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Like many media-based industries, the gaming sphere has been forced to evolve with the rapid technological developments that accompanied the turn of the century. Faster internet speeds, increased knowledge-sharing and steadily dropping hardware prices now enable individuals to accomplish what used to require large game development teams. Thus the independent developer was born, and their product was the indie game.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, is an annual video game trade show which took place at the Los Angeles Convention Centre in California from 16 to 18 June 2015. At the expo, members of the gaming press, as well as Youtubers and special guests were afforded hands-on time with the biggest upcoming games. Arguably, the major highlight of the expo is the keynote presentations given by the companies Microsoft, Sony, EA, Bethesda, Square Enix, Nintendo and Ubisoft, which were held on 14 and 15 June, a few days before the expo officially began.
The expo is relevant to users worldwide not only because of the important gaming announcements made there, but also because it can be viewed live all over the world. The presentations by these gaming industry giants are therefore closely followed by viewers across the globe.
Bethesda opened the E3 festivities with their first ever E3 conference on 14 June. Their presentation commenced with never-before-seen Doom gameplay, much to the elation of attendees who marvelled at the excessive violence the Doom series is known for. Bethesda also announced Dishonored 2, the sequel to their 2012 cult game Dishonored. Bethesda ended their presentation with over 14 minutes of gameplay of one of the most anticipated games of the past seven years: Fallout 4. The game’s release date is set for 10 November 2015.
Microsoft began the presentations for 15 June with Halo 5: Guardians, the next title in the popular Halo series, which showed drop-in and drop-out co-operative play with up to four people. They also announced new intellectual property (IP) exclusive to the Xbox One called Recore, made by Armature Studio and Mega-Man creator Keiji Inafune’s studio Comcept. Microsoft showed off the Hololens, their take on virtual reality, which thoroughly impressed the attendees. They also surprised the crowd with the announcement that the Xbox One is now backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games.
On 14 February, YouTube userPlayMeThrough uploaded the entirety of the upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive The Order 1886’s gameplay to YouTube.A mere five hours of gameplay for a title which will cost nearly R700. This has sparked debate across the gaming community about game length, value and the gamer’s expectations versus the developer’s artistic vision. Video games will have different lengths based on genres, post-launch support and the amount of variety in the game itself. This ranges from games that can be completed in a single afternoon, such as Activision’s popular Call of Duty series, to games with theoretically infinite playtime, such as Paradox’s Grand Strategy series.
However, despite the fact that Call of Duty and The Order 1886 are priced similarly and have roughly the same amount of story, The Order 1886 lacks any multiplayer component. The five hour campaign is the only gameplay mode, and now that the review embargo has been lifted, the game seems to offer little replay value. The development company behind The Order 1886, Ready at Dawn, has made numerous statements defending their game, citing artistic vision and a wish to deliver a cinematic experience as reasons for the shorter game length.
Whether you’re looking for a way to keep busy during loadshedding or just have a few hours to kill on a Friday night, Perdeby’s handy list of interesting board games (that aren’t Monopoly) has got you covered.
Munchkin – Steve Jackson
Designed for four to seven players, Munchkin involves each player levelling their character up through ten levels, finding and equipping weapons and armour, fighting monsters and above all, stabbing their friends in the back. Games vary between one and three profanity laden hours, depending on how much backstabbing occurs.
Small World – Philippe Keyaerts
Small World is a civilisation boardgame for two to five players, in the vein of Risk.However, each player controls a unique race. Each race has a descriptor that varies from game to game, for instance, in one game you may have the Pillaging Skeletons, and in another you may have Swamp Skeletons. Each race has a unique play style and advantages, and the descriptors lead to infinite replayability. The game has an eight round limit and the winner is determined by number of victory tokens, so games are typically quite short.
Have you ever wondered how William Shakespeare’s Hamlet would have turned out had the titular character refused the quest to avenge his father? What if, instead of pining over Hamlet, Ophelia decided to invent alcohol thermometers and the central heating system? What if Hamlet Sr decided to exact revenge on his brother from beyond the grave? All this and more is open to you in Ryan Q. North’s To be, or not to be, the game in which the outcome is based entirely on your choices.