My E3 2019 thoughts

e319-2I’m fairly confident that the internet doesn’t need any more opinion on this year’s E3 but look here for a moment: I need to put out some quick ‘n dirty content to stop this blog from completely flat-lining. If it hasn’t already, that is (I’ll let you guys be the judge of that). On a positive side, I don’t plan on boring you with in-depth E3 2019 analysis or any attempt at “complete” coverage. What this is going to be is my thoughts in quick-fire format.

But quickly, before I get into that, I’ll just give my brief thoughts on the event overall. Personally speaking, E3 hasn’t made me feel moist for some time now. A lot of what is big in gaming at the moment doesn’t really appeal to me. Nor does the push for more power and better graphics because I’m satisfied with what we have now when it comes to the aesthetics. Lastly, I have so many games still lingering in my “to play” pile that I don’t really need anything else so unless a game strikes me as “essential”, I won’t add it to my wishlist.

With that said, let me jump into those quick-fire thoughts on some stuff I saw…

Blair Witch Project

This one came out of nowhere and despite what I’ve just said about not being interested in hyper-realism, I was very impressed by the trailer. Blair Witch Project looks creepy as fuck and I would certainly be interested in experiencing the final product.

A new Xbox console

A new Xbox is coming next year and promises to be uber-powerful. At first I was like, “really? already?”. Then I checked the dates and was horrified to see that the Xbox One was released in 2013! Where has that time gone? The XBO and PS4 still feel new to me but I guess Project Scarlett will arrive at the end of its predecessor’s 6-7 year lifespan which is consistent with previous console life cycles. One thing I WILL say however is that I’m positive that the Xbox One, PS4 and their beefed-up X/Pro versions were touted as hardware that would last longer at retail and thus save consumers from having to keep buying new consoles. Perhaps I’m mis-remembering though. In any case, I’m really not interested in more raw power so I couldn’t care less about a new Xbox and the inevitable PS5 that will surely be announced in due course.

Marvel’s Avengers

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Just…no. This is like some sort of bootleg Avengers thing. Black Widow looks like a guy in drag. [Source]
So there’s an Avengers game which isn’t surprising given the current popularity of Marvel’s superhero franchises and the Avengers movies. Ironically though, this game doesn’t look to be linked to the MCU despite looking eerily similar. The gameplay looks okay but nothing outstanding. And can somebody tell me why Black Widow looks like a man? One to try when it’s in the bargain bins methinks.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

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I know she’s just a bunch of polygons and code but damn, Aeris is cute. Aeris’ eyes > Tifa’s boobs. Tell me I’m wrong.

The first part has finally been confirmed for 2020. Honest opinion: it looks better than it did before but I’m still not sold on the action-based gameplay. Also, I think they shrank Tifa’s boobs a little bit. Because progressiveness and all that boring jazz.

Link’s Awakening

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How awesome does this look? Genuine Switch envy right here, folks.

One thing that E3 2019 proved to me was that the Switch is now a very appealling console with lots of great exclusives on the horizon. The super-charming remake of the Gameboy’s Link’s Awakening is one such game. I had great fun playing the ‘DX’ version on my Gameboy Colour back in the 90’s so I would be down for this.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

I should be hyped for this because Fire Emblem WAS one of my favourite series’. Times have changed though and now all I see is the waifu content and anime tropes so I find it hard to want to be a part of the FE fanbase these days. What I need to do is try some of the other games that came after Fates (the games that killed my interest in FE) and see if my cynicism can be put to rest.

No More Heroes III

A Switch-seller for me that WILL be awesome by default. I don’t even need to see any more footage or gameplay to confirm this theory.

Panzer Dragoon

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I didn’t ever expect this to happen. Any chance of Saga next, Sega? [Source]
I loved Panzer Dragoon on the Sega Saturn so a remake was both surprising and welcome. I don’t necessarily condone excessive remakes over original games but nobody can deny that 3D games on the Saturn haven’t aged well. And that’s a shame when Panzer Dragoon has such beautiful world design so this is one instance where I will grant a free pass to a remake.

More Resident Evil ports…

This time it’s 5 and 6 to the Switch. My opinion on these? Just stop already. Enough with the ports of older Resident Evil games.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3

I missed the first two games back in the PS2 era because I was busy playing other stuff but by all accounts, the Ultimate Alliance games were solid action efforts and I know that fans have been shouting for a third one for some time. Also receives bonus plus points from me for NOT being influenced by the MCU.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2

It’s happening. I still haven’t finished the original though due to getting sidetracked by random exploration so I need to get that sorted at some point. I sequel that is set to follow the same formula took me by surprise but I’m not complaining.

Mai and Kula in Dead or Alive 6

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It must be her winning smile… [Source: knowyourmeme.com]
No, I still haven’t bought into DOA6 but I liked these two character reveals. Kula has long been one of my favourite characters in KOF and so I’m looking forward to seeing her fighting style and breezy personality in DOA-vision. Mai was no real surprise having already successfully integrated herself in DOA5 but I’m a sucker for Ms. Shiranui’s charms (you can read that how you like).

Those are my brief thoughts on things shown at E3 2019. I’m sure I’ve missed lots of trailers and announcements but you’ll never find me watching the live streams of videogame events or sinking my time into those mammoth recap videos on Youtube. There’s actual gaming to be done you know.

Let me know what you thought and whether you agree or disagree with any of my verdicts.

My Picks of E3 2018

I’m not a totally mainstream gamer (as you may have noticed) so when everybody got a bit excited over the likes of the new Fallout and Elder Scrolls games that were revealed at this year’s E3 event, I was pretty much nonplussed. It was similar case with many big names that were shown to be returning for sequels either later this year or in 2019. It didn’t used to be this way either because in years past, there’d be so much coming out of E3 events that I wouldn’t know where to look first and while this was great back then, I now see some value in only coming away with a few games that interest me. After all, money and time are both finite resources so not having around twenty upcoming titles on my wanted list is actually a positive thing. So what did catch my eye then?

Dead Or Alive 6

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I’ve already spoken about DOA6 so I won’t rabbit on about it too much here. In brief, it’s another awesome-looking fighting game from a series I’m already a fan of so a brand-new installment is a good thing. Team Ninja are apparently trying to grow up at last (moving out of their parents’ house and getting a mortgage not yet confirmed) and tone down the boobs so that will be interesting. I’m hoping that they don’t go too far with the whole getting serious thing but I will definitely buy this regardless.

Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition

chrome 6/10/2018 , 10:47:07 PM (2) Xbox - Twitch - Google Chrome

As a big fan of Namco’s Tales series, I’ve always been well served by owning every Playstation console to date. However, the last generation threw a curveball in the form of Tales of Vesperia, a critically acclaimed installment in the long-running franchise, which became an Xbox 360 exclusive back when Microsoft were determined to attract fans of Japanese games to their system. Save for the original black slab, I’ve never been an Xbox owner so I missed Vesperia the first time around and was pretty peeved that an eventual upgraded PS3 port remained a Japan-only release complete with incomprehensible language barrier. Thankfully, a new ‘Definitive Edition’ is coming to various platforms including (yay!) PS4 so I will at last be able to play this game. I’ve recently gotten back into JRPG’s and the Tales series with the two superb Xillia games on PS3 so this news is fantastic timing.

Cyberpunk 2077

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It wasn’t until it was pointed out to me on a gaming forum that I remembered Cyberpunk 2077‘s original teaser from waaaaaay back in 2013. That trailer ended with a statement along the lines of “ready when its ready” and boy, they weren’t kidding were they? Five years later, the game looks completely different and all the better for it. I absolutely adore anything Cyberpunk-y that even vaguely resembles the likes of Blade Runner or Ghost In The Shell so Cyberpunk 2077‘s detailed futuristic vision is right up my dystopian alley. I’m not sure whether it will a first or third person game at the moment but either way, this is something I will almost certainly pick up just for the art style alone.

Metal Wolf Chaos XD

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The (very pleasant) surprise of E3 2018 has to be a the remaster of Metal Wolf Chaos for PS4 and Xbox One, due later this year. Surprising because of it’s obscurity and pleasant because of it’s notoriety as one of the sparse reasons to import Japanese games for the original Xbox. The game is a batshit-crazy mech-style affair starring the president of the United States and while the game itself isn’t meant to be anything super-special, it’s one of those that can sell itself on sheer madness alone. The original Xbox was a very western-orientated console that barely performed in Japan and as such, the number of games worth importing can be counted on one hand. Hardcore Xbox collectors have been spreading the word for years about Metal Wolf Chaos however so the fact that we will finally be able to play the game natively is very welcome. I am still genuinely shocked that something this niche is being revived but who’s arguing?. Not me.

Team Sonic Racing

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Not strictly an E3 reveal since the game was already leaked pre-E3 but since a new trailer was shown at the event, I thought I’d throw it in here anyway. Developed by Sumo Digital who were responsible for the superb Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (THE best Mario Kart game to date), the footage revealed thus far shows only Sonic characters but even so, I have high hopes for this one based purely on how good its forerunners were. I’m not sure if I will enjoy it as much if there aren’t any additional Sega characters/representation as in Transformed but even so, it’s a racer that I’m definitely interested in. Fans of the Sonic Adventure era games will also be pleased to see the return of Crush 40 on soundtrack duties so open your heart for this one.

Fist Of The North Star: Lost Paradise

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Even though I have no knowledge of the legendary Fist of the North Star, I have to take an interest in this awesome-looking beat ’em up purely because it’s from the same team behind Sega’s Yakuza franchise – one of my favourite things ever in gaming. The gameplay shown at E3 looked suitably brutal and over-the-top so this is one that I will be quietly keeping an eye on.

Resident Evil 2 Remake

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It disappeared for a long time but now – just like one of its own zombies – the highly-anticipated Resident Evil 2 remake has resurfaced at E3 2018 (with a January 2019 release date) and man does it look good! Anybody who has played the original Playstation classic will instantly recognise the locations shown in the trailer but otherwise, it looks all-new with an over-the-shoulder Resi 4 style viewpoint and quite graphic, gory violence. I’m very excited for this game because RE2 is probably my second favourite game in the series after RE3: Nemesis and it’s going to be great to return to a virus-ravaged Raccoon City without all the baggage and divisive direction that some of the most recent sequels came with. I really hope that this a success and Capcom follow-up with a Nemesis remake in the same style.

Doom Eternal

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Old-school FPS favourite Doom was a critically-acclaimed success when the franchise was recently revived but even so, this freshly-revealed sequel was still a surprise and a sweet one at that. Looking set to take its cues from Doom 2: Hell on Earth, Doom Eternal should be one hell (I’ll get my coat…) of a no-holds-barred blaster with a lot more enemy designs promised this time around. I still need to get around to playing the recent Doom reboot but Doom Eternal goes straight onto my wanted list based solely on how much I enjoyed the original games and their attitude of pulling no punches.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

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I’ve not kept up with the Fire Emblem series since the superb Awakening on the 3DS and with valid reason. I found Fates to be an extremely dull follow-up that had taken too many anime tropes onboard and it had me questioning whether the franchise had become a waifu simulator. Not owning a Switch, I missed out on the Heroes spin-off and I’ve not as of yet picked up the last 3DS installment which was a remake of one of the classic Famicom Fire Emblems (so possibly all the better for it?). This newly-unveiled sequel for the Switch however looks mighty tasty with high production value. It’s certainly a step up from previous home console versions such as Path of Radiance which – while an excellent game – was a bit fugly in the graphics department and didn’t really push the host hardware at all. But then, am I calling the Switch a home console? Is it really? Regardless, this is the kind of thing that makes me want to a buy a Switch so it gets a huge thumbs-up from me.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

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I honestly thought that I’d gotten over falling for Smash Bros. hype. After all, where could they possibly go from the last game save for mixing up the roster and adding in a few new bits from recent Nintendo games? How about an ‘Ultimate’ version featuring every single character – no matter how minor – that has ever been playable throughout Smash history? Oh and coming even further out of the left-field by granting the wild fan-favourite wish of a playable Ridley from Metroid? And the naysayers said it could never happen because Ridley was “too big” to be a playable character…

If the promotional artwork above doesn’t get you excited about this then I’m not sure what will. Bringing back everybody ever for one overcrowded character select screen is a simple move but a genius one that should please most people. Even more impressive is that Nintendo seems to have secured the use of all previous guest stars hence the return of MGS‘s Snake who hasn’t been seen since Brawl on the Wii. Again, I’m feeling the need to buy a Switch!

So that was E3 2018. Okay, so my “few games” turned into a ten-strong list in the end and Betheseda DID sneak in there thanks to Doom Eternal so call me a liar and sue me. The big absent elephant in the room was the Final Fantasy VII remake which seems to have vanished for the time being. Like Resi 2 though, I have no doubt it will use a Phoenix Down on itself and return before long. Shenmue III and Kingdom Hearts 3 were two other disappointments given how both games have been knocked back to 2019 now. Overall though, a pretty decent E3 showing and more than enough to get hyped for.

Dead Or Alive 6 Officially Revealed…But Will it Miss the Point?

One of the more interesting pieces of news to come out of the past weekend was the official announcement of Dead Or Alive 6, the follow-up to the popular fifth main entry in the infamous fighting game series which spanned three revisions and two generations of home consoles. Dead Or Alive is a series that just keeps on going regardless of the current popularity of the genre so a new game is never a huge shock but this time, there IS some surprising impressions to take home from what we’ve seen so far.

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Hyper-realistic expressions and damage are apparently going to be the focus rather than boob jiggle in Dead Or Alive 6.

On the surface, there’s a lot that will look familiar to anybody who played the last game: interactive environments, a cinematic feel and fast-paced fighting. The big surprise this time is that the developers are apparently going to be lowering the focus on sexualised female characters, a move that has invited considerable disappointment from some corners of the online gaming community. The trailer shows no sign of the series’ famous (or infamous) exaggerated breast physics and costumes are more conservative. Could this be Team Ninja finally growing up? The following quotes from an interview with IGN certainly point in that direction:

“We wanted to make a more cool and more mature Dead or Alive this time, and to that end we made a conscious decision to make characters less sexualized,”

“The female characters are still attractive, as are the men, but first and foremost they are fighters,”

It makes sense on one level. Dead Or Alive has always had a fantastic fighting system with its punishing reversals and counter-holds separating rookies from practiced players but the games have struggled to be taken seriously with some fighting game tournaments even banning select outfits from being used due to their highly revealing nature. It seems that Tecmo are pushing for their established series to gain some credibility at last but will this alienate a large chunk of the fanbase? Can Dead Or Alive stand up on the basis of its fighting system alone?

I would say “yes”. I’ve always rated the games because despite their button masher-friendly combos, they still feel very different to rivals. Combos and movement in general felt very fluid and organic in DOA5, contrasting with the rigid inputs of Tekken for example. The cinematic style of fights was also quite entertaining and didn’t detract too much from the established rules of how a fighting game works.

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The outfits may be more practical this time around but fans of the series’ classic ‘values’ probably need not be concerned too much; the girls will still look attractive (and busty enough) if the above screen is anything to go by.

But it should also be noted that the very traits that Tecmo seem keen to tone down this time around are what helped Dead Or Alive 5 become so successful and make them some good money in the process. The new female characters became instantly popular and the game featured a ludicrous amount of costume DLC including many fabric-starved designs that still sold well despite the high price tags. Let us also not forget that the spin-off, Dead Or Alive Xtreme 3, was also massively popular and a hot import for us Westerners who didn’t receive an official version of the game. Tecmo weren’t daft though as the Asian release of the game features full English language subtitles/menus. The point of all of this is to remember that the series didn’t suffer and lose sales because it ramped up the sexiness – quite the opposite actually. In this respect, you can say that Tecmo-Koei and Team Ninja are rolling the dice.

Personally, I really enjoy Dead Or Alive‘s silliness and have purchased quite a lot of the DLC. As I have said in other posts, I see gaming as escapism that encompasses everything that DOA does (or should I say “did”?) and while some may turn their noses up at big bouncy breasts, too many impractical bikinis or gratuitously detailed perspiration, I’m not ashamed to say that I enjoy it all. It’s just a bit of fun at the end of the day and I’m fairly positive that spending a lot of time with the games hasn’t turned me into some sort of raging pervert with no respect for real-life women. As a wise person once pointed out on some gaming forum or another many moons again, the characters are designed to look sexy and appealing on purpose – there’s nothing wrong with “falling” for the marketing.

The main concern that this shift in tone invokes in me is the same one that I felt when Capcom felt the need to censor Rainbow Mika and Cammy’s intros in Street Fighter V or when Omega Labyrinth Z was banned for us UK consumers earlier this year: the concern that our medium of entertainment is bowing to political correctness and moving away from sexy females in order to pre-emptively avoid complaints while appealing to a generation of consumers who place female empowerment and equality above simple, harmless escapism. That may seem like an extreme reaction but I won’t apologise for wanting the unrealistic and fantastical in my videogames when I sit down with a controller after a hard day’s work or when I fancy a quick break from real-life tribulations. My concerns are less about what’s happening in DOA6 and more to do with the bigger picture of what we are increasingly being told to accept is “wrong”.

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Maybe we’ve seen the end of such outfits?

But let’s also be real for a moment. The women of Dead Or Alive are still going to look attractive and booby enough. Yes, the developers want the female characters to look more realistic and warrior-like but I can tell you now that the alterations will not be that drastic. Remember that the same promises were made before DOA5 launched and the likes of Kasumi and co. ended up looking more detailed than before, not necessarily different. Most importantly, if DOA6 builds upon DOA5‘s fighting then the game will be very enjoyable to play and another nice alternative to what is already available.

And as much as I enjoyed DOA5‘s fanservice, there were several features that totally weren’t necessary and undeniably ventured into the realms of “childish” and “ridiculous”. One such inclusion was the ability to shake the controller which made the girls’ breasts bounce all over the place, usually in a totally unrealistic and unattractive way. There were also multiple settings in the options menu for altering the extremity of breast jiggle which seemed like a step too far even in my opinion. Setting this to “natural” was more than enough for me. If anything, it’s these sorts of things that I wouldn’t mind losing.

So there are several questions facing us before DOA6 launches in 2019. Will it still be a good fighting game? (I would bet money on the answer being “yes” for that one). Will Tecmo drive away more of its fans than it expects? Are they just fibbing about toning the whole thing down? Most of all, should DOA forsake its USP just to “grow up”? It’s like Netherealm Studios announcing that they will tone down the violence in the next Mortal Kombat if you think about it, which we all know would never happen. Clearly bloody, graphic death = shrug of the shoulders but boobs = the devil. Something about that ain’t right.

To conclude my thoughts on this announcement, I will say that jumping to rash conclusions and slamming Tecmo at this early stage would be foolish. The game will still be great and the girls will still be attractive so there will at least be an awesome product next year, however much they tone down the things that make the franchise (in)famous. I think the development period of DOA6 is going to be interesting and it will be fascinating to see how far Team Ninja go with this.