While the indie gaming scene, special-interest booths, and cosplay have seen great growth in recent years, we’d be lying if we tried to argue that rAge isn’t about throwing a spotlight on the movers and shakers in the triple AAA game department. While there weren’t exactly a wallet-destroying list of blockbuster titles, rAge 2015 had more than enough to talk about. Grounded action-adventure title or sci-Fi FPS extravaganza, let’s count down some of the biggest hype mongers at rAge 2015 and see if they deserve all their lip service!
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Eidos Montreal got the green light to develop the sequel to 2013’s Tomb Raider after its initial success of properly modernising the historic franchise. Gone are the days of pixel-perfect two and a half-step jumps and cheat codes for RPGs to blow up pesky velociraptors.
The demo available to play at rAge opened with a fairly stunning cutscene that leads seamlessly into an immersive level that finds Lara exploring an archaic crypt. A few context sensitive scenarios pop up, which upon successful execution mean an escape from a very spiky death – and the arrival in a large open area that showcases not only the game’s graphic credentials but also its intriguing puzzle elements. The prequel, Tomb Raider, endeared itself to fans with a focus on engaging and involved puzzle mechanics , and given the the first five minutes of playtime with RotTR, it’s clear that the focus hasn’t shifted away from the strengths of the franchise.
Both Rise of the Tomb Raider and the next Uncharted title contain the same gameplay elements – gun-toting action and methodical puzzle-solving and platforming. Rise of the Tomb Raider will be a better bet for players searching for a more cerebral experience. What stood out most was the fantastic visuals, it’s a mainstay as a result of the computing power in the next-gen consoles, but the lighting and textures deserve an extra special nod. To be frank, it’s absolutely glorious in motion.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Swinging from one action-adventure title straight into one of it’s direct competitors, the long awaited conclusion (…or is it?) to Nathan Drake’s Uncharted series. It’s difficult to mention any drastically-improved areas of the game over Uncharted 3, because Naughty Dog have essentially perfected the formula for an action adventure experience. High-octane action, smooth gameplay and rich environments all complement the fast paced story that Uncharted fans have come to love. Although, it does bear mentioning that the PS4’s power helps excel the game in terms of graphical presentation. A Thief’s End does appear to have slightly quicker and smoother character movements though, while most other aspects have stayed at their admirable best.
Uncharted is renowned for its adrenalin-fueled and fast paced action, and long time fans are not going to be disappointed by this sequel. For newcomers, the recently-released Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, which contains all three previous entries for an exhausting amount of exploratory action shenanigans, will help get you up to speed before A Thief’s End released in March 2016.
Star Wars: Battlefront
The next FPS epic from EA DICE is around the corner, and Star Wars: Battlefront showcases quite a few reasons for people to be excited. In 2005, the cult classic was released, and this year we’re getting a reboot that DICE will hope reaches the heights of its predecessor.
While a multiplayer beta is already available, rAge was the platform to showcase the game’s co-op Horde mode. As you could guess from the name, players need to survive successive waves of enemies while possibly fulfilling additional objectives, like protecting an objective or destroying an AT-ST. The environments look great and feel authentic, and so do the weapons. There are a lot of promising signs from this title that suggest it could be a fantastic investment for FPS and multiplayer aficionados.
There are a few factors that deserve more in-depth discussion, as Battlefront’s success is likely but could be hampered depending on choices that EA have already made, and will continue to make in regard to the multiplayer format. So far though, it seems odds-on that Battlefront will be highly enjoyable both for Star Wars fans as well as gamers looking for their next FPS fix. Special mention should go to any studio that publishes a game incorporating the truly epic soundtrack’s that Star Wars fans have come to love.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Assassin’s Creed has been a series with mixed fortunes. It started out as a title that dominated the stealth/action genre at a time when competitors such as Metal Gear Solid, Hitman and Splinter Cell weren’t necessarily delivering their best products. Assassin’s Creed II was easily one of the most well-received sequels in recent times, but through the last few years the series has lost a bit of focus and the quality of the gameplay has suffered as a result. Ubisoft has come under fire from game critics and fans alike for their indifferent and rushed approach to the last few games, but the signs from Syndicate suggest that Ubisoft may have injected the life back into a stagnating series.
The new entry seems to be going back to the roots that made the first two games so successful. By cutting away the multiplayer and distracting elements, Ubisoft has been able to focus on what made the series great – the action-oriented stealth gameplay
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate seems like it’s taking the right steps to make fans forget the poor showing from Unity, the previous game to be released. Ubisoft must have learned their lesson in regard to rushing out games to stay in touching distance of trendy gameplay features, so expect a more polished and focused outing with Syndicate.
The storyline is predictably about another down-trodden working class vagabond, this time in 1868 London, but the gameplay looks a lot tighter and in line with what stealth games need to deliver to be considered successful at the moment. If they put the same effort to that which put Assassin’s Creed on the map, then fans should prepare for a solidly enjoyable game this year.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
Call of Duty is always going to be a popular franchise – with the previous generation of consoles being blessed with some fantastic FPS titles, a fair few of which were from the CoD stable. The most recent instalment, Advanced Warfare, marked a departure from the conventional gameplay conventions that every CoD game before was famous for, and moved into territory usually reserved for competing franchises like Crysis. Black Ops 3 continues in that direction with gameplay and weapons that are more sci-fi based than in the past. The campaign is set in a dystopian 2065 and offers the option of up to 4 player co-op which should give players a decent amount of value out of the single player.
CoD, for the most part, has become all about the online multiplayer, and Black Ops 3 contains some interesting features in this department. The multiplayer keeps the class system from Black Ops 2, but introduces a “Specialist” system that includes a unique weapon or ability for each of the 9 specialist categories. The addition of wall-running and thruster-boosting (thanks to some new character tech) adds elements to the gameplay that continue the departure into the sci-fi depths that Advancded Warfare began. So far there is nothing to suggest Black Ops 3 isn’t going to continue the series’ massive popularity.
These five titles are the games most likely to be dominating headlines, for better or worse, for the foreseeable future. Whether you’re capturing flags and no-scoping noobs, playing through 19th century London and hunting crooked politicians, or trying to collect every secret item in some unknown tomb – rAge 2015 had a AAA title to satisfy your itch!