E3 2016 has closed its doors, leaving us with plenty of new game reveals, release dates, and dramatically cut trailers. Each press conference held its own surprises and highlights, but some games rose above the rest, staying in our thoughts long after their trailers originally aired.
Note: Titles are arranged in the order they were shown during the show.
Titanfall was a near-perfect example of FPS multiplayer gameplay. The mobility granted to the standard foot soldiers was incredibly freeing, allowing players to run along walls, double jump, and clamber up ledges. There were only six enemy soldiers, but the AI controlled enemies that served as bullet fodder ensured that there was always something to shoot. It all culminated in the summoning of the Titans: massive robots that players could call down and pilot. Calling down a Titan from space and watching it plummet through the atmosphere and collide with the earth was an awe-inspiring moment each and every time it happened.
Titanfall 2 takes this base and expands upon it in dozens of innovative ways. The addition of a single player mode will please many who complained that the original was lacking in content. It doesn’t look like anything special based on what was shown but the action looked fiery and fast paced.
But the game’s biggest reveal at E3 2016 was the refined multiplayer modes. The addition of a grappling hook opens up many new traversal options. Not only can you pull yourself to any point in the geography and swing through windows and around corners; you can attach the hook to enemy soldiers, drawing yourself to them in order to open them up for a devastating kick. You’ll also be able to jump into the cockpit of several new Titans, stomping across the battlefield and raining down rockets.
The original Dishonored introduced players to the crumbling city of Dunwall. Its empress lay dead, supposedly slain by her most trusted protector; a plague swept through the streets, carried by rats as they scurried across the bloodstained bricks; and a mysterious figure grants Corvo control over supernatural abilities, allowing him to cut his way through his enemies with ease. The atmosphere lay heavy in every area, beautifully illustrating the death of the once great city. After such a phenomenal first outing, the team at Arkane Studios had a lot to live up to.
The first gameplay of Dishonored 2 immediately illustrated how much untapped potential lies in the world of Dishonored. The new location looks even more vibrant and unpredictable than Dunwall. NPCs wander through the streets, engaging with one another and diligently hunting for the assassins that skulk through the shadows.
We also get an extra playable character in Emily Kaldwin. We don’t know how the two warriors will differ in terms of play styles, but it is sure to change the pacing in major ways. But perhaps the biggest reveal for the game was the time mechanics. Corvo and Emily carry around a small lens that allows them to peer into the past or future – depending on what period they are currently in – and plan out strikes against enemies on a different temporal plane. While this ability seems like it could be a bit overpowered, it also advances the pitch perfect stealth mechanics of the first game in a monumental way.
Sea of Thieves
I’ve never been a fan of games like Rust, Ark, or Day Z, but Sea of Thieves looks like it may just win me over. The open world co-op pirate game lets player’s team up to captain a pirate ship, exploring the seven seas and uncovering hidden treasure buried throughout the world.
The simple, cell shaded graphics bring out the character of the world. Every large archipelago or tiny rock in the middle of the water hides its own secrets. Exploration looks like it can lead to many harrowing moments, but sailing and firing your cannons at enemy pirates looks fantastic. The canons boom smoke falling heavy on the deck as the ships splinter and break, water pouring in through the hull. But losing a battle on the open seas will mean saying goodbye to your ship. The brief snippet of gameplay showed players frantically trying to repair their ship as water rushed in through cannon holes. The entire ship eventually filled with water, forcing players to either navigate the sinking wreck and swim for safety or drown.
Working together to ensure that the anchors are up, the sails catch enough wind, and that the ship is in tip-top shape will take a lot of cooperation and could be a truly rewarding co-operative experience, or a hilarious competitive romp, with each player working to secure their own fortunes.
Watch Dogs 2
Let’s first address the elephant in the room: Watch Dogs was a disappointing game. The city of Chicago was fun to explore, combat was fun and the cars tore around corners nicely, but the hacking, which was pitched as the core of the experience, just didn’t live up to expectations.
Watch Dogs 2 takes every promising aspect of the original and improves upon it. The stealth is much more expansive, using a combination of hacking and sneaking to confuse and outwit your enemies. The addition of parkour opens up the city, letting players wander wherever they please, no longer grounded to the streets. Hacking has also seen a major upgrade. No longer does hacking the city around you simply mean pressing a button to initiate an action. You can now hack into any vehicle, computer system and piece of technology. This means you can take over the systems of a car, sending the vehicle careening down the street, taking out your targets while you remain tucked away on a rooftop.
The new protagonist, Marcus Hollaway and the new setting of San Francisco gives the anticipated sequel a fresh feeling, which it sorely needed. Everything about the sequel feels reenergized and refined. While the future of the franchise looked a little pitchy a year ago, it now looks brighter than ever.
God of War
Kratos’ adventures through ancient Greece, destroying every God and Demi-God in his path are some of my favorite in games. And seeing an older Kratos emerge from the shadows to begin a new chapter in the franchise in the world of Norse mythology excited me beyond belief.
The combat was the star of the original series. The quick combos, agile dodging mechanic, and brutal executions all culminated in perfectly paced games with stories that lingered in the background. The newest entry in the franchise is a true departure, changing the camera angle so it’s situated directly behind Kratos’ back and making the combat feel more deliberate and tactical. The narrative also shines through. In the lengthy demo, it was revealed that the Ghost of Sparta now has a son, but he isn’t the most nurturing father.
The son will apparently be present for the entire game, giving Kratos more character depth and giving the newest entry in the long-running franchise a truly unique feel. The Last of Us’ brilliantly realized emotional resonance and character development mixed with the fantastic combat of the God of War series seems like a winning combination to us.
Horizon Zero Dawn
We first saw gameplay of Horizon Zero Dawn at E3 2016. It immediately showed us that Guerilla Games could do much more than just Killzone. The newest gameplay demo further fleshed out the title, showing exploration, combat and several of the games RPG elements.
Running through the long grass, clambering up a rock and surveying the land to see how to best sneak up on enemies looked like each encounter offered players a multitude of approaches. Robotic crab enemies were shown, with their resources hidden in their metallic shells. Aloy pulled out her bow and arrow, firing a quick shot to detach the container from the creature. She could then take its items without actually having to defeat the enemy.
The boss encounter was also incredibly captivating. Finding the walking tanks weak points and exploiting them looked like it was easier said than done. The multitude of tools on display was also intriguing. Not only can you approach encounters in many, many ways, but the weapons you choose to use will also completely chance the experience.
Sadly we’ll have to wait until early 2017 to try out this beautiful looking game for ourselves, but it looks so expansive and open-ended that we can barely contain our excitement.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Best of Show
I could write an entire article about this one game, and I probably will. Nintendo used E3 2016 to officially reveal gameplay to the public, giving us a veritable flood of details. I was hesitant at first, seeing how many survival game mechanics had made their way into this beloved series, but watching several hours of gameplay completely won me over.
The world is simply breathtaking, with seemingly endless locations to explore and things to discover. The art style goes a long way in bringing the world to life, painting everything in a charm and beauty that fits perfectly in The Legend of Zelda universe.
The crafting and cooking all look fairly intuitive and add extra depth to both combat and basic exploration. Having to worry about your weapon suddenly shattering in the midst of a battle ensures that you will constantly have to stay on your toes. While the combat looks similar to past 3D entries in the franchise, needing to have strong enough weapons and armor to take on certain enemies will drastically change the flow of the game.
While wandering through the world seems to perfectly combine the sense of exploration found in the Zelda series with the mechanics of western RPGs like Skyrim, the dungeons still feel unique to the series. The shrines essentially act as mini dungeons, offering plenty of puzzles and mind-bending challenges between the main dungeons.
Suffice it to say, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild stood out to me more than any other game shown at the E3 2016. It stays true to the series while also breaking convention and moving it forward in monumental ways. Nintendo has done it again.
E3 2016 had some tremendous reveals, but these seven titles stood out to me more than anything. They showcase a beautiful melding of gameplay and narrative, or just look to provide players with fascinating new mechanics to toy around with. Nonetheless, we cannot wait until we can finally get our hands on these games and see if they live up to their truly impressive showings.
Steadfast Nintendo fan who loves to expand his knowledge of the gaming industry. Follow him on Twitter to hear his musings on games and life in general.