Every E3 is filled with games that do not get as much attention as some of their counterparts, particularly the ones that dominate press conferences or feature Keanu Reeves. You may have passed over these games either by watching trailer after trailer or simply through a lack of marketing. Some are big-budget AAA titles while others are smaller indie games that have yet to receive release dates. Regardless of their size, they are absolutely worth keeping an eye on in both the back half of 2019 and throughout 2020.
Without further ado, these are eight games from E3 2019 that you should get excited for.
Bravery Network Online
I’ve always been aware that Bravery Network Online existed, but it wasn’t until I had the chance to play it that I realized just how exactly it checked off all the boxes for something that I’d be interested in.
Pokémon battles but with humans? Check.
Intuitive and easy to understand abilities and statistics that make it perfect to pick up and play? Check.
Colourful and interesting character designs that speak to me on a deep level? Check.
Set in a futuristic Toronto? Hell yes. Check.
Bravery Network Online is a mishmash of genres and ideas that combine to create something that’s charming and lovable. There’s no release date set, but honestly, I don’t how long it takes to finish: I’ll be waiting to play it all the same.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall
I have not played Age of Wonders before E3, but Age of Wonders: Planetfall certainly has me interested in playing the series. It’s a sci-fi 4X strategy game set in the aftermath of the collapse of a galactic empire, where various factions find themselves stuck on a planet and have to contend with both the environment and each other. Spoiler: war will inevitably be declared. The strategic layer is similar to other 4X games: you expand into new sectors, exploiting their resources, and building up your requisite land, naval, and air units. It’s in the battles themselves where things get interesting. Instead of watching two units bash against each other on the map, you’ll engage in turn-based combat where each unit can be heavily customized, down to the type of weapon they use and colours that they wear. Developers Triumph Studios directly compared it to XCOM, and it’s a fitting analog, though I will say that XCOM has a much cleaner and easier to understand UI. Still, the battle in which I participated was quite fun, and I’m interested to see just how far Age of Wonders: Planetfall‘s customization can go when it releases on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on August 6th.
Let it be said that Devolver Digital has a great eye for games. Carrion, unveiled during the company’s lurid and spectacular E3 press conference, is one such example. You essentially play as the Xenomorph from Alien after it has escaped confinement, though it has more in common in design and appearance with the titular creature from The Thing than anything else. That means you will be eating humans alive piece by piece, growing bigger and stronger with each new meal. But Carrion is less focused on the action, instead functioning more like a puzzle game with each new area. Flamethrower troops could cut you down easily, unless you sneak through a small pool of water after shedding some mass. A switch may need to be pressed on the other side of a barred door, so why not shoot a fleshy spider-web to get the job done? Rather than just focusing on the blood and guts, Carrion forces you to take each moment in carefully as you plan out your hunt. That being said, ripping off a human’s torso and flinging it at his buddy is morbidly enjoyable, so I can see it fulfilling the needs of two entirely different camps when it eventually launches sometime in the future.
The Hero must go on a quest to defeat the Dark Lord in a fantasy realm filled with monsters and bosses of all shapes and sizes. Except in Heroland, the heroes are the paying customers of an amusement park that prides itself of creating compelling fantasy experiences. And you don’t play as the customers either—you’re the tour guide, watching from the sidelines to ensure things don’t go too wrong. That means that the party will mostly fight by themselves, while you wait for an assistance meter to fill that lets you either impart party-wide strategies in battle, or offer one-on-one tactical advice for a particular party member. It’s an auto-battler through and through, though the sheer whimsy found in fighting your coworkers who gripe about their jobs just as much as you do makes it stand out from other RPGs of its kind. It will come to the West this fall for both the Nintendo Switch and PS4.
When I asked the developers of Tripwire Interactive where its ‘SharkPG’ Maneater fell on the scale between Jaws and Sharknado, the answer was a cross-up between Deep Blue Sea and Jaws: The Revenge—If you’re anything like me, that sounds great. In practice, Maneater follows the journey of a small baby shark as it seeks revenge on Sneaky Pete, a shark hunter who killed its mother. Not only will you grow in size the more you eat, but you can also evolve specific abilities and moves by spending specific types of experience gained through completing certain objectives. For example, you can grab a swordfish in your mouth, jump into the air, and smack it with your tail at such a speed that it can impale a human. The world is fully explorable from the get go, though some specific sections require certain abilities to access, and each area is filled with landmarks, objectives, and even bigger creatures that you can fight. Undercutting all of this are batches of dark comedy, from a dumping ground for the mob that is filled with dozens of bodies, to an alligator with a bright pink ribbon named Rosie, to the way that the narrator sardonically comments on the sharks role as population control when you eat a beach goer. Tripwire’s got some work to do before Maneater is set for release, but you should hopefully expect it sometime before next E3.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is the only game on this list that had a noticeable presence on the E3 show floor itself, with its massive photogenic statue and numerous stations set up to let parties of four hunt down some of the new expansion’s monsters. Unlike other booths however, this was one that required only a short wait in line before you could dive into the action.
And what great action it was. It’s been a long time since I’ve played Monster Hunter World, but Iceborne was a great reminder as to how good it felt in each moment of a hunt. The new area, Hoarfrost Reach, is as large and as diverse as other locations in the base game, though visually speaking it is easily the most impressive, with the snow itself and how you move through it being a highlight. As for the monsters, I tackled both Banbaro and Tigrex. Banbaro’s gigantic horns proved troublesome, as they had far larger range than one would expect and were capable of creating massive snowballs that were a pain to dodge. As for Tigrex, the fan favourite was one of the most vicious monsters I’ve fought in Monster Hunter World so far, and rarely gives you a moment to breathe and recover. Rest assured Monster Hunter fans: Iceborne is looking like a fantastic expansion when it launches September 6th on consoles.
Samurai Gunn 2
I had no knowledge of the original Samurai Gunn before E3, and at this point I’m wishing someone had shown it to me back in 2013, because its sequel Samurai Gunn 2 was some of the most fun I’ve had at the show. It’s a local multiplayer game where up to four players duke it out in small levels, where one hit equals death, with a katana and gun. You can slash, dash, jump, and shoot, though dashing and shooting each takes a bullet to use, and you only get three bullets per life unless you pick up additional ammunition from fallen foes. It’s stylish and fast-paced, to the point where a match rarely lasts longer than two or three minutes. Samurai Gunn 2 will also have a single player story mode—which was unfortunately not present in the demo—but if the multiplayer is anything to go by, it’s going to be a blast to play when it launches for the Switch sometime in the future.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution
I watched the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime when I was growing up, struggled with the rules as only a nine-year-old could, and have been aware of its continued existence even as I delved into other card games. Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution, launching on August 20th, 2019 for the Switch, was the first time I’ve actually played some form of the game since the early 2000’s, and let it be said that its not lacking in the content department. Over 9,000 cards are available to build decks with, across multiple different rule types that are pulled from each iteration of the show, including the most recent Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS. It is also significantly more complex than I remembered. Playing through one tutorial, I spent roughly 10 minutes on a single turn where I summoned around a dozen different monsters. Congratulations Yu-Gi-Oh! fans: I can’t think of a better game for you than this.