June 24th, 2015
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sony e3 announcement

So, I don’t really play video games. I didn’t know what E3 was until I was at work in Little Tokyo and fifteen people came in in cosplay. This was a surprise the first time it happened, but this is Little Tokyo, so this was the eleventh time this month I’ve had to sell sandwiches to anime characters. Someone told me that there was some sort of annual video game thing, so I hopped on the interweb and found, much to my surprise, that things have changed since Diddy Kong Racing 64 (if you don’t remember, here’s a three-hour video). I found myself rather interested in E3 and its nefarious inner workings, so I did what anyone with a brain and mobile fingers would do: reviewed E3’s hottest new video games from my own thoroughly naive point of view.

So, with that, here’s everything you could ever possibly need to know about the future of video games.

Final Fantasy VII

I know this a “non-gamers” post, but when I heard about FF7 I perked up, because I actually played this one. Only then did I find out: this is huge news. Somehow without me knowing it, everyone in the world played the original, loved it more than most close family members, and still regularly trolls the internet asking for a remake. So when I showed up and was like “guys, have you ever heard of Playstation?” I got laughed at by a bunch people dressed up in wigs, which was weirdly painful for me. So yeah, they’re making the same game look prettier than it was? Is that how this works?

No Man’s Sky

After doing some very cursory research (I Googled), it turns out a lot of people don’t really get what you do in this game. You fly around and just … kinda … do stuff. What it seemingly lacks in plot it makes up for in scope, because it’s set in a universe that is roughly actual-universe sized. I counted, and there are 2 bajillion possible worlds you can go to and bop around, shooting lasers, picking sides in wars, or starting a family and getting a stable career with a good 401k. And it seemingly does all this without a “loading” screen, which were really popular back when I still gamed. What scares me is that there’s clearly some Skynet-esque AI making NMS, because the guy presenting the game has literally no idea what’s going to happen when he goes to a world. This sheepish guy gets up in front of a thousand gamers (all drinking Monster), picks a world at random, and kinda nervously whispers into the mic “Oh, let’s hope this isn’t the world where you all have to rewatch yourselves get beat up on the elementary school playground.”

Beyond Eyes

In which you play a 10 year old blind girl trying to find your cat. That’s it. That’s what it is. Which seems like a wasted opportunity: they could craft a sound wave induced world, something completely new and unprecedented visually. But all they did was make it so you could only see about five feet around you. And with an “E” rating, I’m about as excited as I would be to go see the new G-Rated movie about a blind girl trying to find her lost cat. Mostly, you really slow walk and I guess try to not bump into things … And look for your cat. Interestingly, this takes place in a world where they haven’t learned that you just shake a bag of cat food. Cheat code? Is Gameshark still a thing?

Cuphead

YESSSS. “Cuphead and Mugman gambled with the devil,” and then we see two Looney Tunes-era cartoons Cup-people playing a game of Craps with the devil. It’s so literal! Basically a side-scrolling Street Fighter-y game with drawings straight outta Popeye, and it looks like the coolest game you would ever find in an arcade. This leads me to ask a question: is there some sort of artsy, indie scene in video game making? Are there more games than CoD and Skyrim? As much as I love shooting the ambiguous Them and whomping dragons with spells and swords and shit, is there more to video games that I don’t know about? There was Super Monkey Ball, where you were an allegedly “super” monkey, in a ball. Is that indie?

Firewatch

Is this a murder mystery, or some combination of Her and Brokeback Mountain in which a man falls in love with the lovely voice on the other end of his radio as he’s isolated in the glorious Wyoming wilds? From the trailer, it seems like you chop wood, save turtles, and scold children for littering while your romantic interest chimes in via walkie-talkie. “I don’t talk to the other lookouts as much as I talk to you … Not in the same way” and your character responds back coyly “What makes me so special?” This seems like a real plot-heavy game, which I didn’t even know was a thing. If it were a movie, I’d watch it.

Horizon Zero Dawn

So basically video games are now just playable movies? This is amazing. What have I been missing out on?! Time aptly described HZD as post-post-apocalyptic. You’re a tribal lady hunting giant robot dinosaurs (???) through the centuries old ruins of the contemporary world, cities draped in vines and overgrown with wildlife. Visually, it looks amazing. There seems to be some environmentalist, Al Gore undertones – “we live in balance, but the balance cannot last” – and I bet at the end Bush never gets elected, but this game looks awesome. Also, shout-out the video game world for having female protagonists. Gold star for the nerds.