E3 2018’s Highs, Lows, And Biggest Games

After a week of big announcements, reveals, and trailers, E3 2018 has come to a close. Every big press conference is over, and we’ve finally seen everything we possibly can across the weeklong event. There was more than enough to get excited about, but at the same time, there were some moments that were lacking.

In this feature we go over our favorite parts of E3 2018, a few of the things we wish some of the companies could’ve done differently, and a handful of the biggest games. This is the spot for an analysis of the major things from the show, where we discuss what went well and what went wrong.

Some of the biggest moments stemmed from high-profile game reveals; others came from the companies pushing for better representation. But where there were amazing highs, there were some debilitating lows. A selection of well-known upcoming games were missing, and some poor logistical decisions lead to stilted press conferences.

Despite all this, there was plenty of exciting news from many of the biggest companies at this year’s E3. To get more information about all of announcements, check out all of the news from the press conference, all of the best trailers, and a list of all the new games announced. Otherwise, be sure to keep checking back for all of GameSpot’s remaining E3 coverage.

What were some of your favorite moments at E3? What do you think could’ve gone better? And what about your most anticipated games? Let us know in the comments below.

Highlight: CD Projekt Red Proves Cyberpunk 2077 Has Been Worth The Wait

CD Projekt teased Cyberpunk 2077 six years ago, and for six years we have waited for the Witcher studio to share any info on the game. It wouldn’t budge, and for many of us Cyperpunk began to feel more like an idea than a project that’s made significant progress. Witcher 3 arrived in the meantime and blew the industry and consumers away with its gorgeous and occasionally haunting world–success that actually made Cyberpunk followers even more anxious to find out more about the talented studio’s next project.

So it was that this would be the year that our questions get answered. The public still hasn’t had a chance to see what Cyperpunk really is, but the press who saw the demo at E3 are all in agreement: Cyberpunk is shaping up to be a phenomenal game that may set a new benchmark for AAA game design. It’s rare that a game can live up to the wildest imaginations of the most excited minds, and yet it surpasses them in many ways through incredible depth and attention to detail. Its world is raw and thoroughly advanced. It is dangerous and beautiful, and you can’t help but wonder about every little detail that pops up. There’s no looking back for CD Projekt Red, and we cannot wait until everyone gets a chance to see why this has been the most talked about game of the show. — Peter Brown, Reviews Editor

Highlight: Queer Characters Took Center Stage

While queer game characters are nothing new, they’re still rare–and it’s even more rare to see them featured front and center in a game’s marketing. But this year, several of the E3 press conferences included explicitly queer characters in gameplay and trailers for big games. For many people, this is a hugely important gesture that makes gaming seem like a more welcoming and inclusive place.

Perhaps the biggest was the gameplay reveal for The Last of Us Part II. We learned that Ellie is queer in The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC, but it was another thing entirely to see her kiss a woman on Sony’s E3 stage. The moment is tender, intimate, and most importantly, sincere–it’s a perfect transition into the brutality of the combat that comes after, rounding out our first real look at who Ellie has become.

On Ubisoft’s stage, we saw Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s female playable character, Kassandra, able to flirt and romance another female character (and maybe flirting a bit with her). And at the beginning of the week, EA showed a trailer for Battlefield V that might includes two women embracing and saying “I love you”–not necessarily queer, but a reasonable enough guess given that they look nothing alike. These are more subtle examples than The Last of Us, but it points to a trend of more AAA games expanding their target demographics and the kinds of people their characters represent. Seeing that at an event as big as E3 just makes it even better. — Kallie Plagge, Associate Editor

Highlight: Death Stranding Still Makes No Sense

Kojima Productions finally provided a better look of the gameplay of Death Stranding but, importantly, did so without revealing too much. Thus far, very little is clear about Death Stranding. Between the babies giving thumbs up, floating ghost-like entities, and dead whales, it’s been difficult to actually get a grasp on what the story is about. The gameplay reveal creates a similar air of mystery, with Norman Reedus’s character hauling around a corpse. There’s strange footsteps appearing on the floor, and ghostly apparitions floating in air. All the while, Reedus carefully sneaks around, with his overactive shoulder-mounted robotic arm incessantly yapping like a dog sensing danger. In typical Kojima Productions fashion, the Death Stranding gameplay trailer created as many questions as it provided answers for, which, if you’re a fan of the studio, is very exciting. — Tamoor Hussain, Editor

Needs Improvement: Square Enix’s Press Conference Fell Short

Square Enix has plenty of interesting games in the works, and Microsoft featured four of them during its showcase just prior to the official start of E3. We got looks at Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Kingdom Hearts 3, Just Cause 4, and The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, Surely, I thought, Square Enix would use its own E3 presentation to share new information on those games as well as the hotly anticipated Final Fantasy VII Remake or the intriguing Front Mission reboot teased at last year’s Tokyo Game Show, Left Alive. What Square Enix went with was about 30 minutes of trailers, including the same four mentioned above.

There were a couple of interesting new announcements, to be fair, including a new Platinum Games project titled Babylon’s Fall, but for such a short press conference to be dominated by repeat content was a huge letdown. Square Enix could have easily distributed the meager bits of news that appeared during its presentation to Microsoft or Sony’s shows and not even bothered with its own. Rather than use E3 as a platform to excite its fanbase, Square Enix potentially dinged its reputation by posturing and building up anticipation that it never stood a chance of satisfying in the first place. — Peter Brown, Reviews Editor

Needs Improvement: The Break During Sony’s Press Conference Was Too Long

Sony surprised people when it announced that its E3 2018 press conference was going to primarily focus on four of its latest games. The show started off great with an incredibly tense gameplay demonstration of Naughty Dog’s highly-anticipated The Last of Us: Part II in a Church theater. While you think Sony would build off the momentum of this reveal, it instead brought the show to a complete stop, taking nearly 15 minutes to transport people from the church theater to a completely different theater nearby. All the while Sid Shuman and Shawn Layden attempted to fill in the void with insubstantial discussion and banter.

Luckily, the rest of the show turned out better with a solid string of trailers and gameplay reveals, but the damage had already been done. It’s a small gripe, but I can’t help but be curious as to why Sony decided to use two theater venues instead of one. — Matt Espineli, Associate Editor

Needs Improvement: No Metroid Prime 4 Or Pokemon Switch

I didn’t expect Nintendo to drop release dates for Metroid Prime 4 or Switch’s Pokemon RPG, but how could the company not even acknowledge either game? We got no trailers or screenshots. We didn’t even get name drops. It’s like both games don’t even exist.

Not hearing anything about Metroid Prime 4 is especially disappointing after Nintendo’s tease at last year’s E3. You’d think that would be the company’s way of letting players know that the title is currently being worked on and almost ready to talk about. And yet you’d be wrong.

Now I’m worried Metroid Prime 4 is still early in development, and my dream of a 2019 release date is a far-fetched fantasy. I also really wanted to know what Prime 4’s official name was going to be, and whether the game would connect the events of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Metroid II: Return of Samus or finally continue Samus’s story after Metroid Fusion’s cliffhanger.

Hearing nothing in regards to Nintendo’s new Pokemon RPG is slightly understandable, if for no other reason that doing so would probably have stolen some of Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee and Let’s Go Pikachu’s thunder. — Jordan Ramee, Associate Editor

Biggest Games: Anthem

“While playing Anthem, I had to repeatedly remind myself that I was playing a BioWare game. It’s the first new IP from the veteran RPG developer in a decade, and although it falls into that particular style of role-playing and third-person shooter hybrid the studio honed with the Mass Effect franchise, this is the hardest it has leaned into that concept. With Anthem, we’re seeing a major shift in what BioWare is capable of. Although it still exhibits some of the studio’s role-playing pedigree, it’s the vast online open-world that sets Anthem apart.

In the vein of Bungie’s Destiny and Ubisoft’s The Division, Anthem is a shared-world online shooter focusing on groups of players taking on new challenges and chasing new loot. But in familiar BioWare fashion, your particular Freelancer will make important narrative choices throughout the game’s main campaign, altering their relationships with allies and other factions. While this sounds pretty standard, this is all housed within an online world where other players are making similar or conflicting choices in their own story.

As of now, we only know what the story is about in the broad sense: humans on a hostile alien planet, a powerful ancient presence of some form, and major world-altering events. While BioWare wasn’t ready to share just how those choices will be reflected in the game for others to see, it did say they’ll be surfaced in some form. With that said, the general narrative feels much more of a nebulous concept right now, and I am intrigued to see how the developer will be able to inject that familiar BioWare-style storytelling into Anthem.” — Alessandro Fillari, Editor

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Anthem.

Biggest Games: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is three years in the making; Ubisoft Quebec conceived this entry into the long-running franchise as the team wrapped up development for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate back in 2015. Ubisoft Montreal was in the process of transforming the series with Origins (that released in 2017) which gave the Quebec studio a foundation to further evolve Assassin’s Creed into a full-fledged RPG the team envisioned. It’s not just about the inclusion of branching dialogue or seemingly arbitrary choices during quests, though. Consequence is at the heart of making the journey through Ancient Greece something more than just another historical fiction.

During a visit to Ubisoft Quebec’s studio, I had the opportunity to spend around five hours with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, starting at a point deep into the story. Many of its features jumped out immediately, like choosing to play as the female protagonist Kassandra through the entire game–regardless, I’m a mercenary on the search for lost family members in the midst of the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC. Docked ashore the Delos Islands following a storm, I’m immediately posed with conversation options with my shipmate Barnabas. At first, it’s striking to see this in an Assassin’s Creed game, but considering Odyssey’s full RPG approach, having agency in what I say to others is to be expected. While I could tease out more information or evoke different responses, words can have a much larger impact in certain situations.” — Michael Higham, Associate Editor

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

Biggest Games: Control

“Remedy’s reputation as a developer of great action games with compelling stories has never quite faded; even Quantum Break, despite some complications, had many redeeming qualities that its biggest detractors (like me) couldn’t ignore. Chief among them was the combat system, which gave you control over time itself, allowing you to slickly thwart swarms of enemies in unusual and flashy ways. These same qualities are echoed in the announcement trailer for Remedy’s next game, Control, but what you won’t find in that video is the mind-bending series of events I saw during a private gameplay demo at E3.

I’m looking forward to games like Cyberpunk and Death Stranding as much as most people, but Control has quickly become my most anticipated game at the show. Circling back to combat, Control gives off similar vibes to Quantum Break, but a key difference lies in the sort of powers at your fingertips. The two abilities we saw allowed the main character, Jesse Faden, to grab objects strewn around the environment and hurl them at enemies, or bring them close to create a temporary shield. Performing these moves results in chaos as other objects get caught in the crossfire, making each encounter look messy (in a good way.) An eye-catching flurry of special effects helps complete the chaotic spectacle. These are just two of many powers Jesse will acquire throughout her harrowing journey.” — Peter Brown, Reviews Editor

For our full impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Control.

Biggest Games: Cyberpunk 2077

“CD Projekt Red’s next game, Cyberpunk 2077, is a massive departure from the developer’s previous efforts on The Witcher series. Instead of lush forests, picturesque fields, and towering mountains, the devs are creating a world set in the concrete jungle of Northern California in the distant future. Unlike a lot of fiction focusing on a darker future, Cyberpunk 2077 aspires to move away from grimdark and towards a more exuberant but equally cynical vision for a future where capitalism and technology has run amok.

Inspired and influenced by the original Cyberpunk 2020 pen and paper RPG, 2077 extrapolates many of the themes and iconography while capitalizing on the developer’s skillset for crafting dense and visually rich environments. We saw a near hour-long gameplay demo behind closed doors at E3 2018, showcasing many of the game’s systems and locales, and came out impressed by the scope of CD Projekt Red’s ambitious project.” — Alessandro Fillari, Editor

For our full impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Cyberpunk 2077.

Biggest Games: Dying Light 2

Dying Light 2 really ups the stakes when it comes to traversing a lawless open-world where danger lurk around every corner. With the original Dying Light offering a clever blend of parkour exploration and brutal combat of a zombie-survival game, the follow up to Techland’s stellar open-world game plans to focus more on offering its players more freedom in movement, while letting them decide the fate of one of humanity’s last stable cities. Revealed at the Microsoft Press Conference, the sequel plans to maintain the momentum that the developers have had with the original’s post-launch success, while offering a more reactive and living world to explore.

During E3 2018, we had the chance to see an extended demo presentation of the game in action, showcasing its broader scope and focus on a more ambitious, adaptive narrative. Stick with many of the core features of the original game, such as freeform parkour traversal, melee combat, and other gradual characters growth–the sequel goes a bit further by making some tough choices in a far more dire and bleak circumstance.” — Alessandro Fillari, Editor

For our full impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Dying Light 2.

Biggest Games: Fallout 76

Fallout 76 is the latest entry in the tenured post-apocalyptic RPG franchise. It’s the earliest game in the Fallout timeline, and it features major online components. From its recent trailers alone, the game has already captured the attention of the series’ most ravenous fans. We’re already imagining what sort of fights and awkward encounters we’ll get into with others during our post-apocalyptic jaunt through the American wasteland.

Biggest Games: Ghost Of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima is the latest game by developer Sucker Punch Productions, the studio responsible for Infamous and Sly Cooper. The game is set on the island of Tsushima during the Mongol invasions of Japan in 1294. You play as a lone samurai turned vengeful assassin–likely fighting to drive out the Mongol army from Japan.

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Ghost of Tsushima.

Biggest Games: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

“We’ve known that a new Super Smash Bros. game has been in development, and during the E3 2018 Nintendo Direct, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was revealed. It’s an original Smash game built specifically for the Nintendo Switch, and it features every single character that has ever been included in a Smash game.

We got hands on with the E3 2018 demo of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate shortly after viewing the Direct. It’s a build that features a limited character and stage selection, but it gave us a good feel for how new game feels to play.” — Justin Haywald, Managing Editor & Edmond Tran, Editor/Video Producer

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Biggest Games: The Last of Us: Part II

“Sony debuted gameplay for The Last of Us Part II during its E3 2018 press conference. What Sony and developer Naughty Dog showed is just as gruesome as the previous trailer for the sequel; on top of a man getting eviscerated, we see Ellie perform a number of brutal takedowns and kills. It’s definitely a lot to take in all at once, and it’s also cinematic–it can be hard to tell what’s pure combat and what’s a cutscene-like transition.

While at E3 2018, we had a chance to speak to co-directors Anthony Newman and Kurt Margenau about the game. They gave us insight into what exactly we’re seeing in the trailer in terms of combat, and as it turns out, much of what looks cinematic–Ellie’s perfectly timed dodges and pulling an arrow out of her shoulder–is actually within your control. That looks to be a key component in framing and shaping the intense violence in The Last of Us Part II, as well as something that can add greatly to Ellie as a character.” — Kallie Plagge, Associate Editor

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of The Last of Us Part II.

Biggest Games: Resident Evil 2 Remake

Resident Evil 2‘s upcoming remake rides a fine line between new and old. When it triggers nostalgic memories with its familiar characters and locales, it instantly makes you uneasy with its new retelling of classic events.

My time with the demo began in the main hall of the Raccoon City Police Department as Leon S. Kennedy–who’s just as strong willed and naive as we remember. He’s no longer the invincible superhero that latter entries transformed him into; he’s desperate and vulnerable. These qualities should come as no surprise to fans of the original version, but the remake really leans into them, making your time spent as the rookie cop all the more tense and dire. And with higher-quality voice performances, Leon’s circumstances feel grounded and believable.

It helps that the Resident Evil 4-style, third-person over-the-shoulder camera provides a far more intimate view than the original’s fixed camera angles. The remake faithfully recreates the original RPD’s narrow halls and pathways; its floor layout is nearly identical. The third-person perspective plays well with the labyrinthian police department, making exploration feel unsettling and claustrophobic; gone are the door-opening loading screens.” — Matt Espineli, Associate Editor

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Resident Evil 2 Remake.

Biggest Games: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

“Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and many more of From Software’s games contain incredibly detailed worlds, with incredibly deep combat and an incredible number of deaths. You see, as impressive as From’s previous games have been, I’m not particularly good at playing them. I’m one of those people you tell to “git gud.” I play each of From’s games for eight or so hours, get sick of dying, and give up.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice might be the game to break that rule. Death is no longer a barrier which must be overcome. It’s no longer simply a “learning experience.” Death and immediate resurrection is now a mechanic. From Software says you can use death to your advantage–fooling your enemies into a false sense of security before coming back to life and sneaking up on them using the game’s light stealth mechanics. Perfect for those who–like me–are fed up of dying. From is staying coy, however, on the exact mechanics of the resurrection ability. It says you’ll only be able to use it a limited number of times, and that “in no way does [resurrection] make the game easy.”

Sekiro also speeds up the From formula, even moreso than Bloodborne did. Your main character–for now, simply named the Shinobi–is more agile than that of Soulsborne. He has a proper jump, which can be utilized in combat. He has a grappling hook, which can be used to gain a vantage point over the enemy. And his prosthetic limb can be customized to wield a shuriken, which you can use to propel yourself towards an enemy in a flash.” — Oscar Dayus, Staff Writer

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

Biggest Games: Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

“When you’re looking at Tom Clancy’s The Division in the broader sense, the game has shown considerable growth since its launch. After several expansions adding in new events and areas to explore, along with many updates tweaking the power grind and endgame content, Ubisoft’s shared world action-RPG title slowly evolved into the game that many fans wanted when it was first released. And with The Division 2, the same developers at Massive Entertainment and Red Storm are looking to maintain that momentum with the series’ next outing.

Set seven months after the initial outbreak of the Black Friday virus, The Division 2 will bring the online action-RPG to Washington D.C, which has also been decimated by mass panic, and opportunistic new factions looking to take advantage of the power vacuum. Unlike Manhattan’s snow-covered wasteland from the original game, D.C. is far more lawless, made worse by an an immense heatwave driving more people to desperation. With the Division agency having gone silent, the remaining agents in the field have to reclaim control of the city. Prior to the official announcement at the Microsoft Press Conference, we got the play a short section of the game, while speaking with creative director Terry Spier about their continued sights on trying to keep things interesting for the long term.

When looking at the CG trailer, it’s clear that the sense of scale, along with the stakes, have dialed up significantly. The Division 2, like its predecessor, will focus on building up your unique agent’s resources as they acquire new weapons while taking on the multiple enemy factions that have taken hold of the city. Washington D.C., is about 20 percent bigger than Manhattan, which is almost a 1-to-1 recreation of the city. The developers wanted to offer a greater level of variety in the locations you’ll explore, which includes more residential areas and the nearby forests outside the capital.” — Alessandro Fillari, Editor

For the rest of our impressions, check out our in-depth preview of The Division 2.


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