E3 has finally come to an end with the first ever PC dedicated event as its finale. While there were some great announcements, I couldn’t help walking away a little underwhelmed. Only a few significant announcements, some big technical malfunctions during it’s filming, and a lack of gameplay didn’t help the show after a strong start. But, despite these hiccups, there’s a lot to to talk about.
Using a talk show approach to compensate for the smaller stage, the show was hosted by E-Sports Commentator Sean Plott, who did a stellar job at minimizing the general awkwardness of the show. After a wonderfully self-deprecating introduction video, featuring energy drinks in wine glasses, the event dived right into a poorly hidden loathing of consoles and a love of complex software. It was a room full of dorks with a fetishization of technology and a fear of going outside; I felt right at home.
Here, in a quick summary format, is what happened:
Tripwire Interactive: Killing Floor 2 Updates and Rising Storm 2: Vietnam
• Tripwire discussed a new update coming to Killing Floor 2 which includes Nvida powered gore and blood. New weapons added include a rocket launcher and a fire spewing shotgun.
• A massive surprise was the reveal of Rising Storm 2: Vietnam. A short teaser was shown that highlighted the dense jungle environments and rocking soundtrack. The project may have originally been a mod for Red Orchestra 2, which went suspiciously quiet a few months ago. Very Exciting.
Cloud Imperium Games: Star Citizen:
• Director Chris Roberts briefly took the stage to discuss his ambitious space combat game. No news unfortunately, but an impressive video showing what’s in development was unveiled – facial motion capture and upcoming ships were standouts.
AMD: DX12, New Video Cards
• Chief Gaming Scientist Richard Huddy discussed the AMD Radeon R9 390. Enhanced V-sync and VR capability were highlighted.
• VR was one of the main talking points and is clearly a big deal for AMD. Huddy mentioned the significant hardware requirements and how AMD was prepping for the future of VR.
• There were some very awkward rags on console hardware.
• Direct X 12 was discussed at length, particularity its ability to make use of more CPU cores than is currently utilized. AMD hopes this will enable 4K to become a standard in future development.
• A mysterious metal box was handed to Plott to be opened at the end of the show.
Eidos: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
• Jean Francois Dugas demonstrated the Dawn Engine for the upcoming Deus Ex sequel. It showed off some very impressive features for high-spec PC’s, including enhanced depth of field, bokeh, post-processing color correction, tress effects and screen space reflections. The new engine boasts highly interactive environments and stunning cucumber murder.
• Some small snippets of gameplay were shown, with a significantly updated combat system. Jensen can now shoot his arm blades to pin foes to walls and enemies react smartly to combat situations. New skills such as an augmented taser could be seen in other demos.
Creative Assembly: Total War: Warhammer
• Very little new information, but Heroes are confirmed to act as agents on the campaign map. Once embedded into an army, they appear on the battlefield to fight alongside your forces. CA promises the deepest ever skill trees for generals in a Total War game.
• Disappointingly, no gameplay was shown despite a closed door press only demonstration recently. The painful wait continues.
Microsoft: Killer Instinct, Fable Legend’s, Gears of War, Gigantic
• Phil Spencer dropped in to confirm Fable Legends, Killer Instinct and Gigantic will be coming to PC soon. Fable legends was hinted to be a Windows 10 exclusive, but no confirmation of this as of now.
• Fable Legends will apparently receive ‘years of content updates’ after its initial free-to-play release.
• Gigantic mimics MOBA style games and mixes in high octane third-person shooting. During the match, huge monsters can be called in to fight. If a team loses its monster, they lose the match.
• Rod Fergusson announced that the Gears of War Ultimate Edition will be released on PC. It will be a full remaster of the first entry in the franchise with 4K and DX 12 support. No news on Gears 4 coming out for PC, but Rod hinted that it could be possible.
SCS Software: AMERICAN TRUCK SIMULATOR
• A trailer for American Truck Simulator was announced. Not much to talk about here. But trucks, I guess?
CCP Games: Eve Valkyrie
• Ryan Geddes from CCP games discussed how Valkyrie will be the perfect space dog-fighter for VR. Very little new information to be found. However, he confirmed that EVE Online will be separate from the Valkyrie experience unlike Dust 514 for the PS3.
• Day Z mod creator Dean Hall talked about how early access games have a bad rep and how Valve’s refund program is helping to mitigate that.
• Hall clarified that his new project, Ion, will not be following games like Elite Dangerous or Star Citizen. Instead, he has taken inspiration from indie titles such as Space Station 13, using a Diablo-style isometric camera in a 3D environment.
• Apparently, one bug caused characters’ organs to flop out when clicked on.
Pixel Titans: Strafe
• Tom Glunt and Steven Raney provided a live demo showing off a new locale in the procedurally generated Doom homage, Strafe. They also showed a few new weapons that were picked up via power-ups. Once the ammo runs dry, players gain an alternative attack – such as lobbing an empty pistol at foes.
• A microphone was left on backstage so at one point you could hear a short discussion about someone’s Mum.
Obsidian and Paradox: Pillars Of Eternity: The White Marsh
• Pillars of Eternity: The White Marsh, an expansion pack, received a trailer. Higher level caps, new abilities and more companions are to be included with this hefty addition. This will be the first part of a multi-stage release.
• Some subtle homo-erotic tension between developers hinted. Possible future expansion pack.
Frontier Developments: Elite Dangerous
• David Braben, original creator of Elite Dangerous, joined the event to talk about Elite’s player-base. No news on upcoming updates.
• Planet Coaster revealed in a short trailer. Showing off a colorful artstyle, it is likely to be a spiritual successor to the Rollercoaster Tycoon series.
• Braben had an unfortunate attack of stage-fright. Poor David. His legendary status excuses him.
Arena Net: Guild Wars 2
• Colin Johanson introduced everyone to the upcoming expansion, Heart of Thorns. An exclusive trailer showed new areas, Cthulu-ish plant monsters and expansive locales. Guilds will be able to create ‘halls’, personal hub areas which have arenas for PVP and PVE. Once an area in the world is captured your guild can transform it into a ‘hall’. An extensive list of new game modes and features were also introduced. Enormous castle sieges between guilds with blimp bombardments took center-stage in the trailer.
• Open Beta access will be available upon pre-purchase, which is available now.
IO Interactive: Hitman
• Hakan Abrak from IO interactive gave an unfortunately handicapped walkthrough of the upcoming Hitman game featuring a youthful Agent 47. As his microphone was broken for the duration of his stage time there was little detail to be taken from his talk. A very impressive tech demo was shown of the hugely updated Glacier engine. It demonstrated improved lighting, texture work and environment density, all running on what is suspected to be AMD-optimized software.
• Abrak promises much larger levels than was seen in Absolution, Agent 47’s last and more linear outing. Significantly increased NPCs, jumping from 55 to over 300, will help to liven up environments. It was also hinted that the game will feature sub-objectives to increase the longevity and complexity of the globe-trotting adventure.
• Hitman will hit stores on December 8th of this year.
• Abrak and Plott were forced to share microphones so the crowd could hear the developer. Apparently Abrak smells amazing.
AMD: New Videocards (again) and Bizarre New Hardware
• CEO of AMD Product Lines’ Lisa Su introduced some new video cards on their way ‘soon’. This included the Radeon R9 Fury X, featuring high bandwidth memory designed for VR optimisation and 4k resolution gaming. Furthermore, the AMD Radeon R9 Nano, at only 6 inches long, was unveiled and is the fastest card in the world for its size and can handle 4k gaming.
• Project Quantum, a PC equipped with dual Fury X graphics cards with a design that wouldn’t be too out of place in Tron, was also shown. As a 16 teraflop gaming system with 2 HBN cpu’s and 2 EG GPUs, this machine is a monster. Its currently unavailable for purchase, but that may change in the future.
• A dual GPU Fury X is in development, and was unveiled from the aforementioned mystery box, but details were sketchy at best.
Bohemia Interative: Arma 3
• Arma 3 will be receiving a large expansion, the Pacific island of Tano. A very tropical map showed impressive foliage, propeller planes and construction gear. New water and screen space reflections will be added in the DLC, making an already eye-catching game just a bit easier on the pupils. There will also be a selection of new weapons and vehicles to tinker with.
Tiger and Squid: Beyond Eyes
• Sherida Halatoe gave a brief look into her first game, Beyond Eyes, a conceptually intriguing indie game about blindness.
• Exploration is based on sounds and smells, but playing a sheltered child leads to some degree of misinterpretation. What may sound like a river could just be a rancid sewer pipe or what you think is a fluffy animal may be an escaped circus bear hungry for the flesh of the blind. Who knows where it could go.
Splash Damage: Dirty Bomb
• Paul Wedgewood showed off a quick trailer for Dirty Bomb which featured guns, explosions and cringe-inducing dialogue.
• They also announced a PC Gamer giveaway which will unlock a unique mercenary for you to get your murder on with.
Fullbright Games: Tacoma
• Tacoma is Gone Home in SPAAAAAACCE. You walk around an abandoned ship trying to work out what happened. The developer listed 3D effects as one of its selling points. Next!
Frictional games: Soma
• Ian Thomas from Frictional Games gave us a brief look into the undersea world of Soma. As the game is following on from their other horror survival spine-chiller, Amnesia, your character cannot fight. You can only hide like the squishy human they are or triumphantly face instant death.
• We got an exclusive look into the title, around 10 seconds of one character running down a dark corridor getting spooked by ghosts – then dying. Looks like a survival horror game all right, but one that features robots with personality complexes and a chilling message over what being human is about.
Bohemia Interative: Day Z, Take On Mars
• We got to learn about the future of Day Z’s beta and upcoming updates. Soon, three new vehicles will be added with various fuel types to create a sense of urgency to keeping each one functional.
• Players will gain access to a single player mode when Day Z transitions into beta, a feature that has been heavily requested. Once the beta begins, a full integration with the Steam workshop will allow easy access to mods without tedious installers.
• A short trailer was shown for Bohemia’s other early access project, Take on Mars. There was no new information, but an update on the progress of the Alpha was given.
Boss Key Productions: Project Bluestreak
• Cliff Bleszinski surprised everyone by joining the conference. Bleszinski discussed his break from game development and how he quickly fell into boredom. He chose to set up Boss Key so he could get back to first person experiences, due to the power a player feels behind the gun.
• According to Cliff, developing for PC is a much easier process due to its open source nature. He also pleased the audience by saying that mouse and keyboard was the only way to play first person shooters.
• In discussing Project Bluestreak, Cliff talked about how it is important to have a good number of weapons with key roles that will appeal to different kinds of players. He admitted that he wasn’t as fast anymore and so needed weapons with some areas of effect to maximize his abilities. Hit-scan weapons were better for younger players who have the reaction time to effectively use them.
• Within two seconds of being on-stage, Cliff made a butt joke. We expect no better.
Devolver Digital and DodgeRoll: Enter The Gungeon
• Next, we got the chance to see a live demo of Enter The Gungeon. The game boasts over 200 hand-made weapons, bullet hell encounters and an art-style reminiscent of Adventure Time.
• The Gungeon is procedurally generated and has multiplayer. We saw one of many bosses that spewed bullets from every orifice and watched the delightful rainbow gun murder with sublime beauty.
Blizzard: Heroes Of The Storm, Legacy Of The Void
• Blizzard, a PC titan, fulfilled their duty and dropped in to the show. They introduced the upcoming expansion for Heroes Of The Storm with a brief in-game trailer. The new expansion pack is heavily Diablo-focussed and introduces new characters like The Skeleton King, The Templar and The Monk. The treasure goblin from Diablo 3 will now be in the map at the start of a round to pummel for bonus gold.
• There were some clear concerns in the crowd that one of the new additions may be a tad overpowered. The Skeleton King, when killed, will turn into an invincible wraith that cannot be harmed, but can still deliver damage. When the respawn timer runs out he will return, in a physical form, to the exact spot the wraith hovers. Also discussed was the Monk hero, who can choose his style of support at the beginning of a match, increasing his offensive or passive outputs.
• Blizzard was quick to remind us that the Starcraft 2: Legacy of The Void expansion is coming out soon, showing off a trailer compiled from in-game CGI cutscenes. As is the standard from Blizzard, they looked flawless. Also announced is a three-mission prologue that will be free for all players – arriving soon. It fills in plot points from each game leading up to Legacy Of The Void. Pre-purchasing the DLC will grant players early access to the content.
Hello Games: No Mans Sky
• The final game of the show was a pleasant surprise. Shaun Murry from Hello Games announced that No Mans Sky will indeed receive a PC version alongside the PS4.
• Shaun gave an interesting look into how they test the thousands of different generated planets, in which they send out bots to record GIFS and take pictures of them. This data is then sent back to the development team to ensure nothing is out of place.
• Shaun was quick to laugh at his own E3 trailer, claiming that it was a bit ‘full of itself’.
And so there you have it folks, the first ever PC E3 show. A little disappointing with a couple of big highlights. It wasn’t the best of E3 but it by far wasn’t the worst. I’m looking at you EA. Let us know what you thought, and what excited you the most. But until next time, be nice to your PC.