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Game Console @ E3 - Day One

11 Jun 2014

With day one of the world's largest video game convention over, the E3 Expo, Game Console's man on ground in Los Angeles, Darren Price reports back on the day's events.

Yesterday may have been all about the media briefings, with their carefully staged presentations, complete with faux "live demos", but today was the first actual day of the E3 Expo. Game trailers are all very well, but you can't beat seeing a game actually running.

The doors opened at midday and my first appointment was with 2K and Sid Meir's Civilisation: Beyond Earth. If you've played a Civ game before (what, you haven't - go and do it now) you'll recognise the gameplay in Beyond Earth.

Instead of being a much grounded earth-based strategy game, Beyond Earth is a series spin-off that takes players into the far reaches of the galaxy to colonise an alien world. But you are not alone. As well as alien species; there are other human colonists on the planet. Some with ideals that is different to your own.

This was a developer lead demo of an alpha version of the game. The assembled collection of journos where introduced to the game's faction, or affinity system, whereby every colony has a certain trait- an affinity.

Our demonstrator's affinity was that of superiority - using technology to overcome adversity. There other affinities being purity-preserving humanity as it was, and harmony - adapting the human race to the planet.

We were shown how a colony with the superiority affinity dealt with a colony with the harmony affinity when diplomacy breaks down - by sending in a load of troops to capture the city. For the first time, Civilisation: Beyond Earth has an orbital layer above the usual ground layer where satellites can be deployed to help the units on the ground. This is certainly an interesting direction in which to take the veteran series.

From there it was off to take a look at Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. After a good twenty-minutes of play, there's no doubt in my mind that this "pre-sequel" is going to be lapped up by fans. The series' beautiful cel-shaded art is there, with ridiculously over-powered guns and loads of bloody chunks of blasted meat. It's very similar to what has gone before, and that's not a bad thing.

A scheduling issue meant that a hands-on with Evolve had to be canned until I get back to Sydney, but it freed up a bit of time for some extra games.

One game that I've been looking forward to playing is probably not one that is on everybody's radar. Elite: Dangerous is the crowd-funded remake of the genre-defining space trading game from the 1980s. Back in the day Elite was the first game to actually immerse me in its universe.

To see Elite running with up-to-date graphics was amazing. A true space simulator, Elite: Dangerous, uses Newtonian physics for its flight model and give us the whole of our catalogued galaxy to explore.

Next it was over to Microsoft for a look at Oriand the Blind Forest. This is a platform game with a visual style very similar to that of a Studio Gibli anime. The game's director, Thomas Mahler confirmed the inspiration, saying that the game was created to be a game that the developers wanted to play. It draws upon their love of contemporary Japanese culture such as anime and Nintendo's now classic platformers such as Metroid.

The final game of the day was a hands-on with Bungie's Destiny. The demo consisted of two rounds of the game's version of domination, with two teams tasked with capturing and defending three bases. Each player controlled a Guardian of a particular class. I'm not sure what class I was, but I did learn pretty quickly that shooting from the hip was the order of the day- unless a wanted to get myself killed.

I found the game very reminiscent of Titanfall- without the mechs, of course. It seems that vertical gameplay is becoming all the rage in shooters at the moment - with even Call of Duty getting in on the action with Advanced Combat's rocket boots.

With my Destiny demo over the show floor started to clear as the expo closed. Roll on tomorrow.