The highs and lows of E3 2017

Every week, we look back at our highs and lows in PC gaming for the last seven days. This week, we all joined in to round up those moments from E3 2017. You can also check out our best of E3 2017 awards here.

The highs

Tom Senior: Colossal

I wouldn’t normally be excited about a trailer that’s one third fake 60s TV, one third chat-heavy cutscenes and one third guns, but Wolfenstein: The New Colossus has won my heart this E3 because it had a secret weapon that very few big E3 games had—jokes. I laughed when BJ Blaskowicz kicked over a chair with a mug of whisky in hand and shouted “I GOT A KID ON THE WAY”. I love that the guy BJ dangles over an elevator shaft is called ‘Super-Spesh’, and I find it hilarious that for that sequence Blaskowicz insists on wearing a cool jacket even though his power armour is popping out of it in spikes. And the malfunctioning robot arm bit was good. 

Games make me laugh all the time, and it’s a mystery to me that big-budget games are often presented in a completely humourless way. The Anthem trailer, following a trend in recent years, got actors to perform some lifeless fake banter. Assassin’s Creed: Origins, a game that lets you control a magic eagle, still strikes a pretty serious tone. This year I’m looking forward to playing games that make me smile, and if Wolfenstein’s gags don’t do it, its door-melting laser cannon will. 

Joe Donnelly: A shock favourite

Horrible rendition of Duran Duran's Ordinary World aside (seriously, videogames, what's with the recent classic song-murdering trailers trend?), The Evil Within 2 was my biggest E3 highlight. This took me somewhat by surprise because despite being a survival horror fan, I wasn't overly keen on Shinji Mikami's first stab at a post-Resident Evil scare 'em up when it arrived in 2014. I liked it but didn't love it, yet after watching both TEW2's reveal and extended gameplay trailers I found myself really excited—to the point where I've restarted the original from scratch. 

I'm now a couple of hours in and I'm really enjoying myself. I'm not sure why I didn't feel this way the first time round but perhaps it's because I played The Evil Within at the same time as Alien: Isolation. Perhaps the latter's very different but easily superior take on survival horror skewed my view of Sebastian Castellanos' debut outing. No matter, I'm now very much looking forward to the sequel—due October, Friday 13 this year—which so far echoes classic Silent Hill far more than it does vintage Resi. And I'm totally down with that.  

Evan Lahti: The PC annexes E3

Some horn-tooting: this was the view of 68,000-odd people who walked into E3 this week in Los Angeles. For the first time since E3 began in '95, PC gaming had a banner above the entryway, pointing attendees to E3's first formal, declared space for PC gaming on the show floor. We helped make that happen.

On a personal level, it's amazing to see the gaming industry fixture I first came to as a lowly college student in 2003 change in this small but significant way. We share that credit with some others that helped us. In the PC Gaming Show booth we had the charming Ylands from Bohemia alongside Killing Floor 2's Summer Sideshow update and games from Microsoft. The big attraction was Lone Echo, Ready At Dawn's no-gravity VR singleplayer game and 5v5 ultimate-frisbee-in-space multiplayer game (as "Lone Echo Arena"). We're already scheming about how we can make a bigger footprint for the PC at E3 next year—thanks to everyone who stopped by and said hello.

Shaun Prescott: LawBreakers looks awesome and it’s coming out soon

It was a great E3 for first-person shooters, but then, what E3 isn’t? For all that E3 2017 lacked in bracing surprises, it made up for with soon-to-release games about shooting things. Destiny 2, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – I plan to shoot so very many things this year, but the shooting game I’m most looking forward to is LawBreakers. I’ve yet to really sink my teeth into a modern arena shooter, and while I doubt I’ll ever be able to compete in any meaningful way (I’m getting old), the breakneck speed of LawBreakers, mixed with the ability-driven nature of the characters, means simply moving around the maps will probably be a pleasure all of its own. Best of all, it’s coming out in August.

Tom Marks: Beyond expectations

Good God it actually happened. After game director Michel Ancel straight up said it wouldn’t happen, it happened. I am an enormous fan of the first game, and the galaxy-spanning direction Ubisoft seems to be going with the sequel (which is actually a prequel, it turns out) seems to be an awesome evolution of that world. The reveal was a wonderful feel good moment. Now that it's past, though, I’m tempering my excitement for Beyond Good and Evil 2 based on a few things.

The tone of the trailer is much rougher than the first game, with a lot of F-bombs dropped throughout. The hint of online play and multiplayer worries me until we have more details about what that actually means. And Ancel has said they are still at “day one of development” which is not encouraging for a game that’s already had two false starts in the past. But even with those concerns in mind, I’m elated this happened at all. Last week I said I was hoping for “literally anything” from Beyond Good and Evil 2, and boy did I get it.

Chris Livingston: Metrosexual

I was thrilled—thrillllled—to see the announcement of a new Metro game: Exodus. Sure, as the beautiful trailer wore on it became obvious it wasn't actual gameplay: it's just way too choreographed and stage-managed to represent anything like what the final game will be. I'm a teeny bit disappointed (though not surprised) Exodus isn't open-world, but not every post-apocalyptic game needs to be Stalker, and a linear shooter with non-linear levels can still feel exciting and dynamic. 4A is good at that stuff, and while I tend to prefer open-world game, I'm glad the studio is sticking to its strengths.

Andy Kelly: Stab like an Egyptian

I’ve been burned several times before, but I’m genuinely excited about Assassin’s Creed Origins. Not just because the guy who was in charge of the magnificent Black Flag is at the helm again, but because I friggin’ love ancient Egypt. Even if I never really love the actual assassinations in this series, I always delight in steeping myself in a well-realised historical setting. And their recreation of Egypt is damn beautiful.

Of everything shown of the game at E3, this trailer got me the most, in the parlance of our times, pumped. It just looks so damn atmospheric, and there’s something fascinating as a history buff about seeing the pyramids and their surroundings as they might have looked thousands of years ago. We’re used to seeing them all crumbling and noseless, but now we’ll get to experience that civilisation in its prime. Or at least an exaggerated version of it. I reckon this’ll be the best Creed game since the good pirate one.

Phil Savage: Let's Kamuroch-go

E3 had a decent number of new things, and that's great and all. But there are already lots of games that exist, and some of them aren't on PC. Fortunately, some publishers see the sense in rectifying that. That was the impression I got from SEGA, based on Sam's interview with their European senior vice president of commercial publishing, John Clark. While Clark didn't confirm that series such as Yakuza or Persona would be ported to PC, he definitely made it sound like it's something SEGA would like to do. “That would just be incredible to bring that to the PC audience,” says Clark, of a potential Yakuza port, and I agree. Yakuza 0 is an incredible and singular work, oozing style, charm, humour and genuine pathos. Were a PC version to happen this year, it'd definitely be one of my personal games of the year. Fingers crossed it'll happen, and sooner rather than later.

James Davenport: … Destiny 2

So, I know I played Destiny 2 on PC a few weeks ago, but playing it again at E3 only reinforced how great the PC version feels. Mouse and keyboard controls are right at home, and now you can finally see for yourself. But the biggest Destiny 2 news of the week came in a surprisingly quiet manner. We know when the PC version is launching now, and in my eyes it’s not a terribly long wait. Nested in an Activision blog is the news that Destiny 2 PC is hitting on October 24 with a beta happening sometime in August. That’s just over a month-and-a-half later than other versions. I feared we’d be waiting half a year and I’m extremely relieved that’s not the case. 

Tyler Wilde: Hunting grounds

I won my first game of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds last night. I landed in a field as far away from the 94 other players as I could and slowly circumnavigated the island, avoiding contact almost the whole way. In the end, I lay prone at the bottom of a hill. I’d heard the gunfire that took out the third-to-last player, and up the hill I saw the killer—hiding behind a tree, unaware I wasn’t on the other side of that tree. All the dull minutes of crouching in bushes, driving a motorcycle in circles, and hiding behind rocks ended with a few exhilarating taps on the trigger of my SMG.

What a strange game. I grew up playing arena shooters like Quake, and while I imagined then that one day we'd have bigger maps and prettier graphics, my fantasies were limited by what I assumed a multiplayer game could be. I never thought it could be 15 minutes of backpacking followed by shooting one guy for the win. We've barely now started to explore the many things a multiplayer game can be, whether violent or nonviolent. But sticking to murder in this case, Hunt: Showdown was the most exciting game of E3 for me. I didn't get to see the demonstration, but Steven's recap was enough to convince me I must play it: five two-person teams hunting demons, and maybe each other, with permadeath. Sign me up for that weirdness.

Wes Fenlon: Dragon Ball is giving me feelings again

If you'd told me a month ago that the game from E3 I'd keep ravenously hunting down new footage for, in 2017, would be a Dragon Ball fighting game, well, I'd have probably been confused and embarrassed (but secretly believed you because I'm an anime nerd at heart). But I'm actually not embarrassed to say I'm head over heels in love with the look for Arc System Works' new Dragon Ball FighterZ, which uses the incredible 3D model shading of Guilty Gear Xrd to look like a stunning work of 2D animation. Seriously: I'm not kidding about it being stunning. Just look at it. The art style is what's really drawing people in, here, but Arc System Works is known for making deep, highly technical, fast-paced fighting games, making this feel like it's too good to be true. If you never loved DBZ you may not care about the lush art on display, but I have a feeling the gameplay will be able to win you over. 

Tim Clark: We’ll do the show right here!

They say third time’s the charm (do they actually though? No one told Assassin’s Creed 3), and it certainly felt like our third PC Gaming Show at E3 was the best yet. Hopefully starting with the XCOM 2: War of the Chosen reveal and ending on the Age of Empires: Definitive Edition announcement came over like a classic album with killer singles. In this increasingly laboured musical metaphor, the star of the show is the lead singer, Sean “Day9” Plott, who I can confirm is every bit as much of a sweetheart off camera, and an unbelievable pro in terms of the hours he spends researching the guests and their games. 

Thankfully there’s a little bit of downtime during rehearsals, and so my high of E3 was having him co-pilot a couple of Hearthstone matches on my laptop. We played Burn Mage and went unbeaten, despite my best efforts to throw. (Sean refused to let me BM, because he’s not about that life.) Thanks to him for making the show what it is, and to everyone else who worked so hard on it, from our partners at Intel, Microsoft, Tripwire, Bohemia, Nexon and Cygames, to all the presenters who trusted us with their time, energy, and precious reveals. My biggest thanks, though, goes to our own Evan, without whom the show wouldn’t exist, and whose amazing patience (mainly with me) and passion are at the heart of what the PC Gaming Show is. Finally, thanks to you for watching. We’ll keep doing our best to give the PC the voice it deserves at E3.

On the next page: our lows of E3, including Anthem, exclusives, and more...