Sea of Thieves is a multiplayer open world game where you gather players to create a crew and go on adventures. This game has been on the gaming radar for two years and has a projected release of early 2018. Microsoft revealed new gameplay details during a lengthy video demo during their E3 2017 press event.
System: Xbox One, Windows 10
Release Date: Early 2018
The beginning of the video explains the world and hints at some of the adventures to be has over the sea, on land, or even underground. The most interesting feature that Rare showed off during the demo was the map system. Players have to use thematically appropriate treasure maps to find their adventures.
The gameplay shown in the demo shows a wide range of what one might encounter in the game. One of the first things that was shown were the skeleton enemies that can rise out of the ground to attack. These creatures explode when they are shot by your pistol. The demo showed a quest where players need to retrieve a chest and bring it back to their ship. The person holding the chest can’t fight without putting the chest down. This makes teamwork mandatory. Players need to protect their friends’ backs.
Combat isn’t all skeletons though. You can also fight other players in naval battles! This looks like one of the primary sources of player vs player action. We don’t know exactly how it will work yet, but it sure looks exciting!
ESRB Rating Concerns
Its worth noting that we don’t know how the game will be rated by the ESRB yet. There was a small spray of blood when pirates were injured. It was no worse that the battles with the characters in Horizon Zero Dawn though. Sea of Thieves is worth monitoring for more information as the release approaches. The fact that the game is an open world multiplayer almost automatically disqualifies it for young gamers. This may be one for older children (tweens and teens) with support from a parent to monitor the content other players may present. It is even possible that an M rating will be assigned (although it looks like that is unlikely based on what we’ve seen). We’ll obviously be providing more information as the game gets closer to release.
Starlink: Battle for Atlus is a Sci-fi Flight Sim/Shooter that takes place in a fictional galaxy in the distant future. Starlink’s main feature is that the game comes with a dock for each controller style (for each platform).
Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Platform: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Release Date: Fall 2018
Players use the dock to build spaceships using Toys to Life spaceship components. Changing the parts of the spaceship on the dock changes the parts of the spaceship in the game, in real time. The game features play areas that take place on the surface of fantastical planets as well as outer space. This allows for full three dimensional flight.
The forces of the villainous “Legion” are built to require adaptive strategies on the part of the player. They will need to change parts on the fly during game play.
Ubisoft has avoided painting itself into a Toys to Life corner though. Starlink will feature digital representations of all of the physical parts that can be swapped out. Ubisoft hinted in its press conference that these digital parts can be purchased separately and/or instead of physical products. This is a great way to keep the game going even if the toy sales don’t take off.
Why is this awesome?
This game is essentially a grown up version of the “Toys to Life” model of gaming made popular by the Skylanders, Disney Infinity, and Lego Dimensions games. Starlink: Battle for Atlus appears to be hand tailored to an audience who grew up with the Toys to Life model of games and are now young adults who would be interested in more complex gameplay and story content.
Clearly, Starlink also leans heavily on the nostalgia of the science fiction boom of the 80’s and 90’s. This gives adults access to a game style that was previously marketed to children. This game represents the logical next step in a gaming genre that has been around for the several years and is looking to grow up with its target audience.
System: Xbone, PC
Release Date: TBA
We first saw Riverbond during the Microsoft press conference and honestly did not give it much of a thought as it appeared at first glance to be just another attempt at an overly simple voxel game. Our impression did not change much either when we randomly stumbled onto the single demo screen that it took up in the entire Microsoft exhibition area. That all changed though as soon as we picked up the controllers and started playing. I am not sure what exactly changed but within just minute or two of play the three of us were laughing and yelling enough to make the developer with us concerned for our sanity.
This is four player drop in/drop out cooperative game that is a cross between Gauntlet and Minecraft with very simple controls that consisted of attack, ranged attack, special attack, pick up/throw, block and jump. The game appears to be light-hearted adventure through various maps with both indoor dungeons and outdoor environments. You and you friends slash your way through more than 100 levels, interacting and destroying everything in your path. In our case this included, trees, grass, stone pillars, chickens, ghost spiders, bookcases and the occasional giant flaming pillar. Weapon upgrades are obtained throughout the game and we were told that eventually there will be up to 50 weapons.
The combat was easy to pick up and learn while at the same time being complex enough that I think that veteran gamers will be able to stay engaged and happy for quite a long time. I think it was the simplicity of the combat as a whole that is what made this game so great. There was no need to get used to the controls, we just picked up and played and were able to focus on the game without getting lost in the mechanics of this. This is why I chose this game as my “Game Of The Show” for E3 2017. It hit all the marks for me. Family friendly, easily accessible and endlessly playable in any environment.
One additional note on this, the developer indicated when asked what platform this would be available indicated that this would only be on Xbox and when pressed on the possibility of other consoles in the future he replied no comment. Myself and the EFG staff look forward to seeing more of this game as it becomes available to the public.
Release Date: Graphics Pack Fall 2017, Better Together Update Summer 2017
Platform: Xbox, Xbox X, Switch, Mobile (iOs and Android), Windows 10, and VR
Minecraft had two big announcements in their video revealed for E3. First, they are putting out a “Better Together” update. This was revealed in the first portion of their trailer which opens with one of the Minecraft landscapes with the words “Coming this Summer” in pixelated letters. The camera zooms forward and the next landscape has the words “Community Marketplace”. What Minecraft is revealing with this trailer is that this summer Minecraft will be available for Crossplay as the game is being unified. Now gamers can play across several consoles and platforms. These include; Xbox, Xbox X, Switch, Mobile (iOs and Android), Windows 10, and VR. Unfortunately, it appears the PlayStation 4 is not a console that will be included in the crossplay program.
The second announcement is revealed in the trailer as the camera zooms into a tunnel and the screen goes dark. A moment later the camera emerges in the Minecraft world, with a vastly different look. Coming this fall there will be DLC called the Minecraft Super Duper Graphics Pack which will be available on Xbox One, and Windows 10. This DLC brings Minecraft into 4k, and while the pixelated aesthetic of Minecraft remain, the visual elements of the game are significantly upgraded. The way they are incorporating the quintessential Minecraft look while integrating 4K is accomplished with lighting and shadowing. The sky alone in the first look at the Super Duper Graphics Pack demonstrates the change. Sunlight is streaming through a light fog over the ground while clouds above maintain their pixelated shape. The trees below still look pixelated, but they are much smaller squares and have a more refined look. As the camera and the characters move there is a significant amount of shadowing that go along also giving the game a vastly different and richer look. With the level of detail, to get the most out of the Minecraft Super Duper Graphics Pack, you would need to have an Xbox One or a higher quality computer that is equipped for this level of graphics. For those gamers who are ready to change up the Minecraft aesthetic, and have the 4K level computer or Xbox One, this is the perfect DLC.
Forza Motorsport 7 was officially announced during the Microsoft press briefing. The Motorsports series alternates with the Forza Horizon games so this wasn’t much of a surprise. It was great to see the game looking fantastic running in 4K resolution thanks to the newly announced Xbox One X.
Forza Motorsport 7 is the most recent iteration in a long time of realistic driving and racing simulators for the Xbox franchise. Forza 7 draws the actual tracks and race cars from around the world and renders them with near photorealistic realism. While this series is often held as an example of the Xbox’s high graphic power throughout the ages, the series is considered one of the best realistic racing games ever, and holds that title with sequel after successful sequel.
Why is this Awesome?
This is the just about the closest a family gamer is going to get to a realistic racing experience outside of setting foot inside a race car. If that is an experience that you or your younger family gamers enjoy, then this will let you sink deep into the experience. Previous Forza titles have let you do deep under the hood and allow for extensive customization, and I expect Forza 7 to be no different.
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Cuphead was announced at a Microsoft press conference a few years ago to great fanfare. Unfortunately it has been plagued by delays and still hasn’t been released. Fortunately, the developer has finally revealed the release date on Xbox One and PC to be September 29th.
Cuphead is an action game with animation mimicking the art style of animated movies from the early 1930’s, except rendered in real time using modern technology. This two player cooperative game features the titular Cuphead and best pal Mugman fighting through thirty excruciatingly hard boss battles with shooter controls similar to classic Nintendo games. Every piece of artwork in this game feels like it has been peeled from the movie theater, with intentional blurryness and color issues as if the game was being played by a movie projector that keeps drifting in and out of focus.
Why is this awesome?
Cuphead is a game that is meant to be a spectacle, an ultra hard shoot ’em up that can be watched by others. With the violence muted to very low levels by the animation, this game is a clear example of a game where parents can play and kids can watch. It also serves the market of young gamers who have grown up around simpler action titles and want more difficulty, but without explicit gore.
Super Lucky’s Tale, a former Oculus exclusive is coming to Xbox One and Windows 10 November 7, 2017. The trailer for E3 kicks off with a super cute fox bounding around the screen with butterflies and also digging tunnels to travel. Then a giant flower enters and chomps it jaws. Before it can do much else the fox swipes it off screen with his tail. A giant book emerges next and the fox invites you to enter the world through the book.The major news point presented for this game is that it is Xbox One enhanced and can be played in 4K Ultra HD. Additionally, it is coming to store on Windows 10 and Xbox One, and it is an Xbox Play Anywhere title. This means buying it on one system permits accessed on the other.
This platformer is aesthetically reminiscent of Skylanders with the whimsical setting and and the cartoon style bad guys. The world appeared to include a series of floating island that containing bridges and multiple level to jump up to and explore. Additionally, there were interior areas show with a range of different visual. Some of these included gears and a more mechanical look, a setting that included what looks like cut watermelon halves, as well as night time scenes.
This looks like a very friendly game visually for younger gamers. In the gameplay shown there were a wide range of NPC characters which included; a tear shaped flame monster, and garlic creature exhausting odor, a giant stone creature with mechanical elements, ghost looking creatures, jack o’lantern pumpkin heads with skeleton bodies, and stone creatures with their pieces bouncing independently as they moved. None of the creatures appeared overly scary or intimidating.
The trailer concludes with the fox back outside the large book from the opening with a variety of characters show in the game play of the trailer. The ground then shakes and the camera shoots up into the cloud where the most ominous looking creature see so far is presented. Presumable this is the major antagonist of the game. The trailer ends with the fox swiping his tail in the direction of this new character and covering the screen with his tail.
This adorable game looks perfect for families, and has the potential to be a great addition to a family’s game collection when released November 7th.
Electronic Arts held their EA Play event as part of the E3 2017 festivities on June 10, 2017. They made a lot of great announcements over the course of the event. But, none of them got me as excited as the addition of a story mode to Madden 2018.
Last year, EA Sports added a single player Story mode to FIFA 2017 called The Journey where players took on the role of Alex Hunter as he progresses through his career. This was fascinating and I enjoyed it, but I don’t really have much of a connection with soccer.
Longshot appears to be the answer to my Madden prayers. That is the title of the single player story mode of Madden 2018. The details are slim (we only have a short trailer to go by), but it looks like players will take on the role of a Texas high school football player as he progresses through his career in college and into the NFL. This is a story that we have seen play out in its various parts in various movies and television shows in the last few decades, but it is rare to see a story take a player from their humble beginnings all the way to the pros.
Personally, this looks like a great opportunity to attract players to the Madden franchise. They already have a diehard crew that will buy the game every year no matter what. But, most of those players are dedicated to the multiplayer game. This, if it is built similarly to The Journey, will turn Madden into an RPG that will have installments every year! That’s my kind of party!
Madden 18 will release for on August 25th for PS4 and Xbox One.
What do you think? Are you and your family any more likely to play a Madden game this year because it has a single player story mode? Sound off in the comments and let us know!
This is only the beginning of a whole week of E3 2017 coverage. Make sure to keep your eye on Engaged Family Gaming all week for all of the family gaming news and our discoveries on the E3 show floor!
Need for Speed is a franchise that has had to made some significant changes. The racing game genre is crowded with giants like Gran Turismo, Project Cars, The Crew, and two different Forza titles. That means that EA couldn’t just release a new iteration of the game and have it limp out from the starting line and give it any real chance of success.
Need for Speed: Payback looks like it just might be the evolution that the franchise needs. The biggest change is a new focus on story. The game’s story revolves around a group of street racers who are doing high speed heists to steal cars (and likely other things) from a criminal organization called “The House.”
If that sounds like the plot for a Fast and Furious movie to you, then you aren’t alone. Payback is a game that is heavily influenced by that genre and it shows in everything from the presentation to the game play. One of the highlights that keeps the focus on the action is a slow motion crash cam that zooms in and slows down the video on the games biggest crashes. Its a cool touch that almost gives the game a car combat feel. The game is clearly designed to be more accessible to inexperienced racers than more simulation based games like Forza.
The One Thing Parents Need to Know
Need for Speed: Payback is not a typical racing game. This is an action game that happens to take place in cars. The newest trailer does show some foul language and the characters are committing violent crimes in their cars. We’ll find out more as the game gets closer to release and is rated by the ESRB, but I would have my concerns about having my kids play the game at this stage.
What do you think? Will you and your family be playing this one later this year? Sound off in the comments!