Code Vein garnered a lot of attention when it was announced, as it’s seemingly an extremely anime version of a Souls-like. After we got our hands on the game at E3, however, we found out it’s anything but another Souls-like game. The first, and most obvious, difference Code Vein sports is a much larger emphasis on story. Trailers released so far for the game have detailed plentiful cutscenes, lore, and more defined characters. In fact, these characters also tie into gameplay, as you’ll always have a partner with you in battle.
Code Vein is all about methodical combat, and the demo we played was fairly challenging. We died four times before finally being able to overcome the enemies and make it to the area’s boss. Draining enemies of their blood allows you to use six different abilities that you can swap out. These abilities have a variety of effects, like coating your weapon in frost, shooting a small projectile, or doubling the damage your next attack does. To top everything off, Code Vein’s gothic anime art style is gorgeous, and really sets it apart from any other game in the genre.
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise
Yakuza is a violent, charming, and utterly strange video game series. Fist of the North Star is a violent, charming, and utterly strange anime series. When you combine the two what you get is a perfect match, and Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise.
Lost Paradise is essentially a Yakuza game with Fist of the North Star window dressing, and a few changes layered on top. Combat is far more visceral, letting Kenshiro explode enemy’s heads and kill others in a flurry of blows. A new system known as “Destiny Talismans” let you activate a variety of effects in battle using the D-Pad, like equipping Kenshiro with a flamethrower or executing a ground pound that blows nearby enemies away. On the other side of things, Lost Paradise is jam-packed with main story, substories, and minigames to play. During our time with the game, our favorite sequence was a bartending minigame that had you using the controller in unique ways to mix drinks, and had Kenshiro spouting off one-liners like “You’re Already Drunk.”
Lost Paradise is looking like the game Fist of the North Star always deserved, and whether you’re a fan of the anime or the Yakuza series of games, you need to keep an eye on this one.
Kingdom Hearts III
Fans have been waiting a long time for Kingdom Hearts III, and now it’s just around the corner with a firm release date of January 29, 2018. The latest title in the successful franchise had a big showing at E3, revealing not one but two new worlds, Frozen and Pirates of the Caribbean, along with a handful of other little tidbits.
We were able to go hands-on with Kingdom Hearts III at E3, and our time left us excited and hopeful for the future of the series. Playing through a bit of the Toy Story and Hercules worlds, Kingdom Hearts III was immediately familiar, and we were able to fall right into the game’s rhythm, all while learning its new tricks. Keyblade transformations are the biggest addition, letting you seamlessly transform Sora’s keyblade into new weapons, like a rocket-powered hammer or yo-yos. This, along with general changes to attacks and magic, help keep Kingdom Hearts III’s combat fresh and fast-paced. The game also looks incredible, with the Toy Story world looking like something ripped straight out of a Pixar movie.
Kingdom Hearts III’s story is still very much under wraps, but what we’ve seen of the game so far gives us ample reason to be excited.
Dragon Quest XI
Dragon Quest is a legendary series with over 30 years of history, but that doesn’t mean its best days can’t be ahead of it. Dragon Quest XI dials up the series’ scope and charm even more than before, introducing a charming cast of characters and a massive world to explore.
Our time with the demo at E3 let us play through two different sections, one early on in the game as the hero, Eleven, is starting his journey, and the other later in the game once the full party has been assembled. Both sections were jam-packed with things to see and do; treasures to discover, sidequests to complete, enemies to battle, a horse racing minigame, and more. The character designs of Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball, are more vibrant and alive than ever before. Dragon Quest XI’s art style makes everything pop, right down to the seams and fabric on character’s clothes.
At its core, however, Dragon Quest XI is still that deep role-playing experience with turn-based battles, equipment systems, and stats. There are minor enhancements, of course, like being able to run around the battlefield and get a better look at the environment. It’s sure to be an experience that’ll appeal to longtime fans, and be fairly accessible to newcomers at the same time. It’s one of the standouts of E3, and isn’t even that far off with a release date of Sept. 4.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
FromSoftware officially announced Shadows Die Twice at The Game Awards last year, but this E3 finally showed us what the game really is, and it’s a far cry from the developer’s popular Souls series. Sekiro is primarily an action game, lacking some of the deeper role-playing elements that Souls has. However, this translates to there being a much larger focus on combat and how you can interact with enemies and the world around you.
In a behind-closed-doors demo, FromSoftware and Activision showed us some of the key features of Sekiro’s combat. In terms of speed, Sekiro is closer to Bloodborne, and there’s a big emphasis on blocking and parrying. You’ll also have the ability to jump at any time, and use a grappling hook to zip up to high areas or toward enemies.
Those aren’t the only differences about Sekiro, however, as the game has a more defined story with one central character and no character creation. At the same time, it’s going to be a single-player focused game, and no multiplayer features are currently planned. Sekiro may look like a Souls game, but it’s actually quite a different beast. It’s clearly still a ways off, but the interesting ideas FromSoftware has makes it one of the best-looking games at this E3.
Resident Evil 2 Remake
The Resident Evil 2 Remake was the best announcement out of Sony’s press conference, and may very well be the best announcement of the entire show. The remake is more than just a simple update, it’s a complete overhaul of the original game, changing up certain mechanics and introducing an over-the-shoulder point of view as seen in Resident Evil 4 and onwards.
Inventory management and limited ammo still play a central role, and the new audio and visual design do a great job of ratcheting the tension up to 11. There are small changes made to the story and events, and one we noted in our demo is how the Licker scene no longer plays out in the hallway, as Leon now instead finds an RPD officer whose face has been slashed in half, meaning the Licker will most likely show up elsewhere. There are enough familiar elements in the Resident Evil 2 Remake to make it a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but the changes also make it a bold adventure into the unknown for the series.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Everyone knew Super Smash Bros. would be Nintendo’s big focus for E3, but what we didn’t expect was seeing every character from the history of the series return. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has an absolutely staggering roster of over 60 returning characters, as well as the newcomers Ridley and the Inkling.
Our hands-on time with the game showed that this truly is the definitive version of the game, not just because of the swath of characters, but the various stages, new items, assist trophies, updated graphics, and much more. There’s a staggering list of changes and additions coming to the game, one that we’ve painstakingly detailed here.
The Inkling and Ridley both feel like meaningful additions to the roster. The Inkling’s moves are a direct translation from Splatoon, and they’re an agile character, while Ridley almost plays like a faster version of Bowser.
Smash Bros. Ultimate is one of the biggest releases we’ve seen for the Nintendo Switch yet, and its presence dominated E3 in more than one way.
Super Smash Bros. wasn’t the only crossover fighter shown off at E3, as anime fans also had a big surprise in store with Jump Force. This ambitious title brings together the worlds of Dragon Ball, Naruto, and One Piece into one intense fighting game.
We found that Jump Force mostly plays like a Dragon Ball game, with new elements thrown in, along with the ability to play as Naruto, Luffy, and other characters, of course. Interestingly, the game puts these iconic anime characters into our own world, pitching fights in iconic locations like Times Square, New York, and the Matterhorn in the Alps. Bandai Namco hasn’t revealed why this is the case yet, but we do know that the story will revolve around the heroes assembling a team to solve the mystery. We don’t know a lot about Jump Force yet, but it’s certainly one of the most intriguing games of the show.
Mega Man 11
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen an original game starring the Blue Bomber, but Mega Man 11 brings back the iconic mascot, along with the challenge you’d expect from the series. The newest title continues to look fantastic, and our hands-on time at E3 showed an experience that looks to be a challenge for experienced players, while also making strides to be accessible for newcomers.
The Weapon and Speed gear systems are new mechanics in Mega Man 11 that let you power up your shots by holding the L1 button, or slow down time by pressing the R1 button. Of course, you don’t have to use these abilities if you don’t want, and can run entire levels traditionally. Capcom had a strong showing at E3 this year, but even with the likes of Devil May Cry 5 and Resident Evil 2, Mega Man 11 still deserves attention.
Valkyria Chronicles 4
The traditional Valkyria Chronicles series is finally returning this year, with a new story set during the events of the original game. The new game returns to its strategy roots, while introducing a whole host of new options like the Grenadier Class and the “Brave System” which lets you buff characters around an injured character, as a last-ditch effort to save them from dying.
We still haven’t seen much of the story, but recent trailers paint an emotional tale focused on the relationships between the members of Squad E, much like the first game. The series’ iconic hand-drawn art style looks more beautiful and vibrant than ever, and helps make Valkyria Chronicles 4 one of the most unique games of E3.
Shining Resonance Refrain
Shining Resonance Refrain is the first game in the long-running Shining series to make it out of Japan in a very long time. For a lot of people outside Japan, their last experience with the Shining series might have been with the Shining Force strategy games for the Genesis that have been re-released through various Genesis collections over the years.
Shining Resonance Refrain is nothing like those games. It has evolved into an action-RPG developed by the folks behind Wild Arms. Still, regardless of where the series is now versus what it was, based on what we played at E3, you’re looking at a solid ARPG. Combat is fast-paced, but still retains some of the tactical nature of the older games as some characters are clearly more efficient with very different roles in combat such as healing, casting, tanking, or ranged damage attacks.
The game follows the story of a human, Yuma Irvan, who also happens to be an ancient and powerful dragon. This catches the attention of many in the world of Shining Resonance Refrain, as there are plenty of people that seek to either manipulate, befriend, and/or slay dragons. As you might imagine, this complicates things for poor Yuma who aside from the whole transforming into a fearsome dragon thing, is actually quite passive and reserved. Shining Resonance Refrain features romance elements though, so you’ll be able to get him out of his shell eventually, don’t worry about that.
Bottom line, if you’re into ARPGs, JRPGs, and dating sims, Shining Resonance Refrain is going to roll all of that into one nice package that you can play on any modern platform you want.