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Our 10 favorite games from E3 2016 that aren’t Zelda

With E3 2016 fully behind us, we decided to gather round and select 10 of our favorite games from the show. If not for Zelda, one of this might have been our number one.

Ignoring Zelda? These are the ones that have us most hyped.

Cosmic Star Heroine

I’m 30 years-old, and I’m quickly finding that I will have less and less time for video games with each coming year. Job, kids, wife, taxes, the whole responsibility of becoming an adult. Ugh, who has the time to sit back and enjoy the simple pleasures in life anymore?

One thing I’ve taken to recently is filing out all the games I know I love, can’t live without, and will no doubt come crawling back to when I need them. From here on out, “new” experiences are reserved for franchises I’ve known and respected for years, like Final Fantasy or The Legend of Zelda.

Otherwise, an original game is going to have to be massively impressive to demand my attention anymore, like No Man’s Sky, or it has to nail that sweet spot where my nostalgia juices are brought to a boil. That’s Cosmic Star Heroine, an ode to all that I love about 16-bit JRPGs and more specifically, the one and only Chrono Trigger.

My guess is that this could have been one of my nostalgic favorites from back in the early 90s, but instead, it’s going to be a “late in life” sentimental favorite that speaks directly to my inner child.

–Ron

Death Stranding

Let’s just get it out of the way, because it’s the weirdest one on the list. We don’t know very much at all about Death Stranding other than that it exists, features Norman Reedus, and is being made by Hideo Kojima’s new studio. And also, whales. Just so many whales.

That’s about it.

So why am I so excited? First, Kojima’s already working on something, and has something, even if it’s just a teaser video, to show for it. He has a concept and a character. Bits and pieces of a world. There’s a story he wants to tell.

Secondly, it’s weird. Metal Gear Solid played at being weird, but it mostly came across as a weird mix between a Saturday morning cartoon, a David Lynch movie, and an action movie. I love Metal Gear, but my guess is that some of this is that he was beholden to continue making easy-money games for Konami, a company we now know hasn’t cared about games in quite a while.

We might get more of the same from Kojima, and if we do, I’ll love it, but there’s a chance for a fresh start here, to make something that isn’t quite so conflicted. He has his own studio and his own project. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

–Eric

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past

This is more than just a release for me. This is half a decade of patience and petitioning finally paying off! Excuse me while I ignore your expectations for AAA gargantuans and just soak in the fact that my dream is so close to finally comin’ true!

Make no mistake. Since No Man’s Sky decided not to make an appearance one last time at E3, Dragon Quest VII could be the biggest game at E3, even though I know how much “large” games are all the buzz.

I know that might sound like a stretch to those spoiled by the allure of massive open-world adventures, but with over 100 hours of gameplay, entire continents to not only explore but recreate, and enough timelines to make Crono and his lively friends sigh in apprehension could make this the game you sink the most hours into before the end of 2016.

You just need to accept and embrace that special Dragon Quest charm and join the movement once and for all! You know you want to!

–Ron

Final Fantasy XV

This game is just lucky to be here. I wasn’t terribly impressed with Final Fantasy XV’s E3 2016 showing, but because the long time incoming hit will be out really soon. We’ll give it some slack and allow it to make the cut. Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda game might have trounced it across the play-floor and back a few times, and taken a few chunks from its hype train to boot, but for the most part, it was a few ill-conceived ideas that nearly did itself in.

Seriously, why does this Final Fantasy XV Virtual Reality Experience even exist? Did anybody have fun playing that? Impressions seem to have been universally negative.

On the actual game, though, we were only blessed with good news. Word is getting out that the framerates from the available build have greatly improved since the Episode Duscae demo, and that can only be seen as a plus. At this point, Final Fantasy XV has only itself to blame if the hype-train falls of the tracks, and news addressing the biggest concerns is all we needed.

A gimmicky way to take advantage of PlayStation’s VR headset? Not so much.

Like I said, the game tried its hardest to derail itself right before the finish line this year, but we’ve come so far over the years that we can’t let that happen. Embrace the anime, the demos, the full-motion picture, the beat ‘em up spin-off, and the actual game itself.

Don’t sweat the bad stuff. Square Enix obviously knows how to ride this hype-train home, but don’t think that because we’re so close Square Enix is incapable of letting its ego flare up at the last second and get in the way here.

–Ron

Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn was the most interesting game I saw at last year’s show. In that way, E3 2016 was no different from 2015. The demo Guerrilla Games showed has only deepened my curiosity and gotten me excited about what all the game has to offer.

Whether it’s acquiring a mount, taking down a corrupted machine, or fighting a predatory one, combat looks interesting. From what we’ve seen, it seems like combat is never just about shooting until things stop moving. Instead you’re subduing a creature to use as a mount or attacking weaknesses to strip defenses or obtain offensive strength. And there appears to be somewhat of an ecosystem with many of the beasts existing “naturally” while others that have become corrupted are actively hostile and present a different sort of fight.

The story, too, of both the world and of protagonist Aloy, looks all the more intriguing. The question of how the Earth got the way it is, the place of humans in it, the source of the corruption, it has a lot of what I’d hope for from a solid science fiction story, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Guerilla does with it and whether they can deliver on the promise.

–Eric

Persona 5

If anything, we can finally emerge from E3 2016 realizing why Persona 5 has taken so long to make and show off. This game is leaps and bounds ahead of anything that Atlus has made to date, from the complexity of its art and graphical choices to the original hug that will dictate battle commands.

Everything about this game is dedicated to a single vision, all playing into this explosion of color and dastardly mischief.

Let’s be real… Final Fantasy XV looks fabulous, but I’m having a hard time recommending it to those who just want to stand in lines and enter their attack commands. Persona 5 is the game that you want for something a little more traditional… and I never thought I’d be saying that.

–Ron

ReCore

I’ve grown a little detached from shooters over the years. Our protagonists are primarily nailed to the ground, incapable of vertical movement, and when they are not moving, they’re equally nailed to a chest-high wall, taking cover before leaping out for an easy headshot.

It’s a rinse and repeat formula that has done well for itself on others’ scales, but hardly my own. Few have risen to combine elements like the high-flying acrobatics of an action game with the third-person genre formula, or break away from the established “tactical” route proving popular since Tom Clancy or Gears of War jumped in the driver’s seat. The underrated Bionic Commando reboot comes to mind as a rebelliously fun game, and all signs are pointing to ReCore breaking down conventions as well.

This game has become the somewhat anti-shooter of the modern day shooter market. It doesn’t star a “dude bro” or grizzled soldier. It relies on lock-on shooting as opposed to manual dual-analog aiming, and it features third-person platforming sections that are sure to rub shrill critics the wrong way.

I doubt it will be big enough to challenge the likes of Gears of War 4, but I’m excited about it all the same. I love our hero Mack and her companions, and I can’t wait to go dungeon crawling, or sometimes sailing through the skies, with her.

–Ron

Resident Evil 7

Usually, I’m pretty good at spotting a sequel. When Resident Evil 7 premiered at Sony’s show, though, it caught me totally off-guard.

Where Resident Evil 4 reinvented the series, the games that followed undid much of the good will that one garnered. Another one along that line was not going to survive. The ridicule and vitriol are simply too much.

So, it looks like they’re reinventing the series again. It’s hard to tell exactly where it’s going right now, but it’s definitely interesting. The game will be playable fully with or without PlayStation VR, and if they’re fully serving both interfaces, that means a lot of work for the developer. The game so far has a tense, dark atmosphere that looks like it might, you know, be scary, instead of feeling like a campy action movie.

There’s promise, finally, where there hasn’t been any in years.

–Eric

Spider-Man

We’re in a golden age of superhero movies and TV shows, but all the superhero games, with the exception of Batman, seem to have disappeared, unless you’re looking for a free-to-play experience instead of something that lets you truly feel like the hero you’re supposed to be playing as.

Marvel’s been batting a thousand with its movies, but the first few games that accompanied its movies sucked, and it seems like they got nervous. Meanwhile, it seems like DC doesn’t know what to do with its heroes except make them beat the snot out of each other (again, except for Batman).

And then Spider-Man dropped during Sony’s press conference. Spider-Man was one of the first great superhero games, so there’s plenty of nostalgia to go around, but it also has some real development muscle behind it. While Insomniac has smaller teams at work on indie and virtual reality titles, the core team is working on Spidey, it seems.

After Sunset Overdrive, I couldn’t ask for a better developer. The Xbox One exclusive was, thanks to exclusivity, not played by nearly as many people as it should’ve been. Those that have, though, know what they’re getting into with the web-head. Sunset Overdrive pretty much delivered on the promise of Spider-Man as it was. Sure, the swinging itself was’t there, but the fluid, fun traversal that made travel fast and fun – more fun than fast travel, in fact – absolutely was. The unique art that helped it stand apart from other games is there, too.

Those are exactly what I want from a Spider-Man game, and Insomniac is the perfect developer to make it happen.

–Eric

Steep

I tend to get very wrapped up in Ubisoft’s open world games, but shooting and stabbing people gets old. My hope is that I can get lost in Steep the same way I tend to get lost in the Forza Horizon games (Forza Horizon 3 is another hotly anticipated game for me, but I know more or less what to expect from it).

Some sort of combination between the over-the-top fun of the SSX games, the beauty and openness of the Forza Horizon games, and the addictive one-more-thing feeling of so many Ubisoft games is what I hope for from Steep, and the first footage so far has a lot of promise.

–Eric


What were your favorites from E3 2016?


Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...

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