Sunday, August 25, 2013

This week I'll discuss some of the highlights of Gamescom 2013 that caught my attention.


Knee Slide into Blitz Mode
In true Call of Duty fashion, last week’s Call of Duty: Ghosts’ multiplayer reveal teased a sneak peak at a new multiplayer feature at the very end of the debut trailer with a guy knee sliding into a hologram circle and vanishing into thin air. This tease was for their new multiplayer mode Blitz. It’s essentially one way capture the flag where your only objective is to run into an enemy teams’ “zone” where you’ll instantly score a point and get teleported back to your side of the map. It’s a faster and much more instantaneous game without the hassle of holding a flag, avoid dropping the flag, and if so, hoping a teammate picks up the fallen flag before it returns to the enemy base.
Infinity Ward is really embracing the speed of Call of Duty with Crank first shown off last week which forces you to earn kills as frequently as possible or you’ll explode within the countdown clock in between scores. Now with Blitz, it’s essentially about charging into an enemy team’s zone.
With match types such as Crank and Blitz mode, what will be the new Kill Confirmed from Call of Duty: Ghosts?
An inquisitional look into Dragon Age Inquisition
Immediately we get further assurance of the various locations within the new setting in Dragon Age Inquisition. Jungles, baron wastelands, adventurous mountain tops, all divided among multiple nations; Inquisition will not keep you confined in one kingdom like Dragon Age 2.
We get a snippet of what the game will look like as a massive dragon swoops in, its powerful wings whipping at the desert sand as it ascends upon a fallen statue head. It marks its new territory with an echoing roar which scatters the surrounding wildlife. It’s a gorgeous setting with glimmering water, sprouting trees, stacked canyon-red rock formations populated with animals by the already brought-to-life environment. The stone lighting, water detail, and simple movements gives us a look at what the next generation of Bioware RPGs will look like.
Hawke is gone; at least in the sense as the main character. The subtitle “Inquisition” implies you as the Inquisitor. In your choice of class, gender, and now race, you’ll build your Inquisitor in Dragon Age Inquisition. Shit’s gone sideways as they always do in RPGs, how it got sideways is after a protective veil has been breached, it let in all kinds of demons to wreak havoc on your world. As the Inquisitor, you must hunt down the one who’s responsible for triggering this event. To do this, you’ll seize control of an organization which will empower you with assets that the common folk don’t have. Being in control will allow you to send out agents on missions in addition to those you’ll take on yourself. You’ll have that same level of moral quandaries you’d expect in a Bioware RPG: who lives vs. who dies, which village will live vs. which village will die.
Bioware took an ambitious turn with Dragon Age 2, one which was divisively appreciated among fans. I cant wait to see what Dragon Age has become after two very different and very good RPGs.
Tablet Commanders
We got a look at Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Xbox One exclusive Boss Mode which utilizes the system’s Kinect and SmartGlass functionality. Either by voice command and gestures or the use of a touch surface, players can command and supply units on the battlefield against single player controlled units. Coincidentally, a similar, but much more fundamental feature was revealed alongside its debut in Fable Legends. Up against players who will control 4 different characters and classes, the fifth player will also control units against them, taking on the role as the villain.
This is becoming more and more common for next gen titles, with Battlefield 4’s Commander mode and a Watch Dog’s adversarial mode. Seconds screen gaming doesn’t seem to be something going away anytime soon with the continuation of the Wii U’s Gamepad, Xbox’s SmartGlass, and the Playstation Vita.
Our wood for Titanfall hasn’t softened yet.
The words, “Standby for Titanfall” still gives me goose bumps.
I have no doubt that Titanfall will become one of the most spectated first person shooters of the next generation. Jet packing pilots, ascending and agile Titans, pilots being thrown or blown into a cloud of bloody bits, Respawn’s new and first shooter is eye-wateringly spectacular to watch.
Here we get a look at one of the story-like based missions that Respawn has been bragging about. The mission as the Militia is to extract a drunken pilot named Barker who’s key to the resistance. They are then intercepted by the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation.
This is Attrition Mode.
In the battlefield, you hear the IMC forces demanding Barker, as the hunt you down. All the Titanfall action is here, Titans bullet field catching and returning to sender, pilots boarding Titans seamlessly from any direction in the battlefield, watching enemy pilots jettisoning themselves out of a Titan eject and then hunting them down after their hopeful ascent. Lives are lost, and the battle came to a close as the pilots make a mad dash for Barker and the evac, ending the match.
As much as we would have liked Titanfall to be a Xbox One launch title, we’ll have to wait until Spring 2014.
Viva la Vita
If you’re saying that Vita has no games, then shut your mouth (just kidding). If you think that no games are coming out for it, then look no further than today’s mega announcements. Fez, along with Velocity 2X, Starbound, the sequel to my favorite Vita game this far – Hotline Miami – the indie hit Rogue Legacy, and many more are coming to Vita. But the biggest announcement is Borderlands 2.
Yes the time-sink co-op shooter from last year is coming to Vita, and it’s slated for 2014. Unlike 2K’s other shooter, Bioshock Infinite, after Randy Pitchford stated that he’d like to see Borderlands 2 on Vita, Gearbox has proven that they weren’t kidding.
Vita has waited a long time for a solid FPS to come to the platform. And yes, Killzone Mercenaries is coming this fall, but Borderlands 2 might be that killer app that Vita has been yearning for; and along side Hotline Miami 2, Fez, and Rogue Legacy, Playstation’s powerhouse handheld is now reaching 110% worth its purchase.
Second Son, Second set of Powers
Infamous Second Son takes the idea from Infamous 2 where Cole adopts the powers of his female companions and stretches it to all the conduits Delsin meets. In the latest Second Son trailer, we see him absorb the powers of a purple power based conduit who seemed to be terrorizing citizens. The interesting question is will Delsin’s absorbed powers be based on the decisions he makes? With the patters from the first two Infamous titles, we can very well assume so.
Look for Infamous Second Son in 2014.
The Many Layers of Beyond: 2 Souls
E3’s Somalian trailer of Beyond 2 Souls was confusing, further belittling our assumed understanding of Jodie’s life with Aiden. At Gamescom, we get yet again a different look at Jodie’s relationship with this entity, the strangely father daughter relationship with the government scientist Nathan Dawkins played by Willem Dafoe, and how Jodie’s life contains a battle for normalcy.
A purple and black hair dyed, gothic dressed Jodie has an argument with Dawkins demanding that she be allowed to carry a life of a normal teenager. We also see another Jodie, this time draped in a silky red dress before watching her mirror fracture from Aiden’s aggression, unwilling to allow her to go on her date. It’s a two way struggle as both “guardians” in her life also act as intrusions, interfering with her social life and forming her identity as an experiment, as a dangerous weapon.
I cant wait to spend several days in the life of Jodie Holmes in Beyond 2 Souls.
Tuesday’s kick-off of Gamescom 2013 was hefty with announcements and reveals from COD Ghosts’ Blitz mode and Titanfall’s Attrition mode, to a developer look at Dragon Age Inquisition and a deeper look at the quietly anticipated Beyond: Two Souls.
Today was a little lighter on announcements, but nonetheless important.
News technically broke yesterday, but we here in the states got it today. After all the awesome game announcements for the Playstation Vita, we get word that it’ll receive a much awaited price drop to $199. It’s the perfect 1-2 punch that the Vita needs; more games for less money.
Titanfall finally got in the hands of the press, and the word is that it does not disappoint. The mobility and automated actions have been described as very intuitive with “magnetic” sensitivity. Titans have been revealed to have more defensive abilities such as deployable electrically charged smoke for enemy players hopping on their backs and bubble shields after their drop from orbit. Titanfall is being constantly iterated through its pre-alpha stage, and the game already looks like it plays like a dream.
And though this is minor news, Microsoft has stated that Xbox One will “never be sold without Kinect”. This satiates my assumptions that the next gen system could be sold without the Kinect bundled -- even though Xbox One can function without it – to keep it at a competitive price against the PS4. This is reassuring, for strange people like me and I’m sure more so for developers who are thinking of integrating Kinect functionality in their games.
What's this "Automatic payments"?
But what interested me the most was the news that broke about The Elder Scrolls Online requiring a $15 monthly subscription fee. This is unexpected news considering a market where a large portion of the high profile MMOs have gone free-to-play. Their reasoning was to allow them the freedom to make the game that they want. We can assume that he means that the designers don’t have to make accommodations for the structure of the game to focus on incentivizing players to purchase goods instead of playing the game without the constant contemplation of transactions. It’s an interesting and noble stance, but unfortunately this opts me out of getting TESOL.
Like gym memberships and other participation-on-my-part monthly services, I will not always get my money’s worth for $15 a month. The extra expense feels like a dictation that I HAVE to play this game since another $15 has been deducted from my bank account. It’s a shame that Zenimax hasn’t found a way to balance the game in a way that like any GOOD free-to-play game, allows me to pay and play at my own discretion. I was excited to pick up another Skyrim experience next year, but an added expense to my already tight monthly budget? No thanks.
Destiny had a pretty disappointing behind-closed-doors demo at Gamescom today, with a minor tease of “exploring in a different direction” to retreading the very mission seen at E3 earlier this year. However, a developer video revealed some new secrets about Destiny.
First off is the three weapon system, which in passing sounds insignificant; but when looking at the standard of today’s FPSs and the influence that this very developer had on it, it’s pretty remarkable. It’s strange listening to the developers categorize these three weapon slots into classes, first being an assault styled weapon. The second is more optional, described as a weapon that’s “right for the moment”, be that a magnum, a shotgun or a sniper rifle. The third is used for heavy devastation, a suppression modeled, high damage weapon that causes destruction to a lot of enemies.
The classes of each weapon matters little; it’s more so the fact that we’ll be wielding three weapons at a time. This isn’t done often in shooters at all, few being games like Gears of War which split your arsenal between a primary, secondary and handgun of some sorts. Bungie standardized the two weapons system from a time where old shooters had players juggling through an entire armory on their person. This jump from two to three, giving us a more versatile sense of fire power on the battlefield, is one of the many major changes Bungie is bringing to Destiny.
The second was a glimpse at competitive multiplayer. Destiny’s adversarial mode looks unlike anything Bungie has ever done with Halo. Matches look to be heavily reliant on space magic or “Supers” as the team calls it. Some of them look to be iterations of special equipment seen in Halo such as one that looks like a Bubble Shield and another that looks to be an offensive AOE ability that animates like Armor Lock. But as you can imagine, there are many straight up explosive projectiles seen from the mission demoes such as the Nova Bomb that causes instant devastation to multiple enemies within a certain blast radius.
From the team that defined a generation of competitive shooters, we can safely bet that Destiny will garner a strong competitive multiplayer community… along with a community for every other type of imagined mode and play style in the game.
“Second screen gaming” has been a term that has risen within the past year. It implies that while one player controls the primary role in the game, a second player takes a secondary position, either cooperatively or adversarially, in a sort of alter-synchronous relationship with player one.
Beyond: Two Souls adopts a classical second screen design with one player controlling Jodie Holmes and the second player controlling Aiden. But at Gamescom, after the announcement of two player option in Beyond, Quantic Dream co-founder David Cage also announced that players will be able to interact with the game in a different way by taking the PS3 controller completely out of the equation and letting them control the game with just the touch device with a friend.
This is perhaps one of the most unique and important methods of utilizing touch devices in console gaming we’ve seen as of late. Cage’s team’s philosophy follows the phenomenon that followed their last PS3 title, Heavy Rain; the resounding feedback the developer has gotten about players – including myself – having spouses, parents, grandparents and significant others participate in the game as engaging spectators. Quantic Dream’s style of game draws people regardless of gaming experience thanks to their dramatic story telling.
Allowing players to control the game primarily from a touch devise pulls these style of players in, bridging their interactivity with a control scheme that tailors to a level of understanding that is as common as the use of smartphones.
As we see second screen gaming as a tertiary control method to traditional controller based gameplay, there is certainly more than enough room to allow touch devices to gravitate to the forefront. Beyond comes out this October for the Playstation 3, but hopefully this idea doesn’t live and die with that game and system.

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