E3 2019: Day 1 Recap

One of the biggest surprises to come out of the Bethesda E3 conference this past weekend was the announcement of not one, but two games based on the Wolfenstein franchise. We had been anticipating the release of Wolfenstein Youngblood, which features BJ’s daughters on a quest to discover what has happened to their father, but also a VR game that has you piloting a mech to take on an assortment of Nazi baddies. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to play one right after the other at Bethesda’s booth.

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot seemingly came out of the blue. While the Wolfenstein universe has always dabbled a bit in both alternate history and science fiction, this takes that formula and ramps it up. The story goes something like this…As a hacker for the French resistance, your job is to take control of a Nazi mech and take the battle to their doorsteps. In truth, all you really need to know is that you control a mech and your job is to take out as many Nazi’s as you can before they take you out. At your disposal is a machine gun, rocket launchers, and even a panic button that you can hit to temporarily shield you from incoming fire.

The demo began with a short tutorial to familiarize yourself with the controls. Your right hand controls your machine gun and your left the missile launcher. The panic button, as described previously, is also on your left. It’s a big red button that you can slam your virtual hand down on that activates the temporary shield. As your mech takes damage, you have the ability to repair it, utilizing your right controller and placing it in a receptacle on your right side. Once the basics are down, you are let loose upon the world to rein destruction down on your enemies. Even in the rather short demo, a variety of enemies were introduced. Everything from your standard Nazi soldier, to menacing Nazi mechs were all here.

The VR experience overall was impressive. This is a title that really displays how effective VR can be when done correctly. The controls are simple and intuitive enough to pick up and feel instantly at home. As with other VR titles you have the option to control movement by “walking” or teleporting, walking is accomplished by pressing a button on the controller to move forward. Some folks may have trouble with the movement but honestly, I suffered no ill effects from walking around the battlefield. I was a bit surprised at how well a VR mech game can work and look forward to getting my hands on the full version when it’s released in July.

The “other” Wolfenstein title, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, is one that I’ve been anxiously awaiting. BJ is missing and it’s up to his two daughters Soph and Jess to fight their way into Nazi controlled territory and find out what has happened to him. Thankfully no one knows how to fight Nazi’s better than the Blazkowicz family, a skill that has apparently been passed down from father to daughters.

Youngblood’s two main protagonists come across brash and cocky, much like their father. The controls are fluid and responsive and the game (or at least what we saw of it) was beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. The enemies are able to soak up an incredible amount of damage and forces you to play the game as a team. While BJ might be a one-man killing machine, his daughters prefer to fight as a team, and that’s certainly all right with me. While the game will be playable solo (with an AI companion), this is a game that literally screams to be played with a friend.

The demo was enough to wet my appetite but had me longing for more time with the game. Thankfully we won’t have to wait long for a chance to play the game in its entirety. With a release date of July 26th, it won’t be long before you (and a friend) are hunting Nazi’s together.

Switching gears entirely I also had an opportunity to get some hands-on time with the latest iteration of the fantastic Pro Evolution Soccer franchise from Konami. PES2020 is back with a new name, this time trying to appease fans all over the world by rebranding itself as eFootball PES 2020. This way Soccer is still in the title so that American’s like myself don’t get confused, and the more globally appropriate name Football is also represented. This year’s edition promises a revamped version of Master League, and some graphical user interface changes as well. Gameplay is as smooth as ever and graphically it continues to blur the lines between video game and real life.

I thoroughly enjoyed PES 2019, so look forward to the opportunity to play through this when it releases in September. eFootball PES 2020 looks to set the new standard of both visual representation and fluid game play.