E3 Gleanings So Far

February 11th 2020 cannot come quickly enough.

While perhaps not feeling as quite on the outside of things as UltrViolet of Endgame Viable, I can relate. Normally E3 is a time of vast excitement to me, even from around the other side of the world with no plans on physically attending. The announcements, the new trailers, the slew of release dates — it’s all awesome stuff.

This year things have felt a bit different. The excitement levels seem dampened compared to normal. I’ve taken a browse of the trailers, and while I’m sure there is absolutely still stuff to be found, things I’ve missed…

There just doesn’t seem to be any new announcements to truly spin up the hype-drive. There wasn’t any game that I didn’t already know about that excited me, this time around. There are certainly games I’m interested in, case in point being Ori and the Will of the Wisps trailer above. It isn’t the best of the Ori and the Will of the Wisps’ trailers by any stretch, but now we know when it’s coming, and it still looks and sounds1 amazing.

I also managed to catch the new Cyberpunk 2077 trailer featuring Keanu Reeves (and an April 16th 2020 release date) which was awesome, but with or without Keanu this was a title I was excited for.

I was hoping the Ubisoft press event would give some information on the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok — the Vikings themed entry to the series. After how much joy I managed to extract from the recent Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, I really hoped to hear more about how they’re improving on the new AC formula. I wonder now whether we’ll still see this in 2020?

In any case, for a much more complete overview — Belghast has done a fantastic write-up already on the Google Stadia, EA Play, Microsoft and Bethesda events here. I had missed seeing Darksiders Genesis before Bel’s post — but taking a look at it now? Sigh. It looks to be carrying on the legacy of disappointment begun with Darksiders 3. But in an even more low-effort way.

If you haven’t played Darksiders 2 yet — definitely do that. It had a remaster a few years back which keeps it looking fairly fresh. It’s an epic adventure, mixing elements of the Metroidvania-style games, with a bit of Zelda, a bit of Action RPG and a dash of Devil May Cry. Definitely play it. Just… Stop there. ;)

Ghostwire Tokyo might be interesting? Just too little shown to be sure. The concept is intriguing though. Anything leap out and grab you guys?

Gaming Outside your Normal Genres

Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition — Prologue Sequence.

I like a stupidly wide array of gaming genres, so there is very little that truly sits apart from what I would consider to have at least the possibility of being fun. But I do have certain preferences. I generally like RPGs more than I like racers. I tend toward Turn Based Strategy games moreso than Real Time Strategy.

But that’s a fairly black and white look at things. There is a lot of genre blending going on these days. And even with something otherwise quite clear as TBS > RTS for me, that is not to say there’s no room for the likes of Paradox’ Grand Strategy games. Crusader Kings II and Stellaris, despite being played Real Time sit amongst my favourite games of all.

Then there is simply whim and current appetites to account for. Sometimes I’ll see them coming (e.g., I’m on the prowl for a good Tycoon game to play at the moment). Other times it’ll be a complete surprise.

Breaking it down a little further, I’ve found that I value some game attributes or features more than others. Chief amongst them for me, is semblance of progression. But that doesn’t necessarily mean direct character power progression. Story counts. Deeper understanding of game systems does too. In many ways I think I do subscribe to Raph Koster’s idea of fun arising through mastery and understanding.

But for all that, one genre I haven’t gotten on with at all for a very long time is the Platformer genre. *shudder*

I loved them as a kid, Sonic the Hedgehog and Alex the Kidd in Miracle World on the Sega Mastersystem were my jam. Possibly because we didn’t really have much else at that point in time, but still…

As an adult, I’ve tried a few times — Dustforce I really wanted to like. I checked in on Super Meatboy when it was being raved about. Possibly one or two others over time as well. But none of them really clicked with me.

Well, Almost None.

You might have already surmised — but Ori and the Blind Forest busted down the genre barrier for me in a huge way, at least for the context of itself. (I still don’t appreciate other platformers.)

The art of the game, the sheer wonder of its craft — in way of visual, musical and story was enough to not only get me to want to play it, but see me through the trials the genre offers me in general.

Certainly it is assisted by having an RPG-lite skill system, and a bit of a Metroidvania aspect to it which helped me along. But I cannot overstate the absolute joy the game is to see and hear. The story then offers a bit of a gut-punch counterpoint in sorrow, at least in parts. It is also a story that talks to the strength of kindness.

I just happened to see this again in my Steam library the other day while looking for something else and couldn’t get it out of my head. If it isn’t a game you’ve yet played, I’d highly recommend giving it a go. Despite basically all advertising for the game being Xbox centric, it is there for PC players too.

That there is a sequel coming at some point this year fills me with excitement too. The teasers released so far (which I’ll include below) seem to indicate that Ori was not a fluke. In which case we should be in for another real treat, despite the platforming roots.

I can’t think of any other titles that have had the power to break down such a fundamental issue as its genre for me. Inversely though, I can think of many titles which ‘On Paper’ sound exactly like things that I should like… But don’t. The ‘Total War’ series being my classic example of that.

Have you had any similar experiences, one way or another?