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Midlife Mindset: The Top 16 Trailers of E3

June 16th, 2016 by

e3 001E3. A bloated, lumbering Confucius sustained by reveals, trailers, gameplay presentations and the firm belief that Valve must be working on Half Life 3, and we might see it someday (we won’t). Whilst the experience of seeing the “big 3″ show off their fancy new wares can be pretty gosh-dern exciting, keeping up with everything going on in LA is akin to trying to decipher the jumbled mutterings of a 4-year old on a pronounced sugar rush. So it’s just as well that we’ve gone through every single trailer on offer at E3 to bring you (in our humble opinion) the top 16 trailers of this wonderful E3 week. How did Hideo Kojima’s first game since his acrimonious exit from Konami, or Guerilla’s first offering since Sony stopped making them produce Killzone games, or Dice’s dramatic attempt to go back to World War I fare? Here’s our take this E3’s big trailer moments.

Honourable Mentions:

Days Gone – That Last of Us/Walking Dead/Sons of Anarchy mash-up looks alright, but the gameplay demo was ten minutes of running, shooting a bit, then running again with a few swears thrown in for good measure. Developer Bound need to offer a lot more next time.

Mass Effect Andromeda – This will surely be one of 2017’s biggest releases, but there wasn’t quite enough new material on offer to get truly excited, even if a fleeting shot of a new, comfortingly fast Mako fluttered the heart.

Watch Dogs 2 – You all hated Aiden Pearce, so you’ll accept this new bloke in shorts riding around this vibrant depiction of San Francisco and bloody well like it.

16 – Abzu

“Journey underwater.” That might be doing Giant Squid’s offering something of a disservice, but with said game’s art director Matt Nava at the helm, there’s more than a sense of this deep-sea diving title being something of a spiritual successor to thatgamecompany’s lauded title. The stylised art, lush colours and Austin Wintory’s recognisable score certainly provoke a sense that whilst you haven’t been here before, you’re no stranger to that familiar sense of wonder and a pronounced desire to explore.

15 – Battlefield 1

There’s certainly something to be said for Dice being willing to take the retro route during a time when the FPS genre that has become increasingly stale since the emergence of the first Modern Warfare, so Battlefield 1 has its work cut out for it. The signs are good, so far; the closing image of a blimp in flames crashing down on a rural village was damn impressive, and Dice don’t look to be too far off a successful formula given that they apparently have enough breakneck action and big bangs to fill a continent. Time will tell if this ends up being the shot in the arm that the genre needs, but if the end game is as fast and bombastic as this week’s trailer, it’ll be grand.

14 – South Park: The Fractured But Whole

Messrs Parker and Stone made one of the best adaptations of an animated TV show in the shape of 2013’s The Stick of Truth, and given that it’s successor has seemingly moved into an on-point lampoon of DC and Marvel’s current hostilities, it’s looking like The Fractured But Whole is in good shape. The trailer itself is just the boys pouring over plans for their movie franchise before Stan and Kenny argue with Cartman, and battles lines are drawn. It’s loud, crass and ridiculous as ever, and that’s totally fine by us.

13 – Final Fantasy XV

It’s not outlandish to suggest that the latest entry in Square Enix’s RPG behemoth didn’t enjoy a stellar E3. The gameplay demo of Noctis and his mates fighting a rocky colossus was fine, but thrown haphazardly into Microsoft’s conference without any suitable framing, and this trailer itself begins with Noctis falling from his palace from a great height before moving less-than flawlessly into an awkward forward roll. As you do. Worse still, the godawful dubstep supplied for this trailer by ‘AfroJack’ feels hugely at odds with the series’ penchant for stirring orchestral themes, which feels especially odd given that E3 is one of Square’s last opportunities to show off the long-delayed XV before its September release. But good lord if this isn’t a stunningly good looking game regardless. Wonderfully animated colossi all over the shop, fast and action-heavy battles and incredibly detailed settings (and chocobos, naturally) do a good job of glossing over the negative aspects mentioned, and offer a timely reminder of why you’re excited for this game in the first place.

12 – Resident Evil 7

Given that fans have been less-than deeply enamoured with the direction that Capcom’s survival horror series has taken since Resident Evil 4, the sight of Resi 7 taking a far less bombastic approach with this heavily PT inspired trailer is more than just a little fascinating. Sure, horror tropes are rife here; rotting flesh, disorienting fast cuts, low light and pictures with scratched-out faces are everywhere, but there’s also an unmistakable sense of dread, a hauntingly warped soundtrack and tons of tense first-person exploration around a derelict farm house. Terrifying? Oh, yes. A little familiar? For sure. But it’s nice to see Capcom ripping up their own rule-book when it comes to their beloved horror franchise, especially when the fruits of their labour already look this interesting.

11 – Dishonored 2

Sure, it’s infested with rats, beset with plague and filled with naught but bad dudes, but Dunwall, you old charmer, you’re looking as lovely and inviting as ever. Arkane’s sequel to their steampunk stealth title looks to be doing everything you wanted it to; more powers, further opportunities to delve into the mythos and otherworldly elements of this world and the promise of a far more engaging story. This trailer’s emphasis on grizzly death via pointy things was a good shout (lord knows it’s hard to make slow stealth look that exciting), and there’s enough supernatural jiggery-pokery going on with Emily Kerwin’s combat to make proceedings feel fresh and exciting. If Arkane can build on the original’s sense of freedom whilst offering a more refined, engaging plot, then they’re looking at a winner.

10 – Grow Up

Had the trailer just been shots of Bud, that lovable red robot turning around at the camera grinning like the lovable metallic loon that he is, this might have reached top spot. As it is, we were only treated to one, but you just know Grow Up will get by on its bucketloads of charm just as its predecessor did. The game looks to be a sequel in the simplest sense; expanded map, new flying abilities but still with the aim of growing a great big flower. And that’s fine. Grow Home was good fun, and Grow Up looks like it’s primed to be more of the same.

9 – Prey

Smatterings of Dead Space and Alien: Isolation are most definitely on offer in Arkane’s Prey reboot, but it feels more personal already, given the increased focus on protagonist Morgan Yu’s daily grind and the experiments being carried out on him. Visual majesty with aggressive but less-than bombastic first-person combat, a nice futuristic slant and that familiar sense of being stuck in a space station with something that wants to rip you up into little chunks? Count us in.

8 – Death Stranding

It’s tough to be sure if Kojima’s debut trailer for his first game since casting off Konami’s shackles is here on its own strengths, or because it’s made by the guy who thought Metal Gear Solid 2 was a good shout. As it is, the Norman Reedus-centric spot for Death Stranding looks intriguing, even if among the legions of dead crabs, the handprints, disappearing babies and beached marine life, it’s hard the figure out what the hell is going. Still, consider our interested piqued.

7 – Detroit: Become Human

David Cage’s team at Quantic Dream have one hell of a rough track record. Fahrenheit was reaching for the stars before the words ‘mystical cult’ reared their ugly heads, Heavy Rain was excellent but Beyond: Two Souls was so bizarre and self-indulgent that even everyone’s favourite Japanese auteur must’ve looked on with naught but a puzzled expression. So far, the awfully named Detroit is at least looking like a more focused experience than its predecessor by focusing on Quantic’s reliably choice-heavy gameplay and strength in visuals. Detroit looks great, its premise of humanoid robots on the run is intriguing, even if we’ve yet to scratch the narrative’s surface, and it looks like, for now at least, that Cage and his gang are back on track*.

*Subject to change, obviously. Did you play the second half of Fahrenheit? Still freaks me out to this day.

6 – Horizon: Zero Dawn

Whilst Killzone was hardly the worst franchise in history, there’s still a sense that Guerilla Games have caught people on the hop with Horizon, almost offering a true showcase of their talents; “Look, here’s what we’re REALLY capable of.” A delay means we won’t be getting our hands on it until February of next year, which is a touch disappointing, but each time this game shows its face, it continues to look great. Aloy’s misadventures with robotic animals are looking more interesting and varied on every occasion that Horizon is shown off, with particular emphasis on the intricacies of its stealthy combat and the addition of dialogue choices fleshing out what was already looking like a novel, fresh experience. More, please.

5 – The Last Guardian

October 25th. Still doesn’t feel quite real, does it? But there it is, seemingly set in stone; Japan Studio’s The Last Guardian, on its way to PlayStation 4 in a little over four months. Sure, it’s easy to be cynical about what Ueda and co. have been cooking up since that fateful first reveal at this very convention in 2009, even more so when you consider how sparse information and footage has been in those subsequent seven years. But it’s tough not to be more than a little excited, purely because The Last Guardian looks so damn fresh. The trailer itself is low on gameplay, but still does a great job of emphasising how central the boy and his gigantic dog with wings narrative will be to the game, with several sombre shots of our tattooed protagonist comforting his whimpering companion. After spending this long in development, you’d be more than justified to feel worried about The Last Guardian, but this was another timely reminder of just how talented Japan Studio are at what they do, and why it’s absolutely ok to be excited about it. Roll on October.

4 – The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild

Shades of Dark Souls, Shadow of the Colossus and Skyrim, anyone? Not that that’s a bad thing; Breath of the Wild is seemingly all about the bare, beautiful outdoors and given the complete lack of towns on offer throughout the reveal, don’t expect to be doing much in the way of interacting with other folk when this pops onto the Wii U. It’s a testament to Nintendo’s fierce commitment to make sure every Zelda game has a unique feel to it that Breath of the Wild still looks engaging, beautiful and absorbing even after taking to account the sparsity of its environments. Doesn’t hurt that you can cook and craft on your travels, either.

3 – God of War

Easily one of E3’s biggest and best surprises this year, this. The God of War formula, as successful as it has no doubt been, had become stale, so Santa Monica Studio’s decision to chuck out said formula and Ancient Greece with it in favour of Scandinavia, whilst making Kratos a proper character with actual depth beyond ripping apart winged beasts is a welcome shock to the system. The game looks great, full of pleasing combat but better paced, patient and less focussed on relentless action as Kratos and his son explore the frozen wilderness, hunt deer and run into a massive, angry bloke with tusks. It’s still clearly God of War, but realised through a modern prism, and the sight of the God of War himself attempting to offer something in the way of encouragement by trying to pat his son on the back is so wonderfully removed from this series’ past that it’s tough not to be excited about what this game has in store.

2 – Mafia 3

Oof. Hangar 13 win the Style, Gratuitous Violence and Effortless Sleaze awards hands down with this little beauty. Lincoln Clay’s war against the New Italian Mafia looks and feels epic; muscle car chases, the KKK burning crosses, fingers and pliers meeting each other, a speed boat being driven down a flippin’ sewer, for goodness sake, it’s all here. This adventure in 1960’s Southern America has an inescapably gripping, dramatic and bloody feel to it already, and it’s shaping up to be one helluva game.

1 – Trials of the Blood Dragon

Surprised? So were we. Even if you never touch Ubisoft’s ridiculous, bombastic, technicolour wonder, there’s no denying that it had the best trailer of this year’s E3. 90s Saved By The Bell style word graphics, cartoon animations, actual figures being held in a deliberately hammy fashion, a wonderfully OTT narration featuring such gems as “Come fight Vietnam war 4! Together! Forever! Today!” should give you a rough idea of how deliberately daft this iteration of Trials is. To its credit, the gameplay does appear to be expanded on the familiar Trials template, with gigantic alien space balls crashing your vehicles tracks and mine carts adding to your array of vehicles, but who even cares when it’s presented in this wonderfully ridiculous and brazenly tongue-in-cheek fashion? A Telltale game would look like the piece de resistance of gameplay if they were presented as masterfully as this. Well played, Ubisoft. Well played.

What do you think? Anything we missed?  Totally agree with us? Leave YOUR views in the comments section


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