I’m sure I’m not alone when I say this: E3 is one of the best and worst times of the year. On the plus side, you get to peer into the future of gaming. On the downside, that future is usually a ways off. Both in terms of time and accuracy. I mean sure you get all of these tantalizing tidbits of games you’d never thought you’d see again and games you’ve been waiting your entire life for, but that doesn’t mean the games will actually turn out the way you want. There’s even a decent chance they won’t be released at all. It’s only naturally that after all of this time I’ve become more than a little jaded about E3. I find myself actively resisting the hype that begins to swirl around the games shown off at the conference. I do the best I can to love nothing. To want nothing--no matter how shiny or genre-defining. But despite this, there are still a few games that get my blood pumping no matter how hard I try to resist. Games that look so good and so enticing that I just can’t help but to give into the hype. The following are those games.
The Last Of Us: Part 2
So full disclosure: The first Last Of Us is my favorite game of all time. And that means a lot coming from me because I cannot play scary games. At all. Not even kind of scary games or even scary levels in super cutesy games about kids with magic hats.
And there were plenty of parts in the Last Of Us which made me want to crap myself. But I persevered because I was so drawn in by Joel and Ellie’s story. Needless to say, I was eager for a glimpse of the game’s sequel at this year’s conference and man was I not disappointed. The game looks fantastic. And everything, to the way characters move, talk and fight, looks like it’s happening in a real place. I could say it looks like you’re playing a movie but I won’t because I’m not a hack. So I will say that the game’s combat made me wince. A lot. I could be getting old or the graphics could be getting too good but man. I would be lying if I said I didn’t flinch away from every blow as if it was coming directly for my face.
Gameplay wise it seems very similar to the first game, so zero complaints from me. Ammo and supplies are scarce and a loose beer bottle may be the only thing between you and death. But now it looks as if every action carries so much more gravity and weight. That lends the game an added level of visceral feedback which, honestly, may be too much at times. But I am a sucker for contextual animation. I loved all of the little details that helped to sell the whole experience. Like the way Ellie ducks when a bullet flies past her shoulder or the bewildered way she looks around after the human shield she’d just taken slumps to the ground after being shot by an arrow.
The Last Of Us was easily my favorite part of E3 this year but I still wanted to put it here first. Because it’s E3 and you have to be skeptical of everything you see. And there were a number of moments during this trailer where I wasn’t sure if I was watching actual gameplay or an extended cutscence. And it wouldn’t be the first time a game bent the truth during the conference. It’s a lesson we’ve learned countless times from other show-stealers like Watch Dogs, Killzone and many others. But can’t help it. Still hyped.
When the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer started I honestly thought it was going to be for Watch Dogs 3. And while I don’t hate the series (honestly, I kind of hate it) I felt that leaving the reveal of a new Watch Dogs game for the end of your press conference seemed like a really underwhelming move. Not Ridge Racer levels--but close. But when I saw CD Projekt Red’s name flash across the screen, I squealed. And why shouldn’t I? These guys have been killing it for years now. The Witcher 3 is still the most impressive game I have ever played. Considering it in terms of lore, story, scope, and execution I think its easily a masterpiece. And honestly, I expect Cyberpunk 2077 to be even better. And thankfully there are more details trickling out about the game which makes it sound like CD Projekt Red’s most ambitious title to date.
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider
For my money right now, the Tomb Raider franchise is the best when it comes to over the top action adventure. And I say that with all due respect to the Uncharted franchise. I mean, I adore Uncharted but I feel like that series has run its course while Tomb Raider pushes the genre further with each entry. The gameplay is fantastic, the set pieces and graphics are top-notch and while Lara may not have the charm or snark of Nathan Drake, I feel like she’s arguably a more compelling protagonist. I think a big reason for this is due to how well they’ve used the games in the (rebooted) series to build on her legend and character. Shadow Of The Tomb Raider seems like it will continue on this trend and I can’t wait to play it or any of the games on this list.
Which is the problem.