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The RPS Verdict: The Last Days & Best Games Of E3

Definitive judgements on a show from four people who didn't attend said show

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Games, games, games. There were so many of them, and then all of a sudden there were none. None being screeched and broadcast from the LA convention centre, at least. Another E3 is done and dusted, and now we must ruminate upon what we have seen, what we have enjoyed, and what we truly believe. Having already held forth about the initial flurry of big-publisher announcements, Adam, Alec, Alice and Graham now reconvene to celebrate and pick apart what the rest of the enormo-event yielded, and to name their favourite games of the show. Discussed: The Sims, Elite, Rainbow Six, Homefront, GTA V, Dreadnought, Applying For A Mortgage Simulators and even that company that makes videogames about plumbers.

Alec: [arrives late] Sorry, sorry I am here

Alice: Are you free, Mr. Meer? That’s what we need. More Are You Being Served?, less, I don’t know, Have I Got News For You. Because I fear I’m the Ian Hislop.

Graham: I wouldn’t worry. Adam’s the Angus Deayton.

Adam: Well, blow me down

Alec: and Graham’s the Boris Johnson guest panelist

Alice: Hello, burn ward? Yeah, you need to get over to Bath with the biggest bag of ice in THE WORLD ziiiiing perchow kachonk zzzzzap!

Alec: I’m sorry, I’m all out of zing after a day dealing with people who say things like “why stop there why not have a gay Nigerian dyslexic anteater as the lead character in Assassin’s Creed.” Which only sounds like a good thing to me anyway

Alice: Makes u think……

Graham: It’s a slippery slope. If you let the females in, everyone will want to see themselves reflected within our media.

Adam: As a heterosexual white male, I’d feel excluded. I’m also…lexic.

Alec: WHY NOT JUST MAKE EVERYTHING GREY AND FEATURELESS IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT

Adam: lexisexual

Anyway, E3 was quite jolly, wasn’t it? I mean, it’s probably easier to say that from across an ocean and a landmass, but nobody died or anything.

Alec: Aye, that Zelda looks pretty good, eh? Let’s hope Nintendo really do have to abandon the hardware market so that they port it to PC. Because obviously there’s no way several of us are thinking seriously about buying a Wii-U to play it. Obviously. No way. Whatsoever.

Graham: Mario Maker would fit in right at home on PC.

Adam: Remember when Mario and Sonic went to the Olympic games and it was like lions lying with lambs? Gordon Freeman as DLC in Steam Edition Mario Maker 2016. And that’s the next time anyone will see the beardy git as well.

Alec: obviously it’s not our beat at all, but it is lovely to see someone win E3 with colour and enthusiasm rather than decapitations and glowermans. See also: CUPHEAD

Adam: A genuine surprise as well. To me at least. I hadn’t heard any rumblings about it. The usual ‘there must be a new Zelda’ but that was quite the thing.

Alec: I’m also very ready for a new Sims now, though like you I worry this one may over-zany it. But if it can also experiment with new things I am very much onboard.

Adam: I love The Sims, admittedly more for what I wish it would become rather than what it currently is. But it’s a fascinating series. And complaining about the zaniness is all well and good, I do it all the time, but much of that is easily solved by ignoring the much-derided expansions. The base game is usually quite normal

Graham: Did the presentation really end with the player making their sim laugh themselves to death?

Adam: Yes. Because a downloaded Sim was so entertaining. So entertaining that somebody died.

Graham: I quite like a bit of zaniness. I’m all for soap opera, but I quickly get bored of making my friends snog each other. I liked things in The Sims 3 like the graveyard, and the off-screen adventures your sims could have in the crypt below.

Adam: The Sims 3 became…what’s the line – “when everybody is special nobody is special”. Every single person was either a celebrity or a witch or a vampire.

Alec: yeah, where it starts existing beyond the house is where it’s getting the most interesting now

Graham: It can feel a little slow and burdensome to make things happen in the game, as relationships take time to form and careers are a grind to progress through. A lot of the stuff in The Sims 4 seems based around speeding up play; everything easier to design, drama more easy to create.

Adam: Aye. And the building and customisation tools look ruddy lovely.

Alec: I was about to say “they need more everyday human drama that isn’t about sex” then I realised that leads to an Applying For A Mortgage Simulation and that’s the worst thing I can imagine

Adam: Papers Please style minigames.

Graham: Climbing up the game journalist career ladder.

Adam: I bet Sims can become Youtubers now. Click to vlog.

Alec: “click to retire at 19”


Graham: I forget what trailers were released since we last spoke. Grand Theft Auto 5, yes? Running on PS4, but cor it’s pretty. And its Steam listing today reveals that it’ll come with a video editor, akin to that which shipped with GTA 4 on PC. I’m going to lose weeks to that.

Adam: I can’t wait to explore it. I bought it on PS3, day of release, and played for about four hours. Never went back. Combination of finding the missions annoying and realising that I didn’t have time to really dig into the stuff I knew I’d probably enjoy. The online should be incredible. We can form a gang! Although, knowing us lot, we’ll probably end up filling in mortgage applications in GTA as well. RPS – TOO SQUEAMISH TO DO A CRIME

Alice: I’m awfully excited for the Tsunami mod for GTA V PC, myself.

Alec: blimey, I had no idea there were GTA mods for jailbroken PS3s. That is an excellent one too. More game worlds should be flooded for maximum strangeness.

Adam: wow

Alice: Flood de_dust. Drain Wake Island.

Alec: invert Rapture

Graham: Mods are the main reason I’m excited about it coming to PC. GTA 4 had such a great community for that stuff in spite of not having any tools.

Adam:

Alice: A Cold Ice Cream mod, where you don’t pull teeth out with pliers.

Alec: oh oh, that Homefront looks nae bad either – if that “open world City 17” thing can really pay out then it’s good times. I do struggle with the theme though. I still want a Homeland game more, too. “Press X to forget to take anti-psychosis drugs”, “press Y to hide Quran in a shoebox.”

Adam: Holmesland – open world Sherlocking. Press x to deduce.

It’s not new to us but nothing excited me more than Elite: Dangerous. It’s incredible to see what it might be and to enjoy what it already is. And it’s as stunning to look at as any of the big names. Totally outside my usual strategic stomping ground but I don’t think there’s a game I’m more excited about at the moment. It really does feel like the game I thought I’d be playing way back when my computer was still a coal-powered thing, pushing wireframes at 4 frames per second.

Alec: Aye, I’m waiting to get a day clear then I’ll bust out the X52 and it will be glorious. So strange to think back to how cynical about it we, or at least I, were when the kickstarter went up. Yet here we are and it’s just the most exciting thing, and it exists. There are some mighty powerful but unsung, unknown wizards behind the scenes at Frontier, I think, and I hope they get the acclaim for it.

Alice: And then they crowdfound The Outsider.

Adam: The typo (?) stays. Crowdfinding for games that went missing in development.

Alice: I saw a CD-R in a drain over the weekend and wanted so much to dig it out to see what was on it.

On that technothriller-y note, I’m quite taken with Rainbow Six Siege. It’s been yonks since I played a multiplayer FPS regularly, but turning walls into doors and ceilings into skylights is very appealing to me. And then a mod floods every level. They’re in that “maaaaaybe who could say we’re not talking about that yet but whoooo knows?” stage of marketing about co-op. Solid co-op would be splendid.

Adam: Agreed. Did not expect to be at all interested in more Rainbow Six after the Patriots idea. Nice to see a very sensible return to the drawing board after that ‘vision video’ way back when.

Graham: Co-op was my favourite thing about Rainbow Six Vegas and its sequel. The terrorist hunt mode was really fun with two players, crashing through windows for joint assaults and being blown away by hair-trigger enemies.

Alec: Vegas co-op was such a good time. Also really good for watching your mates try to survive after you’d died too – mad Alamo moments crouched behind a door.

Adam: Tell us about how much you love Vegas, Graham. You know you want to.

Graham: What happens in Vegas and Vegas 2 stays in Vegas and Vegas 2. Except the bits that are coming to Siege.That plus a little of the planning stuff from older Rainbow Six games could be really splendid.

Alice: We never saw what happened when you capture that ladyflag, Adam. Perhaps, this time, you can press X to decline a kiss because you’re a professional.

Alec: I just hope they’ve got some damned rainbows in it this time. It doesn’t have to be six of them, I’m not that fussy, but c’mon.

Adam: Save it for Diablo 4.

Alice: Haven’t played a single second of any Rainbow Six game. But I really want to blow up some walls. I was always more Quake than Rainbow Six and so dismissed them as being ‘not my sort of thing.’ A mistake, I understand.

Alec: You’re only allowed to play one of them. It’s the rules.

Graham: That’s why I spent all those years in game jail.

Alice: I was a very thoughtless and territorial teenager.

Alec: we should all hop onto some Vegas some time for training. It’s only £7 on Steam.

Adam: There wasn’t a lot of horror on display (intentionally at least). I want a really strong survival horror game, big budget or not. It’s a troubled genre. But I am glad that we got the Alien: Isolation enemy shootbang reveal as well because it looks proper brillo to me. Love the Shock-style synths and the idea of three-way fighting and fleeing.

Alice: The Evil Within was on show but I haven’t got around to watching it yet. I understand it’s pretty Resident Evil 4-y, which sounds good to me.

Alec: I secretly keep hoping that Capcom take a pop at Bethesda for the use of the word ‘Evil’, just to give ’em a taste of their own scrollsy medicine.

I’m secretly not actually hoping for that, because it would mean someone was trying to own the word ‘evil’. Which would be, well, evil.

Adam: Interest rising. Everything I’ve seen of it looks a bit too much like Todd McFarlane or bits of a heavy metal album sleeve. (Sleeves are what Spotify used to be, kids)

Alec: and sleevies are where Napoleon kept his armies

Adam: There’s some damn good looking sci-fi out there now – Alien, Elite.. even Homefront has a decent style with that City 17 vibe.

Graham: No Man’s Sky. The trailer doesn’t reveal much, but I’m hopeful for that Dreadnought, too.

Alice: Flying a giant slab of metal bristling with guns.

Adam: That Dreadnought trailer is a lot of fun.

In development at Yager, who are also responsible for Dead Island 2. What hopes for that? Did any of you folk get on with the first one?

Graham: Huh, I didn’t know they were doing the Dead Island sequel. I thought the original was awkward, in every possible way. To control, its combat, its crafting, its writing… I know people who had a lot of fun with its co-op though. Its code, its special edition bonuses… Every. Way.

Alec: Well, Yager did Spec Ops which was pretty good. I know everyone says story yes combat bleh, but they forget how damn good the look of the thing was, the amazing near-future Dubai they built.

Adam: Yeah. The design of the place was excellent. I’m interested to see what they do, for sure. And, hey, it’s another bright and colourful game. Full of rotten organs, fair enough, but sun, sea, sand. I didn’t get on with the first one at all but know a lot of people who’ve really enjoyed it in co-op.

Alice: Frustrations in single-player often become novelties in co-op.

Graham: Maybe friends enjoying it in co-op are just what Dead Island tells people so the other kids don’t make fun of it at school.

Alec: “yeah I’ve got a girlfriend too I just haven’t introduced you to her”

Adam: Don’t knock single player. It’s co-op with someone you love.

Alice: People forcing themselves to say they’re enjoying it so they’re all complicit and no one can say “Remember that time you cried at the trailer?”

Alec: Maybe there’s still a chance Dead Island 2 is a game you have to play in reverse slow-motion. They’ll win back all the goodwill then

Adam: I did a little cry at the Valiant Hearts trailer. Or maybe I was crying about being sat in my pants watching a hundred trailers at 9.30am, but it was definitely playing at the time.

Alice: Ori and the Blind Forest is to make us weep to, Microsoft say. It’s pretty at the very least. I’ve already sloshed through this year’s allotted four weepings, though.

Alec: I used to never weep, then I had a kid, and now I catch myself sobbing at the pictures on a childminder’s promotional website.

Adam: If a tree falls in a blind forest do the other trees hear it because their non-auditory senses have become more finely attuned? No, of course not, trees don’t have ears. Ignore me.

Alice: Actually, back to Dreadnought for a bit, before Spec Ops Yager had only made flying games. Youse played any of them?

Alec: I went to a press demo for the game also called Yager, which I remember looked extremely super-good at the time, but not sure I played it in the end. I wish more devs named their games after themselves, like bands’ debut albums. E.G. ‘Infinity Ward’ is a good setup for an endless space-hospital.

Alice: I’d love to see Lionhead’s White Game.

Alec: So what happens now? E3’s basically over, what do we have left to live for?

Graham: Gamescom?

Adam: E4

Alice: How was this as an E3, anyway? I’ve never covered E3 as PC-only before and it seems so very quiet.

Alec: Hmm. It’s been quietish as a PC show for a few years anyway, yes, but where this year differed was people weren’t pretending the PC versions didn’t exist quite so much. Clearly it doesn’t get the promotional megabucks but it doesn’t seem like it’s anyone’s black sheep now.

So there was much more in terms of safely presuming most of the interesting stuff would be on PC before too long. With the exception of Nintendo stuff, of course. (And personally speaking, this was the first year in a while where their stuff was exciting rather than oh look another one). More broadly speaking, it feels like maybe we’re coming out of the dark period where everyone was just chasing Call of Duty, and even though it’s still primarily the Festival Of Murder it seemed a little more varied and colourful, somehow.

Adam: I’ve never been to E3 but have covered Gamescom for a couple of years now on the ground. Gamescom has much more obvious diversity in terms of the games that are shown but this time round E3 still covered most of the same bases it always does, but with a little more variety on those bases. If that makes sense.

Alec: E3: Home Of The Variabase.

Graham: I don’t think there’s been any one, big stand-out game this year, but that’s perhaps because there’s a bunch of equally interesting things, rather than nothing at all. And a couple years ago, there was nothing at all.

Basically I’d give this E3 7/10. Buy it in a Steam sale.

Adam: Oh, hey, we can look forward to the summer Steam sale! Busier than bloody E3.

I think Brazil won E3 as a sport but may have lost in terms of megabucks spending in all the wrong places.

Alec: I hear E3 2015 is to be held in Qatar

Adam: Jim just tweeted this picture, surmising that No Man’s Sky may have won E3.

[Click to embiggen]

It’s a convincing argument.

Alice: 200 bullets is 194 too many.

Alec: Now now, we can’t trust that, we all know Jim gets given backhanders by the pink tree industry

Graham: I can’t wait to punch those pink trees to harvest food from them.

Adam: END

E3 2014 was out earlier this week, but it’s too late, you’ve missed it now.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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