The game is on: Top picks from E3 2019

The Straits Times tech journalist Hariz Baharudin highlights the top five games that left the biggest impressions at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, held in Los Angeles.
Borderlands 3
Borderlands 3
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Bleeding Edge
Bleeding Edge

These refreshed as well as new titles made an impression when they were unveiled at the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo gaming convention

Amid the non-stop announcements of a new console and new hardware, as well as movie and television tie-ups at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) gaming convention, games were still very much at the centre of the conference, which opened its doors last Tuesday. The event ended last Thursday.

The Straits Times picks eight titles that made a big impression on the show floor and at various briefings in E3, which was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

1. Borderlands 3

Borderlands is one of American developer Gearbox Software's most well-known franchises, with plenty of fans following the first-person shooter series since the first iteration was released a decade ago.

While 10 years might seem like a long time, it is clear Borderlands' following has not waned. The latest game is one of the most hyped-up titles at this year's E3 with a considerable marketing push, going by its many posters, advertisements and online buzz.

Players take on missions on their own or in teams of up to four people, from other characters or from bounty boards to gain experience, in-game monetary rewards and items. They can also earn these items by defeating enemies throughout the game in many destinations across numerous planets.

The game will be released on Sept 13 on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Google Stadia.

2. Marvel's Avengers

Fresh off concluding what has arguably been one of the most-talked-about movie franchises of all time, the Avengers superheroes have now left the big screen for the gaming console.

At Square Enix's E3 briefing, footage that appears to blend cut scenes with gameplay was shown to great fanfare for the first time. Based on what the developers had revealed, it looks like the much anticipated Avengers will be a plot-driven action title with an original story featuring the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow and Captain America.

The celebrities who depicted these characters in the movies will not be making a return, however, and the Avengers game will feature a whole new cast.

More details will be revealed before the game swoops in early next year on PS4, Xbox, PC and Google Stadia.

3. The Outer Worlds

American developer Obsidian Entertainment has made it almost its trademark to create big, sprawling worlds full of choices that will have consequences to the plot.

This otherworldly role-playing game is no different. Players will be tasked to unravel a conspiracy at the heart of a space colony as they negotiate the different politics of several factions in the game. The decisions they make will influence how the game's characters and world see them and will also have an impact on the direction of the plot.

While this might make the game sound like a serious affair, a gameplay demonstration at E3 suggests Obsidian has made sure to include plenty of humour and wit too. The Outer Worlds will be released on Oct 25 for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

4. Watch Dogs: Legion

French developer Ubisoft made waves when it released its action-adventure title Watch Dogs in 2014 and its follow-up in 2016, allowing players to take on the role of a hacker.

Watch Dogs: Legion looks set to up the ante for the series, by allowing players to control many other characters that can be recruited across the game's fictionalised version of London.

This includes ex-spies, drone technicians, people on the street and even elderly folk - which can make for some cute and hilarious sequences.

Each character will have his own background and skill set. The type of characters recruited will also influence the game's narrative as the story progresses. More details will be revealed closer to the game's March 6 release date next year on PS4, Xbox, PC and Google Stadia.

5. Final Fantasy VII Remake

More than 20 years after it first wowed gamers, one of Square Enix's most well-known role-playing games (RPG) will be given a new lease of life as the Japanese developer is releasing a remade version next year.

This version will not only feature updated graphics and audio, but will also bring a fresh spin to its battles, with a new combat system that was shown in greater detail at E3.

An E3 gameplay demonstration of the title showed that instead of the static RPG battle system of the original, Final Fantasy VII Remake will be much more action-based. This will allow the player to control iconic characters such as Cloud, Barrett and Tifa in a more dynamic way by moving them around the battlefield, switching among them on the fly and launching attacks with the press, or mash, of a button.

Final Fantasy VII Remake will be an episodic game - it will be released in parts, with the first one dropping on March 3 next year on the PlayStation 4.

6. Cyberpunk 2077

As if it could not get any bigger, anticipation for this title from Polish game developer CD Projekt Red skyrocketed when it was revealed at Microsoft's briefing that Hollywood superstar Keanu Reeves will be joining the cast of Cyberpunk 2077.

Players of the game, which will be released next year on April 16 for PS4, Xbox and PC, will assume the role of V, a mercenary that allows gamers to decide how they want the character to develop. This includes upgrading his or her - a female version is available - skills, which include mastery in ranged weapons.

Based on what has been unveiled, the game is set to feature a large open world, with six regions and an engrossing storyline - both of which are CD Projekt Red's strengths, given how it is behind the popular The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

7. 12 Minutes

This independently developed psychological thriller that was briefly shown at the Microsoft briefing presents an interesting premise: a man relives 12 minutes of his life, which players will play in real time.

They will go through the same set of actions and conversations several times, using the knowledge gained to help them progress in the next run as they try to change the game's horrific ending.

A lot of effort has been made by creator Luis Antonio to create a creepy, unsettling vibe, akin to hit thrillers like Rear Window (1954) and The Shining (1980).

The game will be out next year on Xbox One.

8. Bleeding Edge

At first glance, this four-on-four team brawler from British game developer Ninja Theory might seem confusing, with its mutant-like characters, busy-looking gameplay and packed arenas.

But once players get past the tutorial, Bleeding Edge is an enjoyable third-person competitive multiplayer game, full of nail-biting sequences and exciting action that is reminiscent of Blizzard's hit game Overwatch.

A freakshow-esque cast of characters across three big types - assassin, support and heavy - means matches are expected to challenge players. As with other team-brawlers, creating a well-balanced party will make the difference between victory and defeat.

The game will be available on June 27 on the Xbox One.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2019, with the headline 'The game is on'. Print Edition | Subscribe