Welcome to The High Score, where we explore the creative, immersive intersections of cannabis and gaming through reviews, product pairings, and more. Check out more installments of The High Score series here.
This week, video game developers both large-scale and small gathered in Los Angeles for E3 2017, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, where they shared exciting projects currently in the works for video game enthusiasts worldwide.
E3 for gamers can be compared to Christmas morning for a 7-year-old; it can be the best or most disappointing day of the year depending on what gets unwrapped. Like when game developer Bethesda hands you an Elder Scrolls VI-shaped box, but inside is just paid mods and yet another version of Skyrim. Or when your sibling with the Playstation gets God of War, Day’s Gone, and Horizon: Zero Dawn…and you get Cuphead (which, to be fair, looks like one of the better Xbox exclusives).
Sure, there were a few lumps of coal in the E3 stocking this year, but there were also some real bangers. Which games have us loading a bowl in restless anticipation?
Super Mario Odyssey
Console: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: October 2017
I’ll Be Smoking: Amnesia Haze, to achieve the weird, psychedelic euphoria this game deserves.
Nintendo was the undisputed champ of this year’s E3, dishing out major titles and nostalgic teasers that have everyone’s inner child screaming with delight. Cue Super Mario Odyssey, a game that harks back to the era when Super Mario 64 ruled our adolescent lives. But while the 3D platformer of yesteryear stayed well within the lines of what to expect in the world of Mario, Odyssey looks to be of a more vivid, actively hallucinating imagination as Mario possesses anything’s soul with the power of his hat.
You can be whoever or whatever you want. A T-Rex? Just give him your hat! A business man? You can be him, too. A taxi cab? Sure. Why not. Whatever you need to be to save Princess Peach again. The sky seems to be the limit.
Based on the trailer, I can’t tell if this game takes place in New York, Jurassic Park, Mexico, or a boat in the sky, but one thing I do know: I can’t WAIT to be stoned exploring it all with my sentient hat friend, “Cappy.”
Console: Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC
Release Date: Fall 2018
I’ll Be Smoking: Kosher Kush, to slow down my sloppy, anxious trigger finger.
Anthem, you guys.
In this shared-world RPG, you’re a mechanical bumblebee-human that jetpacks around a rainforest with all your friends. Y’all are leaping off cliffs, flying through ruins, diving underwater among bioluminescent orbs, singing songs over headsets, and generally enjoying the stunning atmospheres lit by soft beams of light squeezing through green canopies. What a great day.
…Until an enormous mechanical Trojan horse-robot charges in carting in a chest full of laser-spitting enemies. Here’s where I pause the game, take a huge rip of the heaviest indica I can reach, and try to hit something–anything–with my little virtual bullets. I’m not huge on first-person shooters, but I’ve subjected myself to worse for breathtaking open-world environments that you can immerse yourself in alone or with a buddy.
Console: Nintendo Switch (just announced), Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac
Release Date: Winter 2017
I’ll Be Smoking: Chocolope, to enhance focus and to generate more creative insults for my enemies.
If Mario Kart and FIFA had a baby. That’s Rocket League described in a nutshell. The premise is simple: you’re a little car trying to bash a ball into a goal. The fun of it all comes from the chaos, the mayhem, the defiance of gravity, and cursing at your friends.
Rocket League has been around for a couple years now, but the announcement that it’ll soon be released on the portable Nintendo Switch came as a pleasant surprise to those of us who want to take the game with us wherever we go.
God of War
Console: Playstation 4
Release Date: Early 2018
I’ll Be Smoking: Thor’s Hammer, to sharpen reflexes and because Norse stuff.
God of War has been around over a decade and has traditionally been set in the world of Greek mythology. But Sony presents a different God of War this year–a game with two feet firmly set in the snowpack of Norse mythology. Here, you’ll recognize deities like Thor, Odin, Loki, and creatures like giants and the World Serpent, Jormungandr.
Despite taking place in an era of Viking brutality, the fourth God of War shows a different side of the perma-aggro Kratos we all know. “This game is about Kratos teaching his son how to be a god, and his son teaching Kratos how to be human again,” explains the game’s Creative Director, Cory Barlog.
With its breakaway from the static of the previous three God of War games–and also its step into the surreal mythology of Scandinavian antiquity–I easily have not been this excited about game since Skyrim, Breath of the Wild, and Witcher III.
Console: Playstation VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift; Non-VR available for Xbox One, PS4, and PC
Release Date: Spring 2018
I’ll Be Smoking: Green Crack, for its mind-melting properties that will make this game as nightmarish as it deserves to be.
Elijah Wood has been up to all kinds of shenanigans since his days of gallivanting around Middle Earth as little Frodo Baggins. Apparently when he isn’t acting or DJing on the weekends, Wood is developing virtual reality games that could easily appear on an episode of Black Mirror (actually…didn’t it?)
The game is called Transference–developed in collaboration with Ubisoft–and though the trailer leaves us with far more questions than answers, we know that it takes place in the mind of another person. In other words, you are entering a VR world of someone else’s memories, traumas, and thoughts, which is all made possible through uploaded neurological “data.”
I don’t know if I’m excited for or terrified of this game, but traversing the mind of another using immersive virtual reality is a concept I can’t help but be totally intrigued by, especially when you consider its uses beyond entertainment. Could virtual exploration of a traumatized mind eventually change the world of psychology and medicine?
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Console: Xbox One, Windows
Release Date: TBD
I’ll Be Smoking: Northern Lights, for dreamy euphoric effects that ease you into full immersion.
Introduced at E3 with live piano performed by the game’s musical composer, Ori and the Will of the Wisps may have been Microsoft’s most visually stunning reveal of the expo.
With graphics that look painted with magical luminous paints and a soundtrack probably sung by a choir of ghosts, Ori is begging to be paired with your favorite cannabis strain. Its fantastical characters, dreamy landscapes with light leaks, and heartstring-tugging plot entertain all the senses, and I cannot wait for the next rainy day spent with tea, blankets, and Ori.
What E3 reveals got you most excited (or disappointed)? Let’s talk it out in the comments section.