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E3 2016 Day 1 Recap – Civilization VI, Xenoverse 2, Lawbreakers, and More!

E3 2016 Day 1 Recap

Bandai Namco Booth

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2

Proxzor, Ragachak, and myself sunk more hours into the original Xenoverse than any grown man should be proud to admit. So when the teaser site for Xenoverse 2 arrived earlier this year, we were like kids on Christmas Eve rolling around sleeplessly waiting for a better tomorrow. And now I have seen first hand what Xenoverse 2 has to offer. And while its more or less a fluff update, the best selling Dragon Ball game of all time honestly didn’t need a huge change to the formula to find success.

For starters, the town the grating Tokitoki bird calls home has experienced quite the economic boon following the events of Xenoverse. Players will now be able to traverse a massive hub world seven times the size of the original starter town. And before impatient fans rush to the reddits to rage at the thought of the slow hub town walking across such a massive map, rest at ease. Players can now fly to great heights or even summon speedy and canonically appropriate mounts to buzz around town. With 300 players able to join together on a single shard, you can expect a far more lively hub world in Xenoverse 2 than most any MMORPG on the market could ever dream of. No longer will you shake a fist in rage at the golden Hercule statue as you crawl past it on your way to the robotic queue bots. Though the queue bots are waiting for your requests, spinning their body parts for all eternity. Undoubtedly surrounded by Ginyu Squad emoting rainbow colored fanfic characters.

Xenoverse 2 isn’t all fluff and large shiny npc maps. The character creation system, one of the shining lights that made Xenoverse just so successful as a parade of rainbow aliens, sexy short booty saiyans, and over 9001 Frieza clones raced around the hub world, now offers even more replay value than simple skill and stat differences. Each race will have access to race specific zones, presumably filled with additional quests to reveal tidbits of story you won’t otherwise come across. And even the missions themselves are getting an overhaul, with new systems like infiltration in which one must blend in to sneak through Frieza’s ship for information. Also mentioned was a mission involving traveling to Namek to beat your rivals to collecting the Dragon Balls. I was a bit unsure on this as Xenoverse 1 already had such a system, so mechanically some sort of update seems to be in place to make said missions more engaging.

Now the real meat and potatoes must be addressed. Visuals and controls. These two elements are what will sell you on returning to the world of Xenoverse. While additional story touching on newer and more obscure films is nice, and the expected inclusion of the Kai series will be a huge plus to current fans, it all pales in comparison to just how much of an upgrade the controls and graphics are getting. To think what we witnessed was still an early test build boggles the mind. The water is the greatest cel-shaded take on the liquid H2O I have ever seen. You just want to grand Future Gohan as Turles and throw his ass into the Namekian water again, and again, and then blast his ass from above to watch the water splash and sprinkle through the air majestically. Close combat is much more responsive, with smoother animations brought to life by characters with sharper edges and greater expressiveness. The frame rate itself seems to have been upped to allow you to truly appreciate the TLC particles added to every chi blast or fist on skull connection.

Perhaps the most important control improvement though is the overhaul to the dash system. Mastering control of dashing in Xenoverse 1 was an acquired skill that paid serious dividends, but a bit off-putting when combined with the lock on lock off system for players unfamiliar with the 3D X/Y axis fighting genre. Players can now more easily strafe quickly to the sides to dodge incoming qi blasts without throwing your camera into a tailspin in the process. It feels quick cinematic, and more in line with how you imagined battles being presented from the anime. Combine it with the vastly improved and cleaner combo system, and high speed battles progressing across the landscape no longer feel like a janky carpel tunnel inducing mess.

Health and the stamina system seem tweaked in the demo. While not directly addressed by the presentation, players seem like they can take far more of a beating than in the original. Considering the stats of Turles and Future Trunks, this wasn’t some end-game super battle to explain the larger health bars. Even visually the health bars cover more of the screen than before. With chaining combos easier than ever with the upgraded controls, this survivability buff seems necessary to keep fights from ending in a flash. And again, the game is brought more in line with the source anime offering five + episode battles of epic scale. On that note, Stamina has received a duration buff as well. Xenoverse 2 seems to want to encourage much less stuttery asthmatic battles by granting a more enduring stamina bar to keep players boosting and blasting for longer periods. This seems balanced out again by the combo system, as if you actually manage to get caught after burning through your gigantic stamina bar, you can bet your ass is getting beat behind the wood shed and skipped across a mountain mesa like a smooth stone over water.

Overall the primary detractors of Xenoverse seem to be front and center in the developer agenda, while the elements fans loved are making a roughly unchanged QoL upgrade return. With a late 2016 launch date and promised post-launch updates coming shortly after, I have great faith we will see a return to grace to this legendary entry in the Dragon Ball universe. Start counting the days, for the glorious adventures of TeamFourStar’s Dumplin will make any fan of the series feel like a kid again by Christmas.

Tekken 7

For a casual fighting game fan like myself, explaining the differences between the leaders of the fighting genre isn’t the simplest challenge. After so many generations of Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Tekken, each series has pulled and recycled enough systems from each other to the point that only true fighting masters understand and respect the technical variance between hero builds, juggling mechanics, cancels, and flash frame counters. But forget all that, as Tekken 7 stands out from the pack enough that even the uninitiated will take note. Following the lead of Mortal Kombat X, and kicking things up to the next level, Tekken 7 stands ready as a cinematic masterpiece, an anomaly in the tournament driven focus of the mainstream fighting genre.

Acting as the finale of the Mashima Family Blood Saga between father and son, players can expect a new way of looking at the “Best of” round by round fighting style the genre is known for. Nothing breaks immersion like one fighter going down for the count, only to suddenly be back at full strength and facing off against you because the narrator said it’s now round 2. In the demo we witnessed none other than Akuma crashing the meditation period of the head of the Mashima family to take revenge on behalf of his wife. After a bloody sequence of exchanged blows, Akuma goes for the kill with a powerful qi attack, allowing the player a chance to enter an action sequence button combo to reduce their starting damage in the battle. Keeping up the immersion, both sides have already suffered damage to reflect said cutscene! And this continues as the battleground itself evolves around the fight and continued banter, with short breaks after each round to reflect the winner of said round. Perhaps I’m not the biggest fighting game fan, but as a story teller I could see myself getting into Tekken 7 just to see these amazingly animated story telling sequences play out. It’s honestly motivating considering how beautifully rendered the maps are, and how animated the character’s voice acting reflects the battle. Unreal 4 Engine in a fighting setting is simply put, a wonderful thing.

Continuing on, you can’t simply win over the hardcore fans with such parlor tricks. The tournament crowd still wants their improvements on the formula. That’s where the rage systems come in. Rage Arts, Rage Drives, and Power Crushes to be exact. Rage Arts offer culture to each fighter, with a variety of offensive, defensive, and utility abilities you can trigger as a trump card when pushed to your limit. And while the masterful players will utilize these to their fullest to prevent button mashers from too easily dispatching them after a couple lucky combos, the Rage Drives stand as the ultimate comeback ability for anyone with a little bit of skill, or a hell lot of luck. Long wind up and tells mark these devastating pendulum swing skills, but should a cocky player in the lead proceed with reckless abandon, the Rage Drive is sure to even the scale into a close one to two strike battle! Finally in these close final moments stands the Power Crush. Know your opponent is within a single strike of death? Time and unleash your Power Crush to negate typical flinch effects and drive straight into your opponent’s heart for the killing blow. It’s dangerous and will leave you vulnerable should you miss, but Power Crushes will offer skilled players just the tool they need to push scrubs back to the quarter machine… assuming you bet quarters on your console for nostalgia sake.

Hmmm am I missing something? Yes I suppose there is a third flavor of fighting gamers drawn to the genre. I’m talking about the fanservice crowd of course, and there are some nice new faces joining the roster no matter which gender you prefer! Matching the new Street Fighter fan favorite, Katarina arrives to bring some Brazilian fanfare to the scene. Claudio offers some nice demon hunter action from the holy lands of Italy. For those that demand some breakdance fighting action in their Tekken, we have Lucky Chloe, an otaku kitty girl that packs a nasty kitty mitten karate chop. Sheheen brings the under appreciated middle eastern fighting arts to light with Arabian flair. Josie offers some Philippine fan-service with a skimpy little mini-skirt number. And of course we can’t forget the undoubtedly powerful Akuma, sure to set the meta of coming tournaments.

Details remain a bit sparse, as Tekken 7 isn’t due on Steam PC, Xbox One, or Playstation 4 until early 2017. But there is some good news for the Microsoft fans out there. Anyone packing an active Xbox One Live gold membership can start honing their skills as Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is set to go on sale for free for a week! Keep an eye out for a chance to join Team Tekken in the neverending battle for dominance of the fighting genre!

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