5) Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
- Many of us at RPGFan have stated in some form or another how much our inner adolescent wants Square Enix to succeed. Optimistic as we are, this has been difficult to maintain. However, with Lightning Returns, we see a glimpse of hope that what once was can again be. We only tasted a sampling of what this game has to offer, but the gameplay alone merits a place on my list.
4) Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
- Okay, so, I didn't play this one, but I did watch Kyle Miller, Derek Heemsbergen, and Stephen Meyerink battle Ifrit in a party with others, and what I saw was focus, teamwork, and acceptance. When a company falls as hard as Square-Enix has with respect to its flagship series, making things right is not only expected, it's necessary. Square-Enix has further legitimized itself as a developer and a company that can recover. Let's hope it continues to do so.
3) Legend of Dungeon
- Most of you may not know what this game is. Robot Loves Kitty, a leader in the independent gaming scene, had a demo of this rogue-like / action RPG / beat 'em up / something hybrid up at the IndieCade section of E3, and as expected with indie developers, what I experienced were fresh ideas that played well. Although still in development, the game played extraordinarily well in its smoothness and punishing difficulty. I saw nothing else like it at the show. And that's why it's my number three.
2) The Walking Dead: 400 Days
- What's this? DLC in a top five list of games at E3? That's right. Although the game promises to occupy players for only two to three hours, what I saw and experienced at E3 assures me that all five bite-sized stories will offer a full experience with such firmly defined characterization that to treat this as anything less than an authentic entry in the series would be an injustice. Hey, developers: take a look at what Telltale's doing with their writing and storytelling, and try to keep up.
- At this point, the RPGFan staff is probably rolling their eyes at me. "Yes, yes, Bob, we know you love Transistor, now please move on to something else." I kid, but I am not joking about how I feel about this game. When a company steals the limelight with its first game and offers such a solid demo for its second, I pay attention. This goes beyond supporting independent developers or loyalty to a team that made one of my favorite games in recent years. What Supergiant Games offers is direction in an industry saturated with repetition and fear. New ideas can not only make money, but satisfy your customers. Remember why you got into this business in the first place?
Best Non-RPG: Outlast (PS4)
With Resident Evil bowing out of the survival horror industry in favor of quick-time-events and a limitless supply of bullets and safety, that leaves the genre relatively barren. Silent Hill has fallen by the wayside, and Amnesia is over two years old now. However, Outlast offers the promise of not only carrying the torch, but effectively scaring the ever-loving poop out of you. There I was in the bright, active, loud area of the Sony section of E3. There were people all around me, certainly in my periphery, and I was strolling through this insane asylum. The attention to detail in the environment, sound effects, and lighting all created an atmosphere where I — what the hell is that?! I jumped, heard faint laughter through my headphones, and was pummeled in the corner of a room in which I attempted to hide. I grew up on zombie movies and slasher flicks. I know scary. Outlast, inspired by Amnesia, will be a hit, if people aren't too scared to buy it.
Most Important Place at E3 2013: The IndieCade
I've been accused of being a broken record in years past, but when I remind people that I am not only functional but not black plastic, they quickly retract their claim. Still, I cannot state enough (clearly) how important supporting independent developers is. These are the people who scrape by, sacrificing a comfortable livelihood, in order to follow their passion. Would that we all had that kind of courage (I sure wish I did)! They fight against the current, and have made it to E3. They choose to steer clear of publishers in order to remain loyal to their creativity and ideas. But it's not just about fresh ideas, though that is important. These are ideas that work. A quick glance at the statistics of aspiring developers on the IndieCade site alone
indicates just how few earn their way to the show floor. I can understand not wanting to wade through the crap. So don't. Check out what was showing this year. You'll be surprised how much more fun most of these games are than the newest Castlevania.
Best Display: Capcom's Dead Rising 3 zombies
I'll let you go ahead and find the videos online that probably won't do the experience justice, but Capcom had an astounding area sectioned off with a fence that contained zombies and fantastic props. The makeup and acting were obscenely professional, and if I weren't surrounded by crowds of people, I might have been a little spooked. At times, throngs of people crowded the area as they took pictures and videos, the zombies never breaking character. Despite the grins, pictures, and flashes, the zed-heads clawed and shook the fence, and screamed at me with such guttural contempt and hunger. After watching closely for a while to get a full experience, the one zombie I seemed to make a connection with slowly staggered away, at which point I pulled out my map to find where to go next. Immediately, the zombie reached through the fence and grabbed at my face, less than half a foot away. I jumped back, amused and impressed. A+ show, Capcom! By the way, are you accepting headshots for next year?
- Blackguards looks like it will successfully combine classic Fallout and Baldur's Gate-style turn-based combat with meaningful role-playing. That it's being handled by a team responsible for one of my favorite adventures of all time makes me confident that it will be a journey worth taking, and what I saw at E3 absolutely backed that up.
4) Transistor/Zelda: A Link Between Worlds/Mario and Luigi: Dream Team/Witcher 3/Tales of Xillia
- I'm cheating and including a ton of games here because, seriously, E3 was glorious for RPGs this year. I cannot possibly pick just five games that I'm excited for. All of the above (and yes, I know Zelda isn't an RPG) impressed me in some way, and I can't wait to play them all.
3) Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
- I don't generally like MMOs because beneath the "it's WoW, but with 'x' new combat feature," they're all cut from the exact same cloth, and that cloth isn't one that is narratively compelling. A Realm Reborn isn't setting the world on fire in terms of mechanics, but the combination of greatest hits from the Final Fantasy series, a huge level of polish, fantastic music, and a beautifully-designed world has me interested. Smiting Ifrit in front of an audience at E3 sure felt nice, too.
- It's the sequel to Chains of Satinav. It's even more gorgeous. The puzzle design in the demo looked devious. The framework for the plot sounds fascinating. I will be playing this.
1) Kingdom Hearts III
- SDWLGKSJA;DLGJ; LSHEARTLESSKVJXL;ZKJV;LSADJ ARLFHGHH KVJAXEHANORTLGFKJA LKJVNIOWEKEYBURADOMVLSDFSADF SDGL;KDF VLKNSMDVLKN
[Editor's Translation: Stephen is, to a certain degree, happy to see that the Kingdom Hearts series will finally be getting a proper "third" entry.]
Biggest surprise: Lightning Returns
I didn't care for XIII, I really
didn't care for the story in XIII-2, and I fully expected to pass on Lightning Returns. While it's too soon to see if they can salvage their train wreck of a plot (I'm betting no), the gameplay and music in this demo were both rock-solid. The combat felt like a sort of fusion of Final Fantasy XIII's rapid paradigm-shifting, X-2's job system, and Crisis Core's action-RPG combat. Thanks to the E3 demo, I went from totally disinterested to probably picking this one up.
Game that was as exactly what I expected: Dark Souls II
It's more Dark Souls, but polished and full of what appear to be creative new ideas that put a spin on what we already loved about the original. Awesome animation, and what looks to be a 60-fps PC version.
Genre I am thrilled to see alive again: Point-and-click adventure
In past years, we'd see maybe one P&C if we were lucky. This year, there were so many that we actually had to debate which would receive our "Adventure Game of Show" award. The vast majority of the games I saw were point-and-clickers, and nearly all of them looked promising. Roberta Williams would be proud.
Phoenix Award: Square Enix
Square Enix wowed me this year. The child in me wanted them to be as glorious as they once were, but the adult didn't believe it could happen. But whatever they've done in the past, they're on the right track now. Their booth was packed with actual video games on actual systems that I actually thought were fun, and that's a victory right there. The re-announcement of FFXV and, most importantly, Kingdom Hearts III were huge points in their favor, as was the apparent 180-degree turnaround on Final Fantasy XIV, which is now one of the most polished and enjoyable MMOs I've ever seen. It's too early to start handing out pats on the back, but for the first time in a very long time, I'm optimistic about the future of RPGs from the developer that raised many of us.
5) Tales of Xillia
- Tales is not my favourite series, but Xillia has an appeal that many previous installments lacked — for one thing, I didn't feel like I was part of a stereotypical anime scene. Fantastic character designs, a battle system that's plenty of fun even if it took getting used to, and bright, colourful graphics... and I'm sold. And how else are we going to convince Namco that the sequel — not to mention other Tales games — are worth bringing over?
4) Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster
- These two beloved PS2 classics lend themselves well to an HD update (or at least Final Fantasy X does). X-2 wasn't available in demo form, but I doubt it can look less impressive. Not much needs to be said on these two — only that I'm all too excited to play them in more high-res form this time.
3) Ys: Memories of Celceta
- XSEED has put a lot of care into the localization of this remake-but-not-really of Ys IV, and it shows. In addition, the combat is so addictive that I didn't do anything but
fight in the 20 minutes I spent at their demo station. Clearly, I've been missing out on a good deal of Falcom's storied JRPG franchise all this time — if any title makes me want to get a Vita, it's this one.
2) Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
- I wasn't sure what I expected out of this one, but I sure didn't expect to enjoy the demo so much. The trailer and my brief playtime raised so many plot questions: why is Lightning chasing Snow? Why is she fighting Noel? Why must Lumina look exactly like Serah? And the revamped battles pulled me in even more. Switching endlessly between schemas to make sure Lightning was constantly active reminded me of why I loved fighting in games such as Final Fantasy X-2 so much.
1) Shin Megami Tensei IV
- There are very few series I adore more than SMT, and with Mass Effect taking a break, SMTIV's perfect timing ensures it'll draw me in whole again. There's lots of familiarity: the press-turn system, demon fusion, combating monsters with a device on your arm; but I don't view this as a bad thing. On top of it all, you're a samurai fighting off demons in a medieval setting using modern technology, so you just know the story won't be as straightforward as it initially sounds.
Best Non-RPG: Thief
Some say that its long development time at Eidos Montréal has had more than its share of problems, but what I saw in a demo session, I very much liked. I thought the gameplay mechanics (lockpicking, Garrett's focus ability and so on) were intriguing, and here, stealth isn't just an option, it's the only way. As someone who's a terrible infiltrator no matter how hard I try, I'm more than willing to let Thief test my limits.
Biggest Surprise: Final Fantasy Versus-XIII-turned-FFXV, and Kingdom Hearts III
Both were inevitable, I just didn't expect them at E3. I thought they'd make their debut at Tokyo Game Show or one of Square Enix's own events. But hey, I can't complain.
The Saints Flow cans.
Metro: Last Light.
Not seeing even more games. Don't get me wrong, that's not to say I saw only a few games. Rather, it's a testament to how many great titles there were at the show, many of which I got to, and many more which I didn't. This was easily one of the best E3s in a long time, and I can't express how much the gaming world has to be excited about and look forward to.
3) Murdered: Soul Suspect
- A very nice surprise. Really neat take on the detective adventure with enough weirdness to intrigue. I wonder if the mechanics won't become stale quickly, but it's definitely one to keep an eye on. Being a ghost seems like it would be a lot of fun. Except for the part where there are demons that want to eat you and also you could turn into a demon eventually...
2) Beyond: Two Souls
- Two different demos were available at E3, and both of them were crazily intense. This has all of the problems Heavy Rain had (I just don't understand why movement is such a difficult concept for Quantic Dream to get right), but it also has all of the strengths that game had in its best moments turned way up. I was almost embarrassed to hand back the controller after the demo because my palms were sweating so much; it was that intense.
- It's Baldur's Gate/Fallout 2 type gameplay with Daedalic revisiting a universe they've already shown they know how to handle with respect. No brainer.
Best Non RPG: Fantasia
It is a real drag that this game is going to be an Xbox exclusive, not because I'm picking sides here in the upcoming console war, but because I'd love to see this game in the hands of as many people as possible. Harmonix is a special studio making a special game.
5) Ys: Memories of Celceta
- I don't have the history with the Ys series that some of our staff does, so I went into the Celceta demo blindly and came away wholly impressed by the blistering pace of the action, solid controls, giant game world, and just general high levels of fun.
- I'm a longtime WoW fan, and one of the things I've always loved about the game is its bright color palette, cartoony palette, and an ability to not take itself too seriously. WildStar seems to embrace many of the same things, while adding interesting paths to follow, a fun housing system, and what's that? Firefly-esque humor? I'm in.
- Bastion is one of the most beloved indie darlings in recent years. A game that totally deserves every ounce of praise it received. Transistor is Supergiant's next game, and it looks like they may have another winner on their hands. The game world and setting is immensely haunting and atmospheric, the voice acting excellent, and the battle system is one that's clearly going to grow increasingly complex and strategic as you play. This is one to watch in 2014.
2) The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
- I wrote a preview
on this game that surpassed 1100 words. On a demo that covered two tiny areas of the game, with experience with less than 1/10th of the game's inventory. Let's just say, I got a good feeling.
1) Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
- Oh yes, I want this game. Ever since Secret of Mana, I've had a love for action RPGs, and the mere idea of a game on which I have more direct control over a supremely powerful near-goddess like Lightning is... Is "electrifying" too on the nose? I unashamedly like FFXIII (once you reach Pulse, anyway), and something about FFXIII-2 worked so well for me that it's the first PS3 game in which I earned — or even wanted to earn — a platinum trophy. I know the story is a bit scatterbrained, but after playing the demo of Lightning Returns, it's now easily one of my most anticipated games.
Best Announcement: Final Fantasy XV
Kingdom Hearts III is a big, massive deal. But to finally see Versus XIII resurface and become FFXV was a dream come true. It's really my love for the action in Kingdom Hearts that's driven my adoration towards Versus XIII. I simply cannot wait.
Best Remakes: Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster
Final Fantasy X HD Remaster is deceiving. It looks great in stills, but when you see it running on an actual PS3 at what seemed to be 60fps, well, it simply shines.
Nintendo wisely had GameCubes running the original Wind Waker next to the Wii U Wind Waker HD. The crispness of an HD cel-shaded Zelda almost hurt, it looked so sharp. Add in some clever Miiverse integration, and you have a solid remake.
Most Anticipated Non-RPG: Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS
MEGAMAN MEGAMAN MEGAMAN
Best Comeback: Nintendo & Square Enix
There's little that the
child inside me has wanted to see more than for Nintendo and Square Enix to show off games that just make me tingly. The disappointment of the Wii U lineup and Square Enix's... well, everything, has been lacking lately. I was beyond pleased to finally see a strong upcoming lineup from Nintendo, and Square Enix had one of the best showings they've had in years based just on what was playable. Add in Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III, and I'm in love all over again.
Best Anything of Show: The RPGFan Staff
They're simply the best. Better than all the rest. I may be using cheesy lyrics to make a point, but it's absolutely true. These people are a joy to work with.
5) Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
- I'll be honest: I lost a little bit of faith in Nintendo after Paper Mario: Sticker Star. The game's level-based structure and eradication of almost every RPG element rubbed me the wrong way somethin' fierce, seriously tempering any enthusiasm I might've had for the latest Mario & Luigi title. However, after getting my hands on the game at E3, I was happy to be proven wrong. Dream Team sports some of the most gorgeous art direction I've seen out of Nintendo in ages, with ephemeral dreamscapes and slick, emotive spritework. Despite the battles being turn-based, there's never a dull moment thanks to ridiculously entertaining, interactive attacks like rolling over enemies with a giant "Luigi Katamari" or playing Red Shell soccer with a Goomba's face. It's always nice to have your expectations surpassed, isn't it?
4) Shin Megami Tensei IV
- I didn't get as much time with this game as I wanted to at the show — worse yet, the headphones on the demo units were incredibly quiet, robbing me of the music that is so vital to the SMT experience. What little I did play, though, assured me that Shin Megami Tensei IV is on track to offer more of the same brutally difficult turn-based combat I've come to expect from the series. The presentation is greatly improved from Soul Hackers and Strange Journey, with sharper visuals and a slick interface. I'm most excited about the intriguing story, which I've intentionally kept myself in the dark about as much as possible for the purest experience.
3) Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
- There's no getting around the fact that the Final Fantasy XIII mythology is convoluted, and it's too soon to say if Lightning Returns can straighten the narrative out once and for all. However, I have full confidence that LR will be an exceedingly fun game
. The graphical fidelity is top-notch, the combat feels super tight and responsive, and the soundtrack holds great promise. I'm invested enough to see this saga to the end. I only wish I didn't have to wait until next year.
2) Ys: Memories of Celceta
- I laid my hands upon a new Ys title, and I was joyous. I dodged, I slashed, and I unleashed screen-filling special moves upon my enemies. Memories of Celceta is exactly what I hoped it would be: a flashier, more expansive version of Ys Seven. I tend to play games on the Normal difficulty, but for some reason, the Ys series begs me to master them on Hard or above. Maybe it's the way every element is so deliberately pieced together: a world full of lore and just the right amount of narrative exposition, crazy bosses that require old-school pattern recognition to conquer, and invariably awesome music. Some people live for the thrill of surmounting challenges in games like Dark Souls. For me, that game will always be Ys. Put it in my veins.
1) Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
- When it comes to Final Fantasy XIV, my respect for Square Enix and producer Naoki Yoshida cannot be understated. A company publicly admitting their fault in creating a horrible game and pouring millions of dollars into fixing it is practically unheard of. The level of quality and polish put into A Realm Reborn is nothing short of staggering. The interface and art design are out-of-this-world pretty, the music is so good it gives me goosebumps, and everything about the gameplay screams quality. It's easily the best-looking MMORPG I've ever seen, and director Yoshida is filling the game to the brim with Final Fantasy throwbacks. With the promise of Magitek Armor, the Crystal Tower, classic jobs, legendary bosses, and so much more, A Realm Reborn is going to keep me occupied for years to come.
Most Anticipated Non-RPG: Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS
MEGAMAN MEGAMAN MEGAMAN
Biggest OMG Moment:
Sitting at dinner with the RPGFan staff and reading the announcements of Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III via Twitter. Then we got back to the hotel and watched (choppy) trailers with our spotty internet connection. I pre-ordered a PS4 that night.
5) Shin Megami Tensei IV
- Sure, it looks like what you'd expect, but who doesn't want to fight gigantic demons using the press turn battle system while awesome music plays in the background?
4) Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
- It's an RPG! After being disappointed with Paper Mario: Sticker Star (and subsequently pawning it off in spite), I was thrilled to play a real Mario RPG again. In just a few minutes of gameplay, I witnessed more imagination and creativity than most games have in their entireties. That's what Nintendo does best, but the RPG elements are sure to make the adventure even more satisfying. Let's just hope the tutorials are at a minimum.
- A dark fantasy RPG in the grid-based turn-based fashion of the original Fallout, Blackguards quickly became one of my most anticipated games of the year. This is a gritty RPG for nerdy RPG fans, and I love that about it. Daedalic has made quality games before; this should be no different.
- I love Bastion, and Transistor is obviously from the same developer, and yet it feels and looks like something entirely new. Supergiant Games truly has a style like any proper artist. Transistor's art direction is its most obvious merit, but the gameplay was exciting and original: an enchanting mix of turn-based and action combat. What little I saw of the story struck all the right poetic chords as well. Let's hope for a simultaneous PC release.
1) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Drinking Polish beer at 11am while interviewing developer Jonas Mattsson was pretty cool, but nothing was cooler than watching a 30-minute live demo of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. From the intense battle with the Fiend to the quiet drama of a village conflict, Geralt's new adventure looks stunning, both literally and figuratively. I can't wait to explore the immense world and discover the poetry of the witcher's life. You won't see me much in 2014.
Best Game I Didn't Get to See:
Dark Souls II
Lightning Returns was fun.
Killing Ifrit in the Final Fantasy XIV Battle Challenge with Stephen and Derek.
A new AMD processor to make my computer ready for the Wild Hunt.
5) Tales of Xillia
- The only reason this is last on my list is because I've played it in full already. But make no mistake, being chosen for "most anticipated game" among the hundreds, maybe thousands of games shown at E3 is no small feat, and playing it again at E3 reminded me of why I loved the game so much. August can't come soon enough.
4) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies
- TAKE THAT!
3) The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
- Wind Waker HD wowed me with its high-quality visuals, but for this list, I have to give the edge to A Link Between Worlds. Not only is it the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time, it is also incredibly well-designed, with a near-perfect mix of old and new. I couldn't get enough of this game while at E3, and I can't wait until it's released.
2) Final Fantasy XV
- I'll admit, Final Fantasy Versus XIII was the JRPG equivalent of Duke Nukem Forever to me: a game that has spent ages in development with lofty promises that it can't possibly achieve. But then something odd happened. What they showed at E3 this year surpassed anything I would have thought about the game. The trailer was a little pretentious (as all trailers are wont to be), but it truly and legitimately captured my attention and made me excited about a Final Fantasy game again. The night I saw the trailer, I preordered a PlayStation 4. Somehow this joke was catapulted to become one of my most anticipated games for next gen, and Square Enix is one of the few companies that could have successfully pulled it off. Well played, Square Enix. Well played.
1) Shin Megami Tensei IV
- Is anyone actually surprised about this? My body is ready.
Best Non-RPG: Bayonetta 2
If there was one thing that E3 was able to do this year, it was vindicate my Wii U purchase. My Wii U has been gathering dust since I bought it at launch, but Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, and Super Smash Bros. are all excellent-looking first-party titles that I want to play as soon as possible. Bayonetta 2, however, stole Nintendo's thunder by being beautiful, fast-paced, and incredibly fun. Some may say that because the PS4 and Xbox One dwarf the Wii U in terms of power, the Wii U will be yet another footnote in the next gen competition. To these myopic individuals who think horsepower is everything, I only need point out Bayonetta, which has amazed me not by merit of sheer graphical fidelity, but by being beautiful — both artistically and technically — and very, VERY fun to play.
Best E3 Event: The Saints Row Party
There is a reason people should never say the words "open bar" and "free games" in the same sentence when they are talking to me. I think I have proved this beyond a shadow of a doubt when I went to the Saints Row party.
3) Diablo III
- But John, you say, didn't Diablo III come out quite a while back for the PC? How can a port compete? Well, I say that when you completely gut a game's control scheme and adapt it for a console's controller, it ceases to feel like the same game. In fact, strip all of my knowledge of the title and hand me a D&D skin of Diablo III and I'd have a hard time telling you it's not Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance 3. Console players are going to have a blast with this iteration of Diablo — it's a million times better than that old PSone port.
2) South Park: The Stick of Truth
- I'll be truthful — it's going to have to be in front of me for twenty-plus hours before I can pass judgment of any kind of this new South Park game. While the combat mechanics look solid and the style is all there, a single thing remains to hold the entire game together: its writing. And unfortunately, a 20-minute demo at Ubisoft's booth isn't enough to prove a game can ride on this license. However, what I can tell you is that potential oozes from every pore of South Park: The Stick of Truth. Think of it like a boom-or-bust prospect in hockey. But are we going to get Martin St. Louis or just another grinder?
1) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- When we started the demo for The Witcher 3, the CD Projekt producers told us that the game was still in development and would have a bunch of rough edges. And boy were they right. Geralt's ponytail had really bad physics, flopping around everywhere. I am glad that CD Projekt has several months to fix this egregious error, because barring that, you could've convinced me the rest of the game was a final product. Fantastic dialogue, top-tier voice acting, the trademark consequence-based choices, and a lush open world mark all of the reasons that despite producing only a few games, CD Projekt RED is known as one of the top names in the business these days. Now when will we get our hands on Cyberpunk...?
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