When it was first announced that Insomniac was making a Spider-Man game, it seemed like a match made in heaven. Insomniac has always done well with humor and fun characters in games, and the fast-paced, acrobatic combat of Sunset Overdrive seemed like a good match for Spider-Man. Even the crazy weapon designs of Ratchet and Clank could fit into this new universe in the form of fun gadgets for Spidey to use.
The first parts we saw of the game last year tempered my excitement a bit, as there seemed to be an overreliance on quick-time events and button mashing in some of the larger scale, boss battle type moments. I’m glad we got a longer look at the “normal” combat at this E3, because it’s looking fun as hell. The boss battle against The Shocker seemed a bit repetitive, but I trust Insomniac to deliver plenty of diversity in combat. And to top things off, the video of Spider-Man swinging through New York City brings back memories of the Spider-Man 2 game, which is a high compliment indeed.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
This was a bit of a non-announcement, but considering Respawn’s Star Wars game was one of my most anticipated announcements going into E3, I had to include it here. I initially expected a Titanfall-esque game set in the Star Wars universe, with a focus on multiplayer and a crazy single player story akin to the best Call of Duty campaigns. Needless to say, I was shocked to learn that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will be a third-person action game where you play as a Jedi.
In hindsight, that definitely seems like the right move, considering Battlefront is a game that already exists and I’m not sure the world wants two Star Wars first-person shooter games at once. Very little else is known about the game, but it centers around a padawan that survives Order 66 just after Star Wars Episode III. Consider my interest piqued. But, I do have to say, I’m not a fan of the name. It feels a bit like they jumbled a bunch of Star Wars related words together to make a title.
After all the time spent on Fallout 76, it was amazing to have Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI announced. Starfield has been rumored for a while at this point, but man it was awesome to see it confirmed. I’m especially excited about it because this is Bethesda Game Studios’ first new RPG IP in several years.
Starfield is a space RPG (obviously), but we don’t know all that much else. Personally, I’m hoping for it to be a No Man’s Sky kind of experience where you travel in real-time between planets and can engage in space flight and combat, versus something like Mass Effect where you’re only ever on the different planets themselves. It’s obvious that this game is still a ways off, considering the current rumor is that it won’t even hit current consoles. That dampens the hype just a bit, but as long as this game comes out and it amazing, I’m ok waiting a few more years.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
The purpose of this list is to talk about excitement for the big E3 games, not the way those games were shown. If that was the case, then I would hate Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for taking up so much of Nintendo’s E3 Direct. Thankfully, at least the game is looking good. The coolest piece, obviously, is that every single previous Smash character is represented in Ultimate — along with a few new ones like Ridley, Daisy, and the Squid Kids.
This game seems more like a celebration of Super Smash Bros. than it does a net new product, because so much attention was given to returning characters and maps. I think that’s ok, but I do wish there was a new sort of subspace emissary mode. Knowing me, I won’t play this game online all that much — and I don’t have any friends to play couch co-op with — so a better way to engage with the game in a single player capacity would have been appreciated. Still, I’m pumped to finally try out the eight character free for all, having not played the Wii U version.
Tetris Effect was revealed shortly before E3 as part of Sony’s announcement plan leading up to the show. Anyone that rolled their eyes at the announcement and dismissed this as something lame clearly didn’t watch the trailer and/or hasn’t played Rez. Designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his studio, Enhance Games, recently put out an updated version of that game, with support for VR. They’re also working on a remaster of Lumines, another puzzle game classic.
Not only is it exciting to see another game from Tetsuya Mizuguchi, but Tetris Effect looks to be trippy as hell. It’s based on the phenomena where people used to play so much Tetris that when they’d close their eyes, they’d still see the game in motion. The game plays on this, with different other-worldly backgrounds that move along to the soothing music. The game also has VR support, which will only enhance the insanity.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
After just putting out Vampyr, recently announcing Twin Mirror, and being hard at work on Life is Strange season two, it was pretty shocking to see another new game from developer Dontnod. The Adventures of Captain Spirit takes place in the same universe as Life is Strange, as serves as an effort to build that universe beyond the story of Max and Chloe. I for one am already fascinated by this idea and can’t wait to see what the developer continues to come up with.
The Adventures of Captain Spirit is a free, single episode experience available in late June. It takes place three years after Life is Strange and centers on a 10-year old boy that thinks he’s a superhero — or maybe is a superhero. Even more interesting, apparently choices you make in the game will affect season two of Life is Strange. I love the idea of this shared universe Dontnod is creating, and as long as the uniqueness of the stories and the strong writing continue, I don’t see myself getting sick of these games anytime soon.
The Division 2
The Division 2 was announced a few weeks before E3 this year, and I don’t think many people were surprised. Despite stumbling out of the gate, the first game sold well and Ubisoft went out of its way to support the game with consistent content over the past two years. That focus makes me a believer when I hear that The Division 2’s three large expansions in the first year will not only be free, but actually impactful.
The game itself is looking great. I thought the first game held a ton of potential, but the more I saw, the more it seemed like a Destiny kind of game where the promises would be too much to deliver. Well, that turned out to be true, but there’s a strong foundation on which to build the sequel. I like the stronger focus on the people, as well. It’s hard to do story in a co-op multiplayer game, so we’ll see what other tricks Ubisoft has up its sleeve. But I’ll say that I’m far more interested in The Division 2 than I was the first game when it launched.
The Last of Us Part II
For me, The Last of Us Part II was game of the show. Granted, I didn’t see demos behind closed doors so I can’t speak to stuff like Cyberpunk 2077, but from what was shown at the press conferences, The Last of Us Part II took the cake, gave it the most realistic kiss possible, and then stabbed it repeatedly. Naughty Dog has shown time and time again that they are masters of narrative character development, and I couldn’t be more excited to see how the years between the first game and this one have changed Ellie.
The dichotomy of the gameplay “demo” we saw at Sony’s E3 press conference highlights just how amazing Naughty Dog is at subtlety and the framing of action. The darkness and violence that Ellie portrays wouldn’t be nearly as impactful if it wasn’t for how charming and innocent she comes across in personal life. She isn’t an invincible video game protagonist, she’s a human being that’s trying to balance the light and dark inside her during an impossibly complex and disturbing time. The contextual movement of Ellie during the combat sequence is kind of unrealistically intricate, but if any developer can nail that across what I’m sure will be a 20-30 hour game, it’s Naughty Dog. I feel another game of the year award coming their way.
Tunic was shown last year and was one of the more promising indies. This year, the game made it to the bigtime and got some special attention at the Microsoft press conference, where it was confirmed that Tunic would be console exclusive to Xbox One. It’s still coming to PC, but this was a pretty big get for Microsoft, in my opinion. Tunic has a very old-school Zelda vibe to it, but with an adorable fox hero and shiny, almost voxel-looking graphics.
The game was originally named Secret Legend, but changed names when creator Andrew Shouldice partnered with indie publisher Finji. Finji put out Night in the Woods last year, so the publisher has a pretty decent track record recently. More than just inspired by The Legend of Zelda, Tunic also plays from an isometric perspective, with areas gated off by new weapons and abilities. The game seems to be fairly mysterious — it doesn’t hand hold the player. I’m bummed this one isn’t coming to PlayStation 4, but it’s yet one more small reason why I’m considering finally picking up an Xbox One.
We Happy Few
We Happy Few has been on this list for multiple years running, and I feel like it’s a different game every time. What was originally revealed looked like a spiritual successor to Bioshock, focusing on creating a dark and engrossing world. Then we found out that there were procedural and survival elements to the game, which was confusing to me. Apparently it was confusing to others, too, because the game is back to being a more narrative experience. That makes it far more interesting to me.
Interesting also is Microsoft’s acquisition of developer Compulsion Games. That not only affirms budget for future projects, but potential additional support and maybe even DLC for We Happy Few. There are a ton of interesting ideas at play with this game, and I hope that Compulsion Games gets to explore the ones that will work best.
And there you have it, the 45 best games from E3 2018! That’s a lot of games to look forward to in the coming years, but what games did I miss?
My most anticipated games from this list are Cyberpunk 2077, Elder Scrolls VI, The Last of Us Part II, and Kingdom Hearts 3. What about you? Let me know in the comments below, and check out my grades for each E3 press conference!