When the E3 festivities came to a close, we spent the last day on the floor at the Los Angeles Convention Centre attending our final hands-on sessions and meetings with PlayStation, Nintendo and Xbox, before spending the rest of the day as true gaming fans rushing across the various booths and stands to take in the full experience of the E3 Expo.
Our morning with PlayStation was fairly short as we spent about fifteen minutes with one of the developers from Santa Monica Studio as he walked us through the upcoming God of War game. It was absolutely refreshing to hear from the developer as he was incredibly passionate about the game and didn’t feel irritated or unenthused at having to repeat the same sentences over and over to different members of the media.
This new iteration of God of War looks to be a game changer, with gameplay that includes a very compelling storyline and superb graphics. The game sees a more mature and controlled Kratos, who must overcome his raging temper to guide and teach his young son the ways of becoming a warrior. In this way, the game appears to be similar in narrative to The Last of Us, which of course, means a whole lot of new fun for God of War fans. Though the narrative will undoubtedly be the highlight of the game, the thrilling new combat mechanics and the ability to play as Kratos and also control his son, albeit through limited movements, will be interesting.
After a thrilling experience with PlayStation, our next hands-on was with Nintendo, who stole the show with their surprising announcements, including Metroid Prime 4, which fans have been waiting more than a decade for. Though our hands-on didn’t include Metroid, we did have a great time playing Super Mario Odyssey and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle.
Super Mario Odyssey is exactly as we imagined. Fun, colourful and with old school 2D Super Mario aspects, the game was a blast to play through, especially with the introduction of Mario’s new abilities, including the ability to possess people and items, as well as throw his little red cap, ‘Cappy’, around to essentially knock out enemies and claim gold coins. The new, upgraded, 3D art style makes the game far more visually attractive, which made the experience of gameplay all the more enjoyable. Of course, seeing Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario himself, walking around the Nintendo stand made the experience all the more memorable.
Mario + Rabbids was pleasantly surprising. At first, I didn’t think that it’d be a game that I would enjoy, mostly because I’d never been a fan of the Rabbids animated shorts. A small part of me had always thought them as silly and utterly childish and something that no adult would pay much attention to. How wrong I was. After a short time of hands-on, playing the game on the Nintendo Switch console, I was converted. Mario + Rabbids is a super adorable, strategy based game, with elements of X-Com 2. It is a game that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike and gets progressively more challenging throughout each level, which was definitely welcome.
With Nintendo out of the way, even though we wished we had more time there, our next appointment was with ID @ Xbox, which was a nice change of pace. Instead of a hands-on, we watched the developers of Ashen, consisting of a team of three from Aurora 44, who surprisingly are a New Zealand based game development company, play through their game whilst explaining to us the background of Ashen and the style of gameplay. The game definitely has a unique art-style and has a Dark Souls III feel to it in terms of difficulty. The highlight of the game is its cooperative aspects, which will bode well for those who enjoy co-op games. Unfortunately, our time was cut short, but from what we saw, Ashen is certainly an indie title worth picking up.
Upon conclusion of our appointments, we spent the day roaming the expo hall and attempting to get some hands-on time with titles we missed out on, such as Sonic Forces. Though we had to wait in line for more than half an hour, we had a lot of fun with Sonic Forces and certainly can’t wait to pick it up for more game time.
The rest of our time on the E3 floor was essentially just taking in the environment of the convention. Thankfully the last day wasn’t as crowded, so we were able to breathe more easily and move around without stepping on any toes.
E3 certainly is on a whole other level compared to the local conventions we have both here in New Zealand and Australia. With the convention being open to the public this year, there were many complaints that the organisers hadn’t taken the amount of people into consideration and changed the layout of the convention or even the location. Hopefully next year will bode differently and will allow both members of the industry, media and the public to fully enjoy the fantastic awesomeness that comes with the biggest video games convention worldwide.