The 45 Best Games from E3 2018

Elder Scrolls VI
The Elder Scrolls VI title card reveal

I went into Bethesda’s press conference hoping we’d see a teaser trailer for The Elder Scrolls VI or whatever new IP the studio was working on (rumored to be Starfield). I had no idea we’d get both. It’s impossible to have a reaction other than vague hype, since we still know absolutely nothing about the game. And since we still know so little — and that it’s on the docket for after Starfield — it’s probably safe to assume that this game won’t even hit current consoles. I’m aiming for a 2023 release, at the earliest.

Still, there are a few details we can glean from that short trailer. Obviously, this isn’t Skyrim. Given that this is a coastal city with plenty of ruins and barren, rocky mountains, the area shown is probably High Rock, the western-most region of Tamriel. It’s home of the Bretons and borders Hammerfell, which is where the Redgaurds are from. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall took place partially in Hammerfell, partially in southern High Rock, so maybe we can span both regions in The Elder Scrolls VI. Given that we’re talking about future technology — and that Fallout 76 is already four times the size of Fallout 4 — maybe this game will cover even more of Tamriel than we might guess.

 

Fallout 76
Fallout 76 multiplayer world view

Speaking of Fallout 76, this was the game I was looking forward to seeing the most of all the E3 press conference games. It’s obviously coming from one of my favorite studios and in one of my favorite video game series, so I was understandably intrigued by Bethesda taking a different gameplay approach to this one. And I have to say, Todd Howard said pretty much all the right things when he was on stage.

Fallout 76 can be played solo, you receive quests, it’s always online but doesn’t require the player to manage servers, the game is absolutely huge, and there won’t be hundreds of players on the map at once. But as more details have trickled out after the show, some of that nervousness has creeped back in. How robust will the quests be if there aren’t any human NPCs? How will rewards be meaningful and repeatable if we log into a different server every time? How will Bethesda stop other players from being assholes and killing me every chance they get? Despite the questions, Bethesda has earned the benefit of the doubt, and I’m desperately hoping to get into the beta before the game launches in November.

 

Gears of War 5
Gears of War 5 Kait

I’ll be honest and say I didn’t really know what was going on during the Gears of War 5 story trailer, as I haven’t played Gears of War 4. It seems like there are a bunch of dudes that are mad and a young woman who’s even madder. I don’t know, the story has never been the draw of Gears of War to me. Just the fact that they are making another game is reason enough to be excited, since the gameplay has always been rock solid and there are usually at least a few characters that are interesting.

There really wasn’t a ton shown or said about Gears of War 5 at E3, probably because the game is still more than a year away. But it’s safe to assume that it will continue the third-person cover shooter roots, with some new and crazy enemy types. I’m always curious to see new weapon types, as well, and it’ll be interesting to see if Gears of War 5 has another gimmick at play similar to Gears of War 4’s weather systems.

 

Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima demo screenshot

Of Sony’s four big games to be shown at the E3 press conference, Ghost of Tsushima was the game we knew the least about going in — yes, even less than Death Stranding. We knew that Sucker Punch was making this new IP in leiu of yet another Infamous game and that it seemed to take place in feudal Japan. I was very excited to learn more about the story, world, and gameplay, and the show did not disappoint.

We got an extensive gameplay demo for Ghost of Tsushima, and the game seems to employ an almost fighting game-esque combat system, only in a third-person action game environment. It seems like story and characters will be main focuses, and I’m curious to see Sucker Punch take on “real” history like this. The dialogue in their games hasn’t always been top notch. I’m most excited to see how they can adapt the traversal and openness of the Infamous games to this new project, since that’s something they’ve always done well. Similarly, the game is looking absolutely gorgeous, which shouldn’t be surprising for anyone that played Infamous: Second Son.

 

Halo Infinite
Halo Infinite title card reveal

I don’t think it was a surprise for many to see a new Halo game starting the Microsoft press conference. What was surprising — at least to me — was seeing the title card “Halo Infinite” and then hearing somewhat conflicting reports about what the game actually is.

At first blush, I speculated that this might be a Halo battle royale game, or even something as ironic as Halo’s version of a Destiny game. But 343 Industries has come out and said that this will be the next chapter in the Master Chief story, so is this game actually just Halo 6 with a different name? It wouldn’t be surprising to see Microsoft take a “games as a service” approach to its largest franchise. Apparently, we’ll just have to wait a bit longer to see the details.

 

Hitman 2
Hitman 2 Agent 47 closeup

2016’s Hitman was one of the more underrated games of the year, having initially been laughed off for its episodic model. Well, that model actually fit the game perfectly and added near-infinite replayability to its many maps and scenarios. It’s maybe a bit unfortunate that Hitman 2 is releasing as a full game, but that won’t necessarily be a bad thing. As long as IO Interactive supports this game like they did the first, I’m sure it’ll be another long-term hit.

Frankly, it’s just cool that this game is happening at all, considering Square Enix cut ties with IO Interactive last year. But the studio acquired the rights to the Hitman franchise and now we get to enjoy yet more Agent 47 mayhem. I’m hoping for even crazier ways to kill people, even more varied locations, and even more challenging elusive targets.

 

Just Cause 4
Just Cause 4 Rico and tornadoes

The Just Cause series is one that I’ve always appreciated from arm’s length but have never engaged with fully. I think that comes down to limited video game time than anything else, but I’ve always wanted to give the over the top insanity of Just Cause a try.

Similar to Just Cause 3, the new game focuses on Rico taking down some truly bad people, but I’m not sure how much I care about the story, to be honest. The largest gameplay change seems to be the addition of weather systems such as tornadoes. I can think of a million ways that a tornado combined with a grapple line combined with an exploding barrel could create some fun.

 

Kingdom Hearts 3
Kingdom Hearts 3 Frozen world

I feel like I’ve been writing about Kingdom Hearts 3 at E3 for a decade at this point, but we’re finally reaching the finish line. Square Enix has actually shown quite a bit about the game in recent weeks, revealing Toy Story, Tangled, and Monsters, Inc. worlds in the lead up to E3. They’re clearly dipping into the Pixar and CG-Disney wells at this point.

This year, we saw more trailers at three different press conferences: Square Enix, Sony, and Microsoft. Frozen and Pirates of the Caribbean gameplay was also shown, in addition to some more story context. I have to be honest and say that I tune out whenever characters start talking about hearts and souls and darkness — the narrative of Kingdom Hearts hasn’t been the draw for me since the first game released. But at this point, I just want to play it.

 

Metro Exodus
Metro Exodus train environment

Metro Exodus is my sneaky entry for game of the show (or at least, game of the press conferences). The trailer shown at Microsoft’s presser was absolutely incredible. I was a big fan of the two previous games, despite their flaws, so I’m glad this third one is getting some additional attention.

I love the idea of the game progressing via a train. That can keep the momentum going while still allowing for some guided exploration. The world of Metro is so engrossing, and the mechanics around ammo management, customization, and resource scarcity are incredibly unique. And seriously, this game is looking absolutely gorgeous.

 

My Friend Pedro
My Friend Pedro shooting action

Of the three games shown at Devolver Digital’s press conference, My Friend Pedro was the standout for me. It’s a 2D perspective shoot ’em up that is over the top and gory as hell. It’s being referred to as “gun-fu,” which is a term I don’t think I’ve heard since the days of The Matrix.

You can slow down time, wall jump, aim both weapons independently, and dodge in amazing ways. There are plenty of opportunities to make use of exploding barrels, as well as enemies’ dropped weapons. And to think this whole game was made by one dude. My Friend Pedro is really one of those games that you need to see in action in order to truly appreciate what it does.

 

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