7. Dark Souls
Dark Souls was the dark horse of this list, as several GR editors didn’t mention it at all during E3 planning. But the editors who are fans of the spiritual sequel to Demon’s Souls are so excited for the game that its need to be included on the list couldn’t be denied. Why do they love it so? Are they masochists that adore a game that for once has virtually no pity for the player? Or is everyone else too much of a wuss to take on the challenge?
Above: Just your average challenge in Dark Souls
Described as a game that puts you in a “perpetual sense of anxiety” (in a good way), Dark Souls isn’t out to hold your hand or take you through endless tutorials. It throws you in a dungeon filled with enemies that will one-hit kill you as soon as they see you, hands you a sword, tosses you in the deep end and says, “Deal with it.” Forget horror games, Dark Souls will fill you with fear, as the high chance of death and loss of progress makes every encounter matter. And it makes victory all the sweeter.
6. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Some games are big. Others are deep. Still others have realistic worlds, epic stories, or a strong focus upon player choice. But Skyrim? Skyrim rides every one of these ponies all the way ‘round the track. The game’s open world is huge – there are hundreds of “areas of interest”, from hilltop ruins to subterranean dungeons, and every inch of it is covered with tiny details, from foxes in the forest to fish in the river. You can go anywhere, including the very peak of its highest mountain. And you can do anything, from working at a blacksmith’s shop to saving the entire continent from a horde of death-breath vomiting dragons. We’d actually recommend that second one. Seems important.
Exactly how you save the world is completely up to you. By the end of the game, you could be a master sorcerer, an arena champion, or the most legendary thief who ever lived – possibly all three. Or you may have explored this world for 300 hours and not reached any of those goals, simply because there were so many other things you could do. And that’s okay – that’s your choice, and that’s exactly what makes Skyrim a must-play.
5. Mass Effect 3
Currently, we have one teaser trailer and a handful of screens to go on, but that’s all we need to gets us excited for Mass Effect 3. The first Mass Effect was awesome – it had a rich, fully-realized world, with a story and characters befitting an epic science fiction adventure. But despite the original's exceptional achievement, Mass Effect 2 managed to improve on it in every way and is one of our favorite games of all time. After ranking number one in our 100 most anticipated games of 2011, it’d be impossible for Mass Effect 3 not to be on this list.
The only reason it’s so low is probably due to us being disheartened by its recent delay to 2012. Even with all logic pointing toward BioWare creating another masterpiece, it's hard not to be anxious about Mass Effect's final chapter when we have so much invested in the series. We want answers and we want them now! Hopefully during E3 BioWare will finally take the wraps off its huge sequel instead of boring us with yet another look at Old Republic.
4. Batman: Arkham City
For years there was always a glass ceiling to comic book-based games. They could be good (X-Men Legends), even great (Spider-Man 2), but they’d never be game of the year material. Batman: Arkham Asylum changed all that, doing what seemingly no other game could do before: make a very nearly perfect game while still staying remarkably true to the spirit of the source material. You became Batman in Arkham Asylum, stalking prey from shadows, beating the crap out of thugs with an inventive new combat system, and using all manner of high-tech gadgets. Can developer Rocksteady not only reach that level again but surpass it in the sequel? It’s looking very possible.
Arkham City promises to be everything Asylum was and then some. Apparently the makeshift town is four to five times the size of Asylum, it’ll feature even more of Batman’s unforgettable rogues gallery, and more gadgets than you can throw a Batarang at. All signs point to City only improving on amazing Asylum, so it’s difficult not to be thrilled with learning any new details, whether it’s some fresh villain or feature. Just keep Robin out of it, ok?