E3 this year was, as you all may expect, pretty overwhelming. With next gen consoles, big name 3rd party announcements, and the recent explosion of indie development, there was a lot to take in. I’m going to do my best, however, to tell you which games were, in my opinion, most promising. Some of these games are worth your money, some are worth a rental (GameFly or borrowing from a friend) and some should just be passed all together. Since covering every single title in a single article would be the equivalent of writing you a novel, and I don’t get paid enough for that, I’m going to be covering just the top shelf contenders at this years show:
Dark Souls 2
Dark Souls 2 is a personal highlight for me. With the “Souls” series garnering a rabid following on the PS3, and eventually across multiple platforms, this game has rigid expectations that almost no other game is held to. And it looked to impress. With improved enemy AI, destructible environments, and improved duel-weapon and bow combat, Dark Souls 2 looks to improve upon almost all of the previous game’s short comings, few as they were. Better graphics led to even more moving environments, and both enemy and armor designs give this game the same level of immersion that the previous titles held.
If the boss and level design can remain, throughout the entire game, consistent with what we saw in the demo, Dark Souls 2 WILL be a game you want to buy on release.
I should start this by admitting that I have precious little experience with the Witcher franchise. That doesn’t however, stop me from recognizing that this game is going to be incredibly solid. With a tremendous open world that boasts to be larger than either of the previous installments, nuanced combat and character growth, as well with a twisting narrative that allows for a significant amount of player agency, I would have to say that the Witcher 3 was one of the most promising titles I saw all show.
Features of the game that were of particular interest were the way monster hunting was done. Players will have to analyze in-world cues to determine what type of monster plagues an area, research that monster in their compendium (of sorts), and then take proper preparatory steps in order to defeat the monster. This type of in depth engagement with a system that is leaving you hints, not screaming all the proper steps right at your face, is incredibly rewarding and has made me really excited to give this game a shot once it releases.
Up until this point, you may have thought that I’m just a fantasy game guy. Swords and dragons and magic and all that jazz. Not so! I thought Ubisoft killed it this year, and the game that most impressed me was The Division. Massive online shooters arranged in persistent worlds has been something that developers have been trying to do for a little while now, and no one seems to have gotten it like The Division did. It looked like a perfect blend of MMORPG and Third Person Shooter, and any fan of either genre couldn’t ask for more. The inclusion of cross platform contribution from tablet owners is a nice touch, and while it was heavily focus on during the show, I don’t even think was the highlight of their demo. The combat seems so tuned that I can imagine PvP matches, as well as Co-op missions, being incredibly rewarding experiences.
The animations of the characters, the interaction with the environment, the unique skills that each soldier possessed… everything about this game makes me think that it is going to rock shooter fans and MMO fans alike.
These by no means were the only amazing looking games at the show, they’re just the ones that stood out to me. Rocksmith 2014, Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn, Transistor, Project: Spark, Titanfall… They were all stellar. There were also games that you might want to shy away from, like Bayonetta 2, or Mario Kart 8, which just looked like more of the same (in that if you’ve played the previous installments, you might gain very little out of these iterations). That may come down to personal preference though, and if you just love all things Bayonetta, by all means, give it a shot. In the end, a great show giving us a look at some great gaming on the horizon.
PS. While the Xbox One seems to have better release exclusives at this point, my prediction is that more developers will go with the PS4 in the long run, and that’s what I’ll be buying. Just felt like that’s a topic that needed to be addressed (what with new gen consoles only coming around every half decade or something).