E3 2013 has come and gone and will forever be remembered for the unveiling of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. Aside from the two new major consoles, plenty of other amazing goodies were on display, as the best and brightest in the video game industry gathered to show off and take in what’s new. From spectacular AAA-titles coming from the major publishers, to ridiculously fun indie games sure to make a big splash in the industry, the show was packed with amazing new titles for all to see.
At the end of the show, each one of the five attendees at E3 from Gaming Illustrated received a single, solitary vote. This vote would be for their “Best of E3″ and each were only allowed to cast one vote. The votes were only tallied after the show was completed when each of the five members of GI’s staff had completed all their appointments. Here is how their votes were cast for Gaming Illustrated’s Best of E3 2013 Awards.
Executive Editor Sean Gibson: The Witcher 3 (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
CD Projekt Red, based out of Poland, is aiming to change the industry. In a world where many developers and publishers play it safe to make sure they hit their target sales and nothing more, these guys have the brass balls to attempt an audacious offering in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. For years fans of the series, including myself, have often wondered “What If” with this series, thinking that eventually an MMO or an open world RPG could be in the works. That question was finally answered, rather definitively, at this last E3 where Game Director Konrad Tomaszkiewicz personally told me that this game would be an open world experience 35 times bigger than The Witcher 2. He also guaranteed this wouldn’t be an empty open world game, but one full of side quests and constant adventure.
For fans of the previous two Witcher games, or fans of open world games, or frankly fans of RPG games in general, you are in for what looks to be a real treat. The game will be released on all next-gen platforms (PC, PS4, Xbox One) and take advantage of the robust graphics chipsets made available to the game. In fact, during our demo they overheated an NVIDIA Titan card because the graphics were turned up so high! I didn’t consider that part of our demo a bug, I looked at it as a kickass feature! This game looked amazing and the small quest line shown off was just enthralling. I genuinely wanted to play it right there and then and I still do right now. When this game gets released in 2014 it will absolutely smash all previous records for the series very quickly.
As the last game in the series, The Witcher couldn’t be getting a better send off. The team at CD Projekt Red is highly underrated and while they are certainly on a lot of people’s radar already, this game will send them off into the stratosphere for fame. They said and did everything right at E3 with their hands-on live demo with Witcher 3 and gave us gamers exactly what we wanted. In fact, I said during my Day Three recap that it almost felt like it should be called The Witcher 3 AND 4 because it was so massive, gorgeous and entertaining.
I’m giving The Witcher 3 my Best of E3 award because it looks like the most ambitious, crazy, ridiculous and amazing game at the show. At the end of the conference, thinking back to all the new games I got to see and play, The Witcher 3 was (by far) the one my heart ached most to play.
Associate Editor Kalvin Martinez: Transistor (PS4, PC)
SuperGiant Games revealed Transistor back at PAX East earlier this year. At the time, they did not announce any platforms for the title. PC was obvious because most games come out on PC, especially indie titles. The big question was would SuperGiant Games release it on the Xbox 360 successor or the PS4. The developer’s prior relationship with Microsoft when releasing Bastion was good for them, so it seemed obvious that it would be announced first for the Xbox One or exclusive to it.
Yet after PAX East little came out about the game. Everyone assumed the answer would be at E3. It was there. The answer though was completely unexpected. During Sony’s long and in-depth E3 press conference, Adam Boyes revealed that Sony was welcoming nearly a dozen Indie developers into the family including SuperGiant Games and Transistor.
Expecting to launch in early 2014, Sony gave SuperGiant Games a large section of their booth, as well as other developers for their “We Heart Devs” section. There several bays of playable demos were available for gamers to check out. There was an ever present line of people waiting to get their hands on the game to check out Red & Transistor.
Anchored by stark yet lush graphics and another beautiful soundtrack by Darren Kobb with that iconic theme song, “We All Become” sung by Ashley Barrett, and Logan Cunningham once again narrating as Transistor; there is a distinctive visual and aural direction to the game that gives it a distinct cyberpunk feel, but with SuperGiant Games’ unique ability to create something wholly original.
It would have been easier to do a sequel to Bastion or another Bastion-like game, but SuperGiant has gone in the complete other direction creating essentially a strategy-RPG set in a cyberpunk world. The combat is still deep and fun. With the moves and strategic planning, it leads to a whole new level of complex and difficult combat situations. The puzzle elements are tied to the strategic move mechanic. It is deceptively simple yet undeniably clever, where that will go further into the game is anyone guess and only limited by the talent at SuperGiant.
I could say million more things about this game and I only played 15 minutes of it (Check back for a preview and an interview with Greg Kasavin later this week). This was a game I had been excited for before E3. After playing it, there is nothing that can rival it. When it comes out in Early 2014, it should be a must-have title for all PS4 or PC owners. Suffice it to say, SuperGiant Games is creating something special.
Associate Editor Ben Sheene: Dragon’s Crown (PS3, PS Vita)
Despite this year’s E3 putting a large focus on the transition between console generations, there was a great deal of stunning current gen offerings – especially from Sony. The Vita could hardly be considered dead with several ambitious and fun titles playable (including ports). To even get to the PS4 demo area, one had to walk through a slew of PS3 games. But there was one title that stood out among the rest: Dragon’s Crown.
Anyone familiar with developer Vanillaware’s previous titles Odin Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade should recognize Dragon’s Crown’s unparalleled art style. Plenty of games at this year’s E3 featured crisp graphics, brand new technology and massive open worlds; but none can truly hold a candle to the hand-drawn style of Dragon’s Crown. Animations are fluid and run smooth even during some intense scenes. A lot of controversy has surrounded some of the character design in recent months but that’s all thrown out the window when seeing it in action.
Beyond being an evolution of beat ‘em-ups, the treasure system, class customization, branching paths and more, the game is just fun to play. Simple yet complex, it gives players a reason to come back and try out different classes and solutions. The fact that Dragon’s Crown supports multiplayer both online and locally add more fun. The PlayStation Vita version looks just as great and is basically identical to its console brother.
And let’s not forget that this is a game published by Atlus. Their pedigree alone should be enough to convince anyone to invest their time into Vanillaware’s vision. Gorgeous, frantic, intense and fun, who needs next gen when there’s quality gaming like Dragon’s Crown?
Multimedia Specialist and Reviewer Chance Asue: The PlayStation 4
Now that the press conferences are over and the hype has died down a bit, it is much easier to take a good look at Sony’s offering. We know the system is quite similar to Microsoft’s box, with a few superior features. The most superficial being the form. The box itself is more compact and has a slimmer profile than the Xbox One. The slanted edges give a bit of character, rather than being another plastic box to stack in the home theatre. Most of the console’s backside is dedicated to airflow, which is great to see considering how much heat played a role in augmenting both PS3 and Xbox 360 failure rates.
The controller, while not as close to perfect as I would like, is a vast improvement in size and comfort. The edges are much more rounded and the entire controller is rounder, a little heavier, more dense and easier to hold. The lighted panel on the back does some interesting things when not just identifying players, but it is up to developers to actually do something with that. The touchpad is not being used for much in the titles we saw, but it is a feature that is easy to implement into menus and UI elements, taking camera zoom functions away from buttons which can in turn be used for something better. The analog sticks were divisive. Neither convex like the PS3, nor concave like the Xbox 360, but rather a combination of the two. They help grip the thumbs, but have an annoying edge to the crown that surrounds the perimeter.
With the decreased price and large software showing, many consumers are becoming PlayStation converts. Having PS Plus mandatory for online multiplayer may turn off some frugal gamers, but it brings with it incredible value. Sony does a great job of offering quality titles for free not too long after their release and giving members discounts on newly released software. This offers continued value with Sony fans and newcomers alike. At launch, PS Plus will offer four new titles that were shown in their press conference, all for free, creating an instant software collection for the console and rewarding players for a modest investment. Xbox converts will be used to paying a subscription and will get more for their money, and the frugal will get plenty of free titles and discounts to keep them satisfied, even in the dry spells of summer.
Associate Editor Ryan Bloom: FIFA 14 (PS4, Xbox One)
EA Sports is introducing the new Ignite engine for next-generation consoles. Teams have been working on sports titles for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for more than two years. It is an exciting approach considering the first Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 iterations of EA Sports titles were merely ports of the last-gen versions. However, Ignite had not been very impressive before E3. Of course, pre-rendered footage and interviews with athletes are not very exciting. All that changed with some hands on time with FIFA 14 for Xbox One.
A near complete experience was offered for FIFA 14 on Xbox One at E3. The game is shaping up to be a tremendous improvement over FIFA 13, which continued the franchise’s run of excellence. Everything from the graphics to the controls runs smoother using the Ignite engine and it was highly noticeable while playing the game. Visuals are crisp and sharp, including things happening away from the ball. A.I. players make smarter decisions, crisper cuts and more realistic touches.
Before experiencing the next-gen version of FIFA 14, no game shown at E3 was truly selling the benefits of Xbox One and PS4. The sports genre is set to jump leaps and bounds over current generation titles when the new consoles release. In fact, players will start to think previous games that were considered great — including FIFA 13 — are not very good at all.
E3 2013 Recap Video & Awards Discussion