E3 2018: The most wanted, the weirdest and the biggest titles at the world's premier games show
Ronan Price reports from LA on the hottest titles coming your way in 2018, 2019 and beyond
The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles had more than 3,000 products on show from hundreds of exhibitors across the vast halls of the LA Convention Centre and many more venues around the City of Angels. Here's what I found as the only Irish journalist to attend.
Forza Horizon 4 (out October 2)
FOUR seasons in one day? Try four in five minutes, the signature twist of the E3 demo for this latest instalment of the euphoric racing franchise. The full game won’t be so abrupt but the changing weather adds a fresh dynamic to the meticulously recreated landscapes of northern Britain. FH3 was a damn fine racer that attracted nine million players but Horizon 4 raises the bar with the enticing prospect of 60fps on Xbox One X and PC and a shared world that revs up the experience to allow for up to six players in co-op mode.
Cyberpunk 2077 (2020, maybe)
WITH a pedigree that includes the majestic medieval RPG Witcher 3, edgy Polish studio CD Projekt Red promises a tantalising glimpse of the future in 2077. Another massive open-world action-adventure, anchored in a seedy sci-fi city of sex, violence and crime, 2077 probably won’t release for at least two years, making it a fair bet for the next generation of consoles as well as the current crop.
Resident Evil 2 (Jan 25, 2019)
IF you’re going to remake one of the classic survival horrors, let be one of the weirder ones with giant alligators and, ahem, living blocks of tofu. RE2 retains its nerve-jangling claustrophobia and deliberate awkwardness but has been subtly tweaked for a modern audience. Camp and yet petrifying, a bit like the dark backstage corridor at Capcom’s E3 booth populated by, ahem, real zombies.
The Last of Us 2 (2019)
CORMAC McCarthy tapped a similar vein of post-apocalyptic dystopia in The Road but developer Naughty Dog takes even greater risks with its portrayal of a teenage girl enduring in a nightmarish society where it’s kill or be killed. Deftly juxtaposing moments of sweet romance with bursts of tense barbarism, TLOU2 walks a tightrope that only Naughty Dog could pull off.
Strange Brigade (August 28)
A SUPERNATURAL shooter with echoes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Strange Brigade wastes no time on elaborate plotting, preferring to hand players a gun and thrust them into a maelstrom of angry undead. But with three other players on board, the chaotic action acquires a certain rhythm that calls for sustained co-op. Veteran developers Rebellion have tongues firmly in cheek with the narration and there’s more to Strange Brigade’s strategic options than first meets the eye.
Hitman 2 (November 13)
AGENT 47 shows no sign of losing his clinical blood-lust in Hitman 2, the second reboot of the assassin franchise. The hairless hitman returns in full this November after the episodic experiments of the last game. The E3 demo showcased his new ability to blend into crowds and the plethora of deadly methods for taking out targets. The mission in Miami to kill an F1 driver and her father had a familiar air to it, nonetheless, but was notable for the option to snuff them with, of all things, a giant fish.
Just Cause 4 (December 4)
IT’S impossible to dislike Rico Rodriguez, the one-man demolition army and toppler of dictators. This fourth instalment of the Just Cause series amps the potential for chaos with the addition of cataclysmic weather systems such as tornadoes and turbo-charging Rico’s explosive grappling hooks. The developers from Avalanche Studios took great glee in showing off the awesome power of the physics system, which will undoubtedly feature in many a YouTube clip and Twitch stream come release day.
Tunic (late 2019)
CREATOR Andrew Shouldice readily admits a debt to Zelda with his friendly isometric adventure Tunic. All the building blocks have a recognisable inspiration but Shouldice has put them together in impeccable style. Progress is gated via the necessary acquisition of weapons including more unusual ones such as firecrackers. The narrative has been left suitably vague to let the player fill in the mystery via the strange symbols dotted around the levels.
Maneater (no date)
The PC game that got the biggest laugh at E3 must surely be this self-professed “SharkPG”, which features the Jaws-like antics of a giant bull shark terrorising the Gulf Coast. Details were thin on the, ahem, ground but the tongue-in-cheek trailer from publisher Tripwire (of Killing Floor fame) suggested a very acrobatic fish capable of leaping out of the water. Perhaps this will turn out to be rubbish but it got the most raucous cheers among the dozens of titles shown at the PC Gaming Show conference just before E3 opened.
Beyond Good and Evil 2 (2020, maybe)
SPACE monkeys and chef pigs? It can only be the bizarre world of BGE2, follow-up to the beloved 2003 action-adventure. The trailer was all impressive CGI but behind closed doors Ubisoft showed off a sizeable slice of gameplay featuring melee combat and space flight in starfighters before it went a bit No Man’s Sky with multiple planets. Unfortunately, the wait for this one is likely to be long, with creator Michel Ancel announcing after E3 that BGE2 would enter a beta phase only in late 2019. So the best we can hope for is a 2020 release date.
Call of Duty Black Ops 4 (October 12)
WE knew single-player was gone and Battle Royale mode was incoming so the biggest change evident in an E3 hands-on with Black Ops 4 is the health system. Giving you a bigger pool of health and forcing manual recharging changes the pace of the game, lengthening the time between kills and giving casual players a fighting chance. There’s much more too in the form of the tactical loadouts and special abilities. It’s still hellishly frantic and the campaign mode will be missed but Black Ops 4 has shifted the goalposts a bit this year and shaken up the series.
Serious Sam 4: Planet Badass (2019, maybe)
SAM’S fans have been appealing for a sequel for seven years since SS3 in 2011 and finally Croatian studio Croteam is ready to revive the dumbest fun shooter since Duke Nukem. SS4 has spent the time building an engine that can put thousands of enemies on-screen at once on a massive map. Croteam PR manager Daniel Ludic proudly told me how with a powerful PC he expects up to 10,000 characters visible simultaneously while the map is up to 128 square kilometres in size. To me, the numbers don’t matter so much as the sheer mindless fun that stems from mowing down the monsters while exploring up to 15 levels, a mix of rural, urban and interior designs. Serious Sam is anything but serious, of course, and with a glint in his eye Ludic reveals there’s some sort of Popemobile in the game too. Do you get to drive it or shoot at the Pope? Ludic won’t say.
Battlefield V (October 19)
YES, it’s different but also the same. The superior shooter experience of Battlefield One is still lighting up servers and fans can expect to feel right at home in Battlefield V, which moves the campaign to World War II. The most notable addition is Grand Operations, which creates sweeping battles taking place over multiple stages. But the smoother animation makes a difference too and, of course, there is a Battle Royale mode, which EA did not show off at E3.