(Originally published June 25, 2019)
E3 2019 was massive. So many games on display, from the 60-something Xbox revealed on day one to the flurry of announcements during the Nintendo Direct; it’s no surprise that we’re on the verge of yet another game-pocalypse. But what really caught my eye? What got me saying “This game has already taken my breath away – even more so than Keanu Reeves does – and I cannot wait to play it!” Well, that’s why I’ve amassed a little list; just a bouquet garni of titles that helped season the E3 soup and make 2019 an extra special show.
The caveat here is I only picked games that were fully revealed at E3 (as far as I know), which excludes exciting announcements like Watch Dogs: Legion. Another surprise reveal, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was excluded due to the fact that while it is new in the sense that full dialogue has been added and the graphics look better, it’s essentially the same Lego Star Wars we all know and love. Furthermore, I left out the Xbox Ultimate Game Pass announcement – even though it was my favorite thing about E3 2019 – simply because… it isn’t a game. But definitely check that out if you’re an Xbox owner
Now that I’ve cleared all that up, it’s time to shine the spotlight on some future games you may have missed at this year’s show.
1. Twelve Minutes
At first glance, I thought 12 Minutes was a film trailer, which took me by surprise during the Xbox press conference. As it went on, I continued to believe in my assumption, as the top-down style made for a hyper-realistic scene, complete with a dramatic story that tugged on my heartstrings within the first 30 seconds. I recall just sitting there, mouth agape, head in my hands, wondering what this could be. As its game-like nature became more apparent, I knew 12 Minutes would be my game of the show, and sure enough, it left me more confused and impressed than anything else I saw at E3.
12 Minutes follows a man caught in a time loop, as he repeatedly tries to save his wife from a hitman. I admittedly don’t know very much about the plot or the gameplay at all, and I’m honestly trying to stay as in the dark as possible, but from the reveal trailer alone, the narrative seems dramatic and tense, with moments of joy and utter darkness scattered between the events. Scenes flashed across the screen of break-ins, dancing, brawling, love-making, and bloodshed, and all the while I sat there completely stupefied. I can’t recall the last time a game trailer left me with such bewilderment and an urge this strong to play it. Annapurna Interactive certainly has another indie darling on its hands, and I fully intend to champion its existence ’til the day it’s installed on my console.
2. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
Don’t ask me for a reason as to why I love Final Fantasy VIII so much. To be honest, I can’t recall playing it that long, let alone beating it. It’s one of those games where nostalgia fuels the memories more than actual credibility does, similar to how most people view Final Fantasy VII – a game that is receiving a full-fledged remake from the ground up. One thing’s for sure, however, and that’s the fact that I remember VIII‘s combat being more enjoyable and its overall tone is easier to swallow than VII‘s. This always drew me closer to Squall and the gang, and even years later with the Dissidia games, I found myself falling in love with VIII once again.
Imagine my surprise when Square Enix’s 2019 press conference dropped the revelation that is Final Fantasy VIII Remastered, a glorious HD rendition of a game my heart holds dear… for seemingly no reason. While the announcement alone excited the child within me, seeing this graphical overhaul before my very eyes made the 22-year-old video game enthusiast in me audibly scream in excitement, as I’ll finally be able to complete this game with the experience I now have, in the modern era with controls and visuals that do it all justice. Even though it is just a remaster – which pales in comparison to the juggernaut that is the FFVII Remake – I’m extremely grateful for this installment finally getting some love, and I’d be a downright fool to complain about these stunning enhancements.
- Chivalry II
Probably the most “what the fuuu-” announcement of E3 2019, Chivalry II caught me completely by surprise. Having just built my own gaming PC, and undergone months of grueling labor trying to get all my parts to work together, I finally have a system that runs (thank you to the five brave gentlemen who gave their lives, busting their ass over this machine). Now with this rig, I can finally play the games featured in the PC Gaming Show, so I tuned into their press conference this year. About halfway through the show, a certain trailer flew by that brought memories soaring through my psyche.
A little tubby boy comes home from a stressful day, Sophomore Year, and he lays on his stomach in his tiny bedroom, hopping onto TeamSpeak on his mom’s crappy laptop, ready to play some Chivalry with the boys at the lowest resolution possible. It was stuttery and difficult as all hell on a trackpad, but dammit, the boy was having a fun time. Fast forward to 2019, and that boy’s watching the reveal of a sequel to the game that kept his social life alive, oh, seven years ago. He shouts aloud, texts those buddies he’s barely seen since high school, and says, “GUYSSS. THE FEELS.” Needless to say, that boy (i.e. me) is pretty excited for more bloody medieval brawls, and I’ll finally get to see those beautiful textures in all their glory on a computer built to handle it. Isn’t adulthood a wonderful thing?
Strangely, this pick also comes from a nostalgic place in my heart, and it brings up a unique point as to why E3 2019 was so amazing in its own right. While I’ve seen a lot of lackluster fanfare regarding this year’s reveals and announcements, I personally found it exciting because it finally gave these games and developers of my past a chance to be reborn. While some games got long-overdue sequels or remasters that will reignite the passion I had for them so long ago, other games got successors in the form of brand-new IP’s from studios that made me the game-lover I am today.
Arkane Studios, for example, revealed Deathloop. This game comes in the wake of Prey and the Dishonored franchise, which I cherish dearly. While it looked incredible, another title caught my eye, and its mysterious nature is what earned itself a spot on my list. Outriders, from People Can Fly, seems to be a futuristic title that combines magic in a post-apocalyptic world, with what I assume is three-player co-op. The reveal trailer at the Square Enix conference was cryptic and short – not to mention cinematic and completely unrepresentative of the final game – but its existence alone got me excited. This is People Can Fly we’re talking about, makers of Bulletstorm, one of my favorite games of all time. If Outriders has a third of the humor Bulletstorm is known for, or even just similar shooting mechanics, I’m so down. With a bigger team now and some room to spread their wings (no pun intended), it’ll be fascinating to see how People Can Fly handles this new endeavor.
5. Telling Lies
Another new title shown at the PC Gaming Show, Telling Lies piqued my interest for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it’s made by the man who created Her Story, Sam Barlow. While I’ve yet to play Her Story, I know that it follows a woman’s confession to the police through evidence the player sorts through, including files and video diaries. It’s like a walking simulator without the walking or a visual novel with less reading. Let’s face it, it’s an interactive movie. But the concept is so gripping because the player essentially controls the flow of the story, and with this added layer of interactivity, it makes for a game like no other.
That is, until Telling Lies emerged from the shadows. This game seems to follow multiple people, all bound to together by “a lie.” The player accesses a database of files and sifts through each character’s video messages and personal documents to piece together a much larger storyline. What drew me in here is how “Unfriended” this game looks. As a massive fan of that movie, I thought it was crazy to see the cursor onscreen rummaging through a simulated desktop and searching for clues amongst the folders and software. It looks much broader than Her Story, with a lot more things to do in order to track down the real story at hand. I knew I was hooked by the end of the trailer, and its 2019 release window certainly has me anxious to play this any day now.
So what did we learn today? While E3 begins to dwindle in stature and attendee numbers, the quality of games lives up to the hype. It’s also quite fascinating to me that while the age of “one-of-a-kind” indies may be over, what with the small games industry starting to copy each other’s work, those independent pioneers are finding new ways to expand and become something more with sequels and updated ideas to rejuvenate their previous concepts. There are a lot of awesome indies on the horizon that were mentioned at E3 this year, and I excluded them because I talked about them in my PAX piece a couple months back (Starstruck, The Sinking City, and The Inner Friend were highlights).
This doesn’t mean the AAA industry is failing either, though, as remasters and brand new projects from old favorites were revealed, and games like Rainbow Six Quarantine – which I’m super excited about – aim to flip the genre on its head to keep players guessing. The games industry is thriving in 2019 and beyond, and while I could have talked about so many more fun E3 revelations (Patrice Desilets’s new game Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey finally got a release date of August 27!), I chose to only narrow it down to those that blew my mind. So I hope your mind was blown, as well. Isn’t that what E3 is all about?
-Written by Graydon Webb