That’s about what’s to be expected, but this year’s E3 feels different. It’s more energetic, more passionate and more importantly, fun. Fun I haven’t felt in years fromt the rote formula of recycling franchises into the ground. Sure, E3 2019 has the usual suspects of Battlefield and Call of Duty updates, another year another FIFA, and the trend of remakes and ports. But, these are not the games we’d feature in this list. For me, the E3 hype lives in the fringes of nostalgia with updates to some of the original cult classic franchises, and whole new worlds of brand new IPs.
THE OGS RETURN
VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE - BLOODLINES 2
Miracles do come true! A sequel to 2004 RPG classic Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines is in the works by Hardsuit Labs and new publishing owner Paradox Interactive. Now set in Seattle, the game will once again center on a fledgling vampire (you) born and caught up in dire circumstances.
Expect plenty of political intrigue, stealth, and blood – loads of blood – as our new “thin blood” comes to grips with their powers and investigates who or what is responsible. Like the first game it all plays out in first-person, with a strong focus on role-playing and some delicious vampire combat. In even more good news, Brian Mitsoda from the first Bloodlines has been confirmed as the lead narrative designer.
While the game was announced and teased at GDC 2019 earlier this year, we got to see a full 20-minutes of pre-alpha gameplay at E3 2019 courtesy of PC Gamer. Those who’ve played the original may remember the frankly awful combat systems, which goes to show just how much Vampire: The Masquerade achieved on its RPG aspects alone. From the 20-minute demo, it would seem that the RPG elements are intact, which bodes well for the title. Combat is still rough around the edges; you might even say old school. I like.
BALDUR’S GATE 3
Baldur’s Gate 3 comes a whopping 19 years after its predecessor, although the fanbase hasn’t died down in the hiatus. On the contrary, passion for the series has been kept alive through word-of-mouth and the many enthusiastic recommendations by older RPG fans. Helping the cause are relatively recent remasters for the first two games, and the rapidly growing popularity of Dungeons & Dragons in general.
Now that a sequel is actually a thing and not some dream, fans are foaming at the mouth to know more. And who can blame them? 19 years is a long wait.
The hotly-anticipated RPG is in development by Larian Studios, the Belgian team behind the critically acclaimed Divinity: Original Sin 2, widely seen as one of the best modern RPGs of all time. To have them helm the third installment of a landmark series from gaming history is pretty much a match made in heaven.
Larian Studios has vastly expanded to give Baldur’s Gate 3 the treatment it deserves. A PC Gamer interview revealed that 200 people are now working on the game internally, with another 100 external developers joining in as well. Just imagine what possibilities that might mean, after seeing their great work in Divinity: Original Sin 2? This game will be huge and that’s a definitive fact by this point.
FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE
Square Enix played the crowd like no one else at this year’s E3 conference, coming in super hot with Final Fantasy VII Remake!
Producer Yoshinori Kitase mentioned that FF7R will contain two Blu-ray discs’ worth of content. AT E3, they revealed that FF7R will feature a hybrid combat system that blends real-time action with tactical combat.
This mechanic comes in the form of two ATB bars. Most of the time, a character can only make regular real-time attacks, like Cloud whaling on a hapless SOLDIER with his Buster Sword. However, once those ATB bars are filled up, Cloud (or any other character) will enter a different mode. Tactical Mode freezes time and gives you the option to use Limit Breaks, Items, and other special commands. The ATB bars fill up slowly over time, but landing your normal attacks lets you build them up much faster. It’s mentioned that Tactical Mode is entirely optional and can be switched off for more action-based combat.
Thanks to the extended E3 trailer, we finally get to see the childhood crush and idol of many young players during the ’90s: Tifa Lockhart. We also got a chance to see Tifa in action, including her acrobatic Limit Break, Somersault. We also got to see the Shinra headquarters in full view, and even sections of it being explored. Sephiroth makes an appearance too, taunting Cloud as he usually does. Excites!
PICTURES PARADOX INTERACTIVE, LARIAN STUDIOS, SQUARE ENIX
Ok, the last Doom reboot wasn’t too long ago, but after all these years, Doom Eternal is the first game in the series’ long history to introduce something new to the mix. Doom’s never been known for its story, but this game might change that. From what was teased at Bethesda’s E3 conference, Doom Eternalis diving head first into demon lore, and it seems that our beloved Doomguy not only has to fight hell on earth, but a mysterious faction of holy-looking creatures as well.
In a trailer just under two minutes long, we see sweeping landscapes of bloody, gory red mixed with white, regal castle-like structures. Red demons are here in abundance, but so are these flying angelic ones, somewhat reminiscent of the Valkyries from God of War (2018). If these creatures are from up above, then it seems that Doomguy doesn’t get along with either heaven or hell.
The story supposedly will continue past the original release as well, with two post-launch DLC expansions already planned. Those who get the Deluxe Edition will have those DLCs bundled in.
They also showed off Doom Eternal’s new multiplayer mode, consisting entirely of Doomguy fighting a pair of player-controlled demons. According to id Software, each demon has unique abilities to toy with, suggesting that there are more than two. These ‘Battlemode’ matches go in rounds of three.
STAR WARS JEDI: FALLEN ORDER
Can you believe that there hasn’t been a “real” Star Wars game for almost a decade? And no, I don’t consider either Battlefronts a Star Wars game. At best, they’re generic shooters with a Star Wars skin. I’ll give it to EA to say that Battlefront II was a good attempt to change this with an actual campaign mode, but the experience felt hollow. But now we have Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Can this be the Star Wars game to save EA?
Fallen Order takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, bridging the massive gap between the movies’ timeline.
Our hero Cal Kestis isn’t (force) pulling any punches. An almost-jedi who has somehow survived Order 66, a command issued by the Emperor to purge the galaxy of all jedi. It’s safe to say that his attempts at laying low don’t go too well, and he’s thrust into JULY 2019 | HWM a world of mayhem and chaos almost immediately.
In the gameplay footage released during EA Play, we see Cal in familiar territory – the planet Kashyyyk, home to our favourite fuzzball. Wookies are being enslaved here, and Cal seems determined to set them free. Saw Gerrera from 2016’s Rogue One even makes an appearance, with Forest Whitaker returning to voice the character.
Respawn’s experience with developing Titanfall is in full display here, with Cal running across walls, double jumping above enemies, and swinging on vines. Player mobility is ramped up to a tee much like Titanfall, and Cal even has a little droid companion named BD-1. Respawn didn’t even try with that one, naming it after the Titan ‘BT’ from Titanfall 2. Apparently, the name stuck during development, so here we are.
Also noteworthy was Cal’s understated usage of force powers.
This game doesn’t seem to be a grand, bombastic affair like The Force Unleashed series was, with force powers causing absolute mayhem left and right. It’s a little smaller in scale, with Cal having to use the force in certain platforming sections to get where he needs to be. For example, force pulling a vine to swing from, or freezing a moving bridge in place.
In combat, the force abilities shown include freezing enemies in place, force pulling them and of course, deflecting their fire. Combat in general seems methodically paced, more along the lines of games like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. They’re not exactly the same, but they do seem to have similar mechanics in place for parrying, countering, breaking posture and so on for lightsaber combat.
This is important because stormtroopers aren’t the only type of enemies you’ll be encountering. Purge troopers are specifically trained to fight jedi, and soften them up before the arrival of the inquisitors, a truly menacing force against the light side.
PICTURES BETHESDA, ELECTRONIC ARTS
THE NEW GS RISE
GODS & MONSTERS
Ubisoft are looking to Nintendo for more than just gaming collaborations. Gods & Monsters, the recently announced action-adventure game by Ubisoft Quebec, is more or less seen by many as the publisher’s take on Zelda.
For one, Gods & Monsters features open-world exploration and questing, themed after Greek mythology with gods and fantastical creatures. However, what’s most telling is the painterly art style and the team’s desire to make the journey “as rewarding as the destination” – which is exactly what any Breath of the Wild player would tell you.
The E3 reveal only has a cinematic trailer showing off the landscapes and a look at our hero, Fenyx. He’s journeying across the Isle of the Blessed, swiping away harpies and gorgons, in the hopes of restoring power to the Greek gods. You see, it’s been stolen by Typhon, a monstrous giant that was once cast into Hades by Zeus. I’m guessing they can’t just do that again, what with all the godly powers being stolen and all.
So that’s where Fenyx comes in, and the gameplay reads a lot like the phenomenally successful Breath of the Wild. In addition to all the roaming and puzzle-solving, you’ll do are epic boss fights, challenging trials and dungeons. Our “forgotten hero” is gifted with some godlike abilities of his own as well, and he can even glide through the air to get places quicker. All he needs is a horse and the comparisons would be complete.
Senior producer Marc-Alexis Cote noted that with Assassins’ Creed, the studio had always been bound by the realistic aspects of history. Gods & Monsters frees them to pursue mythology, and it’ll very much be what Ubisoft is calling “a storybook adventure at heart.”
Shinji Mikami, the man behind the first Resident Evil and Dino Crisis games, took to the Bethesda E3 stage to announce his studio’s newest project. Ghostwire: Tokyo is a supernatural action-adventure game set in Japan.
Tango Gameworks seem to be tearing away from their survival horror roots (The Evil Within) for this game. Instead of being thrown into one horror moment after another, players will have to uncover deep conspiracies, explore the environment and interact with spirits both good and evil.
We don’t know much else about Ghostwire Tokyo just yet. Gameplay videos and release dates are probably still far off, but we do have a cinematic teaser to work off. In it, we see people disappearing left and right all Thanos-style, only this time there are no Avengers to reverse the tragedy. Just you, with a bow and some cool-looking powers.
There are a ton of crazy-looking creatures and environments in this trailer, which makes sense considering The Evil Within series always had fantastic monster designs. We’ll probably see similarly freaky creatures here, with more of an emphasis on story and characters this time around. It’s nice to see Tango branch out into new and stranger things; at this point, Sebastian Castellanos deserves a break too.
As the developers of Gears of War 3 as well as Bulletstorm, People Can Fly (previously Epic Games Poland) are no strangers to shooters. Their latest foray into the gun-wielding genre comes in the form of Outriders, a brand new IP announced at the Square Enix E3 conference.
Although details are scant with no actual gameplay, People Can Fly has a proven track record for both third- and first-person shooters. The trailer looks beautiful and hints at a world where humanity is at the precipice of extinction.
Movie tie-in games, like comic-book movies once upon a time, used to be synonymous with trying to squeeze water from a rock.
Marvel’s Avengers however, will feature an original story that spans multiple games in what they’re calling a ‘cinematic game’ experience.
Developed by Crystal Dynamics (of Tomb Raider fame), we saw a peek at the Avengers roster with Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk and Black Widow. We also got a chance to see Hank Pym (Ant-Man) using a shrink ray on a spider-like robot. The developers have promised that this roster will grow as more heroes join the Avengers. These will come in the form of free content updates that also expands the number of regions to explore.
While details are still scant and we have yet to see any actual gameplay, Marvel’s Avengers might be just the thing to fill the void left by Avengers: End Game.
PICTURES UBISOFT, BETHESDA, SQUARE ENIX, CRYSTAL DYNAMICS
JUST DANCE 2020
It may not seem like it, but Just Dance has been an absolute star for Ubisoft, outliving other major music games since it first released on the Wii in 2009. Ten years and 67 million sales later, Just Dance 2020 is about to hit all major gaming consoles (including the Wii!) with hits from the likes of Ariana Grande and BLACKPINK.
“For over 10 years now, Just Dance has been an incredible journey for all the people working on the brand at Ubisoft. We’ve seen Just Dance evolving from a casual video game to a worldwide entertainment phenomenon with millions of Just Dancers,” said Ubisoft Paris’ Marine de la Seigliere, director of business and brand development.
“This would have never been possible without the support of our amazing community; they inspire and stimulate us to be more creative every day. At Ubisoft Paris, we are committed to supporting Just Dance 2020 in the future by integrating new content and more fun ways to play our game. Let’s celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Just Dance together and more!”
Indeed. They’re rolling out the good times with classic features and digital stickers, while also bringing back the highly missed co-op mode that made the series a fun party option in the first place.
WATCH DOGS: LEGION
In what seems to be yet another wild departure for the series, Ubisoft is replacing the apparently outdated idea of a central protagonist with the entire populace of London instead.
That’s right. In this post-Brexit setting, players can control any character among their legion (hah) of resistance members. They’re the underground response to an authoritarian regime and an oppressed people, and the collective “you” can recruit more to the cause by simply heading to the streets.
Every character has unique traits and a persistent backstory in the open-world game. Lead studio Ubisoft Toronto says that each member will have a class, level, and new abilities and upgrades. The idea behind Legion isn’t to craft some sort of super-hacker but to swap between this growing skills network to find a preferred approach.
It’s about the “heroes that live in each of us,” says creative director Clint Hocking, which is why his team went to the trouble of fully animating and voicing every character in the game.
You won’t have to do it alone, either, as the game supports four-player co-op with shared progression between single-player and online.
It’s an exciting premise that’s for sure, and perhaps an opportunity for Ubisoft to finally stand and own up to a political stance in their games, instead of what happened with The Division 2.
What it’ll also have over that other Tom Clancy game is raytracing support. NVIDIA is improving the publisher’s digitally recreated cities with all those fancy lighting effects and other gaming tech to make London come alive.
Death Stranding may have a ton of 3D-scanned celebrities, but do you know who it doesn’t have? Keanu Reeves. Add Cyberpunk 2077 and you’ve basically broken the internet’s hype meter.
PICTURES CD PROJEKT RED