Welcome to the Golden Chalices
The week of E3 is the most important week of the year for the gaming industry. The biggest developers and publishers converge on one location to show their wares, revealing what the next few years of gaming are going to look like. This year, in particular, is the most important in nearly a decade--both Sony and Microsoft brought their next-generation consoles, showing off what we'll be gaming on in 2014 and beyond. We covered the hell out of the show, writing dozens of previews and news stories as details about games were revealed.
And now that it's over, we're celebrating the best and worst the show had to offer with the Golden Chalice awards. What was the game that wowed us the most? What was the most shocking moment? The answer awaits...
Best game you heard nothing about: Murdered: Soul Suspect
Murdered: Soul Suspect was shown off to press a few weeks before E3, and fully revealed a week before the show began. Because of that, everyone was sort of over it by the time E3 rolled around, needing to move on to the hundreds of other games revealed at the show. Which is a shame, because it looks fantastic. Players assume the role of Ronan O'Connor, a deceased detective who needs to investigate his own murder from beyond the grave. It's like LA Noire, except you're able to phase through walls, possess people, and it's actually fun.
Runner up: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate
Rumor we're happy turned out to be true: Final Fantasy XV
Back in 2012, we posted a rumor speculating that Final Fantasy Versus XIII would be relaunched as Final Fantasy XV. At the time, everyone decried it as false--admittedly, we had no idea if it would turn out to be true or not. We'd all but given up hope on ever seeing Final Fantasy Versus XIII ever again. That is, until Sony's E3 2013 conference in which the year-old rumor was confirmed to be true. Honestly, this is the first core Final Fantasy title that we've been legit excited for in what seems like forever. And you know what? That's a good feeling.
Runner up: Mirror's Edge's return
Best Solid Snake impression: Kiefer Sutherland
Weve been fans of Kiefer Sutherland since he scared the crap out of us in Stand By Me. And yet, it still took some convincing to accept his replacing fan-favorite David Hayter as Metal Gears iconic Snake. The E3 trailer for Metal Gear Solid V had Kiefs first words as the character, and it was a more than adequate recreation of the performance Hayter defined. Turns out the Emmy Award winning actor can turn in a gravelly voiced, battle hardened performance when given the chance.
Runner-up: Aiden Pierce, protagonist of Watch Dogs
Best graphics: Battlefield 4
Colossal set-pieces happen dynamically in multiplayer. The awe-inspiring spectacle of a shimmering skyscraper coming down is just something that happens if people shoot it enough. That self-same skyscraper is as immaculately detailed inside and out, and the guys exploring all of its grittily detailed splendour can see clearly out across the bay as the building comes down around them. As for the campaign? That Angry Sea demo makes Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3s New York Harbour assault look like Wolfenstein 3D. Battlefield 4 is eye-popping in a way that goes beyond mere fidelity. Never has a military FPS been so frantic and terrifying and beautiful all at the same time.
Runner up: The Division.
Best graphics (for a Nintendo game): Mario Kart 8
Nintendo fans have had to put up with games that, no matter how creative the artists involved, were running on outdated hardware. Wii U should have fixed that perception, but none really left a mark until Mario Kart 8. The HD graphics are a major step up from previous Kart entries, with sprawling, twisty tracks that mix a clever sense of track layout with crisp, colorful, 1080p visuals. Finally a Nintendo game looks current at the exact moment next-gen systems will make it look outdated by years end.
Runner-up: Super Mario 3D World
Most awkward moment: Assassin's Creed IV crashing
We were the first to lose in a fifth grade spelling bee, and the trauma of failing in front of 40 people has stayed with us our whole lives. The thought of expanding that number of people to roughly 10 million makes us want to hide under our beds, which has to be how Ubisofts unfortunate representative was feeling when showing Assassins Creed IV during Sony s press conference. When the demo crashed mid-show (which isnt unexpected on unstable, pre-release consoles), The poor soul stood there for a few agonizing moments before running off stage as fast as he could while his French brother-in-arms swiftly introduced Watch Dogs.
Runner-up: Battlefield 4 not working on stage
Best Freudian slip: "Come on your tanks!"
While we might have hoped the free-to-play PC hit that was coming to 360 was everyones favorite MOBA, League of Legends, seeing World of Tanks on consoles was an interesting development too. And World of Tanks boss Victor Kisly took Microsofts stage to present the game, he just wanted to share that excitement of getting 360 users to play his game. He finished his pitch passionately shouting Come on your tanks! How enthusiastic was this guy about tanks?
Runner-up: Oh, he said Command your tanks! Okay, we totally hear that now.
Most well-earned shit-eating grin: Jack Tretton, accepting on behalf of Sony
Jack Tretton, god love him, he deserved this. After years of suffering under the yolk of the PS3, being the frontman at every major conference where the console could be described as nothing more than an also-ran, having to justify the consoles price and ad campaign and hacks and stripped functionality, after every self-deprecating comment, he finally had his moment. At Sony's press conference, he had the pleasure to wallow in Microsoft's DRM and used-game catastrophe. And oh, DAT GRIN.
Runner-up: Shuhei Yoshida in this video
You done goofed award: Don Mattrick, accepting on behalf of Microsoft
What catastrophe you ask? So there was, of course, Microsoft's decision to completely and utterly confuse everyone as it pertains to participating in the second-hand market (seriously, what actually is going on?), while also aggravating everyone's fears of always-on DRM. But Don Mattrick really solidified Xbox One as worst in show, with lines like, "Fortunately, we have a product for people who can't get some form of connectivity, and it's called Xbox 360." Way to sound like a smug asshole, Don.
Runner-up: Again, that night
Biggest fan-pleaser: Kingdom Hearts III announcement
We fully expected to be playing handheld Kingdom Hearts for the next 20 years without a single console version showing up. Square-Enix made it clear that it preferred to anything in the world besides bring Sora back to consoles, and though we still held out hope that it would change its mind, we didn't really think it was going to happen. And then it did. It really, really did. When HD, next-gen Sora strutted out onto the sand and grabbed the Keyblade we were over the moon, and ready to explore some new Disney worlds.
Runner up: Mega Man appearing in Super Smash Bros.
Biggest shocker we were literally told about months ago: Super Smash Bros.
When Nintendo rolled the trailer for Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U and 3DS we couldn't believe our eyes. Mario. Pit. Kirby. Samus. They're back! Smashing each other in the face! Finally--finally Nintendo was ready to show off the next-gen game we all wanted. But... we should have seen it coming. Nintendo had said on several occasions that it would be bringing Smash Bros. to E3, and our surprise was wildly misplaced... even if we're still freaking out.
Runner up: The Last Guardian not showing up at E3
Best double-act of E3: Aisha Tyler and Yves Guillemot, at Ubisoft Press conference
What's funnier than hearing Sterling Archer scream "LANA"? Watching Aisha Tyler stand next to CEO and chairman of Ubisoft, Yves Guillemot. The disparity in stature between Tyler, an eight-foot-tall goddess, and Guillemot, a five-foot-tall (aka average-sized) Frenchman, was a comical sight that couldn't be ignored. Tyler had no choice but to acknowledge her height advantage once the audience at Ubisoft's E3 2013 conference started giggling, turning a laughably awkward situation into a hopelessly hilarious awkward situation.
Runner up: LeBron James and virtual LeBron James at Sony's E3 2013 conference
Most offensively hilarious fart joke: South Park: The Stick of Truth trailer
Honestly, the trailer above speaks for itself. In the new video, unveiled at the Ubisoft press conference, Stan's dad (the most underrated character in all of South Park) teaches the new kid the "Nagasaki," a fart so powerful it'll make people squint and go "OHHHHHHHHH." It's offensive on so many levels, but... that's South Park. And we laughed, and we laughed, and we laughed.
Runner up: The general smell of the show floor
Coolest game we know nothing about: Sunset Overdrive
Were big fans of the friendly folks at developer Insomniac, but after the forgettable Fuse came and went, we were concerned about the future of the studio. But that washed away when we saw that the formerly Sony-exclusive studio was now making a game for Microsoft Studios called Sunset Overdrive. The trailer was colorful, action-packed, fun, and the only thing we saw of the game all E3. Insomniac boss Ted Price through around buzzwords like cloud and open world, but it seems like we wont see the actual game for some time. Heres hoping it doesnt go through a similar transformation as Fuse.
Runner-up: The Order: 1886
Best cosplay: Master Chief cosplaying as a Destiny character
There was a moment during Microsoft's Xbox One press conference where the legitimate question had to be asked: "Is that the weird guy from Destiny?" And then, "Why is that guy from Destiny holding dog tags?" And then, "God, wouldn't that be funny if that were actually, like, Master Chief under that tattered Destiny cloak?" And then, "No seriously, what's going on?" And then, "I mean, that's not Master Chief. Why would Master Chief wear a cloak? He wears armor, there's no sand or wind or pollen or sun or whatever getting in." And then, "Really? REALLY?"
Runner up: Mario cosplaying as a kitty
"Great, kid. Don't get cocky!" award: Star Wars Battlefront reveal
When Disney bought Star Wars and gave the responsibility of creating a new Star Wars game to DICE, you didnt need the power of the Force to foresee what game the Battlefield creator was going to be making. We just didnt expect to get confirmation so quickly. EA introduced a new title from DICE and launched a trailer. Snow blew across a white landscape, red laser blasts streaked across the screen, and our confirmation appeared when a snowspeeder crashed into the ice. With the Battlefront title triumphantly gleaming on the screen, the Battlefield creators got us perfectly aligned in their targeting computer. Now they just have to use the force, trust their feelings, and blow this thing so we can go home.
Runner-up: Honestly, this is a pretty specific one...
Best Call of Duty game: Titanfall
Seriously, when you take your first look at Respawns new shooters gameplay, it looks like the next Call of Duty sequel. The way the guns bounce as you run, the look of the maps, and even the way the pilots reload seems like they got all got their training from the Call of Duty boot camp of Hoorah & Staying Frosty. Its just, you know, in the future where theres giant robots you can jump in, everyone has jetpacks that let them wall jump like ninjas, and theres bullets that home-in on headshots for you. They might as well have just called it Future Warfare.
Runner-up: Call of Duty: Ghosts
Best Halo game: Destiny
Space? Check. Supersoldier space marines? Check. Really mean looking aliens that want to completely decimate the entire human race? Check. Weird, massive floating ancient alien structure that have some mysterious power that well probably have to blow up later? Yea, thats that big white moon thing floating over the city. The list of similarities between Master Chiefs world and Destiny can go on and on. But hey, that doesnt mean we dont really, really, really want to play it.
Runner-up: Next-gen Halo
Best next next Gen game: EVE-VR
The Oculus Rift is a magnificent piece of technology, but there's really nothing to... do with it. It's very obviously the future of gaming, as it's the culmination of everything we've come to expect from the future, and yet there's nothing that shows how it might practically work. CCP's EVE-VR is the first game to buck that trend. It's a PVP spaceship game that makes amazing use of the headset--you drive your ship with a controller and lock onto enemy ships by looking at them. There's no motion sickness, no weird tacked-on features--just the future of gaming.
Runner-up: Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Most amazing game that we saw behind closed doors and can't tell you about for several years: [REDACTED]
Runner up: Half-Life 3
Best game we're worried might be cancelled: Tom Clancy's The Division
We had no idea that Ubisoft was working on a Tom Clancy MMORPG, let alone one that we'd actually want to play, but we're worried it's too good to be true. Amazing visuals, a massive open-world, dynamic PVP--it's the kind of crazy, boundless ambition we're looking for in the next-generation of gaming. And we're deathly afraid it's going to vanish. Please let us be wrong.
Runner up: Star Wars: Battlefront
Best use of lab rats: Tiny Brains
Not since Pinky and the Brain have we been this enamored with mutated rodents. This four-player cooperative puzzler is a hoot, mostly due to how unique its quartet of rat protagonists can manipulate their environment. Dax, Minsc, Pad, and Stew have been experimented on so many times that they've developed telekinetic powers, able to move objects with nothing more than the power of their mind. The result? Awesome, brain-tickling physics puzzles that give all four super-mice a chance to shine.
Runner up: Mickey Mouse in Castle of Illusion HD
Best reach-around: Tearaway
We've always wondered how tickling the Vita's rear would translate into worthwhile gaming experiences. We've just never been confident enough to ask. Now, thanks to Media Molecule's Tearaway, we finally have an idea. This unbearably adorable 3D platformer will have you thrusting your fingers through holes in its world via the back touchpad, creating new platforms for your paper character to ascend. It's a surprisingly pleasing sensation. Trust us, give it a try.
Runner up: Killer Is Dead's Gigolo mode
Game of the show: Battlefield 4
After playing an hour of Battlefield 4's multiplayer, we knew it would be a top contender for our coveted game of the show award. The huge urban map we played on seemed to be a perfect blend of Battlefield 3's incredible visuals (only amplified a gajillion times over) and Bad Company 2's immense level of environmental destruction. It had tight urban sections perfect for gripping gunfights, as well as open city streets full of tanks and other vehicles. Best of all, the map dynamically changed depending on which buildings were reduced to rubble. The fact that we were able to ride an elevator to the top of skyscraper only to have the entire structure give way beneath our feet was merely icing on an already amazing cake. Believe us when we say this game's multiplayer offering is beyond impressive.
Runner up: Tom Clancy's The Division
Best shirt of E3?
And that's E3 behind us. It was a great show, filled with shocking revelations, huge announcements, and too many games. Like, a million games. Actually more like a few hundred games, or--anyway, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that you're reading this, which means you enjoyed GamesRadar's E3 coverage. Thank you for coming to us, and we hope you're excited for the next few years worth of games!