Monday, April 1, 2013

PAX East 2013 Part 3 - Dive Kick, Elder Scrolls Online, and Heroes and Generals

Dive Kick

The game is called Dive Kick. It stars Dive and Kick. The only two buttons in the game are dive and kick. And it’s the most intense, satisfying, elegant fighting game I’ve ever played.


No, seriously.

On the surface, Dive Kick is a joke; Uncle Sensei is not only a character, he’s the mentor of Dive and Kick. But right below the surface is a very simple, but incredibly tense fighting game that will have you playing for hours. Here’s how it works.

20 second rounds, one hit kills. The dive button will jump, and pressing kick while in the air will send you on a diagonal path to the ground. Kicking the ground will jump you away from your opponent. Each character has a special which does seemingly minor things, but in a game of two buttons, they are quite powerful. And that’s really it, other than a few boosters. Here’s a quick video showing off how it’s played, though it should be noted this was the first build of the game and the upcoming release will look far better:

Now I know. I know. It looks like a joke. But it’s not. It, no sarcasm intended, is one of the best fighting games I’ve ever played. There are fighting game pros who figure out some strange priority combo that can reduce their opponent’s health by half if they land the first blow and send them into a combo for 10 seconds, not knowing exactly what’s happening. In Dive Kick, there’s never a time in which you’re not in control of your player, and you always know what your opponent can do. There’s no secret moves, no weird combos nobody knows about. If you lost, it’s your fault. There’s no mystery to winning or losing and it’s wonderful.
Dive Kick is the game I’m most excited about from PAX East.  It’s a chance to meet minds with someone on an even playing field where nothing is secret and all cards are on the table. This truly is the most well-balanced and intense fighting game experience I’ve ever had and it’s coming from a title that everyone thinks is a joke. The dichotomy of this game is just the best.

I got to interview Adam, the creator of Dive Kick, and he’s just as excited about this game as I am. Listen to the full interview here.

Release Date: Spring 2013 (so close!)
Platform: PS3, Vita, PC

Elder Scrolls Online

If you’re anything like me, the prospect of an online Elder Scrolls game both excites and worries you. Will it be more like Elder Scrolls? Will it be more like an MMO?

Well, it’s both, but unfortunately, it’s more MMO than anything. Don’t get me wrong, the environments are strictly Tamriel. From looking at any of the scenery, you can just tell it’s an Elder Scrolls game. The MMO part comes with most everything else. The number-key skills system, the third person over-the-shoulder camera, the “kill four boars” quests: all mostly MMO staples. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily. Tons of people love MMOs, and if you do, you’ll probably love this game. Even better if you’re a fan of both ES and MMOs – then you’re in heaven or wherever Talos is. The problem is when you’re expecting something like Skyrim but online. This game simply is not that and I don’t see that changing over the development cycle of this game. 

Some interesting things to note about this game are that you and your friends can be in the same area staring at the same city and depending on your choices in your game, the two can look completely different. Maybe you chose to let the city burn instead of save it. If that’s the case, you’ll see the town in shambles, whereas they’ll see the town as being fine. That means that no matter what level or what part of the game your friends are at, you can join up with them and that adds a level of accessibility needed in MMOs for playing easily with others.

So if you’re looking for a new Elder Scrolls game, but not a new MMO, you might want to skip this one. Though it’s still going to be interesting to check out and see how it evolves, I wouldn’t expect it to be replacing your Skyrim time anytime soon. But if you’re ready to see Tamriel through a completely different perspective in all its HD-rendered glory and you like MMOs, this game is going to be a godsend.

Release date: Mid to late 2013
Platforms: PC and MAC

Heroes and Generals

Free-to-play WWII FPS games up your alley? What about if you could also use strategy to influence a huge war taking place in real time across the world? Then Heroes and Generals is for you.

You start off by picking a side on the war, Axis or Allies, and then you’re presented with a map of the war. Each side is fighting for control over land and in order to win that land, control points within each sector must be taken by one team or another. To do this, players must send their resources to each town. If they are met with enemy opposition, combat breaks out and the FPS part of the game comes in to play. You can spawn in one of many companies depending on what resources have been sent to each battle. If no vehicles have been sent, you’ll be hoofing it. Or maybe using a bicycle. That was radical.

You can spawn as different classes with different weapons depending on what style you like. As you face off against the enemy for control, you have to gain control of control points. When the battle is done, the frontline of the battle is redrawn to give that territory to the victor.

And the maps are huge. The wars last not on the order of hours or even days, but weeks. As one group of players goes to sleep, another is just waking up and starting to push the frontline. It’s incredible to watch these things go.

The only bad thing about this game is that you have to unlock almost everything and if you want to unlock it sooner, you need to pay. It’s definitely a microtransaction game and that starts off with a bad taste in my mouth. Only time will tell whether it’s Pay-To Win, but at the moment it seems fairly balanced. Also, the FPS controls are a little weird and kind of stiff. Think Call of Duty 2 but prettier.

Overall not bad, definitely an interesting experience. And you can’t beat free!

Release date: No date yet, but it’s in open beta
Platforms: PC

And that’s PAX East 2013 in a bag. The titles from both indie developers and AAA publishers alike came together to wash over the gamer masses with a deluge of goosebumps and excited squees. Oddly, the games I’m most excited about are indie titles with Dive Kick and Transistor leading the pack. Though Watch_Dogs, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix, and Saints Row IV are all highly anticipated titles and high up on my priority list, it was the indie developers that really caught my eye. What’s that? You want a top 5 list of games I’m most excited about from this PAX East? Oh, you don’t? Too bad, here it is anyway:

  1. Transistor
  2. Dive Kick
  3. Watch_Dogs
  4. Rain-Slick 4
  5. Heroes and Generals
The future is looking pretty bright for gamers. Or dark but lit by the warm, familiar glow of a TV screen/monitor. Either really.
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