Toward the end of last week, I wrote a small list of hopeful predictions that I had for this year’s E3 showcase, and while not all of those (or many of them really) were realized, I wanted to take a moment to list out, now that E3 is wrapping up, what I’m just all-in on and what I’m cautiously optimistic for, but excited to play nonetheless.
Games I’m Just Totally All About
Super Mario Odyssey
Let’s get this out of the way from the start: I will never not be excited for a proper Super Mario title, but Super Mario Odyssey, as it stands currently, is one of the most anticipated games for me coming out of E3—though that wasn’t always the case. I was very excited when Odyssey was first shown during the Nintendo Switch reveal event a few months ago, but so much about what was going on in the trailer they presented remained unknown: why was Mario in, what looked like, New York City? Why were there actual human people there? What was the hat for? Why does it have eyes? Could we just get something NORMAL?! PLEASE??!
It wasn’t that I didn’t have faith in Nintendo to do right by what is consistently one of the most high quality series in the existence of the medium, but I just wasn’t sure what their plan was with this one and it made me a little unsure. Coming off of E3 I have to say that I am all about this game. It seems to be a total return to the sandbox-style games that were Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, and while the Galaxy series and 3D World were great, we’ve been long overdue for the type of Mario this game seems to be.
Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom
I’m going to be completely honest when I say that Ni no Kuni 2 could be a literal potato and I would still be more excited for it than 90% of what’s coming out around it. I LOVED Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, so much so that I placed it at #4 on my list of favorite games of ALL TIME!
Ni no Kuni was an incredibly beautiful game, but not one without its own set of flaws, and while a lot of what turned so many off from the first entry in this series were things I personally enjoyed, Level-5 is taking the time to iterate and improve on what the first game did well to make the second game even better. And personally, I don’t mind it one bit. Granted, I’m saying this having not played Ni no Kuni 2, but a lot of what I’ve seen—from the combat to the change in direction for the story—seems natural and fresh and oddly appropriate for a follow up to the original.
I want people to see what makes this series so good and I think the second entry will help with that. It seems more accessible, more appealing to the players that perhaps were unable to overlook some of the rougher edges of the original and if that widens its reach and allows more people to enjoy Ni no Kuni, then go ahead, I don’t mind—I’m all about it.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
I have honestly been more worried about this game than any other game in a very long time, the simple reason being I have always so adored the Assassin’s Creed series and the most recent entries have been rough. I mentioned as much in my predictions post, but Assassin’s Creed has struggled over the past few years to both innovate in a way that feels meaningful and attach meaning to a world that, at times, feels so bogged down and boring under the weight of all of the things it offers.
I really enjoyed Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, but for all that it did right, I felt almost purposeless in playing it, in a way I haven’t felt in any game before it, and my largest concern for the next entry in the series was whether or not it could find its footing again. That remains to be seen, but so much of what was shown makes it seem like they are taking their year off to heart and doing their best to push the series in a positive direction. Everything in it looks great, to be honest, and if it manages to attach some meaningful content to the beauty of the Egypt it’s created then I think this entry could be a return to form for the long running series.
God of War
I am admittedly not the most vocal champion for the God of War series. That isn’t due to my not enjoying the games, but for all that they do right, there is so much it seems that never quite landed with me to make me love them as much as I could. Largely, I would say, it’s the tone.
The God of War series is unapologetically adult: the violence is gratuitous, there’re boobies flopping every which way, and the story rarely amounts to much more than a short-sighted one of revenge—which can’t be faulted, I don’t think, because that’s what it set out to do from the very beginning. That being said, something about this new God of War entry has latched onto me from the moment it was shown off one year ago, and I believe I could narrow that down, largely, to its dramatic shift in tone.
God of War seems personal where the others rarely did. Kratos is taking on the role of a father as opposed to that of a wellspring of hate, and while there has been plenty to suggest that Kratos will be Kratos—the brooding, reluctant, bitter “hero”—so much about this games seems to be set to expand upon its story. Granted, I could be wrong. Maybe the game will continue to be what the older games set themselves up to be, but I don’t think so having seen everything they’ve shown. It seems to me that they are trying to mature Kratos into something more and if that is paired with the always exceptional combat and world the series is known for, then I think this game will be one of the contenders for “Game of the” whatever “Year” it comes out.
Shadow of the Colossus (Remake)
I am hands down, all out, excited about this. The fact that one of the most interesting, fascinating and beautiful games in existence is not only being brought (again) to the current generation of consoles, but it is being completely remade—graphics, controls and all—for an almost entirely new experience. This is incredible. We didn’t see gameplay, but I don’t imagine we have to. Shadow of the Colossus is a treasure and one that I imagine will hold up entirely when it is remade and rereleased.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Who’d have thought I’d ever be excited about a Dragon Ball Z game again? After seeing what little I’ve seen of this game so far though, I am 100% in.
If there was ever a series of games that I miss from playing with my friends when I was younger, it would be Dragon Ball Z Budokai. And while, I doubt, they were anything all that impressive, there was something spot-on about the way they nailed the speed of the TV show in such a way as to give you the sense you were right there inside them.
Granted, I haven’t delved too deep into the more recent DBZ titles, but none of them, from all that I’ve seen, has ever felt…right. Something about the speed, something about the animations—it’s all seemed to lack some of what DBZ always was for me: really fast, off the wall, intense and goofy action. And this game seems to fit the bill. Maybe it won’t end up being the deepest fighter out there, but it seems like it may be able to become the best DBZ fighter in a very long time.
Yoshi and Kirby for Nintendo Switch
I lumped both of these together for similar reasons: they are so stinking cute. And while I was hoping for the cute fix by Nintendo to be filled by an Animal Crossing entry, both of these were welcome surprises for Nintendo’s newest console. I thoroughly enjoyed Yoshi’s Wooly World on the Wii U and looking at the similar but different aesthetic for this follow-up title is not only reminding me of what was so neat about the previous one, but it’s reminding me too of some of my other favorite aesthetic styles in Paper Mario and the LittleBigPlanet games. Kirby too is fitting that bill. I honestly can’t remember the last, honest, 2-D Kirby game I’ve played since playing Kirby 64 when I was a kid, and to know that there will be one that looks really good on the Nintendo Switch sooner rather than later is way too exciting.
Games I’m Cautiously Optimistic For
Believe me when I say that I genuinely think the new Spider-Man title by Insomniac will be incredibly well done, but I’m wary of some of the choices they’ve made and how well they’ll play out in the end.
When Sony ended their press conference with Spider-Man, I was stoked to see what this game about one of my favorite superheroes made by one of my favorite developers would look like, and while I think it looked good, there was something all too familiar about what I saw.
It reminded me an awful lot of the Arkham Asylum series.
Now, that is meant as a compliment: the combat looked smooth, the stealth sequences looked interesting, but the Batman games were so much more than those two aspects. Granted, those are huge marks in the plus column for that series, but there was so much else that was just typical Batman present there too—and I didn’t see much in the little bit they showed that looked quintessentially Spider-Man. Much of what we saw seemed sort of on rails, while Spider-Man is largely about freedom—freedom to traverse an entire city with his trademark agility and acrobatics for flair. And while I don’t doubt those will be strong components of the Spider-Man game, I don’t yet know what else will be present to make this game feel full.
The Arkham series managed to do it and I have full confidence that this game will do it too, I just haven’t seen enough quite yet to alleviate my worries quite yet.
By all intents and purposes, I should be hands up, erratically flailing excited about this game—but I’m not yet.
Bioware is one of my favorite developers. They’ve made some of my most favorite series, but so much about Anthem is so incredibly different from what they’ve done before. The core staples of their games—the RPG elements, the story, the characters—was largely absent from their demonstration, replaced instead with the more open-ended, co-op, pseudo MMO approach present in games like Destiny and The Division. And while those systems work and the games that use them are good, Destiny and The Division never held my attention as long as they probably should have.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with those games and had every intention of doing more, but so much content gated behind party walls requiring X-number of friends to help you along, it became difficult to want to do too too much beyond the mainline story they give you—the primary story, at least in both games I listed, not being all that enticing. So much of what makes those games good comes after you finish the main-story content, and if Anthem is following in the footsteps of those games, the question becomes: will it do the same thing?
The gameplay loop of this game seems familiar and from the look of it, it looks really cool, but I’m wary of another one of these games not holding me for long. And I’m especially wary of it from a developer that excels at such story-driven content. On the other hand, maybe Bioware and their storytelling chops are exactly what this genre needs. Incredible story beats and a fleshed out world could make Anthem stand out.
For nearly all of the same reasons listed above, I am wary of Destiny 2. I really enjoyed Destiny, but after the core game, and each of the expansions, I struggled to want to do much else than set the controller down. I played World of Warcraft for many years, I understand the draw of gear-grinding and raiding, but so much of what made Destiny so difficult to do those things with had to do with the lack of good friends I knew who were actively playing the game.
That’s the core of Destiny: playing with other people, and when you play the game largely alone, it can be difficult to do all of the post-game content that is considered to be “the best part.”
I’m optimistic for Destiny 2 because it sounds like they are trying to bridge that gap a little, allowing for more matchmaking options for people looking to go it alone, while still retaining the playing with friends aspect they did well with from the start. I don’t doubt it will be good, but rather, I’m just not sure how excited I’ll be when the game comes out this year.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Having “known” about this game before going into the show, I was entirely uninterested in what I thought it would end up being, but when it was shown to be something entirely reminiscent of XCOM, something tactical and strategic and seemingly fit for an audience older than five years old, I was excited. Genuinely. The tactical RPG genre is one I can really dig on and while I don’t care much for the Rabbids, I’m interested in what this game will become. I’m still keeping it at arms length though. I was surprised, pleasantly, but this game is still so much of an unknown (and a game not made by Nintendo themselves) and I’ll have to wait until I know more to feel really good about what it could be.
Metroid Prime 4 and Beyond Good & Evil 2
I lumped both of these titles here because the both of them were probably some of the biggest surprises at the show, but also some of the biggest unknowns. New entries in both of these series have been on the list of so many for so long, but, in the case of Beyond Good & Evil 2, all that was shown (and all that has ever been shown), was a cinematic trailer, and, in the case of Metroid Prime 4, there was significantly less.
We know next to nothing about either of these and while I am hyped beyond belief that both of these series will be returning in a big way, it’s difficult to have much of an opinion on how they will turn out since nothing is really known.
This is all far from everything. There was a lot that was shown that I was very excited about and a lot that was shown that I wasn’t, but these games largely stuck out to me and ones that I had thoughts about coming out of it all. Here’s to E3 2017! It was a good show. And here’s to all that will be coming out later on this fall.