Author: Faraz Shakeel

Everything announced at Sony’s E3 2017 press conference

While Sony’s E3 conference this year was arguably lackluster in comparison to the company’s almost unprecedented successes of their previous presentations at the gaming expo since the launch of the Playstation 4, there can be no doubt this year’s romp has nevertheless still imparted a sizeable chunk of interesting, albeit somewhat derivative, information onto the gaming sphere.

To my chagrin, Sony has stipulated a reliance on drab expansions and remasters/re-releases in favour of an abundance of original games this year, but thankfully some highlights such as the PS4 exclusive insomniac-developed Spider-Man game and the reveal of Monster Hunter: World as the first globally released entry in the series to not be exclusive to a Nintendo console in about a decade help to partially redeem this.

Expansions, DLC, Remasters/Remakes and VR

Uncharted: Lost Legacy – August 22nd 2017

This one’s pretty standard. Just more good ol’ Uncharted cinematic flair and fluid 80s action movie-esque gameplay. Not bad by any means, but not anything rivetingly exciting, especially given that we’ve known about this expansion for a while.

Horizon: Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds – Late 2017

Based on Horizon’s sales figures and popularity this was to be expected at some point. The ‘Wilds’ aspect of the title is quite intriguing when you take into account the game’s chief competition at the time of its launch, Nintendo’s critically lauded Legend of Zelda: Breath of the ‘Wild’. While Zero Dawn garnered exuberant critical praise many reviewers and fans alike somewhat ostracised the game for its lack of attempting to innovate and deconstruct the open world genre in the vein of Zelda, so I’m eager to see Guerrilla Games’ response to this enduring criticism of ‘playing it safe’.

Shadow of the Colossus HD Remake – 2018

I was rather taken aback by this initially due to the fact that there’s already been an HD remaster of the game bundled with its spiritual predecessor Ico on the Playstation 3. However this seems to actually be a reMAKE from the ground up like Insomniac’s ‘game based on a movie based on a game’ 2016 Ratchet and Clank reboot.

Playstation VR Games

This year’s conference was again drenched with a slew of VR titles ranging from subtly and intrepidly compelling to borderline prosaic.

Some of these include –

  • Skyrim (VR re-release)
  • Bravo Team (Military shooter)
  • Star Child (Cosmic Action-Adventure)
  • Final Fantasy XV – Fishing (Really Square? -_-)

Playstation Exclusives

God of War – Early 2018

The camera’s now over Kratos’ shoulder, which puts you right in there when he rips things apart. Combat looks pretty fun and interesting but overall more of the same classic God of War formula we know and love.

Detroit: Become Human – TBD

If you liked Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls you’ll be ecstatic about David Cage’s next game. Detroit is Quantum Dream’s take on the neo-noir thriller, filled to the brim with their now signature branched out story and series of QTEs as a means of changing course. Hoping it can reach the heights of 2015’s Until Dawn.

Days Gone – December 29th 2017 (Subject to be changed)

Wasn’t really too impressed with this one to be honest. It has the most generic premise – open world, zombie apocalypse, survival horror, third person shooter. Pretty much the blueprint for your standard run of the mill AAA game released between 2005 and now. I’m willing to be cautiously optimistic because of the game being developed by SIE Bend Studio, responsible for 2012’s Vita exclusive Uncharted: Golden Abyss.

Marvel’s Spider-Man – 2018

Here’s the big one folks. Sony’s crown jewel of the event was no doubt their highly anticipated Arkham-influenced Spider-Man game. The last couple years for most Spidey fans have evoked a sense of lassitude and weariness with the critical and commercial bomb that was The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (both the movie and the video game), the heavily divisive and rambunctiously immature Ultimate Spider-Man animated television series on Disney XD, and the demise of Peter Parker in the comics and Doctor Octopus effectively snatching up the role for a while, only for Parker to eventually return to a world full of other Spider characters like Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen Stacy while facing creeping irrelevance in the shadow of the Avengers.

Last year’s stellar Captain America: Civil War in the form of an excellently executed performance by Tom Holland reignited public interest for the character, and this year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and Insomniac’s subsequent game hope to solidify this lurid resurgence. Insomniac Games, responsible for developing another fan favourite Playstation exclusive IP Ratchet & Clank, many fans believe have the potential to achieve this sanctity when taken into account their spotless track record. Seldom have their various games received less than an 80 on aggregate sites like Metacritic, thus spurring excitement for what could be done by them with Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s everyman superhero.

Multi-Platform Games

Call of Duty: WWII – November 3rd 2017 (Also on Xbox One and PC)

Battlefield 1!…….. in World War II. Long story short, Activision saw EA’s success with their period piece shooter and decided to supposedly return Call of Duty to its roots by striding away from the dwindling sales of the newer futurism-induced titles in the series and returning to the tried and true war of resistance.

Monster Hunter: World – Q1/Q2 2018

This was quite significant as the Monster Hunter series outside of Japan for the last few years has been delegated singularly to Nintendo consoles after initially debuting on Playstation. From Monster Hunter Tri and its enhanced Monster Hunter 3 being released exclusively to the Wii and the 3DS and Wii U respectively, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and Generations both being solely released on the 3DS, and the recent announcement of the enhanced version of generations being 3DS and Nintendo Switch exclusive, it was all but assumed that Capcom had either no plans or no incentive to bring the series to any other consoles in the west, perhaps as a result of the series’ niche position outside the Land of the Rising Sun.

Monster Hunter: World has proved skeptics wrong as Capcom have blithely allowed Sony to unveil their new gem. Could this be an attempt to streamline the complexities of the core MH gameplay to appeal to western audiences?

Some other non-exclusive Playstation games that were absent from Sony’s presentation include but are not limited to – Dragon Ball FighterZ, Marvel VS. Capcom: Infinite, Destiny 2, Undertale, etc.

Nintendo Switch announced

Nintendo Switch

After several months of intense speculation from everyone in and out of the gaming industry, Nintendo’s new home console the ‘Nintendo Switch’ has finally been unveiled and….. it’s pretty much exactly what we all thought it was. As reported by Eurogamer back in August, the Switch is indeed a console handheld hybrid that gives consumers the ability to play games with current generation home console specs on the go.

The main system, referred to as the “Switch console”, is a tablet with two detachable “Joy-Con” controllers. The controllers can be removed and held independently of the console, either separately in each hand (similarly to a Wii Remote and Nunchuck), attached to a grip to provide a traditional gamepad form factor, as two separate controllers for multiple players, or they can be used whilst attached to the Switch console.

For gamers not interested in a portable experience, Nintendo has you covered with a docking station that can be connected to your standard HD or 4K TV to fully appreciate the newfound graphical fidelity of their next gen console. It is unconfirmed whether or not the docking station will boost performance in any shape or form, but either way the console seems to have specs that are at worst comparable to the Xbox One, thus meaning that it’s more than serviceable for the general market of 2016.

Additionally, Nvidia has confirmed that Switch uses a system-on-chip from its Nvidia Tegra family of products “based on the same architecture as the world’s top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards”, and a custom API.

Furthermore, the Switch has abandoned the now-seen-as tradition of using optical discs for home consoles in favour of reverting back to cartridges like the NES, SNES and N64. However, these cartridge-like GameCards are more akin to those of the DS and 3DS in design than anything from the 3rd, 4th and 5th console generations.

As for games, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, originally announced as a Wii U exclusive, is being developed for both Wii U and Switch, and prior to the reveal, several third-party titles were confirmed for Switch in 2016, including Just Dance 2017, and Project Sonic 2017. The console’s reveal trailer showcased footage from potential new titles in the Super Mario, Mario Kart, and Splatoon franchises.

More information about the console, including price is expected to be announced soon. But this was just a sneak peek of what the Switch has to offer.

So Gamenologers, what do you think about the Switch?

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review

The RPG genre is a stranger to very few people. It initially spawned popularity in the late 80s when gamers spent hundreds of hours crawling through dungeons in early NES titles such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior. Over the course of the last 25+ years, the definition of the genre has slowly, but defiantly evolved into something much more real and time consuming, but what’s charming is the fact that the overall concept has remained the same. Roam around a vastly filled over world with dozens of quests to complete and even more weapons and magic to obtain.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim honours this tradition in the most intuitive way imaginable, making it one of the best games of all time, and one that any RPG fan should have in his/her collection. The land of Skyrim seems never ending at the first glance, and offers a wide array of areas to explore at the player’s pleasure, ranging from snowy mountains, to huge cities and caverns that’ll blow even the most veteran players away. Whether you want to delve into the main story and uncover the secrets of your dragonborn heritage and why the dragons have reappeared, or join the Stormcloaks and rebel against the empire is completely up to you.

One of the many features of Skyrim that’s particularly interesting, is the open ended way it can play. Levelling up is done by using a specific skill constantly. For example, if you constantly use destruction spells like fire and ice that damage an enemy, your destruction level will eventually increase. Unless your playing the Legendary Edition of Skyrim (which features all of the aditional DLC and let’s you level up all of your skills to the max), you can only level your character up to 80, meaning you can improve no more than 80 skills. This allows every player to have a different approach to their playing and creates a unique experience every time you play it. The game also allows you to more or less ignore the main story if you wish to, and do an unlimited amount of other things. The player can join the Companions by transforming into a werewolf and become the mightiest warrior of them all, join the Thieves Guild and become the greatest criminal mankind has ever known, register in the College of Winterhold and master the arts of magic, or even get married and become a simple blacksmith. The possibilities are endless.

Role playing games allow gamers to escape the problems of the real world, and go to a fantasy world, filled with magical creatures and objects that would otherwise be fiction. I suppose the real magic is how a good RPG allows the player to, for a second, believe that all of the fiction is real. No game does that better then the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Gameplay – The gameplay is extremely fluid and fun and never leaves the player wanting anything else. – 10/10

Presentation – The province of Skyrim is fascinating and beautiful, but occasionally suffers from minor glitches. It rarely distracts from the enjoyable experience though. – 8.5/10

Story – The game allows player choose their own path and make their own amazing story filled with whatever they please. The main story is thrilling and will always leave you wanting more. –  9.5/10

Overall Rating – 9.5/10