E3 2018. Well that’s all done then. So let’s gather ourselves up and look back on what the hell just happened.
First thoughts? I’m a bit underwhelmed, to be honest. There was the usual thoughtless parade of guns and violence, something that I’m almost inured to now, although the occasional bit of ultra violence still makes me wince. I’m thinking of the trailer for The Last of Us Part II – in between the lovely kissing – and pretty much everything shown of Dying Light 2, including someone stamping on a person’s head like its a watermelon. I’m still not sure why publishers want to showcase their games like this, as if they’re trying to outdo each other with brutality. In the case of The Last of Us Part II, it’s actually put me off playing the game. But hey ho, it’s like this pretty much every year. I’m starting to feel that as I get increasingly more ancient, I’m slipping further and further away from the target demographic that E3 is aiming for, which still teems to be teenage boys. Clearly the organisers haven’t quite got the message that other demographics also play games these days.
Still, violence moan aside, there was little to get me hot under the collar at this year’s presentations. All I saw was an endless parade of samey sequels, mostly to games that I’ve either not played or that I gave up on several entries back. It’s very difficult to get excited about the ELEVENTH Assassin’s Creed game (not including spinoffs), especially if you stopped playing them after the fifth one because they are basically all the same. Likewise Doom, Tomb Raider, Fallout and basically every single AAA game that’s in its Nth iteration and struggling to find new bullet points to put on the back of the box.
Even Nintendo, who can usually be relied upon to drop something zany and offbeat into their presentation, showed little that was actually new. Another Mario Party? Really? It was never that good anyway, and now the sequels must be in double digits… [checks online] yep, this is the eleventh one. And don’t get me started on that ridiculously detailed Super Smash Bros. Ultimate deep dive. Has anyone noticed that, once you get past the novelty factor of beating up popular characters, it’s [whispers] not actually that good?
Still, thank god for the indies, I say. Away from the tadger-waggling press conferences, there was some wonderful innovation from relatively tiny developers. I’ve picked out my favourite games of E3 2018 below, and almost all of them are indie games, which are pretty much the only titles that seemed to show much innovation this year. And yes, that includes Cyberpunk 2077. Hey, I was there for cyberpunk when it happened first time around.
This is without doubt the game I’m most excited about after E3. The sublime graphics are clearly inspired by the wonderful artwork of French comics genius Moebius (aka Jean Giraud), and it really looks stunningly beautiful – despite being made in a shed. The titular Sable is tasked with exploring an alien desert full of crashed spaceships and ancient monuments, and everything about that sounds wonderful.
This one sounds really intriguing – a film noir-style game in which you make a living as a taxi driver, while simultaneously attempting to solve a murder mystery with the clues you pick up from your passengers. Bizarrely, Night Call wasn’t the only mystery-solving, cab-driving game featured at E3 2018 – Neo Cab features a very similar set-up, but with neon instead of neo-noir.
Ghost of Tsushima
One of the few new IPs announced at the main publishers’ press conferences, Ghost of Tsushima has a wonderful Akira Kurosawa vibe to it, and I was pleased to hear that there’s also an option to have Japanese dialogue for extra authenticity. I love the bit where there’s a classic samurai standoff, following by a flashing blade and one person keeling over. Also, I could ride that horse through fields of grass all day and not get bored. Hmm, that sounded weirdly sexual, but I’m just going to leave it. No release date announced for this though, so we probably won’t get it until at least 2020 – and probably on PlayStation 5, at that.
OK, it’s a sequel, but it’s also a sequel to a series that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed – and it gets bonus points for having the guts to sideline BJ Blaskowicz as the lead in favour of his twin daughters. Looking forward to gunning down Nazis in Paris.
The next in the EA Originals line after the excellent Fe, Sea of Solitude looks wonderfully odd. This time around, rather than aliens, zombies or Nazis, the true enemy is LONELINESS – which in this case means feathers and red eyes, apparently. Colour me interested.
It’s Zelda! But with a fox! And blocky trees! This looks so damn good.
I love the way they worked “handcrafted Solar System” into the presentation to fend off any comparisons to No Man’s Sky – no procedural generation jiggery pokery here. Outer Wilds takes place in a Solar System caught in a time loop, with everything resetting every 20 minutes and the same events happening again and again, like a city being swallowed by sand. Your job is to unravel the mystery of why the time loop is happening, with some of your actions causing elements to change the next time the loop is repeated. So Majora’s Mask in space, then? Sign me up.
OK, OK, this game has been out for about a year now, but at E3 Nintendo dropped the bombshell that it’s available for Switch RIGHT NOW, so I’m allowed to include it here. It’s a beautiful metroidvania with bugs, and we’re really excited about reviewing it as soon as we can. Until then, there’s a great Hollow Knight review over on The Maximum Utmost.
Published by Double Fine Productions, Ooblets was a wonderful antidote to all the guns and killing and BOO-RAH macho stuff over on the main stands. I want to make friends with mushrooms, it all looks so lovely. It’s like a cross between Pokemon and gardening and ice cream and soft woolly jumpers. Mmmm, soft.
So, those are my picks for the best games of E3 2018 – but what titles got your nethers all aflame? Let me know in the comments!