The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo wraps up tomorrow in Los Angeles. This year the focus has not been on hardware but on the big games that you’re going to be playing in the next year. Here’s a rundown of what I’m looking forward to.
The big three
Nintendo’s Switch console is going strong, with more developers and publishers porting games to the system every day, including Fortnite, which has already been downloaded more than two million times since being released yesterday. At E3, the company focused on titles that are releasing this year, including Pokémon: Let’s Go (in two flavours. Pikachu and Eevee) and a new Super Mario Party.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Nintendo’s big game for 2018 is this fighting game for the Switch that will include, according to the company, every character that has ever appeared in previous Smash Bros. games, including those licensed from other developers and publishers.
The PS4 is still the most popular gaming system available, and Sony is strong with exclusive games for the platform. Two of the best games from the past 12 months – God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn – came from Sony studios. At E3, the company is focused on more of those exclusives.
Starring Norman Reedus, from The Walking Dead, as Sam Bridges, a courier on an alien planet populated by strange, dangerous, invisible creatures. This game comes from the mind of Hideo Kojima, who created the Metal Gear series of games, and it has his signature cinematic flair for the bizarre.
The Last of Us Part II
A sequel to one of the best action games ever made, Naughty Dog is again blending moments of extreme emotion with episodes of breathtaking violence. Ellie is the main character in this one, and in the gameplay trailer you can see that she’s still vulnerable, and capable too.
California-based Insomniac Games has blended the crazy chaos of its under-appreciated Sunset Overdrive with the superhero swagger Rocksteady brought to Batman with the Arkham games.
Microsoft’s Xbox One X is the best hardware available, but its success has been limited by a lack of exclusive titles. The company is determined to change that, and at its E3 press briefing announced the acquisition and formation of five new studios, including Montreal’s Compulsion Games, which created the unsettling We Happy Few, and Ninja Theory, which has developed a handful of stellar titles including Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, DmC: Devil May Cry, and last year’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
We don’t know much. Only that Master Chief is back. And his helmet is off.
Gears of War
There are actually three new Gears games coming in the near future from Vancouver studio, The Coalition. Gears Pop! is a mobile game that turns the iconic characters into Funko vinyl collectibles, and Gears Tactics is a turn-based game exclusive to Windows 10. Gears 5 features the character of Kait from Gears of War 4, as she tries to come to terms with some family history.
Destiny 2: Forsaken
The next major expansion for Bungie’s third-person shooter includes a new gaming mode called Gambit, which pits two teams of four against each other and against the game at the same time. Plus, Cayde-6, the wisecracking Hunter vanguard played by Canadian actor Nathan Fillion, dies. Maybe. Judge for yourself.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Coming from From Software, which made Dark Souls and Bloodborne, comes another game that seems like more of the same, but is quite different. Here, movement is key. Your character, inspired by ninja, is equipped with a grappling hook. You can swap it out for a powerful axe if you need to.
In addition to a mobile game for its Elder Scrolls series (Elder Scrolls Blades), Bethesda revealed that two new games are in development, The Elder Scrolls 6, and Starfield, a new franchise set in space.
In a departure from its single-player role-playing games, the next Fallout game is actually a multiplayer game. And it tells of the first people to leave the fallout shelter after the nuclear apocalypse that is the context for the games we’ve been playing. Each player in the game becomes a character from Vault 76.
This game gives us another post-apocalypse setting, but this one was caused by a meteorite. The resulting world is a chaotic, Mad Max-like place populated by mutants and cretins alike. And you get to play as Walker, “the last ranger of the wasteland.”
Electronic Arts has its annual stipend in FIFA, Madden NFL, and NHL, but there’s more to EA than EA Sports.
The next game from Bioware is a new multiplayer space opera. For a studio that has been so resolute with the single-player games, this is a distinct departure, especially when you consider how Bioware games have always found a way to make a player’s decisions impact the story being told. But Bioware has a solid track record of creating new franchises that last.
Delivering a Battle Royale mode and the ability to play as a female soldier might seem like DICE is just jumping on the bandwagon, but really it’s the developers showing how they’re willing to make changes to the games to make them better.
Ubisoft’s got a lot going on, with sequels to The Crew and The Division as well as a new dirt-bike platforming release in the form of Trials Rising. And then there’s these.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
The next game in the franchise lands players in the world of Greece during the time of the Spartan warriors, and becoming more of a role-playing game all the time.
Beyond Good and Evil 2
The long awaited game – a prequel, despite the numeral in the title – is splendorous. The new trailer ends with what can only be called a surprise character reveal.
Skull & Bones
Since introducing pirate ships in Assassins’ Creed 4, Ubisoft has been making it fun to sail the seas while firing cannonballs.
Games from other studios
From Remedy and 505 Games.
From Projekt Red, the creators of The Witcher series of RPGs.
From Deep Silver, the latest game based on the novels of Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky.
Red Dead Redemption II
From Rockstar Games, this one is set in the American West in 1899.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
From Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics, the third game since the franchise reboot, and one in which Lara Croft comes to terms with the consequences of her actions.
Devil May Cry 5
From Capcom, this reunites director Hideaki Itsuno with his original design team for this game featuring Nero and a new supporting character, Nico.