E3 2019 came and went, as hype trains rolled through the Los Angeles Convention Center Station before departing back into the vast world of speculation, leaving gamers worldwide to wonder what the future holds in store for the art of Vidja. All too wary of the big corporate cash grabs that dominate this industry, I pride myself on my selective nature when it comes to picking games, and this year once again only a few titles caught my eye. Fortunately, the Kings of the Industry justly earned their crown, and their reign sows the seeds of prosperity, which shortly see to bloom once again.
CD Projekt Red
Release: April 16, 2020
The obvious pick, and rightfully so. CD Projekt Red’s upcoming entry holds the title for most anticipated game of the season. In my eyes, the two lords of gaming vying for supremacy include CD Projekt Red and Rockstar. Both developers share many similarities, the most pertinent aspect of their games characterized by high quality: rich, narrative-driven gameplay. Now if they could just combine RDR2 and Cyberpunk and make the greatest Wild West Steam Punk game with Zeppelin Wars, I think we would have the greatest game of all time, but that’s another story… the hype surrounding Cyberpunk remains unprecedented, and now they’ve recruited Keanu Reeves? What more needs to be said. The Convention opened up with a trailer, followed up with Neo himself breaking the internet and winning the crowds’ hearts, and yeah, despite the lack of any new gameplay, Cyberpunk 2077 is shaping up to become one epic Sci-Fi adventure. CD’s last game was the Witcher, a fantastical open world masterpiece that I felt Rockstar borrowed its greatest aspects and perfected into Red Dead Redemption 2, and I certainly hope this relay of game development/torch passing continues… Just look at it… Wow. Much art. Such social commentary.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Release: March 03, 2020 (Part 1 ugh)
To me, the Final Fantasy series revealed the power of storytelling through (at the time) a non-traditional medium, particularly the older entries into the franchise like 7. Despite the technical limitations of the 90s, I discovered a stimulating world, underscored with emotional connections I developed with these ridiculous looking 3D polygon characters, immersing me into a narrative that I found so rousing it sparked my creativity that lead to the creation of my own stories, complete with sprawling metropolises and characters that embodied what I viewed as essential heroic or villainous characteristics, and all that exists in between. Don’t even get me started with that epic soundtrack, which I maintain my position regarding it as some of the greatest music ever composed, especially when performed by the likes of the London Philharmonic…
Final Fantasy 7 drove me to create, permanently occupying a place in my mind’s heart as a lens in which to view, judge, and analyze other fantasy stories I encountered and built myself. And after an ocean of time riding the hype rumor train back into Midgar regarding a potential remake, I became ecstatic when I learned one was actually in the works, though concurrently wary keeping in mind the most recent lackluster entries into the FF series and further worrisome rumors about what plans were in store (and I’ve yet to forgive Square Enix for the whole Final Fantasy Versus debacle, which true fans would surely understand).
Despite the plans to release portions of this game episodically, a move that Square Enix seems unabashedly to reveal their true intentions to milk the nostalgia out of our wallets, I am willing to give the remake the benefit of the doubt for the love I hold for this masterpiece. Seeing the newest cinematic and dynamic scenes of gameplay produced enough nostalgic joy that I’m holding some mild expectations for this game, though it may only prompt me to watch and pay attention while waiting for the entire product to complete, whenever in the next century that occurs. Life has taught me to stay alert when things seem too good to be true, so I’m keeping my guard up. But unlike my outlook on the next Star Wars film, there still exists a glint hope for this one, precisely why I’m including it on teh list.
Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
Xbox Game Studios, Forgotten Empires, Wicked Witch
Release: Fall 2019
Oh yeah, baby.
The One True Game. Those who know me all too well will understand my undying obsession with Age of Empires 2. I ducking love this game. So. Famn. Much. It’s a simulation simulator set in medieval times that was released in 1999 and remains relevant to this day. Honestly, they don’t need to scale it up, but I am so happy they are. I mean just look at those trebs…
What I love about Age of Empires is how it caters to every sort of gamer playstyle: the city builder, map maker, basic-rts whatever play, you can fight AI or join the big boys and play online line (an experience unlike any other in this realm of existence, I promise you). You can play a randomized map, or construct your own world with scripted events and heroes named after you and your friends. And the greatest part? Well… the memes of course… but irl, the historical aspect of the game. My obsession with world history, warfare, and empires stems from the percentage of my life I have spent exploring this game.
The new definitive edition is the next installment building up to the wildly anticipated Age of Empires IV, which I have no doubts will continue this trend in Vidja of conquering the world. Okay, I’m done. I can’t wait for this game. Sign up for the beta here, message me if you ever want to play and you might quite possibly even earn yourself a free copy 😉
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
Paradox Interactive, Hardsuit Labs
Release: March 2020
So the makers of Crusader Kings are publishing a vampire game… where the hades do I sign up?
I’m curious to see what this game to become, as I am well aware what Paradaox Interactive is capable of. It feels like Dishonored with fangs and looks dark AF. You’re a vampire AND THERE’S GUNS?!? (typically it’s one or the other)
The original has been described as a flawed masterpiece, containing a rarely replicated cocktail of gameplay and narrative. Its release coincided with Half Life 2, deservingly often considered the greatest video game of all time, so no wonder it did not sell well, yet garnered a cult following size enough to demand a sequel by a studio with several hits on its record. Vampire Dishonored, you’re in great hands. My only qualm from watching some gameplay stems from the block-like behavior of the AI which I hope they optimize. It sort of felt like watching an old N64 game, and with games like Red Dead and Cyberpunk that feel alive and immersive, they certainly need to compete or risk another Half Life 2 scenario. Maybe it’s but the curse of the vampire…
Honorable Mention: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
EA, Respawn Entertainment
Release: Nov 15, 2019
It looks like an epic star wars film, probably better than the last few films in the franchise, but EA is as notorious as they come. Unlike the other entries on this list, Fallen Order’s release date is set for November, not uncommon for a AAA game before the holiday season though almost to convenient as the new Return of the Skywalker Disney Star Wars Film hits theaters… Might just be clever marketing, or it’s just typical EA… We shall see; I’m keeping my eyes on this one, for better or worse.
And really, that’s about it. Only a handful of games catch my eye every E3, and 2019 seems to have moar that usual compared to previous years. I’m suspicious of companies whose past behavior shows they don’t care about the creation or their audience, just to churn out a new product every year and siphon the money out of our bank accounts (cough EA, Ubisoft), but a hit’s a hit and I’ve been surprised before. Overall, the forecast for 2020 beyond seems promising. I’m looking forward to see how these games progress, and eagerly await the next 365, there’s no shortage of upcoming epic adventures and I eagerly await to dive right in.