I love a good E3, for any avid gamer E3 is an exciting time to grab a nice cold beer, slouch into your modern wheeled arm chair and see the next generation of hardware and new games unveil in semi-glamorised form for us all. Even the stressed yet buzzing journalists can pry a little bit of enjoyment of witnessing something genuinely surprising being revealed, I can imagine a journalist audience of half nods and sideways glances right now, the excitement’s there we just show it in a different way.
Now, I’m not talking surprise in the terms of ‘That GTA V looks like the best GTA yet!’ as that’s not too surprising, if it wasn’t then it would be disappointing if anything. I mean surprising in a ‘Well, I never saw that coming!’ kind of way. Let me offer an example; Portal 2’s announcement for PS3 had been surprising, I still recall Gabe Newell’s seemingly grudging walk on stage very well. Equally having Metal Gear Rising’s announcement for Xbox 360 in 2009, having Hideo Kojima appear with Microsoft was surprising enough, but to then state that Metal Gear’s coming too was something else – okay, it wasn’t Metal Gear Solid 4, but still, that was pretty unexpected.
Genuine surprises are announcements, reveals and even feature inclusions that excite the insane fanboy in us, inspire the article of wondrous potential in a journalist and prove that this industry can still innovate and convince us that this really is the future of gaming.
Here’s a condensed list of what could genuinely surprise us at E3 2012.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Gameplay
This game has had a mysterious and partially worrying development process since its announcement in 2009. The only substantial details revealed so far is its announcement, its peculiar slice and dice trailer/demo in 2010, and an odd name adaptation from Metal Gear Solid: Rising to Metal gear Rising: Revengeance. The latter caused by a shift in development hands from Kojima to Platinum games.
Although this is dabbling in the waters of speculation, I can imagine the previous uncertainty of a bizarre stealth and action mixture a couple of years ago might be gone completely. Platinum games, makers of crazy, fast paced titles like Bayonetta and Vanquish, will likely take it in the direction of just action, and pretty good action based on its record. So, hope can be mustered for this unexpected spin-off! Let’s just hope that it can be followed up with some unexpected gameplay footage this year – Kinect utilisation through waving your arms uncontrollably? Sorry, surprises, not humiliation.
Triple ‘A’ Third Party Games on the Wii U
Now this almost sounds sarcastic, but it was shown with shared intrigue and scepticism last year from Nintendo and I don’t think I’m the only one wanting to see some core games coming from Ubisoft, EA and Activision, at least out of curiosity to see how they’d run on that part controller, part tablet device.
E3 last year gave us some montage clips of Battlefield 3, Ghost Recon Future Fighter, along with maybe a couple of others, but none of this had been actually running on the Wii U. I think some reassurance can be fathomed when John Riccitiello came on for a reinstatement of support for the Wii U, but things got a little fuzzy when questions had been asked about how these games would perform. The answer’s been rumoured to be that it’s not the console’s focal point - not a surprising a revelation, but I think not an important one either. When has Nintendo prioritised graphics over everything else?
The biggest question I and expectably many others want answered is how will Wii U’s advantages of portability, touch screen capability, and console interactivity be made the most of here? I’m imagining using your fingers to pull apart your weapon for customisation in Ghost Recon Future Soldier, or moving your tablet across the TV screen to aim and snipe unlucky individuals in Battlefield 3. But will trivial additions like this suffice? I suppose we’ll have to find out, although I’m already sold with the console stream feature – I can already see a smug face from continued play after a demanding somebody wanders in and changes the channel. Now that’s innovation, thanks Nintendo.
The Nintendo Network Reveal
It’s easy to forget that the Wii has network connectivity at all, for a while that was probably because it wasn’t needed, but as the consumer’s needs change and crave the online competition then it is the Wii’s cumbersome online network that gets in the way.
Xbox Live is continually popular and so is the PSN, they both also offer a more central way of including friends and downloading extra content to stop players getting bored of their games. Thankfully Nintendo responded with the much awaited announcement of the aptly, though somewhat blandly, named Nintendo Network.
What’s different? We’re not entirely sure yet, though according to Saturo Iwata we do know that we’ll receive a system that will have “more various services” and will allow “comprehensive proposals”, whatever that means.
At E3 I’d expect a lot more details on what the Nintendo Network will include; probably a centralised friends list and a more accessible DLC page, but I’d like to be surprised with some good old Nintendo leverage. What’s the Wii’s most successful feature? Being able to bring players together in one room of course, to then merge this with jumping in an online game competing against other teams of families/friends across the world would be topping the social experience.
Splinter Cell 6 Reveal
What’s the betting that this series has been forgotten by a lot of us? I know I nearly forgot about it. Not to say that that Splinter Cell: Conviction didn’t leave a lasting impression, it was definitely a step in the right direction, but let’s just say it wasn’t without its contrivances. E.g. having to snap a few necks so you’re able to activate pinpoint accuracy mode, it looked good, but it did null the point of being stealthy.
After completing the more action oriented predecessor I felt that a perfected sequel in a year or two’s time would be when I’d want to play another. Splinter Cell: Conviction was released in 2010, so I think now is when we should receive at least some footage of another, right?
Well, taking into account that it’s the new Ubisoft Toronto studio that’s working on the game, then also add to the equation that there’s been some time reserved for growth and working things out. Ultimately, the usual two year development time for a sequel is going to be extended. An accurate guess is that E3 will offer us a CGI introduction trailer and maybe some altered game footage – similarly to what we experienced from Splinter Cell: Conviction in 2009 – and if we’re really, really lucky we may even get a release date.
Now that’s quite a lot of logical guesses for a game that we should be surprised about, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t see something from a game that has been dormant for this long. And if we took the volcano analogy even further, I reckon we could even expect a hefty amount of coverage because of it.
Innovative Kinect Core Games (Ryse)
Even mentioning ‘core’ and ‘Kinect’ together is borderline horrific for many core gamers out there I’m sure, the want for keeping Kinect and Gears of War as separate as possible is very high. This is an understandable want I can imagine as some of the previous attempts have seemed rather gimmicky, naming no names – although one of them involves a fable – however, I can’t help but feel Kinect does indeed harness untapped potential beyond the successful casual dance game and sports package.
Mass Effect had the right idea with the dialogue wheel; though it’s a shame the spoken dialogue isn’t quite the same, and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier came real close with the weapon armoury; pulling apart your weapon with your hands is admittedly cool even if unpractical. And that’s the main problem really, a lot of these thrown in Kinect options are just unpractical, and what was originally meant to be more enjoyable just becomes a neat idea that evolves (or more applicably, devolves) into a chore in practice.
A somewhat forgettable announcement last year had been Crytek’s Ryse, partially for the lacking footage, but mostly for Crytek’s incessant need to add ‘Y’ to all their game names I like to think. The uncertainty about what this game is leaves much to the imagination, and I’m imagining that this is one of the first core Kinect games for the Xbox 360. If Crytek really pull off the sword and shield combo well, and it actually comes across as responsive and convincing on screen, then I might actually see the point of dropping the Wii remote and peeling myself off the couch to play some of these motion controlled games. Let’s hope Ryse can surprise.
Metal Gear Solid 5 Announcement
I’m never one for saving the best for last; it’s a cliché motive that’s used to the point of insignificance, but with this I’m sincere.
Hideo Kojima stated that Metal Gear Solid 4 would be his last game, and if I remember rightly he said that about Metal Gear Solid 3, too. If you think about in most other situations that would arouse suspicion, almost as if the developer is milking the franchise and that instead they should move onto something completely new, I have yet to hear that be said for Kojima. That’s because every Metal Gear Solid game, albeit following the same structure of action-stealth, has followed a different story, tone, setting and style to make them feel like highly different experiences. The only thing that could maybe do with a bit of a mix-up – and this is just a maybe, nothing definite – is its slightly convoluted gameplay mechanics. Metal Gear Solid 4 at the time was fine, but going back to it now, after playing a lot more ‘accessible’ games since, can be a bit tough.
I don’t think it would be unexpected that Metal Gear Solid 5 would be announced at E3, but more surprising that it had been announced without being leaked beforehand. The true surprise though would come from what Hideo Kojima would actually do with a Metal Gear Solid sequel, that’s if anything ‘revealing’ would be shown this year – which would be unlikely and unneeded, albeit very much welcomed. But in terms of story, we’re not going to see anything more from Snake and Metal Gear Solid 4 ties most things up pretty nicely. And then there’s the where, when, and whom will be included in such sequel.
There had been the odd recent rumour that Hideo Kojima had been sprouting ideas of another prequel involving ‘The Boss’, similarly to Big Boss’s involvement in Metal Gear Solid 3, but taking place during World War 2. However that was a very early pitch idea, it could be anything now. The only thing following this has been a confirmation from Hideo Kojima that Metal Gear Solid 5 will release, ‘one day’.
I won’t speculate myself at the chance of setting unfounded expectations for this game, and setting off unwanted predictions from very devoted followers, but the real interesting thing is that the blanket of mystery around what this sequel could be is making absolutely anything of this game being shown at E3 a surprise, so, let’s try and keep it that way. All we have to do is avert our prying eyes from the divulging web for a month, that’s easy, right?