So E3 is well and truly over. Every company has shown their wares, and there is a lot to pour over. I saw a ton of games out at the LA Convention Centre, approaching over 50, and there is a whole bunch I want to give recognition to.
As is seemingly mandatory, in the wake of the big show, its time to give out some of those recognitions. I've nominated nine games as E3 Highlights and one winner to take the show. So with out further ado, and in no particular order, here is what impressed me most at the show.
(Just a heads up. Stuff like The Last Guardian and God of War weren't things I could get shown to me beyond what was at the press conferences, so I've excluded them here. Those did look great though!
And Death Stranding is a trailer. We'll need a little more than that)
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 went and passed me by, doing little to catch my attention. Infinite Warfare's first trailer didn't exactly make me confident in the series returning to Advanced Warfare heights. However, the more I see of the game, the more I am properly impressed. The spectacle seems to integrate with the gameplay in a really clever way and the dog fighting that ends in your jumping out of your ship to zero G firefights is a sight to behold. What I was privy to at E3 got me super excited for this one.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
This one had been a long time coming, but the lid was finally lifted on The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild at E3, and after having played it, I'm impressed. It's bringing in a lot of interesting ideas like serious survival game elements, and it really is pretty to boot. This game has a hugely deserved buzz around it.
Read a fuller breakdown of my time with the game here.
Mafia III is just going for it in ways that few games do. It takes place in a New Orleans surrogate in 1968, around the time of the Civil Rights movement. With a black lead, the game is not shying away from political nastiness. It seems to be portraying in violence an overly volatile light too which is certainly striking. Add in concepts about giving the heads of your criminal organisations pieces of land to satiate them, otherwise facing consequences, seems a very cool story and gameplay mechanic too. I'm so up for this one.
The fact that Sony aren't screaming from the top of every building about Bound is a crying shame. It got a split second of air time in Sony's closing montage at their conference, but the game about an obscured ballerina in an fantasy setting is so very striking. The game bursts with visual ideas, and the simplicity of it narrative and how it delivers it is really something. This needs to be on your radar.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Horizon: Zero Dawn was the most impressive AAA game I saw last year at E3, and it might well just be again too. The sci-fi nu-Stone Age adventure is shaping up beautifully and everything I saw only cements my feelings again this year. The game got pushed out of 2016, but I can't wait for it to arrive when it is good and ready.
You may not have heard of Vampyr yet, but you should change that as soon as possible. Coming from Life is Strange's Dontnod, this is a hard swerve for the company. This is is an action game where you play a newly made vampire. The problem is that you are also a doctor, and you have to balance your thirst for blood and your need to help people during a plague. If not, areas will fall into disrepair and horror. It really is narrative and gameplay at odds with one another in a very deliberate and interesting way. This one looks to be bursting with clever ideas.
Battlefield 1, unsurprisingly plays like Battlefield. If you like the massive scale multiplayer matches that have made the franchise so popular this will be right up your alley. Of course the big difference now is the WWI setting and it really has given the formula a fresh bump. The gun play, the scale, the spectacle and the vehicles came together to construcy a really satisfying multiplayer match for me.
Batman: The Teltale Series
You might be less enamored with Telltale's formula at this point, but you should really keep an eye on their new Batman series for new hope. It plays like a Telltale game you know, but thanks to a revamped engine, it looks great. It runs smoothly, appears more rounded and the camera can do so much more. It feels new and a huge step for the developer. The crux of the series is going to be about the interplay between Bruce Wayne and Batman and that is a really clever place to take a choice based Batman game in my opinion. I have a good feeling about this one.
There wasn't much new from ABZU this year, after it really taking me last year. It was the same area as shown off last year, but it did give an excellent look at how far the game had come. There was a whole new room and concept to the game, reviving dead areas, giving proceedings more player agency. There is also a wider focus on relaxation and the actual focus on the fish, so you could just watch the Ocean go by too. On top of that, it just looked pretty. It was impressive, and the game is shaping up great. Count me in.
All of these are shaping up amazingly, but it does only leave one winner, and you might not have heard of it just yet. Don't worry. You will soon.
E3 is all about the bombast and excess. It's the thing I love about the whole affair. It's hard not to want to go with the showiest title of the Expo here, and I was certainly spoilt for choice. Again, this year, it was another indie darling that took my interest most though.
I'd heard a buzz around Absolver coming into E3, so knew I had to go check it out, and it did not disappoint one bit. It's an online martial arts game with a killer art style and packed with new ideas. Melee combat in most games can be ropey, so Sloclap have made sure to make something deeply inventive. You will get into tangible fist fights that will test your awareness and reflexes in ways fighting games like this rarely do. You will also be customising your combo and stances in rather unique ways, creating a fighting style that suits you. You'll also have cosmetic items to make your fighter just look plain rad too.
The mutliplayer seems very clever too, allowing you to do both competitive and co-op seemingly on the fly. It feels like a mix between the slightness of both Journey and Dark Souls, only with a striking style and clever combat mechanic surrounding it. You need to keep an eye out for this one. It is generating serious buzz and for real reason. Based on what I played, Absolver is brilliant in concept. Hopefully it delivers on that promise. It caught my eye in a big way, so I don't have much hesitation throwing Game of the Show at Absolver.