The Best Games of E3 2019

We came, we played, we yearned for the sweet release of death because we didn’t do enough cardio and vastly underestimated the size of the Los Angeles Convention Center. And now we have definitively chosen the best games of E3 2019.

Determined through a highly scientific formula and rigorous criteria, these are the games that left us thinking about them long after we parted ways with the show floor. Some of them you can play in the near future; some of them you can’t play for many, many months. But all of them are worthy of accolade.

As always, we have divided them into two categories: Editor’s Choice and Best in Show. Our Editor’s Choice seal of approval marks the most innovative, impressive, and genuinely fun titles we saw at E3. However, for that one game that rose above the competition to stand on its own, we have our Best in Show award. There were so many fantastic games on display at this year’s E3 that choosing was a deeply challenging, almost Sisyphean task. Yet we separated the wheat from the slightly less golden wheat to present the games you need to play.

Editor’s Choice

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Developer: Square Enix
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release date: March 3, 2020

The maelstrom of emotions swirling inside of me as I played Final Fantasy VII Remake on the E3 show floor is difficult to describe. As an introverted, lonely child growing up in suburban Massachusetts, I lost myself in the cyberpunk fantasia of Final Fantasy VII. It’s the way that I discovered role-playing games, but more importantly, it was the first time I understood the power of video games as a narrative tool.

Seeing it rebuilt from the ground up for a new generation of gamers filled me with earnest, irrepressible joy. Playing it was even better, as I rent enemies asunder with a well-timed swing of Cloud’s mighty Buster Sword or shredded them like Swiss cheese with Barret’s machine gun fire. By the end of the demo, which was a fairly on-rails experience meant to introduce players to the combat system, my face hurt because I had been smiling from ear to ear for its entire duration.

With a deeply satisfying combat system, drool-worthy graphics, and what sounds like an expanded story, Final Fantasy VII Remake is looking like it will be well worth the wait.

The Outer Worlds

Developer: Obsidian Entertainment:
Publisher: Private Division
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: October 25, 2019

If you’re someone (like me) who correctly thinks that Fallout: New Vegas is the best game in the Fallout franchise, then buckle up, because The Outer Worlds is about to blow your mind. This sprawling single-player sci-fi RPG trades in the nuclear wastelands of America’s irradiated west coast for the corporate dystopia of planets on the outer rim of the galaxy. With a distinctly goofy sense of humor, lavish world-building, a seemingly limitless amount of player choice, and compelling combat mechanics, The Outer Worlds looks like the spiritual successor to New Vegas that I’ve always wanted, and the main reason I’ll be canceling plans this October.

Dying Light 2

Developer: Techland
Publisher: Techland Publishing
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: TBD 2020

Easily the most stressful game I saw at E3 2019, Dying Light 2 was also one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises. The open-world, parkour-filled zombie apocalypse of Dying Light 2 takes what made the first game so addictive and raises the stakes in every conceivable way. Whether you’re barreling through abandoned buildings at a breakneck pace, hijacking a van full of murderous goons to infiltrate their fortress, or sparking up an ultraviolet flare to buy yourself precious time and repel a room full of Infected, every little moment in Dying Light 2 feels like it could be a tense, thrilling set piece in a big-budget zombie movie. And given how deeply player choice will affect the storytelling and the game map—to the point where you’ll only see approximately 50 percent of the game on your first play-through, according to a Techland representative in our live demo—it seems as though you will be the director and the star of your own horror film.

John Wick Hex

Developer: Bithell Games
Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment
Platform: Mac, PC
Release date: TBD

Have you ever wanted to become Baba Yaga himself? You can in John Wick Hex, an incredibly stylish strategy game that puts you in the bulletproof suit and dog-loving shoes of John Wick. Directed by Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell, John Wick Hex is an elegant ballet of death, destruction, and devious design as you must maneuver the most feared assassin in all of pop culture to cut a swath through the bad guys and reach his final destination.

With John Wick Hex, Bithell Games has created sleek, fluid, and deeply original gameplay mechanics that allow you to weave a beautiful, murderous tapestry as you use your gun-fu to create adrenaline-pumping sequences of events that feel like they could be ripped straight from the big screen. And yes, that includes throwing your weapon to take out hired goons.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Developer: MachineGames
Publisher: Bethesda
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
Release date: July 26, 2019

The only thing better than playing a video game where you can kill Nazis is a game where you can kill Nazis with a friend.  Wolfenstein: Youngblood continues MachineGames’ proud tradition of making frenetic, addictive, delightfully bombastic first-person shooters that let you turn Nazis into loose piles of Campbell’s Chunky Tomato Soup.

This time around, you and a friend (or an AI if you want to play solo) take on the roles of series protagonist BJ Blazkowicz’s daughters, Jess and Soph, as you search for your missing father and riddle the Third Reich with bullets in Paris circa 1980. Expect plenty of secrets to unlock, classic co-op-style puzzles, and outrageous action as you run-and-gun or stealth your way through this tremendously fun game.

Watch Dogs Legion

Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia
Release date: March 6, 2020

Any game that lets you take on the role of an elderly woman who just so happens to be a retired assassin is an instant-buy in my book, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg in Watch Dogs Legion. In the dystopian near-future London in which the game takes place, you will need to build a resistance army to hack the planet and take down the bad guys who are oppressing innocent Londoners.

Where Watch Dogs Legion blows my mind is in its new “Play as Anyone” gameplay system, which lets you quite literally recruit practically anyone you encounter in the game. Taking the “N” out of “NPC” makes the game feel like a truly open world and continues to push the envelope for the ambitious action-adventure series.

Plus, Clint Hocking is serving as the game’s creative director, which if you’re familiar with his resume, puts this immediately atop our list of most anticipated games coming in 2020. And that’s saying something given next year’s insane release schedule.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release date: September 20, 2019

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening  isn’t just a remake of the 1993 classic; it has been completely rebuilt from the ground up for a new generation of gamers. The result is a beautiful, joyous, rapturously fun experience that breathes new life into the many mysteries of Koholint Island through a bright, sunny, aggressively cute new aesthetic. Whether you’re releasing a wave of nostalgia-fueled endorphins or experiencing it for the first time, Link’s Awakening is a nearly perfect game. I say “nearly perfect” because I can’t play the full version on my Switch right now. Now that would be perfect.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: November 15, 2019

If there is a purer joy in video gaming than using the Force to fling a stormtrooper from a catwalk as they Wilhelm-screaming to their doom, then I have yet to experience it. After witnessing the false start of Star Wars 1313, I have been aching for an addictive, action-adventure title set in the galaxy far, far away.  Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order delivers the goods with what feels like a delicious blend of Uncharted, Mass Effect, and Dark Souls.

Yes, I said “Dark Souls.” Because the combat system will require you to become a Jedi Master, learning the intricacies of lightsaber combat, and wielding the Force against all manner of fiendishly clever AI who want nothing more than to execute Order 66, and you in the process. If the rest of the game is as good as what I was able to play at this year’s E3, then we may have a new classic on our hands.

Borderlands 3

Developer: Gearbox
Publisher: 2K
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: September 13, 2019

Inject this game directly into my veins.  Borderlands 3 is bigger, brasher, and better than its predecessors. Expect more of the same high-intensity, chaotic looter-shooter action that you know and love, but amped up in every single way. With a robust cast of new characters, a mathematically implausible amount of new weapons to discover, and a scope that takes the action way beyond Pandora, Borderlands 3 is going to be the harbinger of death for my productivity this fall. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Best in Show

Cyberpunk 2077

Developer: CD Projekt Red
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: April 16, 2020

There’s only one word you need to describe this game: “breathtaking.” But I’ll write a few more nonetheless.

Just when you thought the hype for Cyberpunk 2077 couldn’t get any higher, they go and add Keanu Reeves as legendary rockerboy Johnny Silverhand. The incredibly ambitious, sprawling world of Cyberpunk 2077 looks better and better with each new piece of gameplay we get to see.

Based on Mike Pondsmith’s seminal sci-fi tabletop RPGCyberpunk 2077 offers a world where it truly feels like you can do anything. If you want to go in guns blazing and use gang members as human shields to absorb turret fire, you can do that. If you want to hack someone’s neural implants and force them to pull the pin on their own grenades, you can do that. If you want to talk your way out of any situation and make it through the game without killing a single person, you can do that too.

It’s a world of endless possibility, all driven by you. I’m preemptively calling in sick for the last two weeks of April so I can immerse myself in the dynamic, dazzling world that CD Projekt Red has built from the ground up.

What would be on your personal Best of E3 list? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Square Enix, Warner Bros. Interactive, Ubisoft, 2K

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