It's easy to imagine gamers rolling their eyes as the first leaks of a new God of War started circulating the internet. We all knew it was coming, but nothing could have prepared us for a game so different from the rest of the franchise. The new Norse-inspired world looks breathtaking, the combat looks far more intimate and strategic, and the promise of RPG elements and a large "open" world sounds like a big change to the structure and basic nature of the gameplay. We also saw a slightly subdued Kratos, so maybe we can start hoping for some character development and depth outside of the pure rage seen in almost all of the previous games. It looks like Sony Santa Monica listened to the cynicism, and we can't wait to see God of War again.
It is true that Persona 5 was not playable on the showroom floor this year, but Atlus' presentation generated a substantial buzz all the same. Persona 5 looks to carry forward the style and panache we have come to love from the series, while shaking up the formula from the last two games. Its characters exude charm, and its visual aesthetic jumps off the screen. Combine these factors with the changes to dungeon design and gameplay refinements like demon recruitment, and even the most cynical RPG fan cannot help but be intrigued. And finally of course, there's that acid jazz soundtrack. For all these reasons and more, Persona 5 takes home our best JRPG award for E3 2016.
Tyranny absolutely knocked our socks off. Obsidian is sticking close to the gameplay stylings and structure of their CRPG revival Pillars of Eternity, but a focus on evil characters doing evil things sets the game apart from the traditional WRPG fantasy trappings. The bad guys already won, so now it's your job to either take power for yourself or instill the law of your dastardly overlord. In addition, a switch to skill-based character advancement instead of rigid classes will hopefully give Tyranny a great deal of flexibility and replay value. With a tentative release date of 2016, Obsidian's showing at E3 2016 shot straight to the top of our most wanted list.
Is it safe to call this one a "return to form?" It's no secret that the Zelda series, at least when it comes to its 3D entries, has largely confined itself to formula. It's not that any of the individual games have been bad, but by the time Skyward Sword rolled around many fans found the formula a tad stretched thin. Fortunately, Breath of the Wild looks like the biggest leap forward the series has made since Ocarina of Time. The vast open landscapes of Hyrule, evidently worked on in conjunction with devs from Monolith Soft, looks to be filled with direct callbacks to the original Legend of Zelda, and the game puts players right into the wilderness to explore a world that's twelve times the size of Twilight Princess'. New mechanics, such as equipping different clothing to protect Link from the elements, cooking food, and finding weapons for use in the environment, all represent a new direction for Zelda, while also remaining true to the series' themes. It was easily one of the most exciting games at this E3, and we haven't even seen the purported NX version yet!
Batman wasn't playable at E3, but its live demo was one of the most exciting of the entire show. The action scenes were stylish, the dialog was clever, and the visuals looked like the best comic-in-motion that Telltale has ever produced. The voice work was excellent; hearing Troy Baker and Laura Bailey's repartee as Batman and Catwoman was a treat. Telltale's Batman promises to have players solve crimes as the world's greatest detective, choose to approach different situations as either Batman or Bruce Wayne, and encounter dozens of familiar faces from the DC universe. It's the oldest (and possibly coolest) setting that Telltale has ever utilized for their signature brand of storytelling. Telltale's Batman may or may not be the game that Gotham deserves, but it's definitely one that we need right now.
Night in the Woods is charming as hell. You take control of Mae, a 20-year-old feline college dropout, and follow her "adventures" walking around her old home town. You play bass in a punk band, waste away days by walking on power lines, get sentimental with old friends and break minor laws like it's nobody's business. Details about the story are sparse but there are hints at something sinister lurking in the woods near Mae's house which is sure to tempt the layabout cat. An instantly appealing art style, clever dialogue and an impressively humorous "thought" book was enough to win us over and we feel that Night in the Woods is another little game with the potential to make a big splash. The game is full of existential angst and you half expect Mae to lie down and play her favorite Morrissey album — not even The Smiths, Morrissey. This may all sound like some sort of hipster nonsense but we can assure you that Night in the Woods is beautiful, genuine and full of heart, which are three traits too often missing from games today.
When discussing this year's awards, we noted that in 2015, Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward handily took "Best MMORPG," and the full reveal of the extensive Deep Dungeon mode in the upcoming 3.35 patch meant that it was still the standout of the genre at E3 2016. Rare are the features that aim to bring together new players and veterans in these types of games, and FFXIV has been doing more and more of this in recent months, with Deep Dungeon the biggest and most robust of these efforts. With a solid future mapped out many months — if not years — ahead of schedule, the team behind XIV is serious about keeping this beast of a game a must-play for the subscriber base of five million players (and climbing).
This award's naming convention may be tongue-in-cheek, but our enthusiasm is anything but.
One of the only major RPGs to feature a prominent and well-known sport is Final Fantasy X; but Blitzball was only a small segment in a much larger game, and it was often met with mixed fanfare. Supergiant Games (Bastion, Transistor) have decided to craft their latest title into a very real and creative sport-RPG hybrid. Indeed, Pyre settles its fights in a fantastic world where your destination is found in the stars and freedom is granted through rites of passage. These rites have players using impure auras to take up celestial orbs and dunk them into their opponent's fiery pyre. Is it all a little strange? Definitely. But oddly, it sort of just works. With the wild imagination behind Pyre and with Supergiant Games actually making the Sport-RPG a thing: we're totally game.
There were a lot of really standout booths at this year's E3 (props to whoever decided to build an entire haunted house for Resident Evil 7), but Square Enix really brought their A-game. They had spectacle while remaining quite spacious, despite the large amount of attendees looking to get their grubby mitts on Dragon Quest Builders and Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. Each major title had a good six-to-eight kiosks assigned to it, meaning that everyone who wanted to sample a particular title was likely to get to it with a minimum of waiting. There was also a good amount of representation for smaller titles, such as I am Setsuna, Just Cause 3's new DLC, and The Turing Test. A large presentation screen and booth for Square Enix Presents also made it easy to learn more about upcoming titles and gave attendees something to look at as they waited in line. The balance of spectacle and relative comfort makes Square Enix the clear winner when it comes to the best E3 booth.
The hallmarks of a good game title are twofold. First, it should be memorable, etching out an indelible space in our memories; and second, it must be evocative, conveying the essence of the game with idiosyncratic flair. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is both of those things, and then some. Even the visual design of its logo is — forgive the pun — breathtaking, from the delicate flower rising out of the 'Z' in Zelda to the Ghibli-esque font used to spell out ゼルダの伝説 in the Japanese version. Several members of our staff were immediately captivated by the title and remarked that it might be one of the best in series history. We cannot wait to get our hands on this sprawling adventure and live the legend ourselves when it releases next year.
If the final game delivers on the promise shown here, then we may have something quite special to look forward to. An inventive, colorful, stylish action RPG from a developer typically known for first person shooters. Who knew?
While there's no proper guide to creating a perfect title, it's still pretty easy to spot what a bad one looks like. If our "best title" recipient highlights anything, it's that a lot of titles for video games work well when they're gripping or memorable; when they can quickly capture the core of what your game might be about; and from an editorial standpoint, it's great when you can say or type it out easily enough. We're sure there's a lot more involved in making an impactful title, but it's not hard to see why we just weren't fans of Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr — it's simply overstuffed. It requires no small amount of punctuation and just throws out tough-sounding words with very little rhythm to it. Other games in the Warhammer series are much more concise without sacrificing the spirit of the game's grim and gory universe. We're sure just one of the last two words would have sufficed.
There are varying opinions about Final Fantasy XV among site staff, but one thing that we almost all agree on is the shakiness of the battle system. Unfortunately, the Titan demo that Square Enix brought to E3 did little to calm our fears; in fact, it may have only reinforced them. In an attempt to be as bombastic as a God of War game, the demo strips the player of a good amount of control in favor a simpler, quick time approach. This could be chalked up to Square Enix wanting to bring a fresh and exciting demo to E3, but it left our crew feeling very uncertain. Instead of proving to us that the mechanics are tight and the battle system is deep, they aimed for spectacle over substance. Everyone here at RPGFan is hoping that this demo is not indicative of other sequences like this in the game, and it is worrying to see Square Enix take such a major misstep so close to the final release.
Everyone calm down a sec; we're not saying that Link needs to be a girl or having the ability to choose your gender is a necessary component of the next Legend of Zelda. The problem is that Nintendo spent the better part of two years pussyfooting around the idea of a female link without giving any kind of proper confirmation one way or another. They clearly knew people were talking about this potentially unique development for the franchise, and it almost feels like they played into that hype without committing to it. Link doesn't need to be a girl, but don't get our hopes up like that, Nintendo. Those Metroid wounds are still fresh...
We also would have also accepted God of War: Fatherhood, Dad of War, God of War: Custody Battle, Kramer vs Kratos, The Last God of Us, God of War: Skyrim, God of War: Rise of Kratos, Chronicles of the God of War: X, Rise of the God of War, God of War: Hunters, or any other potentially punny titles.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild reveal didn't quite take our breath away, but everything about its presentation was polished and impressive. Nintendo released a barrage of content, keeping convention attendees waiting patiently in line for hours just to get their hands on a controller. And the wait was well worth it. Link controls perfectly in this new open world version of Hyrule, as he runs, climbs, and slashes his way to adventure. Exploring the open world is a joy, and Nintendo has created a seemingly endless number of avenues for experimentation. Regardless of what happens with the game's release on the Wii U vs. the NX, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild seems like the breath of fresh air the series needs.
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