Another year, another E3! We can’t feature every game that caught our eye at the show, but these GameCritics writers have each picked their top 3. Enjoy!
Eugene Sax’s Picks
I fell in love with the original Dying Light when it came out nearly six years ago. The freedom to run around a ruined city, the parkour action, the anti-zombie combat, and seeing how everything changed from day to night was such a memorable experience on top of how fluid everything felt. Dying Light 2 looks to be more of the same, but also gives an emphasis on choice influencing where and how the players can navigate the world. The best of the first game, exciting new narrative choices, and a four-player co-op campaign? Sign me up!
While it was nice to have Pokemon: Let’s Go for the Switch, it felt more like it was meant as a way to transition Pokemon Go fans to a console release. As such, I’ve been excited to hear about a new, full entry, and Pokemon Sword and Shield seems to be it. This pair of titles is keeping some of the mechanics from Let’s Go like having Pokemon appear on the overworld map, but it brings battling wild Pokemon back from the core series. They’ve also added dynamax mechanics where Pokemon grow giant and get a massive power boost. In spite of the confirmation that not all previous Pokemon will be carried over and also that Mega Evolutions have been removed, I’m still excited to explore this new world and catch ‘em all again.
Final Fantasy VIII never got a lot of love from the general public. With other titles in the franchise already getting remasters or remakes, I assumed that VIII would be left behind and remain a old-gen classic JRPG, but I’m happy to say that I was wrong. At first glance, it looks to be a remaster of the original, graphically updated and retaining the core gameplay.
AJ Small’s Picks
12 minutes looks great. The premise is that a cop bursts into your house accuses your wife of murder and then knocks you out, forcing you to replay those 12 minutes over and over again. From the information currently available, it seems to be set in one room, so I’m curious to see how this will pan out in terms of length. Regardless, I’m a sucker for anything remotely like Groundhog Day, and the idea of playing through a tight little game with a variety of outcomes makes me interested to see what the developers can do.
I’m a huge fan of The Evil Within, so anything coming from the Tango Gameworks team is going to get my attention. As such, Ghostwire: Tokyo was already an instant buy, but this was accentuated by Creative Director Ikumi Nakamura’s personality onstage. As a veteran artist on Okami, Bayonetta and The Evil Within, her enthusiasm was contagious. The trailer depicts the people of Tokyo being vaporized or vanished, and then scary-looking demons track down more people and disappear them. I’m going to assume the protagonist is the masked bow-wielder shown rescuing a woman from a monster. The genre is unclear but the concept looks like there will be some horror elements. Despite this, I’m excited to get my hands on this due to who’s behind it.
Phantasy Star Online 2 has been a running joke for years as something that was never going to leave Japan, but I whooped for joy at the announcement as memories of playing the first on Dreamcast came flooding back. It’s been out for ages in the East, so there’s not much of a mystery to what’s in this this MMO, but I am curious if the add-ons (like the Attack on Titan DLC) will come as part of the package, and if things like cross-platform play will be in the cards. I’m not sure how long I’ll play it since I don’t play MMOs for any meaningful amount of time, but the nostalgia for this release from my early twenties will be worth taking the plunge for.
Paul Stuart’s Picks
While I was not one of the fortunate few to see secret-squirrel gameplay footage, the Marvel’s Avengers trailer was simply magnificent. Not-so-magnificent? That the game will feature micro-transactions. Sigh. (Why do AAA developers and publishers continue to include these in full-priced titles?! Every single one takes a significant hit in sales numbers.) Still, let’s remain hopeful that Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics will produce magic similar to their recent Tomb Raider trilogy…and that they reverse course on the microtransactions.
Few games were as addictive to this reviewer than Watch Dogs 2. The brilliant meshing of sandbox feel, humorous social commentary and pseudo-stealth dynamics combined to create an experience that was truly memorable. This was buoyed by an outstanding protagonist and supporting NPC cast which brought its Bay Area to life. With Watch Dogs Legion (and if done right) the near-limitless NPC buddy-up selection sounds intoxicating. Hopefully they’ll pull it off in an organic way.
Bucking the trend, it’s terrific to see a top title and top license like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order wholly dedicated to an exclusively single-player experience. Too many wannabe action-adventure offerings these days pretend to fully invest, only to backtrack into always-online, online-connected and/or DLC nonsense. The E3 demo looked pretty, but also a bit formulaic and uninspired. However, word from hands-on players at the show have strongly suggested it’s closer to an open-world Souls-inspired experience.
Jarrod Johnston’s Picks
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: the world needs more good mech games.
Particularly, the world needs more Japanese mech games — titles with fancy looking, fast moving robots, bright colors, thousands of bullets, missiles and explosions on screen at once, and a whole lot of anime melodrama. Essentially, all I’m asking for is a Gundam game that doesn’t suck. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to change anytime soon, but Daemon X Machina looks like a good substitution.
With that said, the framerate currently looks rather problematic based on the Nintendo Treehouse gameplay demonstration. Furthermore, Nintendo is releasing an absolutely absurd amount of big games between now and the end of the year, and I worry that even if Daemon X Machina is successful, it’ll be lost in the shuffle when it releases on September 13th. Here’s hoping they tighten up those technical issues so this promising title from Marvelous Entertainment is able to shine.
I feel like I’m taking crazy pills when I hear how amped people are for this game. Ok, let’s get this out of the way — what they showed looks great. It’s flashy, the combat seems to make a lot of smart improvements from Final Fantasy XV, and I want to play it. Hell, I’m going to play it, probably day one. But am I the only one who thinks this project will never be finished? Square-Enix has stated that this game will be broken up into separate episodes that are as large as full games, and here’s a newsflash — Midgar (shown in the E3 demo) is maybe 15% of Final Fantasy VII. There’s a whole lotta game after that, not to mention the fact that they’re stretching what was around 8-10 hours of game into fifty? That’s like if I told you to rewrite There’s A Wocket In My Pocket and said it had to be the length of War & Peace.
So let’s crunch some numbers. This was officially announced in 2015, and was rebooted at least once, so let’s put total development time (conservatively) at four years. With Midgar being, again, fifteen percent of that game, we are realistically looking at a six-part series to be completed at around the year 2040. Gulp. Like, what console is this gonna be on? Playstation 8? By that time will consoles be replaced by that mind control VR ball game from that one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation? Will there even be consoles? Will we just download it into chips in our brain? Is this company gonna even exist in 20 years? Is this planet gonna exist in 20 years?
I suppose some credit should be given to Square-Enix and their unparalleled gall for essentially green-lighting the single biggest and most absurd videogame project ever conceived, but at what cost? Y’know what I’d like to play more than a Final Fantasy VII remake? Final Fantasy XVI. Is that even a thing? Are they making that? During E3 interviews, Square-Enix executive producer Yoshinori Kitase essentially threw his hands up in the air and shrugged when asked when we would expect to see the continuation of this monstrosity of a project. Rumors have been swirling for a decade that the main reason a FFVII remake never materialized was that they were petrified to make it, and now we know why. Maybe a new translation, some voice acting, and some improved character models would’ve been the better way to go? At least we’d get to play that.
Only Square-Enix. God bless their audacity, and God help them.
DOOM (2016) was essentially the videogame equivalent of Beavis & Butthead throwing up the horns shouting “DUH DUNDUNDUN DUNDUNDUN DUHDUN DA DAAA! DUH DUNDUNDUN DUNDUNDUN DUHDUN DA DAAA!”. It was a symphony of carnage combined with a surprisingly engaging story featuring probably the greatest portrayal of a silent protagonist in videogame history. It ruled. I thought so, GameCritics thought so, everyone who is cool thought so. Would you like more Doom? Well that’s not happening.
Instead we are getting…
DOOM: Eternal looks to be the closest thing to a sure bet shown at this year’s E3, featuring the blistering combat of the first game turned up to eleven, with the absurdity of it all set to about fourteen. I giggled with glee seeing the Doomslayer load himself into a cannon to blast him and all his rage into a demon spaceship. Add glowing green question marks signaling secrets and honest-to-god 1UPs, and it seems the people at Id are clearly embracing the fact that they’re making a videogame-ass videogame. The world is better for it.
Oh and maybe the multiplayer won’t suck this time. Cool.
David Bakker’s Picks
Bethesda’s E3 Conference felt like a corporate lecture rather than an actual presentation of titles, until I suddenly heard “This place isn’t a paradise, it’s a prison.” Mimicking my thoughts on the conference, this snapped me awake as the voice seemed to be coming from the one and only voice actor of The Walking Dead’s Lee, Dave Fennoy. Aside from having this amazing voice in a game, DeathLoop brought a satisfying trailer showcasing the idea of two rivals locked are in a never ending loop of having to kill the other. Consider me excited.
This second installment of zombie action-adventure is promising. Instead of focusing on random ambushes from zombies, Dying Light 2 takes on society’s struggles within an apocalypse, and your choices will affect how the city functions. This political dimension makes it stand out in the genre and raises my curiosity in seeing just what paths DL2 will take.
Anyone familiar with Frontier Developments’ previous projects will have faith in this title. Similar in nature to Planet Coaster, players can create their own zoo. What caught my attention was that the developers clearly mentioned that Planet Zoo would also focus on the environmental aspects of maintaining a zoo – things like animal happiness and health would be of considerable importance. Usually, simulation games like these can often make people impose crazy situations and wreak havoc on the virtual characters for the fun of seeing what happens, but with this educational approach, I might actually take it seriously!
Brian Theisen’s Picks
One of my favorite reveals from this year’s E3 is a remake of a 25-year-old game – Link’s Awakening. This is one of my all-time favorite games so nostalgia plays a big role in this, but it was great seeing Koholint Island and its many residents rendered in a new, colorful style. All the island’s secrets appear to remain intact (including the ability to steal from the shop!) and Nintendo is including a new Chamber Dungeon. This dungeon is created from and can be rearranged with rooms earned from beating the eight main campaign dungeons. It looks to be a small addition, but a unique one that hopefully has some meat behind it.
A potential sleeper that caught my eye was Ubisoft’s Roller Champions. It’s a 3-vs-3, free-to-play game that appears to be heavily inspired by roller derby — not a true representation of the sport, but I’m surprised there haven’t been more videogames based on it. The sport is a perfect fit for over-the-top arcade action, and this looks to be what Roller Champions will deliver. Players race around a loop course, chasing a ball, trying to shoot it into an elevated goal. Fast action, big air, and huge hits appear to be standard gameplay. I missed out on the demo (which closed June 14) but will be keeping an eye out for this game when it hits next year.
I have yet to play any of the games in the series, but I couldn’t help but be intrigued by Watch Dogs Legion. The game takes place in a near-future, dystopian London, and players are tasked with overthrowing a corrupt government. The most appealing part of the game is that (supposedly) every single character including NPCs is a possible recruit! The trailer highlighted numerous characters, but the scene stealer had to be the retired assassin – nothing like seeing grandma kick some ass! The fact that each character has permadeath should mean strategy will play a huge role in recruiting others and completing tasks.
Brad Gallaway’s Picks
One of the most obvious picks and one of the things I’m genuinely most excited for is CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, but that one is at the top of everyone’s list after E3, so instead I’m going to go with some other titles that deserve a bit of spotlight instead.
Carrion caught my attention immediately. Billing itself as a “reverse horror” title, the player will take control of some sort of amorphous blob that’s able to use tentacles to kill people and maneuver around the environment. Although it’s not the first to do so, it’s surprisingly rare to see a game that really leans into letting the player take on a truly inhuman, monstrous role, and I’m excited to see where it leads.
Dead Static Drive has been in the works for a while, so I was overjoyed to see it in one of Microsoft’s indie sizzle reels. This game features players driving in a car across a post-apocalyptic landscape, gathering supplies and surviving as they go. The isometric perspective seems like a great fit, and I love the visual style. Plus, last time I checked, some of the women can pee standing up! [Note: We could not locate a decent trailer for the game, so the developer recommended this demo video produced by Gamespot.]
Creature in the Well is exactly my kind of jam — it appears to be small in stature, but brings a really cool mash-up of top-down action on top of pinball-like room designs. Throw in a Sci-Fi story about a robot trying to reactivate lost technology and a huge monster hiding in darkness below, and I am all-in.
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