E3 2015 Best in Show Coop Awards
Star Wars: The Old Republic – Love or hate The Old Republic, the undeniable feature Bioware does right in its free to play MMORPG is story driven cutscenes. Their cutscenes make most AAA buy to play single player games tremble, but all that’s in the past. Knights of the Fallen Empire is pushing movie quality level. Screw episode 7, just give us a full movie rendered in this quality and call it a day. You’ll make more money that way EA!
1. Master of Orion – For whatever reason, a 4x strategy game is putting some extreme efforts into their cutscenes, diplomacy windows, and advice guide to make a sci-fi world as believable as possible. And what they have present is purrfection. Seeing the Mrrshan kitty empress saunter up to your screen, or your bird brained Alkari adviser prattle on while toying with his inventions rivals the best we’ve seen out of even the Civilization franchise. But the fact that world colonization is accompanied by dynamically generated cutscenes specific to your race and the features of the world, and you have a 4X game that’s not reaching for the stars, they already live among them.
2. Battleborn – Games just aren’t that funny anymore. Thankfully Gearbox is here to remind us just how awesome a space redneck with dark humor for the end of the universe can be. Somehow they have a knack for melding cutscenes and voice-overed gameplay into one complete package of immersion. Despite Battleborn’s heavier focus on multiplayer this time around, don’t expect their cutscenes to falter any. Oh and that E3 trailer…
We had this nonsense beat stuck in our head for a week! Gah it’s back in there again!
Guild Wars 2 – Heart of Thorns Guild Bases – In the dark future, all games are made in pretend 8-bit 720p resolution, as hipster game designers explain how they envisioned perfect 2.5D gameplay in a dream they had while meditating on Everest. Thankfully we’re not yet there, and the old guard of MMO greatness is still pushing their visuals to the max to ooh and awe us at E3. Nothing so much so as the reveal of Guild Bases for Guild Wars 2. Guild Wars 2 brings quality scale to a landscape scene unlike anything else, and Guild Bases are the ultimate example of just that. Lighting reflecting off crystalline structures in Lord of the Rings level epic castle settings showcase hand-crafted details at every turn. You can’t pay a team enough to produce something of this quality. The team has to truly love and obsess over their work to create the Heart of Thorns guild halls. ArenaNet has done it again.
1. Blade & Soul – I swear the next person who knocks this game for being ‘old’ is getting challenged to a livestream kickboxing battle with me. Blade & Soul isn’t just oversexualized eastern MMO mundane. Its artwork. Characters inhale and exhale with true life. Character physics allow you to live the reality of a House of Flying Daggers movie. Spell particles dazzle and reflect CC effects that MMOs have relied on icons alone to represent before it. The world is built to accommodate high flying shenanigans. Monsters are imaginative and greatly varied. Animations both on offensive and defensive bring it all together as a vision into the mind of madness that is Kim Hyung Tae. Though the original art director is no longer part of Team Bloodlust, his vision of a world of Wuxia and Wonder lives on.
2. World of Tanks Xbox One – What happens when the most detail oriented, historically accurate art team in the history of Europe gets tasked with updating their flagship game to meet Xbox One standards? Horrible things I assure you. But the end result is the most beautiful hunk of smoldering metal you’ll ever lay eyes on. Who ever thought we’d have wind physics in a game about blowing each other’s tanks up? Or realistic brick by brick destructive realism of the surrounding cities? No even the smoldering cities’ smoke gets caught in the wind physics, which then impacts elements of the gameplay. Wargaming you’re like the teacher’s pet that isn’t satisfied till their extra credit scores 105% on the report card. We respect and salute your tireless efforts destroy your continent time and time again in as realistic a fashion as humanly possible.
3. Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward – If we had more time with the game, this likely would have taken the award. Unfortunately we only had a chance to spend five minutes flying around on a fat chocobo. Raw eye candy though. Flying islands, a spectacularly well built out milky night sky almost on par with the best examples of modded Skyrim, and the creepiest monsters that could only come from the twisted minds of Japan. Keep an eye out for our upcoming expansion review to see if the full update lives up to that initial impression.
Most Improved Returning Title
Guild Wars 2 – Heart of Thorns – The Heart of Thorns expansion seems to mark the Guild Wars 2 puppy growing into its paws. At last its packing many of the key features that made the original Guild Wars such a classic, while constantly destroying and rebuilding its core PvE content via the Living Story to make it better and better. There’s never a bad time to start Guild Wars 2, but the lure has never been stronger as this expansion.
1. Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward – Once again, we just needed more time to confirm how awesome FFXIV is. The addition of the new race, new continent, and new story on the surface seems like solid polish on an already amazing MMORPG. Each new region they add one-ups the last, as do the ever imaginative boss monsters waiting to stomp the most advanced raid teams into the dirt.
2. Star Wars: The Old Republic – The cutscenes have us sold. The expansion offers tons of new content right for the start to welcome new players into the game instead of hiding it all behind hours upon hours of grind. Plus the inclusion of their space battle system feels like an entirely new game within a game. SWTOR is night and day compared to its pay to play launch state. This E3 was the first time we have viewed SWTOR as the AAA MMORPG it was always meant to be. If you’re at all into Star Wars, or never got around to trying it, now is the time.
Biggest Surprise of the Show
Blade & Soul – Nothing says surprise like setting up a last minute promise of a meeting at 8pm in a party on Wednesday, to further discuss a chance to schedule a meeting in a closed door room within a high security private area of E3, without even knowing what you’re going to see in that room! Yet this is what we went through, and it all paid off when that Blade & Soul banner was the first thing we saw in that room. Between the rock solid free to play business model plan, and the actual combat, we couldn’t have been happier. We knew Blade & Soul was good, but not THIS good. All you haters out there get ready. The wait is so worth it. Oh and as an aside, NCSoft plans to give the Europeans some serious love, so for once you guys won’t have to feel like second class citizens in an MMO dev cycle!
1. Battleborn – Sure 2k Games was behind it, but we went into E3 thinking Battleborn was going to be some sort of isometric MOBA shooter hybrid game with tiny pixelated avatars. We left grinning ear to ear, after watching James, our resident Borderlands fanboi, barely pluck his way through the demo gameplay in one piece. I could rattle on and on, but there’s one more mention of this game below that I think would be more appropriate to do so on.
2. Master of Orion – Once again, we went into E3 having no idea our appointment with Wargaming would involve Master of Orion. I had done my research, and was ready to look at World of Tanks long awaited Xbox One launch build. As soon as we saw devs walking around their secret bar in futuristic Master of Orion jackets, we knew it was on like Donkey Kong. Wargaming is pulling some black magic here, as a game they just revealed weeks before, that’s in a state they’re calling early alpha, looks better than 95% of the 4X games in the history of the genre. I want to believe though. Even after the initial surprise faded, my feelings were the same. Master of Orion is certainly one of the main reasons E3 was so awesome this year.
Best in Show E3 2015
Battleborn – Tra-la-la- Tra-la-la Traah… la, damn it! I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Battleborn since our demo last Wednesday. Something about it just makes your inner-child scream for more. Who ever heard of a massively multiplayer shooter offering 25 MOBA style character classes at launch, a complete Gearbox quality story, AND at least 3 different PvP modes?! E3 2015 was probably the most innovative convention for game reveals in the history of my press career, but Battleborn is here to just mix all the best of gamers’ favorite genres into the complete package. If this game receives Gearbox’s typical post-launch support to the level that they love and caress Borderlands, then Battleborn is set to be more than Best at E3. This was an early peak at the Game of the Year.
1. Fable Legends – Fable Legends is an odd bird. It doesn’t shine the brightest in any one particular category. Yet when all its pieces come together, this game in its entirety is bringing one of the best online PvP ideas to market ever. I still stand by the fact that Shadow Realms was one of the most intense fun gaming experience in my press career. Fable Legends offers a more cartooney slapstick version of the same concepts, with much more polished controls and user interface. This is how 4v1 PvP should be done!
2. Master of Orion – My life feels empty. I’m not conquering the glorious galaxy, nor am I building the economic powerhouse to bring it all to heel. There’s no intergalactic congress filled with random Star Wars rejects to debate with, or technology beyond our wildest imagination to invent. All these things Master of Orion is keeping from me. And so I will sleep. Sleep long and hard, in preparation for the day this game launches and ruins my social life, as my eyes bloodshot and glaze over contemplating moves with entire worlds on the line. 4X scifi is about to get a serious kick in the space pantaloons. Master of Orion united with Wargaming will see to that.
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