Amid the myriad of games and gamers crammed onto the L.A. Convention Center floor, three games stood out above the rest.
E3 2017 has officially come and gone, the show floor at the Los Angeles Convention Center now quiet after being covered with tons of games, from smaller indie titles to the big budget AAA games. This year, the public was allowed back in, joining the industry, developers, and media in enjoying games that we all love to play. And even though some of the wait times were 4 hours long, I still got a chance to get some hands-on time with some of the hottest releases slated for this year and next. Here is a list of three games that should get your attention, especially if they aren’t on your radar.
Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018): Unfortunately, Spider-Man was only available as a theater presentation with an Insomniac developer playing through the sequence from the Sony Press Conference. But what I saw made it an obvious stand-out. Past Spider-Man games have usually ranged from great to subpar to horrifying messes. Marvel’s Spider-Man is a step towards the former as the game is shaping up to be one of the greats, with gameplay that holds true to the web-swinger. For example, he pulls objects in the environment, like a steel girder or crane hooks, to take out enemies.
I was concerned that the Sony Press Conference demo was too scripted – as most demos are – and that the player would have to follow a sequence or fail the mission. But my fears were put to rest as I saw Spider-Man jumping back into the construction site to save more civilians. Combat looks more fluid than in previous games and he utilizes his webs more, which is true to the character. Web swinging looked great but was a tad floaty. It didn’t seem like there was any weight behind his swings but at least his webs hooked onto nearby buildings.
What has me the most excited for in Marvel’s Spider-Man is that it’s not tied to any other Spider-Man story in television, films, or comics. Much like the Batman: Arkham series, this game exists within its own universe and isn’t afraid to make subtle teases and references like Miles Morales (Spider-Man’s successor in the Ultimate comics) and Norman Osborn (Green Goblin) becoming Mayor of New York.
Star Wars: Battlefront II (November 17th, 2017): Star Wars: Battlefront (2015) came out to mixed reception from critics and fans alike and Battlefront II seeks to rectify and address every problem the first game had. First and foremost, there is a singleplayer in Battlefront II involving the leader of Inferno squad at the end of Return of the Jedi. But bigger than that is the multiplayer suite and the different eras of Star Wars that you can participate in. The multiplayer session that I played pitted the Separatists and the Republic army in a Defend/Attack mode called Galactic Assault. My team was pushed into Throne Room as our last stand when we inevitably achieved victory.
There are Classes in Battlefront II and they range from the Assault class and their well-rounded weapons and skills to the heavies who output damage fast and the officers that can buff other soldiers and place auto-turrets. Each class can use the same weapons tied to that class. And as you play in a match, you will gain points that you can later use to buy vehicles, heroes, and special troops in a match. The system improves on the token system in Battlefront 1, where greedy players would linger near where the token would respawn and play as a Star Wars hero for the entire match. They’re specific to the area in Battlefront II so if the battle is in the throne room, you won’t be stuck in a ship outdoors.
Heroes have seen the most leniency in the sequel jump. In the demo, Han Solo and Rey fought for the Republic and Boba Fett and Darth Maul were on the opposite side. One issue I had during my demo was that I was unable to play as a hero during the match because other players were already playing as them, which would be fine except the game kept reminding me that I could play as a hero with the 10,000 points that I had. Additionally, because we were all on the same side of the demo booth playing as the good guys, I kept seeing the same player play as Rey -- I would’ve liked to see a system in place where you can play as a hero once per match.
Super Mario Odyssey (Oct 27th, 2017): When the demo ended for Super Mario Odyssey, it hurt because I wanted to play more. I demoed the Sand Kingdom area and from the start, it delivered on the bright and colorful world that the games are known for. But what really caught my eye was the level design and player choice. Rather than just scale a spiral cylinder, Mario went into a tube and became 2D classic Mario from the NES generation. On the outside of the tower, Mario jumped and ducked around the Bullet Bills and later became 3D Mario. The jump from 2D to 3D was so seamless, it makes me excited just thinking about how else they’ll take advantage of that capability.
One of the big new features of Super Mario Odyssey is that you can throw your hat named Cappie, control enemies and navigate hazards in the levels. Rather than take the usual platforming route, I took control of a bullet and rocketed towards the rest of the level. Later, I took control of a giant walking headstone that had a way to view hidden pathways in the environment. These subtle elements of player choice open up a world of possibilities. And with the announcement of cooperative play, players will be able to control Mario and Cappie, introducing new ways to play and experience the game.