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Summer Game Fest: our 10 favorite games we saw and played

Digital Trends attended Summer Game Fest Play Days once again this year, as well as events held by Xbox and Ubisoft, and we were able to play demos of a variety of upcoming games from all corners of the industry. We played or saw a hands-off demo of over 30 games slated to release throughout the next year or so. From new entries in long-running series like Mortal Kombat or Armored Core to more quirky and experimental indies that are pushing the video game medium forward, there was a lot for us to like at this Summer Game Fest Play Days and its surrounding events.

Still, we talked and narrowed things down to our ten favorites so you could have a succinct list of some of the best-looking video games that are on the horizon. In no particular order- with the exception of our Game of the Show – here are our 10 favorite games we played last week as part of Summer Game Fest.

Game of the Show: Cocoon

A bug carries an orb in Cocoon.
Annapurna Interactive

It’s incredibly difficult to describe what makes Cocoon so special; it’s truly one of those games you need to actually play to understand. The atmospheric, insect-themed adventure game transported me to another world entirely during my demo session, letting me get fully lost in its sci-fi ambiance. Part of that is due to the astonishingly tight game design that had me traversing its visually striking environments and naturally solving puzzles with no explanation necessary. It’s an experience that stuck with me long after I put the controller down, and I wasn’t the only one. It was the one game on my peers’ tongues all weekend, as both press and content creators couldn’t stop praising it despite not being able to describe why. That makes it an easy pick for our game of the show, beating out some impressive Titans on this list. ~ Giovanni Colantonio

Armored Core VI: Flames of Rubicon

A combat encounter in Armored Core 6
Bandai Namco Entertainment

A brief 20-minute hands-off theater presentation for Armored Core VI: Flames of Rubicon did enough to rocket boost FromSoftware’s upcoming mecha game onto this list. It’s unlike anything we’ve gotten from the developer over the past decade, but that’s a bad thing. Its frenetic gameplay and intense enemy encounters look like they will constantly keep players on their toes, while deep customization options will allow players to adapt their mech to their favorite play style or what’s best for a given encounter. Armored Core VI’s August 25 release can’t come soon enough. ~ Tomas Franzese

Mortal Kombat 1

Key art for Mortal Kombat 1 shows Liu Kang.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

After falling in love with Street Fighter 6 this month, I was excited to give another fighting game a chance. I’d get to do that at Play Days with a limited build of Mortal Kombat 1, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Other than its stomach-churning fatalities, what really stands out here is its Kameo system, which lets players call in a second character to perform some extra attacks. It’s a small system that has a big impact, giving players tons of ways to get creative with their playstyle and easily extend combos in unexpected ways. That should pave the way for another genre-pushing fighting game that can go toe-to-toe with Street Fighter 6 later this year. ~ Giovanni Colantonio

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

Sargon attacks a boss in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown.

A total left-field surprise to kick off this year’s Summer Game Fest stream, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown quickly became one of the most talked about games of a very busy weekend. And while it wasn’t playable at Play Days proper, Ubisoft invited us to demo it at a close-by event, along with The Division Resurgence and The Crew Motorfest. After 30 minutes with The Lost Crown, I can assure you that the 2D action game deserved the spotlight it got. It’s shaping up to be a fantastic Metroidvania with deceptively complex combat, rewarding exploration, and an incredibly cool sense of style. It’s the complete package, running laps around a lot of much bigger, flashier games we saw during Summer Game Fest. ~ Giovanni Colantonio

Disney Illusion Island

Donald Duck tries to fly in Disney Illusion Island.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Punching way above its weight as a licensed platformer starring Mickey Mouse, Disney Illusion Island impressed at Summer Game Fest Play Days. This is a gorgeous, full-blown Metroidvania starring four iconic Disney characters, and while each of them may not have a unique moveset, the game is a joy to play. It also doesn’t feature any combat and allows players to choose how much health they want their character to have when they start playing, so the experience is tailored to all ages. On top of that, this game is entirely playable in co-op and has co-op exclusive mechanics that encourage players to help each other out. No matter if you prefer Mickey Mouse or Metroid, you will get something great out of Disney Illusion Island. ~ Tomas Franzese


A character looks at a Mega Man like power-up in Viewfinder.
Sad Owl Studios

Viewfinder is the kind of game that you could throw in a room with 1,000 demos and it would still stand out. That’s thanks to its unique twist, where players can seamlessly turn 2D photos into full 3D environments. That creates an unbelievably clever puzzle game hook that feels like you’re watching an impossible magic trick. Though I’d already gotten to see it in action at GDC earlier this year, I was still blown away seeing how it works. It’s a truly special piece of game design that I’m dying to dig into when it launches on July 18. ~ Giovanni Colantonio

Simpler Times

Taina's bedroom in Simpler Times.

Unpacking walked so Simpler Times could run. Simpler Times is a fairly simple game about a young girl packing up things around her childhood home as she prepares to go off to college. Instead of being a somber experience like that premise might make you think, this is actually something much more optimistic and reflective. It struck a personal chord with me as I’m moving quite soon, but I’m soon anyone who has even gone through a significant life change that’s made them reflect on their past will get something, hopefully positive, out of playing Simpler Times. ~ Tomas Franzese

Alan Wake 2

FBI agent Saga Anderson exits a car in the Alan Wake 2 trailer.
Remedy Entertainment

Though we didn’t get to physically play Alan Wake 2 at Summer Game Fest, a 40-minute gameplay demonstration would tell us more than enough about the upcoming survival horror game. The impressive snippet I saw traded in some of the pulpy horror of its predecessor for a dark, moody FBI investigation that felt more like True Detective than Twin Peaks. I’d get to see plenty of gameplay that piqued my interest, from Resident Evil 2-style shooting to an intriguing investigation mechanic that lets co-lead character Saga work out the game’s central mystery on an evidence board. What’s exciting is that the clip I saw is only half of the game, as the parts starring Alan Wake himself are supposed to play differently. Considering how creepy the section I saw was, I’m looking forward to seeing how else developer Remedy can scare the crap out of me. ~ Giovanni Colantonio

Sonic Superstars

Sonic runs through a level in Sonic Superstars

My personal feelings about Sonic Frontiers aside, Sonic Superstars is shaping up to be a fantastic 2D platformer that will help push the Sonic the Hedgehog series forward. Its solid-level design and new Emerald Powers enable all the exploration and movement options one would want out of a 2D Sonic the Hedgehog game, and the four bosses we fought in its Summer Game Fest Play Days demo build were some of the best in the entire series. And, while we didn’t get to try it, this game will even feature co-op to take advantage of its multiple playable characters. Sonic fans have no need to be worried about Superstars, as even a Frontiers hater like me is very much looking forward to it. ~ Tomas Franzese

Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior

Remnants attack a shielded enemy in Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior.
Quantic Dream

I always appreciate seeing a tried-and-true formula shaken up in a way that I’m not expecting. That was exactly what I got when I demoed Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior, a new indie published by Quantic Dream. At first, I thought it was your average top-down, hack-and-slash action game. I’d soon realize there was much more to it, though, as I’d learn its core cloning hook. When entering a combat arena, players have 15 seconds to do as much as possible before they’re respawned as a new version of themselves. They then work alongside every clone that came before them to fully clear the room in one short loop. It’s an ingenious idea that makes it feel more like a strategic puzzle game than just another action game. ~ Giovanni Colantonio

Editors' Recommendations

Tomas Franzese
Gaming Staff Writer
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
The best Wishstones in Lies of P
lies of p preview gamescom 2022 statue

Whether it is a FromSoftware game or a title from another developer, like Lies of P, each entry in the Soulslike genre adds a few new mechanics to stand out and bring a new flavor to the formula. On the surface, you might expect the whole Pinocchio thing to be enough for this game to stand out, but the team took things a few steps further. Aside from a unique take on the weapons system and lore, Lies of P has special items called Wishstones that can grant you powerful buffs. These stones can only be obtained by trading Golden Coin Fruits with a specific NPC, and are consumed upon use. To make sure you're able to maximize the benefits, here are the best Wishstones you should be using in Lies of P.
The best Wishstones in Lies of P

There are a total of 13 possible Wishstones to get, but not all are immediately available. If you see some you can't get quite yet, keep playing until you beat the Black Rabbit Brotherhood. Once that's done, all Wishstones will be available for sale.Here are thebest ones:
Recovery Wishstone
This is the first Wishstone you can get and is one you will probably want to keep at all times. The function here is simple: to passively restore your health for a short amount of time. Since Pulse Charges are so valuable, and you will run out very fast while exploring new areas or fighting bosses, this is a fantastic backup healing option. You do still need to play carefully, and time it right to make the most of it, but more healing is always needed in Lies of P.
Friendship Wishstone
While Lies of P doesn't allow for co-op like some other soulslike games, it does still have a summoning system where you can bring in NPCs to help you take down the cast of challenging bosses. These summons are called Specters, who will do their best to help, but they typically don't last all that long in a fight. If you're willing to use a Wishstone slot, the Friendship Wishstone can keep your loyal companion in the fight longer by giving them a bit of healing.
Courage Wishstone
Fable Arts are your more powerful, weapon-specific moves that consume a part of your Fable Bar to use. This makes it so you can't simply spam your most powerful attacks all the time, but sometimes you need that extra damage output to ekeout a victory. The Courage Wishstone makes that Fable Bar recharge much faster, allowing you to unleash those powerful moves more often.
Frenzy Wishstone
Back on the Specter side of things, these helpers are lacking when it comes to survivability, so you might as well make them pack a stronger punch to pull their weight before getting crushed. This Frenzy Wishstone fires them up to deal more damage. They won't be able to solo a boss for you or anything, but in a game like this, every single point of damage can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Provocation Wishstone
What if you're feeling a little more ... cruel toward your Specter? There's no shame in it since they're only there to serve you, after all. With the Provocation Wishstone, you can put all the aggro onto your Specter, giving you some breathing room to heal, restore some Fable Arts, or just catch your breath. It also gives them a little defense buff so you don't have to feel too bad about it.
Explosive Wishstone
You might feel a little worse about using the Explosive Wishstone, however. Once activated, any time your unsuspecting Specter gets hit, they will explode and deal a nice chunk of damage to anything caught in the blast. If you're unsatisfied with what Specters can do for you normally, why not just turn them into a bomb?
Advance Wishstone
This Wishstone is the equivalent to the Courage Wishstone, only instead of boosting to your Fable bar, this one will help restore your Legion meter. Your various Legion arms are perhaps your greatest tool in Lies of P outside of your standard weaponry, but there's also a material cost. Unlike Fable, Legion does not replenish itself over time naturally and only comes back when you reach a Stargazer or use another consumable. You can bypass this limitation to get a few extra uses out of it with the Advance Wishstone, which gives you a little chunk back free of charge. This is best for builds that utilize Legion Arms more often, so it won't be a top pick for everyone.

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Best Xbox One deals: How to buy the discontinued console
Xbox One S bundle deals

The Xbox One has been officially discontinued, but that doesn't mean it's unattainable. If you prefer the console over the new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, you can still buy refurbished units from retailers like Amazon. With its expansive library of games that will keep both casual and hardcore players busy for a long time, the Xbox One remains a meaningful purchase, despite Microsoft's rollout of its new generation of consoles. While it struggled against Sony's PlayStation 4 due to a rocky launch in 2013 because of a limited selection of titles and a higher price tag, the Xbox One gracefully recovered. Helping it bounce back were console exclusives from the Halo, Forza, and Gears of War series. If you're planning to buy the Xbox One to enjoy video game deals on these exclusive titles, as well as popular cross-platform games like Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and Red Dead Redemption 2, we've gathered the best Xbox One deals available online to help you in your search.

Another important characteristic of the Xbox One is its fantastic multimedia capabilities, with the Xbox One S being one of the most affordable 4K media players available on the market. The Xbox One S and the more powerful Xbox One X both boast a 4K Blu-ray player, a feature that isn't found in the PlayStation 4 Pro. For gamers who also want the option to watch their favorite movies and TV shows in crisp 4K from their console, the Xbox One is the machine for you.
Xbox One deals

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Xbox’s Phil Spencer responds to blockbuster leak: ‘So much has changed’
Xbox Series X on a table.

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has finally commented on the massive Xbox leak that happened earlier today. In his public statement, he explained that "so much has changed" since many of the documents were created and asked fans to be excited about Xbox's future.
On Tuesday morning, unredacted versions of a lot of documents pertaining to the Xbox vs. FTC trial appeared. These emails and documents, most of which were created or written sometime between 2020 and 2022, revealed a lot of unannounced information. That included things like a mid-gen refresh for the Xbox Series X and S, some unannounced Bethesda games, and even Microsoft's early goals for its next-generation console. Hours later, Spencer commented on the leak.
"We've seen the conversation around old emails and documents," Spencer explained on X (formerly known as Twitter). "It is hard to see our team's work shared in this way because so much has changed and there's so much to be excited about right now, and in the future. We will share the real plans when we are ready."
At first, people didn't know where the leak came from, with the FTC quickly denying that it leaked these things. Ultimately, United States District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley revealed that Microsoft had done it to itself while trying to provide the court with a secure cloud link to relevant exhibits for the trial. The Verge went on to report that Phil Spencer also sent out a memo internally about the leaks today, echoing the statements in his tweet.
"Today, several documents submitted in the court proceedings related to our proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard were unintentionally disclosed. I know this is disappointing, even if many of the documents are well over a year old and our plans have evolved," Spencer's memo reads. "I also know we all take the confidentiality of our plans and our partners’ information very seriously. This leak obviously is not us living up to that expectation. We will learn from what happened and be better going forward. We all put incredible amounts of passion and energy into our work, and this is never how we want that hard work to be shared with the community. That said, there’s so much more to be excited about, and when we’re ready, we’ll share the real plans with our players. In closing, I appreciate all of the work that you pour into Team Xbox to surprise and delight our players."
The fact that Microsoft did this to itself is an embarrassing accident, especially when some of the information contained within the documents and emails is no longer accurate. For now, all we can do is wait and see if Microsoft will actually release new versions of its Xbox Series X and S consoles next year and if games like Doom Year Zero, a sequel to Ghostwire: Tokyo, and Dishonored 3 get announced.

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