Another year, another E3 and with it the annual plethora of hot takes about whether this year was better or worse than previous ones. Below you’ll find everyone’s favorite 21st-century literary format, the list, of my most anticipated games that were announced.
Editors Note: Super Mario Odyssey would have made my list, but seeing Mario possess a human made me feel uncomfortable. *shudders*
Game Of The Show: Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
2014 saw the triumphant return of the granddaddy of first-person shooters Wolfenstein: The New Order. It retained the simplistic but perfected gameplay Wolfenstein is known for while utilizing current generation graphics to introduce this classic franchise to modern gamers. Simply put, The New Order was the best shooter I had played in years, only to be outdone by last year’s phenomenal Doom reboot. It was simplistic and familiar but refreshing and new at the same time. Between The New Order and The Old Blood, a standalone expansion that while wasn’t as groundbreaking as The New Order was still enjoyable, Wolfenstein was back in a big way revitalizing a genre that until recently had been plagued by bland open world and annualized future and military shooters.
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus picks up where The New Order left off, as leading man B.J. Blazkowicz once again awakens in a medical facility recovering from his wounds. Despite us not knowing when The New Colossus picks up in relation to the Wolfenstein timeline, one thing remains certain; There are still Nazis that need killing, and Blazkowicz is more than willing to oblige.
Part of what made Wolfenstein: The New Order stand out apart from previous entries in the series, was that it was the first Wolfenstein with a story and characters that the player actually cared about. And thankfully, as indicated in the trailer above, characters from The New Order will return, as well as new characters that will join Blazkowicz’s resistance group. While I enjoyed the story of The New Order, Seeing how the Nazi occupation has affected society was never explored with much depth. Other than, you know, Nazis ruling the world. The brief glimpse we are given of a Nazi Occupied United States shows Nazi’s and Ku-Klux Klan members embracing one another in the streets, banners posting curfew hours are plastered on sign posts, a woman and her child flee a diner as a Nazi Officer enters. Nazism has fully embedded itself in American society, and hopefully, The New Colossus will explore this as taking the fight to 1960’s America, will send B.J from New Mexico to New Orleans, and finally New York. Hopefully, these varied settings will introduce more varied environments, as my one criticism of The New Order was its lack of level variety.
As far as gameplay goes, there’s the addition of dual wielding different weapons which will give players added tactical options to further cater to how they will choose to approach combat. While the gameplay, for the most part, seems largely the same – No complaints here- there does seem to be a new charge ability that Blazkowicz can use to either obliterate pieces of the environment as well as any Nazi scum that get’s in his way. It’ll be interesting to see how useful this is in combat, as The New Order and The Old Blood were quite difficult when played kamikaze style. There’s also an ax which can be used to hack Nazis to death if that’s the sort of thing you’re into*.
Part of what has me so excited for Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, is just how familiar it looks on the surface to The New Order, while still hinting at some substantial additions to both gameplay and in terms of the scope of its story. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but make sure to throw a fresh coat of paint on it and build upon the strong foundation that was built with The New Order. Eagerly anticipating its October 2017 release.
* I am definitely into this.
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
XCOM has never been a game that once successfully completed and the player’s first reaction is, “Boy, I wish there was more of that.” That isn’t a knock against XCOM, arguably the best turn-based strategy franchise of all time, as it’s a testament to the abundance of quality content jam packed into each game. I’m not exaggerating when I say I have spent the better part of 80 hours playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and that was before it’s expansion Enemy Within was released. XCOM is a game that provides an unprecedented challenge that can both infuriate or reward players on any given turn.
Firaxis knows what XCOM fans want from an expansion, and they are giving it to us in the form of War of the Chosen, their largest expansion pack to date. New content will include missions and soldier types that compliment, rather than completely change the fundamentals of the game. War of the Chosen will include three new alien champions as well as three soldier types.The alien champions, whom the player will fight over the course of several battles, will learn new abilities as the game progresses, meaning the player will need to quickly adapt to the ebb and flow of engagements.There will also be three new factions that the commander will be able to ally themselves with to defeat these alien champions, though how the other factions will respond to the player overlooking them will surely affect their playthrough.
I’ll take as much additional XCOM content as I can get and War of the Chosen seems to fit the bill quite nicely. Here’s to investing another 50 hours into XCOM 2.
Metro 2033, still remains one of my favorite games of the last console generation, as it took my love of post-apocalyptic first person shooters that stemmed from S.T.A.L.K.E.R Shadow of Chernobyl, and removed the open world in favor of a more linear experience. While linearity isn’t always a positive, in terms of Metro 2033, it allowed for more detailed environments and a concise story that was stronger for its linearity as there was very little fat on the game. There was a certain ruggedness to Metro that further separated itself from other post-apocalyptic shooters helping to form its own identity. But after an enjoyable, but again linear sequel, the linearity of the game was quickly wearing thin, something Metro: Exodus looks to remedy.
The biggest take away from the trailer and developer interviews is that the world of Metro is opening up. The inclusion of larger, more open environments will be included to help break up the traditional linear portions of the game, of which serve to facilitate story progression. In the trailer, we see Metro’s veteran protagonist Artyom leave the restrictive confines of an underground bunker, emerging to a large open village, of which has several routes for him to explore. Avoiding a pack of wolves by slipping into a house, and flanking them silently to avoid alerting the entire pack to his presence until absolutely necessary. Now, I’m not under the illusion that Metros environments will be as expensive as open world games, but giving the player more routes to take to their objective will surely loosen the restrictive nature of past Metros games.
I’m hopeful that by leaving the safe confines of the underground that Metro’s lore will also grow, as Artyom encounters new types of mutants, survivors, and hopefully explore more varied environments. Small additions to gameplay, such as Artyom picking up a gun mod and inserting it into his weapon, and slowly crawling through a windowsill are the types of small details that add to Metros ruggedness that make it a memorable franchise.
Metro: Exodus isn’t slated to be released until 2018, plenty of time to replay and fall back in love with the originals.
God of War
I love that the new God of War looks so foreign to previous entries in the series. Had God of War showcased a familiar experience, I’d probably have next to no interest. For a series that has appeared on two generations of consoles, change is good. Hell, change is a necessity at this point. The scope of combat seems to have decreased, in that Kratos is no longer fighting droves of enemies as he has in the past. Rather opting for smaller, more tactical engagements, reminiscent of Dark Souls (though I doubt it will feature the same punishing difficult.) The shift to an over the shoulder camera perspective from the wide landscape perspective of previous God of War games being responsible for the change in gameplay style.
Then there is the relationship between Kratos and his Son, which will no doubt be the focal point of the story. While I’m all for a more personable and human story featuring the God of war, I’m more interested in seeing how the son figures into the gameplay mechanics. There’s a brief snippet of gameplay of Kratos scaling a cliff, his son perched upon his back and stabs an enemy that attempts to knock them off the cliff. If I were a betting man, I’d bet there will be a sequence or two where the player will swap from Kratos to the son for either stealth sections or environmental puzzles.
I have always found God of War games to be an enjoyable, but mindless experience, that never had anything interesting worth saying, but provided visceral action that scratched that arcadey brawler itch of mine. The new God of War is the first God of War that I can I am actually excited for, as it’s the most drastic changes to the franchise while still retaining the identity of what has made the God of War franchise so memorable.