Zam's picks for Best of E3 2016
E3 wrapped last night, and now Zam is recovering from the experience by sleeping in late and re-watching a lot of cool trailers. The Zam editors have each picked our favorite games from the show. We saw a lot of really exciting stuff, ranging from surprise indie games we’d never heard of to the big-name, highly-anticipated triple-A games we all knew we’d be seeing. (COUGH ZELDA COUGH COUGH.)
Check out our nine favorite games here. Make sure to take a look at our linked articles and videos -- this is just an overview, and there’s a lot more interesting stuff we’d like to share with you about these games!
Be sure to check out our recap video (above) as well!
Danielle Riendeau, Reviews Editor
As the E3-from-afar team member, I can only comment on things I saw, rather than things I played. But hey, E3 is all about hype, and here’s what got my little heart beating faster for the hype train!
This new Prey has nothing to do, supposedly, with the amazing-looking Prey 2 demo from E3 a few years back. Nah, this is a sci-fi horror immersive sim from Arkane Austin -- and I am so, so down for that. There wasn’t much more than a trailer at Bethesda’s E3 press event, but the heady sci-fi concept -- that you are an experimental subject on a futuristic space station, with an alien threat stalking you -- was enough to get this Alien: Isolation fan’s attention.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Nintendo showed something like 8 hours of gameplay from the upcoming Zelda game -- which purports to be an open world reinvention of the beloved series. It looks gorgeous, it appears to leave behind the annoyances of the brilliant-but-motion-controlled Skyward Sword, the last main game in the series, and the sense of freedom and emphasis on exploration sown off in the demo looked intoxicating. This was pretty much all Nintendo really had at E3, but it was all the company really needed to get me excited.
We Happy Few
We Happy Few looks weird - it’s an adventure game set in a wacky, reality-shifting alt 1960s London, where you take the role of a subversive… journalist? Time traveler? Reality shifter? There was a lot going on in the short gameplay demo we were served at Microsoft’s press event this week, but there was an uneasy, distinctive vibe present. I’m a huge sucker for the weirder things shown off at these hyper commercial events, (see also: Death Stranding) and I’m very intrigued by what the devs at Compulsion Games are cooking up.
Kris Ligman, News Editor
Agents of Mayhem
As a Saints Row supernerd -- no seriously, I was in the midst of doing research for a book on it when Laura summoned me for this position -- I’m always interested in what development studio Volition’s going to be putting out next, and Agents of Mayhem is checking off all the right boxes for me. My first hands-on with it during E3 week did not disappoint: Mayhem’s near-future Seoul reminds me of a more vibrant rendition of Binary Domain, while the combat is a surprisingly intuitive blend of traditional third-person shooter and hot-swapping (anti-)heroes. I’m always here for Volition’s larger-than-life characters and comic book irreverence, but it’s the combat that’s going to make this a day-one purchase for me.
When lead programmer Adam Saltsman sat me down in front of his isometric survival game at the IndieCade booth this week, I went in with zero preconceptions. I didn’t know a thing about it, in fact, except that its alpha is selling very well on itch.io lately. And I can see why now, if my immediately going home and buying a copy for myself is anything to go by -- there’s just something about it that scratches an itch you didn’t even realize you had. If you ever played XCOM and felt overburdened by the self-serious storyline about boob snake aliens, Overland has that same general gameplay but paired with a tone and setting more akin to The Last of Us or The Road. Your randomly generated protagonists will die -- often -- because the world they exist in is harsh and they are fragile, but you can’t help forming attachments to them anyway. Also co-developer Rebekah Saltsman informs me that they’re looking into letting you pet a dog in a future update.
The Death Stranding trailer
Hideo Kojima is often referred to as an “auteur,” but before the Death Stranding reveal, I never really acknowledged him as such. We’re seeing his complete, unfettered creative stamp with this one, and it’s so idiosyncratic, raw, and over-the-top. I know I’m going to be disappointed, just as the last few Metal Gears have disappointed me, but I don’t care: I love that I’m watching a creator with a distinct perspective making the weird, kinda obtuse and top-heavy art that he wants to make. The one downer here, as far as I’m concerned, is that Kojima’s confirmed it will be an action game, more Metal Gear than P.T., which dampens prospects that Guillermo del Toro and horror manga author Junji Ito will return as collaborators -- but honestly, Kojima’s last inversion of the action genre brought us the entire concept of the stealth action game, so if he’s intent on performing that level of reinvention again, I want to see what he comes up with. Even if it’s a spectacular failure, we’ll know that it’s 100% him.
Laura Michet, Editor in Chief
I covered Absolver yesterday; it’s a mysteriously beautiful fantasy fighting game where players wander an open-world environment, occasionally encountering other players with whom they can choose to fight or ally. Fighting feels great -- there’s a deep system here where players use combos, sword power-ups, parries, move cancellation, and so on. The fighting system’s most unusual feature is that players will have to design their own combat styles out of moves they collect in the world and learn from other players. In other words, it’s “Wandering Kung-Fu Master: The Game,” and I am more than a little bit stoked to play it!
Gwent was a surprise pleasure in The Wild Hunt. I played the standalone version of Gwent, and I can report: it is fun, it is more complicated, and it seems like it is more balanced. AND IT’S AN ENTIRE GODDAMN RPG OF ITS OWN WITH CAMPAIGNS AND AN OVERWORLD AND CHARACTERS??? Look, I wanted standalone Gwent, but I didn’t dare hope that it would come with a ten-hour single-player game with a ton of story content on top of online multiplayer and all the other Hearthstone-y stuff a modern digital card game’s gotta have. Good job, CDP, you knocked my socks off. I’m still looking for them.
Dontnod has been releasing real interesting stuff for the last few years, and honestly, their improvement has been extremely fun to watch. Remember Me had a lot of fun, unusual ideas, but basically wasn’t that great; Life is Strange also had a lot of good ideas, and was actually real good. Vampyr, their upcoming vampire-themed action RPG, has a very interesting leveling system which requires you to kill story-related NPCs in order to level up, and this is real real cool-sounding, actually! Even if the game doesn’t turn out to be fantastic or anything, it’s an interesting idea, and I appreciate that Dontnod is doing actual innovative shit in mainstream triple-A videogames. This is not really that common! Dontnod has a history of taking fascinating risks, and taking them publicly. Here’s hoping Vampyr rocks.
What were your favorites from this year's E3? Tell us in the comments below!