E3 2018 is over. We have returned to the screen after being let out of our cages for a week. We are tired and emotional. But also raging with excitement at the amount of absolute fire we saw in LA last week.
After traipsing the show floor, booting other journalists out of our path, snatching controllers off crying man-babies and then arguing among ourselves on a 11 hour flight, here are out choice cuts from E3 2018.
“Seen anything good today?” is the question off everyone’s lips at the end of a hot and hectic daily romp around the E3 show floor. Whether friend or stranger, it’s the one constant conversation. And this year, the answer was almost universally “Cyberpunk”. Or more correctly, “fucking hell, Cyberpunk“. It was all anyone was talking about, and for good reason.
We finally got to see the next big game from the creators of The Witcher 3. The biggest surprise was that it’s played out in first-person. But there was so much more to absorb; the ultra-violence, the confident world building, the spicy dialogue, the relentless pace, the cool-as-fuck augmentations. It also gave us a real first glimpse of what we’re expecting from whatever the hell “next-gen” will be despite CD Projekt claiming Cyberpunk is a game for the current round of hardware.
Sometimes the hype is short-lived. Sometimes the hype isn’t justified. But this time, man, you better believe this is straight to the top of everyone’s wishlist.
All praise to Todd Howard for his vision of Fallout 76. Despite announcing a brand new franchise in the form of Starfield and dropping the first concept for nothing less than a brand spanking new episode of The Elder Scrolls, it was Fallout 76 that left the lasting impression. Partly because we know it’s a lot closer to release, but mainly because Howard took to the Bethesda conference stage to address our main concerns.
Yes, this is multiplayer survival in the Fallout universe and the development team have as many reservations about that as you do. But here was Todd asking us to trust him, and with charm and clarity, he outlined how the goal of a small world where we all either get along or nuke one another sounds a lot more refreshing than yet another slog around a single-player wasteland.
We’re as surprised by this as you. The demo at the E3 conference made it look a bit better than its 2017 debut, but we were still left with so many questions. Although the development team spoke about how Anthem was designed as a true Bioware game, we saw none of the storytelling we expect from the revered RPG maker. The confirmation that there’s no shagging – a staple of the Bioware action RPG – just banged that home. The hands-off demo did nothing to shake off the Destiny-clone accusations, especially with such a stilted script from the four players.
But! This game becomes something else when you sit down and actually play it. The way the character’s Javelin exo suits feel is something quite special, as is the transition between flying and hovering and back again. There’s something really nice here, with Bioware nailing intuitive movement across, above and around an open world. While we’re busy asking “is this a true Bioware game?” the team itself has moved on and is confident about making a “new” type of Bioware game. Maybe it’s time for us fans to move along too.
Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 was right behind Cyberpunk in creating the type of buzz that electrified the E3 massive. Great and gory, according to our hands-on, it seems to be a masterclass in adding new features to a classic without destroying what made it so beloved in the first place. It’s easy to get cynical about remakes and remasters, but Resident Evil 2 reassures us it’s for the art, not the quick cash grab.
My Friend Pedro
In My Friend Pedro you can shoot someone’s head off and then kick it into the face of another enemy. Its hilariously slapstick violence and precision shooting is instantly accessible, but designed for those who want to refine their level runs and nudge a final score ever higher. E3 is always full of indies, where just five minutes in the spotlight can get them the type of attention money can’t buy. My Friend Pedro deserves your absolute attention. It also features a sentient banana so clearly it’s GOTY.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Another game that dances the line between port and lovingly enhanced version of an already great game, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is Nintendo at its best. It lavishly recreates an already great game with all the attention to detail you would expect from a company that takes great pride in its heritage. So yes, it feels very familiar, but that’s no bad thing. It absolutely crammed with every character to ever appear in a Smash game, including non-Nintendo characters like Snake and Ryu, as well as all the stages you could ask for. It’s pure and utter fan service and it looks to be another stunning addition to the Switch’s rich portfolio.
The Last of Us Part 2
That kiss was something special, hey. Not in a lecherous way, but in the way it sets up a love story for The Last of Us Part 2, a game about survival in a bleak, nasty world. By rights there should be no hope in a hopeless society, but something is shining through and it’s not the sweat on Ellie’s cheek. Also, the animation was stunning. There’s nothing fake about that.
The live-action tease from a few months back may have made it look like Just Dance: Postcard Punks Edition, but after playing it (twice) we’re crushing a little bit heavily on Rage 2. It may be heading increasingly towards multiplayer, but Bethesda still has love for the single-player experience. Especially if that single-player experience is balls-out gunplay in the world of Mad Max. It’s about the boom and kick of the buckshot, just ask Tim Willits.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Remember when Ubisoft couldn’t animate women? Now it makes them the lead in its biggest franchise. Odyssey looks to be following the excellent foundation laid by Origins, going deeper into RPG scenarios with dialogue choices that can change the direction of the story. And if Bioware can’t deliver the romance in Anthem, it sounds like Odyssey is ready to step up and deliver.
Beyond Good & Evil 2
What’s going on with Beyond Good & Evil 2? We’re not entirely sure but we like its ambitions and style. The slow development process is a worry and it does seem confused in quite a few areas, but this cross between Ubisoft’s mainstream ambitions and willingness to experiment could turn into a real gem, provided the developer’s ego doesn’t get in the way.