Five more games to look out for from E3 2018, from Disney charms to nuclear war

A screenshot from Assassin's Creed: Odyssey showing off a sneak attack.
A screenshot from Assassin's Creed: Odyssey showing off a sneak attack.PHOTO: UBISOFT

LOS ANGELES - From fighting alongside Donald Duck and Goofy, to declaring nuclear war against enemies, last week's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was brimming with weird and wonderful games.

The annual event, held in the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 12 to 14, also showcased blasts from the past, curious indie titles, sequels to beloved game franchises and new intellectual properties.

While we've reported on the six games that impressed us the most at E3, here's a list of more games that didn't make the list but caught our fancy.

And as much as we're tempted to, we've excluded highly anticipated titles announced at E3, like Halo Infinite and The Elder Scrolls VI, which didn't have much in the way of details.

Here's our take on five more games to look out for from E3 2018. We have more games that caught our attention, so watch this space.

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey

Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Release date: Oct 5, 2018

The biggest change for this upcoming title in developer Ubisoft's long-running Assassin's Creed action-adventure series is a much heavier focus on role-playing than ever before.

In fact, Odyssey, feels like an entry in developer BioWare's Dragon Age role-playing games (RPGs), especially since you can choose to play either a fully-voiced male or female Spartan warrior.

Set in ancient Greece, the game has about 30h of dialogue, said to be much more than past Assassin's Creed games. This is even longer than the 15h to 25h that many players take to complete the main story missions of a traditional Assassin's Creed game.

The sheer amount of conversations in Odyssey stem in part from multiple dialogue options - a first for the series - which can change the flavour of responses, get you to romance another character, and even alter the course of the game and its ending.

For RPG and adventure game fans, this is great news. Conversations feel like they have more meat to them, going by a brief hands-on I had with the game. For instance, a chat with Greek philosopher Socrates feels nuanced and involved, especially when he gets you to question what's right and wrong in a scenario he throws at you.

For action fans, Odyssey still has your usual sneaking and fighting you'd expect from an Assassin's Creed game.

While the Odyssey's action reminds me of last year's Assassin's Creed: Origins in several ways, there are tweaks that change things up.

For instance, you can snatch away an enemy's shield to prevent him from constantly blocking your attacks, and kick foes away which works wonders during fights on ships.

Overall, the new game's combat is pretty satisfying and handles well.

Speaking of ships, naval combat makes a return in Odyssey. You can ram sea vessels to smithereens, get your shipmates to fire arrows at boats, and also board vessels to battle enemy ship crew.

You might just get more attached to your ship too, because the game allows you to customise how it looks.

Come October, we'll know if the final game can serve up enough thrills and decision-making dilemmas.

Fallout 76

Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Release date: Nov 14, 2018

Fallout 76 is an online survival role-playing game set in post-apocalyptic West Virginia in the United States. PHOTO: BETHESDA SOFTWORKS

The hotly anticipated Fallout 76 was finally confirmed at E3 to be an online survival role-playing game (RPG) set in post-apocalyptic West Virginia in the United States.

No hands-on was available but we know that combat involves shooting in first-person and you can target different parts of an enemy to fire at, although this now happens in real-time instead of having to pause the action.

Players who prefer a single-player, offline experience have been worried about Fallout 76 being an online title. But developer Bethesda has assured that the game can be played solo, though the company added that it would be easier by playing with others.

Besides cooperating with other gamers to complete missions, players can also fight other players. But measures will be in place to prevent players from killing your character over and over again, and looting all his belongings.

After the game launches, the developer plans to allow players to set-up their own private worlds which they can modify. This might mean that players could play solo or with friends, without outsiders bothering them.

Bethesda also called Fallout 76 a "softcore" survival game, so this means gamers won't lose their characters or character progression if they die in-game.

Building a portable base appears to play a substantial role in the game and you may have to defend it from monsters and other players from time to time.

Even so, when you're not online, your base reportedly won't appear in the game.

While the game will have microtransactions, this will be for cosmetic items only. There will also be free updates, not unlike massively multiplayer online games, although players will find themselves in servers with dozens of players, not hundreds or thousands.

High-level players can seek out nuclear launch codes in the game and use them at a launch site to fire a nuclear missile. You can presumably target anywhere, including other players' bases.

Nuking a site will turn it into a "high-level zone" with valuable resources to gather, as well as powerful monsters to contend with.

The game's reveal initially upset fans who crave offline, single-player experiences. But with Bethesda's assurances for solo-play support, there might just be something in Fallout 76 for people who prefer solo experiences and those open to multiplayer games to satisfy their love for post-apocalyptic settings.

Kingdom Hearts III

Platform: PS4, Xbox One

Release date: Jan 29, 2019

This Disney meets Final Fantasy action RPG finally got a release date though it also means the game has been delayed - it was originally slated to be ready for 2018.

The game continues the adventures of Sora, a hero who uses a key-shaped weapon to overcome the machinations of a villain with just about as many identities as the number of years fans have been waiting for the game since 2005's Kingdom Hearts II.

If you're already confused, it gets more complex. Series creator Tetsuya Nomura told journalists last week during E3 that because Kingdom Hearts III brings together many characters from the previous series' games and spin-offs, Kingdom Hearts III's plot will be complicated and he also needs to consider which main character knows who since there are so many of them.

He admitted agonising over this but said there are staff who help check for consistency in the game's story.

While the third, full numbered entry in the series will conclude the storyline involving the aforementioned villain, Nomura said that the Kingdom Hearts story won't end, adding that he still has plans for more stories in the series.

Kingdom Hearts III continues the adventures of Sora, a hero who uses a key-shaped weapon to overcome the machinations of a villain with many identities. PHOTO: SQUARE ENIX

The E3 hands-on demo for Kingdom Hearts III didn't show off anything fans haven't already seen but it was the first time many people, including this writer, got to have a spin with it.

Combat in Kingdom Hearts III looks great and feels fluid and powerful, if a bit confusing because so much happens.

I'm bashing enemies with my keyblade weapon in one moment, and in the next, my weapon changes its form to unlock new attack abilities. Before long, I'm activating a very fancy magic tea cup attack reminiscent of a ride in Disney Land.

There are also Disney characters like Wreck-It Ralph you can summon to perform attacks against enemies by building pixelated structures and then destroying them to damage nearby enemies.

While a lot happens during combat, all the swirls, spins and somersaults go by fairly fast and executing special moves doesn't break the momentum of combat much.

One gripe I have with the demo is a boss battle against a rock titan. A part of the battle involves running up a mountain wall to get to the boss as he hurls rocks down at you. You need to quickly dodge the rocks to avoid getting hit but this doesn't feel quite as silky smooth as regular combat in the game.

Still, I can take heart that even if I get lost in the game's deceptively complex plot, the combat will be incredibly fun and entertaining, while the plethora of Disney cameos will charm me to no end.


Platform: PS4

Release date: Sept 7, 2018

As Spider-Man, you can seamlessly move from swinging across buildings to fighting enemies on a rooftop and grappling them with your webbing. PHOTO: SONY

Playing as the titular hero in Spider-Man, there is a palpable sense that you're an expert acrobat in this game, thanks to its fluid controls.

As Spider-Man, you can seamlessly move from swinging across buildings to fighting enemies on a rooftop and grappling them with your webbing. You can swiftly follow that up by chaining a series of punches and kicks, shoot even more webbing at foes while effortlessly dodging enemy swipes. It looks great and feels great, going by a demo I got to try.

Having an open world to explore makes a lot of sense in the game and with Spidey's acrobatic chops, having so much space to wall run, jump and somersault around to get to mission objectives feels amazing and liberating.

While there are main missions to tackle, the game has side quests you can undertake along the way.

Taking a cue from the Assassin's Creed games, you can perch on the top of a structure to check out the available quests.

In my time with Spider-Man, one side quest involved a stand-off between some crooks and the cops in a street. It was a simple and fun distraction which didn't take too long to resolve.

Besides shooting webbing at enemies to immobilise them, you can switch between other web options on the fly, such as tagging on a mine to your webbing and using your webs to pull foes away from you. Your various webbing options have limited uses and need to be recharged before they can be used again.

Besides shooting webbing at enemies to immobilise them, you can switch between other web options on the fly. PHOTO: SONY

The environment can play a significant role when fighting enemies as well.

For instance, you can quickly take cover by leaping onto an overhead beam if things get hairy on the ground, like when you're mobbed by too many bad guys.

There are also objects in the game, like manhole covers, that you can grapple using your webs to swing and fling at enemies.

Slinging stuff at an opponent was a key mechanic in one boss fight to disable a protective shield around him before I could land punches to bring him down.

In that particular fight, dodging his area effect attacks was just as important as getting his shield down. And to help with dodging, Spider-Man's spider senses activate automatically just before you get hit, prompting you to take evasive action.

For now, Spider-Man does seem a bit like a mash-up of Batman: Arkham and Assassin's Creed. But with Spidey's wise-cracking and his crazy gymnastics and abilities, the game does stand out on its own.

Underworld Ascendant

Platform: PC

Release date: September 2018

This first-person action role-playing game (RPG) is a soft reboot and sequel to the Ultima Underworld games from the 1990s, and boasts the involvement ofvideo game legend Warren Spector of Deus Ex and System Shock fame.

Like the Underworld games before it, Ascendant is a dungeon crawler that seeks to promote non-linear gameplay, with multiple ways to approach different situations.

This doesn't take the form of dialogue choices but more in terms of the actions you take in the game.

Still, game director Joe Fielder said that non-playable characters in the game will acknowledge your actions when you chat with them, which is neat for players.

Based on a demo I tried, the game looks pretty. It's not as ultra realistic or detailed as AAA titles, and has a more stylised look, but it works for me. The audio and voice over help add to the air of mystery of the demo level as well.

The indie game uses standard action game controls, so it's not too hard to get into. My combat arsenal included a sword, bow and arrow, trip wires and a magic wand.

The final game will have rune spellcrafting from the original Underworld games and spells can be used in and out of combat. New spells can be discovered by experimenting with rune combinations, too.

While the first part of the demo is easy enough to navigate and has some prompts on what to do, it opens up into a cavern and leaves you to figure things out on your own for the most part, which is both scary and exciting.

It means that you can try different ways and routes to deal with a situation. But because I've been spoilt rotten by modern games that hand-hold me a lot, playing Ascendant could get a bit confusing because I wasn't always immediately sure what I should do to proceed.

Underworld Ascendant is a dungeon crawler that seeks to promote non-linear gameplay, with multiple ways to approach different situations. PHOTO: 505 GAMES

"We don't want to hold the players' hand, we want to teach them to think," said Mr Fielder, adding that his team is balancing between telling players what to do overtly and hinting at what they could do.

I can, for instance, knock down skeletons in the demo from a distance using arrows that explode on impact, or go up close to knock them out with my sword.

But I can also lure the skeletons to a tree-like monster, charm said monster with a magic wand, and it will start hacking away at my undead foes. I can also use the same wand to trap the skeletons in place so that the tree monster can make short work of them more easily.

Yet another way to deal with the skeletons is to sneak past them instead, and I can use water arrows to extinguish torches to make it harder for the skeletons to spot me.

The game isn't without issues, though. Combat feels a tad unresponsive - I'm not always sure if I successfully landed a hit on a skeleton, for instance.

Asked if the game is still on track for its September release or more fine tuning is needed, Mr Fielder said that developer OtherSide Entertainment is in the midst of getting feedback for Ascendant and "we'll adjust as necessary".

Mr Fielder added that the game's levels have been completed and all the features are in the game. The team is now focused and working hard on polishing the title.

Ascendant's free-form play isn't exactly revolutionary because it has been explored in various ways by other games.

But the game has a certain charm, warts and all.

Perhaps it's the game's ambition, which reminds me of the fairly open-ended gameplay of Deus Ex, that is drawing me to it. Or perhaps it's simply nostalgia for the original Ultima Underworld game from 1992 that makes it appealing.