So, with all that is happening, here’s my roundup of the PC Gamer post show hosted by Tom Marks at E3 2016, which followed after the first show proper, mostly covering smaller studios and further expanding on some of the games we’ve seen prior.
Torban Ellert from IO Interactive sat down to talk about the new Hitman double-feature and the mobile version of Hitman Go. The new missions take place in Sapienza and Marrakesh, the latter being set before the Gilded Cage main story, only is set at a different time of day in the middle of a coup, in which you can change certain elements by your actions within said coup. The mission in Sapienza is set when parts of the city were transformed by the troubled director Dino Bosco into a sci-fi set for his latest film, filled with practical effects and little set up for CGI, which could work in Agent 47’s favour during the chaos when he arrives.
Ellert then talked about the new dynamic system that allows for easier changes to maps for the different times of day, guard patterns, and with how guards will spot Agent 47 through his many disguises, also with setting up new escalations, challenges, weapons and elusive targets. Also mentioned was the newest Elusive Target for the duration of E3, the music sensation Jonathan Smythe, who has fled prosecution and is wanted in relation to a multiple homicide three years ago. Despite all this, he’s still releasing records and has an estimated wealth of 1.2 billion USD. Information given indicates he’ll be hosting a private party in Paris, players only have one chance and time is sensitive, good luck agents!
Brian Hiens from Obsidian Entertainment sat down to talk about Tyranny, the human resources game where evil has won, where you must find your place in this new world under the thumb of evil. We get more information about your character, Kyros, how he is one of the fate binders who helped the evil overlord to win the day against the kingdom and take over the land in the first place. Also, players get to bring their own brand of justice to this world and the way the game has been done tries to get away from the usual trope of the ‘moustache twirling evil guy” and bring more nuance to the game, where good isn’t white, and evil isn’t black, it’s just shades of grey.
The engine is based off of the same used in Pillars of Eternity, it’s been kept mostly the same as the focus was on making a new experience and story, rather than trying to figure out how to make a spell work if it was too close to an existing spell within the engine. In regards to the small team, and using the Pillars engine, they were able to sit down and work out what the story was, how the world changed after evil took over, how your interactions would change areas based upon what you did and of the quests completed. Without giving away any spoilers, it was mentioned that things you choose in character creation will have big changes in certain areas of the game. This can create different quests and interactions with the locals, including the controlling armies and even change them depending upon other quests you do in the area.
Even though you’re in charge of an army, the party system is setup so that it’s you and three other companions as Obsidian wants to have more interaction between the party members and the growth thereof, and a new feature which allows you and your party to execute moves together to take down bigger targets. Some of the companion’s combos were mentioned, such as launching one of them into the air so they can rain down arrows, simply called Death From Above, and another companion who gets a skill which freezes enemies in the air for a short period, which allows other ranged companions to get some extra attacks in.
The introduction video of this theme park tycoon game shows some of the interesting designs that players have made and shared online in the game’s Alpha. While some are very interesting, others are downright bizarre, as one would expect from a game in this genre.
Being mentioned right after the Planet Coaster video was The Engineers update for Elite: Dangerous. They went over some of the stuff within the new update, such as discovery and crafting features, and a revamped mission system. They followed up with an interesting video that showed what could happen when you give engineers certain tools and odd items or if you asked them to improve something, mentioning faster engines, improved shields, enhanced weapons, and ‘specialist upgrades’ which…aren’t exactly legal. The video then goes on to explain that these engineers are hidden out of the way, will take some time to fully trust you, and will always want more and more parts to tinker and build with.
John Gibson and Alan Wilson from Tripwire Interactive sat down and talked about Killing Floor: Incursion, a VR version of their Killing Floor series, which has been designed to be more immersive than the previous games, as is the nature of things with the Oculus Touch. In passing, the host mentioned that it was more of a first-person shooter than a horror game because of the reload animations and gun recoil. However, due to the nature of Killing Floor, Incursion will have plenty of jump scares, enemies coming from around corners, and even from behind when you’re not looking. One enemy mentioned was the Crawler, a man-spider hybrid that can scuttle about and appear from any hole in the wall or ceiling, and even through any un-boarded windows.
It seems that movement in game was causing issues, during the first attempt, it ended up with a lot of people feeling very nauseous and with the loss of the occasional lunch. The idea of just sitting in place was ruled out, as it wasn’t a good idea, so a form of teleportation was utilized for moving around within your surroundings. Moving onward with Killing Floor 2, the new Bulls-Eye pack was discussed, along with its new Sharpshooter perk, something which fans have been asking for, as well as the new Player vs Zed’s mode, similar to Left 4 Dead’s Versus mode, where you play as Humans one match, then swap and play as Zed’s.
They mentioned the amount of feedback from players in the PvZ alpha testing, how it changed and shaped the current mode to be what it is today, along with some hilarious moments, which was followed up by a video snippet showing a female character getting a one bullet triple head-shot on some Zed’s. The host then asked if the developers were worried about the new Sharpshooter perks being unbalanced as a hyper accurate class, within a game that, in a way rewards headshots. Gibson responded that whereas the class is over-powered in taking out enemies efficiently, your view when looking down the scope is so limited that you need your teammates to keep an eye on all directions to protect you, as well as in close range, where the Sharpshooter lacks effectiveness.
Gibson and Wilson stayed on stage to talk about the newest Rising Storm game, Marks mentioned about playing it at PAX East, which Wilson responded, was the first public iteration and was barely stable at the time. Wilson then went on to talk about how the infantry dynamics will work, the asymmetrical warfare that Vietnam was known for, due to the powerful weapons the Americans had, along with the less technological way that the Viet-Cong had to adapt due to the circumstances. The Americans Pointman/Scout would have a higher chance to find traps that were laid out by the Viet-Cong, since there needs to be counters and balances in check for each item and situation in order to keep the game enjoyable for players.
A closed Alpha is currently in progress for Rising Storm 2, the Alpha team being quite small this time, as Tripwire wants to keep it very focused, unlike some of the massive open betas that they’ve done previously. Wilson mentioned that the open beta for Killing Floor 2 had a great amount of feedback, but was so much so that they found it difficult to find the important bits that needed to be fixed. Sometime in August or September is when we may see larger beta testing, however, it wasn’t mentioned at the time how players would be able to get into the Beta, something we’ll have to keep an eye out for.
Frank Elliott of TaleWorlds Interactive joined Tom Marks on stage to discuss their upcoming game, and started talking about sieges and how it’s done, Marks said he loved the way you see doors, window and other debris falling off as siege engines worked away at castles. Elliott then described how you can command your siege engines to target certain parts of the castle, such as the battlements, thus exposing their archers to attack, tipping the battle in your favour. Taking out enemy defensive weapons such as the ballista, will help battering rams to get in close. Gates can also be targeted with fire, launching flaming rocks at the keep can set wooden structures ablaze and cripple the castle from within. Siege weapons include the Battering Ram, Catapult, Mangonel, Trebuchet, Siege Towers and long ladders, each of which can be repelled or defeated in some fashion. Battles can also be massive, as the demo had around 500 units in play at once, TaleWorlds are hoping to even further increase that number for the final game.
The next topic of discussion was why Bannerlord is set before the original Mount and Blade, the main reason being that it’s closer to the dark ages, and thus be a more interesting time to explore within a game, as it’s an often overlooked time period. One of the factions seem to be Celtic based, which in a later time period wouldn’t have been as prevalent, so it’s a bit different to add them in a game. The original had hints of an Empire and Bannerlord will explore on that, expanding on what it was like at its peak. The game will start during a civil war in this Empire, which will be an interesting setting to start off with I believe. Mount and Blade obviously wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for modding, Marks commented “How long until we see the Battering Ram as a Star Destroyer shooting lasers at the castle, which is now a Death Star, showing my roots as a Star Wars fan there”, to which Elliott stated that he wants to be surprised with what the mod community can come up with, since Bannerlords will ship with more modding tools than the first game.
Jordan Weisman, the father of Battletech and founder of Harebrained Schemes, joined Marks on stage to talk about Battletech and Necropolis. Marks stated that he’s a huge Mech fan, that one staff member at PC Gamer said that Weisman is the ‘Father of Battletech‘ and then commented on the amount of updates Battletech Kickstarter page is getting which is detailing almost every step that has been done so far. Weisman mentioned that the crew that founded HBS was burnt out with doing the reams and reams of design documents that you’d find in a lot of big companies, instead going with rapid prototyping, which has worked wonders. Part of their commitment to fans was the amount of community updates to the Kickstarter page and showing what they have accomplished. So far the team have succeeded in getting a combat system that they like, part of which is the basis for their sister Twitch channel’s Friday night Battletech game, and are working on a module called ‘Vertical Combat Slice’ which, at the time, wasn’t expanded on much.
They talked about how Battletech is two games in one, the first being the actual boots-on-the-ground combat, even though the boots are those of a 70 tonne walking Mech, but also about the back-room deals, offers and counter-offers of being a mercenary for hire in a small part of the Battletech galaxy during the latter stages of the Third Succession War, and with the relative ‘peace’ after it. Marks commented on the design of the world as being refined and punky, then discussed about how not everyone is a Battletech lore master, and with 30 years of history to the game, there is a lot of lore. Weisman commented that he doesn’t want everyone to brush up on it, and gave an overview of the state of affairs in the year 3025, after the five great houses have been fighting for a long, long time. To brush up the basics yourself, head on over to the Sarna.net article about the Third Succession War, which the game starts near the end of, I will rebuttle that we may see changes to within the game, but it does give a basic overview of what started the conflict in the first place.
The campaign is open-ended and heavily based on the reputation system, being mercenaries means you’ll be fighting for profit, but the more you help one of the five great houses, the less others may think of you and will even refuse you basic assistance, the same goes for all the minor houses underneath as well. There is a story campaign which starts you off into the world and you can continue it to the end, or you veer off and do your own thing within the world, Marks mentioned that he was very excited about that.
Moving swiftly from enjoying Mech’s, Marks moved on and asked about Necropolis, about it being roguelike. Weisman replied that he enjoyed it and liked the fact that you don’t know what potion you are drinking, or which way the dungeon will be laid out each time you start the game. In a rarity, the game is in real time, not turn based and will have perma-death, which is pretty scary, but it means your actions will have real consequences and results in the world as a whole.
Weisman described the interesting four player co-op mode that the game supports, which means that your friends can come along and, inevitably die during the campaign, and that the world scales almost instantly to the amount of people in your team at any given time. Necropolis will be great in single player or with some friends, although, you’ll have to protect them at the start when they arrive until they are up to speed. Marks asked when the game will go live on Steam, which was answered with July 12th at 10am Pacific time, with the console release coming shortly after.
Bryan Hicks of Bohemia Interactive sat down to talk about some of the upcoming features and updates to DayZ. Hicks started off saying that he’s surprised about the amount of people that signed up to the 0.6 Beta test, which was causing issues at the time since they weren’t ready for such a large amount of people, in total, around 195,000 people tried to gain access to what is normally set up to support 20,000 to 30,000 people. The 0.6 update should fix a lot of the frame rate and stability issues that many gamers were affected by, so a lot of players will be happy. Hicks stated that some players were getting better stability in the game on their machines that he was on his testing machine. Marks asked about the N-Fusion engine, which is what DayZ is building, and a nice talk ensued after, where we were told a lot of work is going into the engine as it will be the foundation for a lot more games in the future, which is something to look forwards to.
During the talk, the screen played a video, to which Hicks brought mention of the volumetric fog and how it was improved massively over what originally was in the early builds, along with rain, texture changes to equipment and even the way the UI handles changes in the inventory management. Of course, with a change to the fog and rain, players will need to spend more time being careful when they see someone at range, as it will be harder to tell how much of a threat that person will be, or if it’s an infected. Marks then asked what’s next with 0.61, seems the server browser will get an update, and thanks to work of the ArmA III developers working on the same option. Some of the new soundwork from the Eden update will be moved into DayZ, and they’ll push out the first iteration of the ‘Predator UI’ specifically wolves, which by the sounds of it will be quite a change as quick as they can.
Cutting to a trailer for Badiya, and honestly knowing nothing of this game, we are treated to some impressive desert visuals with technology you would see around the 1920’s, including Thompson SMG’s, Lancia 1ZM armoured cars, Fiat 3000 tank and various other equipment. Before I start the breakdown, here’s a description of the game from its official website: Badiya is an infinite procedural survival and exploration game set in the Arabian Desert (think Lawrence of Arabia). Life is harsh in the desert and players must explore and discover the supplies needed for survival. Although the desert is vast, players have the opportunity of discover outposts, villages, camps, ancient ruins, and will have to deal with the wild-life and local population in the area. Players must scavenge for tools and weapons, and hunt for food to survive. Players are free to explore and discover the environment as they see fit, but they must be careful as the inhabitants of the area will treat them according to their behaviour. Badiya is built around the three key gameplay pillars of exploration, activities, and combat.
Ahmad Jadallah of Semaphore Labs came all the way from Saudia Arabia to talk about Badiya with Marks and they get right into things about how the game has only recently been announced and agreed that it’s flying under a lot of people’s radars since it’s so new and not by a big publisher. Marks followed up asking about how hard it is to create games in Saudia Arabia as we haven’t heard of any before, and Jadallah mentions that this is the team’s second project right now, the first was picked up by Sony for the PlayStation Plus, also that he feels the team are more mature, older and wiser, thus are trying out a game such as this in a different genre than what they’ve done before. Badiya is a survival RPG in an infinite procedural world and is set in the desert post WWI. If you have seen Lawrence of Arabia you would have a general idea of what the game setting is like. Gameplay is what you would expect from an RPG, there is trading, gathering, looting and crafting, the video at his time shows off the player being given coffee by a member of a Bedouin camp that he has found, and then goes through a bit of crafting in a container near the coffee man.
Marks asked about how the game will be set up, and Jadallah discussed that it will be in single player during the Alpha, with later versions adding in co-op and multiplayer as it progresses down the line. The video here shows a trading screen with a merchant and gives us a view as to the current controller layout. Marks commented on the trading and asked about how the world will be laid out, the reply was that there will be ruins, Bedouin camps, military bases, railroads, rail stops and an ocean that you can build a ship and explore, with the ability to find new islands and go pearl diving as well. At this point the sleep system is shown, and Jadallah mentions about hunting, as you will need to eat to survive, continuing weather, different weather cycles and the appropriate clothing was mentioned as being required, hence the trading, also the rarely known fact that it can snow in the desert during the winter, so you’ll have to make sure you have enough layers on to keep warm during that type of weather. Finally, Marks asked about the engine, which is Unity, and the second project that Semaphore has used that engine on. The Early Access should hopefully be on Steam sometime later on this year.
Marks started off asking Steve Piggott of Torn Banner Studios about why they have departed from the usual fare of historical games, and commented that he finds Mirage to be very much like Chivalry when it comes to the combat gameplay. Piggott started off that they had a really good melee system and wanted to work on a ranged system and the magic based combat in Mirage to do this. It allows for much different tactics as you can leap up into the air and combat there, or counter with ranged attacks. One attack mentioned was the ability to teleport behind the enemy and hit them with a large axe, and other magic attacks can defeat multiple players at one time, if done correctly by yourself or with team mates. Marks then asked about the ranged combat and if it’s the sole purpose of the game, which it isn’t, the game is set as such that it’s about 50/50, as a magic attack could be your opening move into an enemy, but the big damage comes from the weapons that you carry.
The core gameplay is that you’ll feel in control as you fight with ether, there’s a way to curve a magic projectile around a corner or even leap in from 20ft away and hit an enemy quickly, stunning them. Marks asked about the colour pallet changes as it’s very bright pinks and purples, and if this would alienate some of the players of Chivalry, Piggott responded that he expects some will, but the big reason why was to create a point of contrast between the two games. The colours were done to create a visual feel with the way it reacts to powers and how they are used, but not to create too much background clutter. The next point moved on was about how Torn Banner Studios decided to do Mirage instead of the next instalment of Chivalry, the reason being as we found out is that the team wanted to do something new, something challenging. They knew the fans would want another Chivalry game, but they wanted to do something different and to improve themselves as game designers. Mirage will be entering its Beta stage near the end of summer and we should see the full release before Christmas of this year.
Moving swiftly on, Marks sat down with Ante Vrdelja and Nika Dvoravic from Croteam to talk about the new Serious Sam game coming out for VR, which works with Oculus Touch and the HTC vive. Marks asked about the movement problem in VR to which Vrdelja asked if they were recycling questions since Marks mentioned he asked the guys from Tripwire how they did it, leading to humorous exchange. But we got our answer, Serious Sam: VR will have roomscale movement, and thus, move around the room easily. Questions were asked about how an arcade shooter like Serious Sam plays out in VR and both mentioned that they enjoyed playing the prototypes so far, as it fit perfectly, there will be Story Mode, as well as an “Endless Wave” mode from what we were told.
The story is that the Mantle is back and Sam has been called. It starts off on a ship, you can explore the Galaxy, meet nice aliens, and not-so-nice aliens and kill them along the way. Dvoravic was asked about how the game had to be changed for VR, and replied that it was a bit of a challenge due to the fact of stuff gets closer, however a lot of it was able to be worked well into the game, the look and feel of the graphics were easily slotted into the VR game and allowed for a much smoother transition from the previous Serious Sam game.
Weapons were the next topic, so far there are SMG’s, Pistols, Rifles and Chainsaws in the current prototype, and there’ll be many more, as that the list hasn’t been finalised, but Croteam will be adding in a lot of the favourite weapons from the previous instalments. Serious Sam VR will be on Steam Early Access soon, Vrdelja mentioned that they had some feedback, bad due to it not being Serious Sam 4, but did say that it is in development and this is just a lil’ bit of bloody icing on the cake for Serious Sam at the moment as the team wanted to make a VR game.
That’s all for the PC Gamer post-show at E3, I am confident more will turn up from the event, and good luck on the Hitman challenge if you have the game.