EGX Rezzed 2016 – Watchers and Wonders

I can’t believe how time has flown recently. As summer defiantly rushes on (the notion of No Man’s Sky frothily accompanying it no less), the past week has seen my first official event coverage as a journalist, planning regarding University, a whole lot of writing and one isolated occasion on which I was forced to flee for my life as a band of raucous NERF-ers hunted me down Hunger Games-style.

Figuratively, of course, for birthday occasions and death don’t usually mix unless you happen to be an orcish War Chief. But I wasn’t taking any chances. Outside the realms of FPS, my reflexes aren’t all that and I’m not the least bit ashamed to admit I resorted to the mud-streaked army crawl on multiple occasions. I was, if nothing else, incredibly well camouflaged by the end.

Back to said event, however. 2016’s been called The Year of VR, and whilst it’s true that this year’s EGX Rezzed housed multiple titles propelling players into the multiverse of the headset, I’m not so sure virtual reality will take off immediately. Rezzed served as partial confirmation of that – highlighting the restrictions the VR headset still proposes with some still quite enthralling and interesting upcoming concepts in their own right.

The event comprised a slew of other promising fare too, though, and ranged from quaking-nostalgic throwbacks to haunting explorations, to pre-released games I wasn’t expecting to enjoy quite so much as I did.

So, in such spirit, I’ll be condensing (if that is the right word given my tangential tendencies) my thoughts into a list not unlike my Most Anticipated Games of 2016, the very first of which will follow shortly.

 

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Game I Will Most Likely Have Forgotten About But Still Get Anyway: Rise of the Tomb Raider

System: PS4; XONE; X360; WINDOWS
Developer: Developer: Crystal Dynamics; Nixxes Software; Eidos
Release Date: Early 2016 (Windows); Late 2016 (PS4)

I’ve never been big on Tomb Raider. Now, this might come as a surprise as it’s one of the most influential platformers to exist and all, but the truth is that it always held a relatively quiet presence amongst other titles I’ve adored. I never saw much of it when growing up, and it’s only now that I’ve really begun to appreciate what so many fans praise about the games.

And what a time to become interested, too. 2013 saw the rejuvination of Lara Croft in a well crafted and thrilling origins story, and with Rise of the Tomb Raider set for PS4 launch in the later part of 2016, it seems there’s no time like the present to really delve into those bygone graves that Croft has a knack for seeking.

lARA

Being a sequel to 2013’s Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider proffers similar gameplay to its predecessor, with a heavier focus on stealth. Michael Brinker of developer, Crystal Dynamics has claimed the player now has a greater ability to “stick with stealth for the entire encounter”, enabling Lara to hide from foes more effectively, without being as easily spotted.

And although Croft’s hotchpotch bow makes its reprise, alongside a nifty hunting knife for melee combat and sneak attacks, one of the most interesting mechanics in Rise of the Tomb Raider lies in its enemy AI. Where in the 2013 reboot, shooting arrows amongst enemies gave away the player’s whereabouts, calculated range attacks can be used to distract your attackers, “if they can’t find Lara,” Brink’s explained in interviews, “they’ll go right back to what they were doing before”.

rise of the tomb raider jump.jpg
A hardened survivalist with ninja-esque qualities? Yes please.
The delayed release for PS4 was a shame, especially considering the original Tomb Raider is widely considered one of the best Playstation titles. And given that, as of 12th December on VGChartz.com, PS4 sales are at almost double those of the Xbox One, the ploy to sell more consoles via exclusivity doesn’t seem to have payed off. As of now, the road unto Lara’s next adventure feels long, and despite my  inexperience with Tomb Raider, the praise Rise of the Tomb Raider has received already suggests it’s a series that might be worth a closer look.

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Links for your curious heart:

http://mmgn.com/xboxone/articles–rise-of-the-tomb-raider-interview

Most Interesting World: Horizon: Zero Dawn

Release Date: 2016
Developer: Guerrilla Games
System: PS4

Horizon Zero Dawn bird
Guerrilla Games’ departure from the Killzone series seemed to have popped up out of the blue, but according to interviews with IGN, Horizon: Zero Dawn has been in the works for quite some time. Having begun before work started for Killzone: Shadow Fall, Senior Producer – Mark Norris – describes Horizon as a game that is “ultimately about exploration”, as well as being a tale of self-discovery and purpose within a cataclysmic world.

Zero Dawn marks an interesting entry in the post-apocalyptic style, as it’s one of the few that is classically attractive. The E3 Demo opened upon a vibrant echo of prehistory; home to towering, sentient robots and the parochial human tribes that live perpetually in their shadow. The main story follows Aloy, a trained robot hunter.

horizon aloy

The story itself is deemed by Norris as “one of the closely guarded secrets” of Horizon: Zero Dawn, “because we think it will be really special”. All we know for now is that Aloy “does have a little bit of a special relationship with the machines”, and the sheer amount of meanings behind that statement has me thoroughly interested in how Guerrilla presents the narrative within the gorgeously mechanical open world around 150 people are striving to bring to life.

Horizon’s combat and exploration strike a resemblance to Shadow of Mordor, incorporating tactical stealth elements to take down some of the smaller bots. Most of the direct combat, however, appears to be ranged-oriented, which was something that threw me off a little, as a perpetual sword-wielder. Aloy is equipped with a techy bow and arrow, and judging by the game’s E3 Demo, ranged combat strikes as clean and uncluttered.
In addition to Aloy’s trusty bow, the demo showcased the protagonist’s ability to salvage enemy parts to use against it during a battle; something that already suggests that your titanic foes will require a lot more than a few well-aimed pin pricks to topple.
Horizon Zero Dawn Combat

Although combat took much of the limelight at E3, it’s Zero Dawn’s world that interests me. It’s not a bog standard collection of rolling hills to play about on; it actually feels archaic, flecked with fallen memories of the so-called ‘triumphs of mankind’ that have since melded with the earths. It’s less sinister than it is curious, and atop Norris’ claim that Zero Dawn will, “open your mind to a different way that we can tell stories”, the game is definitely on my watch list.

Links for your curious heart:

PS4 Exclusive Horizon: Zero Dawn Interview – Guerrilla Talks Story, Aloy, Size of the Machines and More