E3 has come and gone, and with it came some fantastic showpieces for the coming year and beyond. Like everyone who attends the annual spectacle, the Shack staff had its own standouts and favorites. Each of us picked a handful of games that knocked our socks off, and you can see the aftermath of our de-socking below. Check them out, and let us know which games caught your fancy in Chatty.
Smash Bros: This was just an incredibly presented game from top to bottom, reminding us of everything we love about this series. The random party moments, the competitive juices, and the random mayhem were all present. And on top of everything, it just felt like a far more polished version of Melee, which is just what Brawl should have been from the beginning.
Batman: Arkham Knight: Batman blew me away, because I was certain that there was nothing Rocksteady could do to make the series better. But here they are, adding new takedowns (environmental takedowns are amazing!) and new twists to what's already a tremendous combat system. And I learned that the Bat-mobile is no mere gimmick. Not only does it look to add more to the Batman formula, but actually using it to organically add to the combat (with knockout missile finishers, no less) is nothing short of incredible!
Far Cry 4: It's another great addition to the series and I love that they're taking their formula and putting it in a high altitude. On top of that, the different ways to clear objectives is a welcome addition. For example, I suck at flying. So rather than use the gyro-copter to clear a fortress, I'll simply hijack an elephant and plow forward. It's another beautiful world complemented with lively AI wildlife and a variety of gameplay options. Really loved this.
Assassin's Creed Unity: Once again, the AC team surprises me to no end. Along with a fresh take on the bloody French Revolution, the team's promise of incorporating seamless four-player co-op is definitely a shocker. For good measure, the gameplay seems to make it a bit easier to get around than ever before. I'll miss the open sea battles, but I'm looking forward to this.
Alien Isolation: HARD. HARD HARD HARD HARD. But still, if any Alien game can bring back the pure tension and terror that the original movie was known for--and do away with the forgettable nature of Colonial Marines--it's Isolation. The atmosphere is just about right, and the shocking moments just keep on coming.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: This is easily one of my favorite games from the show, mainly because it continues looking better and better each time I see it. The visuals are fantastic and the gameplay is right on par with other entries in the series. Can't wait.
Sunset Overdrive: The sheer unpredictability of this title, along with the chaotic eight player multiplayer and ridiculous amount of weaponry, easily make this one of my favorites. I can't wait to hit the streets and do some damage.
Dying Light: Here's another game that's improved significantly since its reveal last year. A faster frame rate, more graphic kills, an improvement with gameplay tactics (dat grappling hook!) and more make this one of my favorites from the show. Love it.
Evolve: I played Evolve exactly twice at E3. The first time, I was grouped with some drunk goofballs at a party, and we lost handily. Not exactly a great showpiece for a cooperative game! The second time, though, I was coached through playing as the monster, Kraken, and my opinion turned on a dime. It's incredibly satisfying to fight against a team dead-set on bringing you down, all by yourself. I felt like I was in danger, but I was given the right tools to overcome that danger. I won, but meticulous balancing means it could have very easily gone the other way. I'm not big on competitive multiplayer, but this is one game that won me over.
Ori and the Blind Forest: Ori was such a magical little moment during the Microsoft conference. I like my shooters as much as the next guy (see: other entries on this list), but it was nice to see Microsoft take a moment out for an adorable game with an emotional hook. My hands-on convinced me even further, with smooth platforming in a Metroid-style open map. I'm marking this as an early dark horse pick for this year's "artsy game" once GOTY time rolls around.
Code Name: STEAM: Nintendo's booth was chock full of returning favorites like Kirby and Yoshi and interesting experiments like Miyamoto's Project Guard. But those are known quantities, making their new strategy franchise the one I'm really most curious about. STEAM looks very much like Valkyria Chronicles, but that's okay, because I loved Valkyria Chronicles. Adding a layer of satirical jingoism on top of that, with a Silver Age comic aesthetic and a story that involves the MIB as founded by Abraham Lincoln? I'm not made of stone, that sounds fantastic.
Destiny: I'm starting to feel so-so about Halo, to the point that Halo 4 felt like going through the motions and the Master Chief Collection seems like entirely too much of it in one place. But even as that interest wanes, I have to admit Bungie knows how to make an impressive console shooter. Destiny feels so much like Halo it could practically be a spin-off, but that's because Halo combat just feels really good. Setting it in a more open world, with customizable characters, levels, and loot sounds like a match made in heaven. I had the most fun playing Destiny at E3, hands down, and I can't wait to start exploring it in-depth in September. Let's just hope it doesn't get neck-deep in its own mythology.
Rainbow Six: Siege: Rainbow Six: Siege made a lasting impression on me. What makes it appealing is that it's a multiplayer shooter that has as much to do with outsmarting your opponents as it does trading gunfire. I'm a big fan of strategy games, and I continued thinking about how our team could have set up a stronger defense days after playing a single three round game. Also, the wall destruction truly changes how intense the close quarters combat plays out. Defenders can blast a hole in the wall for a strategic gun position, or the Assault team can lay down charges to create a path through the house. Rainbow Six: Siege teases that part of the brain that loves planning and execution, while exemplifying how nothing ever goes according to plan.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: The Witcher 3 introduces a mega-gigantic open world for monster hunters to mess around in. Although I didn't get to play the game, I was very impressed with the far reaching world where you can get to any point that you can see. My only worry is that I'll become horribly lost like I did in Skyrim, or get overwhelmed with too much to do. There is supposed to be thousands of quests available in The Witcher 3, many dependent on the decisions you make and whether it's day or night. It's a lot of pressure to make all the right moves to meet that guy in just the right place at the right time.
Dragon Age: Inquisition: I'm a longtime fan of the Dragon Age series, and the Inquisition presentation definitely impressed me. The new graphics look amazing, and I really like the idea of being a leader of leaders, since I often feel that I could use a couple armies under my command. However, I've often been sympathetic to mages, so I'll have to discover what kind of Inquisitor I turn out to be. As far as gameplay goes, I'm impressed with how BioWare is trying to please all fans by including both the up-close action mode from DA2 and the overhead tactical mode from Origins, so players can command the either way they see fit. I also really like being able to target specific points to large enemies, like dragons, so you can cripple creatures before working to finish them off.