, Fi­nal Fan­tasy Tac­tics, or Mario & Luigi wouldn’t have gone astray – but maybe E3 isn’t such a great venue for por­ta­ble games any­way. GIL­ROY: The bat-tank. You want to know what I was dis­ap­pointed with at E3, watch­ing from home? The god-damned BatHoverTank that Bat­man drives in the Bat­man: Arkham Knight they showed the world has me ut­terly ter­ri­fied. Why the hell is Bat­man driv­ing around, shoot­ing shit with a gi­ant tur­ret mounted gun? "They're EMP blasts, and he's killing ro­bots!"

What next, will all the Mor­tal Kom­bat blood be green as well? I don't give a sin­gle soli­tary shit about their jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for it, out­side of (ad­mit­tedly fre­quently awe­some) one-

shots Bat­man doesn't use a gun, and he hasn't used one for the bet­ter part of a century. Yes the rest of the game looks bloody amaz­ing, and the way Bat­man in­ter­acts with his Tum­bler-es­que Bat­mo­bile in com­bat is bril­liant, but as long as that damn ma­chine has a gun tur­ret there's go­ing to be a part of me that gets an­gry when I see it in ac­tion. KOZ­ICKI: Thanks to ev­ery one of you bas­tards who dumped down their thoughts be­fore me tak­ing the jam out of my donut. This list or­der is horse-shit *flips ta­ble Gil­roy style*. Next year, Wilks, I’m go­ing first so it doesn’t look like I’m the no orig­i­nal ideas man. The worst part of E3, be­sides any­thing with Nin­tendo on it, were the afore­men­tioned (thanks again Wilks) trail­ers talk­ing big, but show­ing noth­ing or CG only. E3 should be all about the game­play re­veal. Sorry BioWare and DICE, but I’m not get­ting a crotch bulge out of know­ing you’re work­ing on a new Mass Ef­fect game or Star Wars Bat­tle­front. Look, here’s a screen­shot of me at my com­puter about to type up my re­views on both. Ex­cit­ing, isn’t it? More to come, stay tuned. ZZZZZ.

The same goes for you Naughty Dog. Wow, Nathan Drake is, like, so old and he’s talk­ing to Sully. Hot damn! Never seen that be­fore in an Un­charted game, right? It doesn’t get me amped for a re­lease ev­ery gamer in the world knew was com­ing (oops spoiler alert), it just ended Sony’s con­fer­ence with one hell of a whim­per and kind of pissed me off a lit­tle. Learn from Ubisoft. Game­play footage or GTFO. Other than that I found the dis­tinct lack of por­ta­ble plat­form love… dis­turb­ing. I’ll be wear­ing a “Save Vita” t-shirt at next year’s E3. HEIDI: My per­sonal dis­ap­point­ment was a lack of in­for­ma­tion on Per­sona 5. Prac­ti­cally noth­ing’s been shown about the game so far, yet it’s set to re­lease in Ja­pan this win­ter. Per­sona was all over the show (on our badges, even!) and since it’s

prob­a­bly The Evil Within the most ac­claimed JRPG fran­chise in the world right now af­ter Fi­nal Fan­tasy’s re­cent stum­bles, E3 would have been a fan­tas­tic place to de­but it. Alas. Also: Sony, your method of teas­ing at the press con­fer­ence? NOT COOL. Don’t men­tion cult clas­sic Vib Rib­bon (which was never re­leased here in the States), leading us to think there’s go­ing to be a re­make or a PSN reis­sue or some­thing… and then very, very tan­gen­tially tie that an­nounce­ment in with show­ing Mor­tal Kom­bat X, of all things. And then teas­ing us at the end with a re­veal when spec­u­la­tion about The Last Guardian has been run­ning high… and then it’s for Un­charted 4. I mean, Un­charted’s fine, but we knew that game was com­ing. Last Guardian has been spec­u­lated by some to not even ex­ist any­more. If it’s still hap­pen­ing, throw us poor saps a bone! At least Mi­crosoft threw us lovers of weird Ja­panese games a bone with Phan­tom Dust. With Blood­borne be­ing a PS4 exclusive, per­haps they can bar­gain From Soft­ware into a XBone exclusive Metal Wolf Chaos re­make. I can dream... PARKIN: In terms of Ja­panese dreams be­ing ful­filled, the re­turn of Peace Walker’s Mother Base to the forth­com­ing Metal Gear Solid: Phan­tom Pain is won­der­ful news. I spent many an hour du­ti­fully (and, I like to think, gen­er­ously) tran­quil­is­ing guards and air­lift­ing their limp bod­ies home in Peace Walker, steadily build­ing a pri­vate army. It’s one of my favourite de­signs any­where in Hideo Ko­jima’s se­ries.

It’s mak­ing a full-throated re­turn here, and it seems to have been ex­panded in in­trigu­ing ways. The abil­ity to air­lift anti-air guns, crates and even ve­hi­cles to your base (an oil rig-like struc­ture in the sea) turns this open world game into a gi­gan­tic scav­enger hunt. Mean­while, the need to spo­rad­i­cally re­turn to base in or­der to pro­tect the haul from at­tack­ers is akin to tower de­fense – some­thing I didn’t ex­pect to ever see in Metal Gear. WHITE­HEAD: I did wish there was more Vita and 3DS news at the show too, but that wasn’t what let me down the most this year. My per­sonal dis­ap­point­ment started when I handed over my Face­book de­tails to EA in a fake po­lice sta­tion so I could play Bat­tle­field Hard­line. Af­ter putting up a ‘to­tally rad­i­cal’ post on my wall about how cool Hard­line is my ac­count was locked due to a ‘hack­ing at­tempt’. Any­way, I was also given a swipe card to activate video dis­plays and what­not in the sta­tion, but not be­fore my mugshot was taken and stored some­where on­line. Usu­ally I re­ally en­joy the ex­cess and spec­ta­cle of E3, but this just reeked of des­per­a­tion.

Any­way af­ter that I jumped into Hard­line in a 12 vs 12 match and found my­self not en­thralled from the start. For­get the fact that the game was set in Down­town LA and yet there’s no signs of life out­side of the two op­pos­ing teams, what bugged me the most was how un-Bat­tle­field the game feels. Ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments can be cool and all, but the map didn’t feel like it had any per­son­al­ity or ver­ti­cal­ity. Just grey walls and of­fice blocks. The ve­hi­cles too felt overly fa­mil­iar – I don’t want to drive a bul­let-rid­dled cop car, I want to strap C4 to a jet and slam it into a tank. O’CON­NOR: One Way Trip was pretty fuck­ing rubbish. Other than that though noth­ing much stood out as be­ing ter­ri­bly dis­ap­point­ing. I sup­pose I would have liked more in­ter­est­ing mo­bile games? Hand­helds were un­der­rep­re­sented in gen­eral, but as the guy who rounds up mo­bile ti­tles for re­view ev­ery month I was hop­ing to see some­thing that ex­cited me. WILKS: So there you have it – some ram­bling and some­times di­ver­gent thoughts on E# 2014. No with­out fur­ther ado, the fol­low­ing pages are filled with some of our favourite games of the show. The games of 2014 and be­yond. En­joy!

Spla­toon

Ti­tan Souls

Nova-111

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