The greatest video game show on Earth has ended, but the hype is just heating up.
Nearly 70,000 gamers flooded an overpacked Los Angeles Convention Center for three straight days (not counting a few days of fancy media briefings) of digital insanity, and game makers of all shapes and sizes delivered enough gaming goodness to last a lifetime — or at least until the holidays.
Though E3 2017 lacked the explosive punch of last year’s incredible show, it was home to dozens of cool games spanning every system under the sun. So how do you narrow that down? Some games were playable; others were little more than a trailer and some concept art. You’ll get your hands on a handful of them in 2017, while many more won’t see the light of day for years. But regardless of development state (and in no particular order) these are the 10 titles we’re most excited to play.
‘Super Mario Odyssey’ (Switch | Release Date: 10/27/17)
How do you follow-up a game as great as “Breath of the Wild?” You call a plumber.
It’s been 15 years since gamers busted bricks in a 3D sandbox version of the Mushroom Kingdom (that would be “Super Mario Sunshine” for the Gamecube), so to say that ���Super Mario Odyssey” is a big deal is an even huge understatement. The next entry in Nintendo’s (NTDOY) flagship series is the company’s holiday pillar and a surefire system seller, provided it’s as good as we all expect.
And based on the E3 demo, it certainly will be. Odyssey’s charming world is densely packed with secrets, and Mario is equipped with incredibly cool new moves to help him explore every nook and cranny. His iconic hat is now a crucial tool, used to both thwart and even temporarily possess enemies. Mario the T-Rex? Believe it, and circle October 27 on your calendar. Switch owners absolutely won’t want to miss it.
‘Beyond Good and Evil 2’ (Platforms: TBD | Release Date: TBD)
You don’t often see a grown game developer weep onstage in front of millions of viewers, but that’s exactly what happened when Ubisoft’s (UBI.PA) Michel Ancel shocked the gaming world with a trailer and quick chat about the long-awaited follow-up to the beloved “Beyond Good and Evil.” The new game is a much different beast, a prequel that, based on an off-the-floor tech demo, hopes to combine the original’s memorable characters with an absolutely immense, seamlessly rendered universe.
Yes, it’s absurdly ambitious, and yes, ambitious games often don’t pay off in the end (see: “Spore” and “No Man’s Sky.”) I also don’t believe we’ll actually play this game in the next year or two, or possibly three. But E3 is about the future, innovation and risk-taking. “Beyond Good and Evil 2“ hits all the right notes and provided the most thrilling chatter of the show.
‘Middle-earth: Shadow of War’ (PC, Xbox One, PS4 | Release Date: 10/10/17)
How do you improve upon one of the best open-world games ever made? You make it bigger, naturally. But to simply say that “Shadow of War” is “bigger” than the 2014 hit “Shadow of Mordor” is like like saying that a Balrog is bigger than a labrador.
Giant fortress battles, a deep loot system, beefier combat, an expanded Nemesis system that turns just about every inch of the world into a unique, procedural snowflake — “Shadow of War” is shaping up to be a monstrous video game and a worthy successor to “Mordor.” This one may very well rule them all.
‘Spider-Man’ (PS4 | Release Date: TBD 2018)
The web slinger’s been a little hit-or-miss as a video game. Fans point to the seminal “Spider-Man 2” as a high point, but a wealth of decent if forgettable action romps have left them longing for a game that gets its sticky star right.
Sony (SNE) and developer Insomniac’s take on “Spider-Man” might do just that. It’s already being compared to the tremendous “Batman: Arkham” games thanks to a similar combat system, but it’s also gorgeous, cinematic and seems to nail the thing we all really want to do as the webhead: swing freely through the streets of Manhattan. It’s also treating the comic lore with love by including new Spidey Miles Morales in the amazing trailer.
‘Echo Arena’ (Oculus Rift | Release Date: 7/20/17)
E3 2017 wasn’t a great show for VR, but tucked away in a corner was the sort of experience that got us all raving about the pricey tech in the first place. Created by well-known developer Ready At Dawn, “Echo Arena” is the closest you’ll get to the low-gravity training scenes from the sci-fi classic Ender’s Game. Two teams of five float around an arena, launching off walls as they try to toss a ball into a goal. It’s a smart solution to VR’s locomotion issues, and thanks to Oculus Touch and voice support, it feels like you’re really sharing a space together.
‘Sea of Thieves’ (Xbox One | Release Date: Early 2018)
It was a pirate’s life for just about everybody who met with Microsoft (MSFT) at E3 courtesy the swashbuckling silliness of “Sea of Thieves.” Turning up to four players into a gang of marauding buccaneers, it’s a surprisingly complicated game about ship sailing, treasure hunting and, most likely, lots of dying. But ace developer Rare’s gift for colorful characters and playful features is on full display here, making “Sea of Thieves” one of the most likable games at the show.
‘Star Wars Battlefront II’ (PC, Xbox One, PS4 | Release Date: 11/17/17)
The fan favorite from 2015 strikes back later this year, and based on what we saw from “Star Wars: Battlefront II” at E3, it’s aiming to fix up the ship.
A full single-player story mode should attend to the biggest complaint about the last game, though “Battlefront II” also expands its popular multiplayer with customizable classes, more weapons and environments and heroes spanning every major Star Wars era. Ever wonder how Jedi Luke would fare against Darth Maul? (OF COURSE!) You’ll find out in November.
‘Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus’ (PC, Xbox One, PS4 | Release Date: 10/27/17)
The game that put first-person shooters on the map got a killer reboot in 2014’s “Wolfenstein: The New Order,” which featured over-the-top combat against some of the craziest nazis this side of a Mel Brooks movie. But developer Machine Games was just getting started.
“The New Colossus” continues brawny hero BJ Blazkowicz’s fight to survive in a future world ruled by cruel dictators; good thing he’s the toughest man in the world, as evidenced by an incredible 20-minute E3 demo that let you mow down mobs of SS soldiers while putting around in a wheelchair.
‘Anthem’ (PC, Xbox One, PS4 | Release Date: Q4 2018)
From “Baldur’s Gate” to “Mass Effect,” game developer Bioware is best known for making enormous, detailed role-playing games. For their next trick, however, the legendary studio is taking a page from the “Destiny” playbook with fast-paced sci-fi combat set in a shared online universe. In “Anthem,” players don exosuits called Javelins as they jetpack around a massive world looking for trouble (and, presumably, XP and loot). Details are still scarce — E3 was more of a coming out party for the game than a deep dive — but suffice to say, fan of Activision’s juggernaut and games like “Borderlands” should pay attention.
‘Far Cry 5’ (PC, Xbox One, PS4 | Release Date: 2/27/18)
Ubisoft had a tremendous E3, showing off a portfolio bursting with both established franchises and risky new endeavors. “Far Cry 5” somehow fits both definitions. The first game in the series to be set on U.S. soil, it courts controversy with its socio-political undertones, pitting a small-town Montana deputy against a militia-like cult that shares more than a few similarities to real-world American extremist groups. But it’s also “Far Cry” through and through, letting you romp around a stunning, grounded open-world begging for exploration and experimentation. Best of all, you have a pet dog. Careful, he bites.
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Ben Silverman is on Twitter at ben_silverman.