It's the most wonderful time of the year
It feels like Christmas in June around the GR+ offices as each editor eagerly awaits next week's E3 extravaganza (opens in new tab). Our stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in the hopes that President and CEO of Nintendo Co., Ltd., Satoru Iwata, or Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft's Xbox division and Microsoft Studios, soon would be there. Our heads swim with visions of game announcements and release dates; of Master Chief waking from his slumber and Nathan Drake ducking behind some crates.
We're ready for E3, and we hope you are too because this year's show is going to be massive. There are a ton of new games on the horizon - from Kingdom Hearts 3 to Fallout 4; Halo 5 to Forza 6. To help make sense of it all, each editor has selected the one they're most excited to see at the show. Let us know which one you're most excited to see, and join us back here on Sunday (06/11) when the E3 excitement kicks off at the Bethesda press conference (opens in new tab).
Fallout 4 - David Roberts
Now, I like to think I'm a pretty sensible person when it comes to E3 expectations. I take gameplay footage and previews with a grain of salt, trying to keep my own hype levels in check as much as possible. But I will be filled with all of the joy in the world if I get to see playable footage of Fallout 4 (opens in new tab) at E3 this year.
The Elder Scrolls series has never really struck a chord with me, though I really appreciate the wonder of simply wandering around an expertly-crafted world and getting into as much mischief as possible. That's why I love Fallout - the sardonic spin on 1950s Nuclear Age Americana combined with familiar landmarks and retro-future aesthetics speaks to me in a way fantasy environments like Skyrim just don't. Now, take all of that, the glorious open-world choose-your-own-adventure gameplay Bethesda is known for, tweak the gunplay to make it a bit more fluid, and throw it on new-gen consoles. Yeah. Gimme all of that.
Star Wars Battlefront - Andy Hartup
Not only is this certain to be at E3, its also guaranteed to provoke a reaction. When the game was properly revealed back in April, many moaned about the lack of drivable AT-ATs, the OP hero characters, and the scarcity of prequel content. My reaction was Holy shit that looks incredible. Give me this game NOW! accompanied by a lot of Kermit The Frog-style manic arm-waving.
Why? Aside from the fact its freaking Star Wars, and you get to pilot freaking X-Wings or zoom through freaking Endor on a freaking Speeder Bike while lasering holes through freaking Ewoks, its made by DICE. Those guys know exactly what theyre doing, having finely honed their multiplayer craft over more than a decade of Battlefield games. For me, its the dream combination of developer and subject matter. And Im not naive - I know that reveal trailer was all prettied up - but if its a fraction as handsome as that, itll be a proper new-gen showpiece. Lets, er, just hope there are no Battlefield-style launch issues, eh
New Gears of War - Sophia Tong
Its really happening! Studio Head Rod Fergusson recently announced a name change for Black Tusk Studios to The Coalition, to better represent the team and what theyre working on--the next Gears of War (opens in new tab). And there will be more info at E3. Last year all we got was a brief flash of a Gears cog, likely to remind us that Microsoft hasnt forgotten about the franchise. With all this excitement swirling around Halo and Rise of the Tomb Raider, Gears will fit in nicely with the rest of Xboxs lineup.
Now where will they take the series? Phil Spencer has said the new Gears will return to the darker, grittier tone of the earlier games, which Im sure anyone who has played Judgement will not complain about. Im secretly hoping that the new Gears will be about Carmine brothers backstory. Who was Carmines mom? Maybe the brothers are on a quest to find their father and along the way they find out they have a half-sister. And its a point-and-click adventure game! Just kidding. Pass me a lancer, please.
Forza Motorsport 6 - Paul Taylor
Were well into the Xbox Ones second year on the planet, and who better than to exploit the power of the console than a first party dev? And, especially one that only does racing games - that specialisation might serve a niche but by the gods of silicon, its my favourite niche.
Despite its limitations and nauseating microtransactions, Forza 5 was beautiful, a great technical example of whats possible. It was also an early step, a very polished proof of concept. Consider the time Turn 10 has had, the lessons the team has learned based not only on its own successes and mistakes, but those made by Forza Horizon 2 developer Playground Games - Forza 6 (opens in new tab) should be spectacular. Its no secret the two teams have a pipeline between the two studios. They share data, insights and - heres where Im crossing everything - the know-how for a dynamic weather system at full HD and at 60 frames. Ladies and gentlemen, start your drooling.
Rise of the Tomb Raider - Justin Towell
Want to know how excited I am about Rise of the Tomb Raider? I just bought an Xbox One specifically so that I can play the best version of it as soon as it comes out. Yes, it is that big a deal and you should be equally excited. In fact, 'big deal' is an understatement when it comes to Microsoft's exclusivity contract with Square Enix for the game. That's a megaton. And I don't think I'll be alone in buying a console specifically to play it. I had started to think the days of buying a console just for one game were over (Titanfall wasn't quite that good), but I'm very happy to be proven wrong.
It does concern me a little that the game will also be available on Xbox 360, as that does suggest the Xbox One version may have been scaled back in order for the game to run on the old hardware. But having said that, there was never any sense that the previous game's scope and content had been reduced to fit on last-gen tech. 2013's Tomb Raider is clearly one of the best games ever made. And the thought of Crystal Dynamics taking everything they've learned from that experience and channeling it into a new-gen focused (if not new-gen-exclusive) experience fills me with excitement. Man, I can't wait.
Kingdom Hearts 3 - Maxwell McGee
Let's be honest with ourselves: when Kingdom Hearts 3 finally gets released it's going to be a real hot mess - and I couldn't be happier. It may buckle under the weight of a backstory 10+ years in the making (opens in new tab), or include some bizarre Disney cameos (opens in new tab), but that will only heighten the game's strongest asset: its strangeness. Seeing all the weird interactions that come from mashing together all these disparate styles and characters is what I treasure in Kingdom Hearts.
This might all sound like I harbor some ironic, detached love for the series; that I don't really like Kingdom Hearts, I just like laughing at it. This is not the case. For all their absurdities, the Kingdom Hearts games do an excellent job at nailing the thousands of tiny details that make a good game feel great. I'm talking about the different jingles the keyblades make as they strike an enemy, or the visual flash of Sora's Explosion ability. Are these cheap thrills? Sure, but when you're game has pirate Johnny Depp fighting shadow monsters alongside Donald Duck and an anime character, cheap thrills are A-OK.
Halo 5: Guardians - Sam Prell
Im going to catch some flak for this - I know I will. But when it comes to cohesion of creative vision and storytelling, I dont think 343 Industries merely followed in Bungies footsteps, I believe they eclipsed them. Halo 4 could have been a disaster, and yet its my favorite single-player Halo campaign thus far (just barely edging out Halo: Reach), with a quality multiplayer component as well that okay, yes, was a stretch too far away from what made Halo multiplayer great, but if the Halo 5 (opens in new tab) beta is any indication, 343 has learned from those mistakes.
Im a lore guy. Growing up, I loved to read, and the more fantastic the tale, the better. Halo has a wonderful universe to play around in; one that simultaneously feels epic and impossible, yet grounded and human. I have no fears whatsoever about the quality of Halo 5s gameplay, and despite the addition of aim-down sights (something I once proclaimed would, if added to the series, make me quit) I quite enjoyed my time with the reworked multiplayer. In the end though, Im in it for the story, and I cant wait to see where Chiefs journey goes next.
Unannounced Platinum Game - Joe Skrebels
PlatinumGames is a developer as focused and nimble as its own combat systems. The second-party-dev-for-hire has teamed up with Sega, Nintendo, Konami and Activision, making fast-paced, nonsense-packed action games with a near-perfect hit rate. Now its in cahoots with Microsoft, making an Xbox One exclusive about rad young dudes toting swords and Beats by Dre knock-offs while riding dragons. If theres a better elevator pitch going, I will run to the nearest tall building immediately to hear it.
But, as we found out today Scalebound isnt at E3. As if in ultra-cool protest, Platinums just revealing another brand new game instead. We have no idea what it is. Some are pointing to Vanquish 2, others Metal Gear Rising 2. Whether itll be another Microsoft exclusive is in question. Frankly, it doesnt matter to me - this is a studio thats casually knocked out some of the best games of my lifetime, no matter who its nominally working for. Whatever the game turns out to be, its likely to be my favourite game at E3. Because Platinum.
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture - Ashley Reed
A few months ago, I got a glimpse at the enigmatic Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, a game that falls into the same exploring-empty-environments category as Gone Home and Dear Esther. While it may look like Rapture is treading ground that should probably be paved by now, there's something special about it that won't leave my mind, and I'm excited for the possibility of it showing up at E3.
Without giving away too much, it's clear that Rapture's charming country setting is covering up some terrible past mishap that didn't leave much of a mark. One spirit tells another that her husband went upstairs an hour ago and hasn't come down, but all you find on the next landing are some bloody tissues. You find a man praying in a church before something happens to him; though you don't know for sure what you've seen, there are enough hints to give you an idea, and it's horrifying. Every moment in the town a mix between peace, uncertainty, and sinking realization, and it has a way of making you feel alone in knowing the truth. I want to see even more of that strange town at E3, but I also want to see other people witness it for the first time. Then we can all be alone together.
Mirrors Edge: Catalyst - Ludwig Kietzmann
Aside from being a secret Sonic the Hedgehog game (shhh, dont think about it too much), Mirrors Edge is my favorite kind of AAA production: flashy, bold and uninfluenced by conventional wisdom. This means plenty of pitfalls en route to the ending, but a refreshing and stubborn adherence to ideas that might not play well to the audience.
I hope DICE can strike a better balance in its return to Mirrors Edge, now dubbed Catalyst. I want them to stick to their guns - which is to say, not have ANY guns - and elaborate on the best thing about Mirrors Edge: the sense of inhabiting a fleet-footed body, and to know where all your limbs are in a beautiful 3D city. The game is about holding your breath before the next vertiginous vault - a moment that deserves to be explored more fully alongside Faith, an interesting heroine who never really got the origin story to match her bounding mystique.
Doom - Lucas Sullivan
If I don't see at least one Cacodemon during E3, I'll be devastated. Those horned, grinning, cyclopean monstrosities are what evoke my fondest memories of blasting my way through E1M1 on my dad's office computer, or going on shotgun sprees in Doom 2 with just a keyboard (no mouse-look required). The Revenant from the recent Doom teaser trailer looks nice, but what I'm really amped up to see is a floating red orb of demonic death barfing out giant fireballs in 1080p.
And there might be an added bonus to Doom's spotlight during Bethesda's E3 2015 press conference, depending on whether or not id's John Carmack is invited to speak onstage. I've heard tell of Carmack's uncanny ability to spout a continuous torrent of unscripted, uber-intelligent commentary, but I've never witnessed his robot-like streams of genius consciousness for myself. It may not be quite as riveting as gameplay footage of Doomguy demolishing an Imp's innards with a rocket launcher, but I'd still be pretty stoked.
Destiny: The Taken King - Lorenzo Veloria
It's no secret that I'm totally obsessed with everything Destiny. I've played the game just about every day since launch and plowed through every raid, strike, and mission. With the release of the House of Wolves expansion, there are even more reasons for me to return to our futuristic solar system to stamp out the Darkness and defend the Light. So, when there are rumors swirling that Bungie is going to announce the details for a new, massive expansion at E3, you know I'm about to get hyped.
Some of the details on the Destiny expansion have already leaked. The next expansion is coming on September 15, there's going to be a new Raid, and all of the classes will be getting a new subclass. All very exciting information. And if it all ends up being legit, E3 is going to be quite a treat. I just need to get a glimpse of the new Void bow ability for the Hunter class and I'll be happy.
Fire Emblem If - Connor Sheridan
Before I got a 3DS, my interest in Fire Emblem began and ended with the Smash Bros. roster. I'm not much for tactics - observe how shamefully I saved and reloaded through XCOM, abandoning the campaign once seeing into the future was no longer enough to keep my troops alive - and I usually don't have the patience to play through sprawling JRPGs. But I gave Awakening a shot just to have something in my cartridge slot aside from Super Mario 3D Land, and I found one of my favorite games in years.
Nintendo hasn't told us Westerners too much about Fire Emblem If (or even confirmed whether that will be the title outside of Japan), but it seems to make some pretty big changes to series fundamentals: a new set of weapons added to the rock-paper-scissors style vulnerability system, throwing out weapon durability, letting you build your own castle - not to mention introducing two distinct armies and storylines to choose between. Maybe if I wasn't such a recent Fire Emblem convert I'd be more disturbed by all of If's changes, but I can't wait to see how they all play out.
Persona 5 - Susan Arendt
Look, I know that its really unlikely that well get more than a brief glimpse at Persona 5 (opens in new tab) during the show. The Persona of the moment is Dancing All Night, which Im also super stoked to play, but Ill take any shred of information about the next vehicle for fusion, dungeons and steak croquettes. A 30-second video. A character name. A costume. Ill lap up any crumb of information I can get and consider it a feast.
What Persona 3 did well, Persona 4 perfected. A seamless blend of the fantastic and the mundane, both games pushed expectations for characterization and gameplay for JRPGs, with stylish characters and catchy tunes. Both games swap the typical world-saving teens that typically populate JRPGs for more relatable heroes, as concerned with defeating enemies as they are with passing history class. They also touch on serious issues like loss and identity in immensely personal ways, avoiding the temptation to wallow in melodrama. Theyre two of my most-played and most-beloved games, so Im eager to see what new ideas Persona 5 presents. And no, having Jack Frost in it doesnt count.
Street Fighter 5 - Dave Houghton
Okay, I was already very, very excited about Street Fighter 5 (opens in new tab). Ive played more rounds of SF4 than Ive probably had conversations with human people, and Im still plumbing the depths. So the idea of a whole new game, full of new characters, new moves, and new systems to explore? Thats like being presented with a whole new planet to play on, right there. And then I did indeed play Street Fighter 5 (opens in new tab). And now Im eveb more excited. Because while Im months and years off really getting deep into the game, I already have a sense of the kind of Street Fighter its going to be. And ye gods, is it enticing.
Street Fighter 5 blows the doors off the series overarching fighting philosophy. Gone is the focus on, er, Focus Attacks and Ultras, which opened up high-level play in SF4 while also funnelling it in a specific set of directions. Replacing it is a madly eclectic approach to even stalwart characters, iconic moves remixed or removed entirely, fighting styles switched up completely, and crucially, everyone now has an utterly unique technique, many of which would support an entire fighting game on their own, making for insanely asymmetric, but so far utterly balanced, freewheeling, anything-can happen fights. A Ryu who can parry anything vs. a torpedo-less Bison who can catch fireballs and throw them straight back? It might look like business as usual, but it plays like nothing youve ever seen before. More. I need more, now.