Now that we’ve tackled Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, it’s time for a closer look at the meat of this year’s Electronics Entertainment Expo: the games themselves.
As with just about every year, most of what will be on the show floor is already beginning to trickle out from the leakiest barrel of information in gaming. On the plus side, we already have a substantial list of reasons that this year’s expo will be a wild ride. Here are just a small portion of the experiences we’re anticipating during next week’s show. I’m going with alphabetical order, since it’s already become impossible to gauge the comparative hype surrounding this avalanche of virtual escapism.
Agents of Mayhem
Deep Silver and Volition have finally stopped teasing us about their next project, and it’s a doozy. Agents of Mayhem is a futuristic open world crime-fighting fantasy that feels like a cross between the cartoonish superheroic Saints Row IV and Microsoft’s Crackdown.
The game will feature three protagonists: Fortune, a former “Sky Pirate Captain,” Ishmael “Hardtack” Funderburke, a “Badass Sailor,” and Rod Stone, AKA “Hollywood,” a reality TV star and bounty hunter who seems to be channeling the Saints Row pseudo-celebrity Josh Birk. The elaborate announcement trailer has them facing off against one “Doctor Babylon” and an army of robots. It looks to maintain the same balls-to-the-wall action and slapstick humor that has become so synonymous with Volition’s work. Hopefully E3 will give us a look at the actual gameplay, though the pedigree alone has us pretty confident.
When EA and DICE unveiled the heir apparent to the blockbuster Battlefield franchise, the internet exploded with approval across the board. Despite concerns among executives that kids weren’t well-educated enough to relate to a World War I setting, the Battlefield 1 reveal is currently the most-liked video ever posted to YouTube.
Expect epic 64 player clashes, from the trenches, to fighting on horseback, to frantic biplane dogfights in the air. Submarines have even come up in conversation, but no word on whether that was meant as a hint or just comparison. Either way, it looks like this is an all-but-guaranteed hit in a series tarnished by the recent Battlefield: Hardline.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
If you’re not waiting in white-knuckled anticipation for the next part of the critically acclaimed Deus Ex saga, you probably haven’t heard enough about it. Square Enix and Eidos Montreal are taking everything we loved about Human Revolution and injecting a heavy dose of the extreme open-ended nature of the original. The gameplay looks varied and more than competent, while the narrative is, if anything, stronger than it’s ever been.
The only real question left is whether the game can live up to the standard it has already set up for itself. With any luck, we’ll have a chance to test that out in person on the show floor. Either way, this isn’t just one of the most anticipated titles of the show, it’s one of the most anticipated upcoming releases, period. It’s also notable for tackling the horrors of a “mechanical apartheid,” which has a few vocal dissidents up in arms.
The sequel to 2012’s Steampunk-esque stealth masterpiece is getting a sequel on November 11, and it ups the ante in just about every possible way. Corvo and his aristocratic protege will both be playable characters, with their own abilities and strategies for the elimination of … whoever needs killing in the beautiful city of Karnaca.
Bethesda and Arkane announced the game with a trailer at last year’s E3 and have been trickling out interviews and previews of the game here and there in the meantime. Hopefully we’ll be able to take up blades ourselves at this year’s show and give you our own impressions of how things are shaping up.
Final Fantasy XV
For the fifteenth outing of the oxymoronic Japanese role-playing game saga, we’re being put in charge of a roving boy band of warriors, I think. The game looks utterly gorgeous, the characters suitably androgynous and perky despite having a thing for black, and the combat is leaning hard into a sort of tactical real-time action system, as opposed to timers or turns.
Will this be the game’s redemption as a single-player RPG franchise, or the swan song for a series that some suggest has exhausted its best ideas? Either way, it’s going to be big.
The third person multiplayer-focused — but not exclusive — game takes an almost Deadliest Warrior approach of setting up clashes between the warriors of different parts of the world, time periods, and settings. It’s a hybrid of a whole lot of things, and a daring departure from the comfort of Ubisoft’s typical tower-capping collect-a-thons.
The game was already shown in very early form last year. We know you’ll be able to take up the blades of medieval knights, vikings, or samurai. Other than the basic gist of the gameplay however, little else has been revealed. If Ubisoft is expecting to generate enough buzz to compete in the crowded competitive multiplayer landscape, they’ll need to make a pretty strong impression at this year’s show.
The cult classic series returns for a third installment that marks a radical departure from previous entries. Rather than following the rise of a young initiate through the ranks of the Italian La Cosa Nostra, Mafia III takes a leap into a fictional recreation of 1960’s New Orleans.
Protagonist Lincoln Clay is a Vietnam war veteran who takes a detour onto a road leading into the corrupt underbelly of the historic city, balancing the confidence of his allies with the aggression of his rivals, to turn himself into a new breed of kingpin.
The environments look more open and dynamic than the previous two entries, and the cast looks to continue the franchise tradition of vivid characterization and dramatic cinematic moments. The strategy elements recall the machinations of The Godfather 2 game, but with a significantly more personal touch.
Despite the generally lackluster performance of the exclusively multiplayer Titanfall, Respawn isn’t even close to giving up on the property. Titanfall 2 will feature a full single-player campaign, enhanced multiplayer, and even a spin-off television series.
It’s rare that a new IP gets such strong support for a second outing without impressive performance on its first go, but the sequel looks to expand and improve in response to the numerous complaints levied at the content-light first game. Aside from the typical marketing buzz, all we’ve really seen so far comes from the teaser trailer released just a month ago, advertising the June 12th reveal.
And so much more…
This is only the lightest taste of what is to come from the barely organized chaos that is E3. There will be dozens of other titles making their debut at the numerous press conferences, let alone the packed show floor. Even those who may not have games to demo are promising to announce projects that stretch all the way into 2018. We’ll be there to bring it all direct from the source. If you haven’t already, check out our previews of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo’s known plans for the show.
Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.