Rather than breaking down each E3 conference/digital event, as I had originally planned, I decided to instead just list my top ten games from the somewhat lackluster week that was E3. Nintendo, Sony, EA, and Microsoft each displayed what little they have coming in 2014 and only hinted at what's to come in 2015 and beyond. I would probably crown Ubisoft as the victor of E3 because unlike the other four, they had a lot to show from their 2014 lineup, while also showing extensive gameplay for two of their big 2015 games. I don't know they are doing it, but Ubisoft seems to just keep on bringing out great games year round, year after year. The bridge between generations didn't slow them down. And they just launched Watch Dogs, which set sales records for the publisher. If I had to pick one loser, I would point at EA. They showed their annual sports games, a Battlefield 4 re-skin, and only briefly showed off concept footage of their '2015 and beyond' games. But hey, it was either that or take a page from the Microsoft playbook and just show cinematic trailers that may not represent the actual game in the slightest. Overall, I felt each conference lacked a "holy s***" moment. Halo 5, Uncharted 4, and Legend of Zelda each had pretty neat teaser trailers for their respective consoles, but we knew about those games. There really weren't any big surprises. That said (and now I'm just rambling), I do think that whether you own a XB1, PS4, or Wii U, E3 gave you plenty to look forward to. Just not Fallout 4... :(
Here are my top ten games from E3 this year (I didn't count teaser trailers):
But first, some honorable mentions:
- Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/for 3DS
- Madden NFL 15
- Ori and the Blind Forest
- LittleBigPlanet 3
10. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
The trailer for the probably far-off follow-up to Ground Zeroes, did everything I want from a trailer by looking really good but not revealing too much of the plot. I haven't played Ground Zeroes yet (not paying $30 for <4 hours), but from the trailer, it looks like the prologue wasn't kind to Big Boss. Again, it wasn't very clear what in the hell was happening, but then again, do we ever know what TF is ever going on in a MGS game? Regardless of that answer, the main MGS games have always been amazing experiences. And I highly doubt that MGSV will break the chain. Oh, and extra points to Kojima for the Mike Oldfield jam that definitely helps set the trailer apart.
9. Pokemon: Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire
As I stated in a previous blog, I couldn't be more excited for this game. Over a decade ago, I put an insane amount of time into Pokemon: Ruby. It was the last Pokemon game that I really cared about and put significant if any time into until last year's Pokemon Y, which finally brought the franchise forward in an innovative way. The sizzle trailer at Nintendo's digital event, confirmed obvious rumors that the game will use Pokemon X/Y's engine and many gameplay elements to remake the fan favorite GBA games. Personally, the trailer crushed me with nostalgia. I easily recalled every reimagined location, character, and Pokemon from the trailer. Combining X/Y and Ruby/Sapphire looks like its going to be pure gold.
8. Valiant Hearts: The Great War
The first video game trailer to ever bring me to tears. The entire trailer was pretty emotional, but the last shot of the dog at the cemetery emotionally wrecked me, being a dog owner and all. Games that provoke emotion are special, but this game looks more than just that. The art style is absolutely gorgeous (making good use of Ubisoft's Rayman Legends/Child of Light engine), it deals with the first World War (which is rarely covered in any form of entertainment), and I'm really interested in the adventure/quest gameplay mechanics. And it comes out next week!
7. The Order: 1886
The Order's presence at E3 set aside some of the fears I had for this game. Mainly, it assured me that the game wouldn't be a generic over-the-shoulder-third-person shooter. The demo of the knight running away and fighting the werewolf-man looked suspenseful and almost reminiscent of Uncharted, which is a great series to be compared to in terms of gameplay diversity. Secondly, the game aesthetically looked stunning and the transition from cinematics to gameplay is literally seamless, meaning that the trailer we saw last year wasn't just a CGI representation. I'm really excited for the developer of the PSP's Daxter and God of War spin-offs to finally get their chance to make a AAA console game. It would great to have another top-tier developer in business.
6. Assassin's Creed: Unity
Assassin's Creed III and Black Flag were both really good games. They covered the two topics I wanted to be explored by videogames: the American Revolution and pirates, respectively. However, they deviated very far from what made Assassin's Creed so great. I miss the tall buildings, the cities with rich histories and beautiful architecture, the stealth, and the sense of open freedom as to how you wanted to tackle an objective. From the cinematic trailer and two gameplay demos at E3 this year, as well as the concept footage from earlier this year, it looks like Assassin's Creed is getting back to its roots while innovating. The game is set in France during its revolution period, which means that the tall, beautiful buildings just begging to be traversed are a go. And with Unity, it looks like it will be just as fun to climb down from the buildings as it is to climb up them. Also new for the series is the new stealth feature that will finally let you crouch out of view. The game isn't going to be available on the PS3 or 360, which is very telling of how great this game is going to look as well. But perhaps the biggest takeaway from ACU's E3 presence was its co-op multiplayer, which lets you team up with up to three players to complete objectives at any time in the game.
5. Rainbow 6: Siege
The sad death of Rainbow 6: Patriots brings the promising Rainbow 6: Siege. From the multiplayer demo, it looks like everything that made R6 great, back in the day, is coming back. The high tension, the hardcore one-death-and-you're-out stakes, the planning ahead, the propelling down a building, and the tactical shooting. It's all back and it looks fun.
4. The Division
Last E3 brought this game's big reveal at the Ubisoft press conference. This E3 brought the assurance that this game looks promising. I'm still not sure how the co-op system works or if it can be avoided (hear me out), but The Division reminds me of Fallout 3, The Last of Us, The Book of Eli, and The Road. An apocalyptic crisis happens, forcing people to drop everything that they are doing and try to survive. Only a few people manage to survive including the character that you follow. Now, the world is divided and open for your character to explore if he/she can stay alive. Count me in. But the thing is, if The Division is anything like Fallout (I hope so and it looks so), I wouldn't want a single other player in my world. I love the isolation of Fallout, and games like Fallout. In any case, the game does look to be coming along great.
3. Far Cry 4
I really liked Far Cry 3. The story, the characters, and the open world were all great. Far Cry 4 looks like its taking that successful formula and taking it to the max. Which I am all for. The gameplay demo of the opening when you first meet the game's Vaas-esque villain was all about the story and characters. The gameplay demo of assaulting an outpost was all about the hectic open world gameplay. It looks very similar to Far Cry 3, which is 100% okay by me. And you can play the game with a buddy if that's your thing. Again, personally, I don't know how I feel about another player entering my game world. I like to do things my way, alone when it comes to single player games. I like playing multiplayer in different game modes. But mixing the two doesn't seem like it's up my alley.
2. Batman: Arkham Knight
We finally got to see the third final chapter in Rocksteady's Arkham trilogy in motion at E3. We saw the Dark Knight's new armor, an overlook of Gotham City, the rainy weather on the streets, the new and improved hand-to-hand combat, the fast-er paced gliding, the explosive Batmobile, Kevin Conroy's iconic Batman voice, and a surprise Scarecrow encounter. It all looked jaw-dropping. It's a bummer that it was delayed into 2015, but for a game that looks this promising, I want it to take all the time it needs to perfect itself.
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I've never played a Witcher game, but The Witcher 3 looks exactly like everything that I want from a video game right now. It's an open world, medieval/fantasy action/adventure. But unlike, say, Skyrim, The Witcher 3 looks like it has very tight, somewhat tactical gameplay. This allows for almost cinematic sword fights and the like. The griffin hunt/damsel in distress demo was action-packed and exciting while the village demo showed the more mellow side of the game where you can pick up new quests, cash in your loot, upgrade your gear, talk to characters by choosing from pre-set options (think Mass Effect or Fallout), etc. This is a game that I could sink 100 hours into. The type of game that I want on my PS4 right now.
That's that. I was really bummed that Fallout 4 wasn't announced. But it does make sense. Bethesda doesn't have their own conference at E3 and why would they want to announce their next game at Sony's or Microsoft's conference, a conference that they have no control over? I do think that we are close to a Fallout 4 announcement. Bethesda Softworks' last game, Skyrim, came out in 2011. That's three years ago. How long can they keep a secret? Maybe by next E3 we will see some gameplay? I hope so. I'm already excited for E3 2015. Thanks for reading and please comment with what excited you at E3 :)