We continue our look at next week’s E3 conference by taking a look at the PC market. It’s an exciting and vibrant time for PC gamers, and while some might be worried that the PS4 and Xbox One might steal some of their thunder, there are plenty of games and developments ahead…
The granddaddy of stealth is back – Thief (thankfully the 4 has been dropped!), and this time it has come back hard. Reinventing a classic – and as far as I am concerned – they have got the best team in the world to do it: Eidos Montreal. What is interesting about Thief is that it aims to be as loyal to the core stealth experience while still improving the things that maybe didn’t work as well. This is always a challenging demand for developers – and if Deus Ex: Human Revolution is any indication – Eidos are the right choice for this ambitious undertaking. With Human Revolution, they went out of their way to maintain that classic Deus Ex feel but amend the things that decayed or hampered that experience. We can only expect they will do the same with Thief.
The steam punk world of Thief has been imagined beautifully in the game’s enhanced engine and is achieving that impressive level of detail to studio is known for. The developers have been experimenting with new ways to improve and develop this title’s setting, with the characteristic Victorian-medieval architecture of The City and the defining visual detail put into simplex objects. And now that The City is larger and more explorable than before, I’m ready to do some medieval-industrial sight-seeing, lets hope Eidos take us for a tour at E3. Thief – and broadly stealth games – have always been about devising your own objectives. Do you throw guards off a roof and watch their insides splatter on the streets? Do you puncture all the guards’ tracheae? Do you stay in the shadows and spare oblivious lives? I can’t wait to see the choices Eidos present at E3.
Total War: Rome II
Rome was the Chuck Norris squared of ancient empires. Stretching from the British Isles to the untamed wastes of North Africa and encompassing millions of citizens – Rome II puts you in the driver seat of this gargantuan empire. Managing everything from taxes, military discipline, government ministers and educational research – you can configure history as you desire. Don’t care for a formulated civilisation? Fear not, Rome II has you covered! Taking command of the barbarian hordes of Germania or the vicious Viking tribes of Scandinavia – the ancient world is your oyster. The game features astir 117 different factions, each with individual unique units and traits. An alternative way of looking at that is: “Woah momma, time to get me some diplomacy!”
Not only that, but Rome II will include over 500 unit varieties. That is about five times as many units in Total War: Rome. These units will be scarily – and hardware demandingly – detailed, and will no longer be clones like us Total War veterans are accustomed to. Rome II will also feature 183 different regions – each conquerable, either by diplomacy or war – which is almost double of what we saw in Shogun II: Total War. Is the studio up for the challenge of producing such a monster game? In an interview with VG247, Creative Assembly communications manager Al Bickham thinks so: “We’ve got the budget, we’ve got 100-plus team members now, so the studio is geared up to do this. It’s time to roll out the Rome map again and tackle this. Plus, it’s a fantastic era, we’ve got a lot of staff who research the period, and we’ve got a lot of new, enthusiastic staff as well.”
Star Wars: 1313
If you don’t know who shot first (shame on you), it probably isn’t worth reading this section. After Lucasarts exploded Deathstar style, Electronic Arts scooped up the rights to produce Star Wars games. Say what you will about the ethics and doctrine of EA, but it can’t really be denied that license could be enhanced by this acquisition. We know that 1313 is on ice, and EA do possess the resources to shove this down any consumer’s throat – and make it taste sweet. A massive marketing campaign, millions of dollars building the title, beautiful environments that will push our PCs to the max and the greatest license in the world? Count me in. One of the most interesting things about 1313 is the risk. It’s one of those grownup Star Wars games – with no Jedi or Force Powers in sight – but does that mean it lacks the same appeal? That depends on your movie posture, and I can’t wait see any new subject matter EA unveil to see how they are going to (possibly) handle a mature Star Wars game.
C’mon Electronic Arts, a cheeky trailer perchance?
I have a confession to make. I never played any of the Witcher games. I know, I know, I obliged to play those 9 out 10 blockbusters, but medieval fantasy just doesn’t get my motor running. Sci-fi does, and it does it HARD. The progeny of mega-studio CD Projeckt Red are telling ultra deep, affectional stories in an engaging setting. That’s exciting, no concern what your gaming political sympathies are. Set in an especially dark future city – erm, Night City – (and surprise, surprise – IN THE YEAR TWENTY SEVENTY SEVEN) that is dripping with atmosphere, and surprise, surprise CD Projeckt Red know atmosphere. With the lucrative and almost universally adored Witcher series under its belt and a long and noted continuum of producing not only award-winning games, but beautiful settings. Not only that, but Cyberpunk 2077 is stepping out of the tired (arguably overused) medieval-fantasy genre that the studio is most experienced with. Trying something daring it would seem, and its going to be all the better for it.
I have got good news and bad news. The bad news is that it is exceedingly improbable that this game will be out any time before 2015. The good news is the developers, when asked about the release date, they simply say “When it’s ready…”
Civilisation V: Brave New World
You already know if you want this or not, but for any Civ fan this is an incredibly exciting potency. Introducing the The World Congress – an incredibly exciting prospect – a instrument that allows you to go beyond what the United Nations was in Civilisation V, an implement to profit a diplomatic triumph, allowing the player to engage in some seriously profound diplomatic endeavours. Allow me to give you an example: One Civ – lets say, the Japanese – has been perpetually declaring war on everyone and at some point they will be coming for you. The world doesn’t like that, at all. Utilize the World Congress to force a halt all commerce between Japan and the other nations: The Japanese are out of the war before it has even begun. I’d love to see if Firaxis whip anything out at E3, and if they do – why don’t they unwrap some information on these mechanics.
New to game will be cultural victories. The objective is to make your Civ’s culture the most prestigious in the world. This can be achieved by collecting up artworks, music or buildings. Alternatively, you can just bomb your competitors to hell and stop them from producing culture all together! Brave New World also introduces 9 new nations. With the maritime Portuguese, the barbarous Zulus, the religious Moroccans, the ritualistic Indonesians, the domineering Polish, the commercial Brazilians and the warlike Assyrians already disclosed. Two (one of the new nations is probably Belgium, though) have yet to be announced, lets hope that Firaxis decide to throw us a bone at E3.
Grand Theft Auto V arguably could have been the open world PC game of the year. Arguably. Regrettably, Rockstar don’t do PC open world. Fortuitously, UbiSoft do. Step forward: Watch_Dogs.
Set in a near-feature Chicago – and what a Chicago it is – I can say with confidence that this will be the best accomplished open world of this (sorry GTA fans) year. It actually looks like (and feels) a real metropolis, with the precise motion-capture of the anti-hero protagonist Aiden or how the NPCs walking the city streets react realistically to violence. And that isn’t even mentioning the graphics, it is a beautiful game – the lighting effects are simply stunning. And don’t worry PC gamers, it is being primarily developed for PC. The central gimmick of Watch_Dogs is something called CtOS. A collection of computers that make sure Chicago runs silky smooth, looking after the movement of trains, traffic lights and assist with civil protection police.
But as hacker supremo Aiden – you control these systems. Being pursued by a police car? No problem, raise some street barricades and see it crash into them. Need a quick get away from some gangsters? Never fear, grind a train to a halt and hop on. Just want to cause some havoc? Easy as peach, turn off some traffic lights and what the horror unfold! Something that is really absorbing is how as you pace through the streets and content about the NPCs is discovered because of your hack device. Just chilling out, prowling the streets and “poof” Walter Roland ID pops up from his person! He is 34, has an above average IQ but he is lamentably HIV affirmative. This is something really interesting as a player – maybe because he isn’t just some clone like in GTA you don’t want to put a bullet in his skull. A little info on how the CtOS can be used in missions and the size of the world please Ubi? We’ll be best friends!
Apparently DICE are trying single player again. Don’t get your coat just yet, DICE are actually trying to not do a completely linear, scripted campaign this time. Creative Director Lars Gustavsson (strong name) has stated that Battlefield has always been about options – and while that radiates in the multiplay – it was lacking in the campaign of Battlefield 3.
Trying to open up the campaign, he decides is the next (sounds a little familiar) logical step for a linear single player game. “If we can deliver on that, while telling you great story where you don’t care about anything except finding out what comes next – I’d want that,” says Lars in an audience with CVG. “That’s my hope and dream” concludes the Swede. I would love to see these new level designs and plot elements in action at E3, as we have already with the Fishing in Baku footage. If this is successful, I certainly hope critics don’t jump on the band wagon and hate against the campaign. We have ethics on LFG, and if its good we will be telling you so.
Lars and his team have also listening to what people have said about the multiplayer. With the more structured and less destruction oriented Battlefield 3 multiplayer losing some of the appeal that Bad Company 2 had, it looks clear that DICE will be going all out for super destructive mayhem. That’s the way to do things then, and let’s see some multiplayer action at E3.
Valve Box Games
After Valve announced – after rumours had been circulating for significant time – that they would be jumping into the hardware market with their own PC-Console cross-breed, things have been reasonably quiet on the game front. Neglecting to do a Microsoft/Sony to declare and quickly reveal epochal pieces of information regarding games, (shock and awe) they have Valve have been very quiet with game information.
You can just envisage Gabe Newell sitting in his office counting his money – his large hands clenching bundles of hundred-dollar notes – and thinking what game to reveal next, occasionally jotting down some ideas. I can exclusively reveal that he has written Half-Life 3 on several pieces of paper, but throws them in his fireplace, gleefully looking on as any possibility of announcement burns like all of Gabe’s enemies. Alternatively, if I had any knowledge of business, I’d say that Gabe wouldn’t bother taking his Valve Box games to E3. The Valve Box’s influence among the average gamer and mainstream market is much smaller than Xbox of Playstation, and there is a decent chance any information Valve reveals will encircled and marginalised by much larger announcements.
You never know though, Valve are gargantuan. If anyone was to steal the show from the major players it would be them. Maybe just maybe – this is where they hook as up with a trailer for Half-Life 3 (I wish, it’ll probably just end up being sometime like Team Fortress 3 or a new Counter Strike(if at all)) and say that Valve Box is the exclusive place you can play it, now that would be a show stealer.
Free to Play Games
We are going to – hopefully – get some respectable FTP stuff.
Planetside 2 is one of the most celebrated and prosperous free to play games in recent memory is also reviving an astounding amount of DLC. I’d like to see some more information on these big DLC packs, detailing what exactly will go into them and what the price points will be.
Then there is Hawken. Taking place on a distant human colony – where aggressive industrialism has reduced the planet to ruin – it’s the big mech brawler that we have been hearing about for month. Produced with Unreal Engine – and looking absolutely incredible – has been in open beta since late 2012, and I am sincerely hoping that we will be granted a firm release date.
Also making waves is 2112. A reasonably low profile game it is a MMO RTS and sounding very, very StarCraft. Taking control of one of three different races locked in a brutal war with each other and using an element called Herani, you will develop your own unique technologies and weapons. This project looks seriously intriguing, but will it just be a poor man’s StarCraft? Let’s hope the answer is ‘no’ at E3.
– Rory Mullan. Follow him on Twitter @thenomandprophet