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.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: Just as expected, Metal Gear Solid V’s lengthy E3 trailer completely blew me away. The open world seems amazing, the voice acting is better than I ever could have expected (considering the cast changes) and I love how ambitious it all seems. Hideo Kojima is a madman, but he knows how to wow people. I have nothing but high hopes that this will be my favorite game of next year.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: While I’m still relatively new to the world of The Witcher, I can’t help but be excited by The Witcher 3. The Witcher 2 completely floored me. It’s an RPG that handles player choice in such a fascinating way in a setting that felt familiar, but more grounded than your typical fantasy setting. The Witcher 3 seems to be expanding on a lot of what made the previous game so amazing while also giving players more freedom. When I first heard about the open world, I was a little skeptical, but it sounds like it’s going to deliver on everything you expect from the series and then some.
Final Fantasy XV: I’ve said it a million times already, but it feels really good to be excited about Final Fantasy again. I feel the series really lost its way with Final Fantasy XIII, but I always knew that Versus XIII would be something special (if it ever came out). Now that it’s finally being released (rebranded as FFXV), I feel like I can finally look forward to the next game in a franchise that was, at one point in my life, incredibly important to me.
Watch Dogs: Very few things surprised people more at E3 2012 than the reveal of Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs. It was definitely one of the coolest looking games at last year’s show, but even after seeing it again a year later, it still managed to impress. The city itself is impressive, the hacking looks incredibly creative and the mission structure does enough different to separate itself from other open world games. This will be the first next-gen game I play, and I couldn’t be happier.
Titanfall: It’s rare when a competitive shooter can actually grab my attention, but the folks at Respawn created one of the coolest looking first-person shooters I’ve seen in quite some time. Titanfall seems to incorporate single-player mission design in multiplayer matches in a way I’ve never seen done before. Oh, and mechs and jetpacks are pretty awesome.
Diablo III: While it may seem strange to anticipate a port of a year-old PC game, this is no normal port. Changing to direct control, scaling back the loot system and adding local co-op makes it a very different game. It makes it, well, a new Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, and while many have tried, we haven’t gotten a very good one of those yet.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch: The original Octodad was crazy, and Dadliest Catch keeps that spirit while making for a somewhat more polished end product. With some marketing by Sony, this could be the time for the franchise to break out into mainstream consciousness.
Sportsfriends: As much as I’ve enjoyed playing the early-release alphas, the extra modes and polish shown off at E3 make me super-excited to play the finished project on PS3. Even something as simple as changing the positions of things and adding walls can make a game like Hokra exponentially more strategic.
Project Spark: While LittleBigPlanet 2‘s creation tools were certainly powerful, Project Spark puts them to shame, and it does it in a way that’s actually significantly more user-friendly. You’ll be able to create almost anything, and there are a multitude of cool popular-genre presets so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Saints Row IV: How do you make a delightfully-dumb game even more so? Superpowers! In addition to the presidential jokes, the new Saints Row adds super-speed, super-jumping and telekinesis, among other abilities. Over time, of course, but after trying out all of them at once, it’s worth it to get there.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: Despite my desire to see how the storyline of Final Fantasy XIII ends, I’ve been somewhat lukewarm toward Lightning Returns ever since I realized the combat had been become more action-focused and parties had been abandoned for a solo battle featuring Lightning. After getting a chance to play it at E3, I actually find I like the fighting even more now than I did in XIII-2’s paradigm system. It’s responsive, fast-paced and gives me absolute control over what attacks and actions are done during a battle. I like it, and I can’t wait to play the full game.
Total War: Rome II: Total War has been one of my favorite series for a long time. Rome II brings new, exciting elements to both stages of the game, and I’m hoping that this time around I’ll finally learn how not to lose naval battles every single time.
Thief: The last time a game in the Thief series was made, I had zero interest in the stealth-action genre. I’m a big fan now though, and the gameplay demonstration I saw at E3 makes me think this reboot of the series has the potential to be one of the best games in the genre.
Shin Megami Tensei IV: The combat demo I got to play sold me on this game, as soon as I realized that it was like Persona 4 with an Earthbound aesthetic and design, and that, when negotiating with the enemy, I could cheat and trick them into joining my side. The small glimpse of a story I saw intrigued me too, so I’m looking forward to playing it down the road.
Final Fantasy XV: Maybe I’m just a sucker, but the minute a new trailer was shown and Versus XIII became XV, I was sold on it again. Sure, I’m confused about how the combat will work, and sure we still haven’t seen any gameplay demos or anything playable yet, but now that it is a mainline game instead of a side game, it will eventually get finished and released. It may take three or four more years (hopefully not), but it is no longer vaporware, which is all it takes to get me excited about a new Final Fantasy, apparently.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze: This game is a dream come true to me. Nintendo brought back David Wise, the brilliant composer responsible for the original games’ soundtracks, and the return of Dixie Kong (and possibly more) is icing on the cake. The dynamic camera is also something that sounds unimpressive at first, but is kind of a new thing for a traditional platformer and adds a ton of visual nuance to the game, especially during the barrel sections.
Super Mario 3D World: I wasn’t sure of Super Mario 3D Land at first, but it grew on me, and this looks like more of the same, but with four player co-op! In a 3D Mario game! It’s gorgeous, feels great and has a lot of new hooks and gimmicks that definitely add a lot to the Mushroom Kingdom experience. Also, Peach being playable in a core Mario game for the first time since Super Mario Bros. 2 is a tremendous event, and I applaud Nintendo for finally breaking the damsel-in-distress mold. Here’s to hoping the team goes with an angle other than kidnapping.
Mad Max: This one came out of left field and hit me so hard my mouth literally fell open. Mad Max is one of my favorite cheesy action movies, and one of the only post-apocalyptic worlds I don’t find incredibly boring. All this really needs to be is a game in which you can do terrible things to people with ridiculous late-seventies police cars, and I’ll be sold.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare: I seriously applaud EA for opening its press conference with something essentially lampooning the dominant genre in the mass-market video game world. On top of how utterly silly the game looks, it also seems like a hoot to play. I’m not huge on shooters, but I do love co-op, and being able to play as sentient cartoon plants seems right up my alley, even if zombies stopped being cool an entire stable of dead horses ago. Xbox exclusivity is kind of a bummer, so my fingers are crossed for a PC release later on.
Super Smash Bros.: I don’t have a Wii U yet, but this might be one of the reasons I need to pick one up. Otherwise, playing it on the 3DS could probably hold me over for a while. I can’t wait until they start to reveal more new characters!
Final Fantasy XV: It’s about time. I’ve read complaints about people saying this game is the potential death for JRPGs, simply because it’s straying so far from the standard formula we’ve all gotten used to. I welcome the change, because series or even genres as a whole can’t evolve unless someone takes that chance. Square Enix is going against the grain and possibly creating something that could cause other companies to follow suit.
Pokémon X&Y: The latest announcements are making this game look so much better. Being able to fight hordes of Pokémon, interacting with them to improve your relationship with them and even being able to customize your avatar for the first time is really nice. Considering that this a worldwide release means that we’ll be on even ground with Japan to discover things and really take this whole exploration of the Kalos region to a whole new level. And Fairy-type Pokémon!
Kingdom Hearts III: I haven’t always been the biggest fan of this series, but I’m more or less happy that this game finally got announced after having that many games in between II and III. Who knows, if it does enough to this series and changes it up a little bit, maybe I could see myself biting on this one some time in the future.
X: I’m still an RPG fan at heart. The games resonate with me long after I’m done with them, and I listen to the soundtracks years after completion. I’ve haven’t been this excited for a game in a long time. It’s a pseudo-sequel (maybe?) to the spectacular Xenoblade Chronicles. This is the kind of game that will force me to buy a Wii U. The fact that the visuals look absolutely stunning helps, but riding mechs around in it is just too much for me to handle.
Bayonetta 2: I absolutely adored Bayonetta. I tried going back to the old God of War and Devil May Cry games after Bayonetta, and I just couldn’t. It’s fluid, insane and over-the-top to the point of overkill, but it’s one of my favorite action games ever, and the sequel looks just as ridiculous. After just watching “This is the End” in theaters, I’m ready to slay angels and demons and engage in other heathen activities while looking like a model wearing an impossible magic costume.
Final Fantasy XV: Again, I’m a sucker for RPGs and in particular, Final Fantasy. We all knew Versus would never happen, but now that it’s been reborn as Final Fantasy XV, I’m optimistic. The combat looks totally different than what we’ve come to expect, but I’m willing to give it a go. If a game does something well, I’m open to change. Hopefully this Final Fantasy can turn it around.
Mirror’s Edge 2: I loved Mirror’s Edge. Loved it. Many others did too. EA has finally taken notice and produced a short trailer for Mirror’s Edge 2. EA Labels president Frank Gibeau says that the game will be a more “open-world action adventure game.” I’m not really sure what that means. The trailer shows very little, aside from some physical combat and the beautiful visual palette used in the first game. I’m okay with changing things up, but the best part of Mirror’s Edge was running, jumping and hurtling your way across rooftops and buildings finding the fastest, coolest routes possible.
Crimson Dragon: As one of the few exclusives that would make me remotely consider getting an Xbox One at some point possibly, Crimson Dragon impressed audiences at Microsoft’s conference, even without sound. I have always been a very big fan of Sega’s Panzer Dragoon series, so this spiritual successor had been on my radar since its announcement. While I am a bit disappointed that the game has been bumped up to an Xbox One exclusive as of now, I’m just happy that it is coming out at all. The world needs more Panzer Dragoon, and any way we can get it is fine by me.
X: It was unexpected to say the least back when Nintendo acquired Monolith a few years back, as the two companies’ software libraries are practically poles apart. However, with the recent release of the groundbreaking Xenoblade Chronicles, most agree that it is a match made in heaven. X looks to be one of the freshest entries to the fledgling console’s library, and will be a welcome addition for fans of role-playing games in the coming year or so.
Kingdom Hearts 3: You have no idea how tempting it was not to full this section with nothing but “OMG KH3” over and over again until my hard drive was full. Yeah, I’m really excited for the next mainline Kingdom Hearts game. Now that the team behind the previous entries is no longer exclusively devoted to Versus XIII/XV, we can finally see some work done on the sequel that fans have been waiting for this whole generation. While we didn’t see very much of the gameplay, the taste we were given was more than enough to whet viewers’ appetites.
Destiny: While a first-person shooter with loot is nothing new, a first-person shooter with loot from Bungie is worth a second look. We still don’t know much about it. As a long-time fan of RPGs, MMOs and basically anything that lets me progress a character over the long term, the idea has me very interested.
Watch Dogs: While my initial reaction to this was positive, I had a growing fear it might become another angle on what was a Grand Theft Auto or Assassin’s Creed clone. The more I see of the game, the bigger the focus gets on manipulating the environment, as opposed to simple gunplay or stealth combat.
The Crew: Usually, racing isn’t my thing, especially when it goes for absolute realism. The Crew seems to be more game than sim, and if the online play is as good as Ubisoft claims, it looks like a really interesting co-op game. I like that it seems to remain a racing game; instead of outlandish weapons or anything that turns it into an action-shooter, the game is still about driving, though winning races isn’t always the goal.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: The Witcher was always a bit of a dark horse following in the footsteps of games like Assassin’s Creed and Dragon Age, but I feel it never got the spotlight it deserved. With Witcher 3, with a new generation of consoles, CD Projekt Red is able to release on both consoles, and I think it’s in the running to give the reigning champions of medieval action a run for their money.
What were your favorites?