The Winners of E3

Every year we like to talk about who won the best of show at E3. We mostly focus on the ‘big 3’ — Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Without needing to go into much detail, this year was one of the best overall in a decade. The players win. We have a lot of great games coming out, and some really need things to look forward to in the future.

Let’s talk about the big 3. The winner this year was clearly Microsoft. They brought the strongest overall “wow” factor. For the first time in more years than I can remember, the emphasis wasn’t on their gimmicks. Microsoft is back to focusing more on the console itself being a gaming device, and them as a company being about providing entertainment for gamers. So many years it was flipped upside down and the console was all about being entertainment. Their use of HoloLens as it pertains to Minecraft is nothing short of amazing. The coolest part was being able to see the other people in the world running around this virtual representation. There are some really neat possibilities.

Sony was pretty good. I think their problem will stem from a lack of exclusives. They certainly rocked a few worlds by announcing the FFVII remake, but overall it was just “Hey there’s this awesome game coming to the PS4! Please don’t realize it’s also on the Xbox and PC!” Either way, they didn’t fall flat on their faces which is their usual modus operandi.

Nintendo… oh Nintendo. You are my favorite of these companies. You keep it simple, clean, and to the point. Nintendo’s focus is on their games. Unfortunately, it was mostly on their games they already announced. Nintendo does what they call “Nintendo Direct” digital conferences throughout the year. This means they are constantly in a state of doing what they did at E3 this year, and that means it’s hard to stand up to the other big announcements — especially when you reveal a week ago that you won’t be talking about the big Zelda open-world game.  Still, lots of great games. Skylanders meets Nintendo Amiibos? Mhm, yes please.

Virtual Reality is a gimmick. It’s motion controls all over again. We have absolutely no reason to believe in any of the potential until someone says, “You know that potential? We actually made it. Here, try.” Until then, it’s nothing more than Milo.

PS4 Day 2: Assassin’s Creed and DCUO

We’re two days into the launch of the PS4 with lots more to talk about.  These aren’t full reviews — just a quick synopsis of our experience with a smidgin of impressions.  The images used for these games were taken with the screenshot sharing feature.  The quality on them isn’t great, but it’s nice to finally be able to take pictures without having to use a third-party device.


Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

This might sound crazy, but this is the first Assassin’s Creed game I have ever played.  I’ve watched Graev play all of them, and I knew exactly what to expect, but I wasn’t quite ready for how awesome the free-run and acrobatic movement felt.  The high frames per second and gorgeous graphics made my first hands-on experience with AC really quite something.

I love pirates.  I live for this setting.  If there’s one setting I may love more than medieval fantasy it’s Pirates!  Black Flag captures everything I love about the setting and then some.  I talk all the time about being able to control my own ship, and Black Flag does not disappoint.  I love being able to sail around.

I’m not going to spoil anything, but the story in the previous AC games looked really crummy.  So much so that I almost didn’t pick this one up. Ubisoft takes the story in a much more believable, interesting direction.  Expect my full review to come when I’ve logged significantly more hours into the game.


DC Universe Online

Years ago I played DC Universe Online for the PC, and along with Graev and several of our friends we reached the max level and completed everything there was to do in the game at that time.  When we stopped playing it was never because the game did anything wrong — We simply ran out of things to do.  Years later, the game is free to play with lots of microtransactions.  I can’t say for certain how the F2P model has improved or harmed the game, but I know I’ve been able to play everything I can remember without spending a dime.

The PS4 version is great.  I feel like the controls are perfect, and perhaps even better than the PC version.  I remember thinking that DCUO was always meant to be a console game with this inherent sense of combo button presses and beat’em up nature.  Using the new DualShock 4 controller, I never felt wanting for a keyboard or mouse.

I think they did a nice job upgrading the visuals.  Everything looks high-res, and load times are quick.  I haven’t experienced any slowdown or performance issues.

If you just got a PS4, or heck even if you’re still gaming on the PS4, it can’t hurt to give DCUO a try.  I think the potential for MMOs on consoles is quickly catching up the PCs.

PS4 Launch Day Game Roundup

We spent most of the morning setting up the system and working through general placement logistics. It’s a real mess up here and with the Xbox One due out soon it’s only getting worse. I’d show you a picture but I doubt Keen would ever own up to this cord jungle.

After the initial patching and mass downloading of free stuff we decided to check out some of the launch exclusives and share some quick impressions before we eventually get to reviewing.



This game is getting pretty badly panned across the board but Keen and I don’t quite share that sentiment. I mean, sure, it’s nothing mind blowing but it is enjoyable all the same. We put in several hours of the co-op and were enjoying ourselves the whole time.

It’s part platformer, though only lightly, but mostly action-brawler. You run around levels as the titular character and bash on bad guys while collecting various artifact pieces that increase your size. It’s actually pretty neat to see the character grow over time and completely decimate foes that earlier were giving you grief. So far it seems to be pretty linear but there are a few secret areas along the way for you to collect. In co-op mode the second player plays as a robot version of Knack and can fight alongside and even heal you. It’s all on one screen and the camera follows player 1 which means P2 has to keep pace or get left behind. It all works out pretty well, although Keen screamed at a few of his off-screen deaths.

Really my only complaint about the game is it’s take on difficulty. Being the typical fun-hater than I am, I put it on hard from the get-go. Unfortunately the game seems to go for the whole pseudo-difficulty of just making everything that hits you take all of your life. It can be a little frustrating, especially with no block, and having to re-do segments several times due to cheap deaths can make your co-op partner rage. Or maybe that’s just my experience.


Killzone: Shadowfall

I played the first two games and the PSP game but I haven’t touched the series since then. Having missed out on 3 and the vita game I have no idea what is currently going on story-wise in the game. Something about the Helghast’s planet getting made uninhabitable by the Vektans so now they have to share Vekta. I need to hit a wiki page or something.

Anyway,  this evening I played through the first few segments and I’m really enjoying it so far despite the confusing narrative. The game looks absolutely fantastic and runs very smooth. It definitely makes me excited to see what the system will be capable of down the road. There are a lot of really neat lighting and visual effects.

In the first main level you initially have to sneak in with just a knife and take out guys with stealth all while avoiding cameras, etc. You also get a handy little echo-location type device which can spot enemies through walls, but it will emit a large sound and alert enemies if you activate it for too long.  One cool thing you can do is jump onto a guy from above, stab him in the neck, and then throw your knife at another guy in your field of view. It’s very reminiscent of the kind of thing you could pull off in FarCry 3. The first gun I got was a really awesome combo weapons. The first configuration was some kind of automatic weapon that shoots little blue things and the second form turns it into a long range rifle that charges up and releases a powerful shot.

Probably the coolest thing I’ve seen so far is the little drone that follows you around. It can do basic stuff like hacking terminals for you but it can also order it to kill enemies, stun them, defend you, and create a zipline. The last one is actually pretty awesome. If you need to get access to an area below you then you can order it to shoot a zipline which you can slide down. The drone, which I think is actually called an OWL or something, can also revive you if you die. Provided you have adrenaline or something.

More To Come

We’re also going to be trying out CoD: Ghosts and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag this weekend and we will be sure to write up our impressions of them. Since the PS4 can stream straight out of the box we might even look into doing that as well, but so far our internet connection hasn’t been very cooperative. I think Keen also has plans to try out DC Universe and some other free-to-play titles as well.

It’s been a pretty smooth launch so far and we made it through the whole day without bricking our system. Take that .4% failure rate!

PS4: DualShock 4

dual shock 4

I haaaaaaated the DualShock 1, 2, and 3.   The controller was always so light, the grips too short, the analog sticks awkward to use, the triggers wonky, and the overall controller just was so uncomfortable.  The only redeeming quality was the D-Pad — actually the best on the market.

The DualShock 4 changes all of that.  The grips are much longer now making the controller easier to hold in my large hands.  The analog sticks are slightly less awkward, and are now slightly concave making it much easier to keep my thumbs in place.  I think the analog sticks are still positioned a little weird — less ergonomic than the 360 controller.  The D-Pad remains remarkable.

The triggers are way less wonky and curved for more comfort.  I’m thinking they removed the pressure sensitivity from the button in general, though.

Holding the controller feels better — there’s more heft to it.  This makes the integrated six-axis sensors way more fun to use.  Speaking of which, the six-axis functionality has worked quite well so far.

Featured right in the middle of the DualShock 4 is a touch-pad.  It can click in like a button, and feels nice to the touch, but surprisingly nothing we’ve done in the first few hours of play has used the touch-pad.  The DualShock 4 also has a share button to allow you to share and stream your gameplay quickly.

I can easily say the DualShock 4 is now my favorite console controller. The fact that it is PC compatible is icing on the cake. If my opinion changes in the coming days, especially with the launch of the Xbox One, I’ll  let you know.

Keen’s E3 Wrap-up

E3 can be summed up in one word for me: Expensive.  The past few E3’s have really left me feeling… not disappointed, but wishing there was even more.  This year, two new consoles and a ton of games were announced.  Both the Xbox One -and- the PS4 look great to me.

Kitty MarioLike Graev, I really don’t participate in the console bashing.  I want fun games; I buy consoles with fun games.  I own a Wii U, and I will eventually own both the PS4 and Xbox One.  For now, I’m sold on the PS4 being the first of the two consoles I buy, with the Xbox One coming as soon as I can squeeze a few hundred more dollars out of my paycheck.   My reason for going PS4 first?  Microsoft lost me when they took their emphasis off gaming.  It’s that simple.

Nintendo was my overall winner based purely on what excites me the most. I think Nintendo is really trying to prove they understand that everything they do should be catering to their fans. Just look at the list of games they showed off:

  • Super Smash Bros.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
  • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
  • Yoshi’s New Island
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
  • Mario kart 8
  • Sonic Lost World
  • ‘A New Title’ developed by Monolith
  • Super Mario 3D World
  • The Legend of Zelda: WindWaker HD

[Read more…]