Once again this year, GamesBeat teamed up with Epic Games and Nvidia to find the best Unreal Engine 4 design teams at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

Our staff spent much of our time at the show floor checking out games using Unreal Engine, and we then debated and argued until we could pick nominees and winners for each of our nine categories. And we weren’t just giving out plaques (although those did look pretty nice). Each winning team will receive an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card, courtesy of Nvidia Epic Games.

Check out the winners and nominees below, and congratulations to all of these teams for their incredible work.


Eye Candy

Winner: Dragon Ball Fighterz (Arc System Works/Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.)

The prettiest games don’t always focus on photorealism. At E3, the most striking title stood out because it looked like an anime cartoon brought to life. And it’s not just any anime; Arc System Works has managed to make a 2D fighting game that brings Dragon Ball Z — the ultimate guilty pleasure for those that love Japanese animation at its cheesiest — to life on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

We’ve seen Arc System Works use a similar art style for Guilty Gear Xrd, another one of its fighting games. The studio is able to make stylized 3D models that look like 2D drawings. And when you’re fighting in the classic side-view, you wouldn’t even know that the characters existed in three dimensions. But the camera is able to move around the fighters during special moves or other events, adding a cinematic flair that sprite-based characters could never replicate.

It’s really a beautiful thing to watch. Dragon Ball Fighterz shows how creativity is just as important as technology if you want to make a gorgeous game.

Other nominees:

  • Sea of Thieves (Rare)
  • Lawbreakers (Boss Key Productions)
  • Ace Combat 7 (Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.)
  • Days Gone (Bend Studio)

Best Hook

Winner: Genesis: Alpha One (Radiation Blue)

I’d decided to walk into my demo with Genesis: Alpha One blind. I hadn’t watched the trailer, so I wasn’t sure what to expect besides seeing what appeared to be a sci-fi game with a generic name.

I’m glad I hadn’t prepped. The handlers from publisher Team17 blew my mind with an experience I felt was unique, a term I’ve never used to describe a video game in my 11 years working in the enthusiast press. Genesis is a mix of space exploration, starship construction, first-person shooter, horror, and roguelike, and it has no right to work given this mish-mash of genres. And yet it does.

Team17 showed off how your ship’s captain explores a procedurally generated galaxy in search of a new home for humanity. Your sponsor is one of three corporations; for this playthrough, or benefactor was a company reminiscent of Alien’s Weyland-Yutani. (That’s not the only allusion to this series — it was one of Radiant Blue’s inspirations). As the demo progressed, I watched how you explore, sending off a dropship to bring back new ores and knowledge … and sometimes alien monsters, which you have to kill before they hide in the ducts, multiply, and do something nasty (like destroying a part of the ship). You meet alien species, and you can incorporate parts of their DNA into your cloning tech to make copies that, while looking anything but human, act like one because, well, they’ve never been around their kind before. Or you can add that DNA to human code and clone something new.

When you die, you don’t lose progress. Instead, the next highest-ranking member of your crew becomes the new captain, and you take control of them.

It all sounds fascinating, and I’m eager to give this a spin.

Other nominees:

  • Seven: The Days Long Gone (IMGN.PRO, Fool’s Theory)
  • The Darwin Project (Scavengers Studio)
  • Moss (Polyarc Games)
  • Ashen (Aurora44)

Most Addictive

Winner: Laser League (Roll7)

Laser League could be the next great multiplayer game. It has a simple premise. Two small teams (about two or three players on each) run around a field trying to touch nodes. Grabbing one shoots lasers out of it that are the same color as your team. You and your buddies can walk through them, but an enemy dies as soon as they touch them. Basically, you want to spring up as many lasers for your team as you can.

It’s easy to understand and a ton of fun to run around and try to activate nodes while avoiding the other team’s lasers. You can also pick one special ability for your character. This can let you temporarily phase through harmful lasers or even steal an enemy’s node for your team. You can also activate power-ups on the map that can do things like switch possession of all lasers between the teams.

I was hooked after a few rounds of Laser League. The matches are quick and chaotic, but they still promote skill and teamwork. I can’t wait to try this one with a bunch of my friends.

Other nominees:

  • Dragon Ball Fighterz (Arc System Works/Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.)
  • Lawbreakers (Boss Key Productions)
  • The Darwin Project (Scavengers Studio)
  • Fortnite (Epic Games)

Best Sequel

Winner: Lineage2: Revolution (Netmarble)

It’s common enough to see a massively multiplayer online role-playing game on PC, but practically unheard of on mobile. Lineage2: Revolution tackled the task of porting a huge world and enormous battles to mobile and tablet with resounding success.

The Lineage series is set in a fantasy world with all the classic features, such as races with different abilities, leveling up, skills, and quests. It’s gathered quite a fanbase and has been played by more than 14 million people in Asia, and the mobile entry is no exception, generating $176 million in its native South Korea within just the first month after launch. That’s because it’s a mobile MMORPG that has retained its high-res graphics and real-time capabilities, and it can support the massive 200-person battles that its PC players have come to expect.

Lineage2: Revolution is definitely a boon for fans of the genre who might want to get in an hour or two of gameplay during their commute without settling for less quality just because they’re playing on mobile.

Other nominees:

  • Crackdown 3 (Sumo Digital, Reagent Games)
  • Ace Combat 7 (Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.)

Best Original Game

Winner: A Way Out (Hazelight Studios)

Prison escape games are common, but Hazelight Studios added a unique twist with its cooperative split-screen experience in A Way Out.

The makers of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons have figured out how to get two players deeply engaged with the task at hand. Two players control two different characters on the split-screen. One character can distract a prison guard, while the other can steal a tool needed to dig a tunnel.

And once the players are outside, the players control the characters to pull off heists, such as robbing a gas station, or escaping from a bunch of police in a hospital. The camera seamlessly moves from split-screen to full screen, from cinematic to gameplay, from one character to the other. Josef Fares, creator of the game, says you’ll love the unique experience or you can “break my legs.”

Other Nominees:

  • The Artful Escape (Beethoven & Dinosaur)
  • Sea of Thieves (Rare)
  • Ashen (Aurora44)
  • Genesis: Alpha One (Radiation Blue)

Biggest Buzz

Winner: Sea of Thieves (Rare)

Rare has been polishing its co-op pirate game Sea of Thieves for a while, and we think it looks beautiful. It has cartoon 3D graphics for its characters and environments, but the water of the ocean looks and behaves realistically.

The waves toss the pirate ship and the winds pull it in different directions. Add to that the wacky humor, voice chat among four teammates, and the battles with other co-op players on the high seas. It makes you feel like you’re a pirate.

Each crew member has to do his or her part in keeping the ship afloat and combat worthy. And your crew can go on quests to find buried treasure, or steal it from pirates who already have it. The gorgeous visuals and creative multiplayer made it one of the most talked about games at E3.

Other nominees:

  • The Darwin Project (Scavengers Studio)
  • A Way Out (Hazelight Studios)
  • Dragon Ball Fighterz (Arc System Works/Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.)

Best VR Game

Winner: Moss (Polyarc Games)

We’ve seen a lot of haunted houses, thrill rides, and zombie shooters in virtual reality so far, but no storybook action-adventures. That’s where Moss comes in.

When you put on the headset, the first thing you see is an old storybook, complete with illuminated text, illustrations, and maps. As you turn the pages, a fairytale world springs to life around you and that’s when you meet the tiny heroine of the story: Quill, the mouse adventurer.

You play as the Reader. Together, you and Quill explore ruins and solve puzzles. You manipulate the environment, pushing and pulling levers, and you control Quill as she engages in miniature sword battles. But it’s not a one-way street — if you mess up on a puzzle or take too long to figure something out, Quill will turn and interact with you. It feels much more personal in a VR context than just a regular flat screen.

The controls in Moss are extremely intuitive. You never have to move the camera around and you always have a sightline to Quill, making it easy to navigate and avoiding the kind of motion sickness that can occur in some VR games. Everything is spread before you within arm’s reach like a dollhouse diorama, and every time Quill enters a new area, it’s accompanied by the sound of pages turning, a signal that the two of you are progressing further into the story. It’s a charming, magical experience interacting with Polyarc’s virtual world, whether that’s figuring out how to unlock a staircase or picking up Quill and feeling her heartbeat in your controller.

Other nominees:

  • Farpoint (Impulse Gear)
  • Raw Data (Survios)
  • Gunheart (Drifter)

Outstanding Gameplay

Winner: Ashen (Aurora44)

​One of the games Microsoft picked to show off its Xbox One X was the striking indie adventure Ashen. The open-world game ​does have a stunning visual style with a dynamic lighting system and marionette-style characters, but it’s the gameplay that caught my eye when developer Aurora44 demoed the game for me.

Ashen is all about exploration, but it’s also about relationships. While you are out in the world, the game will randomly pair you up with another player. You then must work together with this person without talking to them or knowing their Xbox Live gamertag. This may require you to solve a puzzle with this stranger, or you may have to simply navigate a dungeon together.

Where Ashen really sets itself apart, however, is what happens when you finish your adventure with your new partner. The game doesn’t just give you someone else to fill in the role of the same character model. Instead, Ashen will retire the character you were just playing with as an NPC in the main town. That way you can always return back and speak with that character or buy items from them, and your interactions will always filter through the first impression you got from playing with another real person. And then the next real player you come across in the world will have a completely different character model, and you can do the same with them.

Aurora44 wants to use this system to enable people to have a lasting, personal impact on how you shape your feelings about Ashen, and it was by far the gameplay mechanic that stuck with me the most coming out of E3.

Other nominees:

  • Sea of Thieves (Rare)
  • State of Decay 2 (Undead Labs)
  • Days Gone (Bend Studio)
  • Fortnite (Epic Games)

Unreal Underdog

Winner: Seven: The Days Long Gone (IMGN.PRO, Fool’s Theory)

This isometric role-playing game has seen decades of innovation, and in recent years, a resurgence. But leave it to some of the designers behind the excellent The Witcher III: Wild Hunt to find a way to push Unreal Engine 4 to do something no one has ever done in an isometric RPG.

True climbing.

No, they’re not fudging this with perspective or other art-manipulation tricks, as other isometric RPGs have done in the past. You play as a master thief and you can climb up ledges, building, and other nooks-and-crannies to sneak up and get the drop on foes. With an intriguing story and innovative traversal and combat mechanics, Seven achieved more than it probably should have in stealing our hearts during E3.

Other nominees:

  • Vampyr (Dontnod Entertainment)
  • Moss (Polyarc Games)
  • Genesis: Alpha One (Radiation Blue)
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