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Jack Gardner
A new hero has joined the Overwatch cast that might lack in physical size but brings plenty of firepower along with him. Hammond the Hamster comes from the same lunar colony as Winston where his nightly forays and augmented brain growth around the base led to him becoming a master mechanic. He escaped the colony along with Winston, landing in the Australian outback. There, he modified his escape capsule into a combat mech, gaining notoriety in the robotic fighting arena of Junkertown. After fighting his way up the ranks, Hammond earned enough money to begin traveling the world in search of adventure under his arena name, Wrecking Ball.
Wrecking Ball has been designed as a tanky bruiser suited for picking off weakened enemies in the backline. He relies on a set of quad cannons to provide his main damaging moves and can transform into a rolling ball of doom to travel quickly along the ground. But don't feel too save because you play more vertically minded champions, as Hammond can use a grappling claw to swing to different areas, doing damage and knocking back enemies encountered along the way. While airborne, he's capable of performing a piledriver that slams his mech into the ground, damaging enemies in an area and launching them into the sky. He can also create shields that increases in strength proportionally to how many enemies are around. And when his ultimate reaches its full charge, Wrecking Ball can lay down a large area of proximity mines for area denial - or drop them on a group of enemies from above for immediate damage.  
For Overwatch players eager to get their hands on Hammond as soon as possible, he's already gone live on the Overwatch Public Test Region. To join the PTR, all you have to do is own Overwatch on PC, go to the game in the Battle.net client, change to PTR: Overwatch in the region/account menu, and install the PTR. If you don't care to download the testing version of the game at the moment or don't own Overwatch on PC, you won't have to wait too long to see Wrecking Ball wrecking chumps in the live version of the game. 
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Jack Gardner
Human Head Studios came onto many gamer's radars in 2006 with the release of Prey. With a strong emphasis on Cherokee culture and outside-the-box shooting mechanics, the game was different than anything that had come before; in many ways its success hasn't been duplicated since. The sequel, Prey 2, was cancelled after a very troubled period of development, leaving the team to go back to the drawing board. The company decided to go both forward with a completely new project, see the fascinating debut of The Quiet Man, and backward to revisit a project that had long been in the works at Human Head. While Prey put the studio on the map, its history goes back farther than 2006. Rune, an action adventure title that takes place across the realms of Norse mythology, released at the turn of the millennium, and now the Wisconsin-based studio wants to return to their world of gods, magic, and mythological mayhem. 
I was able to sit down with the developers and an alpha build of the new Rune for about an hour, peppering them with questions. The experience kicked off with a character creation process where players can tweak an avatar to their hearts' content. Gender, skin color, scars, tattoos, all of the major customization options players have come to expect are included, along with all of the corresponding sliders that govern muscle mass and facial structure. Each newly minted Norse warrior must dedicate themselves to a deity of their choice: Odin, Thor, Freya, or Loki. 
Though Rune might lack Ragnarok in its name, the end times of its in-game world are at hand. The prophecy regarding the end of the world states that it must end with the death of gods. Loki, fearing his demise, has spirited himself away, prolonging the chaos of the apocalypse. In order to stop the end of all things, players must fight across the world of Midgard, gaining power and glory for their god while uncovering Loki's machinations. Of course, it's the apocalypse and the dead are rising to do battle, opportunists raid villages, and giants roam the lands searching for humans to crush.

While Rune can be played solo, the game has been designed to support up to 64 players running around a world at the same time. This will, ideally, lead to players cooperating or turning against one another while trying to bring glory to their gods. The world itself offers differently leveled sections that are suited to higher or lower level play, which should result in players of similar levels being pitted against one another. The build I played only had myself and one other person in it, so it's hard to specify exactly how social and gameplay interactions will shake out in the wild. 
Combat in Rune revolves around directional inputs. Holding forward while attacking creates a different move than holding to the side or backward and each melee weapon offers its own moveset. Players can also perform plunging attacks from above, use consumables like magic runes, or running attacks. Each weapon can be thrown at enemies, too. This can prove to be ineffective or very effective depending on the type of weapon thrown. These Norse warriors can even dismember an enemy with a strong attack and use that limb as a weapon. So, yes, you can beat an enemy to death with their own arm. This can also happen to the player, so take care not to lose your main combat arm (though this usually results in death, players can actually heal and survive such a wound)!
As players complete quests given to them by the gods, they will earn funeral coins that can be used to unlock skills for the levels they have accumulated so far. Those skills include the expected combat abilities and magic enhancements one might expect, but they also offer crafting recipes that enable players to build things like campfires, weapons, and ships. Sailing becomes a big part of exploring the world once players advance through the initial areas of the game. Though boats crafting begins with dinky rafts, players will eventually be able to build longships that can hold up to 8 players or even warships that house 16 players. These structures will be able to house ballisti to combat sea monsters and rival vessels.  
Surviving the environmental dangers of the world can prove to be as harrowing as the enemies that roam the land. Natural hazards like blizzards or meteor showers courtesy of Loki make surviving the world a harrowing and random experience. Savvy players will be able to take advantage of these survival challenges to defeat potent enemies. 
Players are encouraged to explore the world to find powerful artifacts and weapons. I managed to steal a longship and sailed to another island on the horizon. The island appeared to be an ancient fortress. As I explored the ruins, one of the developers assured me that normally a powerful giant would have been in that location to defend the mysterious sword thrust into the center of the structure. Of course, I stole the sword and made my way back to the ship to continue my adventures on the mainland. The sword I had found sliced through enemies that had previously proved to be formidable threats, downing even giants in one or two hits. There are many of these artifacts and tools hidden around the world, some in locations that don't even appear on the world map. 
Of course, Rune is still in alpha, so the occasional graphical glitches and draw distance goofs are forgivable. Some of the gameplay mechanics still feel a bit rough, with skill trees in need of expansion and some wonky physics, but at the end of the day Rune is about having awesome moments like climbing onto the thatched roof of a small fishing village hut and leaping onto two enemies with a spear, impaling both of them. Or, alternatively, fleeing from a giant while armed only with the arm of an undead warrior you used in a failed attempt to kill it. 
Rune entered its closed beta testing phase earlier this week. Players can enter to win access to the closed beta by signing up for Human Head's newsletter. The game will exit closed beta later this year and enter Early Access on Steam at which point players can go through the game solo or join dedicated PvP or PvE servers. Currently the team is focused on PC, but there's always the possibility of a console release. 
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Jack Gardner
E3 2018 was a wild ride, to be sure. Last year, we brought you audio and video recaps of each day we spent at the show. This year, we tried to do that, but ran into some technical hurdles that made video impractical and audio tricky. We still recorded our impressions of the show each day, but we couldn't upload them to share with all of you... until now! 
We weren't able to upload our discussions recapping the reveals and experiences of E3 due to technical difficulties. However, we persevered and made the episodes anyway. Our third episode features Jack Gardner, Naomi Lugo, Marcus Stewart, and Zak Wojnar discussing the second day on the show floor. 

Outro music: Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow 'Dance Like Popcorn' by Guifrog (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03734)
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
E3 2018 was a wild ride, to be sure. Last year, we brought you audio and video recaps of each day we spent at the show. This year, we tried to do that, but ran into some technical hurdles that made video impractical and audio tricky. We still recorded our impressions of the show each day, but we couldn't upload them to share with all of you... until now! 
We weren't able to upload our discussions recapping the reveals and experiences of E3 due to technical difficulties. However, we persevered and made the episodes anyway. Our second episode features Jack Gardner, Naomi Lugo, and Marcus Stewart discussing the first day on the show floor. 

Outro music: Sega Rally Championship 'Autos, Arps, & Minimoogs' by Txai (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03715)
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Marcus Stewart
With jovial attitudes and company vignettes that resembled employee training videos at times, Bethesda’s theme of “Create” spotlighted the minds behind the games almost as prominently as the games themselves. That resulted in a lighthearted and fun presentation that was backed by several significant announcements. Bethesda touched on pretty much every major IP of its recent catalog, announcing a slew of sequels and updates. They even teased projects aimed at the next generation. 

Rage 2’s first big showing kicked off in the only way it could: a rowdy Andrew W.K. concert in front of a less raucous crowd of indifferent journalists. The musical performance fit the game’s fresh coat of zaniness. We got a look at the Mad Max-style vehicle shootouts and the arguably more chaotic on-foot shootouts. Say what you want about Rage 2’s semi-obnoxious absurdity, but this demo definitely raised eyebrows and the game already bleeds more personality than its predecessor ever did. 
The Elder Scrolls Legends calmed things down a bit. The digital trading card game will soon launch with overhauled visuals and comes to all consoles later this year. In more Elder Scrolls news. The Elder Scrolls Online has a new dungeon DLC on the way called Wolfhunter which centers on werewolves. Additionally, Murkmire, a story expansion set in Black Marsh, arrives later this year. 

A teaser for Doom Eternal took everyone to Hell (in a good way). Described as an “awesome, awesome new sequel to Doom”, it will have twice as many demons as the last game and takes place on an Earth overrun by Hell’s nastiest. Doom Eternal’s full reveal will take place at QuakeCon in August.
Speaking of Quake, Quake Champions competitions were announced for QuakeCon and DreamHack Winter. A week-long free trial for the game, currently in Steam Early Access, launched on June 10th. Those who downloaded that week got to continue playing free of charge after the trial expired. A new trailer wrapped things up, though we still don’t have a launch window for the final version. 

Arkane Studios announced a free Prey update that introduced three new modes: Story, New Game +, and Survival. A roguelike-style DLC called Mooncrash will change enemies, scenarios, and loot with each playthrough for “infinite” replayability. Both Mooncrash and the free update went live that night. Later this summer, Prey gets the hide-and-seek multiplayer mode Typhoon Hunter. It pits one player against five others posing as Mimics. 
More Wolfenstein is coming in the form of Wolfenstein: Youngblood. This standalone story stars BJ Blazkowicz’s twin daughters, now adults, battling Nazis in the 1980’s. Since there’s two characters, it can be played cooperatively with a buddy. Youngblood releases in 2019.  
Pete Hines returned to reveal a few virtual reality projects. First, Prey’s Typhoon Hunter, along with an unnamed puzzle-focused single-player, will be playable in VR. Furthemore, Wolfenstein: Cyber Pilot is a VR-exclusive spin-off about a hacker that hijacks Nazi war machines and turns them against their masters.

Todd Howard took the stage next. After warming up the crowd with a humorous summary of E3’s history, he then trolled viewers (and himself) with an ad for an Amazon Alexa, audio-only version of Skyrim. The twist: it actually exists. Howard then moved on to the big info dump of Fallout 76.
After showing the same trailer from the Xbox briefing, Howard discussed Vault 76’s premise. Players control a citizen chosen to spend 25 years in Vault 76 awaiting Reclamation Day, the day the vault opens. Todd showed a video of the vault dweller exiting the underground home into an untamed West Virginia. Fallout 76 features new rendering and lighting technology, allowing for increased details. West Virginia features six distinct regions filled with new creatures, some of which will be based on local folklore. 
Todd then revealed that Fallout 76 will be an entirely online experience filled with other human players. However, he quickly assured that it can be played solo (although the game will be tougher), and a main story will still be present. Though Fallout 76 will focus more on survival, Howard described it as a “softcore” experience. Players won’t lose progress, or their character, should they perish. Furthermore, characters won’t be tied to server and their progress carries with them no matter which players they decide to join up with. Worlds will be populated by dozens of human players rather than hundreds or thousands (Howard: “it’s the apocalypse. It’s not an amusement park”).
A video of Fallout 76’s building mechanics showed how players can build anything, then move their creations wherever they’d like. To combat threats, multiple active nuclear missile sites will litter the map, which players can use to nuke others to smithereens.  Finally, Howard announced a beta for Fallout 76 set for an unknown date, as well as a special Power Armor Edition filled with goodies. He concluded Fallout 76’s segment a release date: November 14 of this year.

Todd then announced the immediate availability of Fallout Shelter on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. He used that news to segue into the announcement of The Elder Scrolls: Blades. Described as a “pure Elder Scrolls experience”, its a console-quality title built for mobile platforms.Dungeons are both hand-crafted and procedurally generated, with touch-based combat. 
Blades features three modes of play as well as a town-building/sharing feature. Despite showing it off on mobile, The Elder Scrolls: Blades will come to consoles, PC, and VR devices and all versions will be connected. The game arrives this fall as a free download, though players can pre-register for it now.

Todd wrapped up things by teasing two big future projects. First up was the teaser trailer of the rumored Starfield. This sci-fi, next-generation  title will be Bethesda’s first new IP in 25 years. If that wasn’t enough, a teaser for The Elder Scrolls VI completed the double-whammy of huge announcements. Of note: Howard described the sixth entry as “the game after” Starfield. Given that Starfield was billed as a next-gen title, Elder Scrolls VI will likely be a long ways out. 
That wraps up Bethesda. They did a nice job highlighting not only their own internal IP, but also the works of its umbrella studios. Fallout and Elder Scrolls faithful have plenty to look forward to with Starfield as the another, mysterious silver lining. If those franchises aren't your jam, new entries in the Rage, Doom, Wolfenstein, and Prey franchises help cover additional bases. As someone who expected to hear about a new Doom OR Wolfenstein, as well as Starfield OR Elder Scrolls VI, this felt like Bethesda letting fans have their cake and eat it too. The humorous tone, albeit cheesy at times, also made for a lively briefing. Tell us what you thought about their briefing in the comments!
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Jack Gardner
Released during the height of Prequel Mania (which was a thing before they came out and reality set in), Star Wars Episode I: Racer quickly became one of the best selling sci-fi racing games of all-time. Racer managed to translate one of the most memorable scenes in the prequel films into a game full of a worlds never before seen in Star Wars, the thrill of speed, and plenty of flaming/exploding podracer engines. It might not have aged from its N64 days, but at the very least it's worthy of an honorable mention.
With schedules being what they are, sometimes coordinating a full episode of The Best Games Period can be difficult. When we can't have a proper discussion, we will be breaking off to do these shorter mini-casts, Honorable Mentions, to talk about fringe games that we might not otherwise be able to talk about on a full episode.
Outro music: Final Fantasy VII 'Cosmo' by MkVaff (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03750)
You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it!
If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod 
New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Zak Wojnar
The last time Square Enix held an E3 press conference was in 2015. When it was announced they'd be returning after a three-year absence, fans got excited... Perhaps unreasonably so. After all, the much-anticipated Final Fantasy VII remake was recently announced to be essentially rebooting its development cycle, so it was arguably unfair to expect that game to appear. Similarly, it proved to be way too early for a look at the upcoming Crystal Dynamics-developed Avengers title. Regardless, many were taken aback by the surprisingly short run time (only half an hour) of Square Enix's Nintendo Direct-style video presentation. Despite this, there were still some great nuggets of information and surprise announcements tucked away in the brief press briefing.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
It's always tough to nail the ending of a trilogy, but we have faith that Crystal Dynamics can provide a satisfying conclusion to the origin story of Lara Croft, at least in terms of visuals and gameplay. While the story of the re-rebooted Tomb Raider games has proven divisive among lifelong fans of the franchise, few can complain about the winning mix of platforming, puzzle-solving, and engaging, cinematic combat offered by the new titles. And, of course, Camilla Luddington (Grey's Anatomy) is perfect as this version of Lara.
In addition to the return of Jonah from the previous two games in the form of some cutscene footage, the main hook of the Shadow of the Tomb Raider presentation was an extended gameplay demonstration which showed off the breathtaking graphics and enhanced stealth gameplay of the title. A closing sizzle reel featured all the high-adrenaline moments fans expect, including surprises like Lara battling a moray eel, swimming freely in underwater 3D environments, and – naturally – exploring tombs filled with ancient relics and priceless treasures.
Octopath Traveler
Square Enix's gorgeous Switch exclusive, Octopath Traveler, is nearing release. Described as an HD-2D game, Octopath Traveler combines the sprite-based work of SNES classics like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI and combines it with more realistically-styled backgrounds and distinctly modern post-processing and lighting effects. The final result is nothing less than striking, and it's easily one of the most distinct-looking games in recent memory. Hopefully it plays as well as it looks and offers deep RPG mechanics for all eight of its protagonists. We'll find out for sure when the title releases on July 13.

Final Fantasy XIV
It's been nearly five years since the disastrous launch of Final Fantasy XIV was completely rectified with the game-changing release of A Realm Reborn. To this day, FFXIV is celebrated as a veritable phoenix which rose from the ashes of its own hubris as one of the hottest, most addictive MMORPGs on the market, and Square Enix is continuing to support the profitable powerhouse with a continuous outpour of new content for Eorzean explorers to devour.
They showed off two significant additions, the first of which is Patch 4.3, "Under the Moonlight," which offers a ton of new quests, a new raid, and assorted quality of life improvements. All in all, it's a pretty standard update, if still satisfying for ravenous XIV fans. The other new event is far more provocative: a crossover with Monster Hunter World. Level 70 players who have completed the Stormblood quest will be able to take on the task of hunting one of Monster Hunter's signature creatures, the fearsome Rathalos. Meanwhile, Monster Hunter World players will gain access to exclusive armor sets courtesy of a new hunt: Final Fantasy's signature recurring powerhouse summon, Bahamut. The crossover is expected to launch sometime this summer, but no dates have been announced yet.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
Dontnod have been keeping busy. Between the recently-launched Vampyr and their upcoming Life is Strange Season 2 and the mysterious Twin Mirror, they are juggling a great many high-profile projects. While Life is Strange 2 was a no-show at E3, they instead offered an adjacent spin-off, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, which expands the Life is Strange universe.
The new game stars Chris, a young boy with a vivid imagination, being raised by a single, widower father in Oregon. The trailer promises Life is Strange's signature mix of youthful whimsy and intimate characterization, though with perhaps a more childlike sense of wonder thanks to its ten-year-old protagonist. The biggest surprise about Captain Spirit is that it will be completely free when it launches on June 26.

Dragon Quest XI
Japanese players have had their hands on Dragon Quest XI since last Summer, but the epic RPG adventure is finally jumping shores and gearing up to debut in the West. While the game initially released on both Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 4, it seems only the PS4 version is making the leap to American and European shores, in addition to a PC port.
Nevertheless, the localization of DQXI is a huge win for JRPG fans. Worldwide, Dragon Quest is second only to Final Fantasy in terms of role-playing prestige, and the game has already sold over three million copies in Japan alone. Hopefully, the Western release, due out September 4, will be the breakthrough hit the series has long been seeking. Nier: Automata and Yakuza 0 proved to be surprise hits in the United States, so why shouldn't Dragon Quest XI follow in their illustrious footsteps? Oh, and by the way, the Nier sequel is making the jump to Xbox One X in the form of the "Become as Gods Edition," which includes the DLC and offers 4K enhancements.
Babylon's Fall
Platinum Games are always working on something new and different, and their latest project, Babylon's Fall, looks to be right in their wheelhouse... And by that, we mean it looks bonkers, full of dense lore, and impossibly kinetic action. Unfortunately, the trailer was purely CG and didn't appear to show anything from the actual game engine, so actual gameplay details are still unknown, but it's Platinum Games, so anything less than insane, over-the-top action spectacle would be way out of character for them. Still, the brief clip's focus on a historical timeline of lore suggests to us that Platinum are aiming to compete with the likes of Game of Thrones with their next game, which is due out on PS4 and Steam in 2019.
Kingdom Hearts III
The appearance of Kingdom Hearts III was hardly surprising during Square's press conference. However, its presence would have been more exciting if they hadn't announced the release date earlier in the week, and also released a nearly-identical trailer at the Microsoft Xbox press conference the day before. Basically, the Square Enix trailer was a rehash of the Xbox trailer, but with a couple of extra shots here and there, including the reveal of Remy from Pixar's Ratatouille, presumably as a summon character. 
Just Cause 4
There are few things more rewarding than causing ungodly levels or mayhem and destruction in a Just Cause game. Rico Rodriguez is back for Just Cause 4, which aims to be the most over-the-top entry yet. Boasting a new graphics engine and the most diverse setting yet seen in the acclaimed series, JC4 is aiming, like its predecessors, to be the open-world action game by which all others are judged. Our first reactions to the JC4 trailer can be found here.
The Quiet Man
Not much is known about The Quiet Man, other than the player character is more gorgeous than Cloud Strife and Squall Leonheart combined, and he has some sick hand-to-hand combat skills. The trailer incorporated live-action footage in addition to brief snippets of gameplay, but it's unclear if the New York City-based title will embrace a new-age FMV style, or if that was just a specially-shot sequence for the trailer. Square Enix, devilish teases as they are, promise more info is coming in August.
Overall, Square Enix's show was short, but sweet. They brought some cool surprises like Captain Spirit and the Final Fantasy XIV/Monster Hunter World crossover, as well as fleshed-out looks at big-budget action/adventure titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Just Cause 4. Like any good presser, they also teased us with brief, provocative glimpses at unknown titles like The Quiet Man and Babylon's Fall. And, of course, there's a significant group of people who are beyond thrilled now that Dragon Quest XI has a Western release date... And we don't need to explain that any look at Kingdom Hearts III automatically puts this squarely in the "win" column.
How do you think Square Enix did with its E3 2018 showing? Let us know in the comments! You can watch the full press conference for yourself below. 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Naomi N. Lugo
In an anarchic fashion that we've come to know and love, Devolver Digital executed their 2018 press conference on June 10. At first we were greeted by a new host, Cinco Miller, the supposed CEO of Devolver Digital. Soon, the standard chaos unraveled, and we were met with a familiar, enraged face. Nina Struthers, as known from the previous year's conference, took over the stage and then proceeded to tear apart the common tropes of the video games industry. 
Struthers returned, and she definitely read/heard everyone's "unsolicited" feedback on the last press conference. Devolver then kept up the pace with their 2017 show, keeping components from the old while delivering a biting criticism with the new. All the while, they delivered the games that Devolver worked on for the new season.
The first game on the roster evolves the survival genre by adding mechanics to hopefully mirror real-world ailments like metabolism and gear wetness. It totes itself as a "supermax open world survival," with the goal of "long-term survival. The game is currently in pre-alpha and releases to Steam Early Access August 2018. There also was a brief teaser of zombie content at the end of the trailer.
Afterwards, Struthers unveiled the Lootbox Coin, a semi-fake currency with an oh-so-real price tag that fluctuated every hour. "You can't buy anything with it. In fact, it's insane for you to really buy it unless you want to prove your loyalty to Fork Parker, Nina Struthers, and the Devolver Digital executive board," says the Devolver website description. Sadly the coin isn't available at the publishing of this article.
Next up, a ballet bullet-hell game called My Friend Pedro. The description of the game only gives a partial view of what to expect from this game. "My Friend Pedro is a violent ballet about friendship, imagination, and one man’s struggle to obliterate anyone in his path at the behest of a sentient banana," says the Steam page for the game. Watching the trailer though will give a sense of how this game will flow.
During the conference, the trailer played with classical music accenting the dance-like movements of the playable character. Gameplay involved strategy as well as interesting uses of the environment like ricocheting bullets off of a frying pan and aiming while riding a skateboard. The game is set to release to the Switch and PC sometime in 2019.
Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to make a dig at the influx of mini-consoles, Struthers announced the launch of the Devolver Digital Entertainment System Classic, however it turned out to be a repainted Sega Dreamcast dashing our hopes and dreams.
The third and final game of the conference took the audience back to 2004 with the remake of the From Software title Metal Wolf Chaos XD. Metal Wolf Chaos XD matches the chaotic nature that inhabits Devolver Digital perfectly. There are giant mech robots, big guns and explosions with the teaser trailer setting it in the White House. The remake entails upgraded visuals, widescreen format and the classic voiceover. The game is coming to Xbox One, PC and PlayStation 4 later this year. 
Keeping up with the cinematics of it all, the Devolver 2018 Press Conference ended with a bang and an homage to '80s action movies. We won't spoil the ending here. To check out the full conference, check a look over at this link. 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Marcus Stewart
If sheer quantity decided the victor of E3, Microsoft would easily walk away with the win. Just as they did last year, the Xbox brand packed a ton of information into an over 90-minute presentation in front of their largest-ever live audience. To quote a stat from Xbox head Phil Spencer, Microsoft showed off 50 titles; 18 of them were console exclusives, and 15 that were world premiers. Microsoft addressed their first-party issue by announcing studio acquisitions, beefed up Xbox Game Pass, and even teased new hardware. Gamers walked away with a lot to digest, so let's make things easier by breaking down each announcement.  
I can think of few titles better suited to kick off a Microsoft show than a Halo reveal. In this case, we got a teaser trailer for Halo Infinite. We didn’t see much beyond scenic landscapes, some warthog riding, and a glimpse of Master Chief himself. 343 Studios later clarified that the video represents a tech demo for the Slipspace Engine and is not indicative of the actual game. Even still, Halo Infinite captured the imagination of the fans in attendance and started the presentation on a high note.
We got our first look at gameplay for Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It looks just as beautiful, and challenging, as the original and arrives sometime in 2019. That same year will also see the release of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The next title by FromSoftware was previously teased during last year’s Game Awards. It eschews medieval influences in favor of ninjas and a feudal Japan setting. Don't worry fans; it still looks pretty tough. It arrives in 2019 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. 

Bethesda Game Director Todd Howard took the stage to give the world another look at Fallout 76. This prequel to the Fallout series takes place in West Virginia 20 years after the nuclear war. Howard stated the game boasts a world 4-times larger than Fallout 4’s Commonwealth. The player controls a member of Vault 76, one of the first vaults to open and begin rebuilding the country. The trailer gave glimpses of various locations while Todd briefly spoke about the game’s general focus of survival and restoration. 
Life is Strange developer Dontnod’s lightened the mood a bit with a trailer for The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. This charming title centers on a lonely boy who uses his imagination to escape a less whimsical reality. More importantly, it serves as a precursor to the still mysterious Life is Strange 2. In a cool move, Captain Spirit launches June 25 as a free download. 

Crackdown 3  suffered yet another delay prior to the show (this time to 2019), but a new trailer reminded everyone of what the wait will be for. The Terry Crews-narrated trailer showed off the over-to-top firefights and platforming, with some Hot Wheels-esque driving thrown in.
Another crazy game in Nier: Automata, Platinum Game's breakout hit from last year, will arrive on Xbox on June 26. Packaged as the Become As Gods Edition, it includes all previously released DLC. 
Metro Exodus served up a new helping of gameplay. We got quick peeks at weapon customization, night vision segments, and terrifying creatures such as huge lake monster. Metro: Exodus continues to impress and arrives February 22. 

A new trailer for Kingdom Hearts III confirmed the game's arrival to Xbox, a first for the series. We got our first look at the world of Frozen, which stood as the video’s centerpiece. Tangled, Toy Story, and Hercules also got some spotlight. Aqua fans had their hearts broken when she appeared seemingly possessed by Xehanort at the trailer’s conclusion. Overall, this was a nice look at the game (one of several during the week) that had fans frantically counting down to the game’s January 29 release. 
Sea of Thieves left much to be desired, but Rare announced plans to fix that problem with two expansions. The first, Cursed Sails, launches in July. The other, Forsaken Shores, arrives in September. Outside of a short cinematic, no information was given regarding the actual content of these updates.
DICE followed up their EA showing with a very brief cinematic for one of Battlefield V’s Nordlys campaign story. It centers on a Norwegian resistance fighter battling against German occupation while also trying to save her family. No gameplay was shown and the video lasted maybe less than a minute.

Forza Horizon 4 raced on stage. The next entry boasts dynamic seasons that developer Playground Games promises will dramatically alter races. Winter, for example, freezes over bodies of water, opening up new areas for players to reach. Additionally, the Xbox One X version features a 60 fps mode. Forza Horizon 4 comes to Xbox One and Windows 10 on October 2 and hits Xbox Game Pass the same day.
On the subject of bolstering the Xbox library, Phil Spencer announced the formation of new first-party studio The Initiative. He doubled down on that news by announcing the acquisition of third-party studios Undead Labs, Playground Games, Ninja Theory, and Compulsion Games. Since Microsoft paid Compulsion some lip service, we got new story trailer for We Happy Few. It showed off more of the wacky premise, showing how far the project has come. It has an August 10 release date.
Playerunknown's Battlegrounds has new maps arriving in the coming as soon as this summer. Additionally, a new destination called War Mode is on the way. JRPG fans were happy to learn that 2008's Tales of Vesperia is getting remastered for Xbox One. This Definitive Edition includes previously Japanese-only content and characters and arrives this winter

A gameplay demonstration for Tom Clancy's The Division 2 took viewers through a squad-based mission in the games Washington D.C. setting. The squad engages in a firefight against in and around a destroyed Air Force One. The Division 2 launches March 15 and you can sign up for the beta now. 
Ashley Speicher, head of Xbox Engineering, took the stage to talk about Xbox Game Pass. First, a new FastStart feature that launches select games twice as fast will be included in the June Xbox update. Additionally, Fallout 4, The Division, and The Elder Scrolls Online became available on Game Pass that day. Halo: The Master Chief Collection will join the library later this year. Future releases, such as Forza Horizon 4, Crackdown 3, and others, will be playable on Game Pass the same day that they launch.  

Next we got the required ID@Xbox rapid-fire showcase showed off upcoming indie titles. The highlight reel included Outer Wilds, Afterparty, Warhammer II: Vermintide, Super Meat Boy Forever, Sable, Generation Zero, Dead Cells, and Ashen.
A new Shadow of the Tomb Raider trailer showed off more locations, including a Day of the Dead festival. We got a look at possibly the main villain, watched Lara stare down vicious jaguars, and watched her narrowly survive as a massive flood swept through a village. Following that was a short trailer for Session, a Kickstarted skateboard game that drew some comparisons to Skate, as well as a teaser for the Xbox port of mmorpg Black Desert.

The stylish reveal of Devil May Cry 5 offered a huge surprise. As a direct sequel to Devil May Cry 4 (and thus ignoring Ninja Theory's DmC), Nero returns as the leading man alongside a new female sidekick. Gameplay showed off Nero's new robotic arm and a what appeared to be a time-stopping power. Oh, and Dante rode in for a quick cameo at the end. Director Hideaki Itsuno proudly declared DMC 5 as the best game he's ever made and has a spring 2019 launch window. 
Another surprise came in the form of a DLC expansion for Cuphead. Titled The Delicious Last Course, it releases next year and includes a third playable character, Ms. Chalice, along with a new island populated with bosses. Meanwhile, Tunic, the adorable Zelda-style game starring a cute fox, emerged from hibernation and looks as pretty and fun as ever. 
Phil Spencer returned to state that everything shown going forward would be never-before-seen world premiers. That kicked off with the reveal of Jump Force. This crossover fighter cherry picks characters from Shonen Jump anime like Dragon Ball and Naruto and pits them against each other. Look for it in 2019.

Dying Light 2 premiered sporting a new emphasis on dynamic choice-making. The demonstration showed the player negotiating with a faction hoarding a crucial water supply. Depending on whether or not you follow them, the consequences physically alters the city and affects the population's morale and general way of life. Dying Light 2 features improved parkour mechanics and night gameplay, though not shown, remains a terrifying factor. 
Remember Battletoads? Rare hopes that you do because a new game is in development for launch in 2019. We didn't see anything of it, but we do know it'll support 3-player couch co-op and have a hand-drawn 2.5D presentation. 
Just Cause 4 made its official debut after being leaked twice before the show. A story trailer set up Rico's battle against the Black Hand private army. Fans also got to see the new weather effects, including a tornado (which Rico promptly jumped into). Just Cause 4 launches December 4.

The Gears of War franchise has not one but three new titles on the way. First was Gears Pop!, which features Funko Pop versions of the Gears cast. For strategy fans, Gears Tactics blends turned-based strategy with the series cover-based gameplay. Finally, a cinematic trailer for Gears 5 (yes, just Gears) established Gears of War 4's Kait Diaz as the new protagonist. The trailer appeared to center on her ancestral connection to the Locust, with J.D. and Marcus Fenix serving as support roles. 
Phil Spencer returned to the stage one last time to tease future projects such as Microsoft AI and a game-streaming service. He even confirmed that the next Xbox console was already deep in development. Just as he was bringing the show to a close, the briefing's feed was abruptly hijacked by one more game waiting to make itself known. 

CD Projekt RED's long-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 made its big debut after spending years in hiding.The trailer showed off the sci-fi beauty of Night City as well as its seedy underbelly. The almost Grand Theft Auto-esque style trailer checked off the many of the cyberpunk genre's calling cards: humans with crazy machine parts, flying cars, and building-sized holograms. Everything looked gorgeous to the point of looking next-gen, though the game has been confirmed for this console generation. We still didn't get a release window but this incredible first look made arguably the biggest splash of any title shown throughout the show. 
So how do you think Microsoft's briefing shaped up? Let us know in the comments. You can also watch it yourself down below. 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
The gameplay reveal of The Last of Us Part II was one of the highlights of Sony's entire lineup during E3. It eased into the return to an incredibly savage world with a lovely, human scene set during a wedding being held in a post-apocalyptic world. Ellie, the young girl from the first game who has since become an adult, shares a dance and some words with an unnamed woman with whom she appears to have a romantic history. After exchanging some smile-inducing banter, the two share a kiss. 
From there, the reveal transitioned to the actual gameplay with Ellie coming up against a group of survivors. She witnesses them execute a man, brutally ripping out his intestines. They then begin combing the area, and we see how the stealth mechanics work. Players are able to sneak through tall grasses and bushes to elude search parties. On top of that, the apocalypse seems to be lousy with abandoned cars. Players will be able to slide under vehicles to hide from enemies.
Players who are able to land killing blows with arrows or melee weapons while avoiding detection are rewarded with continued non-detection. One slip-up immediately ratchets up the drama by turning things into an all-out struggle for survival. We see Ellie battling with multiple enemies at once, each one well realized and different - they don't seem like cookie cutter character models. One of the new additions to combat seems to be the ability to disarm adversaries mid-combat and immediately pick up their gear, smoothly transitioning between weapons in a fight with fluid motion. Crafting seems to have been streamlined, as at one point Ellie crafts an explosive arrow on the fly to take out an enemy and serve as a distraction. Oh, and players can still take enemies hostage to use as human shields.  
One thing that seems obvious from the combat on display: Players will have to move when things get hairy. Limited ammo and melee weapon durability force players to move to different areas to scavenge supplies to continue the fight. Getting backed into a corner could lead to death if you don't have enough gear to stand your ground.
Little details really make the violence that much more visceral and real. While sneaking next to a car, Ellie instinctively puts her hand out to steady her crouch and a small sound effect of putting slight pressure on a car hood plays. Injuries that Ellie takes will persist over time. At one point in the fighting, she took an arrow to the chest. The shaft stuck out painfully as she continued to fight, blood slowly staining her shirt, until she was able to take cover behind a counter a minute later and pull out the arrow. Ellie and enemies react naturally to receiving injuries, grabbing the sites of stab wounds and holding wounds as time goes by and they keep moving.  
Overall, The Last of Us Part II seems to be shaping up to be Naughty Dog's finest and most detailed work to date. 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Zak Wojnar
Nintendo showed off a handful of new projects during their annual E3 Nintendo Direct, though many were upset at the absence of expected franchises like Animal Crossing, Metroid Prime, and the rumored Star Fox racing game from Retro Studios. Basically, Nintendo in 2018 is all about one game, and it's a real big one: Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.
As the title suggests, this fifth entry in the series aims to be the ultimate Smash experience for the ages, bringing together literally every single character from the entire history of the franchise, from N64 fighters like Mario and Kirby to guest combatants we never thought would be returning to the Smash stage, like Solid Snake, Mega Man, and Cloud Strife, and even a few characters we reckoned Nintendo had completely forgotten about, like Pichu and Ice Climbers.
In addition to these returning champions, there are also new characters joining the fray, though series creator Masahiro Sakurai suggested there would be fewer new fighters this time around. In addition to the previously-confirmed Inklings from Splatoon, confirmed newcomers include Princess Daisy and Samus' arch-nemesis, Ridley. One character who won't be making their playable debut is Waluigi, who is relegated to Assist Trophy status, much to the chagrin of his inexplicable internet fandom.
As for stages, Nintendo is hinting that "most" battle arenas will be represented, and they will feature both "Omega" variations (returning from the Wii U and 3DS iterations) and "Battlefield" versions, which include floating platforms, a long-requested addition for vertically-oriented characters; we all remember the whole "Little Mac is OP" controversy from the launch of the Wii U version!
Other Stuff
Oh, right. Not that they really needed to, but Nintendo did, in fact, show off other games aside from Super Smash Brothers. In fact, the whole first half of the show was dedicated to upcoming non-Smash titles, and the Direct opened with a first look at the visually unique mech combat game, Daemon x Machina. The bold color choices and minimalist use of textures reminds us of Killer 7's distinct art style, and the title is being produced by Kenichiro Tsukuda, one of the masterminds behind the cult mech combat simulator, Armored Core.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is getting new story content in the form of Torna: The Golden Country, a DLC set before the events of the main game. Dragon Ball Fighter Z will make the leap from PS4 and Xbox to the Switch sometime in 2018, but it wasn't the most significant Switch port announced during the video. That honor goes to Fortnite: Battle Royale, the internet sensation which has been sweeping the globe for months. Offering cross-play with the Xbox version (but not PS4), Fortnite for Switch suffers from a handful of visual downgrades, like a drop from 60 to 30 fps and a significantly lower resolution, but the same great gameplay as the other versions.
Aside from Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, the three biggest first-party titles for Switch were Super Mario Party, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and the dual games, Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee. Super Mario Party is the first proper Mario Party title since 2015's Mario Party 10, and – calm down, everyone – Waluigi will be a playable character, but Birdo will not. #JusticeForBirdo. Fire Emblem: Three Houses looks like the true successor to Fire Emblem: Awakening, offering a provocative, cinematic art style and other visual enhancements which represent a true next-generation leap for the series. Meanwhile, the two Pokémon titles look like brand new takes on the classic Red and Blue region, only with some new twists inspired by the enormously popular Pokémon Go!
Finally, Nintendo announced a trio of indie titles coming to Switch, including the cult hit, Hollow Knight (with previously-released DLC bundled in, natch), the pixel-art side-scrolling arcade combat game Killer Queen Black, and the highly-anticipated Overcooked 2. Due out on August 7, Overcooked 2 looks to be offering more of the same frantic multiplayer cooking action, but with an extra coat of visual polish and the new addition of online multiplayer, a feature which was absent from all versions of the original title.
Depending on how much one adores Super Smash Brothers, this year's E3 Nintendo Direct was either a smashing success (no pun intended) or a dismal disappointment. If the prospect of Every. Fighter. Ever. is enough to make you buy a Switch, then that's fantastic! If you were hoping for news on Metroid Prime 4, Animal Crossing, or potential new DLC Kingdoms for Super Mario Odyssey, then the presentation probably left you feeling cold.
How do you think Nintendo did with its E3 2018 showing? Let us know in the comments! You can watch the full briefing for yourself below.
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
Ubisoft had a great year at E3 2018. Most of their announcements were interesting, conveying coveted information about highly anticipated titles like Beyond Good & Evil 2 and Assassin's Creed Odyssey. It might not have revealed anything completely unknown, but the info it had on upcoming projects was extensive and interesting. 
The Ubisoft press conference opened with a marching band and dance routine heralding the return of Just Dance 2019. The dancing title will be released later this year on pretty much every console that people might conceivably still use outside of retro enthusiast crowds. That explains why the title will be released for not only the Wii U, but also the original Wii, which is pretty freaking incredible. 
Beyond Good & Evil 2 made a huge splash at last year's press conference where it finally demonstrated its existence to the world. This year we got to see more pre-rendered cutscenes that doled out information about the pirate crew with whom players will presumably be bouncing around the galaxy. It also revealed that Jade, the hero of Beyond Good & Evil, will serve as the antagonist for this sequel-prequel. How that will work remains unknown, but intriguing. 
The Beyond Good & Evil 2 presentation didn't stop at cutscenes, though. We were finally show snippets of gameplay demonstrating vehicles and aerial/space combat along with jetpacks and melee combat. And, yes, it looked fantastic. Keen observers might have noted that certain segments of the environment looked suspiciously barren. It turns out this was because Ubisoft has teamed up with Hit Record, a crowd sourced work platform that aims to bring artists together to do collaborative freelance work. The idea for Beyond Good & Evil 2 being that artists could contribute their work to the game, get paid, and have it become part of the in-game universe. This led to something of a backlash from fans and industry pros alike calling out the use of speculative labor (spec work). 
Ubisoft also took the time to announce new DLC for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Titled Donkey Kong Adventure, players will be able to journey through a tactical adventure with Donkey Kong joining the crew to face off against his ferocious Rabbid counterpart. The music will be composed by Grant Kirkhope with all of the appropriate Donkey Kong flair fans have come to love and expect. It releases later this month on June 26.
The popular biking/stunt game Trials will be returning early next year with Trials Rising. Ubisoft worked together with over 20 longtime fans of the original to shape its content. One community member even oversaw the creation of all the tutorial content for Trials Rising. Rising will bring players around the world for wacky stunts and impossible courses. It releases sometime in February 2019. 
The Division 2 hopes to surpass its predecessor by offering long term support for players who have finished the main campaign. Those who finish the story set in Washington DC will be able to specialize into one of three classes and pick a signature weapon. Over time, these roles will evolve to have special abilities that synergize with the abilities of other players. This will lead players who have mastered everything else into the new eight player raids. 
In Rainbow Six Siege news, Ubisoft announced that the game would be receiving the documentary treatment. A film crew followed eight members of the Rainbow Six Siege community, including professional Rainbow Six Siege players, as they partake in the game's rich competitive scene. ESports are becoming more and more mainstream, so it's always interesting to see what documentary film crews do with the subject matter. Another Mindset is no exception. The film will release at the Six Major Paris that runs August 13-19. 
Skull and Bones still looks incredibly polished, but weird. Even though we saw more of it this year than ever before, I can't tell if it's something that stands on its own or if it will live and die by its online community. The gameplay on display this year depicted pirates teaming up to take on a giant warship in the Indian Ocean following the sinking of a merchant vessel. The game emphasizes the accumulation of wealth, but it's a bit cagey on what players can use that wealth on in-game aside from ship upgrades and aesthetic flourishes. Is there more to the game than piracy for piracy's sake? Only time will tell. 

One of the more fascinating reveals Ubisoft had in store for E3 2018 definitely belongs to SpectreVision's VR horror/thriller title Transference. SpectreVision's founder and creative director Elijah Wood (yes, that Elijah Wood) took the stage last year to announce the game existed. This year, he took the stage to elaborate more about what exactly Transference will be.
From the explanation, it seems that Transference tells the story of the Hayes family, a father, mother, and son, who have all had their minds joined and their memories simulated. However, something has gone wrong and the memories are corrupted - players will have to jump between the perspectives of each family member to figure out exactly what happened and discover what entity stalks them through the memories. It looks rad as heck, combining live-action and digital environments very effectively. Oh, and it launches later this fall! 
Starlink: Battle for Atlas has come a long way since we last saw it. The cartoonish space odyssey seemed to take many people by surprise with gameplay that appears tight, responsive, and more diverse than shooting all the things. Players will be able to construct their spaceships in the real world and bring them into the game world, which is still an amazing feature that doesn't seem to have reached its full potential just yet. 
In a surprise twist, Starlink will have a Nintendo Switch exclusive: Fox McCloud. Those who pick up Starlink on the Switch will be able to zoom around space in one of the classic Arwings from Star Fox. It's implied that Fox McCloud will be a character within the Starlink universe, too, though to what extent he will affect the game's narrative remains to be seen. 
Finally, Ubisoft spilled the beans on the upcoming Assassin's Creed. It turns out that it's no longer too expensive to create female character models as Assassin's Creed Odyssey allows players to decide whether they'd like to play through the game as Alexios or Kassandra. Whichever players decide to make their avatar, they will take on the role of a mercenary fighting in the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens. Using a shattered fragment of a legendary spear, players will navigate the events of ancient Greece, rub shoulders with some of the titans of modern history textbooks, and probably do some assassin stuff. Although, it should be noted that the trailer and gameplay on display distinctly lacked a lot of the sneaky, assassin-y stuff for which the series has been known. Overall, it seems like an interesting and fun direction to take the long running series.
What did you think of Ubisoft's E3 showing this year? Let us know in the comments! As always, feel free to watch the entire Ubisoft press conference below.
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!