When Spider-Man was first announced at E3 2016 it was met with excitement and a bit of worry. The worry didn’t stem from the developer or anything of the sort, though. With Insomniac taking the helm of everyone’s favorite web-slinger, we knew that a studio well versed in action and traversal would be in control. Still, Spider-Man has had a checkered history when it comes to video games, with only a few entries standing out as legitimately good games, and the rest being clear tie-in cash grabs.
Fortunately enough, at E3 2017 we actually got to see the game in action for the first time and even sat down with the game’s creative director. The studio’s adamant stance on respecting the source material yet mixing it up where appropriate is helping the game shape up into one seriously impressive superhero title. The action in the demo that we were shown is reminiscent of all the best parts of Spider-Man 2 (a movie tie-in that was an exceptionally good licensed game) and Rocksteady’s Arkham series. When discussing the story, Insomniac is serious about making this a true Spider-Man/Peter Parker story that will explore the human behind the hero, and even give us deeper insight into some of the villains.
It’s good to see the property treated as more than just a simple license and rather a property in need of a great, fun experience. After our time checking it out and talking with the minds behind the upcoming project, it easily became one of our favorite games of the entire event.
Super Mario Odyssey
The new Super Mario game for the Nintendo Switch being good was a given. The gaming giant has always done right by their mustachioed mascot, and with the release of a new console, there was no way whatsoever that they were going to drop the ball. Still, while we knew it was going to be good, we had no idea it was going to be this fun.
It all comes down to Mario’s hat, which is adorably named Cappy. In its first major gameplay reveal, we learned that the hat has more powers than just being an extra platform. It can actually help Mario take over various things in the worlds such as enemies, NPCs, and even certain inanimate objects. During hands-on time with the game at E3 2017, this proved to add new layers of depth to the always tight puzzle platforming that the franchise is known for. Taking advantage of different items and enemies in order to navigate tricky pathways or just pull off cool stunts was fun and refreshing without ever sacrificing the core of what makes these games so good in the first place. Super Mario Odyssey is still very clearly a Super Mario game, only it feels substantially new and improved showing that Nintendo always has something exciting up its sleeves.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor was considered by many to be a GOTY contender in 2014. It took the lore of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and combined tight combat, beautiful visuals, and the Nemesis System which let players take control of Orcs in order to gain an edge over powerful enemies. The game wasn’t without its shortcomings, though. The Nemesis System, though great, had plenty of room for growth, and the world itself was sometimes devoid of any meaningful activity. However, after playing Shadow of War at E3 2017, it’s clear that Monolith took note of criticisms of the first game.
The world was large still, but it was full of life and activities. There was a larger concentration of enemy patrols, people to help, bases to take over, and tons of captains to put under your spell. The Nemesis System now allows players to build a legitimate army that they can upgrade and use to storm strongholds. Combat is just as tight and combo-focused as Shadow of War, but new abilities and more fluid transitions between different types of attacks lend themselves quite well to the frenetic pace and increased challenge. The experience as a whole had that sense of familiarity, yet it was all dialed up a notch with any frayed edges rectified for a better overall experience.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
When the Mario + Rabbids crossover leaked well ahead of Ubisoft and Nintendo’s E3 2017 presentations, there was a collective “what?” that reverberated through the gaming community. While the image that showcased Mario and Princess Peach wielding arm cannons amidst a sea of equally armed Rabbids was intriguing, there was no combination of mechanics that made this sound like an amazing idea in our heads. But then we saw the trailers and got to actually play the game. Nintendo and Ubisoft have always had a strong relationship, and at E3 2017 they used that relationship to leave our jaws firmly glued to the grown as our screens were filled with a family friendly rendition of XCOM-style gameplay and the most fierce princess we’ve ever seen in a video game (and yes, we do mean Rabbid Peach).
The colorful visuals and hilarious Rabbids may make this look like it just won’t work, but there’s a surprising amount of depth to the whole affair. Verticality, obstacles, different enemy types, and more keep the strategy at the front of the experience. The added humor, as well as puzzles, help to round out Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle very well. The end product is a deep game that is both hilarious and fun. It wasn’t only one of the biggest surprises but also one of the best games at E3 2017, period.
Life Is Strange: Before the Storm
Life Is Strange was a runaway hit that showcased DONTNOD’s ability to convey a deep and meaningful story while mixing in plenty of supernatural in the form of time travel. The game’s main characters resonated with a lot of players, and the ending left many conflicted and full of numerous emotions. When new games in the universe were unveiled fans grew excited, even though we didn’t have a clear idea of when (and where) both titles would take place. Fast forward to Microsoft’s E3 2017 press conference and one of those titles is revealed to be a prequel that goes deeper into the lives of Chloe and Rachel while also passing up on supernatural powers.
It sounds like it would be a step backward, as the powers made things quite interesting and made every future moment, and choice, far more mysterious. Yet, the removal of them lets the two girls sit firmly in the spotlight. This isn’t to say that there will be no supernatural and sci-fi influences at all. The developers have shared that they are part of the experience, just in a very different way.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
If there was any action series that had started to show signs of fatigue, it was Assassin’s Creed. Realizing this, Ubisoft decided to remove the series from its annualized schedule so that the developers would have ample time to create something genuinely new. At E3 2017 we got to not only see, but also play the fruits of their labor, and it turns out that the break may have been exactly what the franchise was in dire need of. Assassin’s Creed Origins keeps that action-focused gameplay, but moves further into the RPG space with deeper systems that are built around creating an assassin that suits your own specific playstyle.
The world was large and full of life which included NPCs that followed set schedules throughout the world. Activities were everywhere to be seen, tied to the areas you can discover and missions that awaited you on the horizon. Origins brings in the best elements of the series with dynamic action and exploration that lets you smoothly, and quickly, transition between actions, a gear system that truly means something outside of just equipping the most expensive items, crafting, and a much higher challenge. After spending time with the game it’s proving to be a true evolution rather than just another sequel.
Saying that Sonic has had a rough time over the past few years is an understatement. The once mascot of the SEGA consoles has fallen to the wayside thanks to several bad games that easily overshadowed the few gems that were released in between. It’s come to the point that it received its own diagnosed cycle that players were subjected to with each new announcement that always ended in utter disappointment. Yet, there was a ray of light at E3 2017, and that was a playable Sonic Mania, a title that looks to recapture the glory of the Genesis era and, so far at least, is succeeding with flying colors.
SEGA has finally realized that there are just a few factors that make a truly great Sonic title and they’re finally placing them all in one game. You can check in our E3 2017 hands-on preview just how in-tune with what fans have been requesting Sonic Mania truly is. The speed, the platforming, the beautiful visuals, and the catchy music are all present and accounted for. For once, it feels like the classic Sonic that many of us fell in love with decades ago is back and that’s a great thing for fans and newcomers alike.
Call of Duty: WW2
Call of Duty is another one of those series that has been suffering serious fatigue due to annual releases. Every November we get a new entry, and every year we remark on how the differences are marginal at best and that the series keeps moving ever further from the time period we all want it to return to. Activision and Sledgehammer Games were apparently listening, so they’re taking the series back to a place it hasn’t been in over a decade – World War II. Of course, they couldn’t settle for the gameplay mechanics we’ve been seeing for the past few iterations with a palette swap that drops us into the last great war. Instead, they’ve rebuilt everything from the ground up to let players experience the horrors of a war that claimed so many, and it may possibly be the best entry in the series we’ve laid eyes on yet.
Aside from the gorgeous visuals of the campaign and multiplayer, there’s a darker tone to the experience. Watching your teammates get blown to pieces, or struggling to save a wounded soldier before your enemies finish the job they started weigh heavily on the player. There are small instances scattered throughout that will let you experience true events and make tough decisions, and they exist to let players know this war was very real and not a beautiful thing. On the multiplayer side of things, gameplay is back to “boots on the ground,” and new modes will open up the battles in ways not seen in a core Call of Duty. New objective modes, wide open battles, and true to the time weaponry make it all feel tight, engaging, and new, something the series has been missing. The best part? We haven’t even seen the zombie mode and we’re already thoroughly impressed.
Detroit: Become Human
Quantic Dream’s upcoming title, Detroit: Become Human, looked like nothing more than a sci-fi Heavy Rain at first. After playing the studio’s last few games, it’s understandable why many would quickly write this upcoming project off. Heck, even I was apprehensive about it leading up to E3 2017. But, after seeing it played in person, and having some of us here at Twinfinite try it out, it’s clear to see that Quantic Dream is further refining their formula of exploration, puzzles, and choices.
Detroit: Become Human puts players in the shoes of three very different androids as they seek out understanding and a way to belong among humanity. A new android, a detective, and a rebel take center stage giving players options to mold the world and the perception of their kind through countless actions that all melt into one, much larger picture. During E3 2017, players got to check out life as Connor, the detective. Thanks to his programming, there are many more options in a given situation than most humans would pick up on, but this also makes it much more difficult to do the “right” thing. All of the options, from the minuscule to the grand, can lead to something vastly different for each player. Quantic Dream has clearly been working hard to spruce up their choices, and it shined through in the demo.
The Darwin Project
We must admit that the initial reveal of The Darwin Project left much to be desired. Thanks to the loud shoutcasting and lack of any real explanation of what was happening on the screen, it came across as a wannabe competitor to the likes of League of Legends or other popular esports titles. However, it’s not coming for the esport throne at all and is instead a game built to be fun for those playing and those watching.
The game is set up as a battle royale that drops players into a freezing world with set weapons, the need to gather resources, and ability to alter the map to lure out prey (other players). Yet, even with these different mechanics working in tandem, the game doesn’t feel overly complicated, something that is often a barrier for these types of games. The pick up and play aspect makes this an enjoyable experience that was completely unexpected when going into it. It may have had a rough time on stage, but once you play it, you’ll see why it’s one of our games of the show.
Metal Gear Survive
We completely understand that Metal Gear Survive is not a game anyone would’ve expected to be good. To be honest, we didn’t really expect much from the upcoming Konami title either, especially since Kojima was no longer part of the equation. But, the insane premise (surviving members of Militaires San Frontieres get sucked into an alternate dimension at the end of MGSV) and the frenetic gameplay actually make for what is a really good time.
Sure, it’s not your typical Metal Gear Solid, and if you were expecting that then you will be disappointed. But, if you were just looking for an insanely fun game set in the series’ universe that utilizes its mechanics, then Metal Gear Survive most certainly fits the bill. The gameplay is set up for multiplayer, but thanks to the large maps and inclusion of side activities, you can easily venture away from your team in order to have your own little adventure. There’s also a full gear system (which we, unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to check out), and even the inclusion of Metal Gears, although only the Walker Gear was present (it’s still neat). You can check out our preview of this surprise hit here so you can see just how much we enjoyed it and how it earned a coveted game of show award.