Another June has come and gone, and with it another E3 full of surprises. We saw The Punisher come on stage with a dog, Keanu Reeves prove himself to be the purest thing on Earth, and we heard who can I only assume is Bethesda’s number one fan.
In between the dance routines, corporate gibber gabber, and awkward presentations, we even saw a few games. We saw big games, indie games, weird games, and unexpected games, and outside of the presentations, out on the show floor at the Los Angeles Convention Centre and its surrounding meeting rooms, we saw even more.
You might have been keeping up with our gameplay previews over the past few days. Equally, you might not have. Either way, below you’ll find what we reckon were the ten best games of E3 2019. There’s one caveat to this list, and that’s that we have to have seen some gameplay in action, so no Halo Infinite or Breath of the Wild sequel – I expect those titles will dominate next year, anyway.
Gods & Monsters
Ubisoft only shared a brief teaser for Gods & Monsters during its E3 show, but I was lucky enough to see a little bit more of it in action before the big reveal, and I think those of us who fell in love with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (so most of us) are in for a treat.
Developed by the team who worked on the excellent Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Ubisoft sees Gods & Monsters as a chance to create an open world game that embraces Greek mythology and is accessible to all ages, so expect to see dungeons, puzzles, and a world in which you can climb pretty much anything and glide around to get a better view of your surroundings.
Based on the ten minutes or so of gameplay I was shown, Gods & Monsters could be the perfect game to tide us over until the next Zelda game arrives, and I’m excited to see just how much of Assassin’s Creed’s DNA makes it into the final game when it arrives on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Cyberpunk 2077 was at E3 2019 in a big way. Firstly, we learned that the game would be launching on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in April 2020 (finally!). We also discovered that Keanu bloody Reeves himself would be taking a starring role in the sprawling sci-fi RPG as Johnny Silverhand – a man with a name I would give at least a year of my life for.
Following these initial grand reveals, we saw a lengthy closed-door session of the game in action and then sat down with a few of the developers to uncover even more information on the anticipated title, and based on what we’ve heard and seen, the hype for Cyberpunk 2077 is entirely justified.
It won’t have escaped your attention that the game looks utterly gorgeous, but the level of attention to detail in the sprawling metropolis of Night City, the level of freedom you’re given to approach any situation, and the massively diverse range of options for customising your characters appearance and playstyle is what really has me excited for this one.
Plus… you know, Keanu Reeves.
Fall Guys was one of my personal favourites from E3 2019, and a game I can see myself playing with mates on many a drunken night for many years to come. It takes one hell of a game to dislodge Mario Kart 8 from that position in my social circle, so this is high praise indeed.
I only played about 30 minutes of indie developer Mediatonic’s new party game, but I was instantly sold. Then again, given Devolver Digital are seemingly incapable of publishing bad titles, I should never have expected anything less.
Fall Guys is, in essence, a 100 player Takeshi’s Castle. It’s a battle royale split into madcap, rapid fire rounds that consist of various Mario Party style minigames that have you racing, jumping, diving, and scratching for your wins – lose, and you risk elimination. Make it through to the next minigame, and you’re that much closer to glory.
It’s hilarious, inventive, chaotic, and some of the most fun I had at E3, outside of embarrassing myself at a karaoke bar.
Planet Zoo is absolutely a game you’ll want to keep your eye on when it comes to PC in November. It would have been enough for Frontier to simply develop a modern-day Zoo Tycoon, but the team has gone above and beyond to create what looks like one of the most detailed and immersive management sims of all time.
In my own preview piece on the title, I learned from Frontier that a focus on conservation, animal welfare, and education are the driving forces behind Planet Zoo. The more you research each of the game’s critters, the better prepared you’ll be to feed them and keep them happy, which in turn will make your guests happy.
Of course you’ll still have to make sure your guests have water to drink, umbrellas to buy, and toilets to dump out in, but loving and caring for the animals is the real draw of this one. Frontier hasn’t even shown off everything it has planned for Planet Zoo yet, and there are already a ton of features and details that promise this will be the essential tycoon game from now on.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
Honest to God, I never thought I’d be putting a LEGO game in a best of E3 article, but the Star Wars fan in me was absolutely floored after seeing Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga in action.
The latest brick-based game for Traveler’s Tales is so much more than just another LEGO game that retells the nine “main” Star Wars entries – it’s a sprawling, open world adventure that allows you to freely travel around on of the most popular universes of all time.
Everything from Old Ben’s house on Tatooine to the pristine glory of Cloud City is waiting to be explored, with overhauled combat, side quests, space battles, and Star Destroyers that CAN RANDOMLY WARP OUT OF NOWHERE AND START FIRING AT YOU. Oh, and that trademark LEGO humour, which always goes down smooth.
This is absolutely the Star Wars game I’ve been looking for, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Dying Light 2
Dying Light 2 seems to have everything you could possibly want from a game; brutal decapitations, zombie hordes, slick free-running, a massive open world, and music by Metric. I came away from a press demo of Techland’s anticipated sequel in action, and it looks to be building on everything that made the first game a cult hit, while adding in plenty of impressive new features.
The thing that really struck me was just how many choices – big and small – were put to the player during the demo. Watching the consequences of almost every action play out was fascinating. Some decisions, such as choosing not to kill a certain henchman, had immediate ramifications; leaving him alive got us into an enemy compound without raising the alarm.
Meanwhile, choosing not to stay with a friend who had been injured in a fight in order to chase down those that hurt him resulted in that character dying. It’s unclear if staying to help or him or going to find a medic for him would have really changed anything, but this one decision influenced how I felt about the world and characters in a drastic way.
The final decision we made had perhaps the biggest, and most astonishing impact of all, however. The major choice at the end of the demo actually opened up an entirely new region of the map, complete with its own quests, characters, and enemies. That you could miss a whole chunk of the game’s world in one playthrough has me incredibly excited to see how much Dying Light 2 has to offer when it launches next year.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is an utterly charming example of how to do a remake properly. This new Switch game, coming in September, retains the very essence of the original 1993 Game Boy release, but adds a stunning (and adorable) visual overhaul to sweeten the deal.
Nintendo has adopted an entirely new art-style for the remake that stays true to the whimsical, dreamlike nature of the Game Boy original while also being an absolute treat for the eyes. Playing through the game feels like staring down into a doll’s house full of Nintendo-themed delights. Everything has texture and depth in a way that the Game Boy could never have allowed, and the island of Koholint has never felt more alive as a result.
With the base game’s original content, as well as the bonus dungeon that was introduced in the Game Boy Colour remake and a new mode that is basically a Zelda Maker that encourages you to build your own dungeons, I can’t wait to fall in love with this classic Zelda title all over again.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
I was a little bit worried when Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was first announced. On the one hand, developer Respawn has proven itself over the years with its work on Titanfall and Apex Legends. On the other hand, publisher EA has treated the Star Wars license like a 21 year old on his first stag do treats his liver.
Fortunately, some of UNILAD Gaming were lucky enough to go and play the game (not me, boo), and came away not only impressed with what they’d seen, but quietly optimistic for the final game. By all accounts, the game looks beautiful, the combat is tight, and there’s plenty of space to explore.
What really tickles my own personal pickle is the notion that the game actually has something of a Metroid vibe to it, in that certain areas will be blocked off until you get certain abilities and can return to discover its secrets. That, as the kids say, is my jam.
Watch Dogs Legion
Watch Dogs Legion is bloody fantastic. After a dodgy first game, and a massively improved follow up, it looks like Ubisoft has finally cracked the formula for this third outing, via one very ambitious question; “”What if you could take control of any NPC?”
The cynic in me was convinced this wouldn’t work, but after nearly an hour of hands-on time exploring Legion’s stunning digital recreation of London, I was sold. Being able to play as any character opens up Watch Dogs in incredible ways, and makes for some hilarious moments.
If you want to storm Camden Town as an angry punk with a love of darts, you can do that. If you want to ride around on a motorbike tasering people as a little old lady, you can do that do. The depth of the system Ubisoft has put in place is remarkable, with every character you “enlist” having their own schedule, relationships, hobbies, and lives.
I’m not still not entirely sure how it’ll all tie together to create a cohesive story in the final build, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and Ubisoft fed us some damn tasty pudding at E3 this year.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Speaking of games I was convinced weren’t going to work, the Final Fantasy VII Remake managed to shut me up within minutes of playing it. I am a dedicated fan of the PlayStation original, and I’m here to tell you that the way Square Enix has incorporated new systems while retaining the essence of the original is nothing short of masterful.
Any fears I had about Square turning my beloved Final Fantasy VII into a generic hack n’ slash died the minute I picked up the controller. The team has managed to blend the Active Time Battle (ATB) system of the original RPG with a more dynamic, action-oriented focus in a way that made me want to cheer out loud.
You can dodge, attack, block, and move freely during fights to fill up your ATB gauge, and then slow down time to a crawl to choose more powerful attacks and spells from a menu. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it absolutely does, and I’m in love with it.
Beyond that, the game looks glorious, sounds beautiful, and Cloud is even more of a sass machine than he was back in 1998. I’ve never been more excited for a return trip to Midgar.
The most exciting thing about all of the above games? It looks like not a single one of them will be coming any later than 2020. The next 12 months are going to be a glorious time. Expensive, yes – but glorious all the same.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.