E3 is traditionally the highlight of the gaming year where publishers and console-makers get the spotlight to show off games, tease future releases and celebrate the industry. The show has seen big changes in recent years, with big players like Sony and EA opting to forego the usual press conferences to do things on their own terms.
Still, there was plenty from this year’s shows that should have gamers excited for the next year. Here’s what I’m looking forward to.
Watch Dogs Legion
I’ll admit that Ubisoft’s “Watch Dogs” games have so far left me feeling a little flat. They’ve had an interesting promise of an open-world game where you can hack into anything from enemies’ security systems to traffic lights. “Watch Dogs 2” took the series to San Francisco with the backdrop of big tech companies and made big improvements from the original.
It was about three-minutes into the gameplay walkthrough of “Watch Dogs Legion” that immediately got my attention. The player’s burly, gun-toting character had just been gunned down by drones in the streets of London, presenting the player with a screen letting them know he was dead for good.
This is where the hook of the game comes in. You won’t be controlling just one player throughout the game but switching between dozens of different characters each with their own unique characteristics and abilities.
That includes the 78-year-old Helen Dashwood, an unassuming gray-haired hacker, who’s tasked with completing the deceased Ian Robshaw’s quest. It’s an utterly fantastic turn on what we think about with video games. Helen takes a more hands-off approach to the mission, letting a robotic spider drone do most of her dirty work, but when push comes to shove Helen can hold her own against the baddies with a stun gun and silence pistol.
Honestly, I was really sold by a montage of Helen taking out security guards and carefully crossing over a handrail. The animations were solidly 78-year-old woman and it just looks like a blast. It’ll be out early next year.
Phantom: Special Ops
The world of virtual reality games has been quietly humming away, getting a recent boost with the computer-free, cord-free Oculus Quest headset, but there have been few titles that have grabbed my attention this year.
But mix stealth military shooter with a kayak and you have me sold. That’s the concept between the Oculus-backed “Phantom: Special Ops.” You’ll be invading a conveniently water-based enemy base from a kayak, using the motion controllers to mime the motions of kayaking while also taking out bad guys and planting explosives. It’ll be out sometime in 2019.
The revitalized “Wolfenstein” series has been a thoroughly excellent series about killing Nazis in an alternate reality where the Nazis won World War II. The latest entry, “Wolfenstein: Youngblood” invites you to bring along a friend as you play as the daughters of B.J. Blazkowicz. It looks brutal, over-the-top and a ton of fun. It’ll be out on July 26 of this year.
Nintendo’s press conference had a ton to be excited about. There’s the gorgeous-looking remake of Gameboy classic “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening,” a game that I played many, many times on road trips as a kid, coming to the Switch on Sept. 20. Also coming in 2019 is “Luigi’s Mansion 3,” the spooky ghost-hunting adventure game featuring Mario’s lanky brother that will bring new ways to play with friends.
Also on the, uh, horizon is “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” coming to the Nintendo Switch. The village simulator brings new ways to customize your experience and town. It’ll be a bit of wait, though, coming to the Switch on March 20, 2020.
And that’s not all that Nintendo had for gamers to be excited about. They also announced that the sequel to the venerable “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” is in development. “Breath of the Wild” launched with the Nintendo Switch and quickly became one of the best entries into the long-running series with its enormous and beautifully designed open world that gave players an unprecedented freedom to tackle challenges however they wanted.
Matt Buxton is a freelance writer and gamer. He can be reached at email@example.com.