E3 2016 is officially in the books, wrapping up my second year in a row providing highlights on Best Buy’s Plug-In blog, and fifth time overall attending the greatest gaming show on Earth. I had such a blast covering all the exciting news with Melanie Boutin-Chartier, my French blog counterpart, and interacting with everyone who followed our journey here on the blog, and on social media.
Now that I have a moment to reflect on the show, I’d thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you all my best highlights of the show!
The press conferences
Each year, some of the largest names in gaming do their best to dazzle us with their flashy, fancy press conferences, and this E3 was no different. It’s so amazing to attend these presentations live and being able to feel the incredible vibe in the audience as we soak in all the exciting game announcements.
The trend these days seems to be to announce games shortly before E3, and then expand upon them during the show, so we didn’t actually get that many new game reveals this year. Still, there were a few major surprises including the absolutely breathtaking gameplay footage for the new God of War, the reveal of a new Spider-Man game, the grand unveiling of Days Gone, plus Bethesda’s one-two-three punch of Skyrim Special Edition, Prey, and Quake Champions.
EA press conference was great for sports and first-person shooter games considering all the news we got for games like FIFA 17, Madden NFL 17, Battlefield 1, and Titanfall 2. Ubisoft once again had the most entertaining press conference, starting with a cast of zany dancers showcasing Just Dance 17, followed by appearances by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (who were their usual funny selves) discussing South Park: The Fractured But Whole, and an awesome appearance by Levar Burton who gave a testimonial for Star Trek: Bridge Crew.
Xbox showcased tons of games I’m really pumped for, like Gears of War 4, Sea of Thieves, and Dead Rising 4, but it was the new hardware (Xbox One S and Project Scorpio) and new platform announcements (Looking for Group, Clubs, Arena) that really stood out for me. Not only do Xbox gamers have plenty of great, new hardware options coming soon, the new platform updates will make Xbox Live even more social and inclusive.
Hands-on with games
E3 is all about the games, and while I enjoyed so many of the ones I played at the show, the below four are the ones that stood out for me the most:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
I’ll just go ahead and say it–Breath of the Wild was my absolute favourite game of E3 2016. The open-world is just so vast, gorgeous, and intriguing, and the new gameplay mechanics will redefined The Legend of Zelda, I think for the better. This game is just brimming with potential and made me look forward to getting my hands on the final build even more than I did going into the hands-on session. I loved how the game felt entirely fresh, yet retained the essence of what makes Zelda such an enduring franchise. We know the game is coming in early 2017 to Wii U, and NX, so the good news is the wait in nearly over.
Agents of Mayhem
Deep Silver and Volition’s new action-adventure IP was massive fun and my nearly 40 minute hands-on demo really impressed me. Each of the 12 very different playable Agents have their own distinct appearance, weapons, skills, and motivations for fighting the evil organization Legion, and if the three I played as are any indication: they’ll all be a lot of fun to play as. Volition’s signature humour is back, and I think funnier than ever, as I chuckled many times during my play through, and was nearly in tears by the end during my epic showdown against a corrupt K-Pop idol.
Sea of Thieves
It was really hard to tell from Microsoft’s E3 press conference trailer just how fun this game is to play. It’s a co-operation multiplayer pirate adventure that has you join a pirate crew (mine had 5) and perform various ship duties like raising/lowering the anchor, adjusting the sails, steering the ship, shooting cannons at rival pirate gangs, and repairing your own ship with boards. I had a blast from the moment the game begun; hearing Melanie yell pirate-esque commands at me was downright hilarious, and for even more amusement your pirates can serenade each other with piratey musical devices, or down their mug of ale. Learning how to coordinate your team’s effort is a blast, a engaging enemy pirate ships is pretty thrilling. This is definitely a game Xbox fans should have on their radar.
Respawn Entertainment and EA’s Titanfall 2 was very impressive, and in particular I really enjoyed the new Pilot grappling hook, and experimenting with the two playable Titans in my demo (there will be six new Titans in total for the final game.) The added mobility of the grappling hook will be a real game-changer in terms of gameplay, I think, as I was able to move around the map much faster than in the previous game, and it opens up new options like hooking onto a rival Titan to perform a devastating rodeo assault, or latching onto an enemy Pilot to fly towards them with a strong melee attack. The two Titans I played–Scorch and Ion–had impressive abilities, such as Scorch’s ability to unleash waves of fire in front of him, and Ion’s powerful ultimate attack that sends a punishing red laser beam straight ahead. I can’t wait to play more!
I had a few opportunities to play VR games as E3, and walked away from the show convinced the technology is indeed the future. PlayStation VR in particular was impressive, with The Getaway: London Heist being my favourite VR game of E3. It was one VR that completely immersed me in the action (it’s an on-rails shooter), perhaps because on top of the VR headset, I held two PlayStation Move controllers in my hand. I truly felt as though I was the getaway car’s wingman, responsible for shooting down enemy motorbikes and armour trucks in our way. Being able to peer out my side window to spot enemies, look straight ahead through the windshield, and even inside the car to locate essentials like my gun (on the dashboard) and my ammo (in a bag to my right) was so vivid and realistic. My driver would even react to my motions; if I turned my head to shoot an enemy outside his door window, he would lean back from driving to give me more shooting space. PlayStation VR releases this October, and after my E3 experiences, I’ll going to make sure I’m first in line to pick this device up.
Going by all that I saw and played at E3 2016, one thing is certain: as gamers we have a LOT to look forward to this year, and beyond!
Thanks to everyone who tuned into our #BBYatE3 coverage all week long! I’d love to hear your feedback, so leave a comment below or let me know on Twitter at @NextGenPlayer.
What was your favourite game/moment at this year’s E3? Would love to hear that too!
Check out Best Buy’s coverage of E3 2016 for more great articles, links to preorder games and more