With EGX 2015 done and dusted, and swept too, as there was a lot of rubbish on the floors, I'm sure everyone is eager to know what the best games of the show were. Clicking on the game's title will take you to the daily roundup page, which will tell you more about the game, as I'm only going to be talking about why the games are great.
Only one of these games is ‘AAA’, coming from Square Enix, and the other three are all indie titles. Two of these indie titles have to do with music, but deal with it in vastly different ways. And the final one is a multiplayer shooter, which doesn’t mean its first or third person, but it could be.
Now to keep the suspense, I have to caveat everything I’m about to say with a simple note. The actual best game of the show was Elite: Dangerous running on the HTC Vive, but that’s more because of the hardware than because of the game. This also means the HTC Vive was my favorite part of the show, but it’s hardware, not software.
On with the show! I mean slideshow, or list… whichever you prefer.
This slide image basically explains why I love this game.
Just Cause 3 effectively fixes all of the issues I had with its predecessor, Just Cause 2. Having played the second game with the multiple tethers mod, I can attest to the fact it just makes the game better. Unfortunately, modding also makes it very unstable. So having this feature built into Just Cause 3 makes me very happy.
Another issue I had with Just Cause 2 was the parachute. Having already fixed the grapple hook by adding it to Rico's arm, Avalanche wanted to make a new way of getting around that was more fun. But this made shooting from the parachute a chore - it was far too fast and twitchy to be an effective firing platform, but now it's far slower and more controllable. But, with the addition of a wingsuit, suddenly you have a lot more fun. Now, instead of gliding, you can fly.
Not only is the above great, but the graphics have been improved, so now the pretty vistas and explosions are even nicer. But, that's not all. The car handling has also been improved. Cars now have a sense of weight, but without feeling real. It's still arcade through and through, but you now have a sense of speed and poise from sports cars, and a lumbering hulk from trucks. Cars are also far more...what's the word? Wrecking ball-esque? Let's go with that. Now, instead of spinning out when you hit another car, you plow right through them, only slightly knocked off course. Avalanche took the tedium out of the driving in Just Cause 2 and made it fun again.
Just Cause 3 was also my game of E3 2015, tied at the top with Fallout 4. That is how much I've been waiting to play this game, and it was worth it! Bring it on December 1st!
When wandering the depths of the Indie Megabooth and Rezzed areas I spied a game that I'd seen previously on Steam and dismissed it as "yet another Audiosurf." They say don't judge a book by its cover, and that could never be more true with DAT.
The soundtrack to the game is your music library, so it's the best soundtrack in any game (except, of course, other games that use your own music).
One thing that makes DAT special is the beat system. If you are faster than the beat, you gain a higher multiplier that boosts your score further. You want to make sure you are at this point when doing any jumps, tricks, or drifts to maximize your score. It turns into a game you make meaningful decisions in. You learn the tracks, and plan out how to make your score unbeatable. It seems like there is this pure sense of pleasure when you beat someone else's score, even if you don't know them.
Just like with Audiosurf when racing along a track to your favourite song, you have a sense of exploring the song. You are not just driving on the track; you are learning its beats and melodies, it's small intricacies and motions. But with DAT you have far more freedom, you are now driving the track. When you launch off a jump you land in time with the beat, it's of course done on purpose, but it feels like you are timing it just right. It's same with every time you pick up an object, or use a boost pad, it all feels like you have just timed everything to perfection. It feels wonderfully gratifying.
There are also unlockable cars that you can purchase in-game. You get the currency by collecting hexagons while racing, and beating others.
The scoring system takes a very simple game on the surface, and turns it into a game that takes time to master. Once you master it, though, you feel unstoppable. Which at this point you fall off the track, and crash into 2 or 10 barriers on the trot.
Who is starting to notice any trend in my top picks?
Aaero is beautiful, with both art style and its simplicity. While the music shown in the demo isn't my cup of tea (and I'm an Englishman, I love all types of tea). Aaero really made me feel like I was playing the song. Which is weird, because all I was doing was rotating an analogue stick to follow a line of light. The visual effects of shooting, of following the bass beat, locking on, combined with all the sound effects makes everything come together for a wonderful cacophony of auditory-visual beauty. Fantastically simple in each of its parts, amazingly intricate when it comes together.
Aaero is hopefully coming in March 2016.
You might have noticed the pattern now, all of the games I'm talking about are easy to learn. The goals of the games are so simple, the goal of Just Cause 3 is to create mayhem, and sore through the air; DAT is to drive a track and score points; Aaero is simply to fight enemies, and follow a light bar to get a multiplier; and now Rektangle, in which the goal is to shoot other shapes to make them lose a side so you gain one. But all these games have underlying intricacies that make them hard to master. I'm a big fan of 'easy to learn, hard to master'.
Rektangle is the epitome of this, with the simplest idea: a twin stick shooter. Add in the gain a side, lose a side aspect. Add shields and different weapon types, you now have a game with real depth. It also gives me an excuse to yell, "Get rekt!" at someone and it actually be relevant and funny simply because I can finish off with, "-angle." Then I can pretend I’m trying to sell the game.
I'm not sure how much of the fun I had was due to having people next to me. But I was often with strangers who all knew each other, and were chatting and laughing among themselves, leaving me out somewhat - as conventions often are. But I still had a blast playing Rektangle.
You can vote for Rektangle on Steam Greenlight if you so wish.