Once again, the world turned to Los Angeles for a celebration of video games. The Electronic Entertainment Expo, which is better known as E3, took over the LA Convention Center, LA Live, and the surrounding downtown area to showcase the very best of interactive entertainment across gaming, esports, and virtual and mixed reality. Over 60,000 people, including 15,000 consumers, got their first hands-on with games that won’t be available until this fall, or even later.
From Epic Games’ celebrity-filled Fortnite Pro Am to an E3 Arena featuring the directors of Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, the creators of Westworld and the visual effects wizards of ILMxLab, the trade show continues to expand and evolve to put the global gaming business front and center for at least one week of the year. Here’s a rundown of 10 games worth checking out when they hit store shelves.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Nintendo, Switch, Dec. 7, 2018
Nintendo has the hottest console in gaming today, and the game giant is delivering a family-friendly fighting sequel that has a lot of E3 gamers salivating. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will include every single fighter ever featured in the series’ nearly two-decade run. Characters from some of the biggest Nintendo franchises, including Ice Climbers, Pokémon Trainer, Ridley from the Metroid franchise and Inkling from the Splatoon series, are available. The game supports a variety of controller options, including Nintendo GameCube controllers (original or newly designed), Joy-Con controllers, or the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. And the game supports both handheld and tabletop mode for mobile play. And if you’ve been collecting amiibo figures, they all work on this new game.
Forza Horizon 4, Microsoft, Xbox One, PC, Oct. 2, 2018
Take in the castles and hillsides of Britain in the latest open world Forza Horizon game, which offers a much more accessible arcade gameplay style than its Forza Motorsport cousin. There are over 450 vehicles available to test drive in this game, from the new McLaren Senna to a Subaru WRX STI rally car, offering gameplay both on and off-road. Adding to the challenge is a change of scenery, literally, as you can drive through rain, ice, snow, and fog depending on the time of year. Developer Playground Games has kept enough customization to keep the most die-hard gearheads busy tinkering for just the right balance. And the game runs at 60 frames per second in 4K on Xbox One X and PC.
Overkill’s The Walking Dead, Starbreeze, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nov. 6, 2018
Skybound Entertainment has entrusted its zombie epic to the publisher behind Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, one of the best games based on a Hollywood IP. Sure, there have been Walking Dead games before (including the critical and commercial success from Telltale Studios), but this is a co-op game that’s based on Robert Kirkman’s comic book franchise. The action focuses on a new band of survivors in Washington, D.C., and promises to serve up a new story. And this action-packed title offers a nice complement to the ongoing Telltale Studios’ The Walking Dead franchise, as well as the TV series. There’s no better way to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of The Walking Dead comic book this year.
Marvel’s Spider-Man, Sony, Insomniac Games, PlayStation 4, Sept. 7, 2018
There have been decent Spider-Man games over the years from Activision and other studios, but this marks the first next gen take on the web slinger. And it comes from the studio behind Ratchet & Clank and Resistance. While Homecoming and the latest Avengers flick have focused on a teenage Peter Parker just getting the hang of his superpowers, this original game (which doesn’t tie into the films) puts players in control of an experienced Spidey who’s been behind the mask for eight years. The thrill of the Spider-Man games has always been in navigating the Big Apple in full 3D, swinging from rooftops and traffic lights. This game promises the largest interactive world ever created by Insomniac. And Marvel has reimagined iconic characters from the comics for a new flavor. And yes, that cool Avengers Spidey costume is available in this game.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Activision, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Oct. 12, 2018
Developer Treyarch is banking that most of its fan base don’t care so much for those action-packed single-player campaigns that have been a staple for Call of Duty since its inception. Black Ops 4, the latest iteration in the franchise’s most popular series, focuses on multiplayer across its three key tiers. There’s the “boots on the ground” team-based multiplayer battles that have become the core for the Call of Duty World League esports. There’s the 10th Anniversary of the Zombies mode, which introduces a brand new storyline and cast of playable characters that involves an ancient order hellbent on destroying the world. And there’s the new Blackout mode, which blends Fortnite-style, massive “every-man-for-himself” battlefields with locales, weapons, and soldiers from the Black Ops series.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Square-Enix, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Sept. 14, 2018
The Tomb Raider games have sold over 63 million copies to date, with the last two games garnering unparalleled acclaim in the franchise. Eidos Montréal has teamed up with Crystal Dynamics to deliver the third adventure starring Lara Croft in the rebooted franchise. Grey’s Anatomy actress Camilla Luddington reprises her role as Croft in this story, which sends the archeologist through Mexican and Peruvian jungles in pursuit of the evil Trinity organization. In addition to tombs and crypts, this open world game offers tons of side quests and missions. This time around, Lara’s more experienced and able to use the shadows of the jungle to her advantage to take out heavily-armed enemies. There’s also deadly underwater gameplay featuring electric eels and piranhas and new weapons like hallucinogenic poison arrows that make the bad guys turn on each other.
Stormland, Oculus Studios, Insomniac Games, Oculus Rift, 2019
Virtual Reality is far from over. It’s also a long way from achieving the hype that was built up through billions of dollars of investment over the past five years. VR has been waiting for its big app, and Oculus Studios may have just found it in Insomniac Games’ Stormland. This open world sci-fi adventure puts the player in control of a gardening android that must defend his planet from invading military droids. The game world draws inspiration from films like Pixar’s WALL-E and 9 and games like Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, bringing a rich computer-animated world to life. Insomniac has spent years developing VR games like The Unspoken, and all of that work is paying off with this latest offering.
Battlefield 5, Electronic Arts, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Oct. 5, 2018
Electronic Arts and developer DICE are returning to World War 2 with this latest game in the franchise, moving the action forward from last year’s game. This game adds new multiplayer offerings (which has always been the heart of this franchise). Gamers can form their own company and customize their soldiers, weapons, and vehicles that will evolve as they progress, covering everything from the way they look to the way they play. DICE is jumping into the battle royale craze with a new mode that will go beyond the 64-player battles that have been a staple of the series. There’s also a new Grand Operations mode, which takes players through vast historical battles.
Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, 2019
The developer behind the immersive open world role-playing game The Witcher III: Wild Hunt game have now turned the popular table top Cyberpunk 2077 game into a very different narrative-driven, open world adventure. This game is sure to appeal to Blade Runner fans and anyone who’s ever wanted to live in a dark, neon-filled future like the fictional Night City. Players assume the role of hired gun V and take on contracts to build your street cred and become a legend in a world populated by cyber-enhanced street warriors, tech-savvy netrunners, and corporate lifehackers. V is completely customizable and will progress based on the gameplay decisions and play styles of each player, opening up a deep and original storyline that will allow different experiences for each player. This world may be completely different in setting and tone, but the visuals and depth of role-playing are amazing.
Just Cause 4, Square Enix, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Dec. 4, 2018
Developer Avalanche Games is offering even more over-the-top open world action in this fourth installment of the bestselling action franchise. Just Cause 4 is all about being creative in figuring out how protagonist Rico Rodriguez can accomplish his missions. Armed with a parachute, wingsuit, and grapple hook, Rico takes on an endless army of bad guys. The game rewards creativity in how players accomplish tasks across four distinct biomes: rainforest, grasslands, alpine, and desert. And this time around weather events like tornadoes, blizzards, and sandstorms will offer new ways to take out enemies. If you haven’t checked this franchise out, start now with Just Cause 3.