Now, it's a good one. In fact, I wrote about why it was our Game of the Show in that very post you just didn't click. But E3 was full of games like I'm full of curry. And Destructoid is an island of misfit toys sort of collection of miscreants, not a hive mind. So let's see what tickled everyone else's earlobes this year.
And, hey, now you can tell like 20 different people why they're wrong about games instead of just one!
Night in the Woods
At E3 this year, there were plenty of big, loud action-packed games that got my attention with their ridable elephants, exploding testicles, and crapping horses, one game managed to stand out as something special. A Night In The Woods is a platformer adventure game in which players take on the role of a ennui-laden twenty-year-old cat named Mae, who's stuck living in a small town at her parents house, suffering the same existential crisis that many twenty-somethings experience when they don't immediately hit their stride after high school.
In my time with the game, I hopped around exploring the world, examining objects, and talking to townspeople. One of my peers had been forced into therapy after getting caught stealing codeine cough syrup. In an attic, I found some baby rats living in a decommissioned parade float. The subject matter and tone was reminiscent of movies like Adventureland, Ghost World, and Girl, Interrupted, but with an aesthetic and sense of humor more in line with Guacamelee. I ended up putting my controller down before the demo was even complete, because I didn't want to spoil anything else before I had the full game in my hands.
E3 is one of the biggest, loudest, most commercial events I've ever attended. Sure, I'm still stoked for the games with the explosions and guns and ninjas ripping out peoples' spines, but it's refreshing to come across something so weird, personal and human. Even if you play as a cat.
Far Cry 4
I had so so so much fun with Far Cry 3 that I'm beyond excited to get my hands on Far Cry 4. The team at Ubisoft know how much of a success that Far Cry 3 was, and they're expanding on the core elements in lots of fun ways. Ridable elephants, semi-auto grenade launchers, cutting the breaks on cars -- tons of small touches on top of a system that was near perfect already, at least in my opinion. The new setting completely encourages vertical play, so you'll be getting that awesome wingsuit way earlier this time around. Plus grappling hooks!
What's even more exciting is that you can invite your friends on the PlayStation 3/PlayStation 4 to help you play through the game in co-op even if they don't own a copy of the game. That's a concept that I really hope becomes a trend going forward.
Other favorites: Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain, Titan Souls, Bloodborne, Super Smash Bros, Hyper Light Drifter, Batman: Arkham Knight, Splatoon, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
No Man's Sky
Exploring is the best, isn't it? My favorite part of Minecraft is walking around caves and land masses just seeing what's out there and more often than not being totally amazed. No Man's Sky elevates that exploration to a whole new level. Exploring new planets and then exploring what's on those planets sounds like too much. In fact, it does sound like too much, at times. However, I know with Hello Games behind the helm that No Man's Sky will deliver. It may sound odd saying that, since their only track record is the Joe Danger series, but after meeting and chatting with Sean Murray at E3 2012, I know this ambitious title is in good hands. Plus, the Joe Danger games are amazing.
Hello Games is like Thomas Jefferson, asking us, Lewis and Clark, to explore the Louisiana Purchase, which is No Man's Sky. It'll be ambitious, scary, but in the end, totally rewarding. And I'll take this moment to ask Steven Hansen to be the Meriwether Lewis to my William Clark [I do! - Ed.]
If When Hello Games delivers, No Man's Sky will be their defining game, and the defining game of a generation.
Assassin's Creed Unity
Believe it or not, I'm still not tired of Assassin's Creed. Ubisoft has brought the kind of iterative design process you'd normally see in franchise shooters or sports games, but amazingly, managed to make it work on the scale of these open worlds, and it's working (for the most part). If Assassin's Creed Unity can provide on the fronts we've come to expect from a new entry in the franchise, while improving on what came before, then next year's romp in the chaos of the French Revolution should be pretty boss.
Plus, being that far out should hopefully give the many Ubisoft teams at work on Unity time to course-correct after the debacle that is their current stance on having playable female characters. That's a real shame, considering that in the triple-A development space Assassin's Creed has been a somewhat reliable property to pay attention to diversity, at least compared to other mega-franchises.
Other favorites: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed, The Order: 1886, No Man's Sky, Destiny
The phrase, "From the creators of Halo," has been prominently featured in just about every piece of Destiny marketing, and for an unabashed Halo fanboy such as myself (yes, I even liked Halo 4 and ODST), the phrase commands a level of trust in what Destiny could be. As time went on however, it felt like little more than a marketing tagline. You see, the problem I, and many others, have had with Destiny was how coy Bungie was being with the details. Considering the game's title and first details were forcibly outed via a court document during the West-Zampella vs. Activision lawsuit, this isn't incredibly surprising. But when you invite an army of press up to your offices, and make an appearance the previous E3, I shouldn't still be confused as to what the game is.
For me, E3 2014 was Destiny's put up or shut up time, and by God, did they put on a show, not only on the show floor, but also with the recent alpha. While we knew that the game was some sort of mesh of first person shooters and MMO's, the brilliance of it can not be appreciated until you've sat with it for a few hours. With a quest filled open world, and dungeon raids with bosses who's strategies would be right at home in Guild Wars 2, Destiny has so far done an amazing job of introducing the better parts of the MMO genre to an audience, like me, who's been typically disinterested.
Don't misunderstand me either; I'm well aware that Destiny's MMO sensibilities are standard fare in any proper MMO, but the way it's brought together with the familiar Halo-feeling shooting gels into something great. It also helps that the game world does a great job of, while aesthetically science fiction, invoking the mystery and intrigue of a fantasy setting. Not enough can be said for the music either. Marty's ambient, soft chanting choirs, and dramatic swells during combat make me feels some type of way.
More interesting than the individual games that are revealed each year at E3 are the trends that dominate it. It gives a glimpse to the direction of the industry and what we can expect more of in the near future. This year, thanks to a strong showing, it's tough to not be convinced that the virtual reality space will be a very serious one very soon.
It's not surprising that those working on virtual reality had an impressive E3; almost every single show turns out that way. But, it's the strides that are being taken to make the likes of Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus more monumental each time we slide that peripheral over our eyes. Lucky's Tale and Alien: Isolation are games that look to be light years ahead of where the technology was when it was first introduced. When will it plateau? When will we stop noticing such grand advancements with relative frequency? I don't know, but it's sure exciting to watch.
Other favorites: Assassin's Creed Unity, Super Smash Bros., Alien: Isolation, Titan Souls, Far Cry 4, Metal Gear Solid V
Master Chief Collection
If you had any friends at all whom you wanted to play games with in 2004, they were playing Halo 2. It was a phenomenon; the masses bought an Xbox for the original Halo, and they purchased Xbox Live for Halo 2. And there was good reason for that. Bungie created a multiplayer experience that, to this day, is unmatched. It was simple, classic arena style multiplayer that has somehow been lost -- even within the franchise itself, unfortunately -- in the RPG class progression system of the modern multiplayer experience. Persistent lobbies and integrated clan systems were also breakthroughs in console online experiences, all backed up with the most memorable map design in any game, ever.
After the original Xbox server shutdown a few years back there's no easy way to play Halo 2 online these days. However, later this year we get to do it all again with Halo: The Master Chief Collection. It encompasses all numbered entries 1-4 in the franchise, with the focus being on the sophomore entry's visual overhaul. From the screenshots so far, ten years has made it look like that original target render from its first E3 teaser debut. It looks incredible, but is going to play exactly the same with all the original super bounces, glitches, etc. going untouched. That's everything I could hope for. The rest of the games are also there with their respective engines, multiplayer maps (over 100), and campaigns; all accessible at any time without having to switch games at 60 frames per second in 1080p.
Nothing like that has ever been done, and that's why it's incredible and exciting. I've put in what has to be thousands of hours in the franchise over the years, so there's no reason I should be that excited to do it again, right? Well, that's exactly why I am. I can't wait to play countless rounds of Capture the Flag on Blood Gulch, Team Slayer on Ivory Tower, Team Swat on Terminal, and everything in-between. I'm ready to be excited about playing a stellar arena style online FPS again, even if it means being so about games that I already have a decade ago.
Others I'm excited for: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Mortal Kombat X, Phantom Dust, and Xenoblade Chronicles X
I play a lot of DOOM. As in, present tense. Just last month, in fact, my brothers, my dad and I all huddled around my Xbox 360 and super shotgunned our way through the entirety of DOOM II in four-player co-op -- a memory I will not soon forget.
To say that id's seminal All-Father of the FPS genre holds a special place in my gib-loving heart would be a gross understatement -- I live for DOOM, even 20 years later. So when Bethesda booted up their brief-but-badass CGI teaser for the new DOOM at E3 this year, I literally punched the air above my head and shouted "YES!" Everything about this trailer excited me; from the cheesy voice over to the slow crawl across the surface of the newly-designed Cyberdemon to the quick shots of the Union Aerospace Corporation logo on its armor, I was sold. And when the video closed with the classic DOOM shotgun pump and door-opening sound (oh my god that sound) and a next-gen Cyberdemon standing ready to fill my ass full of rockets, you couldn't have put a bigger smile on my face if you had showed me John Romero's head on a pike.
We still don't know much about DOOM 4 -- including if it's even called that -- but hopefully Quakecon 2014 and the upcoming beta will duct tape a flashlight onto our eyes so we can peer into its shadows and reveal a bit more about what we can expect. Until then, if you need me you can find me watching the E3 teaser on repeat in between a replay of DOOM 3: BFG Edition. Because hey, DOOM 3 wasn't that bad.
Other favorites: Bloodborne, Crackdown, No Man's Sky, Splatoon
I love all of the Souls games in my own way, but out of the current triumvirate, Demon's is still my favorite. Naturally, my interest was piqued when I heard that From Software would be working on a spiritual successor for the PlayStation 4, helmed by director Hidetaka Miyazaki. What we got was something different -- something that doesn't necessarily follow the Souls formula as closely as Demon's successors, and I'm perfectly fine with that.
The long rumored Project Beast was unveiled as Bloodborne, and it looks fantastic. Guns are a go, as is a newly minted 19th century Victorian-era town called Yharnam -- which is enough to set it apart from its predecessors right there. The good news though is that the tried and true strategic combat system returns, described as a "life or death struggle." Details are still being worked out on Bloodborne (we don't even know what the death system will be like), but you'll be hearing all about them as soon as we find out, because Miyazaki and his team have once again stolen E3, and my curiosity.
Other favorites: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Super Smash Bros., Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Bayonetta 2, Zelda Wii U, Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Super Mario 3D World was an amazing experience. It had so many memorable moments; I could just go on about it for days. The Captain Toad stages, though, those were among my favorite parts of the game. From the moment I first experienced one of these inspired diversions, wherein players take a breather from the breakneck action to explore and solve puzzles, I longed for Mario's diminutive pal to get his own spin-off. Little did I think it would actually happen.
Nintendo is actually making my dreams come true, though. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is coming to Wii U this winter and it looks like the developers have found plenty of ways to flesh out the concept and craft a varied, full-bodied product. I couldn't be more happy about that.
Other favorites: Xenoblade Chronicles X, Bloodborne
Metal Gear Solid V
I could talk about my love for the Metal Gear franchise stemming from the very first time I popped Metal Gear Solid into my PlayStation, set a hard limit of two days, and finally completed it. I could go on for hours about the cinematography, the heartwrenching and yet totally engaging journeys I've gone on throughout the series, or even the fact that I can always count on a Kojima game to show me something I've never seen before. I could elaborate on how the very first full-length trailer sent actual chills down my spine, something I haven't felt from early game footage in quite some time.
There are plenty of reasons why Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain remains my favorite game of E3, but the most succinct reasoning I can give boils down to four simple words: "We are Diamond Dogs." And I think I speak for every Metal Gear fan when I say that the phrase "next year" has never felt so incredibly poisonous.
Other favorites: Bayonetta 2, D4, Devil's Third, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Amiibos, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Splatoon, Cuphead
Starwhal: Just the Tip
What's better than intergalactic Narwhals fighting each other to the death with their glorious horns? Nothing. That's what.
Out of all of the games that I played at E3, the one that I had the most fun playing was Starwhal: Just The Tip. Outstanding name aside, it's actually an extremely fun multi-player battle free for all. The level of customization you can do with your respective Starwhal is pretty darn impressive. Not only can you change the basic color of you Starwhal but you can also add accessories such as... wait for it... a lightsaber for a horn. Yes. Your Starwhal can impale other Starwhals with a lightsaber. You can also dress like a Jedi, put on a Jayne hat if you're a Firefly fanatic, and you can even don a fez and bowtie like the 11th Doctor if you really want to look cool. All of my nerd senses were tingling pretty hard during just the character select. If I was having this much fun in the character select screen, I could have only imagined how awesome the game would actually be.
The game did not disappoint. Your target is a giant throbbing heart (which is also customizable!) right in the Starwhal's chest unit. Your goal no matter the game mode: STABBITY THE HEART. Granted, the controls were a little difficult to get used to at first and felt a little clunky but it was still an extremely enjoyable experience. Once you get accustomed to the controls you could really have a lot of fun stabbing your friends repeatedly with your own unique Starwhal. It's a very basic set-up. You use one analog stick to move forward and another to move from side to side. There's also a taunt that you can use to troll your opponents or strike fear into their hearts. Either one. You're a fancy dressed Space Narwhal. You do what you want.
Sunset Overdrive had me more excited than anything at E3. From the giant Fizzie balloon that hung intimidatingly above the convention center to the costumed staff and giant projector in which the game was shown on the show floor, its clear Microsoft has a lot of faith in the title. From what I saw and played this past week, it pretty much delivered on every level. Insomniac Games has been building their knowledge of shooters for years and Sunset Overdrive is the perfect execution of everything they have done right over the past two decades.
The shooting/platforming/grinding mechanics are solid and I was more than impressed with the fluidity of the combat. The weapons will put any Ratchet and Clank fan right at home and the platforming/grinding feels like what would happen if you mixed Jet Grind Radio with Titanfall. The game screams with neo-punk attitude, and the world is absolutely stunning and full of character. Sunset Overdrive certainly sets the bar for current gen stylized games and I have high hopes for the final release after getting my hands on it this E3.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Since Nintendo and Konami seem set on never returning to 2D Metroid or Castlevania, we have had to rely on independent developers to deliver that experience, and Ori and the Blind Forest looks like it will excel in that space. Combat is fast and impactful without being too easy. Traversing the environments is intuitive with impressively precise control.
But what really gets people to notice are the gorgeous, hand-drawn, never-repeated visuals. Each screen in Ori and the Blind Forest is a work of art, not only making great use of color and effects, but also providing the skeleton for challenging platforming. In motion, the artwork comes together even better than it looks in still frames, and the fluidity of its gameplay complements the artwork perfectly.
Other Favorites: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Sunset Overdrive, Super Smash Bros., Tales from the Borderlands
I was surprised as anyone when I heard that an HD remastered version of Grim Fandango would be appearing on the PS4 and Vita. The final notable adventure game from LucasArt's golden era has been out of print for a while now and has been absent from online stores like GOG.com and Steam. Fans have demanded an HD re-release but let's face it, those demand are seldom met. What's even more surprising is a one of the big three console makers having a 16 year old adventure game being worthy of appearing at their E3 press conference.
Tim Schafer's final game for LucasArts was a wonderfully atmospheric mix of Dia De Los Muertos mythology and classic film noir style. It tells the story of afterlife travel salesman, Manny Calavera, who stumbles on a mystery that's seeing the dead stripped of their just rewards. Grim Fandango innovated in a quite a few ways, stripping away a lot of the interface that was a LucasArts trademark and fully 3D environments. I'd be lying if I said I thought Grim Fandango is going to shift a lot of PS4s and Vitas but hey, it's good to see one of the big three understand that re-releases of classic games like these are a great addition to a console's library.
I love Nintendo, wait no, that’s not right. What I meant to say was, I absolutely adore Nintendo, and everything they do. I also love to shoot stuff (in videogames that is). Imagine how excited I was when Nintendo announced Splatoon at this year’s E3. Two of my favorite things, shooters and Nintendo, brought together in one solid looking package.
For those of you, who may have missed this amazing looking game, Splatoon is a third-person shooter starring a group of squid kids who set out to paint the playing field in as much colorful ink as possible. Now, this being Nintendo, there are no “headshots” full of blood, no gore, no limbs flying everywhere, nothing gross; instead we are treated with supersoakers full of brightly colored ink wielded by kids who can literally turn into squids to swim through their ink and sneak-up on their enemies.
Although we only had the chance to view a couple of different maps, I am already sold on Splatoon and cannot wait to see how the game changes and takes shape. There’s something magical that happens when Nintendo makes games, the care and polish they put into everything they do oozes with love and I have no doubt that Splatoon will turn out any different. Color me interested, Nintendo.
Other favorites: Zelda Wii U, Hyrule Warriors, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Bayonetta 2, Yoshi’s Wooly Word, Rainbow Six: Siege
The Year of Luigi may be over, but Nintendo is far from done with passionately and unabashedly embracing their current outsider image. While nearly every other big budget publisher put realism and ultra-violence at the forefront, Nintendo returned fire with... the God damn Pac-Man.
Nintendo showed a lot of awesome games at E3 this year, with Zelda for Wii U, Splatoon, and Star Fox hitting particularly hard, but no other game sums up exactly where Nintendo is at this moment that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. It's a new spin on the old classics, fresh and exciting while familiar and comforting, completely ignoring the latest trends in AAA gaming while offering something that has more mainstream appeal than nearly anything else at the show.
Smash Bros. is a perfect fit for E3. It's a celebration of videogames as a whole, and a extreme example of a feeling that only videogames can provide. A feeling that something shouldn't feel real, but it does. A feeling that all of the ingredients should taste right together, but they do. Sonic, Mega Man, Mario, and Pac-Man all kicking the crap out of each other doesn't make any sense. It also doesn't make any sense that we would want it more than anything else in the world right now, but we do. We really do.
I've already written about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for our official Game of the Show, so for my personal pick I'll go with the other title on the tip of my tongue anytime anyone inevitably asked last week, "So, did you play anything good?"
Yes, you nosy, banal bastard, I did. Alien: Isolation. It was terrifying and left my hands mildly shaky and my chest heavy. I swore a lot, but with headphones on, you never know how loud or who is hearing. How the entire game is paced out will be important, but the focused challenge map I played did well to distill the essence of Alien.
You are completely, hopelessly outmatched by a superior being that lumbers with great size yet zips off into the ship's underbelly with quickness. Sitting there with the motion tracker out, wondering if you're screwed, is like Jaws' orchestral tension at all times and much bleaker. Stealth by way of survival horror rather than MGSV's stealth by way of empowerment. I really hope Isolation lives up to this showing.
Other favorites: Metal Gear Solid V, D4, Cuphead, Grim Fandango, No Man's Sky, Night in the Woods
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