This year is already shaping up to be a significant one for eSports through brand partnerships, VR integration, new livestreaming possibilities and lucky for us, some exciting new games to watch and play.
Halo Wars 2
Halo Wars 2 is a real-time strategy (RTS) game that allows players to control the battlefield from above. Blitz mode, in particular, holds great potential as an eSport, combining the card power of Hearthstone with the large-scale action of Starcraft.
“You’ve probably noticed our commitment to eSports through all the things we do with Halo 5,” Dan Ayoub, studio head of strategy games development at 343 Industries told Redbull Esports. “That absolutely extends to Halo Wars 2. You always develop with [eSports] a little bit in mind. The way we’re approaching it is demand will come from the community, and if it’s there, we’re going to have all of the tools to be able to support it.”
Epic Games is best known for its shooter titles such as Unreal Tournament and Gears of War. When the company decided to take a different direction, it created a massive online battle arena (MOBA)—a popular eSport genre made popular by League of Legends and Smite. Paragon brings something new to the table, in that it’s viewed in third-person, and is therefore more accessible to viewers. Despite this, Epic doesn’t believe that Paragon will become the next big eSports title unless the fans make that call.
“We’re making a very competitive game,” Steve Superville, creative director on Paragon at Epic Games told [a]listdaily. “We’ve seen a lot of companies come out and say, ‘Hey guys, here’s the next great eSport.’ And the community is like, ‘Hang on a second. We’ll tell you when it’s a good enough game.’ So our focus from the beginning has been making a highly competitive game, engaging with our community because they’re going to tell us what works and what doesn’t, and eventually—if they ever bring us to eSports status—we’ll be thrilled to support them.”
Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite
Fighting games have been natural contenders for competition from its early days in the arcade, but adding heroes and villains from the ever-popular Marvel franchises to Capcom’s stable of characters takes things to whole new level. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite also brings something new to the table: Infinity Stones—powerful gems featured in the Marvel comics and films. Between these stones and the tagging system, the possible outcomes for a battle could be endless. There is already significant support behind promoting Street Fighter V as an eSport, and this could become a natural extension of that.
“[Infinity Stones] expands on the possibilities and offer final effects,” Peter “ComboFiend” Rosas told Yahoo Esports. “When activated, they break a rule within the engine. If the rule is a character can’t cancel their attacks, the appropriate stone breaks that rule. If a character isn’t hitting hard enough, the appropriate stone magnifies each hit.”
Quake has been at the heart of eSports since the very beginning, so it’s no wonder that id Software will continue that legacy through Quake Champions.
“Id has a long tradition of supporting competitive tournaments and that continues with Quake Champions,” id Software studio director, Tim Willits said during the Bethesda E3 press conference. “The game is designed for world-class eSports play at every level, from the world’s greatest Quake players to anyone willing to test their skills in the arena. So as part of the launch plan for Quake Champions, Bethesda will be supporting and expanding competitive tournaments and leagues beyond QuakeCon.”
The highly-anticipated title is now entering its closed beta stage on PC, but those brave enough to try should know it won’t be easy.
“To be an eSports game, to be competitive, you have to run fast,” Willits said. “And pro players expect 120Hz, they expect lightning-fast response. And we want to make a game with unlocked frame rates that will run as fast as you can throw hardware at it.”
Similar to Marvel vs. Capcom, Injustice 2 features comic book characters, but inspired by the DC Comics Universe. Iconic heroes and villains such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman will battle it out in this high anticipated sequel. The game will further shake things up with the ability to collect and equip gear that modifies gameplay, thus giving the game infinite possible outcomes depending on strategy and luck. The latest fighter game by Netherrealm (makers of the Mortal Kombat franchise) releases in May, and we’ll soon learn if the popularity of the first game, combined with the characters and gameplay variety, helps to draw and eSports audience.
Injustice 2 will be a featured game during The Evolution Championship Series (Evo) in Las Vegas this July. Evo is a long-standing tournament series that focuses exclusively on fighting games like Tekken, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter.