Day One Roundtable Recording (MP3, 17.7 MB)
Even with the E3 Expo in full swing, five members of the RPGamer staff covering the event found some time to discuss the day's events and take those burning questions from our loyal readers. The Roundtable for Day One of E3 consisted of Chris Privitere, Zachary Lewis, Adrienne Beck, Philip Bloom, and Cortney Stone.
The discussion began with a recap of RPGamer's meeting with Atlus and NISA. First up was Makai Kingdom which was playable and, as one panel member described, "very very fun." The game was said to employ dynamics similar to Phantom Brave and Disgaea and featured the ability to use multiple characters to attack a single unit. There is also a "quirky and wayward nature [to] the story" and "a general simplicity of the game." Another panelist added, "The translation looks excellent. It's a riot to read. [We] were in tears laughing." RPGamer was given a copy of an upcoming Makai Kingdom artbook, and scans from it will be made available following E3.
Next was Generation of Chaos, the next title in the series originally developed by Idea Factory in Japan. A panelist noted that it "will make PSP owners happy because it will vindicate their position for having bought the console early." It was not made clear whether this title would be a port and translation of any of the Japanese Generation of Chaos titles, and its release date was only given as not anytime soon.
On the Atlus side of things, Zack mentioned that "Magna Carta looked fabulous" with an impressive variety of character designs and artistic camera angles, though no playable demo was available. The battle system was described as a "cross between Vagrant Story and Shadow Hearts: Covenant." Digital Devil Saga 2 also came up along with speculation that the series would not end with its release. The mature rating given to the game was said to be due more to its adult nature than violence or gore. In between its more mature titles, Atlus is also working on the more light-hearted Game Boy Advance title Riviera: The Promised Land, described as having more than 30 hours of gameplay featuring a Street Fighter-esque combo-based attack system, dating sim elements, and a lead cast of five female characters.
Next on the table for discussion was the MMORPG EVE: The Second Genesis from CCP Games. Ed Walker described it as a "ginormous world" with more than 5,000 solar systems. Unique to EVE is the fact that all players reside on a single server, and CCP said it is currently working on a patch to be released next month that will improve the new player experience, often cited as one of the game's primary shortcomings. "It should be a lot easier for a player to get into the game to begin with," Ed noted.
Fullmetal Alchemist 2 was the next topic, and Zack did not hesitate to say that he has "played better action-RPGs." While the graphics and concepts were nice, he noted that the "weapons ... did not play particularly well [and] did not feel fluid." Overall, he described it as a run-of-the-mill action-RPG that would maybe be worth a rental at best. In response to a reader question, the panel noted that the Fullmetal Alchemist portable games (including the DS title) would not be RPGs.
Square Enix was the roundtable's next subject, and all of the focus went straight to Dragon Quest VIII. The panel spent a good amount of time debating the practicality of the Hori slime-shaped controllers attached to the playable demo. There was no official word as to whether these controllers would be made available with the North American release. Panelists described the game as being "a very good traditional RPG" with an interface closer to that of traditional Final Fantasy titles rather than traditional Dragon Quest games. Critics of Dragon Quest VII's command menu will be glad to know that there will be no more searching, talking, or opening doors with commands in the newest title.
Cortney, famous for her exploits with the Harvest Moon cow plushie from last E3, took the stage to discuss Another Wonderful Life, the upcoming girl-powered version of the Gamecube title, and More Friends of Mineral Town, its Game Boy Advance counterpart. She put the rumors to rest once and for all and confirmed that the main character can become pregnant and raise a child while running the family farm. Cortney also noted that there appeared to be few real differences in the "For Girls" versions of the games compared to the original versions. While a dog will be the new mascot for this next round of Harvest Moon titles, sadly, no dog plushies were available at E3. The Nintendo DS Harvest Moon title was briefly mentioned, along with touchscreen interactivity features like sheep sheering and cow milking.
Konami's big RPG showing came in the form of Ys 6. The roundtable panelists described the PS2 version as having a broader audience appeal with its 3D graphics, while "hardcore fans will be wanting to get ahold of the PSP version" for the Ys they have come to expect. Both versions, while based on the same original PC game, will contain different features from one another, and the PSP version will be more difficult than its PS2 counterpart. Adrienne noted that the demo of the PSP version suffered from horrible loading times, but this may be fixed before the game's ultimate release.
A reader question prompted a short discussion of Tales of Legendia. While only a video was shown, the panelists noted that the "cutscenes are ... well done anime." The promo featured a short battle sequence, but it consisted mostly of cutscenes.
Namco was a hot topic later in the roundtable. Arc the Lad: End of Darkness was said to be a "one-character-at-a-time" action-RPG featuring mission-based gameplay with plenty of solo and online components. The solo portion consists of a good 30 hours of gameplay, while the online part will feature 200 levels of cooperative and versus play using characters built up in the solo game. Those characters will include favorites from previous Arc the Lad titles including Arc, Darc, and Choco. Mage Knight Apocalypse was described by the panel as "very pretty" and "Diablo-like" with large levels in full 3D and no in-between loading. The experience system was compared to that of Quest For Glory and will allow a player to level up characters' statistics proportional to the use of their different abilities.
Several panel members chimed in on the discussion of Namco's Sigma Star Saga. To quote one panelist, "Picture an action-RPG where you're shooting a gun, and in addition to fighting enemies on the map, you also have random encounters. And instead during a random encounter you're sucked into a battle where you're fighting a couple of monsters, you are teleported into a side-scrolling R-Type ship. You then battle until you defeat a certain set amount of enemies, and then the stage ends. And then you go about your business walking around the map--(for five seconds)--yes--(and then you get sucked back in). You have a parasite in you ... [that] gains experience for you." The roundtable members spent a good deal of time trying to understand the concept of the game which another panelist summarized as an "action game attached to a very bad Gradius 3 knock-off." Namco noted that there will be a lot of room for customizing weapons in the final version.
Radiata Stories from tri-Ace and Square Enix was demoed and earned the label of "actually really funny" from the roundtable. In the demo, "the producer of the game has been turned into a goat," and the player must rescue him through action-oriented battling featuring one player-controlled character and three other AI-controlled party members to whom L1 button commands can be issued. Toward the end of the demo, a sign on a door reading "Go in for pretty ladies and a party" instead revealed a rather difficult boss battle. Following the boss's defeat, the goat was returned to normal and the demo concluded. Another panelist added that Radiata Stories had a fun battle system with "cool special attacks."
The last game discussion of the evening was for the title that most impressed the RPGamer E3 correspondants on Day One--The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. With graphics so good they "made the real world look terrible" after playing, the ugly faces that many players said plagued Morrowind are a thing of the past in Oblivion. The game will also feature completely dynamic AI for every one of the thousands of non-player characters in the game, along with the return of the spell and potion creation system.
What secrets will be unveiled on Day Two of E3 2005? Tune in Thursday evening from 8pm to 10pm PST for the next Roundtable live from E3 to find out. Join the fun via IRC or e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.