It was that time of the year again; the time where the biggest game developers, publishers and console manufacturers gathered in Los Angeles to spend three days presenting their latest and greatest. From new games to latest tech gizmos, the E3 brought a lot of buzz and excitement to the industry. Without further ado, here are the top five games presented at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo.
No Man’s Sky is a procedurally generated space exploration game that goes from flying ships in the endless and cold wastes of space, all the way to taking a stroll down the alien but serene plains of the planets. This is perhaps the most ambitious of the top five games at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. The E3 trailer shows a bit of space combat with destructible environment (well, asteroids); definitely a treat for the fans of X-Wing or Elite series. What is more impressive, however, is the planets themselves, from luscious and unusually colored hills inhabited by strange plants and space dinosaurs (SPACE DINOSAURS!) to foreboding rocky mountains akin to Mars. It is a bit reminiscent of Spore but greater in scope and ambition. Adding in the fact all of this is procedurally generated, the game could bring countless hours of joy to the fans of exploration and open worlds.
Splatoon is a brand new IP coming to WiiU, pitting two teams of squid-like creatures against each other with a unique goal of painting the arena with each team’s color. Unlike most shooters where the objective is to kill the enemy, steal their flag or capture some key locations, Splatoon really revolutionizes the concept of territorial control in a competitive game using paint. The players not only can turn into a squid and swim through their own team’s color blobs at great speeds, they can also instantly teleport to any other team member upon respawn. Gaining ground and strategic positions, thus, provides more advantages than just additional score. Wrapped in cute graphics and accessible controls, the title could bring many shy newcomers to the scene, much like Super Smash Bros. did for the fighting genre.
Open world Zelda, however, was perhaps the biggest announcements by Nintendo at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. Although the company only showcased a brief shot of Link on a horse riding through vast empty plains, it leaves a lot of fodder for imagination. Previous titles have attempted some degree of exploration (such as the ocean in Wind Waker or the open areas in original Ocarina of Time), but nonetheless followed a linear narrative with predetermined locations and boundaries. The idea of Link in the world the size of Skyrim is exciting, especially if Nintendo allows for the typical shenanigans and messing about one can do in other sandbox games.
Witcher 3 is another open world role-playing game on this list, developed by a Polish team CD Projekt. The first two games in the series were renowned for their meaningfully branching story, where the choices made by the player really did carry through and significantly impact the outcome of events. With each title, CD Projekt has been attempting to push the boundaries further and the latest Witcher does not seem to disappoint. Boasting a huge persistent world, night and day cycles, townsfolk who actually behave realistically (unlike the clunky attempts of radiant AI in Elder Scrolls series) and side quests intertwining with main plot are just a few additions to the series. The game also seems to allude to the books it is based on more, providing a treat for those who have read them. Hopefully, the developers can improve some of the lackluster combat and weak alchemy system and continue the narrative strengths of the previous two titles.
Destiny is the newest IP from Bungie, the team behind the highly popular Halo series. Their history definitely shows as the gameplay is very reminiscent of Halo, also carrying the themes of exploring ruins of a lost civilization ravaged by aliens. What the new title promises is higher level of player customization, from equipment to traits, and a greater focus on coöperation, an element that made Bungie’s previous title so popular. The publisher, Activision Blizzard, has admitted to spending $500 million on this new title with 500 talented people working on it. The sheer cost and scale of the project speaks of its ambition, and seems to be the next step in the evolution of the Halo game style.
As with any year, there are way too many titles to fit into any “best of” list. This does not mean they are any less exciting. Hyrule Warriors, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Mario Maker, Mortal Kombat, Tomb Raider and Evolve all deserve an honorable mention. What is interesting to note, though, is that four of the top five games at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo are in some form an open-world or exploration game. This seems to reflect the growing trend embraced by many triple-AAA productions these days.
Opinion by Jakub Kasztalski