After a crazy five days, E3 2015 is history. After a relatively lame E3 2014 that left many top tier developers and franchises in the dark, I went into E3 2015 with very high expectations. I had a feeling that this E3 was going to special. Somehow, my expectations were exceeded. E3 2015 was probably favorite showing since I've started livestreaming going back to 2009. With seven official conferences in total, this was the most crowded E3 yet, and they have left no shortage of awesome games to look forward to. This blog wraps up my five day celebration of E3. I will list my personal top ten favorite/best games from the expo and list list my top five favorite trailers that debuted a new game. After this, it's a farewell to an awesome week in video game news for me. Then, the waiting begins until these games hit shelves.
Top Ten Games From E3 2015:
*The only rule is that the game must have shown off some form of gameplay. So, games like Mass Effect: Andromeda are excluded.*
1. Fallout 4
"Game of Show" awards are almost unfair this year. This particular game has been perhaps impatiently awaited upon for years. False rumor after false rumor and no-show after no-show have sunken hearts for what seems like ages. After years of silence from Bethesda Game Studios, Fallout 4 was finally announced a few days before E3 this year, confirming that it will be shown off during Bethesda Softworks' first ever E3 press conference. The game was shown extensively and was confirmed for a November 10, 2015 release date. Personally, I always had hope in my heart that the game was going to release this year, even going back to late last year. But even so, actually seeing the release date blew my mind. We are playing Fallout 4 THIS YEAR. I still can't comprehend that. It's my most anticipated game ever and I know I'm not alone in that regard. So yeah, Fallout 4 was finally revealed heavily and it looks incredible. BGS has made many improvements/changes to the game, but it still looks to have that unique Fallout feel to it. This was the game to excite me the most from E3 (which is saying something) but it was also perhaps the most technically impressive. The game looks great and it has a ridiculous amount of depth to it. I'm losing my mind over this game already.
2. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
I've always loved Uncharted, but calling it one of my favorite franchises never really occurred to me until I replayed the trilogy recently. The series' presentation is relatively unmatched. I don't mean just its cutscenes that take the controller out of your hands. In fact, the most dramatic parts of Uncharted are in its gameplay. The final chapter in Nathan Drake's journey is the one that I'm most excited about. Not just in terms of story (the story is still extremely vague at this point, which is good), but because of its game design. Naughty Dog is obviously carrying over its brilliant game design from what they created in The Last of Us. It was clear from the PSX 2014 demo, but it's even more apparent with its E3 2015 demo. The game is still linear, but it's not as scripted. Its gameplay looks scripted, but it isn't. Nothing was forcing the demo player to clear an area in an exact way. When Drake is jumping off a shack, punching a guy in the face and stealing his gun while its in midair, it looks like the game is telling you to do that. However, if the demo player would have gone around the shack, something else entirely could have happened. It's brilliant game design that I haven't seen from anyone but Naughty Dog. The part of the demo where Drake is driving (actually driving, it wasn't on rails) through the city, the demo player could have gone through any alley way or side street he wanted to, it still would have looked scripted. In a reality where dreams like Fallout 4 aren't at E3, Uncharted 4 totally deserves Best of Show.
3. Kingdom Hearts III
I had heavy doubts that Kingdom Hearts III was going to be at E3 this year. The vertical slices from two years ago looked very early. As if the actual game development had not even begun. This year, we got to see Kingdom Hearts III gameplay to a surprising extent. Plus, we got a mysterious part of a cutscene talking about the Keyblade Wars. We did not get any sort of release window from Square Enix, but we did get word on the first confirmed Disney world: Tangled. I think Tangled is a really good movie that often doesn't get the credit it deserves for igniting the second Disney renaissance, but it was kind of underwhelming to have it be the first world revealed. This makes me nervous that Pixar worlds will not be included in the game, but also happy that Star Wars and Marvel might not (Marvel and Star Wars would ruin the Disneyness). But even so, KH3's showing was unexpected and strong. The gameplay looks flashy, the animation looks neat, and hearing Goofy say "C'mon!" was chillingly nostalgic. Hopefully KH3 isn't as far away as it seemed a week ago. Early 2017 looks promising, late 2016 seems possible.
4. Horizon: Zero Dawn
With so many "4's" and "3's" and "2's" being excitedly thrown around at E3 this year, it was refreshing to see some new IP. In fact, I don't think this E3 would have been so exciting this year without such a strong showing of new IP. Microsoft had something brand new, Sony did, Ubisoft did, Square Enix did, and even EA did. The most exciting of all the new IP's debuted at E3 this year was Guerrilla Game's Horizon: Zero Dawn. GG is finally spreading its creative wings by letting go of Killzone. Their new directions is refreshing: a future where humans have left the earth to escape its mistakes in deadly technology that has struck back in many forms, including robotic dinosaurs. Only a small number of humans remain and it looks like the main character is a female archer. It's an awesome concept, but just as awesome was the gameplay demo that was shown during Sony's conference. It had moments of calm adventure and it had moments of going head on with a T-Rex-looking robot. It's an open world RPG from a veteran developer who has done linear FPS's. I've never seen a jump in genre as drastic as this, so it's certainly ambitious for them.
5. Star Wars: Battlefront
I was one of the few who was always excited for Battlefront, even when it was revealed to have no campaign. The original Battlefront games didn't really even have a campaign, and if they did, it was essentially just playing the games' different modes and maps in a predetermined order. Battlefront's demo/trailer did more than just assure me that Battlefront is going to be fine. In fact, this game looks better than I could have ever dreamed. I don't to get too far ahead of myself, but this is the Star Wars game I've wanted to play for a very long time. One that has the spirit of the original trilogy right down to the sparks from laser blasts, the classic sound effects, the epic but nostalgic presentation, to the exciting war gameplay. This was perhaps the best shooter demo/trailer I've ever seen at E3.
Not everything at E3 this year was guns and swords. Unravel gets the "Valiant Hearts award" for a small indie-ish game coming out of nowhere and totally endearing me. In Unravel, we'll get to play as Yarny, a yarn doll who 2D-platforms around the real world at a small size, much like The Secret World of Arrietty. It came from the EA conference, believe it or not and was introduced and presented by a super-nervous but extremely passionate developer. It was a really heart-warming presentation that totally sold me. I'm very excited for Unravel and I'm happy that EA is taking chances by giving a spotlight to smaller games.
7. The Last Guardian
A common theme of E3 2015 was seeing games that we thought were only dreams a short time ago. After six long years, The Last Guardian was finally re-revealed for the PS4. It looks as ambitious and unique as it did in 2009, but now it looks even better thanks to the power the PS4 offers. We got to see the same two characters (the boy and his guardian griffin) climb over ruins once more. Personally, the similarity between the 2009 demo and this one was strangely too strong to have it in my top five, but the fact that this game is still alive and that so many internet memes are no longer valid is exciting. Hopefully if there's another PSX this year, we will see a different side of this game.
Microsoft surprised me with its conference this year. It was less bro-mans with guns and more creativity. There was still a lot of the former, but to see games like Cuphead get the spotlight and steal the show, it was refreshing to see. Honestly, having never owned and will likely never own an Xbox, I'm jealous that this game might never come to PlayStation or Nintendo. It's really the first time I've ever wanted an Xbox "exclusive" badly. The animation and art style this game cleverly displays is extraordinary. 2D platformers are coming back in a major, retro way, but this game really has my eye. It's like a playable, early 20th century cartoon.
9. Gears 4
I've always thought that Gears of War was an interesting series that I sometimes wish was replicated by PlayStation. Ever since the "Mad World" trailer that had me thinking of Jak 3's second act. But never has Gears looked this interesting. The demo that closed out Microsoft's strong conference showed the shooting and running, but it also had a downtime moment of exploring a creepily abandoned village that was leaking atmosphere. If Gears 4 relies less on the shooting and running for cover aspects we have come to expect from the series, I think Xbox One owners have a lot to look forward to. The dropping of "of War" in its title to just "Gears 4" could indicate that its new developer could be taking the series to new, interesting places with a more diverse tone.
10. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness
If this were a list of best video game titles, this game would probably be at the top. All kidding aside, I have no history with Star Ocean. Its teaser reveal last year wasn't exciting for me, but seeing this game certainly has me intrigued. We are seeing a renaissance of JRPG's, a genre that pretty much skipped over most of last generation. This game was the best looking traditional JRPG at E3 this year. Running with a team of colorful characters around an interesting backdrop and facing intimidating enemies has me nostalgic of some of my favorite JRPG's on the PS1.
Top Five Trailers from E3 2015:
*I've limited this to only games that were at E3, but did not show off any gameplay*
1. Final Fantasy VII
Perhaps E3's biggest reveal and the moment people will remember E3 2015 by, I had no idea this trailer was for Final Fantasy VII until I saw Cloud's sword at the very end. Looking back it makes sense now. People have wanted a remake for this game desperately for over a decade. Final Fantasy IX is by far my favorite FF game, but FFVII is the game that I've also wanted to see remade from scratch. It has the best story, a game world and style that was way ahead of its time, and perhaps the series' best characters. A remake makes sense for Final Fantasy VII. I'm interested to see if the game maintains the original's battle system or if it looks to Final Fantasy XV for inspiration in gameplay. I'm sure hardcore fans of this game will pick it apart no matter what. This game has big names attached to it, but they still have a lot riding on their shoulders. Oh, and how cool was the music during this trailer?
2. Mass Effect: Andromeda
To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed that we didn't see gameplay from the new Mass Effect. I was expecting a huge gameplay trailer and that this game would be the main attraction at EA's conference. Only seeing a teaser trailer like this after the weird documentary tease from last year's E3 was bizarre. But the trailer itself was neat. Humans being in another galaxy does not make any sense whatsoever given ME3's ending and ME lore, so I'm interested in where the story is going. However, I think going to a new galaxy is precisely what this series needed going forward. A brand new start. But it's going to take some very deep explanation.
3. Dishonored 2
Add this game to the list of me being underwhelmed because of the lack of gameplay. It's been three years since Dishonored came out and we only have a cinematic trailer for it. I've wanted this game for a while now and I'm surprised we've had to wait so long. But I can see why. This game is not a lazy sequel they can push out by reusing the first game's assets, even if everybody would have been fine with that. I'm sad that the original's unique art style seems to be gone in favor of a more realistic design. I loved the odd shapes and murky colors that almost looked cel-shaded. On a positive note (and who knows what the game will actually look like), the story setup is awesome. Apparently, you can play as Corvo, or the more interesting option, the little girl you protect to become queen in the first game, who's throne has been usurped by some count-looking oddball. It's an interesting concept, although it does follow Infamous: Second Son in only carrying over the "good ending" of its predecessor, or so it seems.
Again, Microsoft is stepping outside of their comfort zone to interest a wider audience who doesn't just want sports and soldiers. Recore is coming from some big names, one being a video game legend. The trailer is vague and who knows what the actual gameplay is going to be like in the end, but I'm very intrigued by this game.
One of Square Enix's many surprises at E3 this year, Nier is coming back in a new way. I never played the first game, but I remember the first game in some capacity. It wasn't hailed as a great game, but I guess it has become something of a cult classic. The trailer interested me and while it might turn out to be a game that does not appeal to me whatsoever, I'll be keeping my eye on it moving forward. This, and Project Setsuna.
I was originally going to rank the conferences too, but this blog got out of hand in terms of size :P. I might still rank them in a separate blog in the near future. I want to talk about Ubisoft and Nintendo, since both were completely absent from this "best of" blog. Let's just say that it was for good reason...
In other news, my favorite movie of all time finally released on blu-ray this week. Spirited Away. I just picked it up today and I'm really excited to finally watch it in HD. I was even more than willing to pay Disney's ridiculous blu-ray/DVD price for the first time in a long while.
I'm currently bouncing back and forth between The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and replaying Fallout 3. I am really digging Witcher, but I promised myself a long time ago that I would only play Fallout 3 for a second time when Fallout 4 is announced. I could not resist. I may go for the platinum trophy, if I'm feeling up to switching between saves and grinding. Or I might just play it naturally.
Thanks for reading and please comment with what your favorite games from E3 were. :)