by Matthew Thompson
After a week of taking in all the conferences, demonstrations, interviews and trailers that I could from E3 2017, I am ready to talk about what stood out from gaming’s biggest show this time around. When I dug through the giant list of all the games that caught my eye during E3, seven eventually rose above the rest and I’m here to talk about those seven favorites. Here they are (in alphabetical order)!
A Way Out
One of the reasons I love E3 so much are the plethora of developer interviews that come out of it. They allow me to get insight on games I’m dying to know more about and see the passion all these people have for the projects they work on. No one at E3 exuded that passion more than Josef Fares, the director of A Way Out. And with that passion comes a bold new take on co-op. There is no singleplayer. There is no online matchmaking. A Way Out is meant to be played with a friend. You’ll always have a look at your partner’s action via splitscreen whether they are playing online or on the couch next to you. While one character is part of a cutscene, the other may be working towards their next objective. A Way Out tells the story of two men who work together to break out of prison, but that is just the start. Their adventure together will continue beyond the bars and promises a variety of gameplay styles to compliment a varied journey that will require characters and players alike to work together. This cooperative-only game from Hazelight Studios is a bit of a risky venture, but one I hope pays off in a unique, innovative multiplayer experience.
God of War
God of War stole the show for me in 2016 with its daring reinvention of Sony’s ancient action/adventure series and it was once again one of my favorites at E3 this year. The move to Norse mythology and the over-the-shoulder camera look to be the biggest shake ups to the classic GoW formula, but there are a bunch of other tweaks I really like as well. The stab at a more mature story and a different take on its lead character are both welcome to me. The latest entry’s take on quick time events that ditch the prompts, but keep the vicious finishers sound like exactly what I’ve wanted QTEs to become for years. And the idea that the game is basically one long take with no camera cuts sounds pretty damn cool. The newest trailer also showed that a lot of what I’ve always loved about God of War is still present here. New combat scenes showed quick-paced battles where Kratos finds himself doing a lot of crowd control. Wall-climbing and boat-based exploration hint it will still be a balanced action/adventure game. And Kratos and his son’s conversation with Jormungandr shows the series’ insane sense of scale is very much intact. Listening to director Cory Barlog discuss the game at E3 has just made me a bigger believer in his and Sony Santa Monica’s vision for the next entry in one of my favorite series.
Metroid: Samus Returns
Part of the fun of E3 is seeing gamers’ dreams come true. Certainly at the top of some people’s wishlists this year was a new Metroid. And who would have guessed they’d get two! Title screens don’t do a ton for me, so of the two upcoming projects, I’m much more excited for the 3DS entry Samus Returns. Metroid II is the only 2D Metroid I haven’t played, so this reimagining seems like a perfect way to catch up on a title I missed and it is arriving this September. Being on the 3DS means it isn’t exactly a looker, but it appears to play like a dream which is more important. Nintendo and partner Mercury Steam have added small tweaks like a new counter move and more freedom in aiming as well as new power-ups which should act as nice upgrades for returning players. I have been pretty outspoken about wanting to be done with my 3DS, but I will have to break it out once more for this game. I mean, who can turn down another sidescrolling adventure with Samus? This was certainly one of the nicest surprises at an E3 somewhat lacking in them.
Super Mario Odyssey
I’ve mentioned before that I wasn’t too keen on a return to the sandbox style of Mario 3D platformers. I generally prefer my platformers linear and was never a big fan of Mario’s earlier more adventure-slanted 3D outings. Nintendo has clearly learned a lot about the 3D platforming genre and how it applies to Mario in the time since Sunshine released and E3 showed that they would be applying those lessons to Odyssey. The result is what looks to be by far the best Mario game of this ilk. Just the fact that I won’t have to leave a world every time I get a Moon (Odyssey’s version of Stars) alone is a huge step-up from 64 and Sunshine. Odyssey’s worlds are littered with smaller linear obstacle courses that show the design prowess featured in games like Galaxy and 3D World. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what is perhaps the title’s biggest E3 reveal: Mario can possess things by tossing his hat at them. It is totally absurd in all the best ways and looks like a mechanic that will bring creativity to all facets of the game. And as someone who has been playing Mario since he was a child, all the bits of fan service brought a smile to my face. I still have some reservations about Super Mario Odyssey (too much open space, incoherent art direction), but I couldn’t help but be extremely impressed with its E3 showing.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
The Lost Legacy simply looks like more Uncharted. But I love Uncharted, so that is perfectly fine by me. Listening to the developers talk about why they chose to build this DLC-turned-standalone-spinoff around Chloe Fraser and Nadine Ross has just made me more excited to see the dynamics between the leading ladies. The duo’s likenesses (they’re both self-preservationists) and differences (Nadine’s a logical planner while Chloe is an improviser) will make for a fun pair to see play off each other in this next entry of franchise. In the new E3 footage, you can see this at work alongside everything else you’d expect from Uncharted. We see beautiful landscapes and gorgeous temples from throughout the new Indian setting. We see teases of the franchise’s thrilling setpieces (that helicopter bit looks insane). And I’m happy that two of Uncharted 4’s major additions will be back in a big way. The Jeep looks to feature similarly in both action and exploration while the grapple will allow for more swinging melee kills (which as I’ve said before, I never tire of). E3 made me even more excited for what was already my most anticipated game of the year and luckily it is only a couple of months away.
Wolfenstein: The New Colossus
If I had to pick a Game of the Show for E3 2017, I’d probably go with Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. There are other games I am looking forward to playing more, but I think New Colossus had the best showing. It certainly helped that it was the first time we’d seen the game in action. New announcements are a large part of the appeal of E3 after all. Bethesda closed their conference with a wonderful presentation for the next entry in the legendary FPS franchise. It captured everything you’d want from a sequel to The New Order. The humor was shown off in the opening live-action vignette. The heart of the characters was shown through the interactions between BJ and Anya. And of course, the over-the-top Nazi-killing action was present in full force throughout, somehow ratcheted up to a whole new level. Then there are smart new gameplay tweaks and the reveal of wheelchair combat and what may be the quote of the show from producer Jerk Gustafsson, “There are a lot of things you can do with a hatchet and a Nazi.” In short, Wolfenstein II looks amazing.
My biggest wish for Nintendo at E3 was to get a peek at what was coming to the Switch in 2018 and I’m happy to say that my wish came true. Of the Switch titles announced for 2018, my favorite was definitely the new Yoshi title. It comes from Good Feel, the developer behind the brilliant and underappreciated Yoshi’s Woolly World on the Wii U. This new Switch game builds on a mechanic seen briefly in that previous entry where Yoshi can move between multiple planes in the background and foreground and even flip the stage. It trades in the crocheted look of Woolly World for something reminiscent of the dioramas you created as a child. The front side of levels are all meticulously cut and pasted construction paper. The back side shows how it all comes together with Shy Guys and rubber bands responsible for moving parts and the milk cartons and cookie boxes that act as the building blocks in plain view. It just oozes charm. The gameplay is tried and true Yoshi – flutter-jumping, egg-tossing, and flower-nabbing – which I love. There were several announcements at E3 that made me more confident about the Switch’s future software line-up, but Yoshi was the highlight.
Those were my favorite games from E3 2017, but it barely scratches the surface of what was on offer at the show. I should have a new podcast episode all about E3 up within the next week that will go more in-depth on the subject. I’d love to hear what stood out to you from gaming’s biggest showcase, so feel free to let me know in the comments below. That’s all for this post. Thanks for reading!