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E3 2014: Focus Home Interactive Spotlight and Game Preview

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The Electronic Entertainment Expo is pretty much the US equivalent of Japan's Tokyo Game Show (to some degree). This is where the top industry professionals show the nation what they have in store for gamers. Journalists are everywhere and while E3's relevance is in question, making a bad impression here will never go away. I try to visit the smaller companies as much as possible at E3. They do not have the grand and flashy booths like EA, Microsoft, Nintendo and Activsion. One such publisher had a quaint booth with two small presentation rooms. That publisher was Focus Home Interactive known for their Sherlock Holmes titles. They had a lot to show this year and I was excited to see everything. Unfortunately I was unable to see everything they had on display, but I did get to see four games in progress, Styx, Mordheim, Sherlock Holmes Crime and Punishment, and Blood Bowl 2.

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The first was Blood Bowl II. For those of you that do not know your Games Workshop products, Blood Bowl is their tabletop sports game taking place in the Warhammer universe. You can pick from a variety of races that all have their own quirks and benefits to playing. Blood Bowl is typically not about playing the game, it is about hurting the enemy team. The first game for Blood Bowl was awesome, but it was rather punishing on new players. This is being remedied in the sequel. The game will still contain everything that made Blood Bowl 1 great, but this time, tutorials will be better explained and the game will ease new players into how the game plays easier while veteran players will be able to jump right in. The single-player is getting an overhaul from the previous version and of course, the teams are going to be better. Full customization is ideal and even modding is on the table (Games Workshop just needs to approve). The visuals look awesome and the humor is top notch.

Next on the list was Styx: Master of Shadows. Some of you may have played Focus Home's title Of Orcs and Men a tactical action RPG featuring an orc and goblin. Styx is about that goblin and his past. In the previous game, you heard about what he did before he joined up with the “hero” and how he got his reputation. The game looks to be the right amount of stealth. It has your RPG elements and a skill driven parkour system to scale the environment. You can fight, but it is more of a parry system until you get an opening. So direct conflict is not necessarily a driving point in the game. The art and level design looks to be the best part about the game.

After Styx, we got a presentation for Sherlock Holmes: Crime and Punishment. I was a huge fan of the last Sherlock game because it had some of the best puzzles I have come across. The story was great and the artwork was spot on. This time around the game flows a bit differently. It is divided up between cases acting as levels, do not let this fool you. Each level can take up to 8 hours to complete. The game is taking combat out of the equation and making this purely about investigations. As such, Sherlock's abilities are being altered for the game to make him much more useful than before.

The last game I got to see was Mordheim. Next to Blood Bowl II, this is something I wish was out right now on Steam Early Access. It plays a lot like Valkyria Chronicles and you control a team of characters like Skavens. You duty is to eliminate the enemy by any means necessary. Every race has their own quirks to exploit both good and bad. Like the Skavens have this massive ogre/rat unit and it decimates anything, but it must pass a “Stupidity test”. The game is filled with stuff from Games Workshop's lore and it looks fantastic.

Sherlock will be available on current and last gen consoles this year. Styx will be available on PC later this year. Blood Bowl II will be out for PC later this year (possible Early Access version on the horizon). Mordheim will be out for PC later this year and on consoles next year (possible PC Early Access version).

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