The Best and Worst of E3 2016

The monolithic E3 Expo has come and gone for another year, showering us with exciting new trailers as often as it saddled us with toe-curling moments of cringe. We’ve rounded up the very best and the very worst of both for your stern appraisal.

Best:

Horizon: Zero Dawn
Sony’s press conference this year came about as close to all-killer, no-filler as they ever have before. Among the many interesting announcements and trailers was a very cool new look at Horizon: Zero Dawn. Demoing intense, Witcher-esque combat and wild enemy designs that walk the line between cybernetic and organic, we can’t wait to spend some quality time with this one.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
No game at E3 this year garnered quite the reaction that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild did. The line to play it at Nintendo’s booth reach four hours at its peak and Nintendo dedicated a substantial amount of their Treehouse broadcast to going over its many components in detail. A sprawling, open-world adventure of a sort Nintendo have never made before, the wait for the game is now feeling longer than ever.


Batman: Arkham VR
The one thing that the Batman games haven’t tackled in enough detail for our liking has always been the detective work. Telltale’s upcoming adventure aside, Batman: Arkham VR aims to put you in the shoes of the World’s Greatest Detective full time. The demo available at E3 was a two-parter, the first of which allowed players to descend to the Batcave and put on the Batsuit. The second saw you pulling a crime scene apart for clues and details using many of the same mechanics seen in Batman: Arkham Knight.


Sea of Thieves
Multiplayer games often need a lot of things to go right in order for them to work as intended, and when we say “a lot of things to go right” we mean “for people to not troll the hell out of each other the moment the gaem starts.” Rare’s new title Sea of Thieves is exactly that sort of experience. Working as a team, you must successfully scour islands for loot and take up various positions on your ship to ensure the plunder-quest continues. When it works, it’s a barrel of laughs and a lot of fun. At least the game is pirate themed so when your team mates inevitably turn on you, it will seem  to be in-character.

God of War
God of War opened Sony’s E3 presser this year with a new look, a new vibe and a new style of gameplay. After playing the God of War 3 remaster last year and finding it feeling a bit dated, this seems on the surface like a very positive step in the right direction for the series. We’ll need to see more to be sure, but we’re suddenly very interested in God of War again.

Worst:


Civilisation VI underwhelms
Poor Civilisation VI. Not really a game that lends itself to the kind of hype and sizzle reels that E3 is known for. They gave it a go though, with the developers doing a live Q&A and showing off a little gameplay. Compared to the whizz-bang of other titles being shown off during the week, it all felt a bit limp. The game itself will likely be a rousing success but its showing at E3 was not.

Days Gone seems a bit meh
Were we the only ones who found the Days Gone trailers during Sony’s presser a bit dull? It just didn’t seem to have much to offer that we hadn’t seen in many other games before. Sure, it was showing us a lot of zombies happening on the screen at once but Dead Rising has been doing that for years. This is only the game’s first outing and these things often change from their E3 reveal to release so hopefully there’ll be more meat on these bones the next time we see it.

The Return of Crash Bandicoot
Ratchet & Clank‘s triumphant return from the dead this year had many fans were hopeful for news of a new Crash Bandicoot title. It was not to be. Rather than a true return of Sony’s once-loved mascot, fans are getting a PS4 remakes of the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy. Further, Crash will appear in this year’s Skylanders title, Skylanders Imaginators. The wait for Crash’s true return continues.

Ubisoft makes it weird again
Ubisoft’s press conference at E3 every year is known for being among the more random and bizarre hours of the entire show. 2016 did not disappoint, opening with a full-blown dance number to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” to highlight Just Dance 2017. This vibrant display was then followed by some intense tonal whiplash as Aisha Tyler offering sincere condolences to those affected by the tragic Orlando shooting.

Later in the show, Ubisoft demoed their Eagle Flight VR game that, while it looked cool in-game, every shot of the assembled team playing it on-stage looked like a bunch of white people doing a really insulting Stevie Wonder impression.

The Trials leads appeared to announce a FarCry 3: Blood Dragon-inspired new expansion dressed like members of LMFAO crossed with Zach Galifianakis and weirded everyone out.

Everyone at the EA Battlefield 1 event is, er, “intoxicated”
EA opened the show this year from their EA Play event across the road from E3, starting with a huge 64-player match of Battlefield 1. The game was played a by a number of celebrities, including Snoop Dogg who puffed unselfconsciously on a suspicious-looking cigarette throughout the proceedings. It seems a few of his friends got into his stash during the show because the mid-game interviews were … interesting to say the least. It’s also worth taking a moment to appreciate the incredible mid-show hand off to Jamie Foxx and Zac Efron (embedded above).

Honourable Mentions:

Hideo Kojima’s ridiculous intro sequence
Honestly. Just watch the first part of this video, which comes from the good people at Gamespot. So much build up, so much pomp and circumstance, and then at the end it’s just old mate Hideo bein’ goofy. Brilliant.

E3, we love you. We love you as much as we love picking on you, which is to say an awful lot. You exhaust us, you make us cringe and cheer, you wreak absolute havoc with our body clocks, but we always leave looking forward to doing it all again. See you next year.