E3 Games of the Show

Well, with Nintendo's E3 Direct done and dusted, all the major games of this year's E3 have been revealed.   And I slapped together a list of the ten games I was most excited about from this year's conference because I was bored and also because lists are how I process excitement.    This year wasn't especially crazy, but I still easily managed to find ten games I was impressed by...and a few I honestly cannot wait to get my hands on. 

10.) Assassin's Creed: Origins: Coming in at number 10 is Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed franchise.  As much as I'm a fan of great graphics and giant worlds, Ubisoft's games usually don't do very much for me.  They're all so mired in realism and the overwrought espionage of Tom Clancy novels that I tend to lose interest more often than not.  Even Assassin's Creed is just a tad too "dull" for me usually, but Origins blew me away.   Giving players a glimpse at the golden deserts and pyramids of Egypt, you play as Bayek--one of the first of the clan that would come to be known as the assassins of the later games.

Still, even that wasn't enough to nab my interest until I got a look at the deeper gameplay systems. From skill trees to loot systems and into the battle systems, the creators of Origins have taken note of the popularity of open-world RPGs and incorporated a ton of that into its gameplay, resulting in a world that feels like a more realistic Witcher than anything else.  And yeah, it's definitely still mostly "grounded", as ACO relies on the exoticism of being set in ancient Egypt to make up for being unable to have trolls, elves, and dwarves, but that's not really the worst thing in the world.   Egyptian society is something that's usually only used passingly in game, and ACO is finally taking full advantage of that setting to open us up to a lot of cool architecture and city designs.

Having said all this, it comes in at the tenth spot because I'm not 100 percent sold. The fall is a packed year even for me, and this will need to prove itself a bit more before I decide it's worth 60 bucks.


9.) The Artful Escape: While other games were certainly more technologically impressive in terms of the skill required to do complex modeling, there wasn't a single game prettier, cooler, or more psychedelic than The Artful Escape at Microsoft's conference.   Feeling like a 1970's rock album cover come to life, The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti is described as: "an action, adventure, exploration, narrative driven, musical-laser-light-battle kind of game."

You do battle with minor monsters and strange space gods alike with your axe, rocking out and exploring a gorgeous world as a shy kid with a passion for rock and roll seeking to create a new persona for himself.  And I know, I know, I'm normally the guy who blows off indie games and this is like THE most indie game ever...but its the cool kind of indie.  It's coming out of a genuine passion to make games, but also to relate a novel experience in a different way than what we're used to. 

The only thing that keeps this game from climbing any higher is that I'm definitely not paying $250-500 for it, and so not only does it not have a release date, I've also got no idea when or if it'll ever come to PS4.

8.) Vampyr: Dontnod Entertainment's newest title, Vampyr is an action RPG set in London during the early 1900's that follows a doctor named Jonathan Reid, recently infected by a vampire and struggling to maintain his humanity while fighting the eternal thirst for blood.  You explore a semi-open world which changes based on both the actions of its citizens and your own when you resist or give in to your urges.  You can only grow stronger by feeding on victims, and thus the game will be harder or easier based on how many people you feed upon.

I'm a sucker for RPGs, open worlds, and settings that aren't often explored, but I'm still not 100 percent sold on this game.  Dontnod's reputation isn't the strongest--people loved Life is Strange but Remember Me was unique like this and was uniquely awful, too.  It's battle system was tedious and every fight seemed as if it took an eternity to work through...though admittedly from the looks of Vampyr the opposite issue might be true here.  I'll be taking more of a wait and see stance with this game and hoping it turns out to be a worthy RPG to add to my collection. 

7.) Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom: Ni no Kuni II is another game I'm waffling on.  When it was first announced I was pretty hyped...but that was mostly because at the time I was still looking at a PS4 that barely had any games I wanted to play on it.  Now here we are two years later and I'm almost drowning in titles to finish, and that leaves me staring a little harder at this game's flaws.

To get it out of the way, there aren't many.  This game looks absolutely gorgeous and I couldn't be happier that it appears we have another major J-RPG coming to the system.  The battle system could be a bit snappier--that boss fight above doesn't look like its very much fun, though that could easily change when I'm the one holding the controller--and I quite dislike the chibi style characters used for the overworld, but that's a call back to 90's era PS1 J-RPGs, so I get it.  Ultimately, these are mostly nitpicks though, and the idea of a boy king and a kid sky pirate teaming up to stop a war between animal tribes along with their babysitter from another world is pretty cute.  And since NNK2 is basically the only game I see coming out in November I really want, it's probably a given that I get this game.

6.) Starlink: Battle for Atlas: One thing I didn't expect was for Ubisoft to steal this year's E3 with tons of new announcements, surprisingly little mention of DLC, and just an overall enjoyable presentation.  The other thing I didn't expect was to have them create an open world game set in deep space where you're a starfighter trying to protect your galaxy.

I'm an absolute sucker for space opera-type games that focus on alien worlds and societies and how humanity survives when they make contact with not one, but countless alien species, so this hooked me from the second I saw it.  I'm a tad concerned about the Toys to Life aspect and hoping the cool customization isn't strictly attached to how many toys you're willing to pretend like you're buying for your niece/nephew, and I'm kinda bummed that you're stuck in the ship the whole game instead of being allowed to explore worlds on foot, and that's the only thing that kept this game out of the Top 5.

5.) Middle-Earth: Shadow of War: I said I wanted to see a AAA Fantasy RPG before E3 started, and even went as far as to say that this game "didn't count", because the last one was just an open-world action game with little to no RPG elements.  But every time I see this game it seems to have more and more depth to its combat, patented Nemesis system, and even the invasions the game is focusing far more on this time.   Not only that, but there seems to be a legitimate story featuring far more characters (and character)--than the original game.  With the E3 trailer featuring "Bruz", I actually felt my hype for this game spike to a level that has me eager to get my hands on it this October.  Before, I wasn't even bothered that this game had been pushed from August to October, but now I'm disappointed I'll have to wait another two months to get my hands on it.

It's been a long time since I played the first game in this series, and while I still think this series would do better completely divulged from Tolkien, I'm finally eager to return to Middle Earth and lead the Bright Lord to victory.


4.) Xenoblade Chronicles 2: The highlight of Nintendo's Switch presentation at the start of the year in my opinion, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was also easily the most interesting thing at their E3 presentation on Tuesday.  Mario Odyssey looked beautiful but not enough to buy, and the Metroid Prime 4 and Pokemon Switch announcements were so basic they may as well have been discovered through someone going trademark hunting.  While I still can't stand the Xenoblade battle system (if you're going to auto-attack we might as well go turn-based), I'm digging this game's inspired world design and with this new gameplay I've actually grown to love the character design as well.  Monolith Soft created my Game of the Year in 2015 with Chronicles X (and arguably my Game of the Generation if you say Wii U belongs with the WiiPS360 gen), so I'm hoping they're able to carry the same sense of wonder and excitement I had while exploring into this game.   

I'm also hoping that "Holiday 2017" doesn't somehow change into January or February of 2018, but if that means a better game I can't really complain much about that part.

3.) Anthem: The Top 3 was pretty hard, but ultimately I had to go with which games were literally satisfying dreams.  And Anthem's offer of an "alien" world filled with strange monsters that you fight in an Iron Man-esque flight suit that contains bombs, lasers, and jet technology that allows players to both soar through the air AND the seas combines several dreams into one.

Right now the only thing keeping this game from being higher is that Destiny showed us what can happen to these massive worlds when developers don't try hard enough to keep you invested in learning more about them.  There are so many questions I have that need answering before I'm all the way in.   Are you forced to play with others or can you solo the entire world alone?   It's a massive world, but what sort of content is in that world?   Vanilla Destiny had tons of caves and hidden facilities that often contained nothing more than some ammo boxes--does this game make exploration worth it?   What's the story?   What about the suits; can you have more than one of them, how deep is the customization?   Lastly, how's this game being monetized?  Tons of DLC, or is the DLC free and the game is going to be packed with microtransactions?

Until someone sits down with BioWare and gets all of this information out of them, I can only get so excited about this title.  But if they can clear all those hurdles, then this game might just pay off on all the excitement I felt when Destiny was first revealed, and the promise that next-gen seemed to hold at the very beginning of all this.

2.) Marvel's Spider-Man: Again with the satisfying dreams thing, it's been ages since a great Spider-Man game (I loved Shattered Dimensions but that love is not universal...and it came out in 2011) and Insomniac seems to have it together with this thing.  I loved the extended gameplay clip they showed, and while I'm bummed out its not coming this year (though I never believed it would), I'll still be one of the first people buying it on release, as I'm a sucker for a good superhero title.

They're still staying quiet about this game though.  I'd love to know more about potential other costumes, how many other villains we'll get to this game, and since Miles freaking Morales was at the end of this trailer I think we're losing out if this game doesn't end with Miles gaining powers and the next game featuring both Peter and Miles, but one supposes we'll come to talk about all of that later.  This game is over a year out, after all.

1.) Beyond Good and Evil 2: Ubisoft truly wow'd me with this game.  Like I said, I'm a sucker for space operas, and BGE2 was pushing a LOT of buttons at once with this trailer.   It gave off serious Cowboy Bebop vibes with its ragtag crew of space pirates, and its strange architecture that seemed to draw influence from a hodge-podge of various asian cultures gave me Iria: Zeiram the Animation feels, making this a game I've literally dreamt about for over a decade.  But BGE2 became the game I was far and away most excited by when I finally saw the snippet of gameplay in the back and realized they weren't showing a trailer entirely unrepresentative of the gameplay the end user would actually experience.

I don't know when this game will actually release, but I've already signed up for the Space Monkey Army (despise that name, though) to hopefully take part in the beta whenever it launches, and look forward to buying this game the very day it releases.

Well, that's it for my games of the show.  There were others, but I tried to stick to games that had made an appearance on an actual conference rather than just quietly releasing a trailer before E3 or being at the show floor.   Later today I'll try to have something of a "report card" for all the conferences up....and then finally sometime tomorrow we can shift back to some less virtual entertainment.

What games were you excited about?   Feel free to let me know in the comment section.


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