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The top ten games from E3 2018

June 19,2018 19:29

In spite of countless leaks and pre-show announcements, this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) still managed to surprise us. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was the presence of so many well-crafted, single-player delights. We were also ...and more »

In spite of countless leaks and pre-show announcements, this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) still managed to surprise us. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was the presence of so many well-crafted, single-player delights. We were also happy to see way fewer battle royale cash-ins than we’d feared—though maybe they are just taking longer to develop.
Since attending the show last week, our E3 brain trust (Kyle Orland, Sam Machkovech, Samuel Axon) has been arguing over our favorite hands-on and hands-off demos. We managed to settle on this definitive top-ten list, along with a slew of honorable mentions.
Our selected games are listed in alphabetical order, not ranked.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
Developer: Dontnod EntertainmentPlatforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox OneRelease Date: June 26, 2018

This year, as we watched the various EA press conferences, my fiancée joked to me that the ESA should add a fourth E to “E3” to stand for “executions.” Many of the games presented front-and-center at the show featured some kind of hyper-violent execution sequence. Don’t get me wrong: I like an intense action game, but E3 is best when it’s highlighting the full breadth of experiences that games can provide.
That’s why Life is Strange spinoff The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit was such a delight to see at the show. The game stood out, sandwiched as it was between a Tomb Raider demo (in which Lara Croft went primal on a guy with a knife) and a Just Cause demo (which might have set the record for number of explosions per minute).
Captain Spirit is about a 10-year-old boy who uses his imagination to escape from harsh realities, and I recognized my younger self in him while I watched. While all video games are in some way about imagination, Captain Spirit really captures the childlike wonder of creating new realities.
Like Life is Strange, Captain Spirit is more of a "narrative experience" than it is a "game," in that it's not rich with systems or progression. Still, the demo comes across as heartfelt, well-written, and well-directed. I have no doubt that it will charm anyone who is open to its gentle pace, especially given its announced price tag of "free."-Samuel Axon
Cyberpunk 2077
Developer: CD Projekt RedPlatforms: TBDRelease Date: TBD

We opted to only share images from the game's gussied-up trailer that actually resemble what we saw in the hands-off demo.

The protagonist V lives in this sprawling apartment complex, which resembles modern-day LA buildings, though with grimy, tech-loaded tweaks like broken biometric scanners on people's front doors.

The game's opening mission sees you rescue an apparently high-ranking civilian from a kidnapping ring. Insurance in Cyberpunk 2077 seems to revolve around private companies showing up with military squads and medical personnel to help LA's elites.

In the demo, V finds and makes an offer to this rich, powerful "corpo" character. A dangerous mission follows in which everyone seems to stab everyone else in the back.

Frankie is V's accomplice during the demo and offers a lot of chatter and dialogue-tree options for V to pick through.

We saw a taste of open-world driving, but it was the least impressive part of the demo.

Every E3 has that one behind-closed-doors gameplay reveal that people can't stop talking about. The one that combines holy-cow gameplay, how'd-they-do-that visual trickery, and the mystique of hiding behind an “for industry eyes only” shield. The one that sets tongues wagging.
It's tricky to give too many accolades to such hands-off demos because, honestly, they could be fakes. We agonized over this vote, but Cyberpunk 2077's reveal included just enough believable future-mercenary RPG gameplay (which we previously described at length) to get us on board.
For all the wild bits in the demo, it at least proved an important truth: CD Projekt Red's vision is decidedly different than Grand Theft Auto's. Every NPC appeared to offer dialogue options. Every quest was teased with branching "be the criminal you want to be" options and tactics that were clearly visible on-screen. A truly William Gibson-like future-crime society should push the world's heel down on the hero's face—and force the hero to overcome the world in the coolest ways possible. Based on what I saw, Cyberpunk 2077 just might deliver on that vision.-Sam Machkovech
Developer: Media MoleculePlatform: PS4Release Date: TBD

After years of hands-off teases and hollow promises, Dreams finally landed in our hands as a living, playable video game. That might seem like a low bar to clear for E3 "success," but with Dreams' lofty promises, it's actually saying a lot.
The game's creators cut their teeth on the "PlayCreateShare" philosophy of LittleBigPlanet, and we had just as much fun playing pre-made levels as we did learning how to build and edit them. Already, we're seeing hints of an adorable, puzzle-filled campaign, and our build-a-level demo showed a tasty mix of simplicity and depth. On the simple side, we liked the game's intuitive grab-and-manipulate interface, which let us quickly feel good at remixing existing 3D levels. On the more complex side, tab- and option-filled submenus open up all kinds of logic, animation, and trigger options. We could make bridges start moving, lava floors start expanding, and personally composed songs start playing in crazy, creative 3D worlds.
The question of exactly when Sony will get this wild, ambitious game into PlayStation 4 owners' hands is still open. But our hands-on time indicates that this game finally has an honest-to-goodness foundation.-Sam Machkovech
Listing image by Aurich Lawson

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