By: Mike Dodd
Gamescom is the one gaming event that I usually don’t pay a lot of attention to. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just E3 usually burns me out ‘til Broke-tober. This year I was asked by the powers that be to put together some thoughts on some of the bigger stories to come out of this German held gaming event, and there are more than a few that surprised me. I’ve always thought of this conference as E3 except with bratwurst and PR pep talks in German and finally, cool after parties in castles with beer whose names I never have a hope of spelling or pronouncing with any degree of competency.
One of the biggest stories to come out of the event was the possibility of a Mass Effect series remaster. EA and Bioware have seen the success of franchises such as Call of duty getting rereleases on the new HD consoles. The Mass Effect trilogy was one of the most important RPG games to come out of the last generation and raised the bar for storytelling and impactful narrative choice.
“The honest answer is that we are absolutely actively looking at it. I can’t announce anything today, but you can expect us most likely to follow our fellow partners in Activision and other companies that have done this successfully,” says EA’s Patrick Söderlund
I do wonder how it will mingle in with the coming year’s release of Mass Effect Andromeda, and if an honest amount of effort could be properly given to the remaster. It has often been stated that the new Mass effect is separated by a mass gulf of time, and it is not the continuation of Commander Shepard’s war against the Reapers. Presumably, the trilogy remaster would include a brief history connecting the two, even if in a vague sense. Something to the effect of the prequel interactive comic between Mass Effect 1-2 would be in order.
I can hope for a full overhaul of Mass Effect 1 in terms of graphics. If it’s anything similar to Halo: Combat Evolved anniversary or Halo 2 in the Master Chief collection, I’d like if you could transfer between titles effortlessly. Fixes for all the little things in the game and yes, even the glitch that allows you to max your paragon/renegada score with a monkey. I just hope they also manage to add more little bits of additional lore that create for a full narrative, even if they don’t affect gameplay. The Mass Effect trilogy has a chance to be one of the biggest and most important remasters and rereleases of all time, and I am eagerly waiting to border the SR-1 Normandy again and serve with Commander Shepard and my bae Liara.
Microsoft came to Gamescom 2016 with a huge promise behind its next generation Xbox One called “Project Scorpio.” Its promise is that it will effectively end console generations, which is a pretty bold statement.
Xbox’s Games Marketing head, Aaron Greenberg, had this to say.
“..we think the future is without console generations; we think that the ability to build a library, a community, to be able to iterate with the hardware — we’re making a pretty big bet on that with Project Scorpio. We’re basically saying, “This isn’t a new generation; everything you have continues forward and it works. We think of this as a family of devices.”
But we’ll see. So far I’d say, based on the reaction, there appears to be a lot of demand and interest around Project Scorpio, and we think it’s going to be a pretty big success. If the games and the content deliver, which I think they will do, I think it will change the way we think about the future of console gaming.”
Xbox has certainly promised a lot with the new console, which has been painted as a competitive powerhouse when it comes to specs. It’s supposedly given Sony a reason for pause to reconsider its plans for Neo. The new Xbox will be able to support 4K and VR gaming, and if it works on your Xbox one NOW, then it will work in the future as well. Microsoft is thinking ahead with its future backwards compatibility, which is something I’m glad to see. I think XboxOone has made making free, backwards compatibility on their family of systems and accessories a point of prerogative.
The shorter gaps between console releases in terms of hardware also make me think we’ll see a generation that has a lot more in common with PC gaming than current console gaming. I am OK with this, just as long as the price remains consistent and consoles aren’t consistently updatable after every 6 months or so. There could be a lot of neat stuff to look forward to with Project Scorpio, and I guess we’ll find out soon enough when the console releases later next year if it worked out for the best.
The last story that caught my eye was unexpected as the series usually is itself… Metal gear: Survive. Where do I even start with this ‘game’? The game picks up after the end of MGS: Ground Zeroes and before the Phantom Pain, and it involves you being teleported to an alternate dimension with zombies made of crystal… I feel like my IQ declined just typing that. Series creator Hideo Kojimia is no longer involved with Konami, and I guess this is Konami’s attempt to sustain in the franchises trademark weirdness.
I’m kind of speechless, and that comes from a guy who has fought ghosts, roller skating fat guys in bomb suits and had a knife fight with a crab. Metal Gear has always had a message about the horrors of war and has consistently had something to say about how we as a people change from it. I’m not too sure what this has to do with the proud tradition of Metal gear solid.
This was certainly unexpected, but I suppose I should be happy that it’s an actual game coming out on a console and not a Pachinko machine in some obscure Japanese arcade a million miles away. I am curious as to what this will add to the overall MGS narrative. Will this be considered canon? Or will it be like a series of side or alternative universe like the Acid titles, etc.
Gameplay wise, it does like a weird blend of MGS stealth meets Left 4 Dead, and I’ll be curious to see where it goes when it hits consoles and the Steam marketplace in 2017.
In conclusion, this was a Gamescom that I’m glad I paid more attention to. We got some pretty hype news for Mass Effect, an update on the future of my console of choice and maybe a game I didn’t know that I even wanted. It’s not too often that I am surprised like this, but it makes me feel good about what is coming up for 2017 and what it means for us as gamers, a community and an industry.