This E3 was all about change, and not just the obvious shift in hardware. With the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One finally out of the box, a torrent of new titles arrived in their wake. But while the next-gen hardware and these companion titles certainly stole the show, others found ways to squeeze more life out of the current gen in surprising ways. It made for an interesting show, and a difficult one to judge. It also made for an important event, one that will shape the trends of the next few years to come.
Here are our picks for the best of E3 2013.
Best Microsoft Exclusive: Titanfall
When many of the developers that made Call of Duty into the juggernaut it is today leave to create a new game, you need to be paying attention. And when that game will appear exclusively on the Xbox platform (and PC) – as will be the case with Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall - it’s a huge win for Microsoft. Titanfall will also help establish the Xbox One as a gaming system, after a debut that seemed to indicate a focus on home media. The game gives the Xbox One a heavyweight exclusive title right off the bat, and gives FPS multiplayer fans a good reason to look at the Xbox One when deciding between systems.
Runners-Up: Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsports 5, Project Spark
Best Nintendo Exclusive: Sonic Lost World
Nintendo had an uneven showing at E3, but it wasn’t without its highlights. The Japanese publisher wasn’t able to keep up with the announcement of two new consoles, so instead it focused on software. And while the games announced weren’t enough to generate the buzz Nintendo had hoped for, they were consistently fun – and at the top of the pack was Sonic Lost World. How ironic would it be if Sega, a company Nintendo nearly put out of business, ended up being its salvation?
Runners-up: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101
Best Sony Exclusive: Killzone: Shadow Fall
Sony’s presentation was among the most dominant showings in years. It just hit all the right notes, and twisted the knife into Microsoft at just the right moments. One of the weaker aspects of the announcement was the software, though. Many of the games revealed were little more than CGI trailers or multi-platform titles with some Sony-exclusive content. The launch line up should be good, we just want to know more first. Of the games we did see, Killzone: Shadow Fall looks amazing, and helped to highlight how incredible next-gen graphics will look.
Runners-up: Beyond: Two Souls, Knack, InFamous: Second Son
Best Action Game: Dead Rising 3
There is just something oddly soothing about hopping in a car and running down a few dozen zombies. Oh, and strapping a chainsaw blade on to a sledgehammer has its moments of perverse glee as well. With the power of the Xbox One behind it bringing thousands of the undead to life in astounding detail, Dead Rising 3 looks like a blast.
Runners-Up: Thief, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Mad Max
Best Digital Download: World of Tanks
World of Tanks is one of the biggest games on the planet, and yet many Americans are completely oblivious to it. That should change now that it’s heading to the Xbox 360. It promises to give 360 gamers a proven multiplayer phenomenon, and should help to bring the free-to-play genre to the console. If it catches on, it could radically shift the console gaming market – just like it did for PC gaming.
Runners-Up: D4, Rain, Transistor
Best FPS: Destiny
Bungie has been slowly releasing tidbits about Destiny for months now, but we’ve hardly seen a glimpse of the actual gameplay. That changed in a big way this E3, and the promise of the next title from the makers of Halo is undeniable. An entire solar system to explore, an MMO-like social network, and thousands of possible guns give this title limitless possibilities. It will be available on current-gen systems as well, but it should help to define the next-gen in its early days.
Runners-Up: Killzone: Shadow Fall, Titanfall, Wolfenstein: The New Order
Best Handheld: Legend of Zelda: A link Between Worlds
While the Wii U has been facing an uphill battle recently, the 3DS has begun to gain steam thanks in no small part to the recent bevy of software releases like Animal Crossing and Pokemon. The next big game on the docket for the 3DS is the sequel to the SNES classic, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Zelda fans will remember that game fondly, and the sequel is building directly off of its story. We may not have a Wii U Zelda title to prepare for (yet), but this is the next best thing.
Runners-Up: Terraway, Killzone: Mercenary, Batman Arkaham Origins: Blackgate
Best MMO: The Elder Scrolls Online
This category was incredibly difficult to pick a winner for, because the lines between an MMO and a multiplayer game continue to crumble. More and more games are becoming online-oriented, even if they don’t fall in the traditional mold of what we consider an MMO. Still, there were a few titles at E3 that exemplified the MMO philosophy, and none more so than The Elder Scrolls Online. Beyond that though, the game is kinda awesome.
Runners-Up: The Division, Destiny, Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade
Best Multiplayer: Battlefield 4
While this category gets harder to examine as more and more games add multiplayer, Battlefield 4 best exemplifies the traditional multiplayer element – specifically competition. You can destroy a freaking skyscraper filled with enemies if you want. The game may be the same at its core, but where else can you do that?
Runners-Up: Titanfall, Destiny, World of Tanks
Best RPG: South Park: The Stick of Truth
It is an oddity that South Park: The Stick of Truth has won this category for two years in a row, but not a surprising one. Games face delays all the time, and with South Park losing its publisher in THQ, a delay was inevitable. That may turn out to have been the best thing possible though, as it gave Obsidian time to polish the RPG. South Park: Stick of Truth looks like the cartoon, and has the humor to match. It is a breath of fresh air in the genre, and steeped in originality while still clinging to the traditional RPG features that define the genre.
Runners-Up: The Witcher, The Elder Scrolls Online, Destiny of Spirits
Best Sleeper of E3: Murdered: Soul Sacrifice
With the new consoles on the way it makes sense that publishers and developers would want to put their best foot forward when it comes to this E3. Quirky, unusual games are tougher to get love for when graphical powerhouses and sprawling new worlds are the competition, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few titles that could make a splash, despite the lack of love. Murdered: Soul Suspect is an odd game, starring a ghostly detective investigating his own murder. It doesn’t fit into a simple genre, but it is definitely one you should pay attention to.
Runners-Up: Dying Light, Lords of the Fallen, The Wonderful 101
Best Sports Game: FIFA 14
Although this category is in danger of becoming the “Best EA Sports Game,” EA continues to innovate and reinvigorate its sports franchises. FIFA embraces the next-gen, both graphically and dynamically. The tech around the game improves, but the core remains the same, allowing the developers to try some new things that aren’t revolutionary, but are impressive. They may be relatively minor tweaks, but fans of the franchise will go wild for them.
Runners-Up: Sportsfriends, EA Sports UFC, PES 14
Best of Show: Sony
This one wasn’t even close. Sony had a dominant press conference to open the show, one that people were talking about for days and will remember for months. It was a masterful performance, and was tailor made to stick it to Microsoft. The next gen battle is just starting, and there are months before the fight begins in earnest. Plus, E3 is a show all about smoke and mirrors. Sony may have dropped the mic in front of a reeling Microsoft, but it was showmanship more than anything. There is plenty of time for Microsoft to recover, and possibly even win the next-gen battle. For now though, this round clearly goes to Sony thanks to a well-executed press conference to kick off E3 2013.