E3 2013 is at its end and, naturally, the gaming community is buzzing like a hive of bees hopped up on caffeine. Being that this year’s expo brought with it the world’s first good look at the next generation of Sony’s and Microsoft’s game consoles, the post-expo excitement seems even more palpable than it has in nearly a decade. More than that, the controversy surrounding Microsoft’s planned DRM policies has stirred even the sleepiest of gamers who are now faced with a future that might feel more radically different from their expectations than they could ever have imagined.
Chatter around the web, particularly over at Reddit and Kotaku, seems to indicate a pretty strong consensus that this was Sony’s year. I’ll admit that even with my general fondness for Microsoft and my shamelessly biased preference for my Xbox 360 over my PS3, I was ready to declare Sony this E3’s winner the moment their conference ended. I did, as a matter of fact. To my wife. She asked me if E3 really was a competition. It was a more difficult question to answer than one might expect and my response could be pretty well summarized as, “Yes and no.”
Sony’s conference was actually the first that I have ever watched with her and it was interesting to me that even with her more casual attitude toward gaming, she could tell right away how well Sony had performed and how much trouble it was spelling out for the Xbox One. Let’s face it, the last quarter of their presentation was basically a series of precision attacks aimed at every one of Microsoft’s soft spots ranging from the “Xbone’s” DRM to its cost. Since Tuesday, I’ve been discussing with her (and pretty much anyone else who, for whatever reason, still feigns attention for me) about which console will be the one I (hopefully) pick up this fall.
You see, I’m in the midst of a seemingly eternal internal struggle about it and my mind is changing on a daily basis. As of this moment, I’m leaning toward Sony but who knows how I’ll feel in five months? There’s just too much consider and too little information to make any final decisions.
Leaving the console wars behind for the time being, then, I’m inclined to believe that really us gamers are the ones walking away from this E3 as winners. As important as the the future of console gaming hardware might be, E3 is, for me, about the games that can be played on that hardware. With that in mind, I’d like to quickly share with you what I considered to be the four best games of the show.
1. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (be warned, this trailer’s pretty graphic)
Okay, this one pretty much goes without saying for me. I love Metal Gear like McAdams loves Gosling on a lazy Sunday (or something like that). In spite of David Hayter’s absence, even a host of nanomachines couldn’t have stifled the goosebumps I got from the trailer that kicked off Microsoft’s Press conference. Above, I’ve embedded the extended edition of the trailer which is complete with an additional 3 minutes of particularly violent footage.
2. Bungie’s Destiny
Like MGS 5, Destiny was already near the top of my list of most hotly anticipated releases. I’m a die-hard Halo fan who’s hoping to see the Washington-based developer change the face of first-person shooters again. After repeated viewings of this gameplay demonstration which premiered originally at Sony’s press conference, I am more optimistic than ever that they’ll be able to do just that.
3. Crimson Dragon
Panzer Dragoon is one of the more obscure series in my top ten list, but it’s also one of the dearest. Crimson Dragon promises to carry the spiritual legacy of that series into the next generation. This was a title originally announced for the Xbox 360 back in 2011. At the time, the game was intended to make full use of Microsoft’s newly revealed Kinect. Since then, it would appear the game’s development was pushed onto the Xbox One and man, oh man, does it look gorgeous. If any title can do it, this will be the one that secures my purchase for Microsoft in the fall.
4. The Witcher 3
The first two games in CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher series have become two of my favorite role-playing games in recent history. I’m really looking forward to the open-world approach they’re taking with the concluding game in the trilogy and the 100+ hours of gameplay that they have promised. Their E3 trailer indicates to me that they aren’t going to sacrifice the insightful storytelling of the first two games with their Elder Scrolls-esque approach.
And those are my picks for the best of E3. Am I leaving out a ton of awesome-looking titles? You bet! But that’s where you guys come in. Sound off in the comments below about which ones you’re most looking forward to and/or where you stand in the re-invigorated console wars. Does Kinect 2.0 trump DRM? Has Sony already vanquished Microsoft? Is Nintendo being unfairly unrecognized? I want to know what you think!
UPDATE 6/16- I woke up this morning and realized I had neglected to include The Witcher 3 on my list. Consider that mistake corrected.