The Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015 – E3 2015 to us initiated folk – is all but over (check our Day 1 and Day 2 recaps if you missed anything), but that doesn’t mean the fun is over yet! Day 2 saw the final big press conferences, so today it’s time to take a look at the best titles you may have missed beneath the boom of the behemoths and big boys!
One common complaint of non-gamers is that “Games aren’t for me”, and often this is based on the fact that 99% of the advertisements for video games consist of shooting, killing, maiming, shooting, fighting, shooting, and fire-fights (a.k.a shooting).
Even as an avid fan of the video gaming industry, I often tire of the same game mechanics and objectives, and so Abzû offers a gorgeous, calming alternative. From the art director of the well-loved, often-lauded Journey comes an underwater exploration game devoid of any oxygen gauges, deadly creatures, or shooting.
Okay, so there are deadly creatures, but there’s no fear of dying, as Abzû instead opts to paint a peaceful picture of our aquatic expanses (which are entirely open for our leisurely perusal). It may sound storyless and gimmicky, but the joy comes from uncovering the identity of this mysterious diver who awakens at sea with no idea of their whereabouts or purpose.It won’t be for everyone (nor was Journey), but after the visceral onslaught of 90% of E3 2015’s announcements, Abzû is a welcome calm; don’t let this one sink to the bottom.
No Man’s Sky
If discovering the secrets of the oceans’ depths doesn’t do it for you, perhaps getting the chance to explore vast alien planets and galaxies will: cue No Man’s Sky.
As with Abzû, there isn’t a ‘traditional’ narrative or plot – something which video games like Minecraft are helping to popularise – but instead, the player will design their own destiny. The game allows you to choose the life you lead within the game.
Exploring is the first option, and with planets being programmed to be as large as actual planets (allegedly), there sounds like there will be plenty of that to do. You can walk the planet’s landscape, or choose to simply fly around it looking for its inhabitants and idiosyncrasies.
The second option is the trading option, which allows you to sell and swap the things you find out in the dark reaches of the universe, as well as giving players the choice to craft items. The crafting can be improved utilising blue prints you find, giving replay value and reward for your patience.Lastly, of course, you can go out there and be a space pirate: fighting and pillaging as you wish. That’s not to say you’ll be allowed this choice without consequence: all actions have a reaction in-game, so expect your brutal culling of an alien race to cause quite the stir with the space authorities…
No Man’s Sky is one that needs to be played to be appreciated, but judging by its sheer scale and scope, it’s to infinity and beyond for all who pick it up.
Rock Band 4
No, you haven’t travelled back in time: there really is a new Rock Band game on the horizon.
Rock Band 4 clearly realised why the series died a death a few years back: it wasn’t because the gameplay wasn’t fun, nor was it that people stopped having get-togethers with beers and nibbles which required hilarious/embarrassing rock performances. Instead, it realised the game lacked a bit of depth.
The latest instalment of the series looks to remedy this by going all RPG on our rock ‘n’ roll asses – no, seriously. For everyone who ever wanted to jump in a dilapidated van and travel the globe (but had the sense not to ruin their livers and bank balances), Rock Band 4 allows faux-musicians everywhere to pave their own pathway to musical stardom.From playing a nothingy gig in your hometown, to making the big time (playing in front of 7 people in Hong Kong on a Sunday evening), the game gives you those choices and opportunities to work your way up the ladder however you see fit. Do you take the bigger show with the harder-to-please crowd, or the little show full of crazy, almost-respectably-dressed fangirls?
Whether you sell-out and win big, or stay true to your art and only ever play to smoke-filled bistros in Prague, Rock Band 4 looks to revitalise an experience that, let’s face it, we all thoroughly enjoyed the first time around. Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t dead after all…
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5
…okay, first a Rock Band game, and now this? Maybe we have gone back in time.
Though E3 2015 has had a lot of newness to offer, what has also made the event so spectacular are the reboots of many of video gaming’s true greats. The Tony Hawk’s skateboarding series may have reached levels of overkill following its original success, but it’s been over 10 years since the last ‘numbered’ version of the game kickflipped into our lives with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4; is now the time for the Birdman to spread his wings again?
Our mates at Robomodo certainly think so, and I’m inclined to agree after a recent stint on THPS2 reminded me how fantastic it all can be. The new game has a lot to live up to, sure, but how hard can it be to recreate the magic? THPS5 looks to have gone back to its roots – even incorporating some of the old classic levels – and that will hopefully mean good things for the series.
The footage, it has to be said, doesn’t quite look the part yet, but then it’s still in development so hopefully that’s set to change. A slight adjustment to the game’s controls will encourage new players to try their hand at Christ Air-ing their way into the action-sports genre, whilst not alienating the flock of Hawk faithfuls who know the combos like the back of their griptape.Perhaps the biggest addition is the online mode, which allows 20 skater dudes and dudettes to free skate together, and lay down challenges for one another if they’re feeling particularly Horse-y. All being well, THPS5 will do what it’s setting out to do and recreate the same button-bashing brilliance of the original titles, but time will tell…
Oh, and let’s hope they nail the soundtrack too. Nothing beats a Tony Hawk’s soundtrack.
What Remains of Edith Finch
From something old to something totally new and fresh, we get What Remains of Edith Finch. If you’ve not heard of this video game before, you’re probably not alone, but it’s high time you sat up and paid the game some notice.
Playing out as a series of short stories, the fairytale-like narrative leads the player through the story of the Finch family and offers a mature kind of gameplay unlike most games out there. There is a focus on the inevitability of death as the titular character, Edith, explores the history of her family tree and the mysterious deaths that plague it.
Though it may sound morbid, the game utilises aspects of the surreal and, in doing so, removes any fear from the notion of death, replacing it with a sense of awe and intrigue. Certainly a title that will challenge gamers’ expectations as to the ‘conventions’ of video gaming as a whole, there’s something uniquely charming and captivating about this indie outing.The game will see you transform – or ‘imagine’ – your way into being different people and animals, all whilst uncovering the story of these mysterious deaths. One of the weirder titles on display at E3 2015, for sure, but one that is all about what you experience rather than what you know… keep your eye on this one.
NUBI will release their top 5 titles from E3 2015 this weekend – check back then for the latest from our Gimme 5 series.