Another year of E3 in the books, people. The biggest event of the year for the video game world concluded yesterday, and now all we are left with is the memories. Unless you’re me of course, who takes pride in carefully organizing those memories into a list ranked from #10 to #1. After all, it’s always fun to look back at the end of these things and reflect upon the things that worked most, is it not?
Seriously, is it?
In any case, let’s not waste any more of your time than I already have: here are the ten games that impressed me the most during the week that was E3 2017. Keep in mind, however, that I am basing this list entirely upon what was shown at the press conferences for the big companies (EA, Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, and Nintendo). I wasn’t actually at the actual E3 (and from what I heard of the experience, probably didn’t want to be), nor did I watch many of the demos and things from the show floor. For the sake of clarity, this is based simply off the press conferences.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s proceed.
Honorable Mentions: A Way Out, Metro: Exodus, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, The Evil Within 2, Metroid Prime 4
10. God of War
I am the last person that should be attracted to the presence of a new God of War game. I have very limited experience with the franchise overall and, honestly, have never felt much of an intense desire to play any of the games in the it. But after E3 2016, that kind of changed — even from the outside of the fandom, I can tell that this is a new direction for the series, and a direction that I for one think looks incredibly exciting. This year’s Sony Press Conference just showed us even more from the game and, for one reason or another, I can’t help but feel pretty damn excited for it. The presentation is just extremely solid here, and the addition of Kratos’ son to the adventure seems to add drama and gravitas to this reboot that this series, four installments in, could really use.
Will this end up being the Logan of the God of War series? If so, even a franchise noob like me might find himself drawn to this big Viking adventure.
9. The Last Night
Microsoft had a bunch of short trailers from an assortment of indie developers but, in my mind, none of them wowed me in the same way that The Last Night did. Instantly striking from the very first visual, watching the trailer for this game was almost hobby-affirming in a way: all I could think was how, more than any other trailer at this year’s E3, The Last Night proves how beautiful an art form video games can be. Even in just a brief minute runtime, the visuals and atmosphere of The Last Night immediately create an impression. It was hypnotic in a way, and the kind of trailer that made me instantly turn to my notes and scribble down the name of the game for future reference.
Of course writing about this game now has the unfortunate side effect of somewhat addressing the controversial statements made by its developer which, yes, kind of sucks. But I’m not writing this article to judge political viewpoints, or to even judge if a game is “problematic” or not. I’m just looking strictly at what wowed me during E3 and, simply using that as a barometer, The Last Night more than passes the bar.
8. Sea of Thieves
There’s something to be said about a splash of humor thrown into the often stuffy, overly-corporate world of E3. Something that doesn’t take itself seriously and pokes fun at the nature of the event entirely — Sea of Thieves was, surprisingly, the game that did that the most this year. Anchored by the commentary of a very lovable narrator, Sea of Thieves just looks FUN. Yes, that might sound like an easy thing for the presentation of a video game to accomplish but, hey, you’d be surprised. Still though, I learned the hard way that being extremely excited for a Rare game more often than not just leads to crushing disappointment. I’m excited for Sea of Thieves based off this in depths demo, but we shall see if the game delivers when it (hopefully) hits the Xbox One next year.
(There are three nautical puns in that paragraph, and I really hope you all noticed them immediately.)
7. Beyond Good and Evil 2
There’s something magical about a surprise appearance of something at E3, the kind of magic that is enough to propel pretty much any presentation forward. Beyond Good and Evil 2 certainly had that magic, as the game 14 years in the making returned from the (somewhat) dead to wow audiences with an admittedly impressive CGI trailer. It’s always hard to judge a game based on pre-rendered trailers like this, as it tells us very little about what the game will actually be about or (more importantly) how it will play. That being said, the new trailer here was wonderfully exciting, pretty damn beautiful, and intriguing as hell. Michel Ancel’s world looks as batshit as ever, and I for one am eager to see more from this resurrected property.
But, once again, the real magic in this one was in the actual presentation. Ancel coming on stage, choking back tears after the re-unveiling of his passion project? Even the most cynical bastard had to jump on the hype train after that, right?
6. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
As you can probably tell from a few other installments on this list, I am a pretty bad gamer. There’s probably dozens of running franchises that, although great looking, I have never even touched. On that I would blame the high price of this hobby in addition to the time it takes to even play most games nowadays but, look, I shouldn’t be making excuses here: there’s a lot of video games series I have yet to play, and just one of them is Wolfenstein.
But after its grand unveiling during Bethesda’s press conference? Well, let’s just say it has shot up my list of series that I desperately need to catch up on, because — damn. Set wonderfully to the song “Danke Schoen” and featuring a truly peculiar little coda in the form of a live-action short film, Wolfeinstein II: The New Colossus was unlike anything else at E3, in the best way possible. In a year that was surprisingly light on first person shooters, Wolfenstein came in with its bizarre, violent, and oversized trailer to blow the roof off the whole damn show. And the fact that the game is so close from release (launching in October) is just icing on the blood soaked cake. I guess I better get to playing the previous installment soon, huh?
5. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
You’ll notice that the title of this article is “Best Trailers and Presentations of E3 2017,” and there’s a reason for that. Though most of the items on this list indeed fit into the former category, when combined with the latter element, it can create something truly magnificent. Cue Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
Don’t get me wrong: just based off the greatness of the first game, this reveal trailer for Ori and the Will of the Wisps would have had me extremely excited. And as a trailer, it is just as beautiful and emotional as anything the first game gave us. But paired with composer Gareth Coker coming on stage, playing a beautiful piano suite as the reveal took place? It turned an A trailer into an A+ reveal. There was a lot of fun had with the stage/screen combo during press conferences this year (primarily from Sony), but none of them elicited quite the same, powerful response as this one.
4. Star Wars: Battlefront II
As one of the many rather underwhelmed by EA’s first Star Wars: Battlefront game, this sequel had a lot to proof in order to win me over. Thankfully, EA devoted a huge majority of its 2017 press conference to doing just that.
EA pulled a similar trick last year, simply choosing to present viewers at home a livestream of an ENTIRE multiplayer match of their newest multiplayer game, cutting out the middle man of gameplay trailers or after the show demo presentations. It’s a smart move, especially considering that the setup of EA Play gives them the leeway to do it. And truly seeing an entire match of the game being played is a great way to sell your product — it worked for me with Battlefield 1 and, yes, worked here once again with Battlefront II. This game looks like exactly what I wanted from the original game the first time around: huge, chaotic action featuring all the things we love about the Star Wars universe. It wasn’t rocket science but, in the extended footage that we saw, the team at DICE finally seems to have nailed the formula. Consider me stoked…even if the sight of seeing Rey fighting Darth Maul in the throne room of Naboo threatens to send me into a fanboy tizzy (YOU’RE CROSSING THE TIMELINES, DICE! YOU’RE PLAYING WITH FIRE!)
3. Super Mario Odyssey
I currently don’t own a Nintendo Switch and, honestly, I don’t see that changing for a long-time to come. However…game gotta recognize a game here. Super Mario Odyssey looks FANTASTIC, and exactly the kind of fun Mario platformer Nintendo has proven themselves so adept at making. Granted I’m a sucker for the series, but man, this one just seems super cool. The level design looks intricate and big, but also varied in the way that the best Mario games are. And even the sillier ideas of the first trailer (New Donk City and Cappy in particular) came out of E3 looking inspired and cool. The latter concept especially seems like an exciting new gameplay feature for the Mario franchise, and if it inspires a bunch of funny memes as well, so be it!
In any case, I doubt I’ll be able to play the game any time soon…but after the trailer and new gameplay demo? I certainly wish I could.
Anthem represents one of the few new, original AAA IPs presented at E3 this year…so just based on that, I would have given it series consideration for inclusion on this list. Tack on the Bioware name, and it would have easily found a top on the top 10. But add its actual reveal trailer, an exciting and literally awesome look at a brand new world built from the ground up, and Anthem gets pretty much all the points from me. I know after Destiny that I should be wary of all ambitious multiplayer sci-fi shooters…but damn, I just can’t help it. Even after Mass Effect: Andromeda, I trust Bioware, and I’m hoping this will indeed end up being the game that I hoped Destiny would be. Even if that’s not the case though, I always have this reveal. Disappointment in the final product can’t take that away from me, no sir!
1. Marvel’s Spider-Man
But, yeah, sorry Anthem — it’s cool that you’re something new and original and all that but, umm…Spider-Man. In a video game. Developed by Insomniac. Yes, the deck was probably stacked against you from the get go but, uh, DAMN. That Spider-Man demo was just out of this world, the kind of thing that I ended up watching again almost immediately after. Spider-Man is my favorite superhero of all time, and though I have greatly enjoyed some of the other games based around the character in the past (Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro 4ever), this truly does look like the Spider-Man game of my dreams. The combat of Arkham Asylum. The speed and rhythm of Sunset Overdrive. The glorious action set-piece craziness of Uncharted. And, yes, the character of Spider-Man, just as perfectly realized as I hoped he would be. Sure, this is 100% a game made for me — but even as simply a gameplay reveal trailer, this thing is a beast, and by far one of the best demos I’ve seen at E3 in a VERY long time.
The only disappointment, of course, was the fact that I have to wait until 2018 to get hands on the game myself. But, hey — with great power, comes great anticipation. Or something.
Anywho, that about does it for another year of E3. Overall, it was a solid year. Nothing absolutely mind-blowing was revealed, but I don’t think any of the major press conferences didn’t offer at least something of value worth presenting at the show. And, if anything, it makes my wallet cry for all the money that will be taken out of it in the months to come.
Like, metaphorically. Who takes money out of their wallet anymore?
Also published on Medium.