The Clash Games Column: The Winners Of E3 2014

Super Smash Bros., No Man's Sky, more...

Clash used to cover games. Then, it stopped. Now, with the dust settling on another year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (aka E3) in Los Angeles, we figure it’s a good time to bring games back onto the menu. After all, they’re bloody brilliant.

So here’s our first, likely semi-regular Clash Games Column, focusing on what we feel are the most outstanding new(ish) titles previewed at E3 2014, held June 10th-12th at the Los Angeles Convention Center. 

Last year’s E3 was a properly old-school console war between Sony and Microsoft, as each company prepared to release their latest machines: the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, respectively. T’was a great debacle of dirt tossing, all flapping dicks and despicable gobshittery (which, being honest, Sony ‘won’). This time, with the hardware long since public, the emphasis was purely on the actual games. And there were some real treats, too.

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No Man’s Sky
(Release date TBC, available on PlayStation 4 and probably PC)

This gorgeous, open-world (okay, universe) sci-fi title from Guildford’s teeny indie studio Hello Games might be E3 2014’s very biggest winner. It didn’t come from nowhere – preview footage was shown at Spike’s VGX awards bash back in December. But with plenty of on-site developer support, with the game’s makers emphasising how it can be played multiple ways, either co-operatively or strictly solo, and making references to Elite in terms of inspiration, there’s no doubting that No Man’s Sky’s most impressive reveal happened just the other day. I mean, really: just look at this gameplay trailer.  Shout out to 65daysofstatic, too, who soundtrack this trailer quite brilliantly.

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Sunset Overdrive
(Due for release October 28th, exclusive to Xbox One)

Games of the PS3/360 generation could come in varying shades of grey – look at Killzone, Gears Of War, the Call Of Duty and Metro series, and so on, right up to the phenomenally affecting but no-less-grey The Last Of Us. Apocalypses were rarely bright affairs. But Sunset Overdrive is changing that. Coming from California’s Insomniac Games, the team behind Ratchet & Clank and Spyro, this third-person action title seems to be channelling the vibrant palette (and environment grinding) of Sega’s eternal Jet Set Radio in its eye-popping presentation, while poking no little fun at the more serious(ly conventional) shooters on the market. The premise: an energy drink has turned a whole lot of humanity into mutants. Which, given what’s in those things, seems just as plausible as a population-crushing fungal pandemic. Post-Titanfall, might this be the reason to pick up an Xbox One before the end of 2014?

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Bloodborne
(Released in 2015, exclusive to PS4)

So there’s this game called Dark Souls, and its sequel, and they’re pretty popular with a whole load of truly hardcore gamers. Me, I’ve never managed to get properly into them – despite owning both, and their spiritual precursor, Demon’s Souls, for bloody ages now. (Apologies. I blame Mario Kart, completely.) But, to the right person: amazing. And said games’ developer From Software’s next project is Bloodborne, until recently known under its excellent working title of Project Beast. Expect gameplay in the vein of Dark Souls – this is third-person action-adventuring in a fantasy setting probably with enemies so hard you can break your teeth on them from the other side of your sitting room. The player must guide their blades-wielding hero through the once-bustling (and now very abandoned) streets of Yharnam, overcoming the evils of some kind of curse. Or something. Anyway, it looks great, doesn’t it? Maybe keep the light on, mind.

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Alien: Isolation
(Released October 7th across multiple formats)

Anticipation for this new Alien-series title has been boiling for no little time now, but E3 gave the press another chance to dive into its world of sci-fi survival horror. Here, guns are in short supply and their noise a dangerous disadvantage when the player’s character, Amanda (daughter of Ellen) Ripley, is confronted with just a single, but very deadly, version of H.R. Giger’s nightmarish xenomorph. She must duck and cover, creep and hide, to reach her various goals without overly alerting the Alien to her position – for there is no second chance should it catch up with her. Atmospherically and environmentally, Isolation looks absolutely bang on, its periods of quiet exploration evocative of the original 1979 movie; and when the action kicks in, even on a trailer, the heart immediately skips to a frantic rate. If this is half as good as its potential, it’ll be another reason to invest in a next-gen console, if you’ve not already.

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Super Smash Bros. and a new Zelda title, for Wii U
(September/October 2014 and 2015 respectively, both for Wii U)

Nintendo’s Wii U console has received more than its fair share of criticism since its late 2012 launch. It’s underpowered compared to the PS4 and Xbox One. Its second-screen GamePad controller isn’t something that third-party developers want to play around with too much. The public doesn’t even realise it’s a new console, figuring it to be just another Wii in fancier plastic. Blah blah blah. But E3 2014 showed that the machine isn’t heading towards decommission any time soon. Classic-characters battler Super Smash Bros. was a known force going into the conference, and remains the console’s best shot at shifting more units this side of Christmas, appealing as it does to both old-school fans of the N64/Game Cube versions and newcomers alike. Like Mario Kart 8, it’ll surely be factored into a new-purchase bundle. But it’s the new (The Legend Of) Zelda title that’s really got tongues waggling. Really, look how gorgeous this thing is. Expect it out in 2015. I know I can’t wait.

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And then there’s…

Inside. This new title from Limbo developers Playdead seems to match their previous game’s amazing atmosphere, and looks to play in a comparable style. The setting’s very changed, though: this definitely looks near-future, perhaps post-apocalypse. Are those people zombies?

LittleBigPlanet 3. Sackboy’s brought some friends along to his/her debut on the PS4. Expect the charming visuals and gently perplexing puzzles you know, mixed with gameplay elements necessitating the use of these new characters.

Hyper Light Drifter. Everything I see of this indie-developed (by Heart Machine’s Alex Preston), retro-styled RPG, I like. A lot. Set to appear across multiple formats later this year, having benefitted from an amazingly successful Kickstarter campaign, this could well service those Zelda-series kicks until the Real Deal from Nintendo comes along.

Ori And The Blind Forest. This Metroidvania-mannered Xbox One exclusive stands out for its sumptuous 2D visuals and promises a seamless world full of secrets to uncover. If the pitch is to be believed, it’s going to really tug at the heartstrings, this one. The next Journey, suggests one YouTube commenter. Well, I know I blubbed at the end of that game, so…

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When he’s not covering music for Clash, the author writes about games for Edge and Vice – so go check out those articles, if you like.

Related: 7 Of The Best Video Game Soundtracks

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