Sat. Feb 4th, 2023

Ars Technica’s top six games from E3 2016.

There’s another E3 on the books and it’s almost impossible to distill the dozens and dozens of games on display into a few titles to keep an eye on, but that won’t stop us from trying.

These 10 games in particular stood out on the busy E3 show floor, and each has us excited to try out the full versions after a brief sneak peek last week.

Abzu

Developer: Giant squid
Publisher: 505 games
Platforms: PS4, Windows
Expected release date: August 2, 2016

Like the brilliant trip, Abzu is not so much a game as an experience. There are no shooting, dialogue-heavy cutscenes, XP, or other fluff that make a game a game. Instead, there’s just your character – a cute cel-shaded diver – and the open ocean. Everything else is discoverable.

Abzu is beautiful, made with love by people who are passionate about exploring the oceans. Giant Squad’s developers have built the kind of world that feels magical when players find, say, a huge school of fish fluttering through the water as one unit or when they encounter a group of freaky crabs walking across the depths of the ocean floor. A few subtle signposts will keep you on track, but for the most part, you’ll be exploring Abzu because everything is fascinating, not because you are explicitly told to.

That said, there’s some sort of story to it Abzu, one that might explain exactly what you’re doing in the ocean in the first place. Without giving anything away, it involves sharks, strange mechanical contraptions and eerily beautiful pools of deep ocean illuminated by a mysterious light. Already after half an hour with AbzuI’m convinced Giant Squid is onto something special, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the game has in store.
—Mark Walton

Battlefield 1

Let's blow up some allied troops.
Enlarge / Let’s blow up some allied troops.

Developer: DICE
Publisher: EA
Platforms: Windows, PS4, XB1
Expected release date: October 21, 2016

Five years later, and we’re all still tired of the Dead Island effect – when a video game announcement includes such a risqué trailer that you can distrust the whole thing out of hand. Battlefield 1 seems like a prime candidate for this kind of discomfort. The bombastic trailer promises some incredible visuals that seem impossible to deliver. However, we were lucky enough to leave E3 with some impressive, hands-on time with the game’s PC build (and at least that allayed some of our worries).

Deride the game’s use of “One” in a sequel all you like, but our critics’ separate experiences with the multiplayer mode led us to agree that, even in limited play, Battlefield 1Rolling back the timeline to the early 20th century was the right decision. The game’s giant, muddy maps explode with the kind of shrapnel-spewing tech that changed the face of World War I, and the unwieldy tanks organically juggle things like missile firepower, reload speeds, armor strength, and wheel and turret acceleration.

The “Domination” style mode blew us away with its destructible buildings, its bombastic flight sections and its tide-turning turret-mounted Zeppelin – awarded to the losing team two-thirds of the way through our matches as a way to raining bombs on the most entrenched positions of the winning team. This honestly didn’t feel cheap; the Zeppelin can be countered, but its appearance changes the flow of a long-running contest in a fun way. Ground forces need to work out more ground-to-air strategies across the board at that point.

There’s no telling from a brief demo whether EA and DICE have learned lessons from things like population-splitting expansion packs or commonplace single-player content. At least, Battlefield 1The multiplayer mode, even in an alpha preview state, already builds on the strengths of previous games and feels like a “best lessons from our past few games” show of power. And holy cow, the PC build of this game looks slick in action thanks to some of the best particle, destruction, fire and animation effects yet in a Frostbite engine game.
—Sam Machkovech

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Developer: Infinity Ward
Publisher: Activity
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Windows
Expected release date: November 4, 2016

This can be a controversial choice, but hear me out: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare actually looks pretty good. After that questionable first trailer – which famously garnered more downvotes than any other game trailer on YouTube – the demo shown at the Sony E3 press conference was surprisingly impressive. Behind closed doors at E3 I saw an even more beautiful piece of gameplay.

The first demo showed Captain Reyes fighting through the streets of Geneva as an invading force of soldiers and robots invaded the city. Cue the usual sequence well timed CODFISH explosions, set pieces and rapid shooting. There are also new weapons, including a relentless multi-crosshair shotgun that clings to the limbs and bodies of enemies, and a hacking weapon that allowed Reyes to slice into an enemy dropship and have one of the robots self-destruct. (That caused the ship to crash into the ground, FYI.)

There’s nothing particularly new there, but what’s interesting is how it reminds you of it Infinite warfare is from others CODFISH spell. There’s a section in the demo where, after navigating the city, Reyes is tasked with getting to the top of a small hill littered with enemy robots. Small trenches are embedded in the concrete around the outer edges, while in the air planes and ships drop bombs and enemies. It has the same feel as the D-Day landings of COD2. Despite the sci-fi setting, it’s surprising how Infinite warfare never feels like a sci-fi game. You’re still firing real bullets and sprinting through combat on foot for cover and picking off enemies.

In the end, of course, you will be sent into space in a fighter jet. But again, this section is surprisingly good. There’s a real sense of acceleration in the ship, while the lock-on looks really nice. More than that, Infinite warfare really manages to capture the energy of full-on space dogfights (or at least the energy you can imagine) in a way that even dedicated space shooters enjoy Eve Valkyrie have not done. Despite the initial knee-jerk reactions, it’s worth giving Infinite warfare a shot. At the moment it looks pretty good.
-Marcus Walton

By akfire1

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