The Most Exciting Sci Fi and Fantasy Games of E3

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    (Ed. Note: some of the trailers linked to here may not be appropriate for all audiences.) Gaming junkies among you will note that E3—the biggest gaming news convention of the year—happened last week.  The big news was the announcement of gaming’s next new consoles: the Xbox One (I prefer the Xbone) and the Playstation 4. If you didn’t know that, let me spoil the ending: neither reinvents the wheel, but if you want to play pretty video games you’re probably stuck picking one up this holiday season.
     
    More exciting than bland console reveals, however, were the games.  Sure, we had our spattering of blockbuster military shooters (Battlefield was present, while Call of Duty made its own show a week earlier), but we also had a number of really exciting new science fiction and fantasy themed properties.  Here’s the ones we’re the most excited about.
     
     
    Announced last year at Ubisoft’s press conference, this year’s reinforced Watch Dogs as a game to watch.  In it, you play a cyber terrorist in a futuristic Chicago where everything is connected.  With a touch of your phone, you can hack different systems, causing massive power outage, giving you control of traffic lights (causing massive pileups), and spy on people with the city’s camera network.
     
    It all looks glorious in motion, and it feels like the love child of Grand Theft Auto and Deus Ex. Manipulating the city with a touch of a button looks deviously fun, and the concept of a game where you might not have to kill everyone to progress sounds pretty sweet to me.
     
     
    InFamous is a series I’ve always wanted to love, a game where a regular guy gets immense super powers (in the first two games, it was electrical manipulation) and is thrown into a city in crisis.  It’s never quite worked all the way for me, though; the open world often felt a little boring, and the game never played quite as stylishly as it could have. 
     
    Enter Second Son, a Playstation 4 launch title, which places you in an all-new character and makes you a bioterrorist against an oppressive, camera-loving government (sensing a pattern here?)  What makes it stand out is just how excellent the protagonist’s powers look: you’ll shoot around as jets of smoke, blow up bridges with gouts of fire, and just be a real menace to society.  That’s something I can get behind in a game.
     
     
    Ten year old me would be freaking out at the idea of a new Final Fantasy.  Twenty-six year old me is a little more cautiously optimistic.  Final Fantasy XIII was a bit of a trainwreck, and Final Fantasy XIV—a massively multiplayer RPG—was a whole lot of one.
     
    But this looks lovely. The developers seem to have embraced the more active Kingdom Hearts style of battle, and I’m all kinds of in love with the umbrella twirling, fedora’d villain figure.  He looks like the kind of guy I’d really love to hate. The game itself looks smooth as silk, and maybe this is where Final Fantasy turns it around.
     
     
    We heard about Transistor, the new game from Bastion developer Supergiant Games, a few months ago, and we didn’t get a whole lot of new information, but my word does it still look like the game of my dreams.  A beautiful, oppressive future city, a strong female protagonist with a sultry talking sword, and the ability to stop time to plan out your actions combine to make something I couldn’t be more excited about.
     
    It helps, of course, that Bastion is one of my favorite games ever, and that the soundtrack is so lovely. I can’t wait to get my hands on it whenever it drops.
     
     
    In the middle of Microsoft’s press conference full of explosions, shiny graphics, and men shooting men, we had Below, the newest game from Capybara and Jim Guthrie.  To say its muted, 2-D color palette didn’t fit in is a bit of an understatement, but I couldn’t be more excited for it.
     
    This title comes from the makers of the sublime Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery, an adventure game from phone devices and the PC which combined classic fantasy adventure with a postmodern spin.  This one, Below, looks to be a roguelike, a game where you explore a randomly generated area (and probably die frequently), and it has a lot of the same ambient charm and muted beauty. At an E3 dominated by the prettiest new graphics, this one won my heart.
     
     
    There’s a lot of other games I could have highlighted—a new Dragon Age game and Metal Gear Solid V, among others—but I really like how The Order’s short trailer looked.  A riff on steampunk set in what looks to be a monster-beset 1880’s London, The Order looks like it’s right up my alley.  Add in some Arthurian elements—did the lady in the trailer call someone Galahad?—and you’ve got a recipe for some genre shenanigans.
     
    We don’t know how it’ll play yet, but that’s never stopped anyone from getting hyped about a game before.  And The Order looks pretty fantastic, especially since it’s coming from the trusted fantasy dudes at Sony’s Santa Monica offices, who were behind the God of War games among others. 
     
    But that’s just what we’re excited about.  How about you?

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