At E3 2019, publishers like Microsoft, Nintendo, Ubisoft, Square Enix, and Bethesda showed off their current and future lineup of games. There was much to be excited for, but there were some gems that stole the show.
At Digital Trends, we wanted to honor these games in a way that made the people who worked hard on them feel special, acknowledging the incredible amount of work that goes into them.
We’ve narrowed these awards down to five categories: Best in Show, Most Innovative, Best Visuals, Most Anticipated, and Editor’s Choice.
For Best in Show, we selected Pokemon Sword and Shield. With a beautiful new generation of Pokemon and the move to a console, it outshined the competition.
Best Visuals goes to Spiritfarer for its beautiful 2D art style that took our breath away during Xbox’s E3 Briefing.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake gets Most Anticipated for the amount of hype this classic and highly cherished RPG remake has sparked.
Watch Dogs Legion walked away with Most Innovative for its unique mechanic that allows you to assume control on anyone in the game.
Cadence of Hyrule won Editor’s Choice, for being an ingenious blend of two fantastic games: Crypt of the NecroDancer and the Legend of Zelda.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
E3 2019 Winner
Pokémon is a household name. It has been for years. Yet, against all odds, the franchise has managed to boost itself to new levels of international stardom with smart moves like Pokémon Go and the recently released movie, Detective Pikachu. Pokémon should feel played out by now, but instead, it’s bigger than ever.
Pokémon Sword and Shield – technically two different iterations of the same game, in traditional Pokémon fashion – is the next step towards global domination. This is the first ‘mainstream’ Pokémon title to come to a home console. We’ve seen spin-offs like Pokémon Let’s Go and Pokken Tournament, but those are just distractions compared to Sword and Shield.
The game has some twists to keep it fresh of veterans, including a Dynamax mode that lets your Pokémon do their best Godzilla impression. What’s most impressive, though, is how the series has expanded without losing its soul. Sword and Shield is lightyears beyond the original games, which appeared on the Game Boy over twenty years ago, but the fundamental joy of collecting adorable monsters remains the same.
Pokémon Sword and Shield will arrive on November 15, 2019 for the Nintendo Switch.
– By Matthew S. SmithLearn More
Final Fantasy VII Remake
As one of the most iconic entries of the series, it makes sense that Final Fantasy VII Remake is such a hugely anticipated game. With massively upgraded graphics and a redesigned combat system that’s the most refined we’ve seen from the series yet, Final Fantasy VII Remake promises to re-immerse us in one of fans’ most beloved worlds.
The character design is stunning, with voice acting that nails each character’s charismatic personality, reviving the blurry polygons we fell in love with over 20 years ago. Combat looks thrilling as Cloud busts up enemies with his buster sword, Barrett shoots them down with expert precision, and Tifa punches them up in her signature brawler style. It reignites the feelings we felt so long ago, as AVALANCHE fights the good fight against Shinra and Sephiroth.
Square Enix’s E3 2019 presentation was a real treat, as it finally gave us a look at our favorite bartender, Tifa. She was mysteriously absent from the recent previews of the Final Fantasy VII Remake game, and fans had started to question why.
It was a wonderful surprise to see her, and the wait was not in vain. She’s one of the most cherished characters in the series — alongside Cloud, of course – and she seems to be getting the respect she deserves.
We can’t wait to play Final Fantasy VII Remake when it arrives next year for PlayStation 4 on March 3, 2020.
– By Felicia MirandaLearn More
Games like Ori and the Blind Forest and Cuphead have upped the ante on art in indie games, and many indie games rose to the challenge at E3 2019. Spiritfarer is at the front of the pack.
Spiritfarer’s carefully drawn 2D art style looks better than most Saturday morning cartoons, which makes the fact it’s playable game even more impressive. Vibrant, unique character, stunning backgrounds, and smooth animations combine to make it absolute treat to look at.
The hand-drawn art style is no longer unique, as many games now use it. But that only underscores what Spiritfarer gets right. Characters never seem to skip a beat, even when several interact on screen. Even the details are perfect, from facial expressions to the fur on your very, very cute pet.
What really sets Spiritfarer apart from some equally attractive peers, however, is its use of light. It’s not always highlighted, but when needed – during a sunrise, or in some of the game’s more supernatural scenes – lighting effects arrive in full force. They blend seamlessly with the 2D graphics, adding depth and complexity to an already stunning game. Balancing this with the hand-drawn art couldn’t be easy, but it all comes together beautifully in this indie darling.
Spiritfarer will arrive in 2020 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
– By Matthew S. SmithLearn More
Watch Dogs Legion
Watch Dogs, Ubisoft’s relatively new open-world franchise, is…good? We gave Watch Dogs a 3.5-star review and gave the same to Watch Dogs 2. Both games were solid, freeform fun, but they didn’t stand from the hundreds of open-world games released over the last few years.
So, of course, Watch Dogs Legion – the third title in the series – is E3 2019’s most innovative game by far.
You don’t play a single character in Watch Dogs Legion. You are Legion. Or, more specifically, a resistance group hoping to free London. You can play as anyone in your resistance. Each member has special skills that set them apart from others. One might be great in a fist fight. Another might hack drones.
While you can switch between characters, the situations you put them can’t be taken lightly. Death in Watch Dogs Legion is often permanent. The game doesn’t start over when a member of your resistance dies. You don’t lose the game, but you may lose that character.
These inevitable causalities must be replaced by new recruits. And your recruits can be anyone. Ubisoft says the entire civilian population of London is fair game. Each of these NPCs will be randomly generated, with their own appearance, voice lines, and skills. It’s a hugely ambitious idea, and unlike anything we’ve seen before.
– By Matthew S. SmithLearn More
Cadence of Hyrule
Crypt of the NecroDancer is a dark and delicious mixture of dungeon crawling and rhythm that easily captured the adoration of the players who tried it. Following in its deadly dance steps is Cadence of Hyrule, a mashup of Crypt of the NecroDancer and The Legend of Zelda.
Cadence of Hyrule turns each confrontation into a hypnotizing dance battle. Normally, rogue-like games can seem very intimidating to players that don’t routinely play them, but the fun and upbeat style of Cadence of Hyrule invites players to try out the genre — not to mention, invites new players to try out to the wonderful Crypt of the NecroDancer.
With an assortment of NecroDancer and Zelda-themed items, weapons, and spells, Cadence of Hyrule offers players the opportunity to experiment with their boogie battles in ways that best suit their own personal dance style.
Rhythm and strategy is key, as each enemy requires you to master its moves while staying on beat to the music. It will require some skill, but even if you have two left feet and mastering moves takes some time, its catchy soundtrack invites you to stay plugged in for hours. It’s a game that has all the notes it needs to be a truly delightful melody.
Cadence of Hyrule releases on the Nintendo Switch on June 13, 2019.
– By Felicia Miranda
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