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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Another E3 Already?





Yes, it's E3 time again. E3 (drum roll please) - "Where Business Gets Fun!" Hey, that's their slogan not mine.

My E3 information is reliant on what trickles through the massive information superhighway known as the interweb, with a dose of G4TV to spike the hype punch. I'm a bit more cynical this year. I used to read up on every straight-to-vaporware MMO in existence. But since I started this blog, what MMO's have actually been introduced? Guild Wars, DDO and Auto Assault. All three are from major companies which have published previous titles. Am I forgetting any?

So, as Foton aptly put it on
AFK Gamer: "I’m not much interested in what I might be able to buy some day. Tell me what I can buy NOW." I'm not quite at that stage so I'll add the Aggro Addendum. "Tell me what I can buy now or what I know I'm going to be able to buy in the near future." So that means I'm laying off the MMO's that are all dreams and zero hope of release.

So what does E3 have to offer by way of information? Just like last year a massive percentage of all media coverage is related to the three next-gen consoles. And I'm pretty tired of hearing about them, since I'm a PC gamer at heart and I always will be. But I'll give a quick opinion because it gives me a chance to run my mouth off about something:

X-Box 360

It's actually out. Will probably have the best online systems in place (X-Box Arcade, X-Box Live, etc.). Currently looks to have the best shot for console MMO action. Halo 3 if you're into that.

PS3

OMG $600! The media latches on to something and doesn't let go. It's expensive! (And you do need the more expensive package - please stop insulting our intelligence with crippled cheaper versions). But what people forget to tack on to that OMG $600 is that the PS3 has a Blu-Ray DVD drive and the X-Box 360 has no HD-DVD drive. Do you care? I really don't but I might in a few years. Regardless of what I think, the reality is that they did seem to pick a price point that has turned off a lot of people.

The PS3 conference at E3 was considered underwhelming at best. There were a few new details like a redesigned controller with tilt sensors. But it won't vibrate. There was also mention of a free online service but I don't know the details.

The list of launch titles is somewhat dull, to me at least. To bring things slightly back to the topic of this blog I saw a hands-on of SOE's Untold Warriors for the PS3 on G4TV. It looked fine and I'm sure it will sell a lot because it's a decent launch title. But there's nothing revolutionary there and the online features sounded lacking. Metal Gear Solid too if you're into that.

Wii

The name furor has subsided. I think it's a fun name and I like it. But it fails the embarrassment test: "Hi, do you have any Wii's in stock?" I would have preferred they came up with an equally fun name that adults can say without sounding like idiots. But I'm over it.

The Wii controller is very exciting with its motion and position sensing. But I'm still cynical after some experience with the DS. Games like Trauma Center for the DS rely too heavily on the touch-screen gimmick and aren't great games in their own right. Similarly, I feel the first generation of Wii titles will be overly reliant on the controller.

Ask yourself, is this game going to be fun if I'm pressing the X button instead of waving my hand sideways to use my sword? If the answer is no, that's not the game I want to play. Because you'll get tired of a novelty quicker then you'll get tired of a great game. But that doesn't mean designers can't make great games which are even more fun due to the controller. And I think they will. And Mario if you're into that.

In summary:

I think the X-Box 360 and the PS3 will both be successful. I think the X-Box will have better titles over the next two years but the PS3 titles will be slightly better after that. But I'll buy a Wii before I buy either, because it's cheaper and I will enjoy the quick, casual fun as a break from MMO'ing. I'll likely wait for the prices to drop on the other consoles and the software to improve. The Wii's graphics will never outshine the other two, but that's fine if the games are fun.

Now, it's time for random E3 discussion:

While I blasted G4TV
recently (and believe me they deserve it and more) their E3 coverage has not been completely horrendous. Of note was yesterday's interview with Will Wright and a hands-on with the Spore creature creator. This incredible game does look like it will actually live up to the hype and I may discuss it in greater detail in the future as it definitely has some MMO elements.

Today they had an interview with Richard Garriot on the upcoming MMO Tabula Rasa. He certainly lived up to his legacy of horrendous fashion sense, but he also had some information on the game. When you look at the gameplay footage it looks a lot like Planetside with better graphics. But Garriot claims it's actually not a "twitch" shooter at all. So what's going on? This "innovative" system is strongly RPG based. But when fighting you use the left mouse button to fire your weapon and the right for special attacks in a quick-paced combat scheme. The damage and accuracy is determined "behind the scenes" based on your weapons, character skills and other RPG factors and not on your literal mouse accuracy.

Wait a minute. Where have I heard that before? Oh, that's right, it's exactly the way post-NGE SWG works. Exactly. The only difference I could surmise is that there is an auto-aim in Tabula Rasa so once you have an enemy targeted you don't have to keep it targeted with the cross-hairs. The game will allow for short 30 minute play sessions and instancing was mentioned.

World of Warcraft

The new race in the Burning Crusade expansion (there are actually two - Blood Elves were revealed earlier) is the Dranei. What's shocking about this is not the race itself but that the New York Times scooped the interweb on this one. Cosmik kindly excerpts the Grey Lady's interview
here. It sounds fine and I can't really comment that much because I don't know the intricacies of the game. Flying mounts will be available but they are only usable in the new zones.

I'm sure the expansion will be excellent based on how polished WoW was and the time Blizzard has taken on it. If it's not, heads need to roll at Blizzard and Vivendi for not taking advantage of the biggest cash cow in the MMO world. And note to the Paper of Record - stay out of my Aggro radius. You start doing a daily EQII column and I'm out of a (non-paying) job. Also, here's a Burning Crusade
hands-on from Joystiq and one from Gamespot.

Vanguard:

Sigil has a blog going
here. They are apparently so hardcore they believe in long travel times even at E3. Yes, their booth is in Kentia hall. Kentia is known as the hinterlands of E3 because it is hard to get to and usually stocked with vaporware. But hey, I would hang out in Kentia if I was at E3 because I'm hardcore and cool like that. And at least they have air conditioning in the Sigil booth. They actually have another booth with SOE in a location which is somewhat jealously described as being "right by the main door." Their SOE locale features a "15 foot fully functioning waterfall." If SOE ever gets around to setting it up, that is, since they apparently "had their hands full with all of the setup for their products." Why Sigil feels they need dual booths is beyond me but whatever.

I didn't come across much Vanguard news yet but Cosmik does have some comments from NDA breakers
here (lots of other good news items in that long post as well). Since I was criticized for referencing "illegal" beta-tester comments in my long Sigil-SOE post, I will say the following:

NDA breakers are more likely to be negative because those who love the game want to continue playing it and not be banned.

Not everything you read on the internet is true.

Comments on games in beta often fail to take into account that the game is still in beta.

So what do I do when I read one of these posts? I take it with a grain of salt and try to decide whether the comments make sense in terms of publicly stated knowledge about the game. But I'm not going to discount them totally.

Oh, and I just found
this Vanguard hands-on at Ten Ton Hammer. It's a positive take.

Age of Conan

Again from N3rfed (I'm setting a reblog record here) is a
link to an E3 video. I don't know if I've mentioned Conan on this site but I have talked about it quite a bit on the forums and to people in game. It's taken the place of Hero's Journey (because I haven't heard anything about Hero's Journey since last E3) as the game I'm most looking forward to. This video does nothing to change my mind, but if you want to understand why I'm intrigued, take the time to browse the gameplay previews on the official site. I found them fascinating. There's also a good hands-on from GameSpy. But the key to the game will be how the "action" combat system works (or doesn't work). I may talk more about this one at a later date.

Hero's Journey

Did I say I hadn't heard much about Hero's Journey? Well, MMORPG.COM
has an E3 preview up. Some of my initial excitement about this game has been replaced by doubts, but I still read every bit of news I can find on it with gusto. Notable in this preview is that the game will not be as heavily instanced as I perhaps assumed. I still recall the E3 video from last year where a mage cast an AOE by drawing the spell on the screen with his mouse to target the areas he desired the spell to hit. Amazing stuff and I like the scripted nature of the quests or missions. I do have doubts (which I can get more into in a separate post) but I hope Simutronics silences them with a good product.

Pirates of the Carribean Online

A look at Pirates of the Carribean Online from Kotaku: Note that this is not Pirates of the Burning Sea. It's another pirate MMO. Since Buena Vista is making it, it probably will actually be released. But it seems shallow and nothing there really excites me. The fact that there's a cell phone version makes me seasick.

Gods and Heroes

IGN has some Gods and Heroes
screenshots up. And though it's not E3 related there's an interview about the game at Firing Squad which provides a decent overview.

Warhammer Online

Mythic has a
blog going (just pictures so far) and IGN has a trailer for Warhammer Online. Wow, I really liked the trailer. Still, it's going to take more than a great trailer to get me into this one. But I'll keep an open mind.

EQII

Well, if you've read this far, you deserve a little EQII news, right? Okay, then check out
this excellent interview over at OGaming with none other than my arch-nemesis Ryan Shwayder aka Blackguard aka Grouchy Gnome. I remain intigued by the Belief system. There will not only be new mounts in EoF but "possibly some new ones beforehand." There will be "roughly as many Signature Quests as Heritage Quests in Echoes of Faydwer, and that there will be at least one for every 10 level range starting at level 20. " This is good to hear as many felt this area was lacking in the last two expansions. A mention is made of meaningful faction choices, which I enjoyed in DoF.

Gamepot has an
E3 Echoes of Faydwer page up but there's nothing really of note there.

Lord of the Rings Online

There is some news about Lord of the Rings Online on the OGaming forums, but since I find it hard to stir up any personal interest in that title I'll just provide you
the link. Also the beta is now open for signups.

1 Comments:

Blogger Anskiere said...

Wii has a Metroid game coming out for it... thats all that matters... *foams at the mouth*

10:38 AM  

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