People remember E3 for the marquee titles, but quite often there’s a wealth of smaller games to try out and see. Some games are so early in development that the builds you’re shown will routinely break and catch fire.
Here is a list of some of the games I saw that either couldn’t support a full preview, or were just interesting to see.
This cutesy roguelike features some sharp art, an earnest tone, and Metroidvania-styled progression to boot. From developer onebitbeyond and publisher Devolver, the game also has a co-op mode, and extensive upgrade elements.
Each time you die, your ancestor picks up the mantle, and becomes the new hero. Between these generations, some things are preserved, like weapons and other unlocks. Currently it’s unclear how those generational mechanics will play further into the game’s core loop, as it’s still actively in development.
After seeing a hands-off demo last year, I was kind of hoping I’d get some personal time with Bend’s latest game. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the case. Instead I was treated to the same demo seen during Sony’s press conference, but with some modifiers and a different plan-of-approach.
Days Gone features a fully dynamic weather system, including seasons. While the press conference demo featured rainy weather, my demo was during a snow storm. Senior animator Emanuel Roth said that these conditions won’t just have an impact on visibility or road traction, but on the nature and strength of enemies.
Instead of the zombie-fuelled action of the press conference, this demo was a little more surgical, and featured mostly human-on-human conflict. If you’ve played any sort of open-world action game like Horizon Zero Dawn or Far Cry 3, then a lot of the basics are here; tagging, a focus mode which highlights points of interest, and crafting.
I’m not entirely sold on Days Gone so far. A lot of the gameplay and moment-to-moment action seems like stuff we’ve seen before. But Bend is promising a full open-world for us to explore, so there’s still a lot more to show.
Car go fast.
I’ve always appreciated Sony’s flagship racing franchise. Their adherence to accuracy, and the crazy – almost obsessive – attention to minor detail. But they’ve always felt a little sterile to me, like I’m investigating cars in a lab under some sort of microscope.
Gran Turismo Sport hasn’t really changed any of that; the cars are gorgeous, the tracks accurate, and the racing is as tight as ever. But the overall presentation keeping these things together – the menus, HUD elements, all feel like I’m in a hospital wing. Clean. Too clean to support life somehow.
But these things can change, and maybe Gran Turismo Sport will be the entry that finally discovers its own identity. Outside of the stuffy, scholarly one it already has.
Car go very fast though.
This PS4 exclusive is a new initiative for Sony, based around small games that can be played with smartphones. They’re more socially-inclined than mechanically dense, making them ideal for parties with friends after you’ve knocked back a couple of beers. If you’ve played any of the Jackbox games, then you’ll be familiar with the ideas here.
That’s You is a game that asks you to best identify which of your friends would most likely do a hypothetical task – like give all their money to a homeless stranger, or travel the farthest on a dollar. Playing it with strangers was a little weird, but with friends and family it could lead to some real fun mind-games.
Frantics has you play Mario Party-style minigames with the gyroscope in your phone. Tilt it left and right to roll around an icy platform and knock enemies off, or swim through the air to try and be the first player to land on the ground with a parachute. Part way through the match, a wily fox will call a member of the team, giving them a secret objective. It’s light and breezy, and the controls are loose enough that failure doesn’t feel like a huge deal.
Knowledge is Power might be my favourite. It’s a simple quiz-show with a twist. Between rounds, you can choose to sabotage players. These pranks range from icing over their screen, meaning they must tap frantically on their answer to break through the frost, or removing letters from their list of possible answers. It’s fast and devious.
The games are short, sharp, and to-the-point. They’re a little more G-rated than something like the Jackbox games, but I imagine a group of liquored-up adults could easily turn that on its head.
PlayLink seems cool, and with more titles set to arrive down the line, I think Sony has a platform here that will keep parties entertained for a while.