We look at our favourite PC titles from this year's E3.
By James Pinnell on June 21, 2013 at 4:20 pm
As the story goes with almost every single E3 of the past decade, the biggest stories all lied within the boundaries of Sony and Microsoft. Their epic battle (which turned out in the end to be a complete waste of time and money), sucked almost every single ounce of press attention away from, well, every other game that wasn’t featured in either press conference. But that doesn’t mean that a host of fantastic, (mostly) exclusive PC games weren’t announced, demoed and blatantly flaunted at unsuspecting press looking to fill their websites with something that didn’t involve the Kinect or anger about DRM.
Here are a few of my personal PC highlights from E3 – Let me know yours in the comments!
Command and Conquer
EA took the opportunity to release the first sighting of actual, real-time, gameplay via their “Welcome Back, General” video, which also coincidentally announced the beginning of their closed beta for the now-F2P PC exclusive. Victory Games, originally a team that worked under the BioWare brand, have done well to emulate the original Generals C&C spinoff, showing off an impressive number of available commanders that seem to employ some of the original units and tactics from “Zero Hour”.
Generals still features on my Top 10 list, and loftily exists in my nostalgic consciousness as one of the most underrated RTS games of all time. Not only were all 3 sides surprisingly balanced, especially for a C&C title, but multiplayer was a complete riot and the “levelling” system of deployable assets kept matches competitive and challenging. That said, a minute and a half of footage isn’t enough to base a decision on, but the the inclusion of the famed Frostbite engine looks to continue the destruction that made Generals so much goddamn fun.
Plus Dr. Thrax is back. I’ll never forget that bastard’s delicious green cocktail of doom.
The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot
We’ve already been a little guilty at GON for fawning over this title a little bit, but who can blame us? The announcement trailer for the title was one of the funniest I’ve seen in a very long time, and that humour seems to be sprinkled throughout the whole game. Part dungeon-masher, part tower defense, The Mighty Quest invites players to dare other human opponents into their very own lairs in order to maim them in various ways for.. well.. epic loot.
I’ve had the pleasure to check out some of the action in a very early alpha state, and it’s certainly shaping up to be quite a lot of fun. The cross dynamics of being able to not only protect your castle from invaders, but also BE the invader sets up a lot of great possibilities for castle grudge matches and an almost infinite number of arenas to ransack. Players can set challenges, play either live with their opponents who actively attempt to defend their keeps or simply put things on auto-pilot while they are offline.
How the F2P aspects will work is currently limited to the usual “get into beta early!” packs that offer mostly cosmetic items, but higher levels also include weapons, creatures and consumables, so time will tell if such a Mighty Quest is damped by unfair balance and untold griefing.
Details are still extremely thin on the ground about how the final version of DayZ is shaping up, outside of a few developer diaries and interviews. But a very tiny glimpse of alpha gameplay footage shown on the show floor at E3 has answered a couple of questions, particularly the new inventory system (that actually makes sense), crafting and map creation.
The footage still looked *very* grainy, buggy (invisible coke can, anyone) and rough, meaning that it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing a beta anytime soon. Howver, the lack of a UI was encouraging, as was the improved movement of players, zombies, weapon handling and menu navigation. One of the biggest bugbears I had with the original mod involved fumbling through the ridiculous ARMA control system in the middle of a firefight, so its refreshing to see things simplified somewhat.
Dean also mentions that quite a lot of the game has been moved serverside, so for those that quit in disgust after the flood of hackers invaded and effectively killed the game, there is certainly a light at the end of the tunnel.
For more, why not check out our hands-on from E3?
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Bigger, Better, Wilder. The Witcher just keeps going from strength to strength, with our brooding hero Geralt now culminating in one of the most impressive showings at this year’s expo. The easiest, and most accurate, way to describe the final title in this incredible trilogy is Skyrim on Steroids – CDProjekt claim that the world of The Witcher 3 is 35 times larger than its predecessor and 20 times that of that particular Elder Scrolls masterpiece.
The promises don’t stop there, with the 60 minute demonstration shown by the developers on the floor featuring a host of difficult decisions, wide-reaching consequences and an almost complete freedom to choose your own narrative. Feel like jumping onto a ship and fighting the wild seas to reach a distant archipelago? Why not. How about letting an entire village burn to the ground while you watch, erased from the existence of your save file?
Combat has improved, becoming even more fluid and difficult, forcing players to duck and weave in and around incoming blade attacks or exploiting magical weaknesses. While not a PC exclusive, the game will be available, like its predecessors, DRM-free and at the height of its visual glory on the developer’s platform of preference. Certainly one to keep an eye on.
Half impressive tech demo for the phenomenally cool Oculus Rift, half secondary viewpoint for all those EVE battles you never played, EVR slots you firmly into the cockpit of a starship, using the static “locked in” position to full effect as you lock onto targets and dart around asteroids and debris. Turn your head around to see the back of your chair, look straight down to see your feet.
The sad part? EVR will never exist as a game, according to developer CCP (at least in its current form) but the fact that it exists shows that the Icelanders certainly have the peripheral dead in their sights. I wouldn’t be surprised if this functionality became baked into a future element of Eve Online, especially since a first person “dogfight” mode could easily form into their DUST 514 universe. Exciting times.
After the flood of MMORPGs that crowded the PC release schedule in 2011 and 2012, 2013 has been something of a dead zone (outside of the outstanding Neverwinter) when it comes to brand new properties that push the envelope and offer something unique. ArcheAge is a product of XLGames, a Korean development studio made up of ex-Lineage creatives, and has been quite successful within its native borders since the initial launch in January.
The good news? Trion Worlds, fresh off the back of their free-to-play conversion of their flagship MMO RIFT, have purchased the Western development rights for ArcheAge, which hopefully means the same level of localisation quality, and most likely the same dedication to a completely free and (largely cosmetic) F2P monetisation system. But more importantly, what makes this game different from any other?
I was originally blown away by the gameplay videos I viewed back in 2011, which featured a group of players building an entire town from scratch. Hammering wood panels together, erecting foundations, fashioning window units. Farmers can plant and grow crops in real-time, while those budding to experience animal husbandry can be bought, born and tended to, in both cases generating raw resources for other uses. There are no restrictions on building location, alongside full destruction of built properties, providing the foundations for siege warfare.
On top of this, all vehicles available in the game for use, from tractors to ships, (including the drydocks!) can be created by players – possibly allowing for the holy grail of a truly non-combat related lifetime class system. Hell – to prevent griefing, there is even a player run court system that can prosecute and even jail players, who must work off their debt to society within the prison… or just find a way to dig their way out. Can’t wait. Take a peek at what was shown during their developer session last week.