E3 2018: The Best New Games
This year's E3 was as exciting as ever
2June is always exciting for videogame fans, with the annual E3 show dropping bombshell after bombshell as the gaming calendar fills to bursting point with sensational new titles. This year was certainly no exception, with every major conference throwing up at least a couple of interesting games – some high-profile sequels with millions of dollars behind them, others endearing indie titles fuelled by passion and creativity. Picking favourites from everything that was shown off was no easy task but now that the dust has settled and we can reflect on the show properly, here are the highlights of E3 2018 as far as we're concerned.
Sekiro: Shadows Die TwiceDeveloper: FromSoftware
ETA: Q1 2019
Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki returns with an all-new project, and it's pretty far removed from the spiritual Souls successor that many were expecting. It's a straight-up action game without the RPG and multiplayer elements that have been staples of the studio's big games, with its feudal Japan backdrop setting up a brand new approach to combat. Similar to PlayStation classic Bushido Blade, battles aren't about chipping away at enemy HP bars, but rather duelling to find or create openings in enemy defenses to land that one killing blow. The protagonist's adaptable prosthetic arm also creates interesting new opportunities both for combat and exploration, making this stylish shinobi action game one to watch. It's more Tenchu than Dark Souls, and we're fine with that – it's been ages since the last good Tenchu game, after all.
Resident Evil 2Developer: Capcom
ETA: 25 January 2019
It's crazy to think that Resident Evil 2 is 20 years old, and even crazier to see it become one of our most anticipated releases all over again. Just as it did with the original Resident Evil for the wonderful GameCube remake, Capcom is doing a full ground-up remake of the survival horror classic, not only giving the game a stunning visual overhaul but also adding elements and tech from successful later games in the series, notably 4 and last year's 7. Fixed camera angles are gone, replaced with a Resi 4-style over-the-shoulder camera to get you even closer to the action, but the game otherwise stays true to its horror roots rather than straying into action territory like later games did. The GameCube remake built on the foundations of the original with loads of cool new mechanics, puzzles and locations, and we expect this reimagining to follow the same pattern to deliver even more zombie-filled craziness.
Assassin's Creed OdysseyDeveloper: Ubisoft
ETA: 5 October 2018
Taking some time off was the best thing that could have happened to Assassin's Creed, and it resulted in the series returning to form last year with the excellent Origins after a string of lacklustre releases. Odyssey looks very similar to Origins in its mechanics and structure – no bad thing, as they still manage to feel fresh having only just been revised after a decade or so of the games all feeling very similar. This time, we journey way back to ancient Greece, a truly stunning setting and one that lends itself perfectly to the Assassin's Creed template. Freedom to choose between male and female protagonists and romance whosoever you choose with either is a Mass Effect-esque step in the right direction and should serve to make the game more inclusive and relatable for players of all walks of life, so it looks like Creed might be back on the up-and-up once again.
Cyberpunk 2077Developer: CD Projekt RED
Publisher: CD Projekt RED
We've been waiting so long to actually see this game and the payoff did not disappoint. CDPR dropped the first 'proper' trailer for its hotly anticipated next game at Microsoft's packed conference where it was one of the main attractions, before showing off gameplay demos behind closed doors. It's a first-person RPG based on the old tabletop RPG system of (almost) the same name, and that should be a good indication of the level of freedom and character customisation you can expect from the game. The Witcher III delivered some of the best examples of branching narrative and choices with genuine repercussions, and Cyberpunk looks set to build on that even further, the futuristic setting and emphasis on player choice also giving off something of a Deus Ex vibe. It's an insanely ambitious and artistically beautiful project, though, so it could yet be a while before the finished game sees the light of day. And so the wait begins anew...
Sea Of SolitudeDeveloper: Jo-Mei Games
EA's conference was one of the weaker ones as most of it just felt like box-ticking, but just like the last few years, the highlight here came from an unproven indie studio. Like charming platformer Unravel (which also saw a sequel announced and simultaneously released at this year's show) and bold narrative adventure A Way Out, this latest addition to the EA Originals isn't the kind of thing you'd typically expect the publishing superpower to put its name to – it's a super-stylised adventure about loneliness and hardship, themes the developer hopes will resonate with many players and make the journey more affecting. The haunting trailer was all it took to sell us on the game, and the developers' passion and personal approach really shines through in the game as well.
Super Smash Bros. UltimateDeveloper: Nintendo
ETA: 7 December 2018
Over half of Nintendo's entire E3 Direct video was given over to the latest update to its crazy crossover fighter, and the multiplayer mayhem is seemingly better than ever. The main headline here is that every last playable character from all the old Smash games is back, making for a total of 65 fighters from across Nintendo's archives and beyond. System-wide changes look to make this a more entertaining game for casual play at one end of the spectrum while offering greater tuning options for high-end competitive play at the other – a broad approach that doesn't work too well for some games but that has served Smash well in the past, so fingers crossed. Loaded with fan favourite characters and primed to be Switch's main holiday release this year, this love-in of all things Nintendo is almost certainly going to be huge.
Devil May Cry 5Developer: Capcom
ETA: Q1 2019
Rumours abound ahead of every major gaming trade show, but DMC5 has been one of the most prominent every time for the last few years, making each no-show more heartbreaking than the last. This year was different. Capcom took to the Microsoft stage to reveal the game with a suitably OTT trailer, showing Nero – who returns to the spotlight, as set up by DMC4 – busting out all kinds of crazy moves and generally kicking demon ass, before closing with a shot of a grizzled old Dante speeding along on a motorbike as fans the world over imploded with joy. Hideaki Itsuno, celebrated director of the last two (incredible) mainline games in the series, reprises his role at the head of the project, so hopes are high for him to make it three-for-three when it comes to setting new benchmarks for the hardcore character action genre.
Forza Horizon 4Developer: Playground Games
ETA: 2 October 2018
No E3 is complete without a jaw-dropping new racing game for petrolheads to drool over, and the Forza series is making quite a habit of being the one to fill that role. Unlike mainline Forza games (which focus on track racing across extensive career modes), the Horizon sub-series delivers open-world racing sandboxes and simplified arcade-esque handling to shift the focus from simulation to pure fun. This time around, Horizon's setting of choice is Britain, with a great blend of rural country lanes, large cities and familiar landmarks propping up its gamified version of our home turf. Changing seasons impact gameplay for the first time and the world will be populated with real players rather than their AI-powered Drivatars, plus the graphics are ramped up to crazy levels with native 4K support for Xbox One X and high-end PC. Stunning stuff.
The Last Of Us: Part IIDeveloper: Naughty Dog
Sony took a slightly different approach to E3 this year, electing to go big on its next four exclusives rather than shower us with announcements and surprises as it has in previous years. While Ghost Of Tsushima, Spider-Man and Hideo Kojima's still-baffling Death Stranding all looked great, it was Naughty Dog's return that unsurprisingly stole the show. The gameplay demo was a 12-minute emotional roller coaster, weaving from endearing and intimate character development to intense stealth sequences to dramatic action scenes with all the fluidity and grace you'd expect from one of the best studios in the business. Attention to detail is just astonishing throughout and the team continues to be at the vanguard of championing diversity in gaming – who better to speak for the underrepresented demographics and the need for equality in gaming than the team responsible for some of the biggest and best titles on the market?
Doom EternalDeveloper: id Software
There were a couple of perhaps more obvious choices from Bethesda's surprisingly busy conference that we could have gone for here, but the online nature of Fallout '76 still worries us a little having seen the prevalence of griefing in similar games and The Elder Scrolls VI is realistically still years away from even being shown off properly. Alongside fellow shooters Rage 2 and Wolfenstein Youngblood, it was this brief tease of a sequel to 2016's Doom reboot that got our blood flowing most of all, though, depicting demons galore roaming a hellish cityscape as the chugging guitar riffs were drowned out by the screams of delighted fans. Bethesda will be unveiling the game properly at QuakeCon in August, but this tease did its job perfectly – we don't need an excuse to get excited by the prospect of more Doom after the team utterly nailed the reboot, so this is more than enough to keep hype levels up for the few months until we get to see the sequel in action.
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