E3: PC Gaming Show 2015
Yo jurors. AMD teamed up with PC Gamer to deliver what many felt PC gaming always needed - its own show at E3. Traditionally the primary mention of PC games at shows like E3 has been when a console game is referenced as “coming to PC.” This time around we got a show wholly focused on PC Gaming...and it was good. It was too long, but it was good. So what did we get to see? Let’s do the run down.
Rising Storm 2: Vietnam
Tripwire, of Killing Floor fame, gave us a bit of an update on Killing Floor 2 and how they’ve listened to the community before giving us a brief glimpse of their next game, Rising Storm 2: Vietnam. Expect this one to be an asymmetrical multiplayer shooter is it follows up on the pedigree of Rising Storm and Red Orchestra.
Cloud Imperium Games gave gamers a bit of an update on Star Citizen and how it’s only possible in all its glory thanks to powerful PC technology. They talked a bit about motion capture and facial animation tech.
AMD’s New, Old Graphics Cards
AMD’s “Chief Gaming Scientist” Richard Huddy gave a brief talk about the future of gaming as it pertains to high frame rate gaming and virtual reality technology. To support this future he announced (or unannounced if you caught the AMD specific show earlier) the R7/9 300 series of GPU’s from AMD. These are some of their new products hitting the market, except they aren’t new at all. They are rebadges of the existing R7/9 200’s GPU’s with slightly higher clocks and different VRAM allotments.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Eidos-Montreal stepped in to talk about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and all of the cool techniques used in the games visuals courtesy of DirectX 12, TressFX and their own Dawn Engine.
Total War: Warhammer
Sega and Creative Assembly showed a trailer that was a mix of trailers from previous Total War games before flowing into talking about the upcoming Total War: Warhammer. I’m still struggling not to call this Total Warhammer so it was fun to see the host ask about that name.
Microsoft Drops Several Bombshells
Microsoft’s Phil Spencer stopped in a dropped quite a few nuggets. For starters he doubled down on admitting that Microsoft had lost its way with PC Gaming recently, which is a nice way of putting it. How about abandoning it damn near completely until the Xbox One struggled to gain market share? Anyway, he continued to mention the strategy of getting as many PC’s on Windows 10 as possible so developers could essentially develop for one “PC platform” similar to how console development is handled. Buzzwords of PC Gaming, the fans, Windows 10 and DirectX 12 were thrown around until he mentioned that Xbox One exclusive Killer Instinct will be coming to PC and will support cross platform play. He also hinted that more Xbox exclusives may come to PC further down the line. Well damn, I’m pressed.
Not much to say here. Lionshead Studios showed of some Fable Legends and explained how DX12 will allow them to build the game and game world they’ve envisioned.
James Phinney of Motiga showed off some of their upcoming game Gigantic. What is it? It’s kind of a mashup of genres. MOBA, RPG, shooter...it’s a little of everything with a wonderful art style.
Gears of War Ultimate Edition
Rod Fergusson of The Coalition, explained that Gears of War Ultimate Edition will be coming to PC. He went into some details about how it was being remastered, how many assets they redid, etc. but I was still stuck on the announcement that Gears is coming to PC again. Perhaps the entire series will one day find a home on PC.
American Truck Simulator
Not much to say here. SCS Software, makers or Euro Truck Simulator showed off a bit of their upcoming title American Truck Simulator.
Ryan Geddes of CCP Games talked a bit about PC and VR technology and showed a trailer for Eve Valkyrie that is set to make extensive use of VR.
DayZ creator Dean Hall talked about his studio RocketWerkz and their upcoming emergent narrative MMO, Ion. He mentioned some of his inspirations such as Space Station 13 and touched briefly on the pros and cons of Early Access programs and Valve’s refund policy.
Thom Glunt of Pixel Titans helped to show off their game Strafe which looks to be a Doom inspired shooter based on tech that uses pre-made room segments to procedurally generate levels for the player. The weapon mechanics are pretty unique here too, this is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Pillars of Eternity - The White March: Part 1
One of my favorite PC games, Pillars of Eternity, is getting an expansion. Feargus Urquhart of Obsidian and Fredrik Wester of Paradox announced that they have teamed up to bring The White March, Part 1 to Pillars of Eternity. They are promising a new bigger world to explore, a level cap increase, more companions, more creatures, soulbound weapons and more. Definitely near the top of my list of things I’m going to be tracking.
David Braben of Frontier Developments dropped a mention of Elite Dangerous, and its recent updates on the PC platform, before branching off to their upcoming gaming Planet Coaster. I don’t know much on this yet, but it looks to be a tycoon style game. I’ll have to find our more.
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns
Colin Johanson of Arenanet gave us a lot of information about the new Guild Halls feature coming in the Heart of Thorns expansion for Guild Wars 2. Guild Halls will be entire maps that guilds need to first clear and conquer before they can own it. Once the map is taken over the guilds will have a slew of options to build up and customize their hall. Not merely a cosmetic addition, the guild halls will also allow access to new feature such as forming guild teams for PvP or co-op guild missions. Also on deck are guild puzzles and the War Room which will be used to create tools to be used in the World vs World PvP. A massive airship that defends a region was shown as one of the tools players can build to bring to the battle as support. Available for pre-purchase now and just like before, pre-purchase includes access to the betas.
A new entry in the Hitman series simply titled Hitman (serious developers/publishers STOP doing this) was shown off. The developers are promising the graphical fidelity of Absolution with the openness of Blood Money. Yes please.
AMD’s Fury Line
AMD Ceo Lisa Su showed off the company’s new GPUs...and unlike Mr. Huddy’s presentation earlier in the show she actually showed off NEW cards. The Fury line up was shown consisting of the Fury Nano, Fury, Fury X and an as yet unnamed card that uses two Fury GPUs. The Fury line is built around a new high bandwidth memory system that offers a blistering amount of memory bandwidth with a massive reduction in power consumption and space. 4K support and DX12 support are what these cards are all about...wait a minute, I mean 5K because 4K was so last year.
Another product that was shown off was the AMD Quantum which is a pre-made, small form factor PC that uses two Fiji GPU’s. One curious thing to note is that the distinction was made that the Quantum uses two Fiji chips, which are the chips powering the Fury cards. Ms. Su was careful not to say it was two Fury GPUs in the Quantum so I’m curious what the actual specs are since they weren’t mentioned. Speaking of specs, I’m used to hearing specs and seeing a few company benchmarks when a graphics company claims they’ve released the “fastest graphics card to date”. AMD provided neither, which leaves me a little sceptical about where Fury and Fury X line up against Nvidia’s Titan X and 980Ti. There are a ton of rumors flying around, but with the official product showcase now behind us some real benchmarks and reviews should start showing up.
ARMA 3 Tanoa
Bohemia Interactive showed off an expansion to ARMA 3, the island of Tanoa. They’re promising some new geography for ARMA 3 players as well as new vehicles and weapons. Bring it on.
Sherida Halatoe of Tiger & Squid showed off her exploration game Beyond Eyes. It’s an exploration game where sight isn’t necessarily the primarily sense. If this concept is pulled off well it will be a very unique game in the emerging exploration genre.
Paul Wedgwood of Splash Damage showed off a bit of Dirty bomb.
Steve Gaynor of The Fullbright Company, the creators of Gone Home, gave a brief presentation on their upcoming first person exploration game Tacoma.
Ian Thomas of Frictional Games, developers of Amnesia, showed off their upcoming horror game Soma. You’ll have to tell me about it because my eyes were closed...
Brian Hicks of Bohemia Interactive dropped a few bombshells about DayZ. New vehicles are coming. A single player offline mode is coming. Mods and steam workshop support are coming. A tool for players to host their own DayZ server is coming. Sounds like it’s time to jump into DayZ...for the only two people left who haven’t already.
Take On Mars
Space exploration game Take on Mars was shown off by Bohemia Interactive...man, Bohemia have been pretty busy. Keep it going!
Project Blue Streak
Cliff “Cliffy B” Bleszinki showed up to talk about his studio Boss Key Productions, how older gamers play shooters a little different from younger gamers due to reflexes and how this has influenced the upcoming Project Blue Streak. He also gave a few insights on what it was like while he was on his hiatus from game development and what exactly reignited his passion for game development and brought him back to the industry.
Enter the Gungeon
Another game that will be high up on my watch list is Enter the Gungeon from Dodge Roll Games. It’s a dungeon crawler shoot ‘em up with a wonderful pixel style, a sense of humor and some clear inspirations from some great past games. This is a must watch title, keep it on your radar.
Blizzard Entertainment gave us some info on their Heroes of the Storm title as well as the Whispers of Oblivion addition to Starcraft 2 which links the stories found in Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void. This was one of the longer segments of the show so it’s worth more to you to watch it than it is to readme summarizing all of it.
No Man’s Sky
Sean Murray of Hello Games dropped the BOMBSHELL that the highly anticipated and ambitious No Man’s Sky will be launching simultaneously for PC and PS4. I don’t think I need to say anything else.
All in all, this show was a success in my opinion. It showed some great new games and expansions coming to PC. Microsoft looks like they “may” be serious about PC gaming in a good way and several games that were being treated as console exclusives will definitely be making it to PC. This was a good prototype for how PC gaming should be handled at E3’s moving forward. However, there were some negatives so now that the positive it out of the way it’s time for Kenpo’s nitpicks:
- The show was too long. Once the show went beyond the 2 hour mark it started to drag. Even the host wasn’t as lively as he’d been earlier.
- Nvidia holds a vast majority of the market share in gaming graphics. Valve holds an even larger market share than that when it comes to PC games sales. Neither company was represented at the show. The show was heavily AMD branded, so Nvidia not being there is expected if unfortunate. But Valve/Steam should have been there in some capacity.
- There were technical issues with the mics. Several developers had non-functional microphones but kept talking as though everything was fine and even the host had it mic cut off at points.
- AMD showed off a bunch of new cards and made a bunch of grand claims about having released the fastest graphics hardware available...and then showed absolutely nothing to back those statements up. No specs, no graphs showing internal benchmarking that the company has done. When their competitor is certain they have a lead, they blatantly show it. AMD should have grabbed the bull by the horns and done the same to curb the rumors and really get people buzzing about their new hardware. That was a missed opportunity Red Team.