E3 2020 Day Three News & Anncounements
- PC Gaming Show
- Square Enix
- Coming Up Next
PC Gaming Show
E3 has a tendency to be dominated by consoles, but the PC Gaming Show spotlights the true, eclectic diversity of the PC gaming community. Over 30 different games were on display this year, but if you don’t have a chance to sit through a two hour conference, here are some of the high points from Day 3 of E3 2020.
Mordhau may have blown up bigger than anyone ever expected, but the medieval first person combat game owes a debt of gratitude to its predecessor Chivalry. A sequel adds the complication of horseback combat and will be coming to PCs in March of next year.
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines 2
The fact that the cult action RPG based off the popular tabletop game is getting a sequel isn’t exactly news, but the PC Gaming Show gave us both a release date and a new trailer. It’s all part of a multimedia refresh of the Vampire: The Masquerade line (which has been dormant for a decade and a half), so players can expect some major changes to the mythology. It will be out in first quarter 2020.
If you asked any Shenmue fan about the prospects of a sequel just a few years ago, they would have given you a bitter and regretful laugh. But the Japanese life simulator is finally stirring after a successful Kickstarter campaign some time back. The trailer highlights the slower paced gameplay of this immersive series.
Frontier Developments have carved out a name for themselves producing high-quality park simulators like Planet Coaster and Jurassic World Evolution. Planet Zoo doesn’t look like it’s breaking the mold, but it trades in fantastical dinosaur and amusement parks for a modern zoo. A focus on conservation promises a game that’s as much an educational platform as it is a game.
Midnight Ghost Hunt
Drawing its inspiration from the popular Gary’s Mod game Prop Hunt, Midnight Ghost Hunt is a competitive game that has one team playing as ghosts that can hide inside objects and the other team playing ghost hunters. Adding an extra wrinkle to the formula is the fact that ghosts will become more lethal after the virtual clock strikes midnight.
Zombie Army: Dead War 4
The Sniper Elite and Zombie Army series aren’t as popular as shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty, but they’ve earned their own enthusiastic fanbase. This World War II themed game will emphasize cooperative gameplay in much the same style of Left 4 Dead, but it will focus on the trademark gory x-ray killings that the series is known for as well as map control in the form of weapon emplacements and booby traps.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination
The first Evil Genius was an underrated gem of a real time strategy game that took the base building elements and humor of the Dungeon Keeper series and cast you in the role of a James Bond-style villain tasked with creating a secret headquarters that can repel invading spies. The cinematic trailer doesn’t show off any gameplay, but it does a great job of capturing the tone and art style of the game.
The high concept of Maneater is “Grand Theft Auto but you’re a shark”, and it looks every bit as silly and delightfully addictive as you might expect. Maneater will pit you against a villainous fisherman in an expansive open world environment and offer a comprehensive evolutionary tree to expand your powers and find more creative ways to kill and survive.
The promise of Ubisoft’s biggest reveals leaking in preparation of E3 has become something of a running joke in the industry. But while some of the company’s biggest games got spoiled days before the press conference, they still managed to keep some surprises up their sleeve and offer some context for some of the bigger games on the horizon.
Despite rumors of a viking-themed Assassin’s Creed next year, no new game was announced. But support for Odyssey is still going strong. Viewers got a chance to see the free, educational Discovery Mode in action. Even more boldly, Ubisoft announced a browser-based Story Creator Mode that players can use to create their own scenarios and upload them for other people to play. It’s a surprisingly expansive toolkit, and it’s already live (and free) for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey owners.
The marquis title of this conference was undoubtedly Watch Dogs Legion. Rumors that it would let you play as any NPC in the world turned out to be true, but an expansive video let players see how it would work in action. Rather than featuring a lead protagonist, gamers can swap between a roster of 20 different characters freely. Character death is permanent, but players can recruit any NPC from a cast of thousands into their crew.
Taking place in a near future London that’s become an oppressive police state, Watch Dogs Legion looks to be leaning hard into timely conversations and political scenarios. How well they toe the line has yet to be seen, but the world itself looks stunning, and players should have a wide variety of tools and skills to draw from as they seek to bring an authoritarian government to its knees.
Tom Clancy Games
Ubisoft had created a shared multimedia universe based off Tom Clancy’s properties well before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was ever a thing. And while a long awaited return of Splinter Cell wasn’t in the cards this year, the Clancyverse is still going strong.
Post-apocalyptic MMO The Division 2 is seeing its first major update with its D.C. Outskirts Expeditions missions in July, and Ubisoft has revealed that the three episode story will take place in the National Zoo, Pentagon, and New York City. As a way to get new players onboard, the game will be completely free to play from June 13 to 16. In further Division news, the previously announced movie will be directed by David Leitch and produced by Netflix.
With Rainbow Six: Siege still going strong, it’s looking like the next game in the series will be doing things a little different. In lieu of competitive modes, Rainbow Six: Quarantine will be placing the focus squarely on cooperative missions involving three players. The dark and foreboding game gives off vaguely survival horror vibes. Meanwhile, Rainbow Six: Siege will be launching its next season on Tuesday.
Finally there’s Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad for mobile devices. This mobile strategy game will feature an all-star cast of some of the most famous characters from Clancy’s multimedia properties. In terms of gameplay, it looks similar to the popular Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and Marvel Strike Force.
Another game that leaked ahead of E3, Roller Champions seems to be E3’s attempt to take a bite out of free to play, off the wall competitive sports games like Rocket League. This team-based game takes roller derby for inspiration and makes use of a bright and vivid color scheme. You can expect an accessible game that offers a lot of room for skill-based development. The pre-alpha demo is already available for PC, but it won’t stick around forever.
Gods & Monsters
Ubisoft has never been afraid of whimsical games, and Gods & Monsters looks like it will fit in well with legacy franchises like Rayman and Child of Light. Taking place in a mythical version of ancient Greece, it tasks you with serving as essentially a mercenary in service of the gods and hunting down monsters and other creatures run amok.
Characterized as a “storybook adventure about a forgotten hero on a quest to save the Greek gods,” it’s absolutely gorgeous to look at and gives off vibes of the fantastic Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s easily one of the more delightful surprises of E3 yet. It’s set to launch February 25, 2020.
Ubisoft’s attempt at creating their own game launcher in the form of UPlay hasn’t really caught on, but they’re pushing forward with a new subscription model called UPlay+. $15 a month will get you access to an expansive collection of games and DLC, and it will be available on Stadia as well as PCs and traditional consoles. It will launch on September 3.
Square Enix held their very first dedicated E3 conference last year, and it was widely derided not just as the worst of the year but as one of the worst in history. Fortunately, this year signified a complete 180 turn. Some of the largest and most promising AAA titles were on prominent display on the Square Enix stage as well as a few stealth announcements that show a lot of promise.
Final Fantasy VII
Remaking one of the most popular roleplaying games in history is a dangerous proposition, and the production has been rocky in the years since announcement that many fans thought it was dead in the water. Footage from the Final Fantasy VII remake was first released a few months ago, but the E3 presentation brought a much deeper dive into what this game will offer.
First off is the confirmation that the game will continue to follow an episodic structure with the first game constituting the opening act of the original, which took place in the technologically advanced city of Midgar. We also saw a first glimpse of the combat system which seems to bridge the distance between turn-based and real time combat that draws heavily from the systems established in Final Fantasy XIII. Gameplay kiosks are available on the show floor, and Square Enix has announced a release date of March 3, 2020.
Esteemed JRPG franchise Dragon Quest didn’t get any news as exciting as Final Fantasy VII, but there are some interesting things coming down the pike. The sequel to the Minecraft-inspired Dragon Quest Builders 2 has been out in Japan for a while but has been announced for release on July 12. Dragon Quest 11’s definitive edition – scheduled to be released on the Switch in the Fall – was was announced some time back, but a new trailer should help fans get hyped.
Kingdom Hearts III: ReMind
The first post-release content for Kingdom Hearts III will delve deeper into the history of the universe while still continuing to feature some of the heroes from the present day. The trailer teases some of the series lore without revealing too much about the actual content of the DLC. It should be out later this year.
People Can Fly, who brought us the frenetic third person shooter Bulletstorm, have a new game coming out that seems right in their wheelhouse. Outriders is a third person shooter starring a group of grizzled combat veterans fighting against magical monsters in a modern setting. A new trailer shows off some of the game’s aesthetics but neglects to feature any gameplay.
If there was one Square Enix game with hype to rival the Final Fantasy VII Remake, it’s the mysterious Avengers project from Crystal Dynamics. The team that brought the latest Tomb Raider trilogy peeled back the curtain on the game with a trailer that set the stage while still keeping details on gameplay close to their chest. Following a disaster five years ago, the Avengers have retired, only to be pulled back into the fray following a disaster in the present. The aesthetics are clearly inspired by the Marvel films despite the heroes not carrying the likenesses or voices of the MCU actors.
The team will consist of Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Thor, and Captain America, though the presence of future heroes were teased by the development team. They’ve promised a significant amount of post-release content, including new characters, but have promised gamers it will be free of charge. Little was revealed about the actual gameplay, but with demos on the show floor, you shouldn’t have to wait for long to hear more details. Avengers will release in May of next year.
Among the big blockbuster reveals, Square Enix also released some news on some remasters and smaller releases. Life is Strange 2 got a modest video to hype its impending release, while two JRPGs are getting ports: the retro-style Octopath Traveler for PC and a remaster of XBox 360 era game The Last Remnant for Switch. The latter is available now. Final Fantasy Chronicles will also be receiving a remaster. Finally, Final Fantasy VIII will be getting a remaster, and Square Enix showed a new trailer for the already announced Final Fantasy XIV expansion Shadowbringers.
Coming Up Next
With the end of Square Enix’s conference, all that’s left for major presentations is the Nintendo Direct. We’ll cover that tomorrow as well as providing a wrap-up summarizing the weekend’s most important revelations. But E3 is just getting started. Gamers can look forward to hands-on demos, Q&As, and maybe a few surprise announcements as the week continues on.