E3. The Pixel Party. The Digital Dance. The Big E. Every year, for four straight days, we?re bombarded by trailers, screenshots, and demos of tomorrow?s biggest games. But, of course, as with every bombastic battle royale, a winner must emerge from the annual gaming fracas in downtown Los Angeles. Below, you?ll find our awards for best in genre, as well as our editors? best in show and dark-horse picks.
Keep in mind, however, that we flexed some restrictions about what could make the cut. Sure, plenty of games came out of E3 looking good. But looks aren?t enough when it comes to earning EGM?s coveted Best of E3 awards. The Crew decided that in order to qualify in any category, developers had to offer us more than a quaint little sojourn to Trailerton Abbey. To ensure our impressions and opinions offered the most value to you, intrepid readers, we only counted games demoed to us live or played by our own callus-covered hands. We did, however, relax this rule when it came to our picks for the games we’re most anticipating personally. We are but human?and even we can be swept up in the hype of a well-produced promotional video.
||Mollie L Patterson
PERSONAL GAME OF THE SHOW NOMINEE
Dark Souls III
OK, look, I know. You?re shocked?shocked?that I?m nominating Dark Souls III as my best-of- the-show pick. In a way, I am, too. As much as I love the Souls games, I?ve started to get more than a little worried about franchise burnout, and I was very sure I wouldn?t be wanting another chapter until 2017 (instead of next year). And yet, when I got to sit down and watch a hands-on demo by the father of Souls himself, Hidetaka Miyazaki, all my intentions of wanting to wait flew out the door. After being disappointed in a handful of Dark Souls II?s aspects, this next chapter of the series is already reminding me of the things I loved about the first game. New-gen only, Miyazaki back at the helm (where he belongs), and the feeling that all of the last game?s wrongs will be righted leave me unable to nominate anything else but this.
Surprise of the Show: The press conferences
Just like I can?t give my game-of-the-show nod to anything but Dark Souls III, there was nothing as surprising and/or shocking as the big press conferences. When you kick your briefing off with the re-reveal of The Last Guardian, you?d better have some big things to show off later?and, boy, did Sony ever. The Final Fantasy VII remake and Shenmue III completed the ?holy trinity? of announcements fans were waiting for, but Guerrilla Game?s Horizon: Zero Dawn was exciting for its own reasons. On the flip side, Microsoft warmed my heart most not with games (outside of Rise of the Tomb Raider and ReCore), but with features?giving us Xbox 360 backward compatibility, a totally revised user interface, and a shocking-yet-absolutely-awesome-looking new pro-level controller. Oh, and honorable mentions have to go to the Generation 1?focused Platinum-developed Transformers game, and the amount of female protagonists that were on display!
Most Anticipated Game of the Show: Street Fighter V
I could list so many games here that I?m now anticipating, whether it?s the super-big stuff or the tiniest of intriguing indie projects. However, if you were to offer me any one game right now, long before it?s supposed to come out, I?d have to say Street Fighter V. What originally seemed like a mere upgrade to Ultra SFIV has totally captured my heart, and I?m ready for the Street Fighter slate to be wiped clean and a fresh new start offered up to the world. Of course, a finished SFV disc arriving in my mailbox from Capcom would be a curse as well as a blessing, since I?d have to scramble to figure out what I?m going to do about a usable joystick for the PlayStation 4. Honorable mention: XSEED?s English translation of Corpse Party: Blood Drive, which provides yet another reason I won?t be giving up my Vita anytime soon.
PERSONAL GAME OF THE SHOW NOMINEE
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Yes, this is two years in a row that I?ve chosen Hideo Kojima?s upcoming open-world epic as my game of E3. Last year, of course, Kojima was front and center. This year…not so much. But now I?ve actually gotten the chance to play the game, and I?m impressed with how well The Phantom Pain integrates Metal Gear standards with the 1984 Afghanistan setting and the open world. For one, the series? iconic cardboard box is no longer a simple defensive tool that Snake uses to hide from foes. Now, he can pop out and attack in a single motion, and he can even set decoys to lure the enemy. And while I?m certainly not enamored with Kiefer Sutherland?s performance as Snake, the narrative seems to spin an intriguing tale that feels a lot more relatable than the previous entries in the series. The Phantom Pain will have to be absolutely spectacular to top Snake Eater as my favorite Metal Gear entry, but based on what I?ve played so far, it?s not out of the running just yet.
Surprise of the Show: What Remains of Edith Finch
It?s not that I was shocked by the fact that I enjoyed What Remains of Edith Finch, the sophomore effort from The Unfinished Swan developer Giant Sparrow. What surprised me was that a game that begins as a young woman returns to her empty home in the Pacific Northwest and seems like such a retread at first glance could then turn into something completely unexpected. Yes, the trappings here are similar to Gone Home, but from the moment you set foot in the house, it?s as different as can be. I?m impressed at the ambition shown by creative director Ian Dallas, and I can?t wait to uncover more mysterious inside the house when the game releases next year.
Most Anticipated Game of the Show: Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Sure, I?m still in the midst of my second playthrough of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but once that?s over, I?m going to need something that delivers the same kind of exploration in a medieval-style game. Kingdom Come: Deliverance, from former Mafia director Daniel Vávra, could well be that title. Vávra says that he?s aiming for storytelling along the lines of that seen in The Witcher. That?s certainly a huge boast on his part, but considering his pedigree, he might just be able to pull it off. In this case, though, all the fantasy elements have been stripped out in 15th-century Bohemia. This is based in the bloody, brutal reality of true medieval times, where the player is a young soldier serving in King Wenceslaus? army (and mind you, this isn?t the good King Wenceslaus, either!)
PERSONAL GAME OF THE SHOW NOMINEE
Just Cause 3
No game I played during E3 gave me a sense of pure freedom like Just Cause 3. Sure, the story is a bit on the bare-bones side, at least from what I?ve seen thus far. You don?t play Just Cause 3 for the story, though?you play for the action. And with unlimited C4, three grappling hooks to pull down massive structures in the world, and the brand-new wingsuit, Just Cause 3 looks to give me an adrenaline-pumping adventure that?ll turn my knuckles white. I know I won?t be able to let go of my controller when the game releases.
Surprise of the Show: For Honor
Yeah, it?s easy to point to a brand-new IP that?s been mostly under wraps as my most surprising game of the show. But it?s what that game did when I got my hands on it that really blew me away. The defense-first gameplay of For Honor was a refreshing change from the frantic, fast-paced multiplayer experiences we usually receive. And while we know nothing about the single-player portion aside from its existence, I?d be fine with For Honor just being a multiplayer-only game because of how deep its strategic elements run. If you told me a game set in the Middle Ages was going to borrow elements from MOBAs and modern shooters and provide the most addictive multiplayer experience at the show, I?d have said you were crazy. But that?s why For Honor is my most surprising pick.
Most Anticipated Game of the Show: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Even though Deus Ex: Human Revolution had multiple endings, in homage to the original Deus Ex series, it looks like the bad ending will be the canonical one from here on out. Adam Jensen and his Christian Bale Batman voice return as one of the few technologically enhanced beings who doesn?t live in a ghetto, struggling to survive during a mechanical apartheid. While trying to maintain peace between humans and cyborgs, Adam will have to uncover the Illuminati pulling all the strings behind the scenes, preventing peace from ever becoming an option. Player choice was a key characteristic of Human Revolution, and Mankind Divided looks to continue that, with players again being able to play as pacifists or go into every situation guns blazing. Adam also has a slew of new weapons and powers at his disposal, and if the world has truly gone to hell as quickly as the new trailers make it seem, I can?t wait for early 2016 to try to save it all over again from itself.
PERSONAL GAME OF THE SHOW NOMINEE
I?ll admit, I didn?t think Bethesda could possibly keep up the momentum of Fallout 4?s pre-E3 debut trailer, but they crushed it during their first press conference. Every little glimpse into the the post-apocalyptic (and now, for the first time, partially pre-apocalyptic) Boston where the game is set revealed one exciting new detail or another. With tons of gameplay footage and crazy new features like the crafting and settlement-building systems, there?s almost too much good stuff packed into the game. If Skyrim represented Bethesda stepping up their efforts to compete with mainstream hits, then Fallout 4 is their attempt to leave everyone else in the dust by taking the open-world RPG to places no one else has even imagined.
Surprise of the Show: South Park: The Fractured but Whole
South Park: The Stick of Truth was a solid homage to 2D RPGs with a few good chuckles along the way, but between the change in publisher and the hard time creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone reportedly had getting it out the door, I never expected a follow-up. In fact, Parker and Stone stated pretty conclusively that there wouldn?t be one. That?s why Ubisoft?s presser-opening reveal of The Fractured but Whole really hit me as a pleasant surprise. The least pleasant surprise, though, was that Ubisoft has dumped Obsidian from development duties and handed the sequel to Ubisoft San Francisco, a studio that, as far as I can tell, doesn?t have a single lead development credit to its name. Boooooo!
Most Anticipated Game of the Show: No Man’s Sky
When it was first announced, No Man?s Sky sounded like an impossible game. Go anywhere in an almost infinite universe. Do almost anything you can think of, be it interacting with wildlife, discovering new planets, or attacking convoys of ships in the dark of space. Two-and-a-half years on, the luster of that ambitious announcement has somewhat faded, but it?s still the only game I consider myself well and truly excited for. While I?m sure plenty of games will be good and check all the new-gen-sequel boxes, they?re known entities, even if their parts are reconfigured in novel ways. No Man?s Sky is the only game on the horizon that I believe can truly surprise me in that way that made us all fall in love with games in the first place.
PERSONAL GAME OF THE SHOW NOMINEE
It?s true: I?m a huge fan of the Lego games. At the same time, I never would?ve thought I?d be recommending one for the best game of E3. But Lego Dimensions is different: It takes multiple beloved pop-culture brands and mixes them with the humor that makes these games great. It doesn?t stop there, though. Puzzles are both trickier and more frequent; the number of characters/vehicles/items you can transport into the game at once (seven) is much greater than other toys-to-life games; and the art style changes to keep graphics appropriate to each property. The developers went all-out to take Lego Dimensions to the next level, and I can?t wait.
Surprise of the Show: Sword Coast Legends
I?d heard about Sword Coast Legends, which uses Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules and is set in the Forgotten Realms. It?s been awhile since there?s been a non-MMO D&D game, and developer n-Space promised a proper single-player adventure, so I was anxious to give it a try. But I didn?t know about the game?s powerful toolset that allows Dungeon Masters to create elaborate, fully formed campaigns with linked quests, multiple indoor and outdoor areas, and dungeons filled with nefarious creatures. Everything you loved from the pen-and-paper games is available here. Given the creativity of the D&D community, I can?t wait to see what kinds of adventures are coming.
Most Anticipated Game of the Show: Fallout 4
There was a lot to love at E3 this year, but the game that stood out above all the others was Fallout 4. I was excited when Bethesda announced the sequel, but then director Todd Howard showed off some of the features, such as the ability to build and modify your own settlements, the selectable combat modes (including the return of V.A.T.S.), and the size of the game map. Boston looks fantastic, and the fact that you get to see things the before the bombs fall raises your personal investment in the world. I?m glad they gave us less than six months to wait for this one, because I don?t know if I could take much more.
EGM’S GAME OF THE SHOW
No game announcement in recent memory had been more hyped than Fallout 4. Backed by years of rumors, leaks, and one painfully memorable hoax, Bethesda?s long-awaited reveal needed to be something truly special to overcome the heavy weight of expectation. And, well, it was. Far from a shiny new coat of graphical paint on an already solid franchise, Fallout 4 came out swinging with huge reveals. A full crafting system will allow you to customize weapons and armor to an insane level. A new construction will make it possible to build your own settlements throughout the Wasteland and establish trade routes between them. A special edition will let you have a functioning Pip-Boy on your wrist while you play. In a year where most announcements felt like foregone conclusions, Fallout 4 promised feature after feature that sounded too good to be true, then showed each one in action. And as the kicker? Bethesda casually mentioned we?d be able to play the finished game for ourselves in less than six months. Nothing else at the show even came close.
EGM’s General Awards for E3 2015
The Best of the Rest
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Runners-Up: Hitman, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, The Last Guardian
Madden NFL 16
Runners-Up: FIFA 16, NHL 16
Runners-Up: Dark Souls III, South Park: The Fractured but Whole
Runners-Up: Need for Speed, The Crew: Wild Run
Rainbow Six: Siege
Runners-Up: Doom, Ghost Recon Wildlands
Street Fighter V
Runners-Up: Skullgirls: The 2nd Encore, Nitroplus Blasterz
|Best Xbox One Exclusive
Runners-Up: Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider
|Best PS4 Exclusive
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Runners-Up: Uncharted 4, The Last Guardian
|Best PC Exclusive
Runners-Up: Anno 2205, Overwatch
|Best Wii U Exclusive
Super Mario Maker
Runners Up: Star Fox Zero, Yoshi’s Woolly World
|Best Handheld Exclusive
Fire Emblem Fates
Runners Up: The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Gotcha Racing, Persona 4: Dancing All Night
Runners Up: What Remains of Edith Finch, Eitr