An ethereal klaxon sounds to mark the start of the main E3 Expo and a thousand trainers-sporting souls begin to shuffle into the darkened, soon-to-be pungent halls of the Los Angeles Convention Centre. It always seems so unfair to hold one of the biggest gaming events in the world in such a blisteringly sunny city. My greyed gamer skin aches at being reminded what sunlight feels like, only to be immediately thrown back into darkness once more.
I am being slightly melodramatic, as I do get to play video games for a living, after all. There are worse things that could happen to a person. Like sharing a hotel room with Pauly Shore in the mid-1990s. That's gotta be in the top three.
First up today, I got to be one of the lucky few to actually get my hands on Microsoft's augmented reality kit, HoloLens. We weren't allowed to film or even have our phones sneakily out (as I would have done) as they were really keen to keep everything under wraps. I can see where their fear lies, as you'd end up having pictures spread across the internet depicting a bunch of games journos wearing glasses that resemble a fighter pilot's first go at making dental hygiene eyewear. Not exactly imagery that sells a cool, futuristic dream. More like a silent Euro-disco gone rogue.
We got ushered into a mocked-up UNSC post-game locker room to try out a Halo 5: Guardians-themed tech demonstration. Once fitted, we were sent down a corridor using a waypoint set on the glasses' screen, which I was perhaps far more excited by than I should have been. Apparently living in a world where I don't have to think about directions is a secret desire of mine. Hopefully there's porn to address that.
We get into a tactical briefing room where the HoloLens really begins to show off its potential, as we're taken through the mission to come using the kit. It's a strange feeling, reaching your arm out and touching nothing, knowing full well that you look stupid doing it, but you just have to. I guess, assuming HoloLens takes off, it'll become slightly more socially acceptable to wave your arms around like a twat, without onlookers assuming that you've just bosched a fuck-ton of ketamine and you're entranced by an Ikea lamp.
It wasn't simply a "look at this cool 3D thing" kind of experience –you can actually use your eyes' gaze to highlight parts of the ship or weaponry to garner additional information about what you're gawping at. How amazing would it be for future life applications? You could look someone up and down, find out where they bought that really cool "Live Laugh Love" T-shirt from, and then make a point to avoid that entire product range. Don't know your girlfriend's bra size? Now you do! How about making your boss less threatening by augmenting his face to have a cock-chin! Partner not wearing revealing enough clothing to your tastes? Slut them up! And gaming. You could probably do loads with gaming, too.
HoloLens box satisfyingly ticked, I ventured over to the new Uncharted game, A Thief's End. Now, full disclosure, I love the Uncharted franchise and its main man Nathan Drake is on my list of game characters that I would jump IRL. (Come on, you've got a similar list, too.) They have nailed all the things about the series that we love: pants-moistening pursuits; continual "bants" (as is the technical term) from the main characters, even when they are in clearly desperate peril; and relentless, survive-by-the-hair-on-one's-ball-sack action. The Uncharted games are renowned for their seamless transitions between scenes of mega-action, and this fourth iteration proper, though its incredible film-scale swooping camera angles, could masturbate the smug face off of Michael Bay.
'Uncharted 4: A Thief's End', E3 2015 press conference demo
Uncharted developers Naughty Dog would have to really push themselves to fuck this game up, at this point in its production. And that doesn't seem likely, given they've consistently managed to make both their new titles and sequels familiar yet innovative enough to surprise players. It's as safe a bet as putting money on Gordon Brown's stroke mouth occurring mid sentence that Uncharted 4 will be a palpable hit when it's released in March 2016.
Hanging around Sony's section of E3, I turned my attention to the PlayStation's new AAA title – the action/RPG Horizon: Zero Dawn. I got to sit with some of the guys behind the game (the trailer to which we ran yesterday), to find out a little bit more about it.
The post-apocalyptic Earth they have created is really interesting, littered with (a closely guarded amount of) tribes who know nothing of the world that was around before them, even though the remnants of our cities are left behind. The story plays out as an open-world adventure where you slowly discover just what has happened to the world we once knew. My money's on Donald Trump being involved, somehow – you know that guy has got all the hallmarks of an evil genius hell-bent on destroying the world as we know it. Anyone who has to wear a wig that bad every single day has obvious unresolved issues with life. Plus, Trump Tower looks suspiciously like it might open up to reveal a hidden missile launch bay.
The gameplay shown so far presents combat with robotic animals, using primitive weapons fashioned from the leftover tech of the world we know today. It all looks excitingly tactical too, like having sex with a drunk Navy SEAL: you'll have to learn the robo-creatures' weaknesses, and just how to hit them where it hurts.
With an E3 that has more sequential numbers after its games this year than all the Friday the 13th movies combined, it was refreshing to see a new game with a new world, new perspective and new ideas behind its combat. It's easy to keep churning out the same games over and over, but it always fills me with excitement when companies take a punt at something fresh, and as it stands Horizon seems to have all who see it on board. Such projects prove there is still hope for large-scale games makers to pull magic out of the bag once in a while. Insert your own joke about a giant Paul Daniels and some Viagra, here.
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