By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), Reporting from the 8th Circle of Hell that is Public Access E3
Parking lots around the convention center are closed. Street construction has created chaos every which way. And the unwashed masses have literally descended upon E3 like locusts, filing into endless lines that honestly have no chance of ever offering real gameplay access as either the games are likely to break down, or the equipment they are played on before any of them ever shuffle to the front. The Nintendo Switch booth smells like a mixture of ass and death. This is the 8th Circle of Hell, and I’m right in the middle of it squeaking out coverage on the few and far between online multiplayer PC titles relevant to you, our audience! At least the ones that will give us the time of day… because E3 2017 is war.
Kakao Games – Black Desert Online
As I’m closing out my career in gaming press at this show, I would be amiss to not see my ally from the olden days of Gamania relevance, and now big shot representative for Black Desert Online, Rick vanBeem. And while the bulk of our conversation was off the record chatter at a coffee shop far from the actual convention, what was said and the possibilities discussed had my eyebrows raised higher than the People’s Champion. I can say that the past may be made new again under Kakao Games, and there may be some huge surprises on the horizon… not all of them even related to Black Desert Online. Oh and, mandatory PR push… the Steam launch of Black Desert Online has the game as healthy, population-wise, as its initial launch. Just with far less bugs and far more content to keep you content. So yes, it’s a seriously great time for gamers to jump into Black Desert Online for the first time.
ZeniMax Studios – Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind and Beyond
Speaking of old acquaintances, in a convention hall filled with publishers not giving me the time of day, Bethesda gave me a huge chunk of one on one time with none other than Matt Firor, Game Director for Elder Scrolls Online. Unfortunately he is as tight lipped as ever. Even when I asked him about content listed on the teaser page for the upcoming DLC, Horns of the Reach, he told me he couldn’t spoil anything. I won’t lie, it was a bit infuriating… to the point that I even forgot to call him out on the upcoming new Arcane Academy Battleground known as Chaos Ball which, context clues would confirm, is going to be Quidditch in Elder Scrolls. Pretty damn cool concept, not that I would have gotten a word out of the iron vault that is Matt Firor!
Of course I still tried, and wanted to ask what kind of hellish nightmare was planned later in the year for the Clockwork City DLC in which Daedric forces will intermingle with Dwermer technology. Anyone that’s sunk their fair share of hours into Elder Scrolls IV or Skyrim should know what a horrific combination that is. But nope, he just laughed at me and kept tight lipped.
All I did get out of him was an answer to the request from our resident Elder Scrolls Online journalist, Jason (Ragachak) Parker had asked. Ragachak felt the pacing of the new Morrowind Chapter was a bit grindy, and he confirmed that if you are one of those hardcore hooligans that likes to grind hard instead of enjoying the pacing of the world, that the coming DLCs should cover you in making that grind a far more exciting/stressful experience. But as always, the content of the world of Elder Scrolls Online scales to you, so feel free to go anywhere else in the world to make your “grind” more enjoyable. Be sure to keep an eye out later this week to catch the full interview on MMOHut’s Youtube.
ARK Survival Evolved 1.0 Launch
After setting up last minute appointments across the convention floor like a madman, and filming illicit footage of Deep Silvers’ upcoming action platform shooter, Agents of Mayhem, before being chased off like unwanted paparazzi, it was time to evacuate the 8th Circle of Hell to breath the freshly polluted city air of Los Angeles. At a hidden off-site location, I met up with representatives from Saudi Gamer and Massively OP to get an exclusive hour meet-up with Wildcard Studios to discuss the actual launch of ARK: Survival Evolved.
It was a whirlwind discussion that touched on so many aspects of the game development, fan expectations, launch expectations, incoming content, and so much more. If you’re a hardcore fan I highly advice you subscribe to MMOHuts’ Youtube and watch the fully recorded thirty minute session in its entirety. It’s an uncannily candid look inside the dev team, courtesy of the charismatic Cedric Burkes, Community Manager + Technical Liaison for ARK.
At one point I spitballed some ideas such as seasonal Extinction PvP servers where clans would be scored on performance and rewarded goodies at the end to offer a feel akin to their scrapped game mode, ARK: SotF. This idea was highly accepted and even written down, but the second idea is what really lit Cedric’s eyes up. I suggested cooperative PvE official servers in which the server as a whole has a time limit to reach set milestones, with dire penalties/punishments should they fail. The other variant would be competing PvE servers that start at the same time and must race each other to reaching said milestones. Cedric made it clear that the public PvE server incentive was low, yet the playerbase was hotly demanding more interesting PvE content and challenges to work together to tackle. Once launch is behind them, they will be pushing many experiments to try to find new and exciting ways to invigorate the PvE experience on official servers.
Also, I have to say, the Ragnarok Ark is a breathtaking experience. All the while we shot Q&A with Cedric, we were offered a flyby (on godmode griffon of course) of the new Ragnarok map released this week, the first mod initiative Wildcard Studio funded full map to release from their new exciting program. If you wanted an ARK experience that felt set in a realistic and believable real world map, except filled with crazy dinosaurs, griffons, and truly epic mountainous caves and breathtaking vistas to explore, Ragnarok is going to blow your mind. Plus… you don’t even have to punch trees for starting thatch/wood. It’s some real madness. I imagine some epic PvP scenarios playing out on the tight drawbridge and narrow mountain passes Ragnarok has to offer.
The downside of the event though is that… Ragnarok was often lagging on the demo PC when they flew into brush heavy or high draw distance locals. We can all hope that the long awaited localization is coming in time for launch, at least on the core Ark experience. Cedric certainly confirmed its in the works, but for now it’s still a leap of faith.
Oh I should mention, that for the loyal fans who have bought into early access for some time now, and are no doubt worried that after launch ARK will nickel and dime you to death with DLC content… it sounds like early access peeps will be getting a discount on a season pass system to get them ready for all said nickel and dime DLC to come. Details pending and surely will be released soon.
There was one final meeting with a rising star in game development and publishing from Hong Kong, known as Oasis Games. Turns out there is far more to them than publishing free to play browser games like Naruto Online. MUCH MORE. But you’ll need to see the footage we’ve shot to believe it. So come back tomorrow for the crazy VR experience reveal along with much more coverage from the E3 2017 convention floor!