This is in no way a definitive list of the games on show at this year’s E3. The selection in 2013 has been vast, with hundreds of titles from developers and studios making their appearance on the show floor. To distill all those games into one article would be madness, so instead, we’ve selected a choice few of the hottest titles on display at E3. Read through and feel free to tell us what we missed, or what you would have included.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Taking place in the swashbuckling days of 1715, the latest game in the Assassin’s franchise sees players assuming the role of pirate assassin Edward Kenway — the grandfather of AC3‘s Connor. Set in the Caribbean, we follow Edward as he fights, shoots and plunders his way through the seas, with epic ship battles, sword-fights, swimming, exploration and the usual mix of stealth and action that fans of the series are accustomed to. Ubisoft called it “one of the most ambitious open world games ever created” during their conference, and we think they could be right. (PS3, Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PC)
Quantic Dream doesn’t make normal games. Heavy Rain, the studio’s last title, was an emotional action thriller, light on gameplay, but deep on story and character development. It was unique in its approach to narrative and the effects that could have on the way we play games. Beyond looks set to continue that, billed as a psychological action thriller, except it aims to deliver the emotion of Heavy Rain with an injection of action gameplay in the mix. Featuring performances by and likenesses of Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, the game spans 15 years in the life of Jodie Holmes (Page), who faces extreme challenges over the course of those years as she tries to figure out who she really is. If Beyond can crank up the pace of Heavy Rain but still deliver the knockout emotional punch, it will be incredible. (PS3)
Watch Dogs was teased at E3 last year, and further revealed at Sony’s PS4 event in February. This E3, the live gameplay demo only furthered the need to see and play more of this game. Set in the near future, it’s an open-world action game, with tactical stealth mixed in as well. Our protagonist is Aiden Pearce, who uses his smartphone to hack into any system in Chicago to spy on its inhabitants. Controlling security cameras, power grids, cellphones, data banks — everything — players will use his hacking abilities to control the city, identifying targets and eliminating them, using the city as his weapon. As well as guns, of course. It looked beautiful in the early gameplay demo, with slick visuals, a fluid UI and an excellent premise. Watch Dogs is definitely one to watch. (Sorry.) (PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U)
The newest game in the Tom Clancy franchise, The Division is an open-world, online, multiplayer, third-person shooter. Set in a fictional New York, in which an unnamed pathogen has infected the world’s population, players take control of members of an elite, anonymous group of individuals trained to maintain order in society should those in command fall. As New York succumbs to the viris, basic services fail and the city descends into chaos. This is the world of The Division, with players teaming up with friends to safeguard the city from inhabitants and other players. The gameplay left us wanting more, and with an entire New York City to explore and rescue, it should really demonstrate the power of the next-gen consoles. (Xbox One, PS4)
Don’t call it a sequel, or a prequel. Call it a reboot, a whole new game. That’s what Eidos told us during our presentation of the game, and it’s a compelling argument. Taking the essence of what made the original games so great, but updating it to fit in a world filled with Assassin’s Creed and Dishonored, Thief is shaping up to be a pretty incredible game. We viewed pre-alpha gameplay footage, and the game aready looks crisp, fluid and rather pretty — despite its muted color palette and predominantly dark settings. With open gameplay that allows users to make their own choices, Thief should prove a great game to old fans and new alike. (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
The Crew demonstrates the power that the next gen has to affect every genre. Taking the open-world racing concept of Test Drive Unlimited, the attention to detail of Gran Turismo and the arcade fun of Burnout, The Crew follows players as they work to infiltrate a criminal organization, working their way through various scenarios and races as they try to become the best team of drivers — or crew — in the city. With detailed multiplayer, that includes a simple jump-in/jump-out system and a map that encompasses not a city or a state, but the whole of the USA, The Crew will feature off-roading, drifting, racing and takedown missions, as well as a ridiculously deep customization engine that allows the player to strip the car to the chassis and rebuild as needed for a specific event. It looked incredible in motion, and we can’t wait for more. (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Ryse: Son of Rome
Exclusive to Xbox One, Ryse puts the player in Roman times, taking the place of a soldier who, after watching the murder of his family, joins the army to exact revenge. Ryse is all about bloody, visceral action, with a deep fighting mechanic that allows players to level up, unlocking better exectutions and quick-time elements to exact pain upon your foes. On top of that, it also blends RTS elements by letting players command infantry in battle as they hack and slash their way through the enemy, by shouting orders at the Xbox’s Kinect sensor. It should offer an interesting view into a bloody period of history. (Xbox One)
Murdered: Soul Suspect
What’s the hardest crime to solve? Try your own murder. That’s the task that Murdered: Soul Suspect assigns players, with its protagonist – Salem, Mass., detective Ronan O’Connor – murdered by an unknown criminal. Finding himself trapped between worlds as a ghost, he must work to solve his own murder case. Possessing civilians and reading their minds, or directing their thoughts, scanning scenes, interacting with the supernatural elements that arise in Salem, all in a day’s work as Ronan continues his investigation — and that’s what is so refreshing about Murdered, it’s a game about investigating. By stripping back to a simple gameplay dynamic, the developers have crafted something truly unique in a world of me-too shooters. Murdered could well be one of the last great hurrahs of the current generation before the Xbox One and PS4 swoop in and steal the limelight. (Xbox 360, PC, PS3)
Mirror’s Edge 2
Developer DICE has remained quiet on actual details for Mirror’s Edge 2, but has stated that it will be more open world and more action oriented than its predecessor. Whether it’s a sequel or a fresh story also remains to be seen, but it certainly looks like Faith Connors from the original game in the teaser trailer. We loved Mirror’s Edge, which was a flawed but brilliant game, with some of the nicest visuals of this generation. If DICE can smooth over the cracks in the original, and bring the level of detail the trailer suggests, Mirror’s Edge 2, or whatever DICE eventually names it, could be something truly spectacular.
Kingdom Hearts 3
After so many remixes and offshoots, Kingdom Hearts is finally getting a proper, numerically accurate sequel. Fans of the series rejoice, as it looked incredible in the brief teaser we were treated to on the show floor, with the story slated to follow Sora as he attempts to halt Master Xenahort from remaking the xi blade to open Kingdom Hearts, all while trying to save Terra’s, Aqua’s and Ventus’s souls. It recieved a great response when Sony debuted the trailer during its press conference, and the activity at Square Enix’s booth suggests that hype for the return of Kingdom Hearts is only going to increase. We can’t wait to play it. (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)