Todd’s E3 Day Two Wrap-up

No High Scores

Today I spent time with Topware, Bethesda, and Paradox and all brought a little something to the table that is worthy of keeping an eye on. In particular, two of Bethesda’s titles stuck out and one of them was not Rage (which I didn’t get a good look at)…

I was not a huge Oblivion fan, but the freedom to explore its open world environments without even needing to dig into the main story was certainly among its better assets. That Skyrim continues this tradition is a given, but I also appreciated its two-handed equipping system where you could put different spells in each hand, go with a spell and a weapon, sword and shield, etc. It should give players a lot of options. What particularly stood out to me however, wasn’t the gorgeous vistas, impressively rendered dragons,  or the improved character models, but the town the demo took us through. It was a town built around logging. As such the sets matched, with homes all built out of wood. Cut down trees were piled up to be processed. Craftsman were working with wood. Etc. It looked like a place built for a purpose, a notion that was enhanced by the idea that you can mess with its economy by jerking around with their supplies or otherwise interfering with how the town operated. If every notable location throughout the world of Skyrim has that kind of thought put into it, it’ll do wonders for making this giant world a more interesting place to explore.

Prey 2, which aims to place you in the role of hunter instead of hunted this time around, could well be the game of the show and if not that, then certainly the most surprising. I went in expecting a straightforward shooter, but this looks to bring considerably more to the table. There’s an amazing fluidity to your movement through this alien world in which you, a displaced amnesiac US Marshal, collect bounties and try to put your life and past together. Climbing from ledges, leaping gaps, sliding for cover all evoke the kind of smooth mobility that Mirror’s Edge did mostly well. But this game takes it further with solid-looking gunplay, a bunch of interesting and useful gadgets and abilities, and a seemingly broad variety of ways to go about tackling missions. 

I watched the protagonist shove an unsuspecting bystander off a ledge for no other reason than the option was there, spontaneously take a hostage to extort cooperation from a target, choose whether or not to interrogate a bounty at the risk of killing him and failing the mission, and considerably more. Every time during the demo that I thought we’d seen everything the game was going to have to show us, they revealed another layer to the gameplay. This is definitely one to watch.

Over at Topworld I saw a game called Scivelation (pronounced S-eye-velation; think Science Revelation). Well, I didn’t so much see the game as much as I saw a bunch of screens and static content. Not a lot to go on as it’s obviously nowhere near ready for primetime. The fact that I’m no particular fan of their previous game, Two Worlds II, doesn’t help. That said, the idea for a far-future dystopia, rendered using the Unreal 3D engine, in which an ongoing struggle between science and religion has all but destroyed the world has promise. You can play and switch between two different characters, one a run and gun ex-member of the Moscow resistance, the other a scientist defector from the oppressive government known as The Regime. This is a stealth-based character that uses scientific knowledge to overcome obstacles. Topware insists every level of the game will allow you to complete it using either path. They weren’t willing to talk about character development and skills, but did say there would be a variety of ways to build up both characters and that not all skills would be dependent on combat. Look for more on this one at GamesCon.

Finally, there’s Paradox. I never played the original Crusader Kings, but I’m hooked on the prospect of Crusader Kings II, which is due next January. Think Game of Thrones, with all its different houses and lineages, brought to a Crusades-era European setting. You deal with religious conflicts, other lords, family trees, royal councils, court intrigue, and considerably more from the look of it. As someone who was a huge fan of how Medieval: Total War presented royalty, nobles, and political appointments, this is something I’ll have to play.

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Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor, with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and is a 20-year publishing veteran as an editor of books on consumer tech and professional development for educators. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd was a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets from 1997-2015. Follow him on Twitter @toddsfoolery.

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