2019 marked an odd year for E3, with former fixture Sony’s absence and the rise of streaming-focused game tech front-and-center. However, as always, gaming’s biggest trade show played its pivotal role in laying out what we can expect from the rest of this year and next. Whether brutal first-person shooters, imaginative platformers, or ambitious RPGs are your jam, there was something special for everyone.
We sat down to discuss which games from this year’s various presentations and showfloor demos left us the most excited. Here are the best of the best – the games we absolutely can’t wait to get our hands on.
Best Action Game: Watch Dogs Legion
The last two Watch Dogs games have been quite ambitious (sometimes to the point of being flawed), but Legion’s scope is maddening. Instead of playing a protagonist, you have a whole city of resistance fighters at your disposal to wage war against fascists, which leads to some pretty incredible moments that you can read about in our hands-on preview here.
Best Adventure Game: 12 Minutes
A shocking amount of games are about time loops: Majora’s Mask, Outer Wilds, and Braid are just a few examples. However, even among such juggernauts, the promise of 12 Minutes stands out. You play a man who learns that his wife is pregnant just before a dangerous intruder knocks on the door. From there, the player’s choices affect how the story plays out in a shocking number of ways. We look forward to seeing just how deep this rabbit hole goes when 12 Minutes releases next year. you can read more about it here.
Best Cooperative Game: Borderlands 3
Reunions can be so lovely. With its zany gunplay, powerful class abilities, and wild sense of humor, Borderlands 3 looks to deliver more of the action that series fans fell in love with. You can read about why we enjoyed our return trip to Pandora so much here.
Best Platformer: Psychonauts 2
Not counting the VR-exclusive Rhombus of Ruin, it’s been a long time since we last saw Raz and the Psychonauts gang. The footage unveiled during E3 for this mind-bending sequel showed Double Fine is providing the same wacky level design and lovably odd character-driven antics that made the first game so beloved.
Best Racing Game: Grid
Grid is back! Codemasters’ return to its well-regarded series brings forth a bevy of enhancements that should delight fans and newcomers. You can read all about this entry’s openness, the tightness of controls, boss battles, and other elements we’re excited for in our hands-on preview.
Best Role-Playing Game: Cyberpunk 2077
The upcoming seedy sci-fi odyssey from the makers of The Witcher stole our hearts last year with a jaw-dropping cinematic trailer reveal, not to mention an equally impressive demo. This year we got another in-depth look at the game in action behind closed doors and came away wowed by the customization options, gritty aesthetic, gunplay, and various ways you can accomplish your objectives. For more on the cool things you can do in Cyberpunk 2077, head here.
Best Shooter: Doom Eternal
For Bethesda, this year’s E3 show floor presence was all about the shooters, and our time with Doom Eternal suggests that this gory sequel might surpass the hellish thrills of its predecessor, thanks to new combat maneuvers, improved mobility, fantastic setpieces, and ridiculously weaponry. For more on Doom Eternal, check out our interview with id Software about what to expect from the game.
Best Sports Game: Madden NFL 20
The sports game category at E3 is always weird because the MLB game is already out and the series that regularly dominates our sports game of the year awards – NBA 2K – hasn’t come to the show in years. That leaves the competition between PES and the EA Sports stable. This year, Madden NFL 20’s more fluid gameplay, interesting scenario engine, and new Superstar X-Factor abilities make it the most intriguing game of the bunch.
Best Fighting Game: Granblue Fantasy Versus
Although Granblue Fantasy Versus looks as flashy and over-the-top as Arc System Works’ other bombastic fighters, the studio is taking a more laid-back approach this time. Movement is more similar to Street Fighter than Guilty Gear. Taking cues from its source material, special moves are on cooldowns and easy to execute but are enhanced if you can pull off proper fighting-game maneuvers. The result is a flashy fighter that’s quick on the uptake, and we had a blast playing just a few rounds with its small but surprisingly diverse roster.
Best Remake: Final Fantasy VII Remake
After its cinematic reveal at E3 2015, gamers the world over have spent years passionately discussing every development and every snippet of news related to Square Enix’s attempt to remake Final Fantasy VII as its own modern multi-game saga. This year, we finally got an in-depth look at the combat as well as a release date and a flurry of solid details on what to expect from the project. Those in attendance at the expo this year even got to play the game if they were willing to wait in massive lines. By the show’s end, Final Fantasy VII Remake stood near the top of our most anticipated games of E3. For more on Final Fantasy VII Remake, check out this list of 28 details we learned while playing the game.
Best Strategy Game: Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem has never shied away from taking risks, and Three Houses looks to be taking the biggest ones for the series yet. Throwing aside its weapon triangle in favor of an entirely new foundation for combat and focusing on Persona-like social simulation aspects might just be the shakeup Fire Emblem needs to realize its full potential. For more on the changes and what we love about them, head here.
Best Indie: Carrion
Ever wanted to play the monster from The Thing? Great news: that’s the whole pitch of Carrion. You’re a giant globby beast trying to escape a facility, ripping guards and scientists to pieces and devouring them as you grow and grow and grow. A Metroid-like that oozes style and gore, Carrion was the most eye-catching indie we played this year and we can’t wait to gobble up some more fools come 2020.
Best New IP: The Outer Worlds
Some of the key creative talent behind rich RPGs like Fallout New Vegas and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is enough to be excited about The Outer Worlds. However, the game’s rich, branching opportunities for roleplay, humor, and eye-catching visual design prove that its virtues exist beyond vague promise. We cannot wait to explore these worlds to see what joys and dangers lurk within. For more on The Outer Worlds, check out all of the details we learned during our cover story trip for the game.
Best VR Game: Phantom: Covert Ops
Imagine the sort of stealth action you might see in Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell. Got that mental picture in your head? Great. Now, think about doing all of that from the comfort of a kayak. In VR. That’s the pitch for Phantom: Covert Ops and we were impressed by what we saw of that wacky concept during E3, with our hero shooting out lights to distract foes and paddle on by. It’s a wild concept, but we want to play more of it just to see where developer Ndreams takes it.
Best Multiplayer Game: Madden NFL 20
Every once in a while, a dominant player like Michael Vick or Randy Moss takes over the Madden meta, but rarely do we see large variety in team compositions. This should change with the Superstar X-Factor system, which proposes to elevate the abilities of true NFL superstars across all positions. If executed correctly, this should result in a lot more diversity in team strategies for online versus and Madden Ultimate Team.
Biggest Surprise: Keanu Reeves In The House
Sure, Breath of The Wild getting a surprise direct follow-up was a big deal. But nobody expected Keanu Reeves to not only walk out on stage during the Cyberpunk 2077 segment of Microsoft’s E3 presentation, but also be a character who plays a big role in the game itself. Thanks for spawning a million memes and being so breathtaking, Keanu, you cyber-devil you.
Best Tech: Project Scarlett
We might not have learned what the next Xbox looks like, but Microsoft did dish out several details about what to expect from the so-called Project Scarlett. Solid state drives, 8K capability, and the ability to run up to 120 frames a second were all things we learned during Microsoft’s press conference. What tantalizing details hang in the distant horizon for the next generation of consoles interested Game Informer’s editors more than Stadia’s more shrug-worthy display of an all-streaming future thus far.
Game Of The Show: Cyberpunk 2077
Despite solid competition from Watch Dogs Legion, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and The Outer Worlds, Cyberpunk 2077 hacked our minds with an impressive demo ushering us into a stylish neon-lit world of violence, classism, dangerous technology gone awry, and compelling choice-driven gameplay. Cyberpunk 2077 is less than a year away and, if what we saw at this year’s presentation was any indication of quality, it’s likely to be one of the most impressive titles we’ve played in a long time.
For more on Cyberpunk 2077, head here.