Last updated on August 7th, 2015
E3 is a magical event for gamers, full of dreams and possibilities. This year the entire industry converged at the Los Angeles Convention Center to showcase the future of gaming, and the presentations that followed were full of some amazing demonstrations, and a few surprises.
Here are, in my opinion, the top 10 best games E3 2014 had to offer.
For people tired of a first-person shooter genre dominated by drab, boring, grey-and-brown carbon copies, Nintendo has a solution.
Splatoon is a competitive, online fps where players take control of an adorable squid-like character equipped with an ink cannon. The game places you in a four-on-four matchup, where the goal is to cover as much of the arena in your team’s color of ink by the end up the match. Your character can transform into a squid to quickly swim through your team’s ink color, but your opponent’s ink will slow you down. You can also submerge yourself in ink to perform ambushes against enemy combatants.
Splatoon’s bright, colorful art style is gorgeous, and instantly refreshing. The action is fast and rowdy, with simple mechanics that are accessible, yet offer the opportunity for real strategizing and team cooperation.
Splatoon may not represent the pinnacle of technological achievement, but it’ll be hard to beat in pure, unadulterated fun.
#9: Shadow of Mordor
I grew up on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, and I thoroughly enjoy the Middle-Earth lore, but I’m by no means a Lord of the Rings fanatic. However, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor has me extremely excited about traversing the dark expanses of Sauron’s domain.
Shadow of Mordor is an action-based RPG, with combat more similar to the Arkham games than Dark Souls. The combat system looks smooth, fluid, and intuitive, but it isn’t necessarily Shadow of Mordor’s strongest selling-point. That honor would belong to Monolith’s Nemesis system.
Nemesis is a procedurally generated mission system, placing you in the midst of the Orcan political hierarchy, where you will attempt to overthrow warlords and pit your enemies against each other using social engineering and strategic battles.
Simply destroying an Orc warlord in Shadow of Mordor isn’t enough to make a difference, since he will inevitably be replaced by yet another leader. You must instead overcome your foes using cunning and careful strategizing. The system also remembers your interactions with different characters, and actively adjusts those character’s reactions to you throughout the game.
Shadow of Mordor launches on October 7th, and might just end up being a sleeper hit in 2014.
#8: Far Cry 4
Far Cry 3 was the first entry in the long-running series that I had played, and I probably wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for the overwhelmingly positive reviews, and almost every person I know demanding that I buy it immediately. I’m certainly glad that I listened, because Far Cry 3 absolutely blew me away. I spent hours traversing the jungle, hunting animals, climbing towers, and clearing out encampments.
This November, UbiSoft invites us to return to the wilderness in Far Cry 4. The game centers around Ajay Ghale, a character who returns to his home country of Kyrat – an untamed region of the Himalayas – in order to scatter his mother’s ashes. He then becomes caught up in a civil war between the locals, and a totalitarian regime lead by a self-appointed King named Pagan Min.
Ubisoft promises that the game is going to be absolutely massive, and from the footage I’ve seen (riding Elephants, anyone?) it looks like it’s going to be a helluva lot of fun. Plus, if you own it on the PS4 and are a Plus subscriber, you can invite friends to play the game with you and they don’t even have to own a copy. How cool is that?
#7: Sunset Overdrive
As we discussed a couple weeks ago on the INT Spec Podcast, I am a huge Ratchet and Clank fan, and I’m absolutely enamored with Sunset Overdrive.
Sunset Overdrive is a third-person action shooter, and takes place after a mutant outbreak – caused as a side-effect of a popular energy drink called OverCharge Delirium XT – consumes Sunset City. Sunset Overdrive is Insomniac’s first truly open-world game, and is a hybrid of Ratchet and Clank and Jet Set Radio. It has breakneck acrobatics, over-the-top weaponry, and all the creative quirkiness Insomniac is known for. What more could you ask for?
#6: Little Big Planet 3
Sackboy is back, and this time he’s bringing friends. Oddsock is a doglike character who can run fast, and has the ability to wall-jump. Swoop is a bird with the ability to fly and carry light objects and characters. Then there’s Big Toggle, a large, potato-shaped heavyweight who can weigh down triggers and pressure plates. Big Toggle has a counterpart he can morph into, aptly named Little Toggle, who is very small, and can maneuver in tight spaces and walk on water.
The Little Big Planet series is remarkable, and Sumo Digital promises more depth, more customization, and exciting new innovations in Little Big Planet 3. Look for it this November.
#5: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings received overwhelming critical praise for its rich storytelling, dynamic world, and graphical fidelity. Now Geralt of Rivia is back in an all new adventure, and CD Projekt RED promises it’ll be an absolutely epic.
The developers have stated that The Witcher 3 will have a living, dynamic open-world larger than any game ever made, saying that it’s 20% larger than Skyrim. The player will be able to tackle quests and challenges from multiple angles, and the outcome will change each time based upon how you chose to complete the task. CD Projekt RED has claimed that the game will take the average player roughly 100 hours to complete.
The Witcher 3 is a truly ambitious game, and if the quality of past entries is any indicator, then picking up this title is a no-brainer for any RPG fan.
#4: Civilization: Beyond Earth
Sid Meier’s Civilization series has a long history of excellence, and represents one of gaming’s highest pedigrees. I have nearly 600 hours clocked in Civilization V alone. One thing fans of Sid Meier’s games have been asking for years, however, is a follow-up to 1999’s turn-based sci-fi classic Alpha Centauri.
Fans were pleasantly surprised when Firaxis announced a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri with an upcoming entry called Civilization: Beyond Earth.
Beyond Earth will take place in the future, where mankind has abandoned the Earth to seek out and colonize distant planets following an event called “The Great Mistake.” It will very much be a Civ game, in that it will be turn-based strategy, but in it the player will be competing with other settlers to build their utopian civilization, all while acclimating to a potentially hostile, extraterrestrial-filled planet.
Instead of choosing from a list of historical leaders like past Civilization games, Beyond Earth will let you customize your initial expedition, from the type of craft you used to land on the planet, down to the types of crew-members you chose to take with you. Firaxis has also eschewed the tech tree for a new “tech web,” which will branch in multiple directions, allowing the player to choose their specific vision fort their settlement.
If there is one developer I can confidently say always delivers a quality experience, it’s Firaxis, and I personally can’t wait to devote another 600 hours of my life to Civilization: Beyond Earth when it launches later this year.
#3: No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky sneak attacked E3, and absolutely blew people out of their seats. It’s an upcoming science-fiction game from Hello Games, and it emphasizes space exploration in a procedurally generated open world.
When you fire up No Man’s Sky you’ll find yourself on a unique planet, with its own ecosystem, animals, and opportunities to interact with the environment around you. During your travels you’ll eventually stumble across a spaceship, and from there the game breaks wide open. You’ll be able to freely travel across a virtually endless universe, with a nearly infinite combination of planets and ecosystems.
Breathtaking, unique, innovative… these are only a few of the adjectives used to describe what we saw of No Man’s Sky at E3. Hello Games promises a game so diverse that it will offer a truly unique experience every time you play. Look for it when it debuts on the Playstation 4 in 2015.
#2: Dragon Age: Inquisition
It looks like Dragon Age: Inquisition, slated for release in October, will be a return to form for BioWare. After the absolutely stellar series debut Dragon Age: Origins, many fans felt let down by the admittedly inferior Dragon Age II.
BioWare seemingly both listened to and addressed the criticisms. Dragon Age: Inquisition features larger environments, more exploration, customizable protagonists with multiple races (including Qunari), refined combat and tactics, overhauled romance, a greater impact from decision making, customizable cross-party armor, espionage, your own customizable keep, Grey Wardens…
What else needs to be said? It’s bigger, it’s bolder, it’s beautiful… it’s back. Dragon Age is back, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not picking it up when it launches worldwide in October.
There are many facets to the Fextralife community, but the core of the community – the thing that unites us all – is the Souls series. The Souls series got its start on the Sony platform in 2009, when FROM Software unleashed Demon’s Souls onto the Playstation 3. Since then the Souls games have become a global phenomenon; an industry powerhouse, garnering critical praise and a loyal following.
Now FROM Software is going back to their roots, launching a brand new series exclusive to Playstation 4, and it feels like a homecoming.
Bloodborne takes place in Yharnum, a cursed, abandoned city; a place where people afflicted by a horrible ailment have begun to have their minds twisted and corrupted at best, and transform into horrendous beasts at worst. However, Yharnum is reputed for housing a special remedy, and many adventurers have undertaken pilgrimages to the fallen city in search of medicine and healing.
Yharnam has a dark, brooding, Gothic and 19th century Victorian feel to the architecture, adorned with cobblestone streets, intricate stonework, and towering spires. The clothing represents a time when men wore frock coats and top hats, and women wore Débutante dresses and bustles.
The atmosphere is heavy and oppressive. Crucified corpses burn in the city streets, their flames throwing long, eerie shadows against the buildings. Horse-drawn carriages sit, abandoned on the side of the street, seemingly evacuated in haste. Danger feels like it could be lurking around every corner.
The game feels reminiscent of Demon’s Souls. Miyazaki himself said, “If you remember the Tower of Latria level in Demon’s Souls, that’s the kind of atmosphere we want to create with Bloodborne,” and from the looks of things they’ve certainly succeeded.
The game puts you in the role of a Van Helsing style monster hunter, wielding a blunderbuss in one hand, and a large scythe-like weapon in the other hand – a weapon Miyazaki is calling the “Saw Cleaver.” The combat looks faster and more aggressive than past titles. It still looks calculating, like every move matters, but it’s a departure from the weighty sword-and-board type combat FROM titles have become known for.
Miyazaki has promised a large, interconnecting world – much like Dark Souls – that promotes and rewards exploration. Players will also be able to choose from a multitude of starting classes, and customize their character, armor, and weapons to their liking throughout the game.
The game promises to be full of hidden dangers and rich lore, complimented by the incredible gameplay mechanics FROM Software has become known for. For a Souls fan this is an absolute must, and if you’ve been waiting for a reason to get a Playstation 4, this is it. Bloodborne is slated for release in Spring, 2015.
Honorable Mention: Lords of the Fallen
Lords of the Fallen is a dark action-based RPG with weighty, strategic combat, danger lurking around every corner, massive bosses, and brutal difficulty. Sound familiar? It should, because it’s undeniably similar to FROM Software’s Dark Souls series.
However, Lords of the Fallen looks to distinguish itself in several ways. First off, you play at a set protagonist, and the overall narrative of the game eschews the ambiguity of Souls lore in favor of a traditional, story-driven RPG experience. Deck13 promises multiple endings, and a variety of ways to approach situations throughout the game.
You’ll be able to choose a class in Lords of the Fallen, which will determine which spells and abilities you have unlocked. However, Deck13 says that you aren’t locked into a role per se. If you start as a caster, for instance, and later decide that you’d be more comfortable as a melee combatant, with a couple armor swaps and a quick re-spec you’re good to go.
The game’s art style also differentiates it from the Souls series. The graphics are much more vibrant and colorful, and the creature design more akin to something like Darksiders or Kingdoms of Amalur.
I have high hopes for Lords of the Fallen. I think if it’s played and judged on its own merits, as a unique experience as opposed to constantly comparing it to and expecting it to be Dark Souls, it’ll provide a fun, challenging, memorable experience. Look for it this Fall.