E3 2011 is over and done with, and our crew has finally had time to gather their thoughts on their favorite games of the show. We have a diverse group here, so the favorites range from MMOs to consoles to handhelds. Without further ado, here are our favorite RPGs of E3 2011.
1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Prior to watching Microsoft's press conference, I had no interest in Skyrim. Having little knowledge of the Elder Scrolls series I did not know what to expect. The Skyrim environment scenes I saw were quite impressive. It seemed almost reminiscent to an action-fantasy RPG camping game until I saw the dragons. I guess you shouldn't be camping where dragons are flying around anyway. I expect great gaming adventures in Skyrim come November.
2. Dead Island
My opinion of Dead Island has been flip-flopping between liking and disliking the game. Prior to E3, my impression of Dead Island was that of a conglomeration of several zombie titles. After playing the show floor demo my opinion still did not change. Although, it was not until after I read RPGamer's Dead Island impression that I began to reconsider. Regardless, the biased underlying reason behind my interest in this game is the zombies.
3. Fable: The Journey
When I saw the announcement for Fable: The Journey at Microsoft's press conference, I was excited until I realized it was for Kinect. I like the Fable series, but I am not a fan of most motion sensor games. However after learning that this game was designed for lazy gamers I decided to reconsider. That is to say, the idea of playing a motion game by sitting on the sofa and casually pointing my finger to cast magic and saying derogatory words to the television so that the horse can run faster enthralls me.
1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
If there was one prevailing theme at E3 for me, it was western action RPGs, especially open world ones. I saw a ton of these kind of RPGs at E3, so I was especially excited to see the biggest one of them of all. Skyrim looks to improve upon everything that I loved about Oblivion and Fallout 3. It's prettier, bigger, more interactive, and chock-full of crazy battles. If you love open world, action RPGs, or just killing big dragons, this is a game to look out for.
2. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Here is another game I am ashamed to say wasn't on my radar prior to E3. As a Mac user, I thought that The Witcher 2 would be a title I would end up missing out on. After sitting through an in-depth demo with the CD Projekt team, I'm happy to report that later this year I'll be enjoying the exact same experience that my PC friends have been enjoying for the past couple of months. The Xbox 360 version will be fully adapted to the platform, and it will contain all of the DLC and patches of the PC version. I may be late to the party, but I'm glad I got invited at all.
3. Dead Island
Going into the show, Dead Island was barely on my radar, and I wasn't even sure if it really was an RPG. After spending an hour playing the game with two of the developers and our friends at PSN Nation, I'm actually excited to get this game later this year. The game really is a full on RPG, similar to Borderlands. It has set characters, each with a different class role, exploring an open world island broken down into level-specific zones. As with the case in Borderlands, the game gets even better when you bring a few friends along. With its skill trees and weapon modification systems, there should be a lot of depth to this crazy co-op action RPG.
Anna Marie Neufeld
1. Torchlight II
I've been dying to play this since it was announced late last year. You know it's a good sign of things to come when a thirty minute play session is far too short. With enough distance from the original talents and UI, while maintaining the tried and true formula of hacking and slashing through hundreds of enemies, Torchlight II is poised to come out fall of this year and be a popular PC and Mac title, with an XBLA launch still being a possibility.
2. Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny
I'm a huge Natsume fan, of that there is no doubt. And in interest of full disclosure, I even do PR for the company. Rune Factory is the action-RPG spin-off of the Harvest Moon series, which blends the farming and social aspects of the HM series with a rough and tumble combat system. Tides of Destiny follows the story of Aden, whose best friend Sonja's soul is trapped in his body. Using their mighty golem Ymir, they travel around to the various islands seeking a cure for their predicament. With a considerably streamlines harvesting system, this is the perfect time to jump into the series if you've never tried it before.
3. Crimson Alliance
Sitting at the edge of the XBLA booth, I'd never heard of the game before but was encouraged to give it a whirl by fellow E3 attendee Ed Walker, and his instincts were bang on. Though not a part of any established series, Crimson Alliance feels like what Gauntlet could have become when it grew up -- a sinister action RPG replete with puzzles to solve, mysteries to explore, and of course enemies to kill gleefully. Combining together the actions of each of the classes gives players huge control over the foes surrounding them and it's important to work together: a bonus meter fills while the player is dishing out the damage, but falls whenever the player receives it. With achievements galore and a launch not too far in the future, Crimson Alliance is likely to take the console crowd by storm once they discover it.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a game that is sure to appear on many "best of E3" lists. While its motion based swordplay is perhaps the culmination of what everyone hoped to be able to do with a Wiimote one day, it's actually the art design that steals the show here. The gigantic birds with wonderfully colored plumage that were revealed as Link's new mount for the game did a great job of showing off how cheerful and fun the latest Zelda world is. These elements continue even down into the dungeons, where they stand in contrast to some truly difficult boss battles with enemies who are able to completely shut down that new motion based sword of yours. Challenging fights combined with a beautiful world to explore look to make this an unforgettable Zelda adventure.
2. Final Fantasy XIII-2
Final Fantasy XIII-2 seems to be stealing from the Persona games when it comes to battle music this time around, and that's a good thing. Catchy tunes with rap layered on top of them keep the beat while you slay fiends in two different time periods around Gran Pulse and Cocoon. The shift to focusing on Noel and Sera as main characters promises to provide a completely different perspective from the previous game's cast. Follow that up with an armored Lightning showing up mounted on Odin while destroying Bahamut and you can be sure that there are going to be some crazy plot twists to keep you interested throughout the game. The same great battle system returns along with an increased focus on town exploration, something that's sure to help gamers who got a bit frustrated with XIII be willing to give this one a shot.
Bastion is just one of those games. It's the kind where the one line pitch "an action RPG where everything you do is narrated" sucks you in and makes you want to see if it can live up to its promises. Well its E3 demo certainly did. It had fun combat with multiple weapons and skills as well as the customization options that any action RPG needs. But it also had a wonderful aesthetic with bright and colorful randomly generated worlds that are literally built on the fly. All of which are tied together with the game's wonderful narration that seems to know just a bit too much about what you're thinking. When the voiceover starts cracking jokes after you die, you know you're in for something special, and this should be on top of any RPGamer's watch list for the year.
Having already been captivated by TERA at PAX 2010, getting a chance to play it again at E3 was a welcome experience. Then they upped the ante by explaining the in-depth player driven political system. For those who don't care about such nuances, another large monster needed to get its tail kicked in too. For all the RPG selections at E3 2011, TERA is the game I want to play the most.
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Despite being what many would consider a hardcore JRPG fan, Skyrim caught my eye. Watching all the customization, the ability to tackle scenarios as you see fit, dragons as a totally random element, and don't forget the gorgeous scenery as you explore this world, it's hard to deny that Skyrim will be the next big deal for RPGamers everywhere.
3. Dragon Nest
Rounding out my top three is another action MMORPG. Maybe I am tiring of the slow battle systems in today's MMOs, but Dragon Nest catches the excitement I am looking for. Whether you're into PvE or PvP, the action is non-stop.
That about wraps it up. From the looks of it, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was our overall favorite RPG of E3 2011, though Dead Island was a close second. With only a few months before both games are released, we are likely to see these again on our end of year awards. For now, we will just have to sit and wait like the rest of the world.