What I’m Excited For From E3 2016

E3-2015

Another E3 has come and gone, meaning that we have a swath of information on new games coming out in the next year, which leaves me with a lot of decisions. What do I actually want to play? This year was a bit of a disappointment compared to last year, which actually featured a lot of female-led games at the keynote presentations, and lots of new IP. That of course means that there was very little new stuff to show us this year, and I felt like a lot of the presentations were heavy on interviews and gameplay footage of stuff we had already seen, and very little of anything truly exciting. (Yeah, not even the VR stuff, sorry.) That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing I want to play, however. Most of it didn’t even make the big press events at all.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Yes, I’m still excited to play Mass Effect: Andromeda, even though very, very little came out of E3 this year other than a new, longer, much less vague trailer. I still have concerns about being part of a crew that sets out to colonize a whole new galaxy (Andromeda, which is exactly what I predicted last year when they finally announced the game’s title), and comes into contact with hostile “native aliens.” I mean, there are obvious problems with this, not least of all that it reproduces colonialist narratives from our own human past, and that the game might be thoughtless and even insensitive about that. Fingers crossed that is not the case, because what little we did learn sounds good. From the trailer itself, we see our new protagonist, who has been confirmed as Ryder. It has also been revealed that Ryder has a family, though I’m not entirely sure how that comes into play here. (Perhaps your sibling is that other N7 who is with you?) We also saw a new asari crew member, as well as a krogan one. And if you pause the trailer at juuuuuust the right time, you can catch the name of your new ship: The Tempest. I was a bit surprised they didn’t stick with the human city naming conventions from the previous games, and I’m surprised it’s another SR ship. But Tempest makes sense thematically – a tempest is chaos and change, and that’s what the ship represents to an unexplored galaxy. BioWare Creative Director Mac Walters also confirmed to IGN that the goal with the romances in Andromeda is to make them much more organic than in past games, which is something my trash heart always likes to hear. We aren’t going to get any more information than that until fall, when I’m guessing they will start finally releasing character profiles, much like they did for Dragon Age: Inquisition before its release.

FIFA 17

I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but FIFA 17 looks…actually cool? Basically every time I’m watching the EA conference and they get to the sports games, I either skip it, or just start yelling about how I wish all of these games were playable Friday Night Lights, because, let’s face it, a sports game is a sports game is a sports game, but the graphics get better. BUT THEN FIFA ACTUALLY KIND OF FINALLY DID THAT? What a time to be alive.
Anyway, yes, the new FIFA game has a story mode, called The Journey, where you play as a rising young footie star, and navigate through all the drama, victory, and heartbreak that entails. I’ve never been more tempted to buy a FIFA game in my entire life, and I hope it starts a trend!

Vampyr

When I first saw the trailer for DONTNOD’s follow up to Life is Strange, my initial reaction was “meh.” But now that they have released some information on how the game is played, my interest is actually piqued. My initial reticence stemmed a lot from the fact that this is a vampire game about a male vampire, which I generally think is kind of boring, especially given the vampire’s feminist origins. It’s set in 1918, in London (holla Poplar Hospital, I know you from Call the Midwife!), and you play as a doctor who has been recently made into a vampire and is learning how to navigate his new un-life. I’m not entirely sure if he was a WWI doctor, though the aftershocks of WWI will undoubtedly be deeply felt in the game.
But what’s interesting about Vampyr is not really the fact that you’re a vampire, or the setting, or the basic story. From the sounds of it, Vampyr will be a game that experiments with the RPG format as well as how narrative functions in the game. You see, you level up from combat like any RPG, but the real secret to leveling up in Vampyr is not combat, but the people that you choose to feed on. Every person you choose to feed on have their own quests, their own desires, and feeding on them grants you a lot of XP, but it also has an impact on the story. Who you choose to bite (or not bite) has ramifications on the story and on the people who are close to them. Bite a man with children, and they will now be fatherless. Bite a merchant and it can have an effect on the local economy. It even goes as far as giving you an entire NPC Interface which helps you keep track of relationships and backstories so you can better decide who you want to feed on. This sounds incredible, and I really can’t wait until 2017 to play it.

Absolver

Absolver is a suuuper ambitious open world multiplayer martial arts game by French developers Sloclap. I am notoriously not a shooter girl, and not really a fighting game girl, but I do love melee stuff, and that usually means I get left out of the PVP/PVE games. But Absolver sounds completely up my alley. Basically, you’re traveling this lush fantasy world as a wandering martial arts master, and you team up with other martial artists in the world to take on NPC bosses. You can also duel each other. You can use many different fighting styles, and players create their own decks of moves to use in combat. Players can also mentor others and build up each others’ skillsets through sparring, which I think is the element that I like the most. Best of all, the combat system is complex and customizable, but reportedly very easy to use, which I think is essential in a game like this. There is also some rich lore to the game as well (aka my jam) and you can dress up your avatar, including picking out your super cool fighter mask that everyone in this world wears (aka my butter).

Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns

While I had some complicated feelings about the first Story of Seasons game, overall, I really enjoyed it I’m a huge Harvest Moon fan, and while Harvest Moon games are still being made, the original creator of the game is not, and is making Story of Seasons games instead, and frankly they are just more interesting than recent Harvest Moon titles. Stylistically and gameplay-wise, it looks like Trio of Towns is going to be very similar to the first Story of Seasons title. But Trio of Towns, as the title suggests, is actually not just one village you can visit and make friends in and interact with, but three. There’s a traditional Japanese village, a tropical village, and a kind of old west type village. All are connected by roads and apparently even share a postal system, so your friends can send you letters, which is a big deal in a farming sim. While you still can’t marry same sex romance options, you can pick a binary gender and then dress them however you want, which is something you could also technically do in the first game. I’m disappointed in that aspect, but I do hope that Stardew Valley’s success shows their Japanese originals that this is something that players want and are more than ready for.

Writer, editor, and founding member of Paper Droids. RPG-lover, baby game maker, owned by corgi. Spends way too much time on Twitter @mk_patter. To reach by email: sciandtech@paperdroids.com