15 Jun 2018

The Games of E3 2018

E3 - an annual expo for game developers and publishers to showcase the latest games - took place in Los Angeles this week. As always, a lot of exciting new announcements were made as well as updates on projects that were already known about. It's always an exciting time for anyone interested in videogames. After spending the last week investing a lot of time into watching these conferences, here are my picks for what games interested me the most from the expo.

If you're interested in watching the full conferences with dozens more game reveals, I'll leave links to each one at the end of this post.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: 5 October, 2018

As a die-hard fan of the Assassin's Creed series, this game was pretty high on my radar. After Ubisoft had successfully given the franchise a much deserved soft reboot, Odyssey will take place in Ancient Greece during the year 431 BCE as the player takes on the role of a mercenary taking part in the Peloponnesian War. It will take on more of a role-playing approach to the series than has ever been done before, with dialogue options, branching quests, and multiple endings being a main focus as well as the player being able to choose the gender of the protagonist.

One part that looked incredible to me was the scale of the large battles. In the demo, the player partakes in a battle between two factions that must have featured at least over 100 characters on-screen at once. While the series may be taking a more controversial approach to game design - by shaking up the action-stealth structure of previous games to emphasise the role-playing elements - it should remain a popular choice for the holidays later this year and I for one am interested in seeing how this is handled.

Link to trailer.

Link to gameplay demo.
Battlefield V

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: EA DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: 19 October, 2018

Battlefield returns to its original premise by bringing players back to the Second World War. In Battlefield V, DICE have completely overhauled the gameplay to bring more attention to the teamplay aspects that made the series popular in the first place. We also know there won't be a premium pass in the game, and loot boxes are gone. DICE also announced there would be a Battle Royale mode, which had a mixed reception during the EA Play event.

As a big fan of the series, Battlefield V has me excited. No other multiplayer game has quite captured the same feeling of being a lone foot soldier fighting on an epic, expansive landscape. The Frostbite engine is perfectly equipped for depicting these large battles, and the expansion of Operations from Battlefield 1 will only mean these spectacles will be increased. The customisation of the game has me feeling a bit wary though. In some of the gameplay footage seen so far, enemy players were scene dressed like ninjas or hockey players. It didn't quite look like a mainline Battlefield game, but more of an alternate universe Bad Company type of game. I'm sure it won't be as bad once the full game releases, but it was a bit jarring to include in the marketing.

Link to multiplayer trailer.

Link to multiplayer gameplay demo.
 
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Treyarch
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: 12 October, 2018

As expected, there will also be another annual Call of Duty release in the autumn. What's interesting to note is that Black Ops 4 will actually release a month earlier than its usual November slating. Treyarch has also made several other interesting design choices that set this apart from other Call of Duty titles: there is no single-player campaign. Instead - alongside the standard multiplayer and zombies modes - there will be a battle royale mode called Blackout, which utilises the largest map in the franchises' history. Although unconfirmed, it is likely to function in the same way as Fortnite: Battle Royale and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. As a somewhat casual fan of the series, I probably won't be picking this up immediately but I am very interested to see how the community responds to these changes.

Link to multiplayer trailer.

Link to Blackout trailer.


Control
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: 2019

After a mixed reception with Quantum Break, Finnish developer Remedy Entertainment are back with a new sci-fi game called Control. After a secret New York agency is invaded by a supernatural threat, you become the new Director struggling to regain Control. The game is a "supernatural third-person action adventure" that looks to be borrowing concepts from Quantum Break as well as developing new ideas that seem a little "out there". Personally, I just want them to do Alan Wake 2.

Link to trailer.

Link to gameplay demo.

Death Stranding

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Developer: Kojima Productions
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: TBA

It wouldn't be E3 without Hideo Kojima frazzling our brains with a cryptic teaser for his upcoming game. Death Stranding details are still kept very under-wraps, however we know it'll be an action game set in an open world environment, and that one of the key themes of the game would be the connection of life and death. This latest trailer at least shows some in-engine footage of how Death Stranding may play out. It seems that it may provide an in-universe explanation for respawn systems typically found in most games, while also building mechanics around that structure. I was thoroughly impressed by the photo-realistic graphics of the environments, and the cast lineup seems to be getting more impressive with Léa Seydoux and Lindsay Wagner joining Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen. Death Stranding may just be the most ambitious project Kojima has ever done, and it's exciting.

Link to trailer.

Devil May Cry 5
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: Spring 2019

Despite being well-received by critics, Ninja Theory's DmC: Devil May Cry didn't set well with fans who were hoping for a true follow up to Devil May Cry 4. Judging from the new design of Nero contrasted with the motorcycle sword, it seems Capcom may actually be trying to unifying the fanbase once again by taking aspects from both. For those who have been waiting a decade for Devil May Cry 5, you need not wait for much longer.

Link to trailer.

DOOM Eternal
Platform(s): TBA
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: TBA

There isn't much to say about this due to it being only a short teaser. It seems the game ditches the dark and twisted Mars environment and takes players back to Earth under siege by the demonic forces. It is expected for this game to continue the first's legacy as a symphony of carnage, with new monsters, weapons and badass music to come into great use.

Link to teaser.


Dying Light 2
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Techland
Publisher: Techland
Release Date: TBA

I think the main thing that set Dying Light apart from other open-world zombie games was the use of parkour, placing emphasis on movement and utilising the game's environment, essentially making a crossover between Mirror's Edge and Dead Island. Techland kept the game alive over the years with a fresh income of both paid and free content while also working on its sequel.

Dying Light 2 will focus more on having a dynamic world that can change depending on your actions. The story will be organic, changing on the fly depending on your actions throughout the world. Industry veteran Chris Avellone (Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity) will be the narrative designer of the game. It will be exciting to see his vision for how the reactive world of Dying Light 2 is shaped.

Link to gameplay trailer.
 
Fallout 76

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: 14 November, 2018

Fallout 76 is a prequel to the whole series, set only 25 years after the nuclear war devastated the planet. It will not be like most Fallout games, which are story-focused RPGs. Instead, it will be entirely online, and will not feature any human NPCs, with all surviving humans being other players. Judging from the trailer and other pre-release material, the focus of the game should be set on restoring civilisation, with a heavy focus on building settlements and befriending other players.

Although an interesting concept, there's not much to Fallout 76 that I'm interested in. It seems very inspired by what Fallout 4 began, such as the expansive base building and weapon customisation. However, I prefer the game as a singleplayer RPG, and although Bethesda has revealed that players can choose to play alone should they want to, the fact that every other character is another player, it sounds like solo players won't get the intended experience and will miss out on a lot of content.

Link to trailer.

Link to gameplay demo.

Ghost of Tsushima
Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: TBA

Set against the backdrop of the first Mongol invasion of Japan in 1274, follow samurai Jin Sakai as he masters the way of the Ghost in order to combat the Mongol forces and fight for the freedom of Japan. Ghost of Tsushima looks to be a gorgeous game, with a mix of Assassin's Creed-style exploration with cool Japanese swordfighting while also utilising stealth and chain-attack systems. Sucker Punch Productions also want to emphasise freedom to explore, so there will be no compass on the map to lead you to your next objective. Instead, you can explore without the pressure of a waypoint.

I was saying yesterday how the two Feudal Japan games revealed so far looked "too fantasy" but Ghost of Tsushima looks more like the Kurosawa video game I've always wanted to play. Even the side-angle cinematography in that one-on-one duel at the end of the presentation, with the leaves blowing and the sun setting on the horizon, felt like a screengrab from Yojimbo. I'd actually buy a PS4 just for this game.

Link to gameplay demo.

Hitman 2
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: 13 November 2018

I've always been a huge fan of the Hitman series, but 2016's reboot of the franchise felt like a breath of fresh air after the series had been left in sort-of limbo over the years. When Square Enix announced they were dropping developer IO Interactive, the future of the series didn't look good. Fortunately, they managed to retain the rights to the game and later partnered with Warner Bros. to bring the sequel.

In Hitman 2, Agent 47 embarks on a mission to hunt the mysterious Shadow Client and disassemble his militia, a story arc that began in the first game. As usual, the game will take place over several missions in distinct exotic locations. For now, all we know is that one occurs at a racetrack in Miami. The episodic model of the first game is being dropped, with every level being available on launch day. Fans of the series were also happy to learn that the briefcase is making a return, a gadget that allows 47 to conceal large weapons without arousing suspicion.

The game also has a bonus mode called Sniper Assassin, in which players must snipe several targets from afar and gain points. It can be played alone or with a friend in co-op. November 13th can't come sooner. I'm terribly excited to get back into the world of Agent 47.


Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: 26 June, 2018

After last year's surprise of putting Mario and Rabbids together into a turn-based tactical shooter, Ubisoft have returned to the game with an expansion that adds a new Jungle-themed world and Donkey Kong as a playable character as he teams up with the Rabbids to take down his evil counterpart. Judging from the trailer and what was said about the DLC, the expansion will be large enough to be considered a new campaign altogether. This is supposed to be the first of two story expansions to the game, so I'm personally holding out for a Wario + Waluigi DLC in the second.

Link to trailer.
Metro Exodus

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: 4A Games
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: 22 February, 2019

Granted, if Fallout 76 didn't tickle your fancy it looks like this may fill the shoes of "expansive single-player RPG". Metro Exodus is the third in the series set in post-apocalyptic Russia, with players finally getting to explore much more of the surface than was seen in the first two Metro games. In this new environment comes new creatures and enemies to fight as well as hostile humans. Also featuring a mixture of linear and sandbox levels, the game includes a dynamic weather system, a day-night cycle, and environments that change along with the seasons as the story progresses over a single in-game year. I was visually impressed by the quality of the graphics and animations in the trailer, and this one certainly looks like it will be an interesting game to play come February 2019.

Link to gameplay trailer.
Overkill's The Walking Dead

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Overkill Software
Publisher: Starbreeze Publishing AB
Release Date: 6 November (NA/SA), 8 November (EU/Rest of the world), 2018

After numerous delays, it looks like Overkill's The Walking Dead will finally be hitting PC and consoles in November. Based on the comics of the same name, the game will be a first-person shooter with a focus on co-operative gameplay as four characters survive a zombie apocalypse in Washington D.C. Each character has their own unique skills and abilities which will come in use during each mission, and the game will also feature stealth and survival horror elements.

As a big fan of Overkill Software's previous game, Payday 2, I look forward to seeing how this turns out. The game looks gorgeous and the amount of AI you can see onscreen is pretty staggering. It looks like a huge step up from how Payday looked and I'm sure this will be another popular title.

Link to gameplay teaser.

Link to gameplay demo.
Prey: Mooncrash

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: 10 June, 2018

Mooncrash is a DLC for 2017's critically acclaimed immersive sim, Prey. Fight overwhelming odds to escape the secret moon base where the enemies you encounter, the hazards you face, the goals you complete, and the loot you collect are different each time you play. In essence, this new game mode has all the makings of a roguelike, which rely on randomized levels to generate diverse and fun gameplay. It will be fascinating to see how this blends well with Prey's immersive sim-like nature, an infamously difficult genre that relies on systemic interactions across mechanics and environments to dynamically solve problems.

Link to trailer.

Rage 2
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: Spring 2019

Avalanche Studios did a stellar job of making a Mad Max game back in 2015. Three years later and the Swedish developer is now returning to the post-apocalypse genre with a new entry in the Rage series. Taking place 30 years after the first game, the player character must survive in a hostile wasteland inhabited by mutants and other hostile humans.

At the time of its release, I never actually played the first Rage as it looked too close to Fallout but with less personality. For Rage 2, Avalanche have given it a colorful color palette to distinguish itself from other id Software's games, giving it an overall new grungy punk aesthetic. It certainly looks like the best unofficial Mad Max sequel.

Link to gameplay trailer.

Sea of Solitude
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Jo-Mei
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Early 2019

Sea of Solitude is a monster adventure title about how humans process dark emotions. In the game you play as Kay, a young woman suffering from loneliness who turns into a monster. Not long after her transformation, she uses a small boat to explore a deserted, submerged city and finds other monsters lurking there. As she travels, she learns more about herself and how she became this way.

Link to trailer.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: FromSoftware
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: Early 2019

A new action RPG will be coming from the developer of Dark SoulsSekiro: Shadows Die Twice is set in 16th century Japan, where the player will take control of a warrior named Sekiro who wields a sword and grappling hook, whose goal is to rescue his master, a young lord, and get revenge on his archenemy.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Eidos Montréal
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: 14 September, 2018

Lara is back for the third installment of the rebooted Tomb Raider series. This one sees the Ms. Croft on an expedition to Latin America looking for a Mayan relic which has a connection to her late father and inadvertently becomes embroiled in an apocalyptic event. It looks like the game will also have a bigger focus on exploration and puzzle-solving than the last games, which excites me. Those are the best aspects of the Tomb Raider experience. The game looks gorgeous from a graphical perspective and I'm really looking forward to checking it out.

Link to gameplay demo.

Link to alternative gameplay demo.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Platform(s): Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Toys for Bob
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: 21 September, 2018

We got a look at some gameplay from the upcoming Spyro remake, which is being built from the ground-up similar to last year's Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. One thing I like is how the animations for Spyro running or attacking are not accurate to the original, but rather re-interpreted based on how I remember those animations. It feels like less of a remaster or remake, and more of a re-imagining of those memories. It's like trying to remember a dream and you get some of the details wrong but the general feeling is still there. Not only that, but Tom Kenny will return to record lines for Spyro the Dragon as he did in some of the original games. I hope this eventually comes to the Switch so I can play this and the Crash trilogy.


Starfield
Platform(s): TBA
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: TBA

A new intellectual property from Bethesda, this time taking place in the far reaches of space. Starfield looks to be scratching the same itch that Mass Effect and Star Wars have left behind, and although it'll be an obviously different type of game, it'll be fun to have a new space RPG to dig our claws into.

Link to teaser.


Super Mario Party
Platform(s): Switch
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 5 October, 2018

The next installment of the Mario Party franchises comes to the Switch in early October. As with previous iterations, up to four players take turns and navigate a game board in search of stars while competing against one another in a variety of minigames. One player can use one joy-con each, allowing two people to play per console (or more if you have an extra set).

Nintendo has also been cheeky and added functionality for two Switches to interact wirelessly, meaning you'll need two consoles if you want to access every minigame. Although I don't know as many people in real life that would want to play this regularly, this should be fun to pick up around the holidays to have a few games with.

Link to trailer.

Link to gameplay demo.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Platform(s): Switch
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 7 December, 2018

Nintendo spent an extortionate amount of time in the latest Direct presentation detailing what was coming in the next Smash Bros. game. In particular, they were very keen on letting us know that EVERY character from the series will be appearing as a fighter in the game, as well as several new additions such as the Inklings from Splatoon and Ridley from Metroid. For the unaware, Smash Bros. is a series of fighting games where characters from different franchises compete to knock each other out of an arena.

The game will also have compatibility with a vast array of different gamepads, including the GameCube controller, as well as using support for Nintendo's Amiibo figures that utilises unique abilities for the corresponding characters. Although it was something a lot of fans were looking forward to, I couldn't help but feel Nintendo's presentation of it was basically in the form of patch notes, which aren't too fun to sit through especially if you're a newcomer to the franchise. It wasn't the best Direct, but the game still looks to be an incredible amount of fun.

Link to full presentation.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: TBA
Release Date: 26 June, 2018

You shouldn't expect much from this announcement, but Dontnod will be releasing a one-off episode that will act as a teaser to Life is Strange 2. It will be completely free and focus on a young lad called Chris, a 10-year-old boy who dreams of adventure. According to Dontnod, it will “give you glimpse into Life is Strange 2’s brand-new story… but only if you’re clever enough to piece the clues together.” - meaning the characters or story probably aren't directly related, but the connection is there somewhere. I can already tell this will make me weep as Life is Strange did.

Link to trailer.

The Elder Scrolls VI
Platform(s): TBA
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: TBA

After exhausting possibly every edition of Skyrim that they could, Bethesda will be returning to Tamriel for a sixth main installment of The Elder Scrolls. Very little about it is known so far, though the teaser hints at High Rock as a possible setting. Keep in mind that this game is still years away from release, as Todd Howard said it will come after Starfield, which is supposed to be a next-generation game. My guess is it could come around 2021-22.

Link to teaser.

Two Point Hospital
Platform(s): PC
Developer: Two Point Studios
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: Q4 2018

About two years ago, former Bullfrog and Lionhead developers got together and formed a studio to create a spiritual successor to popular '90s business sim, Theme Hospital. Much like its predecessor, Two Point Hospital has players design and operate a privately owned hospital with the goal of curing patients of fictitious illnesses. From what the gameplay trailer revealed it seems that the base design of the game is staying largely the same, only with added depth and improved graphics and animations. Even the rat shooting minigame returns in the form of "hunting monobeasts". I loved Theme Hospital when I was little, and even wrote about it recently when I revisited it. Here's to hoping Two Point Hospital can live up to its legacy.

Link to gameplay trailer.

Wolfenstein Youngblood
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Machine Games
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: 2019

Set in 1980, 19 years after Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, the game sees the two daughters of BJ Blazkowicz taking on the Nazi regime and searching for their father in a war-torn Paris. The game will be available to play in single-player and in co-op, a first for the series. I assume this will be a spin-off to Wolfenstein II similar to how The Old Blood was a spin-off to the first game. Even the naming convention fits. So we shouldn't expect this to be a grand finale, but it should be a fun little side adventure nonetheless.

Link to teaser.

Yakuza 0 PC EDITION
Platform(s): PC
Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: 1 August, 2018

The action-adventure series, Yakuza, will finally be heading to PC. Yakuza 0 is a prequel to the series as a whole, taking place in 1988 with the player alternating between two playable characters, Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima, as they find themselves at the centerpiece of power struggle for all the dark organizations across Japan. 0 will be hitting Steam in August, with Yakuza Kiwami following at a later date.

Link to trailer.

The Conferences

EA

Microsoft

Bethesda

Devolver Digital

Square Enix

Ubisoft

PC Gaming Show

Sony

Nintendo

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