Skip to main content

The 5 Best Trailers for Upcoming Games

It was a natural progression for video games, just as it was for films. In Hollywood, a successful trailer can make or break a movie. The film might be terrible but a good trailer can still fill seats, while the opposite is also true, and a bad trailer can hurt the best of films. The same is becoming more and more true for video games as well.

It has only been in the last few years that publishers have begun to see video game trailers as more than just ads. There was almost a checklist of things to show: Gameplay, Story, Graphics. Once you got those out of the way, the ad was finished, and gamers had an idea of what to expect. But over the last few years that has gradually changed, and the trailers for upcoming titles have become more and more impressive.

There are a lot of reasons for that shift, but one of the most obvious is the ability to download trailers to the current generation of consoles. When someone on their Xbox 360 can hit a button and watch dozens of upcoming trailers for games, it makes a difference which ones look the best.

So below are five of the best looking trailers for upcoming titles. Some of them are a mix of gameplay and cutscenes, while others are shifting towards something different. The clip for Dead Island, for example, was developed specifically as a trailer, and doesn’t actually exist in the game or show anything from that particular title–the same is true for Risen 2: Dark Waters. And if the fairly staggering response that the Dead Island trailer received is any indication, expect many more clips like it in the future, as video game trailers continues to shift from advertisement towards art.

[Warning: Some of the following trailers may not be suitable for all ages.

BioShock Infinite

The BioShock games have always placed a heavy emphasis on the aesthetics of their environments, so it really shouldn’t have come as such a surprise that the announcement trailer for the next game in the series would look as cool as it does, but color us surprised anyway. The franchise returns to its original developer, Irrational Games, following 2K Marin’s BioShock 2, and Irrational is taking the series in a whole new direction.

The failed utopian experiment that was the underwater city of Rapture is no more, and the setting of 1960-1970 is has also been changed. In its place, BioShock Infinite heads back in time to 1912, when the floating city of Columbia stood as an example of America’s potential. Naturally, things go badly in the floating metropolis–it wouldn’t make much of a game if they went well. You play as Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton man tasked with rescuing the young woman Elizabeth, a psychic who plays a crucial role in the civil war raging in the clouds. As the pair try to escape through the war ravaged city, they are stalked by the beast known as “him”, Elizabeth’s robotic, bird-like jailer for the last 12 years.

BioShock Infinite will be released on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2012.

Dead Island

Few games have gone through such a journey as Dead Island. Two years ago, developer Techland’s zombie project was forgotten by most after years of delays pushed it into Duke Nukem territory. Publishers came and went, and the game seemed doomed to limbo. Then the game found a new publisher in Deep Silver, who brought the game back to life. But even then it was a minor title from a small publisher and developer. Right up until the trailer hit.

Within a day of this trailer debuting, it had over a million views on YouTube. It is difficult to estimate the total number of views now, as it has spread over the internet like wildfire, but over 10 million is a very conservative guess. The result was that the game gained a lot of attention, so much so that it started a bidding war in Hollywood over the rights. The funny thing is, for as awesome as the trailer is, it shows nothing of the actual game. The video was made only for the trailer, and does not show anything of the actual gameplay or even cutscenes. The actual game is a melee based zombie combat action title, which just proves that a good trailer can make all the difference.

Dead Island is due on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on August 1.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

The third Deus Ex title is actually a prequel to the other two, which means that it has a completely different look and feel from the other games in the series. Combining RPG and FPS aspects, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is set in 2027, when robotic augmentation is becoming commonplace. In terms of aesthetics, that gives the game a slight cyberpunk vibe, mixed with a Baroque flair intended to conjure images of the Renaissance period.

The world of the future is a dangerous and violent place, but it is not without its beauty and awe as well. In the trailer below, the developers from Eidos Montreal have put together a clip that looks and plays like a theatrical trailer, with a heavy emphasis on the style of the game. Playing as a recently augmented Adam Jensen, you travel the world to investigate a conspiracy. But unlike most FPS titles, you choose how you want to play. It is possible to complete the entire game without killing a single enemy (except for bosses). But when you have swords built into your arms and have futuristic weapons, where would be the fun in that?

Deus Ex: Human Revolution hits the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on August 23.

L.A. Noire

The line between movies and video games continues to blur, and no game coming out is a better example of that than Rockstar’s L.A. Noire. Set in 1947 Los Angeles, L.A. Noire is a series of detective stories that you must solve as you progress through LA’s seedy underworld. This isn’t like Rockstar’s previous games where a problem could generally be solved with a rocket launcher—the cases are in-depth and complex.

Recently, L.A. Noire became the first video game ever to be screened at the Tribecca film festival. Audiences watched as a case was played out before them, and a small part of the 2000+ page script was shown off. You play as Cole Phelps, an LAPD officer who works his way across the desks of the LAPD, while solving various cases in different departments. It is very much like a crime noir movie that you control.

L.A. Noire hits stores on PS3 and Xbox 360 on May 17.

Risen 2: Dark Waters

Deep Silver may be on to something with the trailers. Following the success of the trailer for Dead Island, the publisher once more went with a trailer that is not actually part of developer Piranha Byte’s upcoming action RPG, Risen 2: Dark Waters. But it is very cool.

The game is a sequel to the PC only Risen. Technically, Risen was also available on Xbox 360, but it was a mess of a game, and not worth mentioning. A great deal of care, however, has been spent on making sure the upcoming console version of the game is up to code. The sequel returns you to the pirate-based fantasy setting were giants roam the depths, and you must find out why they have come if you have any hopes of stopping them.

Risen 2: Dark Waters is scheduled to be released on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 later this year.

Topics
Ryan Fleming
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ryan Fleming is the Gaming and Cinema Editor for Digital Trends. He joined the DT staff in 2009 after spending time covering…
GTA 6: release date speculation, trailer, gameplay, and more
Lucia and her partner rob a store in GTA 6.

Believe it or not, it has been over a decade since the last GTA game. While tons of people are still dumping hundreds of hours into GTA Online, everyone has been (not so) patiently waiting for Rockstar to finally confirm that a new entry is in the works. Despite many leaks and rumors, the team held strong until late 2023. Now that the game is finally confirmed, we have a lot more solid ground to cover in terms of what Grand Theft Auto 6 will be. This is going to be the biggest game of the generation, if not all time, so let's hotwire a car and pull off a heist to get all the information about GTA 6 there is.
GTA 6 release date speculation

Along with the official announcement trailer for GTA 6, we got a release window for the game. While it is a little disappointing, we won't be exploring the next open-world phenomenon until sometime in 2025.

Read more
Save $950 off the Alienware x16 gaming laptop with RTX 4080
Screen on the Alienware x16.

You should be prepared to spend some serious cash if you want to buy a powerful gaming laptop like the Alienware x16, but fortunately, there are savings that you can enjoy with your purchase. Dell has slashed the machine's price with a $950 discount, so it's down from $3,450 to $2,500 -- it's still not a budget-friendly device, but it's a reasonable price considering its capabilities. This bargain may not last long though, as gaming laptop deals almost always expire sooner than you think, so you have to proceed with the transaction as soon as possible if you're interested.

Why you should buy the Alienware x16 gaming laptop
Get serious about PC gaming with the Alienware x16, which challenges the performance of the best gaming laptops with its Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card, combined with the 13th-generation Intel Core i9 processor and 32GB of RAM that our guide on how much RAM do you need says is the sweet spot for high-end gamers. These specifications will not only let you play the best PC games on their most demanding settings, but also leave you prepared for the upcoming PC games of the next few years.

Read more
This Lenovo Legion gaming PC deal just dropped below $1,000
The Lenovo Legion Tower 5i Gen 8 gaming PC on a white background.

A decent gaming PC usually costs more than $1,000, but you can get one for less than that today by taking advantage of Lenovo's offer for the Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Gen 8. From its original price of $1,500, it's down to a more affordable $994 following a 33% discount. There's no telling how much time is remaining before you miss out on the $506 in savings, so if you're interested in this deal, it's highly recommended that you complete the transaction as fast as you can. Today if possible, because tomorrow may already be too late.

Why you should buy the Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Gen 8 gaming PC
If you want to get into PC gaming for a relatively affordable price, the Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Gen 8 is an excellent choice. It's not the most powerful machine out there, but it will be enough for you to enjoy the best PC games with its AMD Ryzen 7 7700X processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card, plus 16GB of RAM that's the best place to start for a gaming PC, according to our guide on how much RAM do you need. It's also equipped with an air cooling system and meshed front vents to keep it cool even after hours of playing.

Read more