You don't need us to explain what was at E3 2018 any further: You know it was, among other things, the long-awaited show floor debut of Dragon Quest XI and Kingdom Hearts III. We got a look at Cyberpunk 2077 at last, and found ourselves in love with the booth design of the same company we loved in 2017. We laughed, we cried, and we definitely did a bit of both for our first award shown here.
When you're done checking out our show awards, as always, we have a full plate of Editor Awards too, where most of our attending staff go off on whatever tangents they want (there's a lot of doggo talk). Enjoy!
Skyrim: Very Special Edition on Alexa
Most Surprising Reveal of E3 2018
Look, we know "Skyrim is on everything" is a long-running joke that's actually becoming less of a joke every day. But really, people love Skyrim, so the wider availability, the better. And honestly, when Bethesda themselves are willing to poke fun at the situation, that's kind of refreshing. So when they jokingly revealed Skyrim was coming in audio form to Alexa, we all got a hearty laugh at the ridiculous notion that...
Dragon Quest XI's E3 demo impressed every RPGFan staff member that tried it. Dragon Quest's traditional turn-based combat and quirky monster designs have barely changed in the series' 30+ years, but they've never looked or felt as good as they do in their latest incarnation. The combat is brisk and beautiful, the world map vast and welcoming, and the characters and dialog radiate charm. Even if they aren't among the Dragon Quest faithful, all fans of turn-based Japanese RPGs should pay close attention to Dragon Quest XI.
CD Projekt RED and Cyberpunk 2077, their latest project, are seeking to revolutionize the cyberpunk gaming experience, and we couldn't be more excited. Emergent gameplay consequences? Morally grey dialogue choices? Guns that fire homing bullets? Exo-suits that can flip cars? Augmentations to your body that fundamentally change how you mechanically play the game? All the neon fashion that a Hot Topic fused with an '80s neo-punk aesthetic could contain? Cyberpunk 2077 has all these things and so much more set to affect the character you personally create, known as V, and their journey through the seedy streets of Night City. We can't wait to dive in, and we're guessing you may feel the same.
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin was probably the most relaxing game at the conference this year. Split between two very different mechanics — rice farming and demon slaying — the game was not only the best Action RPG at this year's E3, but also the best farming RPG! Sakuna's gorgeous design and fast, responsive combat meld together perfectly to create a familiar yet unique adventure. There are different combinations of weapons for you to craft and change up your combos, and there's a ton of enemies for you to take down in order to save your island. But you mustn't neglect your rice paddy either! It's the endearing charm and pick-up-and-play mentality of Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin that will hopefully make it a surefire hit.
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise - Drink Mixing
Best Gameplay Mode of E3 2018
Nearly all RPGs have some form of gameplay that serves as an alternative or diversion to the main quest, whether it's fishing, crafting, racing, cards, or underwater rugby/handball. Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, true to its Yakuza development pedigree, is loaded with secondary gameplay modes, but none as entertaining or hilarious as drink mixing, in which Kenshiro prepares drinks with the same intensity and aggressiveness as he punches motorcycle bandits:
After playing the demo and seeing the phrase "You are already drunk" appear following a successful round, we knew this minigame deserved an award.
Huge games like Kingdom Hearts III sometimes had dozens of stations available to stop and play. Even with so much opportunity, we often found the lines capped at the 1.5-3 hour wait mark. As E3 keeps growing, you have to be persistent and willing to wait to play most games. Sakuna? Not so much. Four PS4s were on hand with Edelweiss' upcoming action RPG, and it was easy to get to. Clearly, everyone willing to pass it by had no idea what they were missing. We hope Sakuna ends up being a hit, but it was definitely flying under many a radar at E3.
Avoiding long lines and big crowds at E3 is impossible, but the best E3 booth spaces mitigate those crowds with cool visual presentations and a variety of different features and activities. Capcom had long lines for its Mega Man 11 demo, but players got six lives to complete Block Man's stage or die trying, more generous than most demos. The Blue Bomber's back, baby!
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate and Street Fighter V Arcade Edition were also playable (with much shorter lines than Mega Man), and demos of Resident Evil 2's remake were shown behind closed doors, right next to a replica of a wrecked Raccoon City police car. The icing on the Capcom cake was a large wall of Mega Man history, with a timeline spanning 30 years of Mega Man releases above demo stations for Mega Man Legacy Collection and Mega Man X Legacy Collection. Best of all, the Devil May Cry 5 trailer played often on screens around the booth, so attendees were serenaded by "Devil Trigger" throughout the show.
Runner-Up: Bandai Namco
And Now For Something Different
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
Best "you know what actually yeah that one" Award
Who remembers 2015 — the year when Bandai Namco Europe destroyed every Tales of fan's dreams with one simple Tweet? Tales of Vesperia has long been a fan favorite in this long-running series, but it's availability was limited to the Xbox 360 in the West, with a highly improved PS3 version sitting tantalisingly as a Japan exclusive, until now. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of Tales of Vesperia, and Bandai Namco wants to celebrate one of the best games in the series. So, as announced at Microsoft's Conference at this year's E3, not only are we getting the PS3 additions, but we're getting them on every single modern console. It's a dream come true. And the icing on the cake? Bandai Namco Europe came full circle on this joke...
Square Enix's booth was all about two big epic RPGs this year, but only one of them could win, and Dragon Quest XI is a worthy victor. While Cyberpunk 2077 has the blockbuster style and Kingdom Hearts III has the power of Disney and friendship, nothing could dissuade us from the sheer charm and polish of the eleventh entry in this illustrious series. The real allure of Dragon Quest XI is that it's a perfect realization of all things Dragon Quest for a modern console. There are new skill trees to flesh out for each individual character, new minigames to experience, a brand new menu layout, full English voice acting, and you can ride a horse and pet all of the dogs! That fifteen-minute demo alone was special, introducing us to the world by giving us all the freedom we could ever want; whether we chose to go horse racing, exploring, fighting, or simply just sift through all of the menus, there was a plethora of things to discover in such a short amount of time. And while we still have a few months to wait, we can proudly wear our Dragon Quest XI t-shirts to hold on to that little slice of fun.
Polished to the heavens, but still characteristically Dragon Quest in visual style, Echoes of an Elusive Age looks outstanding and deserves to be called our favorite game at the show this year. Our appetites are whet, and our time with the game has reminded us that one of the grandfathers of the genre still has it in it, 32 years later. Bring on September 4th.