Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, it’s E3 week, so here’s a rundown of every single announcement, conference by conference!

XBOX

The Xbox conference was a major event, with CEO Phil Spencer making a big deal out of cross-play, the expansion of Game Pass to PC, and future plans. We got a first look at the next Xbox, codenamed Project Scarlett, which was mainly developers talking about how great the system is. The console’s key features and specs so far are almost identical to what we know about the PS5. The console won’t be here until end of next year, so it looks like next E3 will be a battleground leading up to that.

Halo Infinite will be launching with the system too, and there was a story trailer featuring Master Chief turning up on a small ship. As someone who never got into Halo none of it meant much to me, but I’m sure many of you are excited.

Speaking of hype, we got to see more of Cyberpunk 2077 through a CGI trailer, although no gameplay (a theme of the whole conference). There was also a release – 16th April next year – which is one day after my birthday so I’m sure I’ll remember that. Oh yeah, and they announced that they only got bloody Keanu to be in it!

Felt very sorry for Spiritfarer, the sweet little indie game that followed this. Because you can’t follow the world’s coolest actor with a little game about a boat. Don’t worry. I saw you, guys. I acknowledge you.

We got to see the first gameplay of Jedi Fallen Order, although most actual gameplay was seen on EA’s livestreams the day before. It’s looks…alright, I guess? While there are some cool combat mechanics with the Force powers, there’s also a lot of generic AAA stuff in there. The best part about the whole game was, of course, BD-1, the main character’s little droid friend. So much so that I can remember the name of the droid, but not the protagonist. Hang on. Google tells me it’s Cal Kestis. There we go.

In a surprise move, Microsoft announced that they’d bought Double Fine. This I didn’t see coming, especially as Double Fine had been acting as a publisher for a few games. Normally this would be annoying because I love Double Fine but rarely ever play on Xbox. But with Microsoft’s stance of releasing all their games on PC, I’ll play Double Fine’s output on there instead. They showed some Psychonauts 2, which I can’t wait for. It looks amazing.

There was a bunch of other stuff at the Xbox conference (it was huge), so here’s a quick rundown of everything:

  • That Fromsoft and George R.R. Martin collaboration was formally announced as Elden Ring, although it was hard to tell anything about it from the trailer. Would have had more impact if Martin hadn’t said anything beforehand, I reckon, since people were expecting more
  • Gears 5 will be out on September 10th, will feature “Escape Mode” and will get a Terminator character pack, presumably at launch
  • The Outer Worlds will be out on 25th October and Ori and the Will of the Wisps will be out on 11th February
  • The reveal of 12 Minutes – the most intriguing game of the show – where a man is trapped in a time loop, his wife may have killed her dad, and nothing looks like it’s going to end well. It’s extremely my jam.
  • Ninja Theory revealed a new multiplayer title – Bleeding Edge – which looks set to take on Overwatch
  • Literally no one asked for a Blair Witch game, but we’re getting one anyway, apparently
  • Announcements for Minecraft Dungeons, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, Crossfire X and Tales of Arise
  • Battletoads was revealed, and I’m not 100% sold on the new art style
  • Dying Light 2 got a new trailer, with details on the plot. You play as an infected man resisting the infection
  • Forza is having a crossover with Lego, which made me watch a car trailer, for god’s sake
  • Cute colouring book adventure RPG Time: The Legend of Wright was announced

BETHESDA

Bethesda had the worst conference by far. If they’d focused on the main games and condensed them into half an hour it may have been good. But instead, it was 90 minutes of filler and desperation.

So let’s start with the good stuff. Doom Eternal looks phenomenal. If you enjoyed the last Doom game (which I did), then it’s looking like you’ll love this one. It’s the same core gameplay, with more mobility options like air dashing and mild parkour. Pretty sure I saw some opportunities for environmental kills as well. Looking forward to getting my ass to Mars again.

Bethesda’s most interesting studios – Arkane and Tango Softworks – lived up to their reputations at the show as well. Arkane had an intriguing game about two rivals fighting each other in a time loop. It sounds amazing and I have no idea how it’ll work as a game, but if Arkane bring some of that Dishonored magic I’m on board.

With Tango, we saw Shinji Mikami pass the torch onto the now-beloved Ikumi Nakamura. Her first game as creative director, Ghostwire Tokyo, is a paranormal mystery set in Tokyo. In other words, exactly my game. It’s not clear if it’s a demon-hunting action game or a survival horror, but I’m interested either way.

Then let’s talk about everything else, because oh boy. So, first of all, remember Commander Keen? It was a platform game that developed out of Id Software’s attempts to port Super Mario Bros 3 to the PC. I played one of them as a kid. It was fun! Well, it’s a free-to-play mobile game now, and a bad one at that. The grandson of a Nazi-bashing war hero deserves better than this.

And then it was updates to existing games. Endless updates. Forever. Fallout 76 is getting a battle royale mode, as well as features that should have been in at launch (don’t cheer that). Elder Scrolls Online is still going for some reason. Rage 2 has some new maps or something. I don’t know, I tuned out at some point. The reaction online was indifference. The reaction in the crowd was rapturous ecstasy judging by the endless whoopin’ and hollerin’ over every mundane detail. Lord knows how much free beer Bethesda were handing out to make that happen. Please avoid that in future, Bethesda.

PC GAMING SHOW

There were a lot of tiny announcements shoved into two hours with the PC Gaming Show. Most of this will be a summary, but there were a couple of things I’d like to focus on.

Tabletop games in video game form are in right now. Not only do we have Keanu’s Cyberpunk Adventure, but we got more details about Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 (based on World of Darkness) and Baldur’s Gate III (based on Dungeons and Dragons). Bloodlines 2 looks good, with the usual socio-political focus of the RP system and the first game. We got to see an interesting trailer where a character tell you not to break the masquerade. Cut to the scenes of the player doing exactly that many times.

Baldur’s Gate III, meanwhile, is coming from the developers of the Divinity games. They built it from the ground up using DnD 5e as its basis (unlike the last one, which used…SECOND EDITION!? Oh wow). This one was a little more hazy on details as it’s just been announced, but I do know one thing. If it doesn’t let me taunt a guard about his sexual prowess until he dies, then it’s not the true DnD experience. I’d like this confirmed.

Outside of that, we also got a good look at Planet Zoo, the follow-up to Frontier’s Planet Coaster. As you’ve no doubt guessed, this is no longer about running a theme park, but a zoo instead. It’ll have all the mechanics that made Coaster fun, and there will also be an opportunity to learn about conservation along the way. I mean, you’ll be too busy feeding customers to the lions to notice, I imagine, but that’s still nice. Oh, and we also have lovingly rendered hippo poop according to the trailer, so that’s nice too.

But what if, instead of maintaining a shark pen to feed your hapless victims…uh, loyal customers to, you’d rather be the shark doing the devouring? Enter Maneater, an indie game about being a movie monster shark. You’re a shark. That’s it. That’s the game. I shouldn’t need to explain this concept further.

Some games I’d like to pick out as personal highlights from the show included:

  • Mosaic, which is a highly stylised indie game that gave me some major Black Mirror vibes with an in-game clicker mobile game that seems to have everyone hypnotised
  • Per Aspera, a city builder where you play as an AI attempting to make Mars habitable for humans
  • CrisTales, a Japanese-style RPG featuring time travel as a central mechanic
  • El Hijo, a spaghetti western themed stealth game where you play as a child searching for his mother

Here’s what else was announced:

  • A close look at Chivalry 2, for all your medieval warfare needs
  • Conan Chop Chop, a stick figure hack and slash based on the Conan universe, is a real game and not just an April Fools joke
  • The reveal of Genesis Noir, an odd game set before, during and after the Big Bang and pitching itself as a jazz odyssey. I have no idea
  • The reveal of Zombie Army: Dead War 4, a zombie game from the makers of Sniper Elite
  • Sam Barlow talked at length about his new game Telling Lies, which he claims is an open world game despite clearly being an FMV game
  • The reveal of Remnant: From the Ashes, a monster-battling survival game
  • Trailers for Evil Genius 2, Griftlands, Starmancer, Age of Wonders: Planetfall, Unexplored 2, Last Oasis, Songs of Conquest, Auto Chess, Ancestors, Shenmue 3, Valfaris and Borderlands 3
  • Terraria, Mutant Year Zero, Vermintide 2 and Warframe are all getting some major updates and expansions

UBISOFT

Tom Clancy’s Video Game Conference was a great time for anyone who loves Tom Clancy games. Don’t like Tom Clancy? Well tough because you will have Tom Clancy and you will like Tom Clancy.

So what was new in Tom Clancy games? Ubisoft showed a couple of cinematic trailers for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint featuring Jon Bernthal from The Punisher, who turned up on stage with his dog. Tom Clancy’s The Punisher gives a speech about honour and something about fighting Ghosts, which I like to interpret as literal ghosts instead of Tom Clancy-penned stealth operatives. We also got a teaser trailer for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Quarantine, where we see a man with a growing infection on his arm. Looks to be a bit spooky as far as Tom Clancy games go.

But that’s not all the Tom Clancy news! Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands and Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 are all getting updates, so you’re getting more Tom Clancy action than you can possibly handle. But what’s that? You somehow want more Tom Clancy? Well, good news, because all your favourite Tom Clancy characters are coming together in a Tom Clancy crossover called Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad.

If you really don’t like Tom Clancy though (and who doesn’t love Tom Clancy?) there was also Watch Dogs: Legion. This looks like a good time. It feels like a sci-fi dystopia directed by Guy Ritchie, as its set in an oppressive London and you have to build an elite hacker squad to take down the government. You can recruit almost anyone with the right skills, right down to old ladies who may be retired assassins. I’m excited for this one.

There was also the reveal of Roller Champions, Ubisoft’s attempt at a new sports title. Based loosely on roller derby crossed with Speedball and Rocket League, this looks like it might be fun. A demo is also out now on PC if you’re curious about trying it out.

Here’s what else Ubisoft announced:

  • The team behind Assassin’s Creed Odyssey are making a new game called Gods and Monsters, but because it wasn’t a Tom Clancy game we only got a 30-second glimpse of it before the show abruptly ended
  • Ubisoft are getting in on the subscription service bandwagon, with Uplay+ on PC, where you can download a ton of games from their diverse library of Tom Clancy games
  • Don’t panic! There will be another Just Dance game, so all is right with the world, and yes, it is still coming to the Wii for some reason
  • For all the talk of ghosts in the Tom Clancy games, we only got to see ghosts in the latest For Honor update, Shadows of the Hitokiri, which features Japanese spirits
  • Ubisoft are consulting on a new show from the makers of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Called Mystic Quest, it’s about a game dev studio with an egotistical creative director. Looks funny, but a bizarre announcement to make at a games show
  • Adventure Time characters are coming to shameless Smash Bros knockoff, Brawlhalla

SQUARE ENIX

Square Enix’s presentation was mainly focused on two games and a lot of filler.

The first main event was Final Fantasy VII Remake, which has been confirmed to be coming on 3rd March next year. They showed a lot of gameplay from the initial Mako Reactor portion, with a focus on the new battle system. There’s a blend of real-time battling with a menu system to expand abilities. No doubt some Kingdom Hearts influence has bled into this. It also looks gorgeous, with Cloud, Tifa, Aerith and Barret all looking the best they’ve ever looked.

We got a first glimpse at the much-anticipated Avengers game from Tomb Raider developers Crystal Dynamics. Like much of this E3, we barely saw any gameplay, and they seemed a big cagey on what the game was. We did get our first look at the cast though, and the reaction hasn’t been great. Characters look a little off, no doubt because the visual design has taken so many cues from the MCU, but not a single actor’s face was recreated. A bit of a letdown considering how long this one’s been teased for.

The Square Enix Collective is a great support system for small indie teams, and many of its games have ended up in my collection. The latest reveal in this is Circuit Superstars, an adorable top-down racer. If you’ve ever looked at Forza and wished it was more like Micro Machines, then this is the game for you.

The developers behind Bulletstorm are working on a new game called Outriders. We got a good glimpse of their studio working hard on it, but again, like most of E3 it’s impossible to tell what kind of game it is.

Here’s what else was announced:

  • A sequel to mobile game Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is coming. Entitled War of the Visions, it focuses on four warring nations and a magic pope at war with one another
  • Final Fantasy XIV is getting an expansion called Shadowbringers, which includes the addition of the bunny people Viera race from FFXII
  • Source code for Final Fantasy VIII was found down the back of someone’s sofa at last, as this is now getting a remaster along with the others that recently got re-releases
  • Square Enix soundtracks are now on Spotify so you can put FF8’s Man with a Machine Gun on all your playlists (and you should)
  • Kingdom Hearts 3 is getting a DLC expansion called ReMIND
  • Dragon Quest XI S was shown off, but a release date was held off until Nintendo’s show, and Dragon Quest Builders 2 was shown in more depth
  • Moody Switch JRPG Oninaki now has a release date – 22nd August
  • Romancing Saga 3 and Saga Scarlet Grace are now coming to the West after a long wait, but Parasite Eve still has no official European release (this bit wasn’t announced, I just always want it to be)
  • Life is Strange 2, Octopath Traveler, and remasters of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles and The Last Remnant all still exist, in case you forgot
  • In case you missed it at the Xbox presentation, Dying Light 2 is still coming

NINTENDO

Nintendo had the best show of the entire conference. They were the only publisher who unashamedly showed gameplay of almost everything they had on offer and quite a few big announcements to boot.

First up, a bunch of Zelda news. The big news was the release date for the remake of Link’s Awakening. It’s coming on September 20th and is looking adorable. Nintendo’s attempt to stay faithful to the limited Game Boy stylings is to make the remake as cute and cartoony as possible, and it looks great as a result. But it wasn’t the only bit of Zelda news. Cadence of Hyrule, the crossover with indie rhythm action game Crypt of the Necrodancer, is out now (released yesterday!), and even bigger than that, Nintendo confirmed a sequel to Breath of the Wild with a mysterious and spooky trailer. I welcome a Majora’s Mask style sequel where everything just gets dark and weird.

The expected big news was a full reveal of the new Animal Crossing, which was teased a few months back. Animal Crossing: New Horizons sees Tom Nook’s real estate racket take a dark turn as he dumps you on a deserted island and charges you for the privilege. From the looks of things, you build up a town on this quiet island, starting from a tent and working off the land to a bustling homestead of your own design. It’s easily the prettiest Animal Crossing to date too. It’s been pushed back to March next year though.

Two new characters were announced for Super Smash Bros Ultimate. First up, The Hero from Dragon Quest, with skins representing four games in the long-running JRPG franchise. As someone who has never had much interest in the series, the trailer did nothing for me, but I know how huge the games are in Japan, so I can understand his inclusion. But more importantly, we’re also getting Banjo-Kazooie! This is a big deal because of Xbox’s ownership of Rare, so they’ve essentially lent one of their properties to a rival in the hardware business. He looks like a lot of fun though, and I think the thing I’m most happy to see is that they’ll be retaining their goofy noises from the N64 game.

But that wasn’t all from Nintendo:

  • Luigi’s Mansion 3 gameplay was shown off, and it’s looking like a lot of fun, and also features…Gooigi? Still no release date though.
  • The Pokeball peripheral for Pokémon Let’s Go will be compatible with Pokémon Sword and Shield, allowing you to train Pokémon by taking them walkies in the real world
  • Robot fighting action game Daemon x Machina is getting a release on 13th September
  • No More Heroes 3 is on its way, although not a lot of gameplay was shown for this
  • There’s going to be a tactics RPG based on Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, seemingly tied in with the new Netflix series, out later this year
  • A really cool-looking tactics RPG called Empire of Sin, based around a 1920s Chicago gangster setting, is coming to Switch next year, and I’m ready to make some wiseguys sleep with the fishes
  • A new Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 trailer confirmed a whole bunch of characters that you’d have to ask Keith about. I know Ghost Rider’s one of them. They also confirmed Fantastic Four and X-Men coming as DLC later (and also…Marvel Knights??? You can tell I don’t read comics)
  • In old and revived games news, the Collection of Mana and Contra Collection are both now on the eShop, and we saw gameplay of a Panzer Dragoon remake
  • Speaking of Contra, a new game called Rogue Corps is out on 24th September, and it has a panda with a gatling gun, so I’m sold
  • The Witcher 3 is coming to Switch! Also, so are the worst mainline Resident Evil games, 5 & 6, as shown in a trailer where a man takes his girlfriend to a Goosebumps house to play Switch games
  • If for some reason you missed Mario & Sonic at the Olympics, there’s a new one for the Tokyo Olympics released in November
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Platinum’s Astral Chain are still on their way, in case you forgot

OVERALL VERDICT

This year wasn’t a great E3. It’s clear that many developers are holding off for the next generation at the end of next year, so we got a lot of filler. Also, barely anyone seemed willing to show the actual games, so we got a lot of impressive cinematic trailers and intriguing concepts, but no substance. I love the sound of Death Loop and Gods and Monsters, but I don’t have any idea how they’ll play. Only Nintendo bucked the trend, because Nintendo do what they want, and they have a good thing going with the Switch right now and are barrelling along with it.

There were some good announcements but on the whole this year was lacking. More gameplay, better pacing in the presentations and a lot less focus on DLC and expansions would have made it a much better conference. Here’s hoping that next year’s console war battleground spices up proceedings a little bit, and doesn’t just result in a stream of technical data for hours on end.

Let us know what caught your attention the most this year!