E3 2019 Roundup: The Biggest Games And Best Hidden Gems
A ton of great-looking new stuff was shown off and teased
Now that the dust has finally settled and we can properly take stock of all the news, announcements, and updates that came out of the E3 trade show in LA last week, we're ready to take fresh eyes and minds to the stack of new games to highlight the ones we reckon you should keep an eye on.
Of course, it wasn't just games under the spotlight, but new hardware as well – Microsoft sort-of revealed its next console, codenamed Project Scarlett, with a lot of telling and very little showing, although boasts of 8K output, frame rates way beyond what we tend to see on consoles, and vastly enhanced raw processing power are certainly all very exciting, especially after the hardware team knocked it out of the park with the fantastic Xbox One X.
Google also showed off more of its cloud gaming solution, Stadia, just ahead of the show with plenty of further discussion and partnerships at E3 itself. Streaming gaming services like this are nothing new, but previous efforts such as OnLive and PlayStation Now have stumbled due to latency issues, an area where Google's version seems to come out pretty well by all accounts. Still, it remains to be seen how everything shakes out when the service rolls out properly to Founders later this year.
With the next generation on the horizon, this year's show wasn't quite the blowout we've come to expect after a string of strong events. Still, that certainly doesn't mean that there's not a lot of ground to cover as, even without Sony having any kind of presence at the event, a ton of great-looking new stuff was shown off and teased. As ever with this kind of list, we've tried to stick primarily to brand new stuff rather than updates to known quantities unless there's a good reason to cover those titles here. Yes, it's awesome that Cyberpunk 2077 is coming early next year with Keanu Reeves as a guest star. Yes, Ori And The Will Of The Wisps still looks utterly gorgeous. Yes, Borderlands 3 remains high on our list of most anticipated games, just as it was before the event. And no, we don't have a clue what the hell is going on in Death Stranding either, so its lack of a presence at E3 just saved us another round of headaches. With all that in mind, let's get into the games, and we've mixed in a few hidden gems along with the big stuff in order to keep things interesting.
Elden RingETA: TBC
Well, this is set to be a dream crossover for fantasy fans, with Game Of Thrones writer George R R Martin teaming up with Dark Souls developer, FromSoftware, to deliver the studio's most ambitious project to date. It's a bit of an odd one since one area FromSoftware certainly doesn't need any help with is writing – the Souls games are masterclasses in abstract and environmental narrative, though perhaps the hope is that Martin will help infuse this new project with something a little more conventional to bolster its widespread appeal. His name alone will likely do just that, in truth. The teaser trailer shown at the Xbox conference doesn't give away an awful lot, although we're told that this will be a fantasy RPG with more emphasis on RPG mechanics than in the Souls series, and that it'll be the biggest game FromSoftware has ever made. We can't wait to find out more in the coming months. No release date has been mentioned so far, but the fact that it's coming to Xbox One and PS4 would lead us to believe that it'll likely drop some time next year.
Marvel's AvengersETA: May 2020
This one has been talked about for several years now, but we finally got to see it in action for the first time at E3. Players will be able to suit up as their favourite member of the Avengers and jump into a brand new action adventure saga with cooperative multiplayer components, which is set to grow over the lifetime of the game as new content and playable heroes are added for free. The base lineup includes all the usual suspects – Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Thor and Cap were all shown off, but fans of the others can take some comfort in the knowledge that their favourite member of Earth's mightiest heroes will likely become playable down the line as well. The jury's still out on some of the character designs, but it should certainly help separate the game from the MCU a little, and there's no denying the pedigree of the voice talent that has been pulled together here.
Gods And MonstersETA: February 2020
There was no sign of a new Assassin's Creed game this year, and with good reason – the Odyssey team is giving the series another year off in order to flex its creative muscle with a new IP instead. With the history books dictating a lot of the background to those games, there's only so much room for creative licence, hence this shift to a mythological setting where the team can go a little bit crazier without worrying about upsetting bedroom historians. Or real ones, for that matter. It also allows the team to break free from the trappings of realism, leading to the wonderful cartoony art style we see here, resembling the kind of thing you might see if Dreamworks made a Breath Of The Wild movie. There's barely a minute of footage to go on, but it's safe to expect something similar in structure to an AssCreed game, with the teaser suggesting slightly more over-the-top combat and destructible environments. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
Cadence Of HyruleETA: Out now
Stealth drops are pretty common at E3, and the words '...And it's available today!' are heard several times every year. Our first hidden gem on this list was one of surprisingly few such surprise releases this year, but it's one you won't want to miss out on if you've got a Switch. Cadence Of Hyrule is a fusion of the rhythm-action roguelike craziness of Crypt Of The Necrodancer and a traditional 2D Zelda adventure – move and attack to the beat of various awesome remixes of classic Zelda tunes as you round up musical instruments to help deal with Hyrule's latest threat. It's much more forgiving and generous than similar games – key items and exploration are all retained upon death, with frequent fast travel points making it so you never lose too much progress. And once story mode is done, you can enjoy endless randomised versions of the game world, where enemy placement, key item locations and even chunks of the map shift around with each new run. Charming, inventive, and utterly superb.
When the team behind the Dishonored games announces a new project, it's a good idea to pay attention. The creativity and freedom offered in Arkane's other works are hallmarks of the studio as much as the Dishonored series, and its next offering, Deathloop, already shows massive potential. The setup is a little strange, with a Groundhog Day-like repeating cycle in which two extraordinary assassins look to off one another over and over – one to try and maintain this strange status quo, and the other to try to break free from it. We're promised the same kind of expansive open areas and freedom to approach situations as seen in Dishonored, so you might find yourself needing to come up with creative routes through locations that work around threats you learned about the hard way in a former life. There's a dash of grindhouse in the trailer presentation, but it's unclear just how much that will extend into the game itself. We're sure we'll find out soon enough…
Watch Dogs: LegionETA: March 2020
Watch Dogs followed almost the exact same trajectory as Assassin's Creed when it first launched – a weak first entry with some neat ideas, followed by a stellar sequel that managed to right the ship, then even more exciting things after that. Ubisoft has found an ingenious solution to Watch Dogs' problem with unlikeable protagonists, and that is to allow any character to take the leading role. Just as you could profile civilians before, this now extends to being able to recruit them to your cause and play as them as you try to topple an authoritarian power that has taken control of a London in turmoil. It's a flexible and nuanced system and one that seems to have impressed all who played it with how it truly lets you approach the game however you like, with whoever you like.
Fall Guys: Ultimate KnockoutETA: 2020
Our next hidden gem comes in the form of Takeshi's Castle battle royale via Gang Beasts, if that makes even the slightest bit of sense to you. Announced at the typically ridiculous Devolver 'conference' (read: half-hour ultra-violent absurdist skit), this is a cute and colourful multiplayer obstacle course where 100 little blob people clamber over one another to overcome an increasingly gruelling set of trials until only one remains to be crowned the victor. Just like party fighter Gang Beasts, there's certainly a degree of skill to things, but much of the entertainment comes from the physics-based craziness that ensues when dozens of people try to deal with obstacles at the same time. It's chaos, naturally, but there'll be belly laughs galore along the way whether you come out on top or not. For once, it's a battle royale style game where winning isn't even the most important thing, and that's awesome.
Star Wars Jedi:Fallen OrderETA: November 2019
Apparently, the E3 gameplay we saw during EA's lengthy live stream might not be entirely indicative of how Fallen Order actually plays out in the long run. The demo made the game out to be a linear action game – Star Wars Uncharted, if you will – with the expected mix of traversal, combat, and Force power usage. However, it seems like the full game may be a lot more open-ended than this suggests, with developers mentioning a structure more akin to a Metroid game, where planets can be visited in any order you like and new powers and abilities earned along the way will open up new exploration options all across the galaxy. And just like that, we're back on board. There's nothing wrong with what was presented per se, and a straightforward Star Wars action game by the Titanfall team would probably be a pretty good time. But this suggestion of a much deeper experience sounds way more appealing, so we look forward to donning our Jedi robes later this year.
Final Fantasy VII RemakeETA: March 2020
We know we said this list would be focused on brand new titles, but a complete reinvention of one of the most popular games of all time is above the law in this instance. First announced at E3 four years ago, this action-based reworking of the classic turn-based JRPG has been something of a stranger to the spotlight, and we've only seen small snippets of gameplay previously. But, this year, we were treated to an extended slice of action, a look at some more characters and systems, and even a playable demo, all of which came together to dispel a lot of the cynicism around the game's change in direction and turn it into excitement. Combat is fast-paced not unlike that of FFXV, but the traditional ATB system returns to let you slow battles down to a crawl (which looks incredible, it must be said) to issue commands in order to deliver the same kind of depth of combat of a slower RPG. This is a huge project and is planned to be split across multiple releases, with the first due early next year seemingly covering the events of the first disc of the original game. Bring it.
Roller ChampionsETA: Q1 2020
Rocket League moved the goalposts (literally) when it came to competitive sports games, so it's no surprise to see so many other games follow in the wake of its huge success. Roller Champions looks to be the next such to bring a fictional sport to the masses, this time a three-on-three hybrid of roller derby and handball, where successfully completing laps of the oval course in possession of the ball lets you charge up the goal to make your next true shot worth more points. It's accessible and fun, and teamwork really does make the dream work – you'll need to slot into roles to protect the ball carrier, run interference with opposing players, and eventually make sure your opening on a powered-up goal isn't wasted. There's a lot going on, but you can pick it up in just a couple of games, which is a sure-fire sign that Ubisoft is doing something right here.
Are you excited to play any of these games? Let us know in the discussion thread.
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