E3 this year was a landslide of news and debuts. So many fabulous looking games were shown, many of which I’ve never heard of. With all the commotion about, it’s hard to concentrate on one piece of information at a time, but here are my top 5.
Keep in mind, this list doesn’t necessarily constitute my favorite games of show, but it does constitute new information that has been released me excited, be that information about a game that I already new about or complete new games or hardware.
What? The new Zelda is on the bottom of my list? That’s not to say that Zelda isn’t looking great, it’s to say how amazing this years press conferences really were. The wide open world of Zelda looks lovely, with beautifully detailed and designed tracks of land as far as the eye can see. The world is massive, and the series finally starts to catch up with the times. Taking a couple of cues from Dark Souls, the series drops you into a world with no clear direction, free to explore and discover, scavenging for weapons and armor as you go. You can set fire to grasses, push boulders over onto unsuspecting victims, and generally terrorize the locals in the cutest of fashion. Also new, and probably the biggest changes for the series is the the freedom to climb practically any structure and jump, which opens up a literal world of possibilities But, most of all, it just looks fun. A care free romp of destruction is what I need right now. I can’t wait to see how this turns out, especially the NX version.
4. Days Gone.
A blatant 180 from the light-hearted mischief of Zelda, Days Gone dumps the player into a world of loss and intensity. Pushing a bit of a The Last Of Us vibe with zombies rummaging about in a setting that is bright with foliage in a decaying landscape, yet with drama that is dark and gritty. The biggest pull here was the cinematic way that the events play out in an organic, natural way while interacting with the environment in ways that are believable but rarely show up in gaming. A beautiful example was when the protagonist was hammering away at a never ending literal wave of zombies with a machine gun as they crossed a bridge, with the bridge collapsing under the weight of the ensuing mass of hunger. Let’s hope the entire game plays out with such terrifying ferocity.
3. God of War.
Tough love, beards, and what appears to be Kratos himself back in the flesh. The camera dumps the old top down formula and is now drawn close to the player in the middle of the action. Much of what the player does is now seemingly tied to coordinating with his apparent son, devoid of a mother and now left to learn the ropes of becoming a God of War himself. The surprise here was the fact that we’re now experiencing Kratos in a new light, one with emotions other than pure rage, having to deal with softer more meaningful interactions while balancing being who he is in a world that is obvious still nefarious and dangerous. The visuals were beautiful, the animations were slick, and the world seems teeming with life. I cannot wait to see how this one turns out, especially with the nuances of an apparently complicated father and son relationship. It’s yet to be clear how complex the combat system will be, but I’m anxious to find out.
2. Xbox Scorpio.
More power is always a good thing. The modern consoles aren’t exactly on the edge of technical innovation, and I wholly welcome the change to experience my games at better resolutions and frame rates. They’re promised to not fragment the community, meaning owners of the current model will still get to experience the sames games at the same fidelity that they’re enjoying now, and a true VR experience will also be possible. While time will certainly tell us if they’re playing their cards properly, and their future will certainly hinge of that, I’m hoping that putting MS back on top will ignite a fire in other console makers to start pushing the hardware that gamers deserve. It’s yet to be shown, and the pricing is still unknown, but I feel this new concept of releasing incrementally better consoles every 3 years or so is a good way, as long as backwards compatibility holds true. Given the reliance on PC architecture and Windows in the XB1, this shouldn’t be a problem.
1. Horizon: Zero Dawn.
This was the game of the show for me. While we have been shown footage of this game in the past, it’s just now that we’re finally able to see what the game is truly about. A wide open world in which the machines have trampled civilization back to simpler times has changed the game, with an focus on being clever in combat over brute force. Humans are desperately under powered, and now we must use our wits to survive. There is more to the mystery, with corrupted machines and machines from an ancient unknown time still wandering the ruins of the past. The gameplay was fast, fluid, and relied heavily on defense and strategy, which I adore. Arrows can tether down enemies while stun blasts and fire can be used on those who show particular weaknesses to each. The world also felt truly alive. As enemies blasted through the environment it reacted, with metallic tusks ripping up trees and massive machines obliterating entire structures as they careened through with their immense body weights. The mystery is everywhere and the world is wrapped in it, with character dialog only building the sense of fear and mystery. Add the presence of a female character devoid of fear with a thirsty taste for the truth, and we could have something very, very special here.
To me, these are the big reveals that really captured my attention. I’m very curious to see how the games and hardware develop over the next year or so. As always, I’m skeptical until a final product lands but It’s certainly an exciting time to be a gamer.