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Rise of the Pre-Pre-E3 Press Conference News

It’s getting to feel a lot like Christmas.  As in that gaming news keeps clawing its way earlier and earlier on the calendar.  Back when I was a kid, it was all about CES.  Then the gaming industry started its own show so it wouldn’t be lumped in with TVs and Camcorders called E3.  Then the REAL news started showing up before E3 at Press Conferences. Finally, here we are two weeks before E3 and the game industry is throwing out announcements and teasers like they were 8 month old spaghetti you found in some Tupperware in the back of the top shelf of the fridge that you can never see all the way unless you crouch down so you forget things back there a lot and oh hey we DID have butter!

Anyway, let’s get into it.

Fallout 76

What we know:  Fallout 76 is being developed by Bethesda Game Studios and Bethesda Game Studios Austin (Formerly BattleCry Studios).  We know its set in Vault 76, one of VaulTec’s “Control Vaults” that didn’t have any weird experiments and was set to open 25 years after the bombs fell – making this one of the earliest Fallout games chronologically.  We know that Bethesda Austin has experience with multiplayer (they assisted Id Software with making Doom 2016’s multiplayer mode) and we know that they were hiring people with Free-to-Play/Micro-transaction game experience.

What We Think:  My money is on some kind of squad based multiplayer game that are all the rage with developers right now (From what I can tell, the public isn’t really biting) – probably to compete with EA’s Anthem and Activision’s Destiny.  No clue how required the multiplayer aspect will be for the game, but you can bet that micro-transactions will be involved.  The game will probably center around venturing out of the vaults and trying to stake a claim in the post-apocalyptic world, establishing the earliest settlements in the wastes, etc.

I also wouldn’t be shocked if there was some PvP elements to this, since then Bethesda can recycle the canceled BattleCry game with its 5v5 squad based combat as some level of return on investment.

Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee

What We Know: Pokemon’s first major outing on the Switch is a return to basics with a semi-reboot of the original Red/Blue games updated with new mechanics.  Everything from Team Rocket to Mewtwo was shown in the trailer as well as being a return to “Your First Adventure” in the Kanto Region.

However, this time you have a shoulder-riding pal in Pikachu or Eevee that can be dressed up and played with.  The wild pokemon catching mechanic seems to built on the Pokemon Go mobile app’s core mechanics rather than battling but battling with your pokemon is still a thing with other trainers.

There will be additional functionality between Pokemon Go and Pokemon Let’s Go where you will be able to send Pokemon back and forth from the two games (depicted as being possibly temporary or in a minor way – it was shown being imported into a “Go Park” in the trailer).

The game will have a multiplayer component.  The game only uses a single joycon to play, so if someone hops on using the the second joycon, you will have a second player join you in the game.  It appears you’ll be able to try and catch pokemon together with properly timed ball tosses giving some kind of special bonus perhaps.

Finally, there will be a ‘substitute’ joycon in the form of the Pokeball Plus – a pokeball with a joystick/button at its center.  Meaning the the mechanics to play the game can likely be distilled into a joystick to move, a button to interact, and motion controls to throw balls.  The Pokeball Plus can also store an ‘uploaded’ pokemon that you can take with you.  Unsure if its ANY pokemon or just Pikachu/Eevee.

What We Think:  In terms of a first outing on a new console?  I think this is a great idea.  It combines the already popular Pokemon Go app with the traditional pokemon experience,  it takes full advantage of everything that the Switch can offer a game (Multiplayer with multiple joycons, motion controls, etc.), and gives a fresher update on the original Kanto games (Let’s be honest, LeafGreen and FireRed didn’t bring a ton of ‘new’ to the table beyond using the Ruby/Sapphire game engine and allowing you to trade to old pokemon to the newer games).

For those who were hoping for a more tradiitonal Pokemon experience, Nintendo was nice enough to make mention that another ‘brand new’ Pokemon game was slated for 2019.  I however will be VERY happy with this one in the meantime.  It looks fun and has a lot of fresh new ideas to play with.  I do want to dress Eevee up as a mad scientist.

Pokemon Quest

What We Know:  Don’t care.

What We Think:  Really don’t care.

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SWTOR: E3, #FallenEmpire & More!

Well…  that was… uh…  short?

Heck the Plants Vs Zombies guys got more time.  Yeesh. I was expecting to have a chance to say more, but really almost all they did was cover was the exact same bullet points as they did in the press blurb and didn’t go into much more details.  Yes, Bioware storytelling where choice matters.  Yes, ally or betray with new and old companions.  Yes, brand new story focus.  Join now! Play now!

About the only thing NEW we got from this E3 presentation was a teaser trailer, a date – October 27th, 2015 – and the news that this expansion will be free to subscribers from the get go.  Which considering the attempt at trying to rebuild the often toted and mostly eroded ‘Fourth Pillar’… giving it away to your subscribers is a pretty good idea.

The trailer definitely sets up something epic coming.  An empire – not THE Empire mind you.  Two twin heirs growing in the force.  Their trials and battles and their attempt to overthrow their father.  It definitely feels like something big is coming.  What’s more interesting is how we will play into it.

Now, the ACTUAL info we want to know is over at THIS website.

  • Knights of the Fallen Empire is the first NINE CHAPTERS of a brand new story line involving a third faction emerging and attacking both the Sith Empire and Galactic Republic.
  • Your character will become the Outlander, a veteran of the Great Galactic War (levels 1-60).
  • Hand pick your companions from new and old to build a new crew to tackle this story.
  • Choice driven storyline where your actions and decisions actually matter.
  • Play one of eight class based stories.
  • New chapters added monthly starting in Early 2016 to Subscribers only.

There’s also a bunch of cool Subscriber rewards for joining earlier including:

– Nico Okarr companion (He’s that Smuggler from the Republic opening video, I think) – Subscribe by July 31st.

– Nico Okarr’s Blasters (Hey! Cool guns!) – Subscribe by August 31st.

– Nico Okarr’s duster jacket (Oh yessss…. gimme gimme gimme!) – Subscribe by September 30th.

– KOTOR inspired Swoop Bike mount – Subscribe by October 19th.

– And finally, if you are a subscriber for AAAAAALLL of those (and I assume uninterrupted), you’ll get 7 days of early access starting October 20th.

The website also dives into a bunch of the characters that will be featured including the twins, their father – the Immortal Emperor, and returning faces such as Lana Beniko and HK-55.  Some of the character descriptions seem to imply that we will choose who we can ally with as the Outlander.  Be it joining forces with the Emperor, or helping the Dark Prince overthrow the Eternal Empire perhaps? It also has concept art and the names of a bunch of the chapters already posted.  This is looking to be a HUGE expansion.  Almost like a relaunch of the game.  Except that the old stuff doesn’t appear to be going away.

Actually in that exact vein, it seems like its very much the intent that the old stuff doesn’t go away as it’s all that F2P and Preferred Players will have access to.  The FAQ states quite clearly that Subscribers get KotFE for free, but only subscribers will get it as well as the following 7+ chapters.  If you unsubscribe, you keep whatever you’ve gained access to – the first 9 chapters after 10/27 and one would assume whatever chapters you ‘unlocked’ by being subscribed.  This is backlogged to whatever has been released, so if you wait until all 16 chapters are out and then subscribe, you’ll get all 16 right there.  If you unsubscribe then, you’ll still have those 16 chapters unlocked to your account.

The wording is vague but it seems like the post 60 experience will be re-introducing the 8 class stories concept along with the dynamic your-choices-matter storytelling.  Thus building on the 1-50 is for free, 50-60 is purchasable and 60+ is unlocked for subscribers.  With all this focus on the ‘new’ story coming for Level 60+ players (Which makes an interesting note that NO WHERE does it say there will be a level cap increase.  Maybe they are very much focusing on making this a playable storyline and doing away with leveling for it? Would be kind of a radical move. But I’d back it.  Leveling is kind of archaic concept that often proves to be a barrier to narrative.  Heck, we’ve nearly completely chopped it out of my D&D game.  It’s an afterthought really. SEE UPDATE BELOW) I would not be surprised if the Cartel Market saw it’s own version of the ‘Jump to Level 60’ service/token/thing that so many other MMOs have added.

Overall, it definitely has my perked my interest.  I am definitely looking forward to this one.  What all this ‘dynamic’ story means for my Class Story Summaries? I dunno.  Worse comes to worse they’ll still be an excellent tool for the 1-50 experience.  I’ll try and keep up with the news here and give my take on it.  Meanwhile, Heavensward is also just around the corner and it’s time to take to the skies on my black chocobo once more (Hey, do you remember when Black Choco’s meant FLYING? Congrats. You are also old now. Welcome to the club, we meet on Thursday in Uldah.)

UPDATES:

  • Looks like Dulfy.net is reporting that yes, the level cap is being increased to 65 (Only 65 for 9 chapters?!) and you WILL be able to create a Level 60 character right out of the gate (meaning hopefully that no, it will not be a Cartel Market thing)
  • I’m also seeing notes flying around that the basic premise is that your character gets frozen in carbonite for an unspecified amount of time (considering the old companions are supposed to be around, it can’t be THAT long) and when you emerge the Empire, Republic, and Galaxy at large will have changed dramatically from when you were frozen.
  • Also Yes, the Class Stories are returning, and YES, new and old companions get new stories.
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