Game Informer's Best Of E3 2016 Awards
This year's E3 had fewer surprises than years past, but it didn't make the show any less enjoyable. We got our first hands-on with exciting sequels and new games, played innovative VR experiences, and discovered unexpected experiences that we didn't even know we wanted. It was as hard to narrow the field and select our favorites, but these are the games that rose to the top and earned Game Informer’s E3 2016 Best in Show Awards.
GOD OF WAR
Where do you go after clearing the pantheon of Greek gods? That’s the question God of War’s Kratos – and Sony – must have been asking themselves. Change is coming to the series, and not only thanks to a new voice actor and the move to Norse mythology. God of War moves the action closer to players with a tighter camera perspective. That makes it even easier to appreciate the newly reimagined combat, which sees the antihero defeating trolls and other beasts with an axe and the help of his son’s bow. Yes, Kratos is a father again. Here’s hoping it works out better for him this time around. For more on the game, head here.
Not many adventure games showed up at E3 this year, but the ones that were present showed incredible promise. The stand out? Fullbright’s spacey sophomore outing, Tacoma, a game that casts you as an operations specialist exploring a seemingly abandoned space station to figure out what happened to the crew. The brief demo we saw was impressive, showing off protagonist Amy playing basketball in zero-g and observing holograms of the missing crew. You can read our in-depth preview here.
The biggest DC heroes and the baddest DC villains are set to face off once again with Injustice 2. The 2013 title Injustice: Gods Among Us was one of the most popular fighting games of last generation, and Injustice 2 looks to continue building upon NetherRealm's ever-improving fighting game formula. With new characters, a deep loot and customization system, a continuation of the dark tale from the first game, and an ambitious plan for post-release content, Injustice 2 looks to be the sequel fans have been waiting for. For more on Injustice 2, head here.
NCSoft’s upcoming MXM (Master X Master) allows players to control two characters instead of one in the MOBA mix. While they’re not micromanaged at the same time, swapping them in and out to allow for some recovery and respite becomes an important part of the game. Unlike many other MOBAs, MXM also embraces a PVE and co-op component similar to a MMORPG, allowing players to solo or take small groups into dungeons in search of treasure, battling rare enemies for goodies and taking on big bosses. While the MOBA market is definitely a tough place to compete, MXM looks like it’s coming in swinging with varied offerings. For more on the game, head here.
While every other shooter is seemingly entering the space race, the Battlefield series is going back to its roots with a new entry set during the Great War. The change of setting is refreshing, as is the returned focus on series staples like destructibility and teamplay. With greater rewards for following squad objectives immediately after they are issued, players should become more open to taking orders, and DICE hopes introducing game-changing behemoth vehicles like zeppelins and armored trains for the losing teams keeps matches more balanced. DICE also revealed a new tug-of-war style multi-map mode called Operations, in which the attacking team can push defenders back through a sequence of maps. The changes promised in Battlefield 1 aren’t revolutionary outside of the seldom-tapped World War I setting, but the gameplay refinements sound promising enough to vault it to the top of our competitive multiplayer wish list. For more on the game, head here.
GHOST RECON: WILDLANDS
After taking this award last year, Wildlands successfully defended its hype title with a hands-on demo that showcased the emergent play in the hands of four operators. With no player tethering, the four Ghosts who band together online are free to divide and conquer, but the real joy is in experimenting with the tactical tools at your disposal as a team. Every ghost is equipped with a customizable drone, and more than 60 different types of vehicles can be commandeered for ambushes, extractions, and everything in between. The game still has question marks surrounding some terrain navigation and lack of a cover mechanic, but if Ubisoft Paris can buff out the rough edges the purity of the co-op promise could make Wildlands a must-play.
What they prefer to call a “rhythm violence game,” Thumper comes courtesy of two former Harmonix developers looking to simplify and intensify the music game genre. Players take control of a “space beetle," speeding along a single track and tapping, holding buttons, or steering to stay alive and keep the aggressive music flowing. The gorgeous, energetic visuals warping around the designated beats to hit create an enraged frenzy of harmonic velocity. It’s a unique feeling, only heightened by the addition of optional PlayStation VR support. This new take on the music-rhythm genre is coming to PS4 and PC this year. Keep an eye on it if you like Harmonix games but want to get lost in a whirlwind of intensity.
Created by a group of former Rare developers who worked on games like Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64, Yooka-Laylee wears its bear and bird inspirations on its sleeve. From the moment it unveiled the game and its Kickstarter, developer Playtonic Games has never been shy about its hopes for Yooka-Laylee to be an overt callback to the forgotten days of joyful mascot platformers. E3 offered an extended look at the game, and things are shaping up nicely. It's already adorable, stars a protagonist pair with myriad abilities, and is full of collectibles, even at this early stage of development. For more on the game, head here.
FORZA HORIZON 3
The Forza Horizon series is a nice alternative to the increasingly sterile Motorsport series, and FH 3 makes a strong claim to being among the best Forza yet. The multi-car action takes place in a huge map of Australia, and the diversity of the land is coupled with players’ ability to create their own events and share them with friends. In fact, gamers will create races for the Horizon Festival and build it out as part of the title’s career mode. Freedom has been a mantra of the franchise in the past, but FH 3 looks to put more into players’ hands than ever before. For more on the game, head here.
SOUTH PARK: THE FRACTURED BUT WHOLE
South Park: The Stick Of Truth was the funniest game of 2014, and by all accounts Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s superhero-themed sequel is upping the amount of laughs it delivers. The Fractured But Whole’s satirical take on Marvel’s Civil War storyline casts Cartman and the New Kid against his fellow playmates, but we’re most excited for the new gameplay improvements. A new grid-based battlefield adds a tactical layer to the turn-based combat encounters, while a new superhero class system and robust crafting options give players more role-playing freedom. We can’t wait to see what outrageous antics the South Park team has cooked up for this December. For more on the game, head here.
CALL OF DUTY: INFINITE WARFARE
With its sci-fi aspirations, Infinity Ward sets this Call of Duty entry apart from the rest of the series via dogfights in space and a plot that wouldn’t be out of place in Battlestar Galactica. We’ve yet to catch a glimpse of Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer or zombie mode, but the ambitions of its campaign and the pedigree of the development team's Naughty Dog-trained leads have our attention. You can check out our whole month of Infinite Warfare coverage here.
PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 2017
The PES series found its groove last year, and PES 2107 takes things a step further by making the necessary gameplay improvements to hew tightly to the series’ ethos of control. Animations feel tighter, the commands effortless, and the tactics greatly expanded. Fan complaints such as weak keepers have improved; MyClub mode is bolstered by player auctions; and Master League mode has new budget guidelines, more drama around the transfer deadline, and an increased number of player roles. PES 2017 isn’t just becoming more well-rounded, it’s getting positively deadly. For more on the game, head here.
Civ players love the series because it’s one of the deepest and most polished 4X games on the market. This entry adds even more great ways to manage your empire into the modern era. Whether its using the new builder units to increase our city’s output, or researching new civics to create the perfect government, Civilization VI has more avenues to explore while crafting your perfect empire. For more on the game, head here.
CUSTOMIZABLE XBOX ONE CONTROLLERS
Whether we’re talking about in-game skins, dashboard background images, avatar props, or personalized music, gamers love to customize how they play. Microsoft borrows from the playbook that gave us Nokia phone faceplates back in the early oughts for its latest innovation. Xbox Design Lab lets you trick out your own controller with a variety of colors for the face, back, sticks, d-pad, triggers, and bumpers. Different face button styles round out the options to spec out an Xbox One S controller (complete with bluetooth capability) that is all your own. Controllers start at $79.99, with a $9.99 laser engraving option available. You can start designing now and either save to your gallery for later tweaking or order now for September shipping. For more on the new controllers, head here.
E3 afforded fans the opportunity to see why Game Informer chose to make Dishonored 2 a cover story subject. The E3 demo followed in the footsteps of the demo at the centerpiece of our 12-page feature, showing the impressive new powers being wielded by the fallen Empress Emily Kaldwin as she tries to recapture the throne of Dunwall. The gameplay sequence also demonstrated the large graphical leap the new Void Engine is giving the series without compromising the unique art style. In addition, Bethesda revealed some new tidbits about the title, including a in-game item named the Time Piece that players can employ to move back and forth through two time periods to circumnavigate obstacles. Everything we’ve seen from Dishonored 2 thus far has us excited to see more, and with a November 11 release date looming on the horizon, we won’t have to wait too much longer to bear the mark of the Outsider ourselves. For more on the game, head here.
On the next page, we give our picks for the best exclusive titles for each platform.
Whether you prefer the lighthearted spell slinging of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter or the gritty noir adventures of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, you should find something to love in Insomniac’s Oculus Touch-powered wizard title The Unspoken. Players take on the role of a wizard thrown into combat with only fireballs, shields, and other arcane tools at their disposal. Each distinct class has its own supernatural loadouts. In order to cast the more intense spells, you need to teleport around the arena to pick up gems. In our demo, these included a paper airplane that turns into a dive-bomber, a mystical murder of crows, and a spear you temper yourself on an arcane anvil. We’ve only gotten our first taste of The Unspoken, but the potential for delivering the wizarding world we’ve always wanted to inhabit has us quite excited. For more on the game, and other VR E3 experiences, head here.
Nintendo rarely unveils new original properties, but it had one on hand this year for 3DS. Ever Oasis comes from developer Grezzo under the supervision of Koichi Ishii, known best for creating the Mana series and directing a few Final Fantasy titles. This action-RPG features environmental puzzle dungeons and a village building simulator. Grezzo worked on Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask for 3DS, which inspires confidence in the studio's first big original title. For more on the game, head here.
We can’t wait to lose sleep while playing Firaxis’ newest entry in the Civilization series. This time around players can research new civics to create their own governments, create city districts to customize their cities, and work on their diplomacy skills by discovering the hidden agendas of other leaders. The game even has a cool old world map aesthetic for the areas obscured by your fog of war. For more on the game, head here.
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD
Well before the opening of E3, Nintendo clearly stated that Zelda would be its main focus, and it did not disappoint. Alongside extended on-hands gameplay demos at the show, Nintendo also showed off plenty of the game during live streams. All of it was exciting. From small additions, like Link's ability to jump and cook, to large changes, like carrying and using multiple weapons and exploring an open world 12 times the size of Twilight Princess, everything Nintendo shared about the game built our excitement. This particular Zelda might be a long time coming, but we can't wait to explore this new Hyrule with a renewed sense of exploration.
GOD OF WAR
Sony had an impressive E3 showing, buoyed in large part by its exciting press conference. Despite sharing a stage with The Last Guardian, a potentially exciting Crash Bandicoot announcement, and a teaser for Hideo Kojima's new mysterious project (which was only present in trailer form), we were the most impressed by the new direction for God of War. The rumored Norse mythology setting turned out to be true, but there was plenty of other new wrinkles and mechanics to be excited about, like the presence of son. For more on the game, head here.
GEARS OF WAR 4
Gears of War 4 is a game with a lot to prove, carrying the torch from a trilogy that most fans found to have a satisfying conclusion. If our hands-on demo with the campaign is any indication, developer The Coalition has a handle on what makes Gears work, with meaty gunplay as well as an immersive atmosphere dripping with tension. We’ll find out in October if the fourth game can continue to strike this fine balance and do right by its chainsaw-gun revving predecessors, but for now, the signs are promising.
On the next page, we give our pick for Best in Show.
GOD OF WAR
Sony opened its E3 press conference with the first look at the long-rumored return of Kratos. We would have been happy with simply more God of War, but Sony and developer Sony Santa Monica have made a series of fascinating and exciting changes that renewed our faith in the series after the disappointing God of War: Ascension. Kratos has left the Greek gods behind to fight against Norse mythology, he now has a son to raise, and the combat has literally taken on a new perspective. Everything we saw makes us excited for this new direction in the series, making it the the game we're most excited about coming out of E3.
What was your favorite game of the show? Share your picks in the comments section below!