The dust has settled and all the big announcements from E3 2018 have been revealed. Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and all the big publishers have shown off hundreds of new games, a good portion of which are coming out in the next six to eight months. One of the most exciting parts of the E3 experience is being taken by surprise by games you weren’t expecting to see. While this E3 had a few less genuine surprises than we’re used to — Wal-Mart’s various leaks leading up to the show can be blamed for much of this — there were some bombshells we weren’t predicting.
Here are the biggest surprises of E3 2018! Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments.
12. The Last of Us Part II Kiss
Sony opened its oddly designed press conference in exciting fashion with an extended gameplay trailer for The Last of Us Part 2, which looks beautiful and violent and pretty much every other superlative you could think of. But while the majority of the trailer was devoted to watching a grownup Ellie – who, from what we can tell, is now the main playable character (still no sign of Joel) – brutally battle her way through a group of enemies, the biggest surprise from the trailer had nothing to do with graphics or lovely animations.
Naughty Dog’s games continue to push boundaries in terms of storytelling possibilities and the new trailer shows off this ambition by focusing on a kiss shared by Ellie and another woman while dancing together at a party. The fact that Ellie is kissing another woman shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans of The Last of Us, as the original game’s DLC chapter Left Behind confirmed that she is queer, but it’s still a bold (and welcome) choice to open an E3 press conference with. Here’s hoping the game doesn’t go the expected route and kill off Ellie’s love interest in the first chapter.
11. Ghosts of Tsushima Is Absolutely Stunning
It’s easy to be disappointed that Sucker Punch isn’t working on a new Infamous game right now but if the studio’s new game, Ghosts of Tsushima, turns out half as good as it looks in the trailer shown off at Sony’s press conference, I’m absolutely fine with the change in direction. To be honest, I had forgotten all about Ghosts of Tsushima before this trailer, as we haven’t seen anything about the game since last year’s Paris Games Week.
Following a samurai warrior as he works to repel a Mongol invasion from the Japanese island of Tsushima, Sucker Punch’s game is a visual stunner but also looks to strike a nice balance between intricate melee combat and stealth gameplay. My only real gripe is that it feels like Sucker Punch should have gone with full Japanese voice over here but otherwise, Ghosts of Tsushima is one of my biggest surprises of E3 and a frontrunner for Best of Show. Too bad we have no idea when we’ll get to play it though, as Sony didn’t announce a release date.
10. Nioh 2 Announcement
Honestly, I’m not surprised that Nioh is getting a sequel so much as we are that it got an announcement so soon. Team Ninja’s excellent action-RPG came out of nowhere in February 2017 and was one of the PS4’s very best exclusives that year. The game performed better than expected, so a sequel was inevitable but it’s still kind of shocking to be getting an official announcement just a year and a half later at Sony’s E3 press conference. Of course, we don’t have much to go on right now given that all that was shown was a brief teaser, so there’s probably still going to be a long wait before we see Nioh 2 released. Still, it’s good to know it exists!
9. Star Fox in Starlink
Ubisoft’s love affair with Nintendo continued at E3 this year and while we didn’t get a bombshell like Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, the inclusion of Star Fox’s Fox McCloud in the new toys-to-life game Starlink: Battle for Atlas is another great example of the two publishers’ close relationship. Whether or not the game itself turns out to be any good remains to be seen, but the inclusion of Fox on the Nintendo Switch version virtually guarantees that it will outsell the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions when Starlink is released on Oct. 16.
8. Rage 2 Looks Amazing
Going into E3, we knew that Bethesda would be showing more of the post-apocalyptic shooter sequel, Rage 2, but it was hard to be excited by the prospect. After all, the original game, while technically impressive for its time, was widely considered a disappointment when it was released nearly a decade ago, so it was hard to understand why the world needed another Rage game. As it turns out, we were wrong to worry, as the trailer Bethesda showed off during its press conference was a total barnburner, revealing that Rage 2 is basically the demented love child of Mad Max and the recent DOOM reboot. Over-the-top car combat, well-tuned shooting, grotesque monsters, Andrew W.K.?! Sign us up!
7. Skyrim Alexa Is Hilarious (And Real!)
It’s always refreshing when big companies don’t take themselves too seriously and Bethesday proved they were in on the joke with a hilarious skit in the middle of their show. Starring Keegan-Michael Key, the skit teased the arrival of Skyrim on Alexa and features Key as a guy playing through the RPG entirely through voice commands. While meant to poke fun at the long-running joke of Bethesda releasing Skyrim on every platform imaginable, it turns out that the Alexa version is totally real and can be downloaded from the Amazon store.
6. Unravel Two Announced, Available Now
The original Unravel was one of 2016’s most beautiful, underrated indie platformers and to be honest, I never really expected to see it get a sequel. Well, evidently it sold enough to convince EA to make Unravel Two, as the publisher not only announced the game at E3 but confirmed that it’s available for download right now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. I haven’t had a chance to play Yarny’s co-op puzzle platformer yet but at under $20, it’s a nice surprise bargain and further proof that EA is not just a big-budget release mill.
I just wish Unravel Two would have got a Nintendo Switch version though, as it really is the kind of game that feels tailor-made for the system. Oh well.
5. Devil May Cry 5 is Real
We already knew that there was a very good chance Devil May Cry 5 was going to be shown off at E3 thanks to leaks, but it was still surprising to see the game featured at Microsoft’s press conference rather than Sony’s, as the franchise has generally been more closely associated with the PlayStation brand. However, the big news with DMC5 is that it will be a direct sequel to 2008’s Devil May Cry 4, confirming that Capcom is ditching Ninja Theory’s underrated DmC reboot released in 2013.
DMC4 protagonist Nero returns here with his Red Queen sword and Blue Rose gun, though he now sports a nifty mechanical arm. Fortunately, series protagonist Dante will also be playable, as well as Nero’s new female ally Nico. Capcom is aiming for a Spring 2019 release window, with Devil May Cry 5 coming out on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Stylish!
4. Resident Evil 2 Remake Gets A Release Date
We’ve known for awhile that Capcom has been working on a remake of its beloved 1998 survival horror classic Resident Evil 2, but we certainly didn’t expect to see it at Sony’s press conference, let alone get a release date as part of the deal. As the trailer shows, this is a remake from the ground up, as the game trades the fixed cameras of the original game for a third-person over-the-shoulder view, similar to something like Resident Evil 4.
Thankfully, the core of the game still looks to be the same, as players will still assume the roles of Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield as they explore a zombie-infested Raccoon City. Best of all, fans won’t have to wait long to get their hands on the Resident Evil 2 remake, as we learned that the game is coming to PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One (no Switch version – boo!) on Jan. 25, 2019.
3. New Battletoads?!
A new Battletoads game is something Microsoft has been able to theoretically make ever since it acquired Rare, but we never really expected they would release a new entry in the notoriously difficult side-scrolling platforming series. Well, the unexpected happened at Microsoft’s press conference, as we got a Battletoads teaser trailer that confirmed a new three-player couch co-op game with hand-drawn 2.5D graphics is on the way in 2019. Here’s hoping Rare maintains the notorious difficulty of the original game while updating it to make things more fair, similar to something like Cuphead.
2. Microsoft Buys Ninja Theory
Overall, Microsoft had a very good showing at this year’s E3 and one of their best announcements had nothing to do with new games, but a new game studio. Specifically, Microsoft announced that it had built one new internal studio and acquired four others, including Ninja Theory, the team behind such games as Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, DmC: Devil May Cry, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
It’s no secret that Microsoft has struggled to get Xbox exclusives out the door this generation and having a studio as talented as Ninja Theory under its belt will no doubt help alleviate this issue in the future. According to Ninja Theory, the studio joined Microsoft in order to “be free from the AAA machine” and to be able to take risks without the threat of financial ruin. The other studios acquired by Microsoft include Undead Labs (State of Decay 2), Playground Games (Forza Horizon), and Compulsion Games (We Happy Few).
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Has Every Smash Character
Nintendo’s E3 Direct was light on new game announcements but this was to be expected, as the company made no secret about the fact that the next Super Smash Bros. game would be the main focus of its E3 conference. As such, it was little surprise that Nintendo spent most of its hour long Direct talking about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, covering every conceivable detail big or small. While listing off all the changes made to the game’s 60+ characters was probably a bit tedious for everyone who isn’t a Smash Bros. pro, the big news was that every single character from previous Smash games would be included.
Yes, every character from the original, Melee, Brawl, and the Wii U/3DS iterations will be included, plus a few news such as Inkling Boy and Girl, Daisy, and Ridley from the Metroid series. We can’t even begin to fathom how Masahiro Sakurai and his team at Bandai Namco are going to balance that kind of roster, but this is very much looking like the “ultimate” Smash Bros. game and we only have to wait until December to get our hands on it.