Laguna’s E3 2017 Multiplayer Round Up

E3 2017 may have come and gone but we’ve still got some coverage left in us! I spent several days picking through booths as Nick handled the brunt of the MMOGames coverage. I saw some good, bad, and honestly ugly games which are sadly part of the reason this article is a bit late. I’ll give you a hint: it starts with V and ends with R. Join me after the break for my E3 2017 Multiplayer Round Up.

 

Seeking Dawn

Seeking Dawn is an online sci-fi survival VR game that sometimes felt a bit like, well, a sci-fi survival Monster Hunter. While my demo didn’t force me to eat or seek shelter, the knowledge that I was playing a game that forced me to gather materials for gear upgrades in a demo that (luckily for me) lacked a connection to other players that could aid or murder me made the demo that much more intense.

Intense is a really good word to use for Seeking Dawn for several reasons. First is the idea of a survival game in VR that aims to have missions/dungeons lasting about an hour. Most VR is more bite-sized than that, but SD is looking to be a big game that players can invest their time in. The game is currently limited to co-op but can increase. As it’s PvP based, there aren’t a lot of social features, but it is an open world game and multiverse plans on hosting the servers themselves instead of allowing regular players to host them, which I find rare in the survival genre.

Creatures do simply things like spawn more adds, but at least one (which I sadly didn’t bump into) can actually be mounted. You can supposedly also steal eggs, and I’ve read that the game has cooking and building, but I didn’t see them in my demo. Although currently a PvP game, I was told that one thing that’s being planned is a flagging system, reminiscent of being on a PvE server and choosing to flag yourself for PvP to show others that you’re looking for a fight.

The controls with the HTC Vive (perhaps my least favorite controllers of all time) are tricky, feeling more similar to using a 3D mouse to move than focusing on something that feels natural, but this is difficult in a VR game that has you running and gunning in a 360 environment.

This is where things broke down for me. Most VR has teleporting or vehicle movement so as to reduce the chances of motion sickness. Most companies shy away from actual first person running because it tends to lead to motion sickness, and that’s exactly what happened to me during my demo, in a very bad way. If you go through MMOGames’ VR reviews/hands-on demos, you’ll see I’m the guinea pig the staff sends out for this genre. Despite being prone to motion sickness, I usually do OK. This year, however, I was a bit fatigued, so motion sickness came more easily than usual. Combined Seeking Dawn’s constantly moving combat and literally having to watch my back, the level of nausea I hit actually forced me to cancel a couple of appointments and get a ride home on E3 Day One.

The fatigue situation is certainly on me though. Game maker Multiverse has already cut back on the level of motion sickness players are feeling, and they even have female game testers (an important note: women tend to be more susceptible to motion sickness than men). Just the same, people whose stomachs struggle with VR probably should avoid this one, but survival fans with a VR craving who worry about VR’s low replay value may want to check this one out.

 

Pokken Tournament Deluxe

This one was a bit of a letdown. More so than Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Pokken Tournament Deluxe hasn’t yet shown me it’s anything more than Nintendo abandoning the Wii U player base that funded the first game. My demo was simply a duel with new Pokemon being available. Nintendo won’t comment on whether or not the title will finally let console players experience the latest additions Japanese arcade players have access to. I don’t really watch eSports nor do I play competitively, but I know the Pokken console scene is suffering from the update shortages. Lack of communication on that front is depressing even for a casual player like myself who gave up after it became obvious that I wouldn’t be able to play a giant penguin Pokemon on the Wii U.

I hope Nintendo’s got something up their sleeve for this one. Some special content arcades won’t get, a tie in with other console Pokemon games, something. As someone who played the arcade game before being able to review the Wii U game, the demo felt mostly familiar. I really enjoyed my time with the game before this demo, but when a game is asking me to repurchase it when it’s barely over a year old, I expect to receive something beyond the “privilege” of experiencing it on a different console. Admittedly, I didn’t crush my demo partner as I was pretty rusty (truth: I’m terrible), but it’s hard to get excited when a demo feels like it’s only an update for a game you own but have to buy again.

 

Splatoon 2

My Splatoon 2 demo was fun enough, if a bit muted. We played Salmon Run, a PvE mode that supposedly will be a bit of a special map, not a constant mode. Think of a horde mode, in which you survive wave after wave of incoming baddies. At 5%, it felt relatively easy. Each boss has its own gimmick and didn’t feel like it posed much of a threat. 100%, the max difficulty, is where things got interesting. With terrain being covered in water (Splatoon veterans should recall that, weirdly, the inklings can’t swim in water and automatically drown) and bosses now coming from above and below you, “hard” doesn’t begin to describe the experience.

That being said, I suppose I was expecting something else. More painting terrain, more weird weapons, more gimmicks. I needed something that would at least live long enough for me to feel like I could test out the guns, the dualies. Splatoon always felt like it was at its best when it wasn’t about direct combat but objective based PvP: splattering the most paint, delivering the rain maker, or just riding a tower farther than the enemy team. That being said, I can still see the appeal of Salmon Run, especially for people who may have been turned off by the original game’s PvP only long-term replay value. I have high hopes for the sequel, especially after seeing that motion control has been retained and still feels comfortable, sort of replicating a mouse aiming tactic but through a console controller. I don’t recommend a lot of console based shooters, but Splatoon 1 was one game I broke that rule for when talking to PC gamers about non-PC games. We’ll have to see how fresh the new additions to Splatoon 2 feel when it releases July 21 of this year.

 

Dragon Ball Fighter Z

Adding to Nick’s experience, I have to say that I was originally excited about this one because I thought it would be a 6 player game. As we all now know, it’s 3v3 in terms of characters, 1v1 in action. It’s got a Marvel vs. Capcom feel in terms of mechanics, but the move sets respect the anime inspiration. Gohan is the best example of this, as he’s often one of the most powerful characters in the DBZ era, but since he’s a child, has a short reach and doesn’t take damage well. That’s him in both the game and the show, and while most games can get this right, Bandai got this done in a very visceral way.

This attention to detail goes beyond the characters though. Certain characters like Frieza, known for blowing up planets, can actually wreck the terrain with the right attacks, changing peaceful landscapes into, well, a crater filled mess. I never was able to pull this off myself, but from what I saw, it’s mostly just a visual change, but a cool one. Combined with in-combat cut scenes that look like a modernized version of the show, it makes for a very watchable game with an accessible starting experience that feels like it can support competitive play.

 

Brawlout

I’m feeling like this was practically my Nintendo E3, even if some games were just inspired by Nintendo games. At any rate, Brawlout is a Smash Bros inspired fighter replacing mascots with original IP animal based characters. Rough and tumble animals like the Walrus have a more sturdy style, while my bird, naturally, had a strong aerial game. Unlike most fighters, the game lacks blocking, which I found a bit difficult to get used to but helped it to achieve a stronger emphasis on aggressive gameplay.

This is an important distinction as Smash Bros inspired fighters are becoming a bit more common. Rivals of the Ether, another animal Smasher, was often compared to Brawlout when I was researching the game prior to E3. Angry Mob, the developer, knows about the comparison and is fine with it. I was curious why they’d try to develop an original IP for a genre most strongly associated with IP ensemble casts, but Angry Mob CEO Bogdan Iliesiu laughed it off, suggesting that using a copyright free IP like Robin Hood would make the game feel cheap or lazy. That being said, the game differs from Rivals of the Ether in that RotE uses more retro style graphics compared to Brawlout’s Pixar-esque art, plus is more technical where Brawlout is, well, brutal.

I’d heard complaints about the PC version of the game having a small community, something I’ve noticed happening with lots of fighting games that release on consoles as well. However, Iliesiu notes that players can still practice against the AI or try the single player mode between matches, a feature that really alleviated boredom and the sense of being stuck in a queue.

The Smash Bros influence is strong and makes for mostly familiar gameplay for Smash vets, but it’s different enough to feel like it’s worth exploring a bit. It may not be as exciting as Pikachu vs. Duck Hunt Dog, but the mechanics are strong enough to help show that the genre need not only be applied to popular IPs.

 

Something In-between

There are a few other titles I originally wanted to include on this list. Games that tend to have multiplayer, or were revealed to have it, but lacked that and/or a sense of their impact in the demo. We also spent some time with RPGs that feature mechanics our readers (and writers!) have shown interest in, or are based on IPs we’re fans of. I’ll round those up and cover those next time with a Single Player Demo Round Up.

Related: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About LagunaLevine