I managed to survive E3 2018, my first one in fact, and I can even remember most of the games I saw and played. There’s too many to name them all, but below are the most notable ones I got a chance to check out. I’ve written about some of them already on Kotaku, but there is also a handful of others I haven’t yet had the chance to talk about.
This E3 didn’t have as many big surprises as in years past, and a lot of the most exciting announcements weren’t playable. That said, there were still plenty of really interesting games there.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps - Moon Studios’ Metroidvania platformer Ori and the Blind Forest felt like a dream to control, and the sequel is no different. This time around there’s also an emphasis on combat and quests. Fighting with swords, bows, and hammers made of light felt great in the short demo I played, but the couple of fetch quests I was able to pull up and search for on my map felt simply like more for more’s sake.
Space Hulk: Tactics - The steady flow of Warhammer games continues on apace, although surprisingly I only saw one at this E3. Space Hulk: Tactics is being made by Cyanide, the same studio who brought us the first-person shooter Space Hulk: Deathwing, but plays completely differently. As the name suggests it’s more XCOM than Bioshock, focusing on asymmetric matches between two players where one has an objective and the other plays like a D&D-style dungeon master trying to stop them. It felt like a pretty faithful but still intuitive adaptations of the mechanics and lore fans of the original Warhammer 40K pen and paper games.
Metro Exodus - What I played of Metro Exodus didn’t look quite as visually impressive as the gameplay reveal trailer at E3 2017, but the open sandbox areas did flow together extremely well. Any reservations I had that Exodus would feel too much like other first-person shooters as it took a few steps into the open world genre were put to bed the first time I hid behind a door in an abandoned factory with only a few bullets left in my makeshift shotgun, hoping breathlessly not to be found by whatever mutants were walking around upstairs. The survival elements still appear to be intact, just with more freedom to explore this time around.
Metal Wolf Chaos - FromSoftware’s 2004 Xbox exclusive parodying America’s Commander-In-Chief never released outside of Japan, and there’s a reason for that: it’s not a very good game. What I played was ridiculous but not much fun. Still, I care a lot about retro games and preserving their past, so whether or not Devolver Digital’s faithful port of Metal Wolf Chaos is worth actually playing through to completion, it was really cool to see a bit of prescient gaming history up close over a decade after its original release.
Black Future ‘88 - This game could not be any more my shit. It’s a roguelike shoot-em-up that takes place in a sentient skyscraper full of neon lights and pulsing synth music. The action is frenetic and incredibly brutal. I didn’t beat the demo despite its developer doing his best to revive me over and over again, but I didn’t really mind because whether winning or losing it’s an incredible audio-visual experience.
Overwhelm - Overwhelm has tight controls and great retro-looking maze levels of red and black pixels. You play as a little guy trying to avoid being killed by threats that lurk around every corner. Every time you die the field of view surrounding you gets smaller, like a camera lens slowly closing in until it almost feels like your hopping through a series of death traps with a blindfold on. It released during E3 on Steam.
Anew: The Distant Light - Anew is another Metroidvania-like, with sprawling side-scrolling areas that interlock and require finding new equipment to traverse. It also has a bit of Mega Man X in its DNA, with detailed backgrounds and vehicles you can get in to traverse extremely long areas of the map. Indies inspired by classic SNES games are a dime a dozen these days, but Anew’s world and art style looked more interesting as I explored them than most.
My Friend Pedro - I tried My Friend Pedro in a metal trailer out in a parking lot across the street from the Los Angeles Convention Center, and at not point did I feel like leaving. It takes Max Payne’s bullet time mechanic and deploys it across a series of bullet hell platforming puzzles. Easily in my top five games of the show.
Spider-Man - A lot of people got to try Spider-Man at E3, including me. As far as I can tell all of us loved it, especially the web-slinging. Flying through the streets of a beautifully crafted open world city has never been so fun. There could literally be nothing else in the game and I’d still want to buy it, play it, and possibly never leave it.
Anthem - I was suspicious of how Anthem would control despite the impressive trailers, but after close to an hour with the game those fears were dispelled. An online shooter lives and dies by its end game, which we still know very little about, but Anthem certainly has the fundamentals in place to make me willing to replay the same quests over and over again if I have to.
Team Sonic Racing - I raced through the same course in Team Sonic Racing five different times and it felt fine.
Forza Horizon 4 - Forza Horizon 4 looks beautiful. The Forza games always do, and yet the newest one still managed to surprise me in the few races I played. It takes place in Britain this time and has added seasons, which might not sound like a big deal except that it’s given Playground Games the opportunity to create even more beautiful environments to race through. I can’t wait for this game’s photo mode.
Below - It’s been several years since the last time I got a chance to checkout Below, the brooding exploration action game from Capybara Games, the studio behind such other wide-ranging indie delights as Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP and Super Time Force. It’s been delayed several times and changed a lot, but what I played at the Xbox E3 Showcase last week left me as hopeful as ever. The world simply feels more tactile and layered than before, with blades of flowing grass and little streams of water that make it look as alive as it is mysterious. I really hope it comes out by the end of this year as is currently planned.
Code Vein - Code Vein is supposed to be anime Dark Souls, but the in 15 minutes playing it I got a lot more of the anime than the Dark Souls. It has slow attack animations, which certainly gives it the look of Dark Souls, but also a lot of the annoying carryovers fans of anime games have had to put up with for years, including bland and blocky looking maps and hack ’n slash action that always feels a little more imprecise than it means to. I was really looking forward to this game when the trailer first dropped, but I’m much more hesitant now.
TL;DR - Favorite games I played:
- My Friend Pedro
- Black Future ‘88
I also saw a lot of games at the show, including stuff I only got to see through hands-off demos, many of which looked just as intriguing: Cyberpunk 2077, Dying Light 2, The Surge 2, and Control. I also saw a demo for Serious Sam 4, which definitely looks like a new Serious Sam game. It ended with the titular character mowing down dozens of mutants in a combine harvester.