10. Super Mario Party
Mario knows how to throw a good party (as long as it’s not Mario Party 9, 10 or Advance) when it comes to Nintendo exclusives, and he’ll get a chance to show off his hosting skills once again when he brings the fun to the Nintendo Switch. After becoming overly convoluted in recent entries, Super Mario Party looks to be a return to the formula that worked best, putting players on a board and letting them move about freely before engaging in a minigame or two.
The trailer crammed in a nice amount of minigames to show off the versatility of the Joy-Cons, but the highlight saw multiple Switches used in conjunction to create an abstractly-shaped map for tanks to navigate around. In years past, receiving word of yet another Mario Party at E3 would evoke groans, but this time, we would like to see more, please.
9. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori may stand out like a sore thumb on this list, rubbing elbows with some of the biggest budget franchises in gaming, but to discount it would be doing a disservice to the efforts made by Moon Studios. It was easily one of the most beautiful games on offer at E3, and its mix of platforming and puzzle solving will keep players hooked.
Keeping the same hand-drawn aesthetic of the original Ori title, we were treated to an absolute smorgasbord of vibrant locations and enemies. It will intrigue you, challenge you, and maybe even bring a tear to your eye. Ori may be one of the newer mascots under Microsoft’s belt, but the track record it has already established makes it a serious contender not to be ignored.
Do yourself a favor: watch the trailer.
8. Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu & Let’s Go Eevee
The general public may scoff at the Pokemon craze, quickly dismissing it as being a fad that died out around the turn of the millennium. And yet, we saw from the mobile sensation of Pokemon GO that the naysayers will come crawling back when the spark gets reignited. Those damned posers, they probably don’t even know what a Muk is, or how many steps it takes to hatch a Vulpix, or the EV yield from downing a Kirlia.
Though Pokemon GO experienced a similar spike and subsequent dip, people are sipping the Kool-Aid all over again with these expanded entries for the Switch. Taking place in the iconic Kanto region, even series beginners will be flinging balls with the best of them before long – especially if they pick up the Pokeball Plus accessory, which teeters somewhere between superfluous gimmick and mandatory tool of critical importance. The deciding factor, of course, is how much you value Mew. It’s super cute and super exclusive, as it hides inside when you pick the accessory up.
7. Gears of War 5
Microsoft was wise to lean on its more famous IPs at E3 after being bopped over the head by the likes of Mario and Kratos over the past few months, giving us glimpses at new entries for Halo, Forza Horizon and Gears of War. The latter of the three was the most fascinating, making a clear effort to shift gears (zing!) from the macho tone that the franchise has been known for.
Focusing on Kait Diaz, the trailer showed a more emotional journey, treating death as a loss rather than a statistic. There also seems to be a shift away from the drab and dreary color palette of the series thus far, with the squad venturing through lush jungles and across frozen tundras. We’ll have to wait a little longer for more details, though.
6. Death Stranding
See that tortured expression on Norman Reedus’ face? We’ve all felt that way before, after the cancellation of Silent Hills, for example. The spiritual successor to the lost survival horror title dabbles heavily in the surreal, taking place on an uncharted location and featuring a charismatic fetus with mysterious abilities.
Considering the team behind it, expectations are high, and though we haven’t quite worked out what exactly it is that one does in Death Stranding, we are open to the possibilities. The general consensus from the bewildered masses is that the main character is some kind of futuristic deliveryman, and that sounds just fine. It’s about time someone made a new Paperboy, after all.
In all seriousness, Death Stranding is unlike anything else we have seen at E3, and ought to boldly break new boundaries in storytelling and atmosphere. We’ll have some of what Kojima’s having, if we may.
5. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Overshadowed in a Nintendo event that also showcased Pokemon and Smash Bros., the newest entry in the Fire Emblem franchise promises to be another quality effort for the strategy buffs out there. We were introduced to the kingdom of Fódlan, where a benevolent dragon goddess watches on from high. Things go into a state of disarray for reasons we haven’t yet discovered (perchance greed or a disagreement over baked goods), and as per usual, it falls on the shoulders of one determined royal and his ragtag group of misfits to bring justice to the wicked.
It’s still too early to work out many of the new twists and adjustments, but we have seen that armies may play a greater role in the battles, and weapon durability is making its return. It’s a feature that’s lamented by some, but there is something badass about the idea that you’ve killed so many people with your axe that it literally broke into pieces.
Our boy Spidey was climbin’ walls and havin’ brawls at E3, and we can’t wait to go and do spidery things around the Big Apple. Bucking the recent trend of focusing on a younger Peter Parker, this Sony exclusive fast-forwards to a time when he’s been donning the red suit for several years, and when you consider how ably he fends off hordes of foes all at once, it seems a reasonable decision. Always seemed kind of weird how Spider-Man suddenly became a Capoeira master immediately after being bitten. Super-genes and all, sure, but spiders rarely do stuff that cool (though the way they hide in sand is pretty neat).
The missions you’ll embark on look set to be varied and lively, and the boss fights stand to be a particular highlight. It has fast become a tired comparison to relate this game to the Arkham series, but it’s as apt a parallel as any, and if you were a fan of Batman’s exploits, you should feel right at home here.
3. Ghost of Tsushima
Shrouded in mystery, Ghost of Tsushima wasn’t necessarily topping a lot of people’s lists for intrigue prior to E3, but it quickly grabbed our attention with its pristine visuals and fluid combat system. As thugs lined up to meet their end at the blade of the stoic protagonist, it evoked memories of samurai films, with quick strikes and enough blood to make even Zatoichi feel icky.
The stealth sections were even more engrossing, encouraging you to use your wits if you aspire to someday shank a hapless Japanese soldier while he’s engaging in small talk. The trailer ended with a one-on-one duel as a fire spread around the warriors. A keen mix of compelling cinematics and tight gameplay? Sign us up, we’ll make sure Tsushima is filled with ghosts aplenty when all is said and done.
2. The Last of Us, Part II
There’s a lot of pressure riding on this one, and for our money, Naughty Dog knocked it out of the park, showcasing the kind of gripping action and storytelling that made the original title such a success. Ellie is older now, wiser, and reasonably a damn side more grizzled, but she’s still just barely an adult, and is trying to find herself, doing what she can to eke out a life worth living.
If all of the prose doesn’t particularly grab your fancy, you may be more interested in the violence on display – and to call it gratuitous would be an understatement to the tune of claiming that ‘water is occasionally wet’. Depending on your level of desensitization, you were either repulsed by the cruelty, or at the very least impressed by how stunning it all looked. The Last of Us, Part II promises to be a game of contrasts: it has the heart and the soul, but also the maliciousness to rip that heart out and beat your soul to death with it. How existential does that sound?
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
It would have been hard for Sakurai and company to mess this reveal up. With the whole conference leading up to this point, the only way it could have faceplanted would be by changing it to a dating simulator or something else suitably sacrilegious, and even then, that actually sounds like an intriguing idea worth at least #6 on this list.
The enormity of the Smash Bros. franchise is such that people lost their minds even when footage was shown of characters we already knew had an assured roster spot (just watch a few live reaction videos for the proof), but as the list of characters grew bigger and bigger, we knew that something was up. It all came to a head with the return of the prodigal son, Solid Snake, accompanied by the magical phrase ‘everyone is here.’ From there, it was pure fandom ecstasy, with fringe and absent characters alike gracing the screen in rapid succession.
It didn’t really matter what we saw from there, for we had been given a gift greater than anyone could have ever anticipated. The new gameplay tweaks and even the Ridley unveiling were simply icing on the cake, and just like in the days of the Dojo way back when, our eyes will remain glued to the screen for any scrap of info for us to pounce upon in the coming months.