My Thoughts on E3 and the Future Consoles

E3

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, a place where video game companies show off their future games and consoles, finished over a week ago, but I’m still processing what I saw there, and I only focused on a small portion of the event. It has been an interesting year, including the behind-the-scenes speculation I came across. Here I’m going to focus on what impacted me, personally.

I’m not the gamer I used to be. When I was a teenager, I used to play each day. I was mostly into RPGs, but would still play multiplayer games with my brothers. Now, though, I don’t have nearly as many opportunities as I used to. I have a job, a wife, a baby, am going through a masters program, plus I’m writing a book and the content for this site. All of these things get in the way of playing video games. Plus my interest has waned. FPSs never interested me much, and a lot of RPGs are getting more gritty, something I don’t care for. So I’ve focused my attention this conference on two main titles that interested me, a throwback to my first gaming experiences. These were Final Fantasy XV and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Neither of these blew me away, but they do look interesting.

Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV didn’t really seem to reveal a whole lot of new stuff. I think we’re at a point that not much new stuff will come out, you’ll just have to experience everything in the game. So far the story doesn’t look fantastic, but I optimistically think that they’re just hiding it so you can experience it in-game, which I don’t mind. Better than revealing everything like recent movie trailers have done.

I saw some new stuff for Kingsglaive, the Final Fantasy XV tie-in movie. Square produced two other movies for the Final Fantasy franchise, Spirits Within and FFVII Advent Children, but neither came close to the games in terms of quality storytelling, although the graphics looked beautiful for their time. Kingsglaive might have the same problem. It looks nice, but I don’t know that it’s really necessary and I doubt it will draw many newcomers to the franchise, so I question the need to do it. It’s supposed to tell parts of the story that couldn’t be included in the game, but I would rather just have the game itself tell everything. I don’t really like the trend of storytelling through multiple platforms, because if you don’t go through each platform, then you miss out on content. We’ll see how this strategy works out.

There also was a little bit about a VR version of XV, but it looked stupid, just a way to ogle the character Cindy (who I don’t like because the whole point of her seems to be eye candy. I’m married, and if my wife sees me playing and she’s around, things would get uncomfortable. I wish they hadn’t designed her that way).

Zelda

Nintendo had the opposite position with Zelda at E3. Instead of nothing new, everything was new. This was the first real look at the new Zelda game, coming to Wii-U and the NX in March 2017. I thought there were some nice ideas, but as others have pointed out, if you take away the Zelda title, they’ve all been done before. Weapon stats, breaking weapons, camping, and clothing is not really new and I feel like it’s lost its uniqueness by going that route, even if this was the original vision of Zelda.

Both Final Fantasy and Zelda have adopted the open world feel for the first time, in order to save the franchises. But the open world games have been out for a while now, so it’s more of “It’s about time,” than “Oh, wow.” And I personally don’t mind a fairly linear story line (as long as it’s not like the extreme example of Final Fantasy XIII). I felt the demos of Zelda showed a game without much purpose. The gameplay seemed to get caught in the details and lose the overall story, whatever that is. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Consoles

Of course, at the moment, I can’t play either of these titles, because I don’t have either console (Wii-U and PS4 or XBox 1). So the information about the consoles at E3 has interested me.

I found a lot of this information in this Forbes article, so you may want to take a look:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2016/06/23/the-very-different-problems-facing-xbox-scorpio-playstation-neo-and-nintendo-nx-in-2017/#25fd985c59b4

From what I can gather, Microsoft only planned on showing the XBox One Slim at E3. But then leaks forced them to reveal their work on the Scorpio (a more powerful version of the XBox One, but would still play the same games) before its time. So Microsoft left a muddled message of: Buy the XBox One Slim! But then buy the Scorpio! Or just keep your current one, because they all play the same games! It seems the Scorpio would be useful if you have a 4K TV, which I know I don’t.

This announcement in turn disrupted the Sony announcement of the Neo. If rumors are true (4 teraflops instead of 6), it wouldn’t be as powerful as the Scorpio. So instead of announcing it at the end of their conference, they put in some filler trailers and ended weakly, possibly to go back and improve their machine before it gets released, based on what they learned about the Scorpio. So we still don’t have any official announcement.

E3 didn’t tell us much about the NX, Nintendo’s new console, so we still know very little. Rumors before told of a system more powerful than the current generation. Then  Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-AimĂ© said something at the conference, in reaction to the news on Scorpio. He said they were focused on content more than teraflops. This makes me think that the NX was more powerful than the current versions of the PS4 and XBox One. It just doesn’t compare to the new versions. Still, if so, it’s not that bad, because supposedly developers will still be developing for the current versions and the new versions will just have bonus power, and so they could theoretically develop for the NX as well. Which is what I’m hoping.

I’m hoping the NX gets a lot of third party support, especially from Square Enix. I hope to play both Zelda and Final Fantasy XV on it. Then I wouldn’t have to choose between the two games because I can only afford one console. I think that is how Nintendo could win out. If they have the games people want to play on other consoles, as well as their own first party games as well, from Zelda to Mario to Smash Bros, people will buy it. That’s what gets me excited. But only time will tell how things turn out.

So who won E3? I don’t know, there’s still too much unrevealed. But it certainly made things interesting.

 

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Thoughts

Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy 7 changed my life.

I played the original Playstation version a few years after it came out, getting the Playstation in part just to play that game. I was introduced to a demo of it, and while it was only the first 20 minutes of play, I was amazed at the scale. The whole story managed to exceed my expectations. I had no idea video games could create such a profound sense of storytelling. I played the other Final Fantasies and liked them, but this one remained special.

There was just one problem. The graphics were horrible. They could give you headaches just looking at them. You basically had to imagine what it would really look like, as if reading a book, but with all the crazy hairstyles, even that wasn’t easy. Things like Advent Children came along and recreated the characters in life like detail, but they didn’t really feel like the original. I felt like they lost the spirit of FF7. I wanted the story retold, remade.

I had been hoping for this game for so long that I never believed it would happen. So I was stunned when the announcement trailer finally came out. Stunned, and wondering if it was an April fool’s day joke (despite not being April).

News has been pretty scarce, but then this trailer came out, focusing only on those first twenty minutes I saw in that demo so long ago, and I have hopes that they will be able to faithfully recreate the game.

I try to be optimistic, but there are a few details that keep my expectations down. Barret with sunglasses? His voice (are these going to be the actual voice actors?) Wedge’s squeaky voice was especially jarring. And I fear battles might get a little too Kingdom Heart-y, with sparkles all over the screen. But the trailer also lost the loftiness and mumbo jumbo of the compilation of FF7 games and media and went back to the roots, which is good.

I’m glad the battle system is not turn based anymore, it would look especially out of place with the new graphics. I just hope it doesn’t go over the top (although FF7’s summons could do just that, basically destroying the world to hurt one bad guy. Or the solar system.)

I am a little disappointed by the announcement to make this episodic. I just hope that each part doesn’t cost $60. I don’t even have a PS4 yet, and don’t want to add substantially to that cost. I also wonder how long we’ll have to wait between episodes. If it’s too long, some people might not stick around long enough to see the ending of a game they’ve already played.

Still, I’m cautiously optimistic.

More info here.

Triforce of Gaming

I mentioned that FF7 changed my life. Two other games did so as well, although not as much in the story telling department. They are The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Super Smash Bros. So imagine my surprise when Cloud was announced for Smash Bros. I could now use Cloud against Link or vice versa and have them battle it out. I only have Smash Bros. on a 2DS, but it’s still fun. And there’s the possibility that this means Final Fantasy 7 Remake will come for the Nintendo NX, where I could play Smash, Zelda, and Final Fantasy all on one console!