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E3 2013 – welcome to the next generation

It’s that time of year again.

I’m not even going to attempt to keep up with the torrent of information that’s going to be pouring out of Los Angeles, starting in the next few hours and going on for 3 insane days. Heck, even full-fledged websites struggle under that kind of workload and I’m just one blogger. (A rather magnificent one, it must be said, but still just one.)

So here’s my plan, dear readers. I’m going to watch all the press conferences today, or at least as many of them as I can stay up for. (Future Me – 2 and a half. That’s not bad!)

I’m going to take notes while the conferences are going on and try uploading them as soon as possible once they finish.

And then, once the deluge starts dying down, I’m going to sift through the haystack of gaming news and focus on the important ones. The game-breaking ones. If all else fails, the shiny ones.

That’s my plan. It probably won’t happen, at least not as organized as I just made it sound. I’ll miss stories, whether through inattention or simply Not-Giving-A-Damn (hello, this year’s Madden!). Heck, I’m typing this minutes before I dash off to find someplace with a connection reliable enough to let me stream the conferences in a resolution greater than Minecraft’s, so there’s a good chance this post might be delayed as well. (Future Me – damn, I’m good.)

And there will be many of those – whatever else is revealed at E3, we know we’re on the threshold of something amazing. Next-Gen – the phrase is bandied about so much that it’s lost all meaning. I’ve been using it myself for years now, and it’s yet to sink in that we’re finally here. It’s finally here. Marketing hyperbole aside, I don’t think there’s any doubt that what we see over the next few days could potentially have a huge impact on what we play and the way we play for the foreseeable future. I am so excited right now, and so should you be. This is a wonderful time to be a gamer, and I can’t wait to see what happens. Show me the future, E3. Next-Gen is now.

God, what wouldn’t I give to be in the Los Angeles Convention Center now.

Assassin’s Creed IV will fly the flag for the Golden Age of Piracy

It’s not much of a leap to link pirates with the Assassins, and this trailer does so rather straightforwardly. Disenchantment with order, devotion to freedom (and debauchery), and a certain predilection for pointed objects – they’re all present and accounted for. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will apparently show us the “true story” of the pirates, “rough and unvarnished”. (The story, that is, not the pirates. You can’t varnish a pi- well, I wouldn’t want to be the one to try it, anyway.)

If you’re detecting a certain lack of excitement in these quarters, you’d be right. As a longtime Assassin’s Creed fan, I just can’t bring myself to get too worked up about this installment. After the agony and the ecstasy (mostly agony, though) of Assassin’s Creed III, Ubisoft’s next game really needed to sing a redemption song to get the franchise back on track. Instead, what we’re getting is another one-year-later sequel; but what’s worse is that it’s got a ‘IV’ tacked on to the end. Is Black Flag really going to be the bold next step for the franchise? When you consider that Brotherhood, ground-breaking in so many ways, didn’t get that honour, you have to wonder. I loved the naval combat in Assassin’s Creed III, but I don’t think that doubling down on one of the shining lights in an otherwise broken game is the way forward for Assassin’s Creed. Hopefully, Ubisoft and Edward Kenway will prove me wrong when Black Flag launches on October 29th.

Thief’s debut trailer creeps out of the shadows

And it’s about as dark and stealthy as you’d expect. No gameplay here, just eye-candy – and one notable difference. Stephen Russell won’t be reprising his role as the voice of Garrett, and fans of the Thief franchise are already up in arms about it – sound familiar?

Drama aside, it’s great to see Thief returning, whatever form this numberless game takes.

 

 

Thief reboot outed by next month’s Game Informer cover, coming in 2014

As Game Informer just revealed, the Thief series will be rebooted in 2014 on PC and next-gen consoles. Rumours of a sequel in the widely revered stealth series have been swirling around for a while, now, but Eidos Montreal’s decided to start afresh.

Series hero Garrett returns to the Gothic, industrial metropolis known simply as the City to steal any and everything that will make him richer. Unfortunately, the City is broiling with social tension as it is ravaged by a plague and lorded over by a political tyrant known as the Baron.

So, Garrett returns (is anyone else getting a Raziel vibe from the above picture, though?) and it looks like they’re not messing with the setting too much either. Let’s just pray that they leave those goddamn moss arrows out of this one.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will shiver your timbers October 29th

Well, well, well. Just days after the existence of Assassin’s Creed IV was confirmed – and with two days still to go until Ubisoft’s official “reveal” on the 4th – the above trailer’s been leaked, courtesy of GamesRadar. While the original video has since been pulled from YouTube, we can safely assume that October 29th will see the fourth major entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, just a year after Assassin’s Creed III.

Black Flag stars Edward Kenway, father of Assassin’s Creed III’s charming ne’er-do-well Haytham Kenway. As such, it will almost certainly be a prequel; and, judging by the trailer, naval battles (my favourite part of Connor’s journey) look set to play a prominent role. So far, so good; even if so far, so little in terms of gameplay. It undoubtedly looks pretty enough, a worthy successor to this, this and this.

His official Wiki entry confirms that Edward was an Assassin, an ‘occasional pirate’ (gotta love those New World hobbyists!) and, most importantly, an ancestor of Desmond Miles. Also, in a first for the Assassin’s Creed series, he’s blonde! Who said Ubisoft can’t innovate, eh? (His golden tresses certainly seem to have impressed Blackbeard, given how effusive the bloodthirsty buccaneer’s being with his praise.)

We’ll know more when Black Flag is officially announced on Monday. For a look at the box art and a spoiler-filled analysis on what all of this could mean, man, click on past the break.

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