Ever wanted to swing around NYC as Spider-Man? Or literally lash out enemies as baby Groot? How about use Mario’s cap to jump across huge gaps? Maybe you’d like to sail the high seas or lead the android revolution as Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams? Well, we’ve spent the past few days at E3 doing just that.
The 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo has come to a close, but EW played the hottest games from Nintendo, Ubisoft, EA, Naughty Dog, Bethesda, and more. Here are the highlights:
Super Mario Odyssey (Oct. 27, 2017)
Everyone’s favorite plumber returns in a sprawling open world that is rumored to be larger than Galaxy and its sequel combined. Mario leaves the Mushroom Kingdom behind for new kingdoms (or levels) that seemingly never end as you collect moons. The 3-D specs take a minute to get used to — you can end up jumping behind a pole instead of on it — but once you get the hang of things, you can use trusted sidekick Cappy (Mario’s hat) to take over other hatless objects, like Bullet Bills or even a T. rex. (There’s a co-op mode where a second player can control Cappy.) Various kingdoms also have pipes that turn Mario 2-D for a side-scroller portion of the level. The kingdoms themselves have many Easter eggs and homages to Nintendo’s history — Donk City, for instance, has giant purple girders all over town — making the game a treat for new and older players alike.
While hands-on gameplay for Spider-Man wasn’t available, we got an extended look at new footage from the upcoming exclusive PlayStation title from Insomniac Games. First off, Spider-Man takes place in an entirely new universe and is not connected to the upcoming film Homecoming. The game picks up with a 23-year-old Peter Parker, who’s been web-slinging for eight years. He’s confident as a superhero, but maybe not so much in his personal life. Both facets of his life will collide when he discovers the head of the villainous group the Demons is Martin Li, a.k.a. Mister Negative, whom Aunt May works for. While we’ll see much more of Peter’s personal life in the game, his mastery with tech is where gameplay really gets exciting. Thanks to his web-slingers and various other gadgets, like web tripwire, the battles are that much more death-defying and acrobatically fantastic. Spider-Man can use his surroundings to help battle his foes, dropping everything from a crate to a crane on the baddies — though the game may course-correct if you accidentally, say, kick a bad guy off a roof; Spider-Man’s no killer! The game is also open-world, so Spidey could literally swing around New York. Oh, and Miles Morales might become a playable character. (More here.)
Skull and Bones (2018)
The newly announced multiplayer game from Ubisoft takes the best parts of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, the piracy and naval warfare, and jams them into one game. You can sail the high seas on your own, or join a team of up to five players, to battle against other pirates and pirate hunters as various ships, like the large-but-slow enforcer, the long-range marksman, or the battering ram bruiser. Use the wind at your back to sink opposing ships and gain the most booty, but be sure to actually escape the pirate hunters, or your team will lose.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (August 2017)
The turn-based role-playing game merges Nintendo’s Mario franchise with developer Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids, though actual gameplay isn’t quite like either. Gone are mini-games — at least, as of now — and in their place are creative battle modes, where you utilize teammates to vanquish the enemy with laser guns. Playable characters include Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Yoshi, as well as four Rabbid counterparts dressed like the aforementioned characters. Each has their own unique set of skills, offering a variety of ways to challenge your foes in the very bright, Mario-esque bright world.
Assassin’s Creed Origins (Oct. 27, 2017)
The 10th entry in the Creed franchise takes you way back to Ancient Egypt, where you play as an even-tempered Medjay named Bayek. Navigating the world is relatively easy, though interacting with it is much different. Sure, it was just a demo, but other characters were slow to react, and Bayek was also not as quick on the uptake on certain things, like dismounting a horse or jumping off various ships. Also, after desynchronizing twice during a rather tough battle, Bayek finally won, only for “desynchronized” to flash on-screen and Bayek to suddenly drop like a rag doll — reminiscent of the problems that plagued Unity. The world may be bright, but the demo was lacking in the epic Egyptian open-world that made the trailer so fascinating — no sliding down pyramids or wrestling alligators in the water. However, you can use a hawk to scout ahead and mark various enemies, which should come in handy once the world is opened up. And the gladiator pit was the pièce de résistance. At some point in the game, a mission will take Bayek to the gladiator arena — you can return at any time after that point to try win upgrades — where you can face off against different waves of foes as various obstacles within the arena (like deadly spinning spiked posts) threaten certain death. It’s quite the feeling to take on the slaver boss round and come out victorious, an arduous task that makes you feel like you’ve truly earned the win. In the end, you can choose to give him mercy or impale him in the face with a spiked shield. No mercy for the slaver boss, but will there be for Ubisoft if they don’t get those glitches up to speed by the time the game is released in October?
Far Cry 5 (Feb. 27, 2018)
If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. That was the feeling behind the new Ubisoft title, whose open-world gameplay (the largest map so far) takes place in the fictional Hope County, Montana, where a militaristic doomsday cult has taken over. Much like FC5‘s predecessors, it’s your job to liberate various towns within the county. But the new installment leans heavily into “Guns for Hire” as well as “Fangs for Hire.” The demo, for instance, gave the option to choose between stealthy sharpshooter Grace, explosion-based pilot Nick, and gun-retrieving dog Boomer (pet him; trust us, it’s adorable). Each offers a unique experience, making replay on the game more likely, and you’ll be able to recruit many more “for-hires” along the way. But activities abound in unexpected places, like actually fishing on a dock, or ramming road blocks in a semi. Also, moving from foreign locales to stateside couldn’t be more apropos, as the story line feels scarily timely.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (Aug. 22, 2017)
Tough-as-nails Chloe Frazer returns in this standalone installment from Naughty Dog and Sony that takes place one year after the events of A Thief’s End — from the actual ending, not the epilogue — as she enlists polar-opposite mercenary Nadine Ross to hunt down the Tusk of Ganesha. Much like the Uncharted games before it, though, an insurgent leader is racing to find the Tusk first. It’s another game that doesn’t change much from its predecessors, though the parkour, climbing, and swinging are taken to new heights as you work in tandem with Nadine. The game is built on existing mechanics, but there are more vivid graphics, especially prevalent in the vast open spaces. Those who loved the puzzles of the other games will not be disappointed. And, who knows, this is the world of thieving, so there may even be some familiar faces who pop up.
Detroit: Become Human (TBD)
This neo-noir thriller from Quantic Dream and Sony is an objective-based customizable game that follows three very different androids — all of which can die at any point throughout the narrative — as the A.I. revolution begins. Play as Connor, whose job it is to hunt down deviant androids; Kara, who has just discovered sentience; or Markus (voiced by Jesse Williams from Grey’s Anatomy), who aims to free the androids, as you make various game-changing decisions. This game could probably be replayed more than a thousand different ways. It’s also very visceral, like detective mode on steroids, providing a good balance of analytic gameplay with your own heart and humanity.
Battlefront 2 (Nov. 2017)
The latest Star Wars game from EA expands on its 2015 predecessor by adding an authentic single-player campaign that bridges the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, where you play as Iden Versio, the Imperial commander of Inferno squad, who will help carry out Emperor Palpatine’s backup plan that will enact his revenge on the rebels in the case of his death. On the multiplayer front, there are now four different classes of troopers, including assault, heavy (slower), specialist (long range), and officer (command). Unlike the first installment, there’s no need to search out tokens for vehicles or heroes. Instead, you gain battle points that you can use quickly to become specialist class troopers, droids, or vehicles, or you can save up to eventually become a hero during the round — Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, Han Solo, Darth Maul, Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn, and Captain Phasma are among those playable. There are multi-stage galactic ground assaults — one played took place in Theed on Naboo — as well as full-on epic space battles. Plus: DLC content will be free and released frequently.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Oct. 27, 2017)
SPOILER ALERT: The Bethesda sequel finds B.J. Blazkowicz still alive, but not in great shape. Waking up on a U-boat overrun by Nazis, B.J. is sluggishly recovering from a coma in the wake of The New Order. That means you’re firing on the enemy from a wheelchair for the first portion of the game. Seriously. But there’s an easily digestible story line, even if you haven’t played the original, as B.J. navigates the U-boat in search of wife Anya, barely armed, but utilizing conveyor belts to keep moving ahead of the enemy, while luring Nazis into microwave fields that totally obliterate them — careful not to roll too close to one!
Call of Duty WWII (Nov. 3, 2017)
The 14th game in the series is primarily set during World War II, where you can play multiplayer either on the Allied or Axis side — no, you’re not playing as Nazis, but as the regular German Army. Though, you will be able to play against Nazi zombies in a co-op mode. There’s also a new class-based progression system in multiplayer, as you literally fight in the trenches and nearby destroyed European towns. You can only play as Allied in campaign mode, which nixes health regeneration, instead forcing players to rely on medics for health packs and fellow soldiers for ammunition.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 (Nov. 12, 2017)
The LEGO-themed sequel from Warner Bros. Interactive allows players to become a variety of heroes, several, in fact, in a single level. Each character has a unique set of skills that allow you to pass each level, from Star-Lord’s ability to fly, to Spider-Man’s spidey-sense or, really the best part, fighting as baby Groot. He’s small, but scrappy. With that in mind, you can’t play as baby Groot the whole time. Alas. But the game is very puzzle-minded in trying to figure out what’s next, sometimes frustratingly so.