5) Pillars of Eternity
I didn't see it myself, and Obsidian's games have been disappointing thus far, but how can this homage to the Infinity Engine go wrong?
4) The Devil's Men
Daedalic couldn't afford to make a playable male character. This looks gorgeous and poetic and it's written by the man behind Memoria.
3) Dragon Age: Inquisition
I'm skeptical, but it should be a nerdy good time.
A bloody disgusting good time about all the nightmares we harbor. The next Souls game with or without the title.
1) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Nothing can make the wait any easier. Wild Hunt is the RPG of my dreams.
Best Non-Game: Elegy for a Dead World
Can it create an author out of you?
Best Non-RPG: No Man's Sky
If the devs can pull this off, this could be the game of a generation. There are alien dinosaurs.
Statue of Geralt of Rivia holding a trophy.
Tater tots at Bethesda's party.
5) Xenoblade Chronicles X
I'm not a fan of the "create-your-own-protagonist" approach, especially since it seems like the one in Xenoblade Chronicles X doesn't have any of his own dialogue. And, at first, it made me worry that the game would take a "Monster-Hunter-Meets-Xenoblade-Combat" approach. Fortunately, that's not the case: while your protagonist doesn't let out a peep, there's a winding narrative in this follow-up to the excellent Wii Xenoblade Chronicles, and along with the gorgeous graphics, fantastic art design, and great framework of its predecessor, there are plenty of reasons I'm looking forward to X.
4) Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
I love game music, Final Fantasy IX, and Ivalice. Curtain Call is a music game full of music from all of those things, with a few extra RPG elements over its predecessor. It allows me to put Vivi, Zidane, Ramza, and Balthier in a party. Simple choice.
3) Elegy for a Dead World
This unique narrative experiment caught me by surprise and has me very excited at the potential for creative storytelling it will afford players. It's gorgeous, it sounds great so far, and I'm looking forward to writing down my own take on Elegy's decayed but splendid landscapes.
While I think the blood effect is far too over-the-top to the point of being unintentionally funny/stupid, I can't argue that Bloodborne looks to be advancing the Demon's/Dark Souls formula in a fascinating new setting. I loved the haunted Victorian-style look, the almost-but-not-quite human enemies, and the best-in-class action RPG mechanics at work in the very lengthy demo I saw at the show. Count me in.
1) Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX
Another easy choice. Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix is easily one of my all-time favorite games, and possibly the most important in my trajectory as a gamer, writer, lover of game music, and general attitude towards the industry. The inclusion of over 20 new (and challenging) boss battles, a new difficulty mode, a new dungeon, and all sorts of improvements to an already-excellent action RPG made the original KHII Final Mix a fantastic deal. The HD ReMix's inclusion of the Video Game Orchestra's new live soundtrack, beautiful 60fps HD visuals, and first-time-in-English script would be a seller already for me. But the inclusion of the franchise's other best title, Birth by Sleep (best being a distinction it contends for with II) in HD, with all of the additional content from that game's formerly Japan-only Final Mix version makes this an insane deal. Two of the best games in the series looking better than they ever have is a package anyone should own, even if the inclusion of expanded cutscenes from arguably the worst game in the series (KH Re:coded) is something of a tasteless cherry on top.
Best thing that happened during the show:
Winning a Smash 4 match with Sonic after getting Super Sonic twice
Best thing not even announced at the show:
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
Runner-up: Final Fantasy Explorers
Runner-up to the runner-up: Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.
5) Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.
It's awesome to see Intelligent Systems using the turn-based strategy gameplay found in the Valkyria Chronicles series to such good use. The 1950's comic book aesthetic is also a brilliant choice when it comes to the 3DS' visuals.
4) Pillars of Eternity
I was a bit young when all of the classic RPGs like Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate came out, so PoE gives me a chance to make up for some serious lost time. The illustrated story sequences and strong character interaction could help this one to stand out amongst the flood of Kickstarter games that are coming out over the next year.
3) Dragon Age: Inquisition
I'm still a bit skeptical about the story and characters (especially after hearing that we're still focusing on mages vs. templars), but the combat enhancements and huge overworld maps go a long way towards assuaging my fears for the third entry in this franchise.
2) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I went to E3 looking for Witcher 3 gameplay, and CD Projekt did not disappoint. Geralt's world teems with life and intrigue in a way few games can match, combat looks far more responsive than in previous titles, and we got to see some devastating choices in a short hour-long demo. Witcher 3 could end up being the first truly next-gen RPG experience come February.
I agree with Stephen that the blood effects are way over the top, but you can't deny that From Software and SCEJ have created something truly terrifying and captivating. The Victorian setting looks gorgeous, the creature design makes you realize exactly what was missing from the excellent Dark Souls II, the focus on offensive combat (no more turtling behind a shield, Kyle!) shows that the developers mean business and want to innovate on a proven formula, and the boss encounter during the demo could only be described with the word "nope." Bloodborne is the reason I'll be buying a PlayStation 4 and that's the highest compliment I can give it.
Best Game We, Unfortunately, Won't Cover: Below
Below made me feel like a kid again. Its focus on exploration and twin-stick shield combat made the whole thing feel intense and satisfying.
You Bastards Nearly Made Me Cry: Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori's art style allows it to convey emotion and narrative without having to rely on a voice actor to do the job.
Hopefully It's Better Than The Demo: Alien: Isolation
Look, trying to play a demo on the E3 show floor is quite difficult; there's tons of noise, you have a limited amount of time, and you might have people chirping in your ear on how exactly to play the game when you're trying to immerse yourself in the experience. Alien: Isolation looks incredible and freaked me out quite a few times, but there was also a ton of trial and error gameplay and I grew frustrated quickly. Hopefully this was all indicative of the challenge map that was presented and not the final game, but Alien left me a bit disappointed when I left LA.
This Game Is The Real Resident Evil 5: The Evil Within
My almost hour long hands-on demo with The Evil Within had me smiling and yelling in the best possible way. It plays like the finished version of Resident Evil 4 but has a much more psychological setting and aesthetic.
Best RPG: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.3)
I was drawn into my very first MMORPG with the premise of playing with several of my very close friends, and nine months later that hasn't changed. Playing new content together still excites me, and even more so that a few members of The Emerald Shield (our in-game group) got to tackle the Leviathan primal battle on the E3 show floor. With so much to look forward to in patch 2.3, this game becomes even more difficult to quit.
Runner-up: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
Every time I pick up a rhythm-based game, I'm awful to the point of embarrassing even on the easiest mode the first few times. Still, even with all the failure, and having never played the original, Curtain Call can be easily addictive, and it helps that so many beloved classic Final Fantasy tracks are included, right up to songs from FFXIV.
Best Non-RPG: Bayonetta 2
Despite having played the E3 2013 demo, like other Platinum titles, I could not get enough of Bayonetta 2, whose demo had more chapters to try out this time around. Its perfect combination of style, action and ridiculousness makes this sequel (which comes packaged with the original Bayonetta) a must-buy... once I own a Wii U.
Best Announcement: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
The lack of a Vita version was surprising, but with all the critical acclaim the original PlayStation Portable version received back in 2011, I, and many others, are more than ecstatic to see this one head out to the West at all.
Best Feature From the Very Open-World Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Horses randomly pooping.
A toss-up between the Hawaiian teriyaki... thing from the Japanese hot dog truck at the LACC [Ed's Note: Juicy crispy snap snap!], and the truffle tater tots from the Bethesda party.
Best Way To Annoy Rob:
Narrate Final Fantasy IV, especially when someone leaves, dies, betrays you and/or comes back.
Best Overall E3 2014 Feature:
The RPGFan crew. <3
Best RPG: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
One of the things I really admire about the Witcher series from a gameplay perspective is how differently they all work. Most studios (and fans, frankly) would have been perfectly content with a fresh coat of paint and more of the same from the Witcher, but instead we've got a wide open world that looks more like Skyrim on performance enhancers than Witcher 2. I don't know if it will work, but I love the stones required to try, especially in the face of an E3 that more resembled a jeans factory than a place of disruptive innovation.
Runner Up RPG: Nothing
It's been a reflective post-E3. Sometimes you just have to ask yourself whether, from the macro level, times have passed you by. I got to see some fun stuff in the adventure gaming space, but nothing that I'd call particularly innovative, and Hellraid looked like a competent enough by-the-numbers hacky slashy game. But overall I was left disappointed. I am intrigued by Pillars of Eternity, but if Obsidian was a significant other you'd have to really question your self esteem if you welcomed them back with open arms at this point. I am reflective because you have to wonder whether it is just you when you look at something like Bloodborne, for example, and see 10 day old hamburger when everybody else is telling you it is filet mignon. I am reflective because with the doors thrown wide open in terms of the size and diversity of the gaming audience, the best folks can come up with is a remake of an old game playing to our nostalgia or another Dragon Age game. Nobody wants to hear an old guy complain, but in this case I'm not claiming things used to be better. They absolutely weren't. Like the guy at the nursing home who wants his tapioca pudding every day at 6pm on the dot, I'm just wondering if the mainstream has passed me by and I've turned into one of those guys that is just gonna end up playing old Infinity Engine games using the weak justification that if we're just going to keep making the same games with the same gameplay, I may as well stick with something familiar because even if tapioca disappoints it disappoints in comfortable ways and wow this got away from me in a hurry.
Best Game: Elite: Dangerous with the Oculus Rift
Maybe this is the piece of technology that truly disrupts things. Holy cow this is the type of thing that as a kid I thought was total science fiction. To have actually experienced it in my lifetime was on the level of what I'd imagine playing jetpack sports would be like. I gasped for air when the windows on my ship cracked and the oxygen warnings started going off, and even had a moment of pure existential terror looking out at the vastness of space.
Runner Up: Fantasia
This poor game will probably sell about a dozen copies now that the Kinect isn't a required piece of hardware with the Xbox One. But playing this is pure joy. Pure soaring, tear in the eye joy. This was one of my favorites last E3 and is even better now. It's just a shame that the audience for this, which was already probably limited, is even more limited now. I say again: where were the other games like this? The types of games that spoke to the creative inside of me instead of the destructive and bloodthirsty — something that really stirred my imagination? Perhaps they were right there on the floor the whole time, and like a child who looks at a favorite stuffed animal for the first time as a collection of cotton and fabric instead of as a FRIEND, the old tropes just didn't resonate any more. What I'm saying, E3, is it was probably me this year, not you.
Reason I'll Come Back: RPGFan Staff
While I found the games on the whole to be underwhelming, the love and excitement among the staff recharged my batteries the way no video game ever could anyway. I'd make this trip every year even without a pass to the convention.
5) Zelda Wii U
It wasn't really at
the show, but the idea of an open world Zelda title is brilliant. Even if all Nintendo means by "open world" is that we'll get a fully 3D world that's non-linear like 2013's A Link Between Worlds, that would be enough to shake things up and get me excited to see the result.
4) Xenoblade Chronicles X
Finally! After so long knowing the game simply as "X," the now-confirmed-sequel to Xenoblade gets a title. More importantly, there was enough story and gameplay shown that proves they're far further into development than I had guessed. It feels much more real and tangible as a game now, and I await it with renewed interest.
3) Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Patch 2.3/2.4
It may not be a new game, but Square Enix puts such a massive amount of work and content into each major update, it can have a drastic effect on what you do in-game every day that you play. Seeing the next update was great, and the reveal of the Ninja class we'll get this fall was even better. And not just because the ninja's armor looks just like FFVI's Shadow.
2) Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX
I've had a resurgence of renewed interest in Kingdom Hearts lately, and playing through KH1.5 reminded me how much I adore these games. As I've never even played two of the game's in this winter's 2.5 collection, I cannot wait to check out their HD releases.
1) Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
Theatrhythm came out on 3DS and I ignored it, foolishly. After playing the iOS release, I now own both versions, and can't get enough of it. Throw in more songs (even my fave FFXIV tracks), features, modes, and the ability to play online with my friends? It's one of the sequels I'm most looking forward to.
Akiba's Trip looks genuinely enjoyable and over-the-top funny.
Best Harvest Moon That Isn't a Harvest Moon:
Story of Seasons
Best Harvest Moon That Is a Harvest Moon:
Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley
Best Persona Title That Wasn't Really There:
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
Best Game Announcements That Were Thankfully Not Gore-Filled:
Best Nintendo amiibo Figure:
Best Show Floor Contest:
Square Enix's Final Fantasy XIV Leviathan Battle Event (which our group won, earning us fame and glory — or at least t-shirts)
Best Treatment of Indie Devs from a Major Publisher:
Sony. Two years running, Sony showcased indie titles prominently on the show floor, and side-by-side amongst those from AAA studios. A class act.
Best Announcement We Were All Hoping For:
Final Fantasy Type-0 coming to North America. I don't care what platform it is — that we're finally getting it at all is massive news, and a huge sigh of relief. Square Enix nearly won all of E3 for me on this announcement alone. (Agito is coming too, though we mostly knew that.)
Best RPG: Bloodborne
A Victorian, Gothic setting fits the Dark Souls concept perfectly. With a new focus on offensive combat (goodbye, shields!), it looks like Bloodborne will be even more frantic and crazy than its predecessors. The E3 demo shown has me far more excited than I ever thought I'd be. And that hairy, skeletal boss looks like something from a nightmare. Awesome.
Best RPG - Runner Up: Tales of Xillia 2
The first Tales of Xillia was a big disappointment for me. I greatly disliked the entire cast of characters, I found the story uninteresting until about halfway through, and I felt the battle system was a step down from Graces F. Fortunately, Tales of Xillia 2 looks like it will remedy most of these issues. The new characters and darker story look far more attention-grabbing, and I'm interested to see how this saga will end.
Best Non-RPG: Hyrule Warriors
I've never been a big fan of Dynasty Warriors, but the Zelda-like touches to this entry made it far more appealing. It's not just playing as Zelda characters, either: throwing bombs to open new paths, hookshot-ing around, and taking down a Dodongo just like you should be able to made it a much more enjoyable experience than a simple re-skin of another franchise.
3) Read Only Memories
It's got colorful, crunchy pixel art, a soundtrack from some of the top musicians on the chiptune scene, and isn't afraid to portray LGBT characters in a mature, intelligent manner.
2) Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
I couldn't get enough of the original, and even though I purchased nearly every DLC song available, I don't regret it for a second. I love VGM, period, and Final Fantasy's music has always held a special place in my heart. I anticipate spending countless hours immersed in this super-sized sequel (with my party of Aphmau, Y'shtola, Agrias, and Fran, thank you very much).
1) Xenoblade Chronicles X
I try to refrain from hyperbolizing, but I write for RPGFan, for cryin' out loud, so it's only natural that I gush about my most cherished games. Xenoblade Chronicles is one of the most epic, nuanced, and beautiful adventures I've ever had the pleasure to experience. Watching gameplay footage of its sequel has assuaged any lingering doubts I had about it not living up to my expectations. My hype level is up in space.
Super Smash Bros for Wii U. I'm still playing Brawl. This one looks, sounds, and feels better than ever. It's going to own my life.
Biggest Financial Black Hole:
amiibo. I'm buying all of them. These are happy tears, I don't know what you're talking about...
Most Unsettling Trend:
GORE EXPLOSIONS BLOOD WHAM BLAM CRUNCH OH MAN DID YOU SEE HOW HE CAVED HIS FACE IN SIIIIICK
Seriously, what the hell? It was gross.
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