A Few of the Best Games You May Have Missed at E3

Hidden gems.

If it seems like E3 has a tendency to get dominated by the biggest announcements and the flashiest blockbuster game demos, that's probably because it does. But don't take that to mean that's all there is to the show. There are plenty of awesome games that get lost in the shuffle; you just have to dig a little to find them. So why don't we save you the work and share some of our favorite games you may have missed from E3 2014...

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris.

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

During Microsoft's press conference at E3 last week, a dramatic trailer debuted for Rise of the Tomb Raider, the sequel to the excellent 2012 reboot of Lara Croft's adventures. But while the younger, less experienced Lara who stars in these games is getting most of the attention, the confident, dual-pistol-wielding treasure hunter of the early Tomb Raider games is still doing her thing. I got a chance to play Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, the follow-up to the cooperative downloadable game Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, and came away with the impression that it's not messing with its predecessor's fast-paced, winning formula; you solve environmental puzzles, engage in some explosive combat (the bombs are still a highlight), and try to outrun and evade all kinds of deadly hazards. And like in the previous game, there are still plenty of spectacular opportunities to grief your friends, "accidentally" catching them in one of your bomb blasts or retracting your grappling hook just when they're using it to walk over a pit of spikes. Oops! -- Carolyn Petit

[Read our full E3 preview]

EVE Valkyrie (PC, PS4)

EVE Valkyrie.

The space-combat sim EVE Valkyrie is a near perfect example of how to create an experience that works seamlessly in VR, and it's not just because the developer, CCP Games, has taken the necessary technical steps to ensure it plays nicely with VR headsets. From the flow of the UI to your abilities as an embattled fighter pilot in space, EVE Valkyrie is designed and balanced around the possibilities and limitations of head-mounted displays such as Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus. The physical relativity between the real and in-game world is nearly spot-on when you're seated and equipped with a positional-tracked HMD, and when you start to get the hang of using your sight line to lock onto enemies while keeping your ship on course, it sinks in: you're enveloped in Valkyrie's fictional skirmishes in ways that wouldn't be possible without the immersion of VR. It's a beautiful and engaging game that's full of tense dogfights, and given that it began as a player-versus-player experience, it's fair to say it may be the first VR game to get a foothold in competitive gaming. -- Peter Brown

[Watch our full E3 stage demo]

Elite: Dangerous.

Elite: Dangerous (PC)

Like EVE Valkyrie, Elite: Dangerous is a space sim that supports Oculus Rift. But unlike EVE Valkyrie, Elite: Dangerous isn't purpose-built for VR headsets. With this game, it's better to think of Rift as an additive experience. There's already a broad foundation of space exploration, combat, and trading; a VR headset will simply immerse you that much deeper into the moment. Luckily, that foundation looks wonderful. Elite: Dangerous is an unabashedly complex game, one full of opportunities for economic shenanigans and interstellar dogfighting. It's the sort of game where successfully docking your ship in a space station is cause for mild celebration, and one where you can easily find yourself lost in the depths of space if you're not careful. As the spiritual successor to 1984's Elite, its heritage goes back a long way--but there's nothing antiquated about this game's ambitions. -- Shaun McInnis

[Watch our full E3 stage demo]

Citizens of Earth (PC, PS4, Vita, Wii U, 3DS)

Citizens of Earth.

Citizens of Earth is shaping up to be a really special role-playing game. For starters, you play as the vice president of Earth and spend your time recruiting conspiracy theorists, bodybuilders, and other offbeat characters to join your party. These recruits fight for you in battle--you are a politician, after all--and each has his or her own special abilities for you to manage. The backdrop is an Americana setting with a goofy sense of similar to EarthBound, one of the 16-bit era's best Japanese role-playing games. Plus, it's coming to almost every major platform later this year, so there's no reason why Citizens of Earth shouldn't get your vote. -- Maxwell McGee

[Read our full E3 preview]

Lords of the Fallen.

Lords of the Fallen (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

I was able to play Lords of the Fallen and talk to its creative director, and I realized that developers Deck13 and CI Games are building something very interesting. It is not just a Dark Souls clone, although it has difficult combat and huge monsters. It is not just an action role-playing game, even though it has deep character progression and non-player character interactions. The developers are making a personal, branching story that forces you to make morally ambiguous decisions. Open combat arenas allow you to choose your own path and approach each battle differently. Streamlined menus, progression, and battles allow the game to be hard but not punishing. I was never able to get into Dark Souls, but Lords of the Fallen might provide the long, rewarding RPG I've been seeking. -- Alex Newhouse

[Read our full E3 preview]

Styx: Master of Shadows (PC)

Styx: Master of Shadows.

A stealth game is only as good as the sum of its parts, only as rewarding as the systems that intertwine to create the situations you must stealth your way through. In Styx: Master of Shadows, you can sneak, sense when enemies are nearby, hide in nooks and crannies, and perform a handful of other stealth actions. You can also vomit out a clone of yourself and control it like some gastrointestinally distressed puppet master. Switching between Styx's clone and Styx himself allows you to distract, circumnavigate, or vanquish pesky guards in a number of clever and gruesome ways, and the verticality of the levels gives you even more strategic options. Add to that a sizable tree of unlockable abilities to compound your underhanded arsenal, and you've got an intriguing array of systems that could conspire to make something special. -- Chris Watters

[Read our full E3 preview]

Natural Doctrine.

Natural Doctrine (PS4, PS3, Vita)

I have one major problem with natural selection: If only the strongest survive, where does that leave the rest of us? Natural Doctrine's emphasis is on your tactical acumen rather than your brain, and if you're like me, it's especially humbling to be outsmarted by an opponent. Drawing inspiration from the XCOM and Fire Emblem franchises, Natural Doctrine pits your squad against either human- or AI-controlled forces, and the turn-based battles that ensue urge you to plan for all foreseeable consequences lest you become overwhelmed by those who are better tacticians than you. The hook is a linking system in which you can earn some major boosts by joining your teammates together. Using this ability wisely lets you heal the entire group or switch whose turn it is to fight, and as you and your opponent devise the best ways to take advantage of linking, it's sure to be a hellacious fight to the end. Darwinian law is fine and dandy until you're on the losing end. -- Tom Mc Shea

[Read our full E3 Preview]

Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age.

I admit that at this point, I'm more intrigued by what I've been told about Crytek's cooperative third-person shooter Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age than by what I've seen of it. Set in the late 1800s, Hunt lets you create your own monster hunter and team up with friends to track down and eliminate monstrosities hiding in the more shadowy sections of the world. The character customization system sounds great: there are no defined classes, so you can mix and match weapons, abilities, and visual characteristics however you like, creating a sophisticated shotgun-toting lady from London's upper crust or an American Southerner with a penchant for crossbows. And you actually do have to hunt your prey in Hunt, completing randomly generated missions in the randomly generated environments to get a lead on the location of whatever folklore-inspired horror you happen to be tracking down. No cooperative shooter since Left 4 Dead 2 has been quite as enjoyable for me. Hunt seems like it has a chance of reaching those same heights. -- Carolyn Petit

[Read our full E3 Preview]

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