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Saturday, June 17, 2017

E3 2017 highlight shenanigans!

You wanna know what happened a few days ago? E3 happened, that's what! For those of you who don't know what I am talking about, Electronic Entertainment Expo, more commonly referred to as E3, is a video game convention held once a year available for gamers all over the WORLD!!! The general gist of E3 is it gives video game developers and/or publishers to showcase/advertise/debut upcoming video games and/or video game related merchandise. In other words, it's a dream land come true for folks like me who love playing video games.

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So in this post I thought it would be quite fun to take a look at all the things that got shown at E3 2017. I am not going to cover EVERYTHING because A) there is just too much stuff. And B) In the interest of keeping my blog family friendly, I shall ignore things that are bound to get a M for Mature rating by the ESRB. I'm a gamer with standards after all!

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Starting off the E3 hype train is A FLIPPING PORT OF Undertale FOR THE PLAYSTATION FOUR!!!! And for the PS Vita as well but WHO CARES ABOUT THE VITA WHEN IT'S COMING TO THE FLIPPING PLAYSTATION FOUR!!! Those of you who have read some of my previous posts know that Undertale is by far my favorite video game ever (even though when I re-reviewed I, reluctantly, lowered the score due to the flaws becoming increasingly apparent) and the PS4 is a video game system that I do enjoy playing a lot.

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The official trailer also made me laugh due to how absurd it starts off (thanks to the ridiculously edgy narrator followed by the Annoying Dog's adorably squeaky voice gleefully shouting "Yeah! It's Undertale!" It's even getting a Collector's Edition (for a Collector's Collecting Collection). Chances are I am going to buy the port just to see how it holds up against the original PC version. Or for that Collector's Edition, because it comes with an artbook, the soundtrack, and a heart-shaped locket that plays the Undertale theme, "Memory", when you open it. It's scheduled to come out sometime in summer.

And, what better way to follow up my favorite video game with my favorite super hero?

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Spider-Man. Yes, that's what this game is called. Apparently. And I just got to say, kudos to InsomniacGames for making a Spider-Man that looks not only pretty dang awesome, but also nails the feeling of good old fashioned web-slinging action. Although this game has to be AMAZING (geddit? Because he's the Amazing Spider-Man?) for it to beat Spider-Man: Web of Shadows because even though that game is somewhat dated as far as graphics go (and having the single most cringe-worthy voice acting ever) it was a fun game that captured the feeling of a web-slinging masked hero going off to save New York City.

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And the 9-minute long trailer (who makes a 9-minute long trailer anyway?) did nothing except impress me. The graphics look good and the fight choreography between Spidey and the new villains known as the Demons is really fun to watch. All it needs is to have a better voice cast than Web of Shadows for me to acknowledge this as the best Spider-Man video game ever made. We'll just have to wait until 2018 rolls around.

Next up is something Nintendo failed miserably to do so Sony saw their chance and took it...

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Duh-duh-duh-nah! Duh-duh-duh-nah, nah nah, nah! Duh nah nah, nah nah, nah NAH! That is my terrible attempt to transcribe the opening theme for Monster Hunter. But yeah! Monster Hunter World for the PS4, and the Hunting Grounds never looked better! I mean, first of all, look at the scenery.

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Monster Hunter locations never have looked as good as they do now. Seriously, Monster Hunter Tri got flat, green-colored platforms and you had to just roll with the idea that it's supposed to represent grass. But enough gawking at the visuals, it's time for me to share my thoughts on three new game mechanics that the trailer showed off. Firstly, as pictured in the image with the T. Rex like Monster, you will notice our brave Monster Hunter has donned a ghillie suit. This is a new mechanic, where you can equip different ghillie suits to sneak around. I imagine that for the sake of keeping things balanced, that aggressive actions like attacking or dodge rolling will blow your cover.

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STEAK!!!

The other new main mechanic is how our brave Monster Hunter now has a grappling hook, as showcased a few times in the trailer where he (she?) used it to escape a particularly prickly predicament. A small, presumably optional touch is you can now track targets (by that I mean the Monster you're looking for in that specific mission now leaves visual clues in the environment, such as footprints, highlighted by fireflies that point in the direction of the Monster in question), which is convenient for veterans and beginners alike since A) it helps beginners get used to how boss battles work in Monster Hunter as a whole, and B) the maps are no longer divided into Zones, which means no more impromptu loading screens killing the mood, or getting literally sent flying (by a boss attack) out of the Zone and have that important TIMED boss battle rudely interrupted by a loading screen. So rejoice my fellow Monster Hunters! No more shall we have to deal with getting Plesioth Hip Checked halfway across the map. Unless, of course, they up the knockback on the Plesioth Hip Check, assuming *shudders* underwater combat (where there's water, there's a Plesioth waiting to Hip Check you) returns. Or rework the aquatic bosses to be fightable on land. But anyway, they also said that all fourteen weapon types (*deep breath* Greatsword, Longsword, Dual Swords, Sword and Shield, Hammer, Switch Axe, Lance, Gunlance, Insect Rod, Charge Blade, Hunting Horn, Bowgun, and Longbow) will return for Monster Hunter World which is good because I always wanted to see what the Insect Rod and Charge Blade (the two weapons that didn't exist when Monster Hunter Tri was remastered for Wii U) could do, as I have never used those weapon types myself, and if I don't like either of them, I can resort to just using Gunlance (my favorite weapon type!) 24/7. Definitely picking this up when it comes out in 2018.

Oh, and speaking of hunting...

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Anyone here ever heard of Ark: Survival Evolved? No? Well it's basically a survival game with dinosaurs that was in Early Access (where you can play a game while the developers are working on the game) for literal years and this August it's finally being released as a full game. I never played during the Early Access myself, mostly because I rarely play on PC due to finding a keyboard and mouse rather cumbersome, especially when a game is as action packed as Ark: Survival Evolved.

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The main reason I've gotten interested into this game is partly because admittedly, the game's concept (you and your friends are stranded on one of five selectable islands populated by everything from giant insects to dinosaurs to mythological creatures. Work together to survive the wilds, build epic bases, and assemble a army of over a 100+ different animals to wreck havoc on your enemies) alone is enough for me to consider purchasing (the other reason being you can ride a T. Rex which is inherently awesome for dino-lovers like me). Plus that Collector's Edition comes with the actually pretty cool dossier, which is a psychical notebook that is a replica of the in-game item that shares some lore about the dinos and dragons and whatnot, complete with beautiful hand-sketched illustrations.Of course, considering the game is just getting out of Early Access and some folks complain about the poor framerate/optimization and some rather humorous (though unwanted) glitches where some of the larger dinosaurs would get stuck on inanimate objects (or clip right through them), and the fact it's scheduled for release on August 8th, that literally gives Studio Wildcard, the developers of Ark: Survival Evolved, less than two months to work out the kinks.

Moving on from the Sony side of things we approach the Nintendo-verse and all of it's wackiness. But even by their standards they may have unveiled the wackiest game yet..

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Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. What. I'm legitimately speechless about this. I mean, I've seen some pretty "out-there" crossovers before (Super Smash Bros, Tokyo Mirage Sessions, that two way crossover between Terraria and Dungeon Defenders 2 come to mind) but seriously. The Raving Rabbids. And Mario. In the same game. And Mario's got a laser gun for some reason. And it's an RPG of all things (more specifically, it's a Strategy game, a la XCOM or Fire Emblem). And the main villain is Bowser... Jr.? Just... What. I think I HAVE to get this on my Switch just for the sheer absurdity of it all. But hey! At least my childhood is content because as a kid I LOVED the Raving Rabbids.

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Rabbid!Peach apparently thinks Real!Peach's clothes
are SO last year... Despite wearing the exact same outfit.
#RabbidsareHypocrites.

But even ignoring the nonsensicality of this crossover, I can't deny that the game definitely has had some passionate work put into it. The trailer and 30-minute demonstration did do a good job at showing that this isn't just a lazy cash-grab to entice my eleven-year-old self. Besides, it's the Raving Rabbids, and knowing them they are going to be the star of the show (for those of you who played the Ray-Man games know exactly what I'm talking about).

Moving from one RPG to a spin-off of another RPG we have (drumroll please)...

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Fire Emblem Warriors! Which makes me happy because I love Fire Emblem. So now everyone's favorite characters (unless your favorite characters come from the Tellius duology, Sacred Stones, Binding Blade, Genealogy of the Holy War, Echoes, or Blazing Sword, as those games are not the main focus of the game) can partake in a hack'n'slash action spin-off of the Strategy games.

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I gotta say, the visuals look pretty dang awesome!

But I have to say something that I thought was hilarious and makes little to no sense. One of the guys working on the game said they are keeping sword-using characters to minimum. Makes sense, there's only so many fighting styles you can do with a sword before you run out of ideas to make the character stand out. But let's take a look at the characters announced so far. First up is Marth, he needs no introduction, he's the Japanese pretty boy from Smash Bros, everyone knows who Marth is. Next is Chrom, Marth's descendent from Fire Emblem: Awakening who was almost included in Smash Bros. but Masahiro Sakurai (the creator of Smash Bros) felt that, at the time, Chrom's movepool wasn't deep enough to make him a full fighter. So now he can take out his frustration on being left out on thousands of enemies. Then there's Xander, who is basically Prince Charming on steroids, and Ryoma the Lobster Samurai Dude (or the L.S.D. for short!), both of whom are from Fire Emblem Fates, And then there's Corrin/Kamui (her name changes based on region), also from Fates, who has dragon powers and a chainsaw sword. Finally, we have a pair of twins that were created to be the main protagonists of this game, Shion and Lina (I think that's how you spell their names...?) who bear an uncanny resemblance to Dragon Ball Z characters. But have you realized what all these characters have in common? All of them use some kind of sword. Oh well. At least the roster has been confirmed to be at least 20+ characters total, so hopefully we'll see some non-sword users like Takumi (bow), or Tharja (black magic), or Cain and Abel (spears), or Donnel (basically every weapon is available to Donnel).

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It's the Fates gang! Sort of, we're missing a few
characters for the whole team.

The gameplay does look really fun as well. Granted, this is a Koei Tecmo game, so chances are the regular enemies are going to be pathetically easy to defeat, given the main challenge of Koei Tecmo's style of games comes from multitasking several objectives at once (usually on a timer) with the occasional boss battle. With this logic, regular enemies are punching bags at best and distractions at worst. So I can already tell this game won't be for everyone, but c'mon! It's a hack'n'slash Fire Emblem!

So we went from a wacky RPG to a hack'n'slash and now we're covering a less wacky RPG.

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Yep. They unveiled stuff for arguably the most hyped up game that has nothing to do with a certain plumber. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was mostly a trailer and some gameplay demos, but we learned some valuable stuff. Like how the English localization is bringing back British accents. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, the original Xenoblade was famous for giving literally every character a British accent (or variations thereof) to EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER IN THE GAME. While the English voice cast isn't going to go full British with everyone (one character, who is either the main villain or a rival, speaks with what is obviously an American accent) and I will definitely need to see (hear?) more of the voice acting to determine it's worth. But right now, it doesn't seem that good, especially when the main hero, Rex, shouts "Take This!" during the trailer and the way he stretches and emphasizes the word "this" sounds so ridiculously corny it's not even funny.

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Playable Nopon confirmed! :D

I remember back when they first announce this title getting weirded out by the seemingly more cartoon-y artstyle, and this trailer shows it's less of a "cartoon" and more of a "anime", which is... Interesting... I have a love/hate thing for anime. On the one hand, it's very colorful and expressive. On the other hand, I just hope they don't give me a plot that has half a million anime tropes, like using The Power of Friendship/Love as a cheap deus ex machina (a deus ex machina is a storytelling trope where something outside of the heroes' control gets them out of a prickly predicament) or make Rex the ultimate chick magnet (believe it or not, these are the anime cliches that bother me most). But in all seriousness, the premise is interesting and little belying. According to Monolith Soft, the developers working on the game, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is NOT a direct sequel to the original Xenoblade, but is instead a brand new (mostly) unrelated adventure. It's called Xenoblade Chronicles 2 because Monolith Soft are revisiting concepts that they never fully explored in their first outing, like what the world would be like if every single landmass was actually a giant beast carrying islands and even continents on their backs, and between these mobile landmass carrying beasts (the aptly named Titans) is nothing but a Sea of Clouds because they're so massive that they go above the cloud barrier. But wouldn't that mean that underneath the Cloud Sea there would be a regular ocean? Or do the Titans fly around? I have no idea.

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...I'm not too sure on Rex's design, or the design of
Pyra (near left, the one in red). I like the cat girl's
design and that Nopon's design (I don't know either
of their names), though. But here's hoping outfit customization
returns.

On the gameplay side of the spectrum Monolith Soft went ahead and simplified/revamped the combat system. Sure, a lot of the original game's combat returns. You got your passive skills and your auto attacks (which happen automatically without any input from the player) and your Artes hotbar (Artes being stronger, more complicated attacks that you manually select). But now, rather than have eight Artes that you cycle through. You have four Artes mapped to the four buttons on the right Joy-Con for the Nintendo Switch (random fun fact! The bits on the Nintendo Switch that detach and become independent controllers are called Joycons). The most drastic change, however, is how the party is divided into two different types. Blades and Drivers. You, the player, control the Drivers (such as Rex), while Blades (such as the... Inappropriately dressed Pyra, who shall become impossible to take seriously, for obvious reasons) bestow temporary super powers, but actually cannot fight directly. You can assign three Blades total to one Driver, and you can switch between them freely, even in the middle of combat. I've noticed how the Blades are eerily similar to Pokemon, which means there's probably dozens, maybe hundreds to unlock/recruit/collect. Oh, and which Blade is active also changes the Driver's weapon (and in turn changes which Artes the Driver can use), like how Pyra creates a flamethrower-sword that lets you use the tried and true staple, the Back Slash. The last real change to combat I've seen is how party members no longer Auto attack while moving, which is problematic given how you need to use auto attacks to charge up Artes, and how some weapons deal extra damage from different positions (like behind an enemy). But hey! I am probably going to give this game a go because I thoroughly enjoyed Xenoblade X (which is a sci-fi space opera take on the Xenoblade universe) and want to try out this game for the playable Nopon.

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Almost forgot to mention, they are remaking Shadow of the Colossus for PS4 and it looks great. For those of you who never heard of Shadow of the Colossus, it was a beautiful, melancholic game about a morally ambiguous anti-hero named Wander as he goes on a quest to bring the woman he (presumably?) loves back from the dead by destroying the titular stone giants. The original game was considered by all who played it to be a masterpiece to this very day, and while the graphics and controls are comically outdated, this remake aims to modernize the greatest hidden gem of the Playstation 2. Also, they redid Wander's running animation. Just a small touch, but I love little details like that. So yeah!

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We're also getting Pokemon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon for the 3DS. It's like Pokemon Sun & Moon, but ULTRA!!!! It also has transformed versions of Solgaleo and Lunala, that look like they have fused with Necromza (aka Darth Vader as a Pokemon), which is a blast from the past since Pokemon Black & White 2 had the three Legendaries of that game fused together into Kyurem. We're also getting a remaster of Pokken Tournament that adds five (technically 1) new character(s) and a 3-vs-3 mode for the Nintendo Switch. And finally, we're getting what was strongly implied to be a main-series, "Gotta catch'em all!" style Pokemon game for the Nintendo Switch in 2018, but the fact they only mentioned it with no real footage or screen shots has me slightly worried that it's going to be rushed. And if Sonic '06 taught us anything, NEVER RUSH YOUR PRODUCTS.

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And last but not least for full games is Super Mario Odyssey. This game is shaping up to be pretty dang awesome. Although the more I see footage of this game in particular, it leaves me to wonder what kind of thought process Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of Donkey Kong, Zelda, Mario, and basically everything that is innocent and pure in this world) goes through when working on his games. I say this because the newly revealed powers of Cappy (a ghost possessing Mario's hat) lets Mario possess enemies, inanimate objects, and... Dinosaurs?

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Does it make sense? No. Is it cool and weird at the same time? Yes. Oh, and you can now customize Mario with costumes. Whether these costumes are cosmetic or have unique abilities remains to be seen. And the last major thing is now we know what Bowser's evil plan is. To use the power of his incredibly dapper tuxedo and top hat to marry Princess Peach (who has, once again, been kidnapped. That girl needs some serious self-defense lessons), Although, whether Bowser actually wants to marry her or is doing the age old "if you marry a royal you instantly take over the royal's kingdom without having to do anything" trick is matter up for debate.

But now that I have said my piece about the full games, let's talk DLC.

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Yes. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WIld is getting DLC. The first batch of DLC, titled "Trial of the Sword" is basically the Eventide Shrine on steroids. That is a reference to perhaps the single most challenging Shrine in the game, for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about (the one where Link is stripped of all his weapons and armor and has to locate three orbs while being hounded by enemies). It also adds a Hard Mode, for those of us who can kill Lynels and Guardians in 30 seconds flat and crave a new challenge.

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The second batch, the one that is, in my opinion, more interesting, includes a brand new story, plus a new dungeon, AND it sheds some insight on who exactly the Champions were/are(?). But will they become playable? Eh, the only time someone who is not Link was playable in a Zelda game was when Hyrule Warriors came out (funnily enough, the same team that worked on that game are working on Fire Emblem Warriors!). So probably no. Would I like to play as them? Yes I would. Although it begs the question of how the Champions would play if they are playable. The simplest thing they could do is make it some each Champion can only use one weapon type (Daruk could use clubs while Mipha could use spears for example), but like I said, I'm not expecting them to be playable.


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We're also getting DLC for Horizon: Zero Dawn which makes me very happy because not only does this mark the return of the sassball Aloy, Horizon: Zero Dawn is arguably the best game I have ever played. Titled "The Frozen Wilds", this DLC will give us a new story campaign where, surprise, Aloy has to travel to a new wintery area. And aside from showing us a never ending and clearly unnatural tornado/blizzard at the top of the mountain and teasing a new Machine to do battle against, what else the DLC does is incredibly vague. But hey! This will be the second adventure from everyone's favorite sassball. Unless you don't like Aloy, and you are terrible person if you don't like Aloy because she is a walking hurricane of sarcasm and thus she makes everything better (it helps that unlike every video game protagonist ever, she ISN'T meant to be a self-insert blank slate for the player to project on, and as such she has the characterization of a major supporting character, while being the star of her own story).

And that covers basically everything I wanted to talk about. I have no idea what Microsoft are doing as I tend to ignore Microsoft stuff. But personally speaking, Nintendo WRECKED HOUSE this E3. Seriously, I think two-thirds of the highlights was Nintendo stuff. And I'm not even a biased Nintendo fanboy (I play more Sony games than I do Nintendo games!). But anyway, I shall be looking forward to everything on this highlight list. But if there's anything you think would have been cool for me to cover but overlooked, let me know.

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