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Although I’m not on my plane yet, I’ve survived another 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the game trade show that draws billions of views from around the world. More than 69,000 people attended the event this week at the sprawling Los Angeles Convention Center.
Once again I rolled over some feet as I carted my journalism gear around in a backpack on wheels. I walked 61,693 steps since Sunday, or about 25.5 miles. I made it to most of the major press events, and I saw dozens of games that I liked.
And I’ve been able to come up with another list of my favorite games of E3 for something like the 20th time. This list of 15 games is in order, and I’ve struggled to keep it brief. Of course, Red Dead Redemption 2 will be one of the biggest games of the decade, but Rockstar skipped showing it off E3.
Developer: Naughty Dog
Timing: TBD on PS4
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The Last of Us is my favorite game, so it’s no surprise that I loved the small glimpse that Naughty Dog revealed about its sequel. Sony showed us the gameplay trailer when about 3,000 members of the press were standing in a crowded sound stage that was built to look like a church in the game. But this game didn’t need the gimmick. It was truly an amazing video that shows the shy and guarded Ellie as she dances with another young woman. Then it cuts to a horrific scene where Ellie cuts the throat of a bad guy. She goes on to hunt and become hunted as she battles other humans in brutal combat in the postapocalypse survivalist world. Later, I spoke with the directors about this. In the spirit of the original, the combat is 1-on-1 and brutal, where every kill is a life-or-death struggle. It showed once again that the worst threat to humans isn’t the zombies but other humans.
Developer: Sucker Punch
Timing: TBD on PS4
Sucker Punch is creating a true living world that replicates the feel of Japan in the 13th century. The graphics of this world — down to the maple leaves that fall from the trees — are among the best I’ve seen in a video game. The clouds move, the trees and grass sway in the wind, the surfaces reflect light, and the shadows fall in a realistic way. Add to that the extremely well done samurai combat choreography, and you’ll feel like you’re inside something like Akira Kurosawa’s film, The Seven Samurai.
Developer: Insomniac Games
Timing: September 7 on PS4
After a few years of trailers, I finally got my hands-on time with Spider-Man. It was worth the wait. Insomniac has re-created the city of New York for players to explore as Spider-Man. It’s easy for the webslinger to swing around the city on web ropes and traverse the city’s skyscrapers. The action is fluid and fast, though it’s far different controlling Spider-Man in combat compared to Batman from the Arkham series. Spidey can jump on bad guys or tie them up with webs and then beat them senseless. He also has to be on the lookout for arch villains. I ran into Shocker, and he was a tough one to bring down. I sure hope the story is as good as the environment of New York.
11-11: Memories Retold
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Timing: September 7 on PS4
Husband-and-wife team Yoan Fanise and Anne-Laure Fanise had a great success making Valiant Hearts: The Great War while working at Ubisoft. But they quit their jobs to create a new studio DigiXart, in Montpellier, France. They’re creating a game about peace during the horrifying slaughter of World War I. The title has an Impressionist art style, and the original trailer cites the moving poem In Flanders Fields. Fanise hasn’t shown much of it yet, but he told me in an interview that it’s not about combat. It’s about the human impact of war, showing what the war is like for a Canadian soldier, a German soldier, a cat, and a pigeon. Fanise is setting up the game to make a powerful statement about war.
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Timing: September 14 on PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.
Lara Croft has been back in her prime ever since Crystal Dynamics rebooted the franchise in 2015. Now in the third installment since the reboot, the once-vulnerable Lara has learned to become a masterful executioner when it comes to taking out agents of the shadowy Trinity organization, which killed Lara’s father. Lara rubs mud on her face and fades into the jungle, striking fear in the hearts of those she is hunting. Now she’s racing Trinity in pursuit of a treasure in ancient Mayan ruins, but she stumbles across something that can cause a worldwide apocalypse. The game has a mix of jungle stealth fighting and huge set pieces that you won’t want to miss. But Lara’s character transformation is the emotional core of the game.
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Timing: October 19 on PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.
DICE is taking a big step forward with its World War II game this year, adding intricate physics that govern how things crumble or explode in the game. EA will have everything from a battle royale mode to the War Stories single-player campaign, and it will have amazing destructible environments. It will have vignettes set in Norway, Rotterdam, North Africa, and France. It’s going to be a solid entry in the first-person shooter environment, and I’m looking forward to both single player and multiplayer.