OCC E3 2013 AwardsClayMeow -
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Best New IP
Winner: The Order: 1886 (PS4)
The Order: 1886 was presented as an in-engine trailer, and despite the lack of gameplay, what was shown has me incredibly intrigued. The game is developed by Ready at Dawn, which is incredibly well versed in handheld games but not so in consoles. However, that doesn't look to be an issue, as The Order is set in an alternate reality where the Industrial Revolution came about to try and put an end to inhuman monsters. It's this incredible blend of large airships, radios, high-powered firearms, and horse-drawn carriages in Victorian Era London, where you take on the role of a knight from an elite order facing off against... something. It isn't entirely clear what the monsters are, just they're super fast and extremely deadly. Vampires? Werewolves? Demons? We don't know yet, but hopefully we will soon.
The game is a linear, story-focused, third-person shooter, and honestly, all of that just sounds sweet to me. Ready at Dawn says The Order is a "filmic experience," which means it looks like it's shot with various camera lenses, and it certainly does from the trailer. It just looks dirty and grimy, and that's a very good thing. Sadly, we don't know when The Order: 1886 is coming out, but it's definitely one you won't want to miss on the PS4.
Runners-Up: Mad Max (PC, PS3, PS4, 360, XBO), Tom Clancy's The Division (PS4, XBO)
When Mad Max was shown, I imagine some people thought it was going to be Fallout 4. The look and tone certainly made sense, but when you see that distinctive outfit and car, there's only thing it could have been. In development at Avalanche Studios, the team that brought us the Just Cause series, Mad Max features a large open world with a heavy focus on vehicular combat. Max sets off on a journey after his Interceptor is stolen by a deadly gang of marauders, and really, if your badass car was stolen, you'd do anything to get it back too. The one thing that's kind of bugging me, and apparently a lot of others if you peruse for more information, is the demo from E3 features a rather basic American accent for Mad Max. You may think "big deal, who cares?" except for the fact that Mad Max is set in Australia. Hopefully the E3 demo has just a placeholder voice while Avalanche finds a suitable Aussie actor since Mel Gibson isn't slated to reprise the role that made him famous.
There isn't a whole lot more I can say about The Division that I didn't before, but despite the Tom Clancy name, it falls squarely into the new IP category. Here's this game where the world is falling to pieces and you have to find some way to survive the crisis. Blending a third-person tactical shooter, an MMO, and an RPG into something that immediately skyrocketed to the top of must-play titles for pretty much everyone probably isn't the easiest thing, yet Ubisoft has done just that. Like I said before, we need more information on The Division, but everything that's been discussed so far is something no one should miss. I just hope there's some news on a PC version too, but if not, it looks like it'll be another game to get on my PS4.
Winner: Tom Clancy's The Division (PS4, XBO)
The Ubisoft Press Conference came to a close with one of the biggest surprises of E3 2013, and it did so in dramatic fashion. We now know the game to be Tom Clancy's The Division, but for ten minutes, it was just a guessing game. First was a three-minute trailer, setting up the back story. It was an intense and poignant trailer rooted in reality. It started by discussing a real-world bio-terror attack simulation conducted in 2001 called Operation Dark Winter, designed to test emergency response systems in the United States. The trailer goes on to then explain how a world-wide pandemic in the future is inevitable, as a pathogen jumps from tainted dollar bills to human skin – millions will be infected by the time Patient Zero develops symptoms.
The trailer describes a world in ruin. Day One, hospitals will reach capacity and panic will strike. Day Two, quarantine zones will be established, resources will be rationed, and transport will go into lockdown. Day Three, international trade will stop, the oil will dry up, and the stock market will collapse. Day Four, the power will fail, shelves will be empty, and taps will run dry. Hunger and despair will take hold and people will do anything for survival. By Day Five, everyone will be a potential threat. The trailer ends with a simple question: "What will it take to save what remains?" It almost sounds like the premise for a post-apocalyptic survival game. But then the cinematic trailer faded into a gameplay video, with Christmas music playing in the background and a snowy New York City coming into view.
What came next was seven minutes of gameplay of what seemed to be a third-person shooter. The detail shown was remarkable. New York City is instantly recognizable to anyone who's ever visited, but there are also stark differences – mainly that it's clearly gone to ruin, with debris, trash, and abandoned cars piling the streets. Despite the ruin, this is not a post-apocalyptic game. Ubisoft is referring to it as a "mid-crisis situation" where various aspects of society are failing, but the players have the ability to restore them and "fix" New York. The Division utilizes a dynamic content system so every play session is different. Missions are also not hand-fed to you, but rather acquired organically as you move through the world, if you want them. In a sense, it's almost as if it's a game full of side quests. But it does behoove you to do complete missions because your choices will affect the world.
Ubisoft is calling it an "open-world online RPG" despite its third-person shooter exterior. Before you begin, you customize your character like you would in most RPGs. But you don't choose a class – The Division features a classless system, allowing you to not only select various types of skills, but also respec and change them on the fly. For example, if you're going it alone, you may want to carry along some healing, but if you group up with friends and someone else takes the healer/support role, you can swap out those skills for some additional fire power. You're never forced to reroll new characters because one character can do everything. There will also be a companion app for tablets, allowing you to control a drone and help your friends out even when you're not by your TV. Drones can mark targets, debuff enemies, and heal or buff allies. Each action fills up a resource meter which, when full, can then be uses to launch a devastating missile attack, sure to turn the tide of any battle.
The Division has been in development for roughly 1.5 years and, as mentioned, takes place in New York City (the demo took place in Brooklyn, but you could see the Manhattan skyline toward the end). However, it's quite possible surrounding areas are added in the future with ongoing content expansions rather than a direct sequel. As of now, The Division is only planned for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but Ubisoft isn't ruling out other platforms. In fact, the company has told PC gamers to sign a petition if they'd like the game on PC. I take that as unofficial confirmation a PC version is coming because I don't think Ubisoft would have said that if one wasn't already planned. Maybe that's just wishful thinking.
Runner-Up: Destiny (PS3, PS4, 360, XBO)
In my opinion, Halo is one of the most overrated series of all-time – compared to other shooters, it's far inferior. The original Halo took advantage of the times, being the first big console shooter since GoldenEye, and subsequent games have been riding the coattails of fanboys. Needless to say, I did not have high hopes for Destiny, Bungie's first new IP since Halo. But then I saw the gameplay trailer during Sony's Press Conference and my fears vanquished. Like Halo, Destiny is a sci-fi first-person shooter with vehicular combat as well, but thankfully its similarities seem to end there. Destiny is being called a "shared-world shooter," which seems to mean an MMO-like experience similar to The Division. And like The Division, there will be a dynamic event system to ensure players are constantly experiencing something fresh and exciting.
Destiny takes place on a post-apocalyptic Earth, seven hundred years from now. The mysterious white orb on the game's poster is known as the Traveler and is responsible for saving the last of mankind. With the Traveler hanging low above Earth, the remaining survivors built a city under its shadow. Players take on the role of Guardians of the City, tasked with protecting humanity. Guardians actually consist of three races that players can choose from: Humans, Exos, and Awoken. Players also can choose amongst three classes: Hunter, Titan, and Warlock. Hunters are the reconnaissance class, reminiscent of bounty hunters. Warlocks are the sci-fi wizards, not only using standard weapons, but also special powers granted by the Traveler. Titans are you classic future solder, using heavy weapons and melee attacks.
While the game seems to take place primarily on (what's left of) Earth, there are three other confirmed locations players can travel to: The Moon, Mars, and Venus. My guess is that those may be high-level, end-game areas. While there's still a lot of unknowns, the gameplay shown at E3 left me excited. At one point during the demo, a giant, six-legged, spider-like, robotic war machine dropped out of the sky, which I assume is one of those dynamic events, but may just be a typical group/raid boss battle. Either way, it looked completely badass. As of now, Destiny is just planned for the PS3, PS4, 360, and XBO, but a PC version has been hinted at – Bungie has expressed interest in bringing it to PC, so it seems like it's all up to publisher Activision.
Move over, Call of Duty and Battlefield – with The Division and Destiny on the horizon, shooter fans are going to have two great alternatives to choose from.