Favorites of E3 2015

E3 is usually loads of fun, even if I’m only taking in the event from behind a computer monitor. Still, from snarking through the press conferences to watching new footage of a highly-anticipated game, there is always plenty to be excited about.

2015 didn’t bring any new hardware, but we saw tons of games. I collected 25 games that most excite me. I can’t imagine ever buying all of them, much less having the time to making any meaningful progress in them, but it is fun to talk about them. It will be more fun a few years from now as I look back at what I thought pre-release.

List items

  • I don’t agree with the decision to keep both versions of Fire Emblem Fates, subtitled Conquest and Birthright, separate instead of bundling them as a single game outside Japan. Fire Emblem is just not popular enough worldwide. I worry that it’s going to split the potential market, ensuring that neither version sells decently. Now, if Nintendo counts both games as a single FE Fates, maybe this won’t matter.

    That concern aside, this is easily my most anticipated game(s). The hardest part of the wait for its 2016 Worldwide release will be to stay spoiler-free; the Japanese versions hits this month.

  • I haven’t actually seen a lot of Rock Band 4 at E3. Harmonix announced a price for the Band-in-a-Box bundle – $250 – a release date, and a new (and thankfully optional) way to play guitar solos. As for footage, we’re seeing more of the performances, but don’t look very different from previous Rock Band games. They must be holding back a bunch, so it’s a pity that E3 wasn’t a massive explosion of information.

    That being said, I’m still crazy excited. Rock Band 3 is among my favorite games ever, so as long as they don’t screw up the important stuff (no, I don’t care about the lack of online), this could be my favorite game of the year, in competition with Fallout 4 and Life is Strange.

  • Regarding being able to create our own hovel, I'm quite interested in seeing exactly how extensive this feature is. For instance, will I be able to create a mansion hovel? How about an apartment building hovel? Can my hovel stretch across the lands? Or maybe even water? The questions are endless.

    Otherwise, it doesn't appear that too much has change, which is probably for the best. Some of the newer changes, such as a voice protagonist and third-person camera angles during dialogue, look a bit awkward. Even so, I can't wait to jump back into this post-apocalypse landscape and start collecting them pop-caps.

  • Super Mario Maker at the Nintendo “World” Championship was phenomenal, and the footage released since has only cemented my excitement for this game. Sure, as with any game where user-created content makes up the bulk, a lot of levels are going to be shit. But we’re also going to find amazing levels that we never imagined before. That’s really exciting.

  • Before the E3 trailer, I expressed little interest in The Phantom Pain. I’m one of those who believed that the series should’ve ended at MGS4, didn’t touch Peace Walker, and judged Ground Zeroes for its missteps, and yet Phantom Pain’s E3 trailer raised my interest.

    But it’s Konami’s E3 demonstration that really excited me. They brought Venom Snake (aka Big Boss) through the desert to two enemy bases to cause all sorts of delicious havoc. We also saw a bunch about Snake’s buddies and customizable weapons. This video, which is available on YouTube, made me go from buying because it’s the last Kojima Metal Gear to buying because it looks awesome.

  • Perhaps the best decision was to cast off the luggage of Guitar Hero’s past and begin again with a new guitar instrument and a new approach to DLC. Instead of buying additional songs (which I understand is still possible), players can jump onto a number of “channels,” which is constantly playing songs. You have no control over what songs play, but it’s free. (Premium channels also exist, which can apparently be accessed through in-game currency, earned through playing or simply buying them outright.)

    When it came to buying additional songs, Rock Band always took precedent over Guitar Hero, and that’s likely to remain the case. So being able to play more songs without splitting funds is a win/win in my book.

  • We haven’t seen a good Yoshi game since Yoshi’s Island on SNES despite a handful of sequels, but Yoshi’s Woolly World is our best chance at recapturing some of that magic. If nothing else, Yoshi and his (it?) world are adorable as yarn. And that goes triple for the yarn Yoshi amiibos, which I will immediately snatch up.

    The footage has been solid, and we won’t have to wait long to see if Yoshi’s Woolly World stands alongside Island or sits at the dunce table with Yoshi’s Island DS and 2.

  • Some people complain that Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem, called Genei Ibun Roku #FE in Japan, isn’t what they expected. I love that Atlus went against expectations to create something so different from a standard crossover. Much about the actual gameplay is still unknown, but the more I see of this game, the more excited I become.

    Going by the trailer, we’re still a ways from a NA release. Maybe Fire Emblem Fates in the beginning of 2016 and this strange game towards the end?

  • I never expected the long rumored Final Fantasy VII remake to actually become a real project until Square Enix was on the verge of going away entirely. They’d release the remake and earn a ton of cash from fans, fanatics, and anyone curious to what’s spawned such crazy, long-lasting interest in seeing FF7 reborn.

    Instead, they trot it out between The Last Guardian and Shenmue 3 Kickstarter. It made for a hell of a show.

  • I love a good music/rhythm game, and Persona has given fans great music, so I’m cool with this spin-off. The idea that the Investigation Team must reform to dance against shadows(?) to save missing people is crazy silly, but so was jumping into a television to battle doppelgangers of your friends.

    Yeah, Persona 4 was pretty crazy. I cannot wait for Persona 5.

  • Martin Sahlin was the best presenter at E3. At times, he spoke maybe a little too quickly. His hands seemingly trembled as he held Yarny, the adorable hero of Unravel that Martin created while on vacation. It was a little awkward, but this was so refreshing against the many who rehearsed their scripts until they sounded calm, confident, and, consequently, robotic. Frankly, Martin came across as the most human at any of these press conferences.

    Unravel is utterly charming, and a lot of that has to do with Yarny. Of course, a physics-based side-scrolling platformer is not unique, but I liked what I saw. This game immediately became a favorite after the first trailer, and I am very excited to eventually play this game.

  • Although released on Steam last year, I have been excited for Freedom Planet to jump onto the Wii U eShop. Inspired by Sonic the Hedgehog and other classic 2D side-scrollers, Freedom Planet would fit right in on the Sega Genesis, and I am thrilled to play the finished game when it releases later this year.

    Freedom Planet is part of Nintendo’s Nindies@Home, allowing players to download and play through a single level that, honestly, goes by so quickly. Better yet, downloading the demo grants a temporary 15% off Freedom Planet once released.

  • Although Richard Eisenbeis of Kotaku did not especially enjoy Xenoblade Chronicles X (his recent appearance on USGamer’s Axe of the Blood God podcast dowsed my excitement some), I am still considerably interested in Monolith Soft’s latest RPG. Maybe less than I was before, but I can’t think of worse things I’d rather do than create my protagonist and head off into uncharted lands.

    Speaking of Xenoblade, I should really play the original Wii game. Man, if only Nintendo released an HD remaster instead of a 3DS port.

  • WayForward’s big-eyed, purple-haired heroine Shantae is too adorable, and Half-Genie Hero looks like a lot of fun. Fortunately, it’s literally released on every modern console* (only 3DS was left out in the cold), so nobody (except 3DS-only owners) has an excuse not to give this beauty a try.

    *Anyone else annoyed when someone says “this game is on every console,” but only means Xbox One, PS4, and PC?

  • The trailer paints Firewatch as story-heavy, but I have little idea what we’ll be doing outside of listening to the woman on the other side of the walky-talky. Regardless, the game’s gorgeous, and I can’t think of any games that stars a forest fire lookout. It looks fun and maybe even a little relaxing at times.

  • Even Halo 4 delivered an enjoyable enough adventure, and I have little doubt that Halo 5 will continue that legacy. I can’t say that multiplayer will play any role with me since I haven’t paid for Live Gold in years.

    It’s interesting that 343 Industries has decided to bring Master Chief’s fellow SPARTAN-IIs, until now relegated to the Expanded Universe. Does that mean they intend to integrate more of the EU into the main Halo games? And if so, how far will they go? Personally, I can think of a previously-mute SPARTAN-III I’d like to see within a game.

  • Everything after Star Fox 64 was varying degrees of meh. Adventures was little more than Zelda lite and Assault had those mediocre ground segments, while Command was an interesting idea that just wasn’t that much fun. So I couldn’t be happier that Nintendo is “reimagining” (read: rebooting) the series, bringing it back to the basics.

    And about those graphics? They look fine. Stop bitching.

  • It’s easy to be cynical about Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam. After all, neither Mario & Luigi nor Paper Mario has released an outstanding game in quite some time. Still, I intend to be optimistic. Developer AlphaDream’s track record is solid, and the premise of mixing the Mario & Luigi with Paper Mario has so much potential for great comedy.

  • Uncharted 2 is an outstanding adventure, but Uncharted 3 felt very similar. By the looks of it, Uncharted 4 follows the same route with the major draw being the next-generation visuals. And that’s okay. While the shooting hasn’t been the strongest, the wit and style this series exudes is so enjoyable that I can’t complain about jumping back into Nathan Drake’s world, even if what we’re doing doesn’t feel too dissimilar to past games.

  • The appeal of Battlefront was always taking iconic Star Wars vehicles and blasting brain-dead enemies with friends. That “with friends” is important since otherwise, these games quickly lose their luster. Whether this new Battlefront will rectify that remains to be seen. Still, those Star Wars vehicles look incredible.

    But didn’t those AT-ATs look a little small? I always remembered them as bigger.

  • I never made it far into Bravely Default, but I enjoyed what I played and appreciated that it’s an old-school JRPG released into a market dominated by flashy, big-budget Western RPGs. Regardless, Bravely Second makes interesting additions to the battle system that I’m curious to try out.

  • I held off on Hyrule Warriors when it came to Wii U because I didn’t want to be tethered to the television while mindlessly hacking away at brain-dead enemies, but mindlessly hacking away on my 3DS? I like the sound of that. Coming packaged with the DLC characters just sweetens the deal.

  • For as much as people bemoan Zelda for playing it safe, Nintendo has tossed Zelda into stranger directions when it comes to multiplayer. Four Swords brought about four Links, while Four Swords Adventures focused on the link (no pun intended) between GameCube and GBA. This time around, Three Swords — I mean, Tri Force Heroes — is focusing on altitude and style. Our heroes stack upon one another to reach higher plateaus. They also gain unique abilities depending on the clothing worn.

    Nintendo promises online play, but I’m more curious about tackling the game solo. Apparently, the other Links will be controlled by AI, so will the stages and puzzles be the same as multiplayer? More importantly, will it be any fun alone?

  • I’m not a Rare fan. I played a little bit of Donkey Kong Country, but when it came to buying my first Nintendo 64 game, I went with Banjo-Kazooie and quickly regretted it. GoldenEye 007 was a blast, but Perfect Dark and Perfect Dark Zero never caught my attention. All that being said, it’s hard to argue with 30 games for $30. And this is my chance to play games I missed the first time around, like Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Battletoads.

  • It might be heresy to drop The Last Guardian at the bottom of the list, but seeing that I barely spent much time with Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, I’m just not as excited for this new game as I am for everything listed above. I might even argue that whatever interest I have in The Last Guardian is simply to know why development stretched nearly ten years, although it seems unlikely that there will be anything in the game that explains this.

    Chances are I won’t immediately buy this game. More likely, I will observe the game as reactions and videos flood out and decide then. I can see such methodical gameplay would excite some, and I could be one of them eventually, but right now it’s not doing much for me.