Hot Takes From a Lukewarm E3

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E3 has always been an event for me and many of my friends, and we’re not alone. Millions of people watch game developers, celebrities and executives talk about what’s on the horizon for each console. But this year’s conference seemed more subdued. It felt as though companies were holding on to the good stuff until next year, when the new consoles arrive. But at the end of it all, we still came away with dozens of games to be looking forward to, while some left us scratching our heads and saying, “They thought this was ready to be shown?” So here’s five things that got us talking during E3.

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2

We were all expecting to see a Legend of Zelda game, just not THIS Legend of Zelda game. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is easily one of the best games to come out in the last 10 years. But Nintendo is not known for releasing true sequels to each game. Just look at the mind-numbingly confusing Legend of Zelda timeline for evidence of that. So getting a true follow-up to Breath of the Wild is surprising. The brief teaser only confirmed that they are working on it—which didn’t work out well for Metroid Prime 4—but provided a small glimpse into what looks like a spookier take on Breath of the Wild. It had a small appearance in Nintendo’s E3 Direct, but it made the biggest splash.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

A Star Wars game by the developers of Titanfall assures us of one thing: wall running. And oh boy, was there some of that. You could run on walls parallel to the ground or you could run up walls and jump from platform to platform. While Star Wars failed to impress some, it hit all the right John Williams-orchestrated notes for me. Force powers, piloting an AT-At and a character played by Forest Whitaker have me eager to jump into the shoes of Cal Kestis. The gameplay demo looked just like a Star Wars take on Tomb Raider, which is exciting, but it seems to be playing it safe. If the Tomb Raider series had a baby with Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, it would be this game. We won’t have to wait long to try it out, because the game releases this fall.

Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC

When the Heroes from all the Dragon Quest games got announced I thought it was pretty cool. While Nintendo’s video game icon roster is DEEP, the gang is mostly all in Smash Bros. Ultimate—except for one mustachioed, purple-hatted fiend, so getting a character from another iconic series is always cool. But then, came Banjo and Kazooie, two Rare icons that had their heyday on the Nintendo 64, so it’s only fitting they are returning to where it all started for them. Microsoft now owns Rare, so it’s another sign that Nintendo and Microsoft’s friendship is doing well. As an infrequent Smash player, I probably won’t proclaim that they are my new main, but I can’t wait to try them out nonetheless.

Gears 5

Gears “Don’t Call it Gears of War 5” 5 looks like…well, more Gears. People close to me know, I’ve been saying for a while that I want to play Gears multiplayer again. It’s always fun for a few minutes, until I get matched against superior opponents, but few multiplayer games offer the same satisfaction as gibbing enemies with a long-broken shotgun. The new Escape mode looks to put a clever twist on Horde, giving you objectives to work towards, instead of defending an area. This is going to sound weak, but I’m hoping Gears 5’s Horde mode difficulty is turned down a notch as well. Right now, Gears 5 is the game I’m looking forward to the most this year.

Cyberpunk 2077

I don’t have much to say about this game, because I haven’t seen new stuff, but it was at E3. I’m going to love it. You’re going to love it. It’s the closest thing to a Blade Runner video game since the most recent Deus Ex, which wasn’t that long ago—but also wasn’t that great. It’s also got the biggest star in the world right now, Keanu Reeves, who apparently has a ton of dialogue in the game. CD Projekt Red can do no wrong in my opinion, so this game can’t come out soon enough.

Despite all this E3 goodness I listed, there’s still so much more that I loved. Animal Crossing, Astral Chain, Halo: Infinite and more were all there and they all grabbed my attention. Even in a slow year—no Sony!—E3 still provided a lot of cool teases and looks into the future. Now all we have to do is wait.

WWPTW: July 27

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I'm not a huge JRPG fan. Sure, I like some, like Ni No Kuni and Xenoblade Chronicles, but this past week and this upcoming weekend, I'm going all in on the genre.

To start it off, I'm continuing Octopath Traveler. I absolutely love a ton of things about this game, specifically the music (that battle theme is amazing) and the art style. The combat is enjoyable, if a bit long sometimes, and it feels like a natural progression from what Bravely Default and Bravely Second offered. I only have four characters so far (Cyrus, Ophilia, H'aanit and Therion), so I'm just dipping my toes into this game, but I can't wait to play more. Also, I must be the last person in the world to find out that the first letters of each heroes name spells out Octopath. I feel like I let myself down.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana released on the Switch a few weeks ago and I finally picked it up. When I'm not playing Octopath Traveler on the Switch, I'll likely begin messing around in this one. From what I gather, it's more of an action-JRPG, so the mix between this game's faster paced combat style in Octopath Traveler's should lead to disaster on my part.

I also just bought my 2017 Game of the Year, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. This game is intense, emotional and I love it. I'm almost afraid to play it again, because I know how emotional and harrowing Senua's journey is. On the Playstation 4 side, I'm going to try to finish Uncharted 4 this week. I don't know I'm playing it to be honest. After playing the collection, I determined I didn't really enjoy the series, but I figured, "I'm already in so deep, I might as well finish the series," so, here we are. - Chris