Hey fans and friends and odds and ends! Another Electronic Entertainment Expo has come and gone and no one ordinary human could be expected to see it all, soak it all in, and break down the coolest parts for general perusal in one handy blog but luckily for you I am no ordinary human but instead the last progenitor of a race of intergalactic curmudgeons. I have taken this Herculean, nay almost Sisyphean task unto myself. Here are 30 highlights (and 10 lowlights) of E3 2018.
This list is purely based upon my own gaming proclivities, tastes and opinions. that's why there's no mention of Battlefield V here for instance, because while it looked cool (that Frostbite engine is nice for sure) I need another WW2 based shooter like I need a hole in my head. Or Super Mario Party (not a fan of the series, never will be) so your mileage may vary. On with the listicle!
Assassins Creed Odyssey- Do you like Assassin's Creed Origins? Do you like ancient Greece? While UbiSoft brought back a lot of the good will they lost on the last few AC games by taking a year off and making AC:Origins they are back to their yearly schedule so that could mean a) another solid entry in the series like Origins or b) another rushed-out-the-door franchise entry. Color me cautiously optimistic. Sure looks nice though.
Battletoads- The winner this year in the Old-Franchise-No-One-Expected-To-Be-Rebooted category, we got a trailer for a new version of Battletoads. No gameplay, no details, just a teaser. The original wasn't that great a game, despite it having a deep cult following for some reason but I am interested to see what they do with the IP.
Beyond Good and Evil 2- Another year, another mind-shatteringly cool looking cut scene from Beyond Good and Evil 2. UbiSoft's founder Michel Ansel's pet project seems to be inching closer and closer to actually being released, but the fact they are leaning on crowdsourcing to finish the game which has already been in production for two console generations now doesn't seem like a good sign to me. Looks pretty though. Hope I get to play it in my lifetime.
Call of Cthulhu- An idea i have wanted to see come to fruition for years, Cyanide Studios (best known for the fantasy stealth series Styx) are making an atmospheric first-person horror game based on the Chaosium RPG in turn based on the works of HP Lovecraft. Delayed out of a 2017 release for fine tuning, CoC looks gorgeous, feels appropriately creepy and leans hard into the narrative. The trailer is definitely worth the watch and this game is one of my most anticipated titles of this year. Prepare for non-Euclidian madness!
Control- Remedy Studios, best known for the great Alan Wake games and the so-so game/TV hybrid Quantum Break are back with a brand new IP called Control that seems to grab some of the time distortion fun that worked well in QB and the telekinetic powers and resultant emergent gameplay of the cult classic Psi-Ops. Looks super stylish and rife with fun possiblities. Hoping Remedy has their big comeback with this title.
Crackdown 3- Another game that has been delayed a few times (Hey, i would much rather they take their time and make a good game than rush something out the door that's crap to make a corporate quota), Crackdown 3 looks like a return to form for this franchise. Superpowers, big guns, cool vehicles, and appropriately over-the-top villains all served on the platter of an open world future city full of interesting places to fight in. Oh and did I mention you play as Terry Crews? If that doesn't interest you then i don't know what else I could say that would.
Cuphead DLC- One of my favorite titles of last year, Cuphead is a hard-as-nails series of boss rushes beautifully animated in an immaculately recreated 1930s cartoon style that won my heart and caused me to rage quit repeatedly because of its difficulty while simultaneously enticing me to return and finish each encounter just to see the next wacky fight. Its a thing of beauty. Knowing a new chapter in the story with new bosses, new areas and a new playable character is on the way was one of my happy happy joy joy moments of the expo.
Cyberpunk 2077- Were I to award a Game-of-the-Show Award, this would be it. CD Projekt Red is one of the few videogame studios I trust enough to buy their games on launch day, sight unseen, thanks to my deep and abiding admiration for their series of games based on The Witcher novels. This new offering is a first person RPG with FPS shooting mechanics in the cyberpunk setting of the popular tabletop game. It is a jaw dropper, especially for someone like me who truly loves that whole Blade Runner/Neuromancer aesthetic. Can't wait to play this.
Doom Eternal- When Bethesda resurrected (pun intended) the Doom franchise I was pretty skeptical as I have been playing the games in the series both good and bad since the early PC days but damned if it wasn't one of the finest games I played in 2016. The speed, the enemies, the weapons, the gruesome power kills; it was a tour de force made by people you could tell were longtime Doom fans and knew what made the series work. The announcement that there was a new Doom in the works by the same team brought a smile to my face and made my trigger finger twitch instinctively. Take me back to Hell, Bethesda!
Elder Scrolls 6- A 30 second teaser trailer confirming what we all knew would eventually come from Bethesda was enough to make an entry on this list. I have logged in over 200+ hours on Skyrim and even if this doesn't come out till next generation just knowing that it is indeed more than just a fanboy rumor was gratifying.
Fallout 76- I am the absolute definition of ambivalence about this game but I am willing to give it a chance. On one hand I am psyched to have another Bethesda Fallout game to play so soon after Fallout 4. On the other I am scared about the online aspects of this new game, as I love the single player exploration gameplay of the previous Fallout entries. I will get it and give it a shot based on how much I enjoyed Fallout 3, New Vegas and 4 but I am concerned about griefing, play balance and the other variables of an "always online" game. Another case of cautious optimism.
Gears Tactics- A Gears of War and XCom hybrid? Sound like a peanut butter and chocolate situation to me. Bring it.
Generation Zero- Ever want to fight rogue robots as teenagers in 1980s Sweden? Soon you will get your chance. Half Terminator, half Stranger Things, Generation Zero looks like it could be a fun time. The trailer looked good but had no actual gameplay in it. Could be cool. We will see.
Ghost of Tsushima- Sucker Punch, best known for the Sly Cooper and infamous games, is breaking out into a new IP, an incredible looking semi-supernatural samurai game. One of the pillars of the Sony presentation (which was notoriously short on new games this year), this game looks beautiful and the combat seems to be more tactics and timimg than hack-and-slash button mash. Much as God of War was the breakout PS exclusive this year, I predict Ghost of Tsushima will fill that role next year.
Halo Infinite- New Halo, new graphics engine (called SlipSpace and my oh my does it look nice), the return of Master Chief and an actual Halo to fight on. Details are scarce on this newest entry but 343 is more than capable of making a good Halo game and the in-game footage in the trailer looked sweet so I am paying attention to be sure.
Hitman 2- IO Interactive absolutely nailed their last Hitman game, so much so that word-of-mouth boosted the game's sales well beyond expectations even after they were cut loose from SquareEnix, allowing them to stay afloat as an independent company. The environments, the multiple options for assassination, the AI, the story; everything clicked. Now they are back with a new set of missions with improved AI, new sniper modes and even co-op assassinations. After all the fun I had with their last entry I am all in.
Jump Force- A fighting game that will be an anime fan's dream by combining characters from Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Naruto, Death Note and more in one game. Looks like a lot of fun, kind of like Smash Bros for modern anime but with actual fighting game mechanics.
Kingdom Hearts 3- Coming in second place to BG&E2 for Game-Longest-In-Development, the SquareEnix/Disney mash-up series finally ships their latest numbered entry in early 2019. they showed off the Frozen level, the Monsters Inc. level and a new level based on Wreck It Ralph. The weirdest part about Square's presentation was how hard they leaned into KH3, a mostly known quantity at this point, at the expense of even mentioning the highly anticipated Final Fantasy 7 remake. Seemed like a major missed opportunity
Metal Wolf Chaos XD- Devolver Digital had by far the best press conference of E3, doing the same kind of knowing parody they did last year with just as much venom and hilarity, from the inside jokes like "The Dave Lang Memorial Auditorium" to the more obvious jabs like the fake cryptocurrency LootBoxCoin. It was a hoot. One of the actual games they promoted among the satire was Metal Wolf Chaos XD, a localization of From Software's wacky cult "classic" in which you play the President of the United States piloting a mech against a military coup, and then gets weird from there. I can't wait to experience the goofiness for myself.
Metro Exodus- The words "beautiful devastation" comes to mind when I think of the latest entry in the Metro series, in which you are helping guide a train through post-apocalyptic Russia. The graphics are intensely rendered, so much so I am concerned about the ability of the current generation of consoles to run it smoothly. The trailer is a jaw dropper.The first person shooter gameplay mixed with the survival elements of the previous games have returned, with the added story mechanics of having to maintain your train and keep it and its passengers moving in the wasteland. It seems like a compelling combination.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice- From Software, home of the immensely popular Dark Souls and Bloodborne is pairing with Activision to bring this new samurai IP to consoles. matching their patented easy-to-learn-hard-to-master gameplay to an incredibly realized feudal Japan setting. I love the toughness of the Souls games, how you actually have to learn how to "get good" at that them to progress, and this looks like another in that mold. My only misgiving is Activision and their proclivity for messing up great games with lootboxes and pay-to-win nonsense.
Session.- While EA disappointed a bunch of fans by not filling the void recently left by the disappointed consumers who bought the shitastic Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 by announcing the long-rumored Skate 4, here comes independent Canadian studio Crea-Ture to bridge that gap with new skateboarding game Session. Can a new skateboarding IP grab players like THPS and Skate did back in the day? I guess we find out in 2019. Looks good so far though.
Spider-Man- Another one of Sony's pillars of their sparse news conference, Marvel's Spider-Man by Insomniac Studios is looking strong, which is good as its on track for a fall release.The trailer showed us new versions of Electro, Rhino, Vulture, Scorpion and Mr. Negative, plus a little more of the gameplay, which looked like a more acrobatic and fluid version of the combat from the Batman Arkham games. This game looks great and I trust Insomniac to nail this one.
Starfield- Another long rumored release from Bethesda finally confirmed. Now that EA has for all intents and purposes killed the Mass Effect franchise with the negative reaction to Andromeda there is definitely a need for an epic science fiction RPG and just the confirmation that Starfield is a real thing and not just an internet pipedream was a win.
Tetris Effect- Whoever had the brilliant idea to unleash the creativity of Rez mastermind Tetsuya Mizuguchi on a VR version of classic Tetris should just go ahead and give themselves a raise and a corner office. To paraphrase an old ad, this is not your father's Tetris and the glimpse we got of what Mizuguchi has in store was tantalizing to say the least. i'm don't even own a VR rig but I am psyched to play this.
Tunic- Remember a little game BITD called The Legend of Zelda:A Link To The Past? Might be before your time. Imagine that top down style gameplay but in a more realized 3D world and populated by cute animated creatures, heroes and villains. That's Tunic, a mix of old style adventure with new school animation graphics as you play an intrepid little fox exploring multiple levels of a charming world.Love the style and it reminds me of other recent throwbacks that I enjoyed like Bastion and Fez.
Twin Mirror- While we all wait patiently for a new Silent Hill game (and it might be a while as Konami has decided to focus on pachinko machines and health spas) here comes Twin Mirror, a psychological horror game wrapped in mystery, shrouded in an enigma, clouded by a conundrum. The trailer was short on gameplay details but long on that creepy factor that made the Silent Hill games so fun, so much so as I watched it I thought it was an actual new entry in the franchise.
Valkyria Chronicles 4- Anime alternate reality World War 2 turn-based strategy games are BACK! Talk about a niche market eh? But the previous Valkyria Chronicles games were fun tactical exercises that played out like almost like an anime version of XCom Enemy Unknown, and I am glad they are still making them.
We Happy Few- This game has a cool British sci-fi look to it, like BioShock and The Prisoner had a baby, but when they released it in early access the story-rich environment took a back burner to survival game mechanics that kind of squandered the sweet set up. Now a few years later after a major retooling We Happy Few is back. with an actual story, more of a quest based progression that makes the most of the setting, and just overall what everyone wanted the first time Compulsion Games introed it. We Happy Few comes out in just a few months and it looks unique which is one of the highest compliments I can pay a game.
Wolfenstein Youngblood- Bethesda has been doing right by all of Id's old franchises lately and Wolfenstein is no exception. The last Wolfenstein game, the second from MachineGames Studio, was one of my favorite game experiences this generation and now we get another side game in the series with Youngblood, which follows the story of BJ Blazkowitz's twin daughters fighting Nazis in the alternate history 80s. I have loved the last two games so much that this is a must buy for me.
And now the Not-So-Great Lowlights of the show
Anthem- Probably THE most anticipated game of the show, this shooter from EA and BioWare should've blown everyone away but the Anthem segment consisted of 5 minutes of gameplay and 20 minutes of roundtable talk. While I heard that the hands-on demos were more impressive than the E3 presentation Anthem came off in the EA news conference like a Destiny clone. Considering how much hype is around this game that was disappointing.
Death Stranding- Speaking of hype with no payoff, Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding was shown at Sony's press conference, with actual gameplay footage included, and I still don't know WTF to make of it. Is it a Metal Gear style stealth game? is it an action game? Who knows? I saw digital Norman Reedus creeping around some umbilical ghosts and a baby's butt in someone's throat. And Lindsey Wagner. Kojima is the master of the batshit crazy stuff but i was hoping as this is a brand new project for him we would at least have some vague idea of what he was working on. I'm all for weirdness don't get me wrong, but I like a little steak with my sizzle once in a while.
Call of Duty Black Ops 4- Sigh. Another Call of Duty. This time however, no single player campaign, a lot of the most popular modes (zombies for instance) have been farmed out to the Season Pass for another 40 bucks, and they are adding a Battle Royale mode that no one has seen or beta tested. Hard pass.
Command and Conquer Rivals- "Hey! I have a great idea! Lets bring back a beloved legendary series that pretty much invented the RTS genre as a pay-to-win phone game!!" No thanks.
Fortnite not having crossplay- Good news: Fortnite is coming to the Switch. Bad news: If you played Fortnite on the PS4 your Fortnite account is locked out of every other platform! Yay!
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate- Instead of bringing the super-popular, franchise reinvigorating Monster Hunter game from earlier this year from PS4 and Xbox to the Switch Capcom has decided to upresolution a 2 year old 3DS game for it. Oy vey
The Quiet Man- Remember The Bouncer, a brawler from SquareEnix that played clunkily, looked passable but only lasted about two hours total playtime? Yeah neither do most gamers because it was terrible. The Quiet Man seems like The Bouncer 2. i hope I'm wrong.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider- After making such a big deal in the last Tomb Raider game about Lara's ethical dilemma and the gravitas of her taking someone else's life, maybe turning her into the Predator in this game was not the right move. Still will probably play it because of the addition of actual tombs to raid but her transition from reluctant murderer to cold blooded killer between this game and the last seems a bit weird to me.
Super Smash Bros.Ultimate- No Waluigi? And the big selling point is that they have all the characters from last game? Considering that was the big game for Switch at Nintendo Direct this year it felt a bit of weak sauce.
Tales of Vesperia- Am i really supposed to get hype about a new full priced port of a ten year old JRPG that was available on the XBOX 360? Nope.
Well there you have it. E3 in a digital nutshell. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed parsing it all out for you. Check out all the cool content here on Old Magic Gaming and we will see you again soon on Old Man Gamer as we review the new Pillars of Eternity game, Deadfire!