EB Expo 2015 – Hands On With Josh

Taking 5 with Halo 5

Three years since Halo 4 released, I arrived at the EB Games Expo keen to put an end to the wait for some new Halo goodness. A long line however extended the wait another hour and half, but boy was it all worth it.

A 20 minute preview however further delayed me getting my hands on Master Chief again. The preview though was interesting as it shed more light on the single player campaign and showcased the two unique multiplayer modes that make up Halo 5’s online mode.

In a Halo first, the Halo 5 campaign will be playable with 3 friends. Going between control of Master Chief and three squad mates as team Blue and the mysterious Spartan Locke and his companions as team Red, the campaign sees the two eventually square against one another in what appears to be a very even battle. Much remains a mystery, but from what I saw expect some awesome combat and a strong story that ties it all together.

But on to the all important multi-player. For more elite, intimate players there’s a 4v4 mode void of any perks that ensures a continuously level playing field with the sole focus on out gunning your opponent.

At the other end of the spectrum lies Warzone, a 12 on 12 mode with a sprawling map where victory can be achieved two ways. One, be the first team to reach 1000 points or have the most at the end of 15 minutes. Two, capture three of your opponents outposts which opens up a core, which if destroyed, earns your team automatic victory.

Warzone was the mode I found myself in when the presentation and my long, long wait for Halo 5 goodness came to an end. Put simply, it’s insane and it’s fun. Not only are you and your loyal accomplices up against 12 other players, but Halo has taken a leaf out of Titanfall’s book and introduced AI opponents to ramp up the kill counts and make every second of Warzone an intense, satisfying experience.

My quick but productive time in Warzone saw my team lose narrowly with the opposition getting to 1000 points before us. But points wasn’t our teams focus as we went for the oppositions core for a swifter victory. Having taken care of their outposts with ease we spent most of the game attempting to get close to their core to no avail. In fact it was this offensive stance that likely led to our loss. That said, having two ways to win makes for a very interesting gaming dynamic where you eye must be on more than objective.

A key feature of Warzone and new introduction to Halo multiplayer are Req Packs (Requisition Packs). Earned throughout your experiences in War Zone, Req Points can be cashed in at Req Terminals scattered across Warzone’s maps for you guessed it, Req Packs. These packs can have an aesthetic impact in terms of player customisation or a far more important influence in way of guns and vehicles. I utilised these throughout my play through, and they kept things even livelier as players cash in their points for higher powered guns, Ghosts and even titan like robots that wrecked havoc on the playing field. I’m sad to say that as I entered my titan, the game and my brief time with Halo 5 came to an end. That it is until October 28 of course.

Fallout 4: Taking Shelter at the EB Expo

There’s people everywhere. Madness is quickly taking hold. There’s cues of desperate gamers as far as the eye can see. I need refuge, and quick. Glancing around nervously I try to find some shelter from the storm of sweaty gamers. Where better I realise, than the Fallout 4 booth.

It’s been a long time coming. But the sneak peek we got at the EB Expo marks less than two months until the huge game that is and will be Fallout 4 is released. And rest assured, it will be huge.

Before I got to dive into the preview though, Bethesda took time to shine some light on another of their upcoming titles that has been swept under the rug in the aftermath of Fallout 4, I’m talking of course about Doom. The folks at id Software look like they’ve been busy recreating the utter bloody insanity of the franchise, and I’m excited to see what mayhem we find ourselves facing when it releases Autumn next year. That is of course if we’ve finished with Fallout 4 by then.

From the 30 minute preview given at the expo, there can be no denying the sheer size of Fallout 4. Not only is the open world humungous but the attention detail throughout is incredible. These two assets have made Fallout games the gems they are and look sure to make Fallout 4 just as attractive.

The preview we were shown also emphasised the value of everything you collect in the vast world on offer, a criticism of Fallout 3. No matter what it is, if you collect it, it can either be used or dismantled to help in your survival of post-apocalyptic America. As Bethesda has said, everything you come across has currency in game, making those hours of looting all the more worthwhile and alluring.

In terms of story, the preview showed us more of the America we’ll be experiencing before the nukes dropped with a real focus on highlighting what’s been taken away from survivors of the blast. For the first time in Fallout history, you’ll experience the game in a time before the landscape and those that survived were left devastated by nuclear attack. It’s also clear that it won’t be just you taking on the wastelands in Fallout 4 with your German shepherd companion again front and centre in what was shown.

Outside of the main story and quests, Fallout 4 also allows players to build, maintain and protect their own houses in the wastelands. Similar in many ways to Minecraft, players can create their own sanctuaries but must also protect and upgrade them if they are to survive the inevitable onslaught of scavengers. The type of houses that you can build are seemingly limitless with a few examples from developers showing the customisation available. This, as was suggested by the presenter, could very well be all the game some players need.

While it hasn’t quite been 200 years, the wait for Fallout 4 has been a long one. Thankfully for us, it appears time hasn’t turned the Fallout franchise into a wasteland but rather a much needed sanctuary. Fallout 4 releases November 10 this year.

Uncharted 4: Uncharted No More

From the 20 minute play through I watched at the EB Expo, it’s clear that Uncharted 4 has lost none of the cinematic flare and finely tuned gameplay that made the first three entries in the series the treasure troves they were to gamers around the world. Seamlessly blending cut scenes with actual gameplay, Uncharted has a knack of keeping you glued to the screen, something I certainly was with Uncharted 4, despite the lack of a controller.

Before I get into the finer detail of what I saw of Uncharted 4, I want to emphasise just how impressed I was by the games ability to keep my attention despite not actually getting to play. I’ve never been a passive gamer. Without a controller in my hands, I don’t see the point of watching a game. At the very least, I need the ability to click a button here or there. Uncharted 4 however has flipped that ethos on its head. When I say I was glued to the screen, I literally mean glued, I didn’t miss a single second of the play through I got to witness.

The scene that unfolded in front of me involved Nathan Drake and old man Sullivan evading a heavily armed truck as they try to track down Nathan’s brother Sam in the streets of East Africa. With Nathan driving for most of it, a seemingly smooth and easy driving mechanic was shown off. The guy playing it obviously had plenty of practice but even a few lapses of concentration kept the scene unfolding looking cinematically appealing while only adding to the excitement.

Visually, the game as you’d expect looks phenomenal. With a real subterranean feel and colour, the scene unfolded to slowly show off more and more of the beautifully crafted landscape. The inevitable explosions during the car chase carried serious weight and the fierce looking fire we gamers have become accustomed to. During the ride, Nathan and Sully exchanged their usual friendly banter that further added to the entertainment of the scene.

To say I enjoyed my time watching a game despite not actually playing it, is a huge commendation that Uncharted 4 earnt with relative ease. Now I just can’t wait to add a controller to the mix, unfortunately that won’t happen until March 18, 2016. Until then though I’ll have to settle for some more hands off game play, something I’m strangely content with.

Star Wars Battlefront: The Force is Strong with this One

It’s utter chaos. People left and right all running towards the one spot. A storm trooper here and a Chewbacca there. And that’s just the cue for Star Wars Battlefront. Quite similarly, my hands on experience with the game was a great mix of chaos and Star Wars nostalgia all mixed into one.

After a brief and rather painful tutorial on the multiplayer mode we were about to get our hands on, I found myself in snowy Alps surrounded by friends and foes approaching in the distance. My goal in this mode was to activate and protect select satellites from incoming enemies. A simple mission made a whole lot more difficult with a pair of ominous Walkers closing in.

Taking out these Walkers and defending our set points was a unique and challenging balancing act, one which we ultimately failed. With a large number of enemy forces crowding the battlefield, there wasn’t a second of my experience with Battlefront where I could relax. Whether it was bombarding a Walker that was getting too close for comfort, ducking in and out of dug outs as I gunned down encroaching troops or activating and defending set relays, there wasn’t a moment of quiet in Star Wars Battlefront and that’s awesome. My experience with Battlefront was exactly what you’d expect on a battlefront in the realm of Star Wars; non-stop, adrenaline pumping action.

Living up to its name, Battlefront had a nice variety of weaponry on show with a rifle that didn’t need reloading but that could overheat a welcome addition to an early arsenal of weapons. Not to mention the weaponry used had the nostalgic ‘phew’ Star Wars fans will drool over.

There was plenty of reward on offer throughout as well with kills earning enhanced weaponry like a rocket launcher that was perfect for inflicting maximum damage on those pesky Walkers. One particular feature of the game I enjoyed utilising was a blast jump of sorts that could be used every minute or so.  This jump propels you quickly across the battlefield, helping you spring a surprise attack or accidently land between enemies depending on how you use it.

Overall, there’s a lot to be excited about for Star Wars Battlefront and for now I’m happy knowing Star Wars Battlefront at least lives up to its name.

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