We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

E3 2015 Day 3 live blog: live blog with a vengeance

E3 live blog day 2

It’s Wednesday, and here we are on day 3 of E3 2015. The big press conferences are over, so now it’s time for us to start exploring the show floor and bringing you insight on what we see and play. 

We’ll be throwing out the usual barrage of news stories and trailers on the homepage, but this is where you’ll find our inner-most thoughts on what’s going on in Los Angeles. And, depending on how hot and stuffy the convention centre gets, we may even start detailing our hallucinations, too. 

23:20 – Tim:The new Hitman is confusing. That’s no comment on its quality, just the way it’s being sold. Essentially, it’s an episodic game: you pay upfront for a bunch of Hitman levels and story that will dripfeed out over the course of a year. There’s no extra to pay – you just have to wait for the whole game to be released. And don’t think of it as early access: each level is released in a complete state.

As the year progresses those levels will be updated with new targets and tasks: time-limited assassinations that give you a reason to go back in and play.

The level on display today is beautiful: an intricate ticking murder clock set on a Parisian palace, right in the centre of the Seinne. Your target is attending a fashion show – the most comically lethal fashion show in history. It is dense with danger: from chandeliers and hanging speakers to a poisons and falls.

It feels like making these levels is truly hard: and the team wants to get them out as soon as they can. Doing it this way means that, rather than waiting for the entire game to be done, they can take a more proactive approach. It’s novel. But I guess the Internet will be consistently asking one question: “how are the devs screwing us.”

22:50 – Tim:Crytek announced a new VR game at E3. At the show they’re showing a tech demo: Return to Dinosaur Island. It’s a theme piece cum tech demo in which you climb a cliff-face while territorial pterodactyl’s buzz you, and knock bits of rock and moss free to try and knock you from your perch. All that’s required from the player is to hold on tight to the triggers on a joypad while you’re dragged up via a series of winches, but it’s effective – you get a real sense of vertigo.

One interesting wrinkle – the team behind it went through 20 odd iterations of what happens when players fall. The first attempts were causing extreme motion sickness. VR: it’s mostly about avoiding vomit.

20:30 – Tim:An accident of scheduling (I got bumped to make way for Aisha Tyler, damn her) gave me the opportunity to see The Division demo twice.

It controls and plays like a traditional cover-shooter. And it’s impressive, up to a point. I don’t think the tech matches the ambition of the first trailers – but that might be because it’s being shown on Xbox. But the bigger worry I have is scale.

In all MMO games, once you reach the top level, you tend to drift towards dungeons and raids. That’s as true of WoW as it is of Destiny. Once you’ve rinsed the open world, you want to play something harder, more demanding.

The open world pvp mode that they’re showing is interesting, but what I think the game really needs is very hard dungeon style instances – that can test your abilities, skills, and end with loot. Until then, I’m withholding judgement.

19:21 – Tim:Just checked in with the Starcraft II team to talk about Legacy of the Void. They’re in an interesting place – lots of changes to the engine over the last few years that they like to publicly test. That’s part of the reasoning behind the mini-expansion they’re promoting here: it’s part tech beta, part demo and part story teaser.

It’s focused on Zeratul – who investigates a Protoss distress signal. It leads him to the Tal’darim Protoss and to the final pieces of the prophecy of the end of the Galaxy.

I’ve also got a long chat about the philosophy of balance between an RTS like SC2 and the more dynamic meta game of something like a MOBA. Will post about it next week.

18:30 – Tim:

17:15 – Fraser:I am now almost fully recovered from the harrowlingly long PC Gaming Show, so it’s time to kick things up a notch with some EVE Valkyrie B-roll.

16:25 – Tim:For Honor is Ubisoft’s new castle fighting brawler thing. It’s a strange beast. Like competitive Dynasty Warriors, where two teams of four fight for control of a castle while wave after wave of minions charge through the gates to meet an inevitable death. It’s small and slight and the low player count exaggerate any tactical mistakes. And the controls are hard to wrangle in a limited show demo – there are a bunch of combinations required to break through player’s shields that take more learning than there really is time for. I’d hold back on judging the game until a longer demo.

16:20 – Tim:Assassin’s Creed: Syndicateis in a really interesting place. It’s clear that Ubi are pretty cut up about the reaction to Unity, and they’ve altered how they’re making the game. It’s playable early. In the past, E3 demos were always hands-off, but they’ve made a particular effort to get the game ready to touch. And Syndicate has to stable: the design is more technically demanding than Unity. With grappling hooks and high-speed chases on horseback carriage, they can’t allow the frame rate to dip under 30. Screen tearing will kill the game. And if you’re moving at high-speed, they’re going to have to up the draw distance.

These tools will make the game considerably more fun. You will feel powerful. But they will expose any flaws in the engine.

I’m not sure they’re hitting a solid 30 FPS yet, but there’s time. And I put this exact point to the game’s lead designer, and the look on his face said everything: they know. They’ll get there. But it’s going to take a herculean effort.

What I did like, though, was the swashbuckling arrogance of the game’s lead character: Jacob Frye. Assassin’s Creed leads split in two ways: mopey sad-faces like Arno and Connor, or boys who look like they’re having a whale of a time, like Ezio, Edward and Altair. Jacob is definitely the latter. He’s loving running a gang, owning a proper grappling hook, dancing around on horse-drawn carriages. He looks, sounds and feels enthusiastic, and it’s infectious.

16:15 – Tim: One of the nightmares of being a Brit at E3 is ‘the data problem’. As in: you’re dashing about E3 desperate to get something back to your friends and colleagues at the show, but can’t because your GODDAMN phone and the wifi doesn’t work. All you can do is exchange hurried SMS messages to your team and hope they’re okay.

So after yesterday’s heroic newsing by the team: now I’m back in a wifi bubble, I can tell you THINGS about the show.

The first is: this is the smallest E3 that I can remember. The halls have considerably fewer stands, and a few publishers have opted to skip the show floor entirely. Sega, for instance, usually have a big stand. This year, they just have a private meeting room showing Total War. It means the show just suddenly stops: you wander out of one booth and you’re confronted with a desert of empty hall space.

The second: it is compressed. EA’s booth is entering cattle-prod territory – near impossible to actually see games in. Microsoft’s and Sony’s booth are exactly the same. However: there was plenty of space and time to see Square’s and Ubisoft’s games. So I did.

You can read what I thought about Just Cause and Deus Ex in yesterday’s liveblog. Now: on Ubi.