While we do our best to anticipate what will make us excited before the show starts, it always changes. Here’s a look at what made us psyched at this year’s expo.
Borderlands 2: Looking at my save files recently, I have poured more than six whole days into Gearbox’s Borderlands. That’s four times through the main campaign, and at least twice through all of the DLC packs. I’ve got the loot chest preordered, and can’t wait to take the new Siren Maya through the wastes of Pandora. Every video I’ve seen of Borderlands 2 makes it look like exactly what I want: more guns, more story, and new characters. The fact that my wife and I will be able to play together in our living room while running with my best friend across the country is just icing on the cake. Now all I need is to clear off some shelf space for the swank Marcus bobblehead I’ve got coming, and I’ll be ready to lose myself in Pandora all over again.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: I fell in love with the 3D platformer when I bought a PS2 in college. Ratchet & Clank and Jak and Daxter are both series that I enjoyed immensely, but my favorite by a mile was the Sly Cooper series. Playing as multiple characters with a focus on stealth and platforming instead of combat (unless you’re playing as The Murray, that is) mixes things up just enough to keep me coming back for me. Gameplay types are varied, and the comic book aesthetic really works for me. Sanzaru did a great job on The Sly Collection for the PS3, and I can’t wait to see the original adventure they’ll be delivering.
Tomb Raider: The Tomb Raider series has had its ups and downs, but Square’s newest entry looks fantastic. Instead of starting out as a force to be reckoned with ,we’ll finally get to see Lara take that journey, dig deep and transform herself from an unwitting victim to the platforming expert we all know and love. Lara has a chance to be a real role model and heroine here, and between my love for Uncharted and my wife’s love for the Tomb Raider Legend trilogy, I’ll be picking this one up for sure.
Lego Lord of the Rings: I loved Lego blocks as a kid. My brother and I would spend hours building spaceships in the basement, destroying them, and then turning them into construction equipment, or a town, or a couple of race cars. Ever since Traveller’s Tales (now Tt Games) put out the first Lego Star Wars, I’ve been picking up whatever they put out (I’m playing Lego Pirates of the Caribbean right now actually), and it’s been great to see what could have become a very stale concept iterated on and generally made better as we move forward. The Lego games are wonderful for local co-op, and that’s my favorite kind, so while it might not be a release day pick-up, Lego Lord of the Rings will assuredly get added to my growing collection of brick-based platformers.
Watch_Dogs: Ubisoft’s briefing was horribly awkward, but it still managed to make me a fan with the trailer and gameplay demo of Watch_Dogs. It looks like a near-future open-world action game with computer hacking, multiple perspectives and a lot of potential. It stole the show for me, and I can’t wait to see more of it.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star: Paper Mario is one of my favorite series, so I’ve been looking forward to finding out more about the 3DS entry ever since it was first announced. Now that we know more about it(and have a launch window), I’m even more excited.
Pikmin 3: I have to admit, as much as I enjoyed Pikmin, I never played the second one. The time crunch and difficulty spike near the end of the first turned me off the series for awhile. With all the details we were given for Pikmin 3 though, I’m a fan all over again. I can’t wait to see how much I can turn it into a standard RTS using the Wii U GamePad.
Halo 4: ‘Halo is Halo,’ or so people say, but Halo 4 looks a lot more like Metroid Prime-meets-Halo, which sounds great to me. The shooting mechanics in Metroid Prime annoyed me, but the rest of the game was great. Marrying the gameplay of both sounds like a match made in heaven.
Tomb Raider: I never played any of the previous Tomb Raider games because, as much as the premise interested me, I just couldn’t get past Lara’s character design. This reboot interested me before E3 due to the design choices they’ve made, but seeing more of it during E3 confirmed to me that it should be a very exciting and tense experience.
ZombiU: While the game has a relatively weak name, by far, it’s been one of the few games that’s caught my interest this E3. What every zombie movie has ever taught you is that when you get bitten once, you’re dead and you turn into a zombie in due time. Many zombie-related games haven’t followed that traditional formula. ZombiU, however, takes this concept to heart and uses the capabilities of the Wii U controller that has gotten so much attention as of late. Once I get a Wii U, this will probably be one of the games I plan to get.
Beyond: Two Souls: Quantic Dream never seems to fail on the delivery of an interesting games, first with Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit and then with Heavy Rain. Using the same style of cinematic gameplay that the team introduced in those games, it brings us another game withe visuals that are even more stunning than the previous game. Heavy Rain left a huge mark graphically. Along with an interesting story from the trailer, Beyond seems like its on the right track to impress.
Dance Central 3: I’m a dance junkie and this game motivates me to finish and learn most of the routines of the second game. I don’t need to say much more on how excited I am about this. (Although Usher’s performance was a little shaky.)
NintendoLand: I’ll admit, as much as everyone expressed their disdain about how this game wasn’t hardcore enough for people, this game does look legitimately interesting. One of the reasons that people bought a Wii in the first place was how accessible Wii Sports was. It took five different sports and made them incredibly easy to play, enough for people from 3 to 93 to enjoy all the same. NintendoLand seems to follow that same simple formula: give people fun, but easily accessible games that anyone could play.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star: I’ve been excited about this one since I first heard about it. While it goes back to the old Paper Mario system that plays in a traditional RPG sense, I’m more interested to see how scrapping the whole experience system plays out. One of the reasons I loved Paper Mario is because it was an RPG. Taking out that very element will definitely change things up.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown: I knew this remake was going to be good under the care of the team at Firaxis. What I was less sure about was whether the team would solve the original XCOM‘s main problem: a lack of accessibility. The more we learn about this fall release, the more apparent it is that things will be much more intuitive than in the early ’90s.
Fire Emblem: Awakening: We didn’t really learn much about this 3DS Fire Emblem‘s U.S. release, but we learned two things: it’s on its way, and Treehouse is handling the localization. Both of these are good news for a game that already looked impressive in its original Japanese form, and that, with its depth and customization, should have much more success than the relatively simple and soulless DS remake, Shadow Dragon.
Hatsune Miku: I seriously can’t figure out why we’re getting this game, though I’m glad we are. Based on the Japanese virtual pop star, it’s simply a fun rhythm game series, and this new Vita version looks to be nice and intuitive with its touch controls.
Rayman Legends: Rayman Origins was amazing, with its art style, smooth controls and cooperative mechanics, and getting more is exactly what I want. Having a fifth player involved and doing things like practically playing a rhythm game on the GamePad is a great bonus.
Project P-100: Confession time: I have no interest in Pikmin 3. I’m just not a fan of RTS-style games, and while I know that doesn’t quite describe the Pikmin series, it’s close enough. That said, I was rocked by the very Pikmin-like Project P-100 trailer (and subsequent hands-on gameplay) that was shown following Nintendo’s press conference on Tuesday. This game looks crazy awesome, and the fact that it got absolutely zero mention as one of the twenty-three Wii U games on stage — quite possibly so it wouldn’t have to compete directly with the superficially-similar Pikmin 3 — was a crime. Platinum Games looks to have tapped into its Viewtiful Joe past with this one, and I am looking forward to playing it as much as I am to it receiving a real title. This is my #1 reason to want a Wii U right now, and it’s not even close.
Lego City: Undercover: I’m a huge fan of the Lego games, even through they’re pretty much the same thing over and over again with different licenses. They’re just good fun, and Tt Games always manages to keep things interesting with each new iteration. While Lego Batman 2 is being released too soon (like… next week) for me to justify it being on this “most anticipated” list, Lego City: Undercover will surely be something to look forward to in the coming year or so. Sure, it’s roughly the equivalent of Grand Theft Lego (from the cops’ side of things, of course), but being able to do basically anything they want without any of the (admittedly few) shackles they have with a licensed franchise should let Tt really cut loose and have some fun here.
Wii U: this is just general anticipation more than it is for any one specific thing. I like the idea of the Wii U, and I sort of get what Nintendo is trying to do here. The problem is that I’m not seeing a lot of that intent in action right now. I like the idea of “asymmetric gameplay” that Reggie and company spouted ad nauseum, but the execution of that so far is somewhat lacking. I’m going to guess that the Wii U is going to experience the exact same growing pains that the DS (and to a lesser extent Wii) did, as developers slowly figure out what can be done with the “asymmetric gameplay” concept beyond “up to four players actually play the game while one other player does random things with the touch screen” (Rayman Legends, NSMB U, Just Dance 4). Some of the NintendoLand minigames (of the ones we’ve seen, anyway) explore this, but there’s got to be more. A modest proposal to developers: unplug for a bit. I would love to see a Letters from Whitechapel Wii U adaptation, for example.
Watch_Dogs: Given the gaming industry’s thirst for news, I am honestly surprised they managed to keep this one a secret. This game really got my attention, and based on first impressions, this will either become another GTA clone or a fresh take on the urban open-world game. The video showed all the staples of the genre, but what really grabbed me is the introduction to the whole action sequence: the interaction with other characters, and using your hacking abilities to complete objectives, such as listening to phone conversations and so on. I am definitely following this one. In an E3 filled with sequels and previously announced games, I am glad Ubisoft had this to surprise us.
Beyond: Two Souls: Quantic Dream’s newest project, this looks like it will most likely continue their trend of putting story and atmosphere first, and this is not a bad thing. While the demo they showed was all CG, it seems like they’ve crafted another masterpiece. Also interesting, is getting Ellen Page to play a leading role; while I don’t think acting is a real issue in games, it will be interesting to see how it affects the experience.
Rayman Legends: Rayman Origins was a game that was seemingly destined for mediocrity, released next to giants like Skyrim and Saints Row the Third, but despite all odds it turned out to be one of the best games of 2011. Legends seems to be more of the Rayman we love from Origins, and then some. The touch controls seem to add an interesting element to local co-op, allowing the four characters from the previous game, as well as a fifth player using the Wii U touchscreen. The Wii U’s launch library is certainly shaping up to be much more impressive than the Wii or 3DS, assuming all of the games announced as launch titles aren’t delayed.
The Last of Us: What was initially assumed to be another zombie game has really become something else entirely, and the demo shown at the PlayStation conference showed that it’s more about survival. It seems to follow the Uncharted formula of puzzle-platforming, and then an action sequence, though the difference here is that it is less shooter and more action. Your character is also traveling with a child, who assisted in combat situations. Certainly happy to see Naughty Dog’s new game, and I am looking forward to seeing more.