by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 25th June, 2019
Microsoft Shared Details about Next-Gen Xbox, Watch Dogs Legion lets you play as literally anyone, Neo is part of Cyberpunk 2077, Final Fantasy VII remake got a release date, and much more.
E3 2019 was solid and we got to see lots of new and exciting games but the fact that Sony flat out skipped the show and that many major games haven't included gameplay in their trailers put a small shade on the whole event. That and it's clear the industry slowed down a bit before the push set for 2020, which will enter into overdrive near the end of the year once next-gen consoles hit the market.
Nevertheless, we saw a lot and we found out a bit of detail about the upcoming Xbox. Nothing fancy, just general specs, similar to what Sony shared about the PS5 earlier this year.
Games subscription services are richer for two members; both Microsoft and Ubisoft launched their services for PC and the one is clearly better than the other (more on that later). Google unveiled details about its Stadia video game streaming service and it doesn't look really exciting.
When it comes to actual game announcements well, there were a couple of pretty cool moments but most of publisher conferences either focused on already announced and released games (with more and more live services we ought to expect bigger focus on already released games in the future) or they gave us extremely short snippets of upcoming titles. Stay with us and find out highlights from each conference from E3 2019.
Google took a few days before others in order to provide details about its upcoming Stadia streaming platform. And the news isn't really exciting.
The service will come in two flavors; the free option will launch in 2020, it will offer streaming at 1080p and 60fps but you have to buy every game you want to play on Stadia. The premium tier costs $10 (and will be available as soon as Stadia officially launches in late 2019) and the price gets you 4K at 60fps streaming as well as a bundle of free games (think of it as a sort of a game pass).
The problem is that, for now, the only free game offered with Stadia Pro subscription is Destiny 2 but Google promised that the company will add new games to the list on a regular basis.
After it launches, Stadia will work on all computers running Google Chrome, on Pixel 3 smartphones (more smartphone models will be supported later), and on Chromecast Ultra.
The controller looks cool and according to multiple reports, it is very comfortable and easy to use, thanks to its dedicated buttons for taking screenshots and pulling up Google Assistant.
As for the performance, Google offered the press and influencers Doom Eternal demo running on Stadia and while the mutual agreement is that there's no noticeable lag (it seems Google really improved on the most important part of the service) there were lots of random freezes and extreme drops in quality (some report that the image quality dropped to 320p at times because the internet connection used was overburdened) which isn't really promising, especially since the streaming was done in 1080p.
We'll have to wait for the official launch to see how Stadia works in an uncontrolled environment (the E3 Doom demo used wired, top of the line internet connection).
Instead of doing a full-fledged conference EA did a small streaming event that featured a couple of interviews with developers along with a couple of trailers. All in all, seven games were shown and only two of those are worth mentioning.
First, we have Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order developed by Respawn, the studio behind Titanfall and Apex Legends. The presentation showed one level and while the said level looked really linear, combat and force powers do look cool.
Visuals are okay and are nothing special, especially when compared with upcoming games such as Death Stranding and The Last of Us 2. The game feels like Uncharted in Star Wars universe, with lots of jumping and climbing but environments feel too linear and claustrophobic for a game that should come out in 2019.
Even Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy pushed the scope of levels and abandoned extremely linear level design seen in the PS3 trilogy.
But, some reports of closed doors demo of the game do note that other environments do look bigger and feature branching paths, featuring a sort of linear experience that does include lots of exploration (again, like in the last two Uncharted games) along with hidden areas and secrets that can be unlocked with specific powers, which encourages players to return to levels they already played.
Combat looks very cool, with lots of usage of force powers, intense lightsaber combat, and always welcome saber throws. Overall, the game looks like more than solid story-driven AAA experience, just what Star Wars fans wanted for years.
It certainly won't cause tectonic movements when it comes out but it probably is the best Star Wars game in more than a decade.
Other interesting details from EA stream event include the announcement of Apex Legends Season 2, which will bring tons of unlockable rewards as well as one new character, and the announcement that FIFA 20 will include street football mode that will be playable in single and multiplayer, which is really cool.
Microsoft rocked the E3 and, along with Ubisoft, had the best conference of this year's E3. The company shared details about its upcoming console, announced Xbox Game Pass for PC, and showed some new footage on Halo Infinite and Cyberpunk 2077.
First things first, let's talk about next-gen hardware. It was known for a while about general specs of the next-gen consoles (Ryzen 2 CPU, AMD Navi GPU, SSD) but Microsoft finally officially confirmed some of them during its conference.
The console will be powered by Ryzen 2 CPU and it will come with Ray Tracing support, like the PS4. SSD is considered as the biggest upgrade compared to the last generation and it will virtually erase loading times.
On top of eliminating loading in most games, the SSD can be used as a hybrid RAM meaning more memory to work with meaning larger and more detailed game worlds.
The console will support the 8K resolution and up to 120 frames per second but in reality, the content will be rendered in 4K and we shouldn't expect anything higher than 60fps in most games.
Now VR, on the other hand, might be a reason for 120fps support and we think that such high frame rate support means that both Microsoft and Sony (the PS5 is also rumored to come with 8K and 120fps support) will go all in when it comes to VR. Xbox Project Scarlett is set to launch during 2020 holiday season and it will come with full Xbox One backward compatibility.
Next, Microsoft is releasing Xbox Game Pass on PC, and that's great news for all PC gamers. The original Xbox Game Pass is superb value for all gamers and its PC cousin is the same. Priced at $5 during beta and $10 once the service undergoes full launch, it offers more than 100 games, with MS first party titles (such as Gears 5 and Halo: Master Chief Collection) arriving day one.
Also, Xbox Game Pass for PC will regularly receive new games. The list features some heavy hitters such as Wolfenstein II, Football Manager 2019, Metro: Exodus, Gears 4, Forza Horizon 4, Sunset Overdrive and more. There are also dozens of excellent indie titles such as Hollow Knight, Mutant Year Zero, Slay the Spire, Thumper, etc.
In related news, the new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate ($15 per month) bundles Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold and tucks in Game Pass for PC for free, which is really nice. Further, Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will receive early access and deluxe editions of all upcoming Microsoft first party titles.
The company also works on a new Xbox Elite controller which brings a slew of improvements (the biggest being its rechargeable battery that promises 40 hours of game time) but also has an elite price point: $180. And if you're worried that your expensive Elite controller won't work with the upcoming Xbox Scarlett fear not; Microsoft announced that all Xbox One controllers will work with the next-gen console.
And last but not least we have Microsoft's push into game streaming with Project xCloud, the promise of gaming on literally any device with a screen and an internet connection.
E3 demos worked on flagship smartphones equipped with wired controllers and Wi-Fi connection and results were stunning. Basically no noticeable lag and excellent visual quality were a common agreement. It was all streamed from an outside server and the fact that the whole thing works that good over Wi-Fi is nothing short of stunning.
When it comes to games Microsoft didn't really blow our mind with any release but we've seen lots of cool games and a couple of super cool moments.
Keanu Reeves will star in Cyberpunk 2077 as a digital ghost of Johnny Silverhand (a character from Cyberpunk 2020, the board game Cyberpunk 2077 is based on) stored on a chip found inside the main protagonist's head, which ensures frequent moments filled with Johnny's witty remarks.
His character will follow the main protagonist throughout the game and Keanu should play a large role in the game's story. Closed doors demo of the game showcased multiple ways players can tackle every mission, a bit of open-world driving (and everyone agreed that the driving looks awesome), and a couple of different builds that focus on a different approach to quests. The game also received a release date: 16 April 2020, which is just around the corner.
Halo Infinite received another trailer and, sadly, again it was just another pre-rendered cinematic trailer that sets up the story of the game and announces the return of Master Chief and Cortana.
The game is slated as Xbox Scarlett launch title and should arrive in late 2020. Overall, it looks really cool but without gameplay, it's all style and zero substance. Microsoft showed a bit of the remastered version of Age of Empires II and the game looks extremely sharp and colorful. It should arrive this year (day one of PC Game Pass) and will come with one new campaign.
Gears 5 had a showcase and we learned about a new co-op mode called Escape which looks kind of interesting.
Anyway, the game should feature the biggest single player campaign seen in Gears game till date and it arrives September 10, 2019.
Other notable announcements include the new game from From Software, which George R.R Martin created the world for. Elden Rings trailer looks grandiose but we'll have to wait a bit before seeing the game in action. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is arriving on February 11 and the game looks magnificent.
The latest trailer showed boss battles and, oh my, those bosses look amazing. Ninja Theory (DMC, Hellblade) announced the studio's new game called Bleeding Edge. It is an online melee brawler and it looks like a mix between Borderlands and Overwatch.
Gameplay footage shows a fun game with lots of cool effects and an interesting combat system that works great in practice. We also got a sneak peek at Minecraft Dungeons, a Diablo-like dungeon crawler from Mojang that looks adorable. The game launches for all systems in Spring 2020.
Tim Shaffer and Double Fine joined Microsoft's flock of game studios and they showed a gameplay video for Psychonauts 2, which looks weird, cute, and extremely interesting.
We also saw a slew of indie games, most of which will launch on Xbox Game Pass day one. A long conference filled with games and exciting announcements but we would've liked to see more gameplay videos. This was the biggest letdown of the whole E3; too many cinematic trailers and too little gameplay footage.
Bethesda didn't show much during E3. The focus was Fallout 76 and the major upcoming update that will bring human NPCs to the game. Bethesda promised multiple quest lines, the return of Fallout 3 styled conversation system, and even choices and consequences, which will be interesting to see in a shared world multiplayer game.
The game's also getting a battle royale mode where 52 players battle for the office of the Vault 51 Overseer. Both updates are completely free with the latter coming "very soon."
We got another look at the fantastic Doom Eternal. It seems developers took Doom (2016) and filled it with all kinds of steroids. The game feels faster, bloodier, and more explosive than ever before.
Movement is much faster and thanks to a couple of new tools doom marine can now grapple to ledges and enemies, and move around maps extremely fluid and quick. Gunplay is still amazing and the game looks a bit prettier than it was a year before. Doom Eternal comes out November 22.
Bethesda also revealed two new games. The first one comes from Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within 1 and 2) and is called GhostWire: Tokyo.
It's an action adventure set in Tokyo where masses of people suddenly disappear, with the town now infected with ghosts and other otherworldly entities. The second game comes from Arkane Studios (Prey reboot, Dishonored) and is called Deathloop.
The trailer showed two assassins caught in an endless time loop, where they kill each other in creative ways. Looks interesting and original but the game's cinematic trailer didn't reveal much about the actual game.
PC gaming show was all about indie developers. We saw a ton of announcements so let's cover the most interesting ones. Standalone Auto Chess game is made by Dragonest and it's coming later this year to PC as Epic Store exclusive.
Chivalry 2, the sequel to once popular melee multiplayer title ) and one of the biggest inspirations for the current melee hit, Mordhau) is also coming to PC as Epic Store Exclusive in 2020. Genesis Noir, an eccentric adventure with striking visual style, looked really interesting and you definitely should watch for that one.
Maneater, the shark RPG announced last year, showed a gameplay video and it looks as silly and fun as last in last year's trailer. You can eat people and grow, you can unlock all kinds of wicked powers and basically, look at Maneater as "GTA in the sea" as the game's developers explained.
Midnight Ghost Hunt is another game that caught our attention. It's a multiplayer title akin to Dead by Daylight and Evolve, where a group of ghost hunters must catch the ghost that terrorizes the mansion before midnight, or else...
Per Aspera is an RTS game where you play as an AI deployed to Mars by Earth's scientists with the sole purpose of terraforming the whole planet. It looks really cool and expansive, with huge maps and an insane number of elements.
Shenmue 3 received a new gameplay video and the game is announced as yet another Epic Games Store exclusive. Telling Lies is another game for Her Story creator Sam Barlow and it looks pretty interesting, with multiple characters and much more content than in Her Story.
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines II also got a gameplay trailer and it looks great. The city is excellently designed and the combat is a mix of using classic weapons and vampire powers.
Visuals are great and now all we have to wait is 2020 to play this excellent looking RPG. Last but not least, Warframe will receive another expansion titled Empyrean.
It adds a bunch of content and more will be revealed on July 6.
Ubisoft is entering game subscription service with a service called Uplay+. For $15 per month you get access to every single Ubisoft game available on Uplay as well as "early access" to new games along with their deluxe editions meaning all DLCs, season passes, and other bonuses are unlocked for all Uplay+ subscribers.
The service will launch on PC and Google Stadia meaning that, starting 2020, players will be able to play Ubisoft games for just $15 over Stadia on every PC.
Other major announcements from the Ubisoft E3 2019 conference include new Watch Dogs game, a slew of announcements for Ubisoft's live service titles, and two new IPs. Watch Dogs Legion looks and plays great (at least according to gameplay videos from E3) and the game will allow gamers to play as any NPC in the game, taking out the N out from NPC. Of course, the road to recruiting someone to DedSec isn't a straight one.
The player will have to do a couple of missions in order to convince each new recruit to join the movement, but that doesn't put a shade on one of the biggest and coolest new features we've seen in video games in the last decade. Even enemies can be recruited now that non-lethal weapons are a thing in Watch Dogs (about half of all available weapon in Legion are said to be non-lethal).
You can lose your recruits in case they die during missions (permadeath mechanic), which is another welcome change. The game takes place in London, and the city looks beautiful. Watch Dogs Legion comes out 6 March 2020.
Two new IPs unveiled at this year's Ubisoft conference are Roller Champions and Gods and Monsters.
The first one is a free-to-play roller derby game with cartoonish visuals (akin to Rocket League) and arcade gameplay. The second title looks a lot like the last Zelda game, and we mean that in a positive way. Gorgeous visuals and interesting premise might lead Gods and Monsters on to become one of the hidden gems of 2020.
We will know more once the game gets out on February 25, 2020. Another cool little game we saw is called Tom Clancy's Elite Squad and is sort of an all-star type of mobile game that plays as a turn-based strategy and incorporates lots of characters from Ubisoft's Tom Clancy-branded games.
Square Enix hosted one of the best presentations at this year's E3 filled with cool games and actual gameplay videos (except for the most anticipated title, Marvel's Avengers).
Final Fantasy VII Remake took the center stage and we saw enough gameplay to believe this remake will rock the whole 2020 along with other heavy hitters such as Cyberpunk 2077, Watch Dogs Legion, Halo Infinite, and The Last of Us 2 (which should come out in February 2020).
Visuals are stunning and general production values are stellar but the real star of the show is the combat system. It is a mix between turn-based and real-time elements and it works great. You land small attacks that fill your energy scale and then have to option to launch devastating abilities that do serious damage.
The boss battle shown in the trailer shows the tactical depth of the game. Pausing the fight allows players to make various decisions like in turn-based titles and the said boss has to be brought down by slowly chipping his health over time and then destroying its weak spots, which looks and plays amazing in motion. We can expect Final Fantasy VII Remake on March 3, 2020.
The middle of the show was reserved for a slew of announcements regarding new and remastered JRPG titles so if you're a fan of Japanese RPG philosophy get ready for one extremely busy year.
Final Fantasy 8 Remastered is coming to all major platforms later this year; Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition is landing on the PS4, mobile devices, and Switch also later in 2019.
You can download The Last Remnant Remaster right now on the Switch, and Dragon Quest Builders 2 launched on July 12 for PS4. Oh, and all you Dragon Quest fans, you will be able to play the game's definitive edition on Switch this fall.
And at the end of the show, Square Enix announced Marvel's Avengers with a tepid cinematic trailer that didn't show anything regarding gameplay. The story looks decent but the character models look generic and unfinished.
The problem is not that none of the Avengers looks like their MCU counterparts; it's simply that they look unfinished and bland. Anyway, the closed doors gameplay demo did improve our perception. Characters have cool moves and each Avenger feels unique and fun to play.
Once it comes out, the game will feature a single player campaign but also multiplayer co-op missions that you can play with friends or strangers online.
Since the game is developed by Crystal Dynamics (Tomb Raider Legend, Rise of the Tomb Raider) and Eidos Montreal (Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Deux Ex Manking Divided and Human Revolution) we believe that the game will look and play just fine and will end up as one of the bestselling titles of 2020.
Marvel's Avengers will be a live service game meaning regular additions of new missions and characters (the starting roster includes Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, and Black Widow), all that for free. The release date for Marvel's Avengers is set for May 15, 2020.
Nintendo did its Nintendo Direct stream during E3 and the company announced lots of exciting games for the Switch. Luigi's Mansion 3 looks lovely and we are sure it will become a new best seller on the Switch once it comes out later this year.
Visuals are lovely, Luigi has a ton of tools on his disposal and the game will support 2 players local co-op (player 2 can play as Gooigi) and 8-player local and online multiplayer).
Animal Crossing: New Horizons featured a gameplay trailer and the game looks prettier than ever. You arrive on a cute tropical island and are set to build your camp and any other things you need for leading a comfy life. There's lots more new stuff in the game including multiplayer support. Instead of its original 2019 release date, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will launch on March 20, 2020.
Banjo-Kazooie and Dragon Quest's The Hero are coming this year to Smash Bros. Ultimate, both as paid DLC characters. We also learn that a new Legend of Zelda game is cooking and it will be a direct sequel to the 2017's Breath of the Wild. And if you ever wanted to play The Witcher 3 on the go, it will be possible to do it later this year.
The Witcher 3 for the Switch looks great for a game that runs on such humble hardware and it seems CD Projekt Red somehow managed to make the game work at stable frame rate even in handheld more.
No More Heroes 3 is the third entry in the popular franchise and is set for release sometime in 2020. And in November 2019 we can expect a new Mario and Sonic at the Olympics game, which is the official game of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
And for the end, check out this huge throve of third-party games coming to the Switch during 2019: Spyro Reignited Trilogy ( September 3), Hollow Knight Silksong (no release date), Ni no Kuni (September 20), Minecraft Dungeons (Spring 2020) The Elder Scrolls: Blades (Fall 2019), My Friend Pedro (June 20), Doom Eternal (no release date), The Sinking City (Fall 2019), Wolfenstein: Youngblood (July 26, 2019), Dead by Daylight (September 24), Alien Isolation (2019), Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (winter 2019), Dragon Quest Builders 2 (July 12) Stranger Things 3 (July 4), Just Dance 2020 (November 5), Catan (June 20), New Super Lucky's Tale (Fall 2019), Dauntless (late 2019).