Pre-E3 Hopes and More

Its that time of year again.  Everyone's doing E3 predictions and hopes, and I'm no different.  I'm a little late with mine, so to apologize let's just jump right into it. 

Hopes: We learn more about Batman: Arkham Origins.

We're all completely aware of this game, but that doesn't mean I don't want to know more about the game.  We've known about it for a couple months but we've yet to see any gameplay.  How does this younger, less experienced Batman fight?   Is he faster?  Does he rely on even cooler gadgets?   And Arkham Origins has the one thing I've been excited about since 2007 when they first released Arkham Asylum: a non-shitty Gotham.  I just bought the GOTY edition of Arkham City and while I totally get what they were going for, its more than a little weird that every time I hit the streets there's just more criminals to beat up.   And its like they took up half the city so it makes you wonder what Batman's even fighting for?

Prediction: You will NOT hear more about this game. 
Kevin Conroy leaked information about the next next Arkham game, and people have been speculating ever since.  Is this Arkham World?  Is this the long-rumored Silver Age Batman game that will star the Justice League in some as-yet unstated capacity?   Well, it doesn't matter because you aren't going to find out.  Not this year, at least.   Warner Bros. undoubtedly wants all eyes on Batman: Arkham Origins, especially with people doubting the game's quality since its not Rocksteady on this project.   At best you might hear a little more than completely unsubstantiated rumors, but I wouldn't bet any money on that.  

Hopes: The Witcher 3, Dragon Age 3, Lords of the Fallen

These are the big, console-based Western RPGs that people know about right now and are looking forward to.   Admittedly, Lords of the Fallen is a little less well-known, so for those who aren't aware its a title that's made by CI Games and the producer of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.  According to RPGFan, Lords of the Fallen is about a character named Harkyn, a warrior fighting against both the supernatural and the gods themselves, who (at least from what I can glean from the title) have lost their way.  Promising tons of exploration, impressive enemies and lots of character customizations, hopefully its what I'm looking for.

And in general this is something I'm hoping to see more of in the next-generation.  RPGs were kinda spotty this last-gen.  There was at least one good one every year, but that's not saying much in comparison to the PS2/Xbox era, and certainly not compared to the PS1/N64 era.  I'm hoping that with this era there's a greater focus on classic RPGs being made that explore various types of worlds--fantasy, sci-fi cyberpunk, deep space, and even more.  How about another RPG that explores East Asia?  (I just really want Jade Empire 2.)

Also?  Fewer "create-a-character" RPGs.  I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this, and that's okay but this is my site so its all about my opinion.  "Custom" characters create a larger detachment from the world for me, since you play upwards of 40 hours in a world where no one ever refers to you by your name, just some generic description like "Champion" or "Grey Warden" or "Fateless One".   Plus you don't have a voice, so you walk through the game mute, which is just BS.

Hope: Return of the J-RPG to Consoles

Hey, you know what DOESN'T have all the problems I just mentioned?  J-RPGs.  It's pretty rare to play a J-RPG in which you aren't playing a defined role, and I like that.

Trouble is, due to the overall rising costs to make console games, and the equally rising popularity of mobile gaming devices, we're getting fewer and fewer J-RPGs on consoles.  That's one of the reasons why Ni no Kuni was such a big freaking deal.   Japanese RPGs for consoles have turned into one of three things:

  1. A Final Fantasy game (which for this last gen translated to, "another Lightning game")
  2. A Tales game (most of which could barely get localized, and even then those washed-out colors for their graphics just never appealed to me)
  3. Something that looks like it belongs on last-gen consoles (I don't care if its in HD, still images and sprites are just still images and sprites.  Same with big-head, small bodies and all this other stuff you should have left on the PS1 and PS2.)
This is a far-fetched hope, but Sony and Microsoft both went out of their way to create consoles that aren't huge jumps from where we're currently at (the games look better, but not the jump isn't as ridiculous as the jump between PS2 and PS3 for instance) so that selling their consoles wouldn't be as difficult this generation.  Hopefully developers learn to do the same and make decent current-gen games without astronomical budgets.  Hopefully.

Hope: A Comic Book Superhero Game Not About Batman


This one's almost comically simple, but I'm just being honest.  If you've noticed, we don't get as many superhero games as we once did.  There was a time when every superhero film came with a shovelware superhero title.  They were terrible, but we got them.   Well now Apple and Android have a big enough installed user base that those titles just become shovelware apps.   Nothing wrong with that, because it means fewer bad games on consoles.

BUT!  Now that means DC and Marvel can start releasing original superhero titles onto consoles, and neither of them have taken a substantial first step outside of the safest moves possible.  Both companies have an MMO, DC has a MOBA coming out and I wouldn't be surprised to see Marvel follow suit, and they've both released fighting games.

We need more than that, though.  Where's the next Batman: Arkham City that's not about Batman?  An open-world game about a given superhero and how he deals with threats in his hometown.  Arkham City laid the basis for this--just give us a short, 5-10 hour main game and a shit ton of side missions involving the hero's major villains that boosts the game's playtime by about 20 hours or so.  Make sure the gameplay's fun and review sites will go crazy, fans will go crazy, and you can shove a frankly stupid amount of DLC down everyone's throat but NOBODY will care because: the game will be good.  Come on, DC: You can't give us a Green Lantern game?  Or Wonder Woman?  All jokes aside, even Aquaman would be pretty awesome if it took place underwater and dealt with his rise to becoming the King of Atlantis or something.

What about you, Marvel?  Iron Man 3 just made over a billion dollars in less than two months.  People LOVE Iron Man, so try that first.  Or an espionage-based Captain America game.  A God of War-esque Thor game.  With the PS4 and XBO, more complicated physics engines will be possible than ever, and there's no excuse wasting all that on your sixth Batman game or your fifth Spider-Man game.  Yes, both can be good, but you've got to branch out.

Prediction: PS4 Launch Titles, Pricing, and stance on used games

Here we go with another prediction: Sony's conference is going to announce all of their launch day titles (and some or most of their "launch window" titles), the console's pricing, and hopefully its stance on used games.  Now, let's go over a few things.

- First, let's talk about pricing.  There are some people who have been convinced for some time now that the PS4 and XBox One will both cost in the area of $800-1000.  There are others who expect a complete repeat of the $500/600 deal from last-gen.  To both of you groups I say: are you out of your fucking minds???

There's a reason why some PC gamers are laughing at the specs of Sony and Microsoft's new systems, and it isn't just because they're elitist douchebags.  It's because Sony and Microsoft didn't even try to create top of the line systems this time, because that would cost a frankly stupid amount of money.  Sony and MS both have gone to huge lengths to lower production costs on their systems, with both companies cutting the very expensive backwards compatibility feature, and Sony outsourcing the production of its CPU to a company that actually, y'know...makes CPUs.

The result is this: two systems that are going to come out at prices that are a significant drop from their predecessors.   For Sony (I confess I don't much care about Microsoft right now), I'm predicting the PS4 will launch a 250GB model for $349 and a 500GB (or even a 1TB) model for $449.   Microsoft will do something similar, only expect pricing to be anywhere between $50-100 more because of Kinect.  Yeah I know most of us would rather both companies just release one model and be done with it, but that shit's not going anywhere.  Tablets do it now, portable systems do it, why wouldn't the big boys keep doing it?

- Now as far as used games, I can see one of two things.  Either a Sony rep will get up on stage tomorrow and pronounce in that monotone voice they tend to use that Sony will be friend of the gamers and that things won't be that much different from what we have now, or they've taken a slightly less popular stance and you won't hear much of anything until about a week or a month later, when some buried interview comes to light on Destructoid or IGN that talks about how Sony's system of doing things is only slightly better than Microsoft's.

- Lastly, the launch games.  I'm predicting somewhere between 12 and 20 launch titles, all of which Sony will announce either during their presentation, or will be revealed before the first day is out.  Then an additional 20-30 titles will hit within the "launch window" of 90 days after the system is released (IE, before 2014).

Now, I admit this article is long as all hell so its good we're coming to the last part....

Hopes: Surprise!

The coolest part about E3 is when they hit you with a surprise.  Something you had no idea even existed until E3 came along and told you about it; no trailers, no teaser images, no empty websites, nothing.  You look up E3 news and out of nowhere is this new game that's suddenly taking up all the top news spots on every game site.

I want at least one of these surprises (JUST one, but I'll take as many as they give me) to blow me away and make me wonder how the fuck I'm supposed to afford all these games.   Last year we were all waiting for information on the new consoles and when we learned only the WiiU was scheduled to come out within the next year, E3 seemed to stagnate and only present us with games we were already well-aware of.   This year, E3 seems much more exciting and you can feel it from all but the most cynical fans: people are actually looking forward to the foremost gaming event of the year, like they should be.

Now I'll be back next week to talk about which of my predictions and hopes came true and which didn't.  I'm an honest guy, so if I turn out to be wrong I'll be upfront about it.  See you guys then.


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