RPGamer’s E3 Highlights
With E3 being in the books for nearly a week now, we decided that has been long enough for our staff to collect their thoughts and pick through some of their personal favourites of the event. To that end, our staff members were invited to select up to three things from the show (a task achieved more easily by some than others!) that they wanted to highlight with our readers. Our selections can be read below, with those who were actually part of the away team in Los Angeles at the top:
Chris Privitere (Away Team)
Bloodstained and Indivisible — These two games awakened a deep thirst to play Metroidvania titles. I may actually end up spending the rest of the year catching up on this genre given how much I just wanted to play more of these at the show. However, I do worry that these may have just been the best RPG demos at the show so I latched onto them.
Skull & Bones — It’s not an RPG, but it fills my need for the mythical pirate game I’m always searching for. Plus, I totally owned the guy next to me, so I felt really good at the game. Maybe I should go back and play Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
Cyberpunk 2077 — I’m really bummed that CD Projekt RED hasn’t posted the actual gameplay they showed us at E3. So let me tell you, it looked fantastic. Besides being a graphical showcase for a well designed and realized world, it felt deep and like something you could lose yourself in for a hundred hours. Now, the downside is the combat is mostly first-person gunplay, but it did show a lot of stealth and hacking options, so here’s hoping you can eschew the “pew pew” if you want to. All I’m waiting for now is to get confirmation as to whether you can spend hours reading other people’s emails or not.
Pascal Tekaia (Away Team)
Focus Home Interactive — Focus Home Interactive was definitely my favorite publisher to visit this year. It’s not that it had one far and away outstanding game to show; for most of what I saw it’s still too early to tell how good the games will be, and sadly none of them were hands-on yet. But between Call of Cthulhu, A Plague Tale, GreedFall, and The Surge 2, not to mention the recent Vampyr, its E3 line-up just seems unquestionably solid and enjoyable.
The MIX (Media Indie Exchange) — Funny how an event I almost skipped entirely, because it happened after a long day of walking the show floor and required traveling an additional good distance by foot, turned out to be one of the most enjoyable chunks of time I spent in Los Angeles. For one thing, the games I got to play there seemed very interesting and fun, but it was a much more intimate atmosphere than the Convention Center, and getting to just shoot the breeze with developers actually seemed much more like fun than taking notes with a PR rep.
Ghost of Tsushima — Truthfully, I enjoyed almost everything about the Sony showcase, but since the show has ended, I’ve found myself rewatching this game announcement several times, and the odd thing is I like it more and more each time I see it. I could spend hours just watching the color-saturated background during the final sword fight.
Charalampos Papadimitriou (Away Team)
The MIX (Media Indie Exchange) — Some of the best games I saw were at The MIX. The event may not have as much fanfare and shine as E3 itself, but it outshines E3 by far in terms the density of great games. All of the games there are indie games, and there are some great titles coming down the pike from developers who are focused on building games that they themselves find enjoyable, rather than on maximizing shareholder profit. With developers on hand to talk about their games, I got a sense of not of only how a game plays but what developers are hoping to accomplish with their games. They also provided food and drink, and that’s always a plus.
Dark Devotion — What can I say, I’m a sucker for great controls, and for games that punish carelessness and greed. This game has both. I saw very little of this game, but it felt so right to play that I became immediately intrigued. I can’t say if the full content will hold up on release, but as a demo it was definitely the most fun I had at E3.
Bloodstained — This game is a proper Symphony of the Night-style Metroidvania with strong RPG mechanics and a bigger focus on story and narrative. It includes both Japanese and English voice acting, and it’s actually quite good. I’m actually not sure how I feel about that, as SOTN‘s peculiar voice acting has become a thing of legend among Metroidvania fans, but I’m sure newer players will appreciate it. Anyway, with a great setting and great character designs, there’s lots to like here for fans of this genre
Zack Webster (Away Team)
Cyberpunk 2077 — I wish more people had an opportunity to have seen Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt RED has entirely earned the benefit of the doubt and even without getting my own hands on it, nothing else from E3 captured my imagination in the same way. Admittedly, none of the ideas present in it were anything we hadn’t seen before, but its execution was near flawless. And given successes cyberpunk has seen in recent times — I hope this game is more Bladerunner 2049 than Bladerunner — I’m also hoping that its take on the genre will be as refreshing as The Witcher 3 was to the fantasy RPG.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice — One of the few other developers that has entirely earned the benefit of the doubt from me, FromSoftware’s next title looks to trade in its RPG elements for tighter action and more intricate level design, and I am behind the decision without hesitation. The lack of RPG features makes it difficult to cover for the site’s purposes, but seeing what the company today is capable of now without being tied to those systems is more than enough to get me interested. The alternate take on repeatedly dying should hopefully make for some interesting encounters as well. I’ll be there day one for this title, I only wish it were sooner.
Death Stranding — Count me as one of the few still enraptured with the potential that Death Stranding has to offer. Ego aside, the initial gameplay reveal being a series of deliveries is equal parts frustrating and refreshing. Seeing a game at E3 without murder as a key theme is increasingly rare, especially one with this much money thrown at it. And while Death Stranding may be starting to wear out its welcome with consecutive appearances with very little to show for it, I’m fine with going into games blind and have so far been enjoying being along for the ride. Where that ride ends up remains to be seen, but I’m loving the view from the passenger seat.
Anna Marie Privitere (Away Team)
Shining Resonance Refrain — While a fan of classic Shining TRPGs, the series really hasn’t been a favourite since the GBA days. I went into the demo ambivalent and walked out with a pre-order. The game felt really smooth to play and captured a fantasy narrative that felt really exciting. Each character felt different to play and the action RPG combat felt fun. Even better, I won’t have to wait long to get my hands on the game — it’s out in only a few weeks.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses — So much action in such a short amount of time! I had to watch the trailer repeatedly to tease out all the little details and then went hunting for discussion and theory videos for more. I missed completely the console era of Fire Emblem, but I’m ready to dive into it this time. Here’s hoping for a Nintendo Direct in the near future to tell us more about the Three Houses and how they’ll be shaping the Fire Emblem universe.
Call of Cthulhu — Normally scary games are not my jam, but I adore everything Lovecraftian and I can’t wait to dive into the mad, mad world of Edward Pierce. The hands-off demo that was provided at E3 left me with many questions and a desire to learn more — including a release date for the game, which has yet to be announced. The idea of balancing investigating too little and too much is a fascinating idea to me, and I look forward to exploring my options when the title eventually launches… me into insanity.
To an outside observer, E3 2018 seems like an in-between show. Nintendo pushed out so many games in the first year of the Switch it was inevitable there would be less to show off in year two. We’ve also reached the stage of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One’s life cycle that Sony and Microsoft are likely plotting moves for their next consoles, leaving less to exhibit for the near future. Nevertheless, there were a few games that caught my eye and got me excited:
Fire Emblem: Three Houses — It’s little surprise that Fire Emblem tops my list. Where to begin? There are so many questions from a two-minute trailer. Are characters now battlefield commanders? Is it taking inspiration from the Langrisser games or are the troops merely a visual flourish or stand in for HP? How will castle exploration work? Does “three houses” indicate multiple paths? Anyway, the game looks gorgeous (almost enough to make me forget about the small delay to early next year) and I like to think that some of the images are indicative of a more political story. I can’t wait until a Fire Emblem Direct happens to flesh out more of what the next game will be.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey — I really enjoy historically-infused games, books, and movies so the Assassin’s Creed series should be up my alley. Unfortunately, the combat and gameplay loops have never quite clicked with me, leaving a number of the games populating my shelves after barely being played. Something about Odyssey is really drawing me in (the ancient Greek setting looks really cool) and Ubisoft seems to be continuing to lean into the RPG mechanics. So maybe Odyssey will be the game to get me over the hump with the series.
Cyberpunk 2077 — I’ve never managed to get into the Witcher games (there is starting to be a trend here), but the futuristic, cyberpunk setting seems to be more my cup of tea than fantasy. It seems like there still isn’t a huge amount of public information yet (other than it’s a first-person game), but given the pedigree of CD Projekt RED, I’m very intrigued. What a trailer!
Fire Emblem: Three Houses — Surprise, surprise, my favorite part of this year’s E3 is Fire Emblem: Three Houses‘s revelation. I don’t even mind that it won’t come out for nearly a year. I was squee-ing out loud when I saw that the battle maps look so much like the Tellius games, at least until it zoomed in, showing named units supported by troops. There are so many scenes from the trailer that have me brimming with thoughts; from noticing that weapon durability is back; to wondering if that blue-haired guy named Byleth is a My Unit/Avatar; to pondering if the two apparent divine dragon manaketes in the trailer will actually be called that. Oh, and I must add that the piece of music that plays during the trailer is fantastic. No doubt we’ll be getting more information on Three Houses in the coming months, and I eagerly await learning more.
Octopath Traveler Prologue Demo — Seeing more Octopath Traveler was a given, since that game is coming out in about a month. What really excited me, though, was the announcement and quick release of a new demo of the game. It not only shows off all of the improvements made since the first demo was put on the eShop, but save data can be carried over to the full version. I’ve only barely started it, and knowing my gaming habit, I’ll reach that three-hour limit quickly, but I’m really liking what I’m playing. It’s a neat way to whet my appetite for the full release.
Ridley Will Actually Be in Smash — While I wasn’t someone who hoped and pleaded for Ridley to be included in a Smash Bros. game, his character trailer for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is quite awesome, especially how he took out two characters, then Samus faced him head on. I’m surprised and amused at this, seeing how adamant Sakurai and Nintendo had been at not including Ridley in prior games. “He would be too big,” was what they claimed. I supposed they finally caved in. Now, though, I get to look forward to people clamoring for Waluigi.
I guess that one isn’t really RPG related… Well, I did like the announcement of Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition. I’ll finally get a chance to play that game, and on a handheld no less! Also, I’m glad that The World Ends With You: Final Remix has a release window of fall 2018. Now if it could only show off more of the game than just a brief trailer. I’m still hoping Square Enix pulls an Atlus and puts full voice acting into the game.
Cyberpunk 2077 — This is perhaps my most anticipated game from this year’s show. I love Blade Runner and Shadowrun, and am just a big fan of the cyberpunk setting in general. This game seems to offer tons of potential and with CD Projekt RED behind it, we know it be a quality title.
The Last of Us Part II — The Last of Us was my favorite game of 2013. The world building, story, and character interactions were memorable. I have been patiently waiting for a follow up to this one, and hopefully other fans and I won’t have much longer to wait. The trailer showed us Ellie in her new community, and then contrasted with her stalking another seemingly crazed group who killed a friend of hers. I’m looking forward to see what this one has in store.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses — So we finally received a release date and some footage for the Switch release. Our first home console release for the series in a decade, and the GameCube and Wii Fire Emblem games are perhaps my favorites. The trailer offers up even more questions as it reveals information, such as are the troops in battle just for aesthetics and the feel of being in a larger scale battle, or do they actually serve a gameplay function?
Fallout 76 — While fans of the single player Fallouts may be a bit dismayed by the multiplayer and online requirements of this upcoming release, I am intrigued. I enjoy other cooperative online multiple player titles in similar veins to this. Creating bases, scavenging across the West Virginia Fallout countryside, and fighting AI and player controlled enemies alongside my friends has the potential to be a blast. If done well, I could see myself sinking a lot of hours into this one.
These four were my highlights of a fairly solid E3 this year, but many other games interest me. Some of the other titles I have my eye on are: Octopath Traveler (already preordered), Daemon X Machina, Death Stranding, the Resident Evil 2 remake, Skull & Bones, Babylon’s Fall, Dying Light 2 (interested to see Chris Avellone’s influence), Battlefield V, and of course Madden 19.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 — Dogs. Tanks. Dogs in tanks. Sega’s pastoral World War pastiche looks pretty similar to its previous Valkyria Chronicles titles, but for some series that isn’t so bad. It’s not like they made the sequel a pachinko machine or anything like that.
Cyberpunk 2077 — I’ve been misled by flashy trailers before, but word from the floor is the gameplay doesn’t disappoint. Better yet, the trailer added nitro to online conversations about the true meaning of punk. Be still, my bloodless, critical heart!
Nintendo — Most generations, I show my love of Nintendo from afar. However, between Octopath Traveler, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, it looks like this is the year I’ll be making the Switch. Maybe next year, 2019, will be the Year of Waluigi.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country — There’s an infinitesimally small chance of me not picking Xenoblade for something like this when the option is there. So of course, Xenoblade Chronicles 2‘s Torna ~ The Golden Country expansion is right at the top of my highlights list. I have been eyeing a replay of the game and been waiting for more of the expansion pass content to hit before I started it, with the promised expansion being one of the primary things. Torna ~ The Golden Country takes things in a direction I hadn’t anticipated, but I really like the idea. Rather than trying to append extra stuff on an already-complete story, Monolith Soft has decided to look back to the past and expand on that, an area with loads of potential. Various tweaks to the gameplay should also help to make this new adventure another thoroughly enjoyable one.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey — Though the few days after E3 have tempered my expectations rather, I really liked what I saw from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. With EA and BioWare apparently deciding to abandon much of what fans appreciated about the latter’s titles in favour of chasing the Destiny plan, Ubisoft seemed more than happy to leap into that void. I’m looking forward to getting to wander around ancient Greece, and I’m on board with the expanded RPG elements and other features revealed during E3. It’s definitely got me looking to return to the series after a very long time.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 — I was very tempted to pick Fire Emblem and Tales of Vesperia here, but in hindsight that wasn’t really enough about Fire Emblem to fully cement the hype that its brief appearance generated and picking a game that I’ve completed at least three times feels like cheating. Instead, I will pick a game I’m very excited to be seeing relatively soon, Valkyria Chronicles 4. We feared that we’d never get a return to the series, especially after Valkyria Chronicles 3 was sadly left in Japan, but being able to see the game in full flow at E3 was very heartening, and I look forward to playing it on its newly-revealed September release date.
Michael A. Cunningham
The Limited Run Games Physical Releases — While the Limited Run Games E3 press conference was intentionally cheesy, the content shown during it was nothing to complain about. For someone who loves collecting physical games, especially handheld titles, almost all of the content shown was tempting. In the end, I have my shopping list ready: Golf Story (Switch), Iconoclasts (Vita), House in Fata Morgana (Vita), 2064 ROM (Vita), VA-11 HALL-A (Vita), Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit (Vita), Oceanhorn (Switch), Cosmic Star Heroine (Switch), Spelunky (Vita), Exile’s End (Vita), Phantom Breaker (Vita), and Salt and Sanctuary (Vita). Seeing Limited Run Games team up with XSEED Games to release some titles that were previously digital-only was great, and I’m going to support it for as long as I can.
Nintendo’s RPGs — As I already highlighted in my upcoming Switch RPGs feature, Nintendo has a lot of games coming to the system. Fire Emblem: Three Houses (thankfully not releasing in three separate editions) was a delight to see, as the games since Awakening haven’t been as exciting to me and this looks like a breath of fresh air with its new combat additions and free roaming in towns. Add to that Xenoblade Chronicles 2‘s new Torna DLC, and I’m beyond thrilled. I’d not been tempted to return to Xenoblade Chronicles 2, so Monolith Soft found the perfect formula by releasing this as standalone content that is a prequel and in a physical format. Now I get to collect it and count it as a separate completion when I finish it. You win this round, Nintendo. Oh, and that doesn’t even go into the fact that Nintendo wins again by releasing more Smash Bros. amiibos. Ugh, I’m weak.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice — Though I’ve cooled on it a bit since more details have emerged post-reveal, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was still the AAA highlight of the show for me. Nothing else AAA from the big name publishers really even sparked my interest. FromSoftware’s take on samurai combat seems like a perfect fit for the developer, especially with Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki at the helm. The fact that it is not going to have RPG elements or character classes or creation is a bummer, but I’m still curious to see what form this takes. It looks fun, so I’m excited to see what they can do in this realm.
Thanks for checking out our highlights from E3, please let us know your highlights in the comments! Remember you can catch up on all of RPGamer’s E3 content by checking out our dedicated page.