The best games and announcements from all the summer showcases (and 7 hidden gems)

Avowed game wizard
(Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment)

2023 was the first year that Summer Game Fest and the surrounding events felt like a contiguous week-ish of back-to-back broadcsts, rather than a stretched fishnet struggling to contain the wreckage of E3 in the wake of the pandemic. What stuck out to the PC Gamer team? 

Which games "won" the week? 

Star Wars Outlaws
When we saw it: SGF, then again at Ubisoft's showcase on Monday
Developer: Massive Entertainment

Morgan Park: We've known for a few years now that Massive was working on a Star Wars game, but I'm genuinely surprised that Outlaws looks closer to a Rockstar game than The Division in space. I was ready for gear scores, loot, and shared multiplayer spaces, but Outlaws seems like the opposite: a purely singleplayer action adventure that centers around a single blaster.

It's a little funny that both EA and now Ubisoft have a Star Wars series starring a young adventurer with a little critter that follows them around, but I don't think it's too premature to say Outlaws is more my speed than Jedi: Survivor. It's a "true" open world game, for one, but I'm also excited to actually fly my ship. Outlaws has potential to be the best game that Ubi has made in years. Can it singlehandedly drag the publisher out of its recent slump?

Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon
When we saw it: SGF
Developer: FromSoftware

Wes Fenlon: FromSoftware gave the kind of tightly orchestrated preview of Armored Core 6 that would worry or bore me with some other games, but here it was all I needed to see. As I wrote in my preview, there was never much doubt that FromSoftware could deliver on the action; this demo was an opportunity to show how well the larger maps and faster movement of this Armored Core, the first in a decade, would pair with the simpler format of older FromSoftware games. I think the end result is going to be something very much like Sekiro, an action game at the top of its class, just with less parrying and more heat-seeking cluster missiles. 

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024
When we saw it: Xbox Games Showcase
Developer: Asobo Studio

Chris Livingston, Bush Pilot: Microsoft Flight Simulator's arrival in 2020 delivered a complete, photorealistic Earth with real-time weather conditions, almost 40,000 airports, and a range of simulation settings for novice pilots and true flight sim enthusiasts. And I loved it… for a while. It feels weird to say I eventually got bored with the entire planet Earth, but I did, because what I wanted was something beyond the sim. I wanted missions, quests, progress, and structure. I wanted a job, something beyond "pilot who does whatever he wants."

Microsoft Flight Simulator 24 has jobs. Oh, so many, many jobs. Search and rescue, cargo delivery, aerial firefighting, VIP transport, crop dusting, aerial construction, research missions, even blimp pilot jobs. I think it's exactly what the sim needs—the best time I had with MFS was using a plugin that let me complete missions as a bush pilot, and MFS 2024 looks like it'll do everything that plugin did, and much more.

When we saw it: Xbox Games Showcase
Developer: Playground

Phil Savage: As a first-person RPG, you'd be forgiven for assuming that Avowed was Obsidian's take on Skyrim. Obsidian assumed that itself when it started making the game, but has since redefined the scope to focus less on its size, and more on its depth. The studio is particularly interested in companions—expect their stories and personalities to tie heavily into the overall plot.

Even if Avowed won't be a Bethesda-sized adventure, it certainly looks like a good time. The trailer shown at the Xbox Games Showcase depicts a weird, vibrant and colourful world, and I particularly like the look of its magic spells. They feel more involved and impactful than Skyrim's magic. In our exclusive interview with Obsidian, game director Carrie Patel touted the quality of Avowed's combat, which also gets a major spotlight in the trailer. That has me excited to explore this world, however big it ends up being.

When we saw it: Starfield Direct
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

Christopher Livingston: It's safe to say we don't need to know anything else about Starfield until it actually launches in September: the 45-minute look at Bethesda's space RPG we got on Sunday was pretty darn comprehensive, leisurely covering everything from character creation to companions to planetary exploration to sandwich heists

And while not everyone at PC Gamer is convinced, I think Starfield looks like one heck of a space sandbox where you can customize a ship, build a base, collect a bunch of followers and crew members, and just start exploring the 1000+ planets, blissfully ignoring the main quest for a couple hundred hours. Bethesda's quest-writing isn't consistently strong, but it's always excelled at creating big open worlds that don't force you down any particular path. I'm not all that interested in solving the mysteries of the universe, but become a space pirate? A trader? A smuggler? A documenter of alien species? That'll keep me plenty busy.

7 hidden gems that we think could be big

Back at the PC Gaming Show in 2020 we debuted a modest-looking viking survival game from a small independent studio in Sweden. A year later, Valheim was our game of the year. What under-the-radar announcement from the last week has the best chance of being a breakout hit?

Mariachi Legends
Where we saw it: PC Gaming Show
Steam page

Joshua Wolens: This 2D action platformer looks like a potent cocktail, mixing Japanese games and Mexican culture to produce a Ninja Gaiden-esque experience about a detective who makes a deal with Death. It looks downright sumptuous in its trailer: Turns out that noirish Dia de los Muertos aesthetics translate incredibly to a Castlevania-style side-scroller, and the discordant, chirpy Japanese voice over from Lady Death herself meshes weirdly well, too. 

So far, the Guadalajara-based dev team is emphasising fast-paced combat, sprawling levels, and "the wonderful, spicy world of Mexican cuisine" in Mariachi Legends. What do you know? Someone finally made a game with all three of my key requirements.

Sand Land characters

(Image credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment)

Sand Land
Where we saw it: SGF
Steam page

Wes Fenlon: How cool is it that Bandai Namco decided to make a whole action-RPG out of how much Akira Toriyama loves drawing vehicles? This adaptation of a lesser-known manga from the father of Dragon Ball looks like it has a surprisingly decent budget behind it, with a great cartoon art style, a big open desert to explore and tanks and buggies to customize. It probably won't outdo Mad Max on the car action front, but it's cute! More Akira Toriyama games that aren't retelling the Dragon Ball Z story again for the millionth time, please.

Stampede: Racing Royale
Where we saw it: PC Gaming Show
Steam page

Joshua Wolens: For a few weeks in 2020, Fall Guys was all anyone was talking about and playing, and now someone's gone and thrown cars into the formula. Stampede: Racing Royale comes from Sumo Leamington—an offshoot of the studio behind the really quite excellent Sonic & All-Stars Racing—and dares to ask "What if you turned Mario Kart into a 60-player battle royale?" The game has two modes: Battles and Races, and all sorts of customisation options to bedeck your doomed racers in. It's an idea with potential from a studio with the bonafides to pull it off, so I'll be watching this one with interest as it goes through development. 

Hammerwatch 2 ey art -

(Image credit: Crackshell, Modus games)

Hammerwatch 2
Where we saw it: Summer Game Fest
Steam page

Lauren Morton: Hammerwatch and Heroes of Hammerwatch are both fun, hectic co-op hack-and-slash games but they're mostly contained to dungeon crawling. Color me surprised that Crackshell's next game is just an entire, pixelated action-RPG. The developers have gone in on loot, itemization, more skills, quests, an open world, and it's actually pretty too. With Diablo 4 here now and Path of Exile 2 still lurking, I honestly think folks who get burned out on live service life will be ready to kick up their heels in Hammerwatch.

Where we saw it: Microsoft Showcase
Steam page

Robin Valentine: I love climbing and traversing difficult environments in games, and it regularly bums me out that in most big budget titles parkour has been reduced to holding down a button. In Jusant, the ascent is the whole point, a careful puzzle of ropes and handholds that looks somehow both relaxing and tense. There doesn't appear to be any combat at all—it's just you and your cute little companion conquering cliffs and towers, and it looks seriously satisfying. 

Where we saw it: Day of the Devs
Steam page

Mollie Taylor: Beastieball looks a lot like Pokémon, if the critters were all really good at volleyball and gym leaders hung out on pitches instead of in ridiculously elaborate, booby-trapped gymnasiums. It's from the team behind the excellent Chicory: A Colorful tale, so it's no surprise that Beastieball has a wickedly cute art style, plus a soundtrack from Celeste's Lena Raine to boot. I love the tiny tactical RPG pitch the beastie duos play on, and it looks like they can form different types of relationships that'll affect how they play with each other on the pitch. I love a good Pokémonlike, and I think Beastieball will be one to watch out for.

Hidden Door
Where we saw it: PC Gaming Show
Official site

Tyler Wilde: This is the first game centered around generative AI that I can imagine actually being big. It's played in a browser, mostly with text, and features zero Unreal Engine 5 gothic cathedrals, so it's an unlikely candidate for post-show hype reels. However, the interview with Hidden Door's Hilary Mason at the PC Gaming Show (see the extended version here) bolstered my impression that it might be the start of a big new branch of story generation games that apply custom AI models to the virtual DM idea underlying games like Wildermyth. (Unless David Gaider is right and it can't be done—but I'm not so sure about that.)

Where we saw it: PC Gaming Show
Steam page

Andy Chalk: I was very iffy on Nivalis when it was announced as Ion Lands' follow-up to the brilliant cyberpunk delivery driver sim Cloudpunk. I'm a big fan of Cloudpunk, but life sims and base builders? Not so much. But the new trailer hooked me: Cloudpunk is all about the vibe, and Nivalis appears set to nail the look and the sound of an overstuffed cyber-city brought into tight focus in a way that its predecessor was never built to do. I'm not a committed believer yet, but yes, yes, I want to be. 

Evan Lahti
Global Editor-in-Chief

Evan's a hardcore FPS enthusiast who joined PC Gamer in 2008. After an era spent publishing reviews, news, and cover features, he now oversees editorial operations for PC Gamer worldwide, including setting policy, training, and editing stories written by the wider team. His most-played FPSes are CS:GO, Team Fortress 2, Team Fortress Classic, Rainbow Six Siege, and Arma 2. His first multiplayer FPS was Quake 2, played on serial LAN in his uncle's basement, the ideal conditions for instilling a lifelong fondness for fragging. Evan also leads production of the PC Gaming Show, the annual E3 showcase event dedicated to PC gaming.

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