The 6 Coolest Things From E3 2016

God of War, Virtual Reality, Crash Bandicoot, and more!

E3 wrapped up its showcase of all things new and cool in gaming this week and PS4 owners should start saving their allowance money for all the awesome things announced and highlighted by companies like Sony, Ubisoft, Bethesda, EA, and many more. From returning franchises to new IPs to new hardware, Sony dominated the conference. What were people most excited about this year? What will you be playing and talking about for the next year and beyond? There were literally hundreds of games highlighted in some form at E3, making it hard to pick through it all and know about which you should really be excited. What’s going to define the next few years of gaming for PS4 owners?

At this year’s E3, we learned how completely Sony is behind its upcoming Virtual Reality product, launching October 13th for $399.99. PlayStation VR appears to be no mere side project for Sony. This is not “Move 2016,” at least not yet. The peripheral will launch with dozens of titles, including VR extensions of hit games like Final Fantasy, Fallout 4 and the Arkham series of Batman games. There are even VR experiences in development that will allow gamers to step aboard the deck of the Enterprise in a Star Trek game and, make sure you’re sitting down, enter the world of Star Wars. They even revealed that Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which was announced at this year’s E3, will be VR compatible. Are you ready to fight zombies in Capcom’s legendary franchise in virtual reality? I’m not sure I am.

How do you announce a game like God of War 4? You let it speak for itself. With a live orchestra accompaniment led by the great composer Bear McCreary (The Walking Dead, 10 Cloverfield Lane), Sony literally just showed ten straight minutes of gameplay from their new exclusive IP. And it looks…amazing. The game sees the series move to the North with a bearded Kratos and reportedly plays off Norse mythology. Clearly taking full advantage of the graphic capabilities of the PS4, the footage from God of War 4 was the most visually stunning for any system seen at E3 this year. Some have argued that the series should have moved on from Kratos, but the game looks too remarkable to ignore. (We also got a date for last year’s coolest game launch, The Last Guardian, which will finally hit stores on 10/25.

While there have been a few good webslinging games here and there (Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is the best), he’s a hero who’s been in search of a great franchise of games. With Batman dominating the superhero video game market in RockSteady’s Arkham series, isn’t there space and time for an adult-oriented, clever series of Spider-Man games? Insomniac and Sony thinks there is. The company behind Ratchet & Clank feel like the perfect fit for Spider-Man in that those games have always had the kind of joyous, brightly-colored gameplay that a game about the legend of Peter Parker needs. Just take a look for yourself.

Few people occupy the rarefied air in gamer’s hearts like Hideo Kojima, the man who not only developed the Metal Gear series but felt like he did so without ever losing his integrity. Kojima is one of the few voices in gaming that feels completely pure, unmotivated by profit or focus groups. And we’re all still smarting over the unexpected cancellation of Silent Hills, the game he was developing with Guillermo Del Toro before Konami pulled the rug out from under both of them. At E3, we learned that Norman Reedus, the star of The Walking Dead, who was set to appear in Silent Hills, has been working with Kojima on a brand-new IP called Death Stranding. What the heck does that mean? We have no idea, and the awesome, mesmerizing preview offers few clues. There are too few ambitious new IPs in production and this one looks like one of the most unique of them all. We can’t wait.

No hit video game character ever truly disappears; they just go into varying states of slumber. Crash Bandicoot has been asleep for a long time, not appearing in a standalone game since 2008’s Crash Bandicoot: Mind over Mutant. That’s right, the entire PS3 generation went by without a Crash game. Well, that’s all about to change, as the original Crash Bandicoot games are being remastered for the PS4 AND the character is being introduced into the world of Skylanders in this fall’s Skylanders Imaginators. With his cameo in Uncharted 4, his inclusion in Activision’s hit series, and the remasters next year, it feels like Crash Bandicoot is not just awake again but ready to reclaim a position on the Mount Rushmore of Sony video game characters like he did in the ‘90s and ‘00s. 

The gaming market is still driven by familiarity. We want new chapters in franchises we love and E3 was filled to the brim with what we want. Resident Evil 7 got the most attention, especially given its preview that hints that the series may be returning to survival horror after a few action-packed installments. South Park: The Fractured But Whole has the best title of the PS4 generation and looks like fun. Watch Dogs 2 looks pretty cool but a little familiar—one hopes the full title takes more chances than we see in the preview. We also got some cool footage from Mass Effect Andromeda and Battlefield 1 from EA. Bethesda killed it by announcing a PS4 remastered version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and new installments in the Quake and Prey series. Finally, the Tom Clancy brand will continue next year with Ghost Recon Wildlands. All that was missing was the long-anticipated Red Dead Redemption 2. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait till E3 2017 to finally see that dream become a reality.