To begin day two, I had to get my hands on one of my most anticipated games of 2016: The Division. Ubisoft initially revealed it two years ago and until now, they hadn’t shown any true game play, or even a playable build of the game. After waiting for nearly two hours to try it out, it was well worth the wait.

Tom Clancy’s The Division

After being run through the tutorial, and familiarizing myself with the tight and responsive controls, me and two others were thrown into the stage demo from Ubisoft’s press conference on Monday, in a mode they call The Dark Zone. In this mode, you and your two squad-mates make your way into an area with valuable, contaminated loot that requires extraction before you can add it your arsenal later. When entering the area, you and two squad members — including other teams — are trying to get to the extraction zone with your precious cargo. Other teams can either help you, or go rogue and try to take it all for themselves. If you opt to go rogue, everyone will be gunning for you. During any mission, everything you start with is what you get. There are no re-supply crates or support classes to keep you going. To re-supply, you simply have to kill another agent, or an NPC and then pick up what they dropped. Everything in this game is about survival and discovery, and it’s absolutely beautiful. During this demo, I took on the role of the medic. I came equipped with five frag grenades, and five personal healing stimulants, as well as an echolocation device for proximity awareness and a health grenade, both of which have a cool-down time. My teammates weren’t doing a very good job of being a team, so I decided to go rogue about halfway through. While it put a giant target on my back, it was ridiculously entertaining using all of my gadgets to either stop other people from extracting or keeping myself alive just enough to wait for other teams to start opening fire, giving me more opportunities to get better positions. I ultimately ran out of all my re-spawns and spectated the rest of the way. All in all, I’m happy to report that it’s just as beautiful in its pre-alpha state as it was when they initially revealed the project, and everything seems to be on the right track.

Total War: Warhammer

Full disclosure: I haven’t played any Total War game, ever. That’s not to say I’ve never been interested, I’ve just never had the money to spend on a desktop PC. Creative Assembly and Games Workshop have teamed up for what they’re calling a “wet dream project.” It carries on the same tradition of all the previous games in the franchise, but is now set in the Warhammer fantasy universe, letting the developers’ imaginations run wild. With its scale and set pieces still in place, they’re now able to add verticality to the battles, adding gryphon mounts that can wreak havoc from the skies—something that wasn’t possible in the previous entries because of their historical backdrops. Joining them on the ground are orcs on boars or wolves, Arachnarok spiders, wyverns, even dragons, this is just to name a few. Heroes can cast insane spells to deal massive amounts of damage to the foot soldiers by summoning asteroids from the sky to plummet to the ground and decimate anything in its radius. While this was a very short demo, I walked away wishing I had the money to spend on a PC to get ready for this game, that as I was told, “will be out soon.” Keep your eyes peeled for more Total War fans.

E3 Day Two
Battleborn: We take the concept of a “heavy” very seriously. Photo: Trey Sanders


After arriving at the 2K booths, I was giddy as can be to see this game. When XCOM: Enemy Unknown was released in 2012, it was a sleeper hit for me. It combined everything great about turn based strategy and action, and made all the near impossible encounters with the aliens so damn satisfying. XCOM 2 has carried this forward and refined just about everything in the process. The combat is more satisfying than ever, the characters on both sides of the fight react more quickly to situations, the sound design has been vastly improved, the hacking is more intuitive, and it’s overall design is so much better than the already stellar approach of Enemy Unknown. Even the creature designs are both terrifying and beautiful to look at, making it extremely difficult to think straight and tactically. Even though I wasn’t playing the game, my experience with its predecessor was so intimate to me that everything was playing out as if I was participating in the action. The only complaints I had walking out of the private theater were that the demonstration had ended so quickly, and that I knew, as a console gamer, that I will never get to play it unless I start selling off body parts in order to buy a PC by the end of the year.


After leaving the theater of XCOM 2, I made my way in back to get my sneak preview of the direct sibling to Borderlands. Once there, I checked in and, lo and behold, there stands Randy Pitchford, face buried in the window of a door, watching intently. After a brief moment of waiting and eating all the free food, Cliff Bleszinski walks out, fresh from his screening of Battleborn. While I would have loved to talk to them, they seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere, so I left them alone. After this relative shock, we made our way into the theater and were introduced to the star system Solus, surrounding the last remaining star in the galaxy. A group of 25 unique heroes have shown up with a common goal: to stop a mysterious evil from destroying Solus. At first glance, I was immediately reminded of Borderlands—in fact, that’s all I could think about. Minus its cel-shaded older brother, there’s little to no difference in the art style and the controls are nearly identical, if not tightened up and more responsive.
Once we went hands on with the game, I was finally convinced that this truly is a completely different game. The very first thing they told me after jumping into the game was, “don’t forget to level up.” This is achieved on the fly, and utilizes a “Helix System” that has you hold up on the d-pad and then make your selection with either the left or right triggers. Every character has two special abilities mapped to the bumpers and an Ultimate mapped to triangle (or Y on the Xbox,) all of them have a cool-down phase after each use. To counter this, the enemies are much faster, but they’re just as satisfying to kill, making you feel like a real badass on the much more linear battlefield. Crates and lockboxes still litter the environments but they serve more as emergency med-kit lockers than they do random loot or money pick-ups, in fact, there’s also a million less guns and loot to grab, eliminating the need to scrounge for ordinance. I went in skeptical of this game because of how much it reminded me of Borderlands, and quite frankly wasn’t impressed by its initial reveal a few months ago, but after spending nearly an hour with the game, I’m just shy of sold on the final experience, but we’ll find out before the end of the year or the beginning of the next.