E3 usually comes packed to the gills with things that we expect and things we don’t quite see coming; this year was no different. E3 2016 was a good show, so let’s take a look at the five things that took us by surprise at this year’s electric triple!
Hot off the back of their surprisingly successful Doom, Bethesda announces Prey – and it isn’t quite what we had in mind. The original Prey was around in some for another since about 1995. It saw development limbo, studio re-shuffles, staff and design changes, before finally being released to much praise in 2006.
What we saw at E3 this year isn’t quite what we saw before. In 2011 Human Head – the developers of the first game – announced Prey 2 to much approval. A year went by and all was quiet. It was taken off the Bethesda website, taken over by Arkane Studios, and then cancelled in 2014.
And then, this:
Now, we know what you’re thinking: sinister sci-fi with a Groundhog Day twist…what can go wrong? We feel the same way. Arkane Studios is developing once more and they described the game as a “first-person immersive game set in a dangerous universe”.
A description on the developer’s blog reads:
“You are Morgan Yu, the subject of morally dubious experiments designed to improve the human race. You awaken aboard the Talos 1 in the year 2032 and must uncover the secrets hiding in the depths of the space station while being hunted by the mysterious alien force that has taken over. You’ll have to rely on the tools you find on the station – along with your wits, weapons and mind-bending abilities – to combat the growing threat and, hopefully, survive.”
Now it isn’t so much that there is another Prey game coming out that surprises us; it’s that this game is ambiguous in its relation to the first. Is it a reboot? Is the ‘alien force that has taken over’ the same as in the first game? Why is it so oddly reminiscent of System Shock with that creepy AI voice?
Be sure to check out our roundup of the Bethesda conference for the full run down.
The trailer does a good job of peaking our interest, and whatever link this game bears to first, this looks damn good. Roll on 2017!
God of War
More and more recently, developers have shied away from numerical designations – particularly as their franchises grow – and are now making games with potentially confusing titles (see Hitman, Prey, Battlefield 1, and Spider-Man).
So it is with God of War. The trailer depicts a now bearded Kratos showing a young boy – presumably his son – how to hunt. The serene beauty of the forest and the savage stillness of the hunt are interrupted at several points by skeletal monsters, and finally a huge stone tablet-wielding horned boss.
See it for yourself here, you’ll thank us after
We’re all for a bloody return to the battlefield, and the action in this game looked top-notch – with visceral hits and bone-crunching sound effects. At the same time though we do wonder: Is this a a sequel some years down the line? How has it moved to Norse mythology? Is Kratos using a primitive form of beard wax? Well, maybe not that last one…
I suppose as the God of War, Kratos is immortal and so lives on through to Norse mythology? If so, we wonder what Tyr and / or Odin think about that? This game was leaked before E3 and so the surprise factor was lessened, and we can hardly say we would ever be surprised by a new God of War game coming out; they’re just too damn popular (and excellent).
Even so, this game looks interesting and the idea of Kratos raising a child lends him a layer of complexity. The interactions between the two in the trailer gave the game – and its absurdly masculine protagonist – a deft human touch. These differences were what surprised us, and what set the game apart from the others in the series. We’re excited for this one.
Trials of the Blood Dragon
This one is a little more in your face. ‘Surprising’ is one of the first words to come to mind; ‘outrageous’ is another. An imaginative mash-up of two wildly different franchises, Trials of the Blood Dragon was one of the sleeper hits of E3. It came out of nowhere, bursting out the Ubisoft presentation like a flaming motorcycle.
To view the game’s trailer (it’s something you owe to yourself – trust us) check out our previous coverage of the game here.
It wasn’t just the fact that Blood Dragon – one of the best Far Cry games in ages – was getting a follow-up; it was what form this follow-up took. Even though the great Michael Biehn himself let slip that he was recording voice work for a new Blood Dragon, we never would have thought of an unholy alliance with Trials.
To add further ‘thank you ma’am’ to the already present ‘wam’ and ‘bam’, the game was released at the end of Ubisoft’s presentation! Still reeling from the audacity of the premise, we were left instantly with the option to buy it. This sort of thing should happen more often!
Resident Evil 7
Now this one is cause for celebration. A lot of fans – myself included – were hoping for a more back-to-basics approach for the next main series entry. We got what we wished for, and then some. Director Koushi Nakanishi is steering the ship toward more vulnerable characters, scarcity of guns, and very little combat. In other words: survival horror.
Take a look at the trailer here with your backup undies at the ready:
The real surprise wasn’t that the series was going back to its roots; the real surprise was that it’s shaking up its gameplay formula once again, as it did with great success for Resident Evil 4. There has been a market for good first-person survival horror, and for a little while now that market has yet to be tapped to its full potential. With Silent Hills being cancelled, P.T. being taken down, and Allison Road being cancelled just last week, there has been little silver lining for horror fans. Not anymore!
To add further delight to the surprise of the presentation, the demo was made immediately available to PlayStation Plus subscribers. Though it has since been announced that the demo will not feature as part of the finished game, and that the character in the demo will not carry over to the full game, we can still expect Resident Evil 7 to be similar in tone and gameplay to what we can get our grubby mitts on now.
Scorpio You’re Totally Mad!
It’s only fair we got one piece of hardware in here right? In a genuinely surprising move from Microsoft, the Xbox one S was revealed as well as Project Scorpio. This was surprising because it seemed to the casual observer that Microsoft point a loaded gun down at their own foot and pulled the trigger.
Not quite so. In fact actually what we were left with was an interesting proposition: a slimmer and cheaper mid-cycle console with 4K support, followed – in about a year and half – by the most powerful home console ever conceived. Then we were told that the two were going to be companions within the same cycle.
The difference between the two being that the S can upscale to 4K (stretch 1080P out basically), whereas Scorpio can run native 4K (games that are made to be run in 4K). This difference took a little wrestling with to work out, and initially it made the dual announcements very surprising indeed.
It was still an interesting conference all round for Microsoft, and purely from a tech standpoint, Scorpio looks like an enticing prospect. Check out our coverage of the Microsoft roundup here.
Oh, and we know what you’re thinking: how did a pregnant Norman Reedus not surprise us? Well, Hideo Kojima, that’s why.