Last year was all about the hardware, but E3 2014 has seen a laser sharp focus on the games themselves. As a jaded, cynical old man with a soggy lump of pus for a heart, I wasn't expecting to be excited by anything coming out of E3 this year, but I was wrong. I was very, very wrong. These are the five games I can't wait to play post-E3.
No Man's Sky
Amidst the frolicking and general excitement, I've detected a slight layer of cynicism with regards to No Man's Sky: what do you do in this game? What is it all about? How could something like this be made by a small team of four people. Their last video game was Joe Danger for christ's sake.
I understand this, but what if? What if they've developed a procedural generation system that can do all these incredible things? What if?
What if this game delivers?
Minecraft was made by one man, essentially. No Man's Sky could be made by four.
I want this game to be everything I hope it could be. Even if it's a simple exploration game, that would be enough, I think. Here's something I've been thinking about a lot: what has the potential to inspire a greater sense of wonder? Something beautiful that is procedurally generated or something designed? I'd argue there's will be something unique and beautiful about discovering something that wasn't created and designed to inspire wonder. There's something more sincere about that.
I think, more than anything, that's what excites me about No Man's Sky.
Zelda requires reinvention. I think we all realise that. The series hasn't fully committed to change since Wind Waker and I think there's a growing sense of agitation from all angles: from the fans, from Nintendo, from Eiji Aonuma himself. The time is right for Zelda to become new again.
Aonuma introduced the new Zelda at this morning Nintendo Direct and the right words were said. He referred to the heart of the original Zelda, the ability to go in all different directions and genuinely explore something alien. He pointed to the mountains: you can go here, from multiple different directions. The puzzle begins when the game starts: where will you go?
As someone who has recently fallen in love with Dark Souls, and found himself increasingly disenchanted with Zelda, these were the words I needed to hear.
Zelda looks glorious. For the first time in as long as I can remember, this is a Zelda that looks modern. It's a Zelda that looks to push boundaries. I thought I was done playing Zelda games that could do that, that could push things forward. It looks like I might be wrong.
This might the Zelda we been waiting for.
Halo: Master Chief Collection
I was almost embarrassed. By all accounts Microsoft had a great E3 showing, so many beautiful games were shown, so many interesting new titles.
The game that got me most excited was a pre-packaged set of HD remakes. What the hell is wrong with me? Have I really gotten that old?
But the Halo: Master Chief Collection is more than a cash grab, it's something new. It contains such a phenomenal amount of content — multiplayer maps, missions, everything — that it's almost overwhelming. It's so overwhelming that 343 Industries are creating playlists to allow you to manage mission and multiplayer play across four massive titles. The example used when I spoke to Frank O'Connor from 343 was warthog missions: there will be a playlist that allows you to only play warthog missions. Same goes for multiplayer. You could be in a party and switch seamlessly between the multiplayer of different games — it's up to you.
What we're getting is essentially the ultimate Halo package, and I think that's pretty exciting. It's just a powerful comprehensive piece of software that caters to those who have loved Halo in the past. I think that's great.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War
I can remember being excited by video games at E3. I can remember feeling disappointed. I can remember being angry at certain aspects of a presentation, but I have never, ever been close to shedding tears during a bloody video game trailer in the middle of a bloody E3 conference.
Friends. Valiant Hearts came pretty close.
Maybe it's the World War I setting, which is close to my heart, maybe it's the art style. Maybe it was just the writing, who knows. But there appears to be something special about Valiant Hearts and I can't wait to experience it.
World War I was perhaps the most brutal human conflict in history, but its complex beginnings, and the nature of the war itself has made it a difficult sell, particularly for video games, which tend to be one dimensional in their story telling, particularly where guns are involved. Valiant Hearts is just such an original looking video game. It is ambitious. I have faith in it.
I don't even know enough about this video game to even write a single coherent sentence about it. I don't even know why I'm so excited about it.
Is it because I loved Limbo, which was pretty close to being a perfect game.
Probably. Who the hell knows. My instincts from seeing the game in motion is that Inside will be spectacular.
Bloodborne The only reason this isn't on the list is because no actual gameplay was shown. This is a Miyazaki game. Dark Souls is my favourite game of last generation. There's no way this can be bad. No way.
Assassin's Creed: Unity I have issues with the co-op component, but watching that massive, massive crowd storm the palace was incredible. Watching the seamless way Assassin's Creed: Unity flowed from side mission to main mission and back again was inspiring. I love Assassin's Creed. I hope this is one of the better ones.