E3 2017 has come and gone – the game industry’s biggest annual expo and marketing opportunity has once again brought us an impressive lineup of top-tier games to drool and fawn over. As part of the tradition, the games press takes turns deciding which games are deserving of “best in show” consideration. However, history is the only critic that matters, and almost every E3, we get at least one game wrong.
Last year, 2016, was pretty good, with the only real misstep being Dishonored 2, which had near-unforgivable launch issues on PC. In 2015, much Best in Show consideration was given to Star Wars: Battlefront, which went on to severely underwhelm and cause EA to hastily release a sequel due later this year. While these are mostly forgivable, 2014 saw loads of E3 Awards heaped at both Evolve and No Man’s Sky, which is now indescribably embarrassing given how each of those games turned out. It’s become something of a guessing game – which title that got tons of praise at E3 will turn out less that exemplary – to put it nicely? Let’s play!
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Let’s get this out of the way: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is totally safe. We’ve already gone so far as to call it a legit game of the year contender, and a few days to cool down from that initial rush of playing the E3 Demo hasn’t changed our opinion one bit.
BJ Blazkowicz is back, and we couldn’t be more excited, even if our first opportunity to play as the grizzled war hero had him confined to a wheelchair. But did you really think a little thing like not being able to walk would stop “Terror Billy” from doing what he does best? I don’t think so, and it’s that kind of imagination that will carry Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus well above the threshold of a disappointment.
Super Mario Odyssey
This one is also safe. We know that Nintendo, in the first year of its new console, the Nintendo Switch, will be taking very good care of their big IPs. We saw that with the near-perfect Breath of the Wild, and, from what we saw and played at E3, they’re doing the same with Super Mario Odyssey. An E3 demo full of surprises can only foreshadow a game filled with even more.
As I’ve previously noted, the delay of Red Dead Redemption 2 has ripped 2017’s Game of the Year race wide open, and Super Mario Odyssey should not be counted out, even with potentially sub-optimal graphics (though they are subject to change).
Middle-earth: Shadow of War
While Middle-earth: Shadow of War didn’t make it on our Best of E3 2017 list, it was not starved by that absence. In fact, we may have been in the minority. Nonetheless, Middle-earth: Shadow of War was one of the better games we played at the expo. I certainly wouldn’t bet on Shadow of War flopping, but I also can’t completely rule that out.
Even though we played an hour and a half of E3 2017’s Shadow of War demo, it still felt like only a small bite of the game. In a way, that’s a good thing – it means the game is going to be massive and multi-layered. On the other hand, it also didn’t give us enough time to really experience and judge where the game might have improved. The full weight of the apparently improved nemesis system, one of Shadow of Mordor‘s weaknesses that some even went so far as to call its Achilles heel, has yet to be experienced.
As I said, though, I wouldn’t bet on Middle-earth: Shadow of War ending up as a disappointment from its E3 presence. While 100% certainty of quality is also a fools wager, it’s best to approach Monolith’s new title with cautious optimism.
Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man was certainly one of the most, if not the most, impressive trailer at E3 2017. It showed a good amount of gameplay while having all the cinematic aspects you’d expect from an expo, and that footage inspired us to think of how this will use and improve upon similar features in other titles (combat in Batman: Arkham, web-slinging in Amazing Spider-Man, etcetera).
But one red flag of which we should always be wary is of unplayable games. As we went over, all of Sony’s big titles at E3 2017 were unplayable – Spider-Man included. And while God of War also had that designation, we have seen more gameplay from God of War than from Spider-Man.
The truth is that we know very little about the game as a whole. As we learned with the “Hero or Menace” system in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game, all it takes is one lousy mechanic to hamper an entire video game. So, while the combat and web-slinging look to be top-notch, those two features alone can’t make a game by themselves, and they can certainly be overshadowed by a few flaws.
Star Wars Battlefront II
The safest bet for a flop (not that we think it will) is probably Star Wars Battlefront II. This has almost nothing to do with Battlefront II by itself, and much more to do with 2015’s Star Wars Battlefront, which we already listed as a game that led us astray in E3’s past. We’ve been assured that EA DICE is doing things differently and better this time around, but we’ve been burned before.
Star Wars Battlefront was a shallow mess, and, while many people are hoping EA will Strike Back with its sequel, it’s far from a guarantee. For one thing, the single-player campaign for Star Wars Battlefront II wasn’t playable at E3, so we, again, don’t know much about it. Recall too that Star Wars Battlefront didn’t have a single-player campaign, something that rubbed many fans and critics the wrong way.
While it’s safe to say that the multiplayer of Star Wars Battlefront II is an overall improvement from its predecessor, we don’t know enough about the rest of the game to put Battlefront II in the safe category just yet.