Bloody hell, what did I just see? The Microsoft HoloLens was one of those things that I hadn’t even heard of until I saw it demonstrated, at which point I had to pick up my jaw where it was dragging against the ground. Sorry, when did we get interactive 3D holograms? I kinda feel like I should have been informed earlier, that’s some Iron Man tech if I’ve ever seen it.

The HoloLens looks good, that’s the long and short of it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an extravagance, and I’d rally against it being pushed into games in which it didn’t fit, but there’s a lot that would work with this new device. Pretty much anything in which you take a top-down view would fit nicely, though I’m baffled by the choice of Minecraft as an example. I can think of much better games that would suit it, like XCOM and Civilisation, or maybe even something like Hotline Miami. Who wouldn’t want to see a tiny digital psychopath, charging around with a katana in full hologram mode? Or peer down on a simulated battlefield like some disinterested general, pushing little soldiers towards the enemy with the tip of your finger?


Foolish mortals! Your tiny, cuboid world is nothing compared to the might of Giant Glasses-Wearing Man!

The HoloLens looks best suited to tactical gameplay, and I hope it gets the attention it needs. It’s the best kind of gimmick, that which adds to the experience of gameplay rather than distracting from it. That said, I expect the technology will probably cost too much in the foreseeable future. Maybe get it when it’s going cheaper in 2020, but show your support for it now, otherwise we’ll be seeing more sputum like the Wii U controller.


Oh EA, why? No, that’s not me reciting random letters from the alphabet, it’s what I said when I was watching the fifteen minute Battlefront gameplay trailer.

It started off so well. I was really getting excited, because it was the sort of thing I wanted to see from E3, that I wanted to see from every presentation. Pure examples of core gameplay that’s mostly unedited and untampered with, why is that so much to ask? And I was as surprised as everybody else seeing EA resorting to such an honest advertising method, it would be like the government in 1984 suddenly spinning on their heels and turning into liberal hippies.

But the video seemed like a good thing, and the gameplay itself looked pretty nifty, especially bringing down the big AT-AT with a satisfying crash and hearing all the rebels wooping, like boozed-up frat boys crashing their friend’s car. There’s also interesting elements such as air strikes, which should add to the chaos a fair bit, and the playable heroes look pretty badass – basically, I was getting invested.


God, this is easy. I just can’t that horoscope prediction out of my mind, though… “You should beware of starships with wire guns.” What on earth could it mean by that?

But then, right at the end, they went and spoiled everything. In what was probably the most scripted bit of gameplay ever to emerge from E3, a single rebel hears the hum of a lightsaber activating behind him, and turns to see Darth Vader and several bodyguards looming over the poor squaddie dramatically.

And right then all my enthusiasm for the game trickled out of my trouser leg and started to make the room smell. EA had decisively shown that they were happy to show a gameplay trailer, but had thrown the whole thing into suspicion. How do I know that anything I saw was really valid, that it wasn’t the eighth take on an attempt to get that perfect shot? I don’t, quite frankly. And for that, they get a big thumbs down.


Oh, god, it looks like the angry brigade is back. Should I take my steroids now, or just wait until my soul patch has grown in and my douchebag bandanna has arrived in the post?

There’s always been something terribly cringeworthy about the Gears Of War franchise, the kind of thing that makes me want to roll my eyes and throw the disk away. I think it’s the way it seems to have so little self-awareness, the way it really believes it’s cool. And yet watching Marcus Fenix and chunky squad growl their way through the previous games was only boring and slightly irritating, because everybody on that team seemed to be utterly one dimensional.

Think about it. Fenix was basically angry 24-7, to the extent where he probably had to shout abuse at his cereal before he could eat it. Cole’s character was “Eighties action hero” and anything else got lost in the planning stage. Even Dom was no more than “Misses his wife quite a lot.” Yeah, OK, whatever. Why do we care about her, though? I guess the thirteen year old writing this shlock must have neglected to ask that question. There’s a reason that Bulletstorm felt the need to make fun out of this sort of thing, and it was right to do so.


He might look cool, but whenever they get back to base he just won’t shut up about his Magic: The Gathering cards.

And then there’s the visual design, stuck halfway between the worst parts of Warhammer 40k and Halo, with a bit of grungy Half-Life thrown in for good measure. Everything is so overdone to the point where it looks silly. You can’t wear normal kevlar and helmets, even simplistic power armour like Masterchief. No, you have to fit inside a big, bulky flak jacket with glowing lights dotted all over it, that covers your chest and nothing else. You get given guns that are stupidly big and look more like farming equipment than firearms, and to top it all off we add the worst elements of fashion from a biker gang and set these wankers lose to fight the alien menace.

I can almost hear the protests of a confused recruit. “But sir, what if I get shot in the arm, where there’s no protection? What am I supposed to do then?”

At which point his sergeant stops doing weight-lifting and wearing tank tops, and other manly things, and spits his cigar out with rage. “What? You mean to say you haven’t built up enough muscle to render yourself bulletproof?! Get straight back in the gym, young man! Also, you’re going to be a main character, so put that helmet down! We’re getting you a headscarf and an over-designed weapon. And I’d better see a chinstrap beard by the time I get back!”

It seems that Gears 4 has taken all of these complaints and ran with them, at least in the gameplay trailer. Yes, that elaborate cutscene was a gameplay trailer. We have them bumbling around for several minutes, trying to fit through doorways and making snarky jibes about pondwater (no, really), before we see a lightning tornado and a monster, at which point it just sort of ends.

Well, at least it was quick. Thank god for smell mercies, eh?


Well, well, well. Of all the things to pop back up out of the woodwork, who expected Doom? Nobody born after 1995, that’s for certain. I was surprised that anybody remembers what Doom is this far forward.

But yes, the new Doom game was revealed at E3, and it’s got all the subtlety and temperance of a suicide bombing, though I don’t think it’s without its charms, in a weird, homicidal way. It seems to have shrugged off the sludge of modern shooters pretty well, avoiding aspects like cover and regenerating health, whilst focusing more on psychotic murder sprees and beating a monster to death with its own leg.

I have to admit that I started grinning when the double-barrelled shotgun made a sound like a sledgehammer coming down on a bob-bomb, and all that was left of the victim was a couple of surprised legs that slumped to the floor a moment later. I’m even willing to ignore the fact that this was stolen from Bulletstorm, so happy was I to see something that was just so… Gleeful? Is that the right word? I hope it isn’t, but I suspect that it is.

You can’t help but be slightly stunned by how much Doom clearly delights in wretched amounts of gore. Gunshots leave visceral splatters, melee takedowns involve terrifying feats of brutality, and one puzzle is solved by watching a monster kill someone before finding the victim’s corpse, so that you can rip his arm off and slap it on a palm scanner. How about next time we just go with a keycard, yeah?

Doom hands

Look, will you hold still? I’m just trying to get the sand out of your eye!

I will say that I hope that Doom doesn’t try to do horror at any point. The gameplay made it clear that the Marine is the most powerful thing since Superman on steroids, so any attempt to threaten him is going to seem silly when he’s just ripped out a demon’s intestines and garrotted it with them. You can’t say it’s not tonally consistent for there to be horror, but I’ll be honest – it would surprise me if any demon had a kill-count anywhere near that of the protagonist’s by the end of this game. Perhaps I’m getting the wrong impression, maybe this is the set-up for an Alien: Isolation style game in which you play a frightened Revenant, trying to avoid the evil, unstoppable Space Soldier who will think nothing of murdering you in the most awful way possible. Huh. Now I kinda want to play that too.

I do wonder if it’s in Bethesda’s interests to resurrect Doom from the grave this late. The old Doom titles have a great lineage and demand respect, and nothing pisses off a fanbase more than a company bastardising the memory of an old franchise so they can make some cash from name recognition. Thief, Syndicate, Prince Of Persia, XCOM, and the embarrassing mess that was Duke Nukem Forever, they’re all examples of this. The only way to get away with that is to make the best game you can, and I’ll be damned it if doesn’t look like they’ve done that.

Let me add that I much preferred the Doom presentation to the Fallout 4 one. That’s what I wanted to see, Bethesda, ten minutes of uninterrupted and varied core gameplay giving a good indication of what we’re going to be experiencing, not dialogue trees and the most boring combat scenes in the game. If village maintenance reared its ugly head in Doom, it would get a fist pushed so far into its face that it would be able to smell its own brain. And speaking of utter absurdity through violence, let’s look at the game properly.

Doom scanner

The most intellectually sophisticated thing in the gameplay trailer was centered around ripping off a man’s arm. I’m strangely OK with that.

As mentioned earlier, the guns look nice and cathartic, with two exceptions – the plasma rifle and the chainsaw. The former is easier to explain, it just looks boring, making generic pew-pew noises with no sense of weight or impact to it. But the chainsaw seems odd, almost a bit pointless. The game already established that we can kill an enemy if we’re close enough, and not only that, we can do it quicker than the chainsaw, which takes longer and runs the risk of breaking flow. Though that isn’t going to stop me from using it often – I mean, it’s a chainsaw for killing demons. Even if I had to break my fingers every time, I’d still do it, because IT’S A FUCKING CHAINSAW FOR KILLING DEMONS.

I’m also very much in favour of how the game keeps a fast pace by having enemies drop health. Good action games like Saint’s Row 4 have remembered this, it’s a fantastic way of rewarding reflexes and going on the offensive, and of course Doom is nothing if not offensive. I like how you move really fast, I like that there were no directional icons when the puzzle bit came up, I like how you can hold more than two weapons, and I’m definitely going to find a place in my stony heart for the Heavy Assault Rifle, a gun that wouldn’t look out of place on top of an aircraft carrier and was so powerful looking I’m pretty sure you could bring down a planet with a couple of clips worth of ammo.

So at the end of the day, I guess Doom looks pretty good. I’ll be interested to see what kind of story there is – “Hell invades Mars” is all very well for the nineties, but I’d like to see a bit more thought put into it this time, just to contextualise it nicely. But if that hits the mark, then I’ll definitely be on board. Here’s hoping that E3 was actually honest today – because if not, then I’m going to be very disappointed.


Right, it’s eleven in the morning, a couple of days before I normally get up, but today I’ve made an exception, to bring you the cutting edge in gaming news. I hope you all appreciate the sacrifices I make for you lot.

Actually, I was watching the last episode of Game Of Thrones season 5, but because of that I had something to watch whilst it was loading. Killing two birds with one stone, or perhaps that should be shooting two of them down with one burst from a plasma rifle – yes, it’s Fallout 4 again! It debuted at E3 last night, and after watching the presentation I feel very strongly about it, but only about the fact that I would like to see some actual gameplay to feel strongly about.

I started to get suspicious when they cut away from the entrance to the vault and the detonation of the bomb, having only gone through character creation and a couple of dialogue trees in the video so far. Hold on, I thought, I was just getting into that. Why have you pulled away from the game literally as it was getting good?


Welcome back, Robo-jeeves. Can I swap you out for the dog that’s following me? You seem like a better conversationalist.

“We don’t want to spoil anything,” explained the presenter, and then went about spoiling the fact that everybody else in the vault died and you’ve been asleep for two centuries for some reason. Sounds engaging, I thought. Could I possibly get to see that? This is basically the stuff you’d put on the back of the DVD after all, and I’d quite like to see something that wasn’t completely scripted. If you’re going to warble on about player freedom, then you could show it to us.

Either my wishes fell on deaf ears or somebody behind the scenes had lost the video file they were looking for, because the next ten minutes were Bethesda talking about the collector’s edition of the game and some free-to-play app that I couldn’t have been less interested in. Fast-forward, fast-forward.

Ah, we’re back. Oh shit, it’s crafting.

Alright, some of it looked interesting. I like the manner in which you hammer bits of weaponry together, because that’s in keeping with the theme, but the house-building dynamic made me rear back like a viper. No, no, no. I know Bethesda aspire to create something for everybody, but this just looks dull. The most boring aspects of Skyrim and the last two Fallout games were always the house management mechanics, and adding turrets isn’t going to spice it up much when I could just wander out to find enemies myself.

I realise I sound like a downer here, but there is stuff I like, and most of my beef is with the manner in which it was presented. I like how Power Armour can be tweaked and seems like more of a vehicle than actual clothing, and when I saw the jetpack I began drooling uncontrollably, a bit like that dog that follows you around.

Speaking of which, I do have some demands about Muttley. Firstly, if it can’t look after itself than I will drop it at the first Deathclaw nest I see and be on my merry way. I’m not interested in playing post-apocalyptic Nintendogs, that animal is going to have to feed and heal himself. Secondly, I suspect that he’s going to glitch a lot, so please, please have that fixed before we get the game. I thought it was cool that you can send him to get stuff for you, but even in the presentation he had to stop suddenly and wrenchingly turn to face the right direction, not to mention that Bethesda games have history of glitchy behaviour.

What else is there? Well, the Pip-Boy now seems more intuitive than the average brain operation, which is nice, and looks less like a badly-made menu system and more like an actual tablet device, though I don’t know why they bothered putting in archaic minigames inside it. If I pay fifty quid for a cutting-edge title, and it immediately asks me if I want to play Donkey Kong, I’m going to politely decline, thank you.

There’s not a lot to be said about the combat, mostly because we didn’t see it much. There was one boring conflict with the most standard enemies and weapons you can get, and then there was just a highlight reel featuring a lot of flash and no substance. Why not show us a low-level fight and a high-level one, so that we can compare the two? By the time I could work out what I was seeing, it had already flicked to the next bit. I hope there weren’t any epileptics in that audience, they’d be in more trouble than the molerats.


Look out! That molerat’s wearing a high-visibility jacket!

Fallout 4 still looks good and whilst the graphics are still letting it down, the actual visual design continues to be superb, capturing the atmosphere and sense of history well. But I’m worried the game is spreading itself too thin, because we really didn’t see much, even though it was trying to show us everything. One fight, a sped-up crafting demonstration, and all the less interesting bits of the plot, and to top it off, the presentation still had to be padded with the dull-looking app and the Collector’s stuff. Look, Bethesda, why don’t you show me what this game is actually like before you try to convince me to buy the version that costs over a hundred bucks?

I’m inherently suspicious of gaming promotion and E3 in particular, but there’s almost nothing to be suspicious of here. If the game isn’t finished, then say so, but this was just weird. It spent so long bouncing between unconnected threads that we didn’t focus on any one thing long enough to understand it. I hope that wasn’t intentional, but like I said, E3 makes me very wary.

You know what I wanted to see? Half an hour of the best gameplay it has to offer, uninterrupted, unedited and live. Fallout 4 seems to be interesting, and it’ll probably be really good, but nothing makes me nervous like the feeling I’m being manipulated, and this presentation gave me that feeling quite badly. It didn’t help that after watching it and feeling kind of average about the whole thing, I was greeted online by an unnervingly rabid fanbase, who’d either been watching a different presentation to me or had all been smoking weed in preparation. It was like stumbling through the doors of some weird cult and suddenly wishing you could leave as fast as possible.

Anyway, what’s next? Battleborn? Yeah, let’s do this.