That was a great Electronic Entertainment Expo, the big gaming trade show in Los Angeles last week. We saw new games like Horizon: Zero Dawn. We finally got some fresh information on some old, anticipated games like The Last Guardian. And we’re getting some unexpected sequels like Nier 2.
And with all of that experience, the GamesBeat staff has decided to come together to pick their favorite games of the entire show.
Let’s get right to it.
I giggled a lot during the Toybox demo of the Oculus Touch, the handheld input rings that allow you to see and use your hands in virtual reality, while using an Oculus Rift headset. This demo wasn’t widely available at E3. But it definitely made me feel like virtual reality wasn’t just a bunch of hype, and that it was inching toward being ready for prime time.
I could use my hands to pick up objects and look at them. I could wiggle my finger, and I could see on the VR display my finger moving in the place where my real hand was. It wasn’t perfect at recognizing my finger movements by any means. But the controller has a trigger, a button below it, and a joystick that assist you in navigating through a virtual space. Valve has a rival technology that it is developing with HTC, but their controller didn’t yet have a finger movement detection system when I used it April.
I used the Oculus Touch to throw objects, shoot a gun at some carnival objects, and play ping pong. Good sound was very much a part of making the experience believable.
The experience of using the Oculus Touch taught me that there are things that you can only do with this kind of controller, rather than the standard Xbox One controller that will ship with every headset. Not every VR developer is going to develop for the Oculus Touch controller, for sure. But this is a great start down the road toward delivering experiences that you can only do in virtual reality.
It still doesn’t seem real. Nintendo announced a cross-up of its Fire Emblem strategy role-playing series and Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei role-playing franchise a year ago, but the combination seemed so strange and unlikely that even series fans expected that it would never happen. In fact, up until a recent break in the silence on this title, many assumed that it had been canceled. But E3 2015 proved that it is real.
While it wasn’t playable at the show, Nintendo brought Atlus game producer Shinjiro Takata out of his Tokyo office to meet with Western games media to offer up the first details on this collaboration. Our interview with him revealed that Genei Ibun Roku #FE is actually nothing like its source games, and should be considered a new IP.
Nintendo shared gameplay for the first time on its live streaming show during E3, and this showed that the title is even more odd and niche than originally expected. Takata revealed that it’s based on the Japanese entertainment industry, and will feature dedicated music from Japanese record and talent label Avex. At this point it barely has anything to do with Nintendo’s classic strategy games, but it still looks like an incredible experience.
Atlus also gets the runner-up prize with its Persona 4 Dancing All Night. The upcoming PS Vita title also focuses on music, and takes the cast of its hit RPG Persona 4 to the dance floor in a rhythm game. It’s a toe-tapper, with Persona song remixes coming from Japan’s greatest game industry composers and talent. And it’s quite a bit more challenging than I had originally expected!
Jeff Grubb, GamesBeat reporter
Favorite game: Star Wars: Battlefront
Runners-up: Super Mario Maker, Cuphead
I didn’t expect this. I love Star Wars, but I don’t remember the last time I really loved a game that adapted the sci-fi franchise. But the first thing I did when the E3 show opened was head to my booth tour with Electronic Arts, and then I spent the rest of the week wondering if I could fit in some more time with developer DICE’s take on the series.
That desire to go back and play more Battlefront hasn’t subsided either. I think the reason for my excitement is that DICE has done such a masterful job of wrapping up everything I love about Star Wars into a fun competitive shooter. It sounds right. It looks right. It feels right. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that Battlefront is doing for Star Wars ground-based battles what Shadows of the Empire did for aerial fights. And I cannot wait to experience more of it.
But I didn’t only love Battlefront, and I don’t want to put this E3 to bed without mentioning how ready I am for Super Mario Maker. It showed OK when I got my hands on it, but this isn’t a great expo game. It looked far more impressive during the Nintendo World Championships where talented players put some of the most imaginative and difficult Mario levels ever conceived to the test. I need that.
I hate to just copy Jeff (because Jeff is a loser who is dumb), but I’m right there with him on the Battlefront hype train. The Hoth level at EA’s booth was such a rush. I had a blast playing it with a bunch of strangers while I was still trying to figure out the nuances of the mechanics. I can’t imagine how great it’ll be once I fully understand the game and am playing it with friends. Also, it’s Star Wars, and I have to admit that all of the excitement with the new movie really has me hankering for a new game.
Surprisingly, my next choice would also be an EA game (when was the last time EA had this good a showing at E3?). I was a big fan of the original Mirror’s Edge, and the new installment features the same fluid gameplay with a freeing open world. I can’t wait to own this one and spend hours running around the city’s rooftops.
Beyond EA, I was really excited to play Mighty No. 9, the spiritual successor to Mega Man, a franchise I’ve loved for as long as I can remember. Mighty No. 9 scratches that 2D action-platformer itch perfectly.
Out of all my E3 meetings, the one that stuck with me the most was for Beyond Eyes. And it’s hard to say why. It doesn’t have the freedom of Fallout 4 nor the beautiful galactic battles of Eve: Valkyrie and Into the Stars. But something about this indie game for Xbox One and PC refuses to let go of me. In Beyond Eyes, you play as Rae, a blind girl who leaves her home to find her missing cat Nani. Most of her world is a blank white canvas that gradually fills in as she explores it. Since Rae wasn’t born blind, she uses her memories as visual references for common things like what her house or the garden looks like.
She uses her remaining senses like sound and smell to interpret her surroundings. But they aren’t always reliable. During one scene in my demo, Rae stumbled onto a scarecrow. The crows in the area started cawing at her. Their numbers quickly multiplied because Rae couldn’t tell if the sounds were coming from just two or three birds or a whole flock of them. You only know as much as she does. Rae hunched over and crossed her arms to show that she was clearly uncomfortable here.
Beyond Eyes doesn’t have a health bar or any sort of user interface that tells you how Rae’s doing, so you have to pay attention to her body language. It forces you to see the world from her perspective, where ordinary objects from daily life can become scary or even dangerous. I can’t wait to play more.