E3 has been going on for the past few days, and unfortunately enough not a lot of the reveals have interested me thus far. A lot of the games talked about have been sequels for games I haven’t played or games on available on consoles I don’t own – and probably won’t own due to monetary concerns. One of my favorite games talked about so far was Halo Wars 2 actually, since I loved the first game way more than I probably should have given how generally unpopular it was. I played that to death with some of my friends, even months after the general fanbase dropped off and left the multiplayer barren. Plus, it’s available for the PC as well as the Xbox One, so I’ll actually potentially have the chance to play it!
But that’s a different story, and one you can see more about here while you check out the beautiful trailer here. After all, today was the Nintendo Treehouse Live, and there were at least two massive things talked about during the presentation.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, you can check out the full stream of the Nintendo Treehouse Live here. Most of what I’m talking about comes directly from the first hour or so of this – namely the new Legend of Zelda trailer and all the information that’s come out about Pokémon Sun and Moon.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
According to Reggie Fils-Aime, the current president of Nintendo of America, Breath of the Wild will be a brand new world with a brand new take on the Zelda series – both for the Wii U and the new NX console. Based on the trailer they showed, I certainly can’t argue with that statement.
The trailer, beyond giving us an official name for the game, was undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen. Granted, I’ll probably be saying the same thing about the Sun and Moon gameplay later on in this post, but still. In case you haven’t seen it – and I highly recommend you do – you can find the video here at Nintendo’s official YouTube page. Lots of video links today I know, I just haven’t figured out how to embed videos into my post directly yet. Also I’m not sure I’d be allowed to for some copyright reasons and such. Anyway, not the point. Just watch the trailer, I watched it for about the fourth time just now while linking it and man does it get better every time.
Attention to detail is certainly the name of the game here. Everything from the reactions of the wildlife to your movement, the environmental changes from your interactions (and it seems you can interact with about anything), things like the massive skeletal beasts roaming around in the backgrounds of scenes naturally… It’s all just so densely packed and contributes so nicely to the world Nintendo is creating. It even seems like the weather in the world might change over time naturally, which would be a really impressive thing to witness while exploring!
Everything in this version of Hyrule appears to be in ruin, from the castles to the strange shrines or temples or whatever it is that Link comes across throughout his journey. The trailer also has a few jump cuts when showing off the tentacle rock guardians, so it really feels like there might be some sort of strange meta game-breaking kind of glitch system intentionally involved in the design of the game. Perhaps the Hyrule Link now explores was once much more advanced and something is trying to keep that information from coming out? Who knows, it’s mostly just speculation at this point.
Another thing I wanted to add from seeing this was the fact that Link seems like he’s perhaps the most mobile Link we’ve ever seen. Well, not perhaps, definitely the most mobile Link to date. Not only can he ride Epona and run around at top speeds, he can also sneak around, climb just about everything – trees, mountains and buildings included, swim, glide on the wind and cut down trees with just a few axe cuts. Given that Breath of the Wild promises to be totally open world, it makes sense that Link would get such an impressive upgrade to his collection of skills and abilities. Between this overall mobility and the way monster fighting seems to be handled, this game gives him a hell of a monster hunter kind of vibe. Honestly, I’m still really hyped for Monster Hunter Generations coming out this summer, so I have no problem with this comparison. If anything, I’d say it’ll really help flesh out the gameplay in a wonderful way.
Also to wrap things up on this game – Link has a Green Lantern Smartphone in his possession? Yeah I’m sure it’s not literally a smartphone, but it sure looks like one so that’s what I’m going to call it. It can lift things up, activate hidden platforms, open up new areas to explore… An all-purpose tool of sorts, one which I’m looking forward to seeing more about as time goes by.
The stream had a lot of gameplay footage of the new Zelda game after its coverage of Sun and Moon, but honestly I didn’t want to watch it. The trailer gave me just enough hype for the game to keep me invested for some time to come and I’d rather the experience feel just as fresh once the game comes out, so I skipped out on that part of the stream.
What I did manage to catch later was this video announcing that the Wolf Link Amiibo will be compatible with Breath of the Wild and give you a Wolf Link partner to help you hunt in-game. This tells me a few things, but it also brings up some other questions at the same time. On the one hand, it shows that amiibo functionality will continue on the NX system (though we still don’t know a lot about it in general). That’s good for me considering the veritable wall of amiibo figures I own. However, I can’t help but wonder whether the new Zelda title will be the same on the two systems its now set to debut on.
On the original trailer from 2014, Breath of the Wild was set to be Zelda’s Wii U game. However, now there are discussions of it also being on Nintendo’s next console, the NX. Does this mean that the Wii U, being an older system, will have less functionality or attention paid to it now? Or will the games be generally the same considering the original intent was for a release on the Wii U, similar to Twilight Princess originally being on the Gamecube and the Wii.
Also, if you can summon partners to assist you in-game like with Wolf Link, does that mean that there’s no official guiding partner in the new game? Or does it mean that there’s multiple guiding partners in the new game?
I guess we’ll just have to see as more information comes out.
Pokémon Sun and Moon
Ah yes, I knew this was going to be coming. No way a new game this hyped up wouldn’t have more information released at one of the biggest gaming conferences in the world. Luckily enough, there was plenty of good information released to bump up that hype even more than ever.
The coverage began with an interview with the game’s director Shigeru Ohmori and it’s producer Junichi Masuda, both of whom stuck around for the whole segment involving Pokémon Sun and Moon. During the interview, the two discussed how the intent behind the Alola region is to make it feel like it’s teeming with life, something they repeated many times. There was a connection made to Alola being something like the Galápagos Islands, somewhere totally isolated in which rare and interesting life can sprout. They also emphasized how the starters were made with the intent of acting and looking cute and relatable to increase immersion, as well as letting us know that the legendaries Solgaleo, Lunala and Zygarde will all appear in special and unique ways somewhere in the game’s story.
Immersion was also a seriously key idea behind what the Game Freak representatives spoke about while we got to see the first live in-game demonstration of Sun and Moon. There’s a hell of a lot to talk about with this though, so let’s approach it as methodically as possible.
We already knew that Sun and Moon would look gorgeous (see, said it again), but the gameplay we got to see really confirms this fact in a lot of ways. First and foremost, the music and the lighting really help set the mood from what I can tell. Every track we could hear – from the character’s house to the first route to the battle music – was wonderful and earworm-y as ever, and from the looks of it light was an incredibly important factor in the game’s development. It was late-afternoon in the footage we saw, which not only made the sky a beautiful orange, it also made the shadows and shine effects on each and every model that we could see change in dynamic ways.
The tall grass looks incredibly natural to the world around it, making it almost hard to tell just what was considered tall grass right away. The battle arenas for each fight look fresh and new despite camera angles and such during battles seeming to be very similar to the ones used in the Generation 6 games.
Probably my favorite part about seeing what we got to see had to do with the NPC trainers. It’s been confirmed before that trainers stand behind their Pokémon during battles, and now we got to see that the NPC trainers follow the same rule. There’s a flat drawing that depicts each trainer when you first encounter them, and then they have a 3D model behind their Pokémon during fights as well, models which change their expressions and posing depending on what’s happening to their Pokémon. The Pokémon even seem to be to scale compared to their trainers, so you can see the general size of each one while they’re in a battle. It’s a wonderful addition that really helps everything feel more alive in my opinion, one which was sorely lacking in games like ORAS where the gym leaders were simply highly rendered drawings when encountered. Oh, also, there’s a very anime-style black bar that appears around a trainer when you get close enough to them that they might notice you to begin a battle, and it’s very cute to see.
Now I’ve talked before about things like the paint splotches behind ability activation and life bars acting as nice and very Hawaiian-reminiscent UI additions, but during the gameplay segment of this Sun and Moon E3 conversation we got to see so much more.
The transition screen into wild encounter battles looks much more fun than ever before, with a full sweeping shot up through a mess of grass into the stage you’ll be fighting in. The bottom screen during fights was shown off multiple times, and boy does it look pretty. The buttons are all slick and well designed, and everything seems to have a watery wave-patterned theme to it. Attacks pop up on only the side of the screen now rather than taking up the entire thing, and once you’ve encountered a Pokémon the moves themselves will actually tell you what’s super effective and what isn’t very effective on that Pokémon. There are quick shortcuts to the most recently used item and to get information on attacks, all of which seem really smoothly integrated.
One of the biggest UI additions seems to be the sprite representation of battles in the center of the bottom screen. Not only is this a cute little addition, the sprites actually serve the purpose of keeping track of stat changes to Pokémon as they accumulate them through battle. Forget how many Double Teams you’ve used? Just tap your Pokémon’s sprite to check! Wanna see how much you’ve lowered your opponent’s Special Defense stat? Just tap their sprite to check! It’s a really simple and really genius little addition that I genuinely feel will help make things like competitive battling more accessible to all players in conjunction with the move effectiveness information.
Another bit of UI we got to see involved the Pokédex. Now when we catch a new Pokémon, apparently we’ll be told just how many evolutions that Pokémon has. Though this takes some of the surprise out of the mystery behind ‘who evolves how many times’, it’s a nice little addition for anyone interested in completing their Pokédex like me. It was also a very relevant new addition when considering the new Pokémon we saw, but that’ll come in just a minute.
Man, so many Pokémon to talk about, so little time. First things first, it’s clear that despite being like the Galápagos Islands, Alola will be literally teeming with life from all around the Pokémon world. At the very least Ledyba, Pichu and Caterpie made appearances. We also know that Zygarde will play an important role in-game, so that’s at least three other regions with Pokémon represented on the islands.
Oh who am I kidding, we don’t care about old Pokémon appearing in Alola. Not when we have three new Pokémon native to the region to look at!
All Images Courtesy of Serebii.net
While I believed that Nekkoala and Iwanko were going to be our Route 1 encounters in Sun and Moon, it seems like that wasn’t necessarily the case. Pikipek and Yungoos were both encountered on Route 1 during the stream while Grubbin was revealed during a trailer that was dropped later, one which can be seen here.
Pikipek, a Normal/Flying-type, has access to the abilities Keen Eye or Skill Link. You know what that means: Give it a King’s Rock and we’ve got another beautiful metagame hax Pokémon on the way. Yungoos, a Normal-type, looks just a little too much like Donald Trump for it’s own good. However, it has access to a new ability known as Stakeout, doubling the damage of an attack if the opponent just switched into something new. It’s like the attack Pursuit but as an ability, which seems pretty great even compared to its other option Strong Jaw. Grubbin, a Bug-type, has access to Swarm as an ability. Honestly… It’s just a little too generic at this point for it’s own good, so hopefully it gets some nice evolutions. Speaking of, thanks to that evolution feature of the Pokédex I mentioned before, we know that Pikipek has a first and second stage evolution while Yungoos has a first stage evolution.
As an added extra bonus, Mega Noivern and Mega Pyroar were revealed to have new appearances that stick when they use their special attacks, appearances known as Full Moon phase and Radiant Sun phase respectively. Magearna’s ability Soul Heart was also elaborated on in the video above, shown to increase Special Attack upon Pokémon on the field fainting in a way similar to the ability Moxie. However, it’s activated by enemy and ally Pokémon fainting, and Magearna doesn’t need to be the Pokémon that defeats the fainted Mon to activate it.
Interestingly enough, I also noticed that Hau has a starter Pokémon that’s weaker than the starter you start off with – A Litten to the player’s Popplio (Which learned Disarming Voice I might add… Possible half fairy-typing confirmed? Or just extra coverage?) in this case. That’s interesting to me because it suggests that perhaps Hau isn’t the primary rival character in Sun and Moon, since the primary rival typically has a type advantage as far as starter Pokémon selection goes. That leaves us with the question of just who is the primary rival? Is it going to be Lillie? Or are there other major characters we’ve yet to be introduced to?
Yes that’s right world of Youtube Pokémon Let’s Players, get ready for an official variant of the fan-made Free-For-All gameplay mode that became popular thanks to Gen 6’s inclusion of a four person 2v2 wifi battle.
Though it seems unfortunate that the game’s official rules say that a Royal is over once one trainer is defeated, overall this seems like it’ll be a really fun addition to the game! Having to strategize about how to fight against three other trainers all at once will be a whole new experience that I hope is as challenging as it seems.
Also, in the stream, it showed that the different versions of the trainers had different outfits, pretty much confirming that character customization will be a thing in Sun and Moon. Some of the trainers went by ‘Selene’ and ‘Elio’, which to me strikes me as the character’s official names – something I’ve been rather curious about honestly.
Well, this was certainly a long one, but there was plenty of good information to talk about! Out of everything shown at E3 so far this year, what’s been your favorite game reveal? Out of everything shown from Nintendo, what excites you the most? Feel free to talk about it down below, I’d love to hear what you have to say about the conference as a whole!