Like any awkward, game-obsessed, stamp-collecting sproglet that grew up in the last century, I didn’t have a lot of friends. The few I did have I clung to like pet hair on dark clothing, and despite being similarly obtrusive and smelly, I like to think I made some cherished memories. However, there was always a pervasive anxiety that I’d either lose my friends, they’d stop talking to me, or- worst of all- that time and distance would one day part us. Continue reading
It’s only fitting that Australia’s spiritual home of sport should play host to the country’s largest esports event too. In just over a week an expected ten thousand plus esports fans a day will descend upon Melbourne & Olympic Park to be a part of the inaugural Melbourne Esports Open (MEO).
Spearheaded by esports production giant ESL and event management team TEGLive the Victorian Government backed event is expected to generate upwards of $25 million to the local economy over the next five years.
Held over the first weekend of September the MEO is headlined by a final series for two of the world’s biggest and most popular esport gaming titles, Overwatch and League of Legends (LoL). Continue reading
We Happy Few is a game that very quickly drops the player into the deep end of a very disturbing pool and leaves them to sink or swim alone. From the moment the game starts, with the player character at work censoring old newspaper articles, you’re aware that there’s something very wrong in this world. The Joy pills to make everyone happy, the hockey mask like faces of everyone around you and the absence of children, while the adults play children’s games at the orders of a man on the television and radio; all jarring notes in an otherwise pretty looking setting that hint at the darkness underneath. Continue reading
Although some may consider the subject of Chemistry to be Boron, or they hated their science teacher enough to want to Barium, Flightless studio’s real-time strategy game, Element, wants you to value your elements. So much so, in fact, that they want you to mine for lots of them, regardless of whether they occur naturally or not.
Release Date: 15th March 2019
I’ve always been a big fan of The Division. Even way back when they were drinking the multi-screen-experience kool-aid I was high on the game.
Tablet play never came for The Division but what did was a game world caught between the realism of an impressively, albeit grungy, rendered Manhattan and the supremely unrealistic bullet-sponge like nature of enemies you’d encounter. It also seemed to lack an end-game, or did at least at the time of its release, and while Destiny was going strength to strength with its own set of issues The Division chugged along with a less than stellar retention rate. Continue reading
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Release Date: June 2019
One of the now infamous Walmart Canada leak titles Rage 2 was, to many, an odd franchise to be getting a sequel. The first was to be id software’s big return to the triple-A stage but ultimately fell flat.
Rage 2, which is being primarily developed by another studio seems to take all of the good bits from the original and cranks up the action with a much needed injection of Doom like adrenaline.
The area I played through was the space port shown in the Bethesda reveal and is very much a chained series of extremely satisfying, non-stop action.
Don’t ask me what the names of any of the weapons were, other than the franchise’s iconic boomerang I couldn’t tell you one gun from another but they were all very fun and ultimately fall into the silos of assault rifle, pistol, shotgun, sniper, etc.
Larger portions of the game were walled off not giving the opportunity to explore the world or experience any vehicle systems. I’d expect the world to be a little more populated as the original was criticised heavily for being a sparse series of fetch quests with little to no point to vehicle travel.
While I’m not chomping at the bit for it my time with it did have me coming away much higher on it than I did walking in. With a lot more to come between now & its release in June 2019 there could be a special place for Rage 2 and fill that Far Cry gap.
Developer: Dan Smith Studios
Release Date: 13th July 2018
If there was ever a hidden away gem at E3 then The Spectrum Retreat was certainly it. Around the corner and demoed in a hotel room it was like being back at CES rather than E3 but it was certainly worth the trek.
Spectrum Retreat is an indie game developed for the most part by one person, Dam Smith. The 20 year old (yes I said 20) won a BAFTA for The Spectrum Retreat’s game design in 2016 to then be picked up by publisher Ripstone Games to help him complete the project and bring it to pretty much every platform known to man.
A puzzler akin to Portal you play a hotel guest who’s awoken in the stunningly rendered, Art Deco styled, Penrose Hotel. As you explore the hotel you begin to get the feeling that something isn’t quite right and rather than a guest perhaps you’re more a hostage to it’s accommodation.
With the help of a friend you gain access to the hotel’s maintenance system, which is controlled by a series of coloured coded systems that you’ll need to master to learn the truth behind the Penrose and ultimately escape.
The puzzles involve large coloured cubes that, using a tool you acquire at the beginning of the game, can be changed & matched to open doors and access mechanics to progress through the levels.
Like any good puzzler the levels are relatively simple at first. You start off learning how to suck the colour from a block and match it to another so that a lock that opens for example. It doesn’t stay that easy for long though, the game has a fairly hefty exponential incline in difficulty and had me scratching my head a few times before being prompted by Dan to click here or do this so we could at least finish the demo.
I was really impressed by the game and not just because of how insanely gorgeous the game looks but just how into the puzzles and the mystery behind the hotel I was after just twenty minutes. I wanted to play more, which definitely isn’t always the case and the fact that it’s now been announced for the Switch too means I’m even more likely to play it.
Developer: Insomniac Games
Release Date: 7th September 2018
Are your spidey senses tingling? Well they definitely should be because he’s only a few months away from coming to life on your PlayStation 4.
Given carte blanche to explore Manhattan as the superhero I began the demo simply swinging building to building with almost no thought of how to do it or worry of missing a button press to fall to my death.
A cross between Assassin’s Creed and Just Cause 3’s grapple hook mechanic you push in the direction you want to swing and press a button to web onto the nearest building and continue in the direction you want. There’s also a circular pointer that locks onto different anchoring points of buildings as you swing past, these you can swing to and stop, giving you a precise control mechanism on top of its eloquently fluid travel system.
Whilst moving about the city you can participate in what feels like an almost endless supply of mini-missions and tasks, I stepped in to stop a robbery in process for example before running off into the sunset to the next story mission. These side quests and city secrets are unlocked by perching atop radio towers strewn throughout the map. For anyone who’s played an Assassin’s Creed game this will feel very similar the only difference being there’s no hay bail you need to jump into, simply web off in any direction you like.
The game strikes another similarity in its combat system, consistently compared with Rock Steady Games’ Batman series. It should be too because they’re very similar in a lot of ways but at the same time different enough to suit the Spider-Man style. Spider-Man is portrayed as a much smaller and nimble person than Batman for example and this is reflected in his combat style in the game, diving between enemy’s legs or doing flips off their shoulders to swing around into their backs. Spider-Man also makes use of the environment a lot more and uses webs to pull in barrels and bricks to hit enemies. You can also use webs to temporarily disable and tie enemies up, which is especially handy when dealing with large numbers at once. I’d quite often shoot webs at one with a gun and then deal with everyone else before concentrating on them.
The other main difference in the combat system is that whilst you do see a flashing graphic that an enemy is about to attack you see it over Spider-Man’s head and not the enemies. This is your spidey sense going off but it doesn’t scream where or which enemy is due to attack making things a little more complicated and to be honest, fun!
The demo rounded out with a boss fight inside a bank. In a far more scripted encounter the battle was large in scale and makes good use of the environment to make it more interesting however it very much felt like a paint-by-numbers sort of encounter, which was a little disappointing given the new systems in play for open-world traversal & combat.
I came away from the demo happy with Spider-Man but not as excited as some. It’s a great build on open-world titles like Assasin’s Creed and Insomniac’s previous attempt Sunset Overdrive but not enough so for me to get super excited by it.
Developer: Media Molecule
Release Date: TBA
Dreams was described to me as if it were an onion.
On the surface it’s a cute game that sees you playing through the “dreams” of a jazz musician. The dreams you play each vary in both style and genres going from platformer to flight simulator and more.
Deeper down you can play dreams created by other people. Bringing their work into your version and experiencing the worlds they’ve created.
Beyond that you can take the dreams you’ve played and build on them. Move objects, grow their worlds, add new actions and manipulate their sounds, everything is customisable. You can play and change them as little or as much as you like.
Then at it’s core are the tools to create your own dreams from nothing. In fact this is exactly how the dev team at Media Molecule created the game. They used the same tools that you have at your disposal to create the levels you experience on that first onion level.
It’s hard to describe Dreams in much more detail because quite literally anything is possible in it, if you want to dedicate the time to it. It’s similar in concept to Media Molecule’s prior franchise “Little Big Planet”, user generated content taken to the nth level.
It was Microsoft who earned the right to showcase Cyberpunk 2077 during their keynote this year. A long time partner of CD Projekt Red’s (CDPR) their conference lights were about to shut off as Phil Spencer was saying his goodbyes when every monitor in the theatre went black and the house lights flickered with red as a series of code and static flashed onto the screens, before launching into a trailer that would unknowingly set the standard for the week.
What we saw on stage then was an introduction for the world, a vertical slice of what would later be extrapolated on behind closed doors in a full one hour presentation of the expansive and alive world you’ll inhabit in Cyberpunk 2077. Continue reading