E3 2017 offered a ton of surprise game announcements

This year’s E3 featured plenty of previously announced games, like Super Mario Odyssey and Sea of Thieves, that absolutely blew us away with their inventive gameplay and undeniable charm. But publishers and developers still had plenty of hidden tricks up their sleeves. From brand-new game announcements to the reemergence of projects long thought dead, there were several surprises that got us excited. Here are our favorites.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

The toys-to-life craze has largely subsided, with Disney Infinity going the way of the dinosaur and the Skylanders franchise appearing to be close behind, but Ubisoft is jumping into the plastic toy pool with both feet. A space exploration game that appears to be a more focused take on the No Man’s Sky formula, Starlink: Battle for Atlas allows players to fully customize their in-game spacecraft by adding and removing plastic pieces from a model fitted to their controller. The game promises a vast and expansive world filled with dangerous enemies, and it seems like the perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch. If you don’t own Nintendo’s newest console, you can also play it on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Beyond Good & Evil 2 is actually happening

Creative director Michel Ancel had posted a few images and teasers for Beyond Good & Evil 2 on his Instagram page in the past, but the game no longer appears to be in its infancy. Ubisoft capped off its E3 press conference with an extended CG trailer for the game, showing off a cast of new characters and a story that takes place before the events of the original. While we didn’t see any gameplay, Ancel revealed that the game would use a “shared world “similar to other Ubisoft games like The Division, and that it would be perfect for exploring. Narrative is still being given the attention it deserves, but we can’t wait to finally dive back into Ubisoft Montpellier’s unique universe.

Hunt: Showdown impresses

Crytek hasn’t experienced much success with its most recent games — it was forced to close some of its studio branches over the last few years — but it appears that the developer has managed to strike gold with Hunt: Showdown. Tasking teams of two with defeating monsters while also staying out of each others’ cross-hairs, the game’s weapons include both the traditional, like crossbows, as well as modified firearms that can fire in an automatic mode and change the tide of the battle. Once you and your partner have defeated a monster, you’re forced to stay near its corpse for a short amount of time while it’s “banished.” This allows every other player to learn your location on the map, which sounds more terrifying than the monsters themselves.

Metroid Prime 4

We didn’t see any gameplay, cinematics, or even a still image for Metroid Prime 4, but we didn’t have to. The game is real, and it’s coming to the Nintendo Switch. After years of dormancy, the subseries originally created by Retro Studios is coming back on Nintendo’s latest console, and the system’s motion-enabled Joy-Con controllers seem like they should be the perfect fit. Curiously, Retro actually isn’t developing the fourth game. Instead, it’s being handled by a Japanese team led by producer Kensuke Tanabe. We can’t wait to return to the world of Metroid Prime, and the 3DS-exclusive Metroid: Samus Returns should help make the wait easier.

Pokémon is coming to Nintendo Switch

Fighting game Pokkén Tournament DX arrives for Nintendo Switch in just a few months, but those looking for a traditional role-playing game hadn’t heard any news about the next Pokémon game — that changed during Nintendo’s Spotlight presentation on June 13. A mainline Pokémon game is indeed in development for the Switch at Game Freak, and it will be the first developed for a home console. With the increased power of the Switch, the world of Pokémon will only be more immersive, and the Switch’s portability means that players will still be able to venture out into the real world and play with their friends — and foes.

Not one, but two pirate games

Rare’s Sea of Thieves looked interesting at Microsoft’s E3 2016 press conference, but the game’s demonstration at this year’s show was simply marvelous. From the game’s charming art style to its goofy humor — you eat a coconut by just biting into it whole — it put a smile on our faces immediately. Its secret-filled world looks like it will be a blast to explore with friends.

For anyone looking for a more combat-heavy pirate game, Ubisoft Singapore’s Skull & Bones has you covered. A multiplayer-focused naval combat game inspired by Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, the new IP features the same intense cannon barrages and daring escapes, complete with cheery sea shanties that players are legally required to sing along with. The game’s CG trailer also teased supernatural elements, possibly a kraken, so your biggest enemy could be hiding in the depths of the sea.

A Way Out redefines cooperative gameplay

Split-screen cooperative games typically hinder each player’s ability to perform their best, with the smaller screen space limiting their awareness, but Hazelight Studio’s A Way Out uses this feature to enhance the gameplay experience. Playable only in split-screen, the game’s prison break story has two inmates work together to plan their escape and ultimately attempt to return to their lives in the outside world. As one player is in a cutscene, another can often still move freely, planning distractions or accomplishing tasks — and the other player always knows exactly what they’re up to. It remains to be seen if the game’s writing can keep up with its brilliant premise, but it made a very strong first impression.

Bethesda brings it in 2017

Bethesda doesn’t appear to have too many projects in the works for 2018 and beyond, but it has a few heavy hitters scheduled to arrive this autumn. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and The Evil Within 2 were both announced during the publisher’s E3 showcase, and they’re releasing within two weeks of each other. Wolfenstein II was the only one to have gameplay shown during the press event, and it immediately impressed with an alternate-history take on Americana and Wolfenstein’s classic Nazi-murdering action. The Evil Within 2, meanwhile, surprised us with varied environments and a more inventive story than the previous game, as well as hints of Westworld sprinkled into the announcement trailer.

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