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Monday, Jun 22

Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 Awards: Other

1 comments Rory Young - 1:10am (PST) Like Share

Games that deserve as much attention as any of the larger genres

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Unfortunately, as is the nature of our industry, not every genre can be packed full of new games every year. Not to mention afford packing them all to E3, or to get a PR company to book appointments with the press. I'm basically trying to say that there's only so many games out there and even less that we can make the time to see. As a result, these genres can be hard to fill out award categories for. Nevertheless, I think it's important to recognize these genres and their excellent games if we can.

Music, fighting games, casual experiences and puzzle titles are all better deserving of our attentions at E3. I apologize sincerely for not searching out any more titles that potentially deserved to be added to our nominations. I tried very hard to organize as many E3 games as possible for further inspection, but there's only so much I can do. Hopefully this post does enough justice to each genre and title and calls more attention to them as they deserve

Cheers, as here are the wayward categories for Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 awards:

Music

  • Guitar Hero Live
  • Welcome to Mars VR Demo
     
  • Rock Band 4 - Winner

Casual

  • Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival
  • Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer
     
  • Dreams - Winner

Puzzle

  • Lara Croft Go
     
  • Wattam - Winner

Fighting

  • Street Fighter V - Winner

Sim

  • American Truck Simulator
  • Fallout Shelter
  • Planet Coaster
     
  • Anno 2205 - Winner

Congratulations to all of our nominees and winners for each category in Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 awards. Make sure to check out all of our Best of E3 Awards as they're posted. 



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Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 Awards: Adventure

2 comments Rory Young - 12:34am (PST) Like Share

This could be the genre to benefit the most from VR's pending launch

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Adventure is so much more than either point and click or an attribute of an action game. Adventure prioritizes just that: adventure. In Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 awards we prioritize games the provide us new adventurous experiences, no matter what form or function that may take. That includes classic 2D adventure games, the new wave of 3D titles that are being coined as walking simulations, puzzling games or otherwise. The more unusual the better. The more wondrous the better. The more dangerous the better. Adventure games allow us to experience lives or events beyond ourselves without having to withdraw from those experiences in order to, well, kick everything's ass.

This is definitely a category of games that's expanding at a very fast pace. Adventures are not only experiences that are able to be created  by small teams with manageable budgets, but are often able to convey ideas and emotions that games are rarely able to manage. These types of games will also be perhaps the strongest releases in the upcoming virtual reality wars. VR will let players get that much closer to these stories, but since they aren't combat-focused, the limitations of VR regarding movement don't apply. Each and every one of these games has the potential to be a game of the year contender as a result, but their E3 demos only tease at what their stories hide.

This is Neoseeker's list of nominees and our winner for the Best of E3 2015 awards in the Adventure category:

Firewatch - Nominee

Firewatch is from newcomer Campo Santo, whose first game is a mystery about a man who works in an early warning fire watchtower far out in the Wyoming wilderness. Henry, our protagonist, is quite alone out there. His only contact is with his supervisor, Delilah, on the other end of his radio. Luckily Henry is more than capable of surviving this far from civilization, given your help with gameplay of course. Yet a number of mysterious event begin to occur around Henry which leads him to think that something may be going on around him. Or perhaps within his own mind. Isolation is a hell of a thing.

Firewatch's E3 introduction showed us just how well-established and rich of a character Henry is, and a surprisingly funny and stable character at that. There's no doubt, however, judging from the events of the trailer that things are very odd in the wilderness around him. The art style and dialogue implies a very, almost Pixar-ish adventure, but the events and danger that Henry encounters imply a much more mature and complex story than a first impression implies. Firewatch, unlike many of the games on this list, feels like a very comfortable, earthy story with believable and relatable characters. 

Tacoma - Nominee

Gone Home is a story that shook video games. It's a game that's constantly referenced in both positive and negative ways when discussing many modern gaming trends. Many see it as a game with a goal, as if its story and structure is meant to argue a point regarding games or lifestyles. Yet Gone Home to me was always about expectations. Gone Home toyed with what players wanted from the game, from the story, at times playing at a larger, complicated experience that so many players took the bait and ran with from. That's why I'm so excited about Tacoma, because now that Gone Home has come and gone Fullbright has even more expectations placed upon them than ever. And as I said before, I think Fullbright is excellent at having fun with expectations.

But what is Tacoma? The game takes place in a near-future space station. Players take on the role of Amy as she searches the station for missing crew members with the help of an AI. The immediate connection is to 2001 A Space Odyssey and HAL, which I can only hope to be true. As with Gone Home, however, and this is clear now that E3 has passed, Tacoma is also a story about life and the relationships between us. Fullbright has shown us how much they can manage with an empty house in regards to telling a touching story, let's see what they can manage with a huge space station and a crew full of very interesting astronauts.

What Remains of Edith Finch - Nominee

What's better than just one adventure? Even more adventures. What Remains of Edith Finch is a collection of short stories, all part of something much larger. E3 this year introduced us to Edith Finch, who is searching through the lives of her deceased family members in a hunt to figure out the curse of their blood. All of these stories are connected to this huge, mysterious house, which has rooms that connect to memories from each of her family members. Edith can live through these memories, which sadly result in their originator's death. But with each memory, and each death, Edith will climb higher into the house and uncover the secrets she searches for.

From the developers of The Unfinished Swan, What Remains of Edith Finch has lofty goals in terms of storytelling. The game has to both manage to get players emotionally tied to Edith and her family while at the same time maintain a mysterious and often abstract structure to its narrative in order to convey the main ideas behind the narrative. It's a very exciting idea for  game should Giant Sparrow pull it off, but I do worry that the player themselves may get lost searching for Edith Finch.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture - Nominee

Chinese Room's Everybody's Gone to the Rapture starts at the end of the world, according to the game's E3 trailer. Figuring out the rest is up to you. It's absolutely not your typically E3 fare, and in fact there were even complaints from E3 2014 where Sony was demoing the game next to a pair of huge subwoofers ruining the experience. This year Sony learned their lesson, as many coming out of the demo admitted they were quite emotionally affected. And that's clearly The Chinese Room's Goal, much like with Dear Esther. They want to tell stories that connect to deeper feelings than just our base expectations of games. Not exactly an easy task, especially at E3.

Yet even if they weren't able to connect at E3 in a way that they believe their full game can manage, they did show evidence of their goal. Everybody's Gone to the Rapture's E3 demo introduces to this world where it seems like the player is all alone -- not a soul to be found. Glowing golden lights lead the player, as well as reveal short glimpses at the past. These glimpses both shine light on the mystery of the "Rapture," but also serve to unbalance the player emotionally. These characters from before the Rapture went through something serious -- a quarantine, the loss of loved ones -- and that's only a tease. It's clear that Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is ambitious, and certainly an uncommon adventure worth experiencing for yourself.

ADR1FT - Winner

Adam Orth claims that for a time after he heard about the movie Gravity he considered not going forward with ADR1FT, but thank goodness that thought didn't last. ADR1FT is a simple, but amazing idea revolving around a woman stuck in a destroyed space station as she struggles to survive. She has low air reserves and no memory of the events leading up to the space station's devastation, but it's her and the player's responsibility to both survive and solve the mystery of what's happened. It creates an atmosphere where it's quite literally hard to breath, but this tension and the sheer beauty if the experience that make ADR1FT such an unforgettable experience.

While the game's plan to come to consoles and PC for all sorts of players, the game has very clearly been built for VR (and was shown at E3 with headsets). The methodical, deliberate movement of the player creates a very cinematic experience. The beeps, the music, the quiet and occasionally loud commands and prompts, but mostly the silence is so... terrifying? What has been shown of ADR1FT so far is sad and scary, but most of all it's an adventure I never thought I'd experience. I knew that when I first saw that and know that still now that E3 is over. Thank goodness Adam Orth didn't let Sandra Bullock stop him from making ADR1FT.


Congratulations to all of our nominees and to ADR1FT for winning Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award in the Adventure category. Make sure to check out all of our Best of E3 Awards as they're posted. 



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Sunday, Jun 21

Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 Awards: Action

2 comments Rory Young - 8:10pm (PST) Like Share

And now to crown the most bad-ass of them all

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In modern video games, everything is an action game. Everything's about explosions and gunfire or combat and fighting. Even adventure games love to simulate the intensity of action sequences in less pronounced ways. Action breeds energy, which keeps players focused and immersed. Action breeds interest, which keeps players curious and driven. Action breeds fun and fun is the end all, be all for many modern video games. In our era, the best video games are often action games and E3 is the best opportunity to showcase them.

2015 was no different, which makes Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award for Action games all the more difficult. This category absolutely had the most nominations from the team, and definitely the most contention regarding which made our short list. There was also a lot of discussion about what really deserved in the category, because games like No Man's Sky feature action as well as adventure and even a little shooting. Ratchet & Clank features a lot of platforming sequences, but those guns definitely make it an action star. In the end our list of nominations was surprisingly divers, but one thing stood out clearly across all of them: their showings at E3 2015 all filled us with adrenaline.

Here are Neoseeker's nominees and our winner for our Best of E3 2015 award in the Action category:

Horizon Zero Dawn - Nominee

Announcements like Guerilla Games' Horizon Zero Dawn are why I love E3. These guys didn't step out and show a cinematic trailer that hypes in the immediate, but after E3 grows into discontent after the realization of a lengthy wait for more information. No, Horizon Zero Dawn stepped out with a gameplay demonstration of its post-apocalyptic action game. Considering this wonderfully realized world is coming from the team known for Killzone, of all franchises, it's an outstanding surprise.

A tribal huntress with an impressive mechanical bow, going to gather resources it seems. Oh, she's going to take on huge robotic, dinosaur looking creatures, steal their energy chambers and kill them by shooting off their armor and attacking their weak points. Okay, yes, this is everything I love about video games. "A storm is coming, and I will be ready," she says. And judging by how excited I get each time I watch the debut trailer for Horizon Zero Dawn, I will absolutely be ready as well.

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End - Nominee

I hear a lot of folk saying that they weren't impressed by the Uncharted 4: A Thief's End demo during Sony's E3 press conference. I couldn't disagree more. Naughty Dog continues to improve their ability to create gorgeous, intense and highly cinematic games that are as good or better than even the best action movies of our day. The jump from PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4 are obvious as every scene in the trailer is filled with detail, every enemy moves with intent because of their impressive AI, and Nathan Drake moves and reacts as close to a real person a playable protagonist has ever been able to do.

Yes, the E3 trailer at the Sony conference ended disappointingly. The continuation of that trailer showed to press on the show-floor, which will absolutely be shown to the public in the next few months, provided a much better escalation and conclusion -- including the reintroduction of Nathan Drake's wife, Elena. By this point everyone knows what to expect from Uncharted, which also means everyone knows the level of quality to expect. Uncharted 4's showing at E3 2015 is evidence that fan expectations are in the right spot. Expect the best.

Mirror's Edge Catalyst - Nominee

In the same way that Horizon Zero Dawn got us excited about new ideas, Mirror's Edge Catalyst's E3 debut got us excited about revisiting past ideas. Mirror's Edge was a brilliant title that sadly was not continued for much too long. Electronic Arts has apparently figured out whatever was preventing them from making another in the series, and the result is Mirror's Edge Catalyst. While I remain skeptical about the game's story -- I don't know if I need to be shown how Faith became a hero, as her actions in the first game already won me over -- the art and the direction for gameplay are spot on. That it's a prequel and not a sequel won't matter as much when I'm leaping from building to building.

That's really all that EA Dice had to show to sell me -- Faith jumping from building to building. They one-upped my expectations, however, with the announcement that Mirror's Edge Catalyst would be an open world game. A trailer alone, featuring supposed gameplay (I'm not 100% trusting), is enough to put Mirror's Edge Catalyst's reveal above most other games. If only they'd had a live demo to go along with it!

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain - Nominee

The story of Snakes ends here, at least as told by Hideo Kojima. Not only would it be a great shame not to recognize what could be the final E3 for the franchise, but also impossible -- because Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain looks incredible. To be fair, it looks like really odd, overly complex title. Knowing that it's certain to include all of Kojima's intense, complicated plot as well as this desert-located open world and all the stealth action that goes along with it, The Phantom Pain is intimidating. Yet every time they show the game, it's increasingly obvious that we want to play this game as soon as possible.

Luckily we don't have to wait too much longer as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will be available on September 1, meaning the game they've shown at E3 is likely very close to the final product. That includes Kojima's latest self-directed trailer, which was packed full of deliciously confusing and abstract narrative, as well as a booth  demo showing off another great mission and all of the crazy tools Snake has to dismantle the enemy. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is just one of those games that's hard to full grasp from a demo. All you can do is gawk at it anxiously and recognize it has the potential to be transcendent.

Just Cause 3 - Winner

There is really no contest here. This is the action category and there was no other game at E3 that had more action than Just Cause 3. In between the trailer and demos, Just Cause 3 might as well have just been a literal constant explosion. "What the heck is that?" people would say as they walked past, "That, my friend, is Just Cause 3. The game is built from the ground up to feature a large amount of destructability, to have explosive items sitting nearby almost all of these destructible items, and then should the worst arise and no such things be close by, to give the player the ability and tools to make their own explosive action wherever they might be.

My favorite thing about Just Cause 3 is that the developers looked at Just Cause 2, saw what their players had the most fun with, and focused their sequel entirely around those things. The tether system, which allows the player to tether multiple objects, to connect them to other objects, and to then pull them towards each other, is such a broken and largely nonsensical thing -- but not in Just Cause. It makes every aspect of the game that much more interesting and fun. Explosions don't have to be so big, but in Just Cause they do. This attitude can be seen in every aspect of the game -- at least so far as what we were shown at E3. It's great to see such a fun game have developers also having so much fun. Ready? Action.


Congratulations to all of our nominees and to Just Cause 3 for winning Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award in the Action category. Make sure to check out all of our Best of E3 Awards as they're posted. 



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Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 Awards: Strategy

16 comments Rory Young - 3:24pm (PST) Like Share

Each nominee's pick has been precisely calculated

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Man, I know. I know, okay! Most of the nominees in Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 awards are better placed in more specific genres, like Tactical RPG or even just straight up RPG. We're using Strategy as an umbrella genre here. Admittedly, it's difficult to determine a game's strategic depth and value from an E3 demo and as a result these games' more approachable elements tend to help their case for the award. That shouldn't cloud the fact that there are some amazing games coming down the line for the strategic and tactical mind.

In the same way that Shooters tend to be heading to space to create unique experiences, so do Strategy titles seem to be flooding towards fantasy world. At least in 2015, they seem to be flooding towards fantasy. Strategy titles have a long history of broaching all manner of different worlds, from Blizzard's fantasy and and sci-fi settings to Total War series of more reality-tempered titles. It's amazing just what kind of settings a Strategy title can fit into, so long as the camera go float overhead and an army of units can do battle. The breadth and tone of the nominations this year show just how varied the genre can be. Which is probably why it's so exciting to see the genre having a resurgence.

Here are the nominees and our winner for Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 awards in the Strategy category:

The Behemoth's Game 4 - Nominee

This game is so hot that The Behemoth hasn't even risked giving it a name just yet for fear of the resulting mind explosion that could wipe out the earth. Game 4 is this, uh, very Behemoth tactical game where the planet has been struck by a giant, evil, stuffed bear thing, turning the world over into hexagon panels. The bears blood then turns everything super crazy and a little bit evil and insane, or maybe it was just like that before and we were looking for an opportunity to show our true colors. The story begins with Horatio, a blueberry farmer protecting his son from marauders just as a bear-blood storm. Ah, Behemoth.

While Game 4 wasn't shown heavily at E3 this year, since The Behemoth was in part attending to announce Castle Crashers Remastered, they did have a bit of new stuff that made us extra excited. Game 4's co-op action was unveiled during an Xbox stream! Game 4 alone, with its cupcake healers and cyclops soul-binding, deserves a nomination here, but the co-op showcase at E3 specifically made us very happy that these guys are continuing to make such awesome, hilarious games.

Bedlam - Nominee

I originally had nominated Total War: Warhammer here, just because Creative Assembly's trailer was righteous and they had Tears for Fears. Then I stumbled on Bedlam's big new trailer and I am so happy that I did. Skyshine Games launched a Kickstarter for Beldam back in September 2014, picking up about $160,000 in funding the make their tactical game. Since then they've been putting their heads to the grinder putting the game together, with E3 being the big reveal of their efforts. Spoilers, it looks awesome.

Bedlam is a post-apocalyptic, grindhouse, over-the-top tactical game filled with mutants, cyborgs and bloody bits of exploded enemies. The impression I get is it's XCOM if the dial was turned up to eleven. Sure, it's very indie and there's only so much a small team can do with two years of development and less than $200,000, but in the end it's important to remember what really matters. A cool idea followed-up by capable, passionate people can become as awesome of a game as any other.

XCOM 2 - Nominee

"We found out most players lost their first XCOM playthrough," said the sadists. This is the foundation with which XCOM 2 is built on -- that humanity lost the alien invasion in the original XCOM game. Luckily a resistance has been formed and XCOM 2 will see humanity trying once more to throw off the alien tyrants in control of the planet. The entire game has been rebuilty with a ton of new content, new classes, but mostly XCOM 2 will offer something fans wanted more than anything else -- more XCOM.

At E3 XCOM 2 gameplay was shown fully. Players got to see new classes, new enemies, exciting features like concealed attacks, procedurally generated maps and secondary mission objectives. All of the mechanics that XCOM fans loved and loved to hate remain, especially perma-death and no linear storytelling. While XCOM doesn't necessarily make for a particularly exciting E3 demo, as XCOM's strength comes in the investment that comes as part of dozens of hours in the world, there's no doubt in my mind that XCOM 2 will be a part of much bigger award discussions when the full game launches.

The Banner Saga 2 - Nominee

The Banner Saga was one of those first wave of Kickstarter-funded projects that proved how meaningful crowdfunding could be to important projects. Not only did the title provide an excellent tactical experience, but it created a new mix of RPG mechanics and tactical play told in this really mature and poignant story of struggle and survival. Did I mention it had one of the most striking and beautiful artistic styles games, period? There was never a doubt that The Banner Saga 2 wouldn't be far behind the first title, but there were questions about how hyped fans should get over an even more polished experience.

A playable build of The Banner Saga 2 was at E3 and it impressed everyone who touched it. It quite literally picks off where the first title ended, so anyone hoping to just jump in with the second game better do themselves a favor and go back to the start. Stoic isn't planning on redoing the foundation laying that, well, all other franchises like to do with every game in the series. The Banner Saga 2 keeps the caravan moving no matter what may come  or what may pass, and that statement has several important meanings that make up the entire reason this game is an automatic nomination here.

Fire Emblem Fates - Winner

Fire Emblem's resurgence with the release of Fire Emblem Awakening (what an appropriately meta name, in retrospect) is evidenced by the energy surrounding the announcement of Fire Emblem if and its renaming to Fire Emblem Fates for western audiences at E3. The way that Fire Emblem is able to layer its storytelling, establishing such wonderful characters as a means of connecting the player to the political intrigue and world-changing epic storylines, is unmatched in RPGs these days. It hearkens back to classic titles like Suikoden and Final Fantasy Tactics. It warms my jaded heart.

Nintendo provided a great introduction to Fire Emblem Fates at E3 2015, with two thirty-minute demos livestreamed to the world in addition to the latest trailer shown during their Nintendo Direct. As expected the new roster of characters is just as exciting to meet as Fire Emblem Awakening's. The gameplay and its mix of different classes and rock-scissors-paper tactics looks sharp and as fun as ever. Fire Emblem Fates is absolutely our most anticipated Nintendo 3DS game in development and for good reason.


Congratulations to all of our nominees and to Fire Emblem Fates for winning Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award in the Strategy category. Make sure to check out all of our Best of E3 Awards as they're posted. 



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Saturday, Jun 20



Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 Awards: Survival Horror

5 comments Rory Young - 2:37am (PST) Like Share

Can't sleep, E3 will eat me

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After the cancelation of Silent Hills and the despondence that settled  over the gaming community over it, I knew that I had to make sure a Survival Horror category would be included in Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 awards. See, while its certainly disheartening to see this huge project, the largest survival horror project to be revealed in what must be years, go down in flames, it's completely unacceptable for this mood to settle in. This idea that survival horror might be fading out of the limelight. If anything, the opposite is true. Survivial horror is on the verge of a resurgence. While these awards might not wholly represent that fact, I do think they are evidence to it.

Survival horror won't be some trickle down genre where a triple-A developer will publish a huge title and then everyone else will remember how great these games can be. It has already started coming back because of grassroots movements. Titles like Five Nights at Freddy's, just small and kind of not good games that frighten you in new ways, these are the games we'll start seeing more of. And this nowhere better found than lying in several of the closed rooms demoing VR titles. Scary games, small in scale but built both by indies and large publishers, are are the forefront of VR. Terrifying people is one of the easiest examples of how VR brings new games to life, without a lot of the movement and action that can make people feel ill.

These are just the nominees and the winner of Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award in the Survival Horror category, but more than that they're evidence that the genre is alive and well -- IT'S ALIVE:

Until Dawn - Nominee

How awesome is it that we have a tried and true slasher game to add to the Survival Horror category this year? For a gaming genre with a lot of history, we don't really get many of those. Or if we do, they're more like action or platforming games. This time though, Until Dawn is 100% Survival Horror. Think of it as Cabin in the Woods meets Quantic Dream's love of quick-time events and difficult choices. 

Until Dawn is, as much as we can tell so far, completely a slasher flick/game. Players take control of several typical college-aged characters who unfortunately find themselves in the position of being hunted by a maniac. Depending on the deliciously trope-y choices that the player makes (run up those stairs or run through the woods), each and every character faces slaughter. A branching story tree of who survives and who doesn't is a huge part of Until Dawn. Multiple playthroughs may be required to get the full story. Or you can walk away after five minutes after figuring out that the "full story" is basically just you being scared over and over again for the rest of the game.

Corpse Party: Blood Drive - Nominee

I have so much respect for XSEED translating these niche Japanese titles that, unfortunately, will never see a particularly wide audience in the western world. That doesn't change the fact that there's a lot of really interesting and exciting things about these small games they bring over. Take for instance Corpse Party: Blood Drive. It's the third chapter in a trilogy of horror games related to a very, very evil school. The gameplay is quite tense and the atmosphere is haunting to a degree, but as only Japanese games tend to do anymore, it tells this huge story that just messes with your brain through every chapter.

Corpse Party: Blood Drive unfortunately isn't a great E3 show floor game, since it's so story heavy and atmosphere reliant. Not to mention it's for the PS Vita, blagh. Nevertheless, on an E3 show floor where survival horror games are almost always tucked away in some corner, it's great to see XSEED continuing to localize these great, terrifying Japanese games. Plus, this is a great reminder that there are two other prequel Corpse Party games for those who don't want to wait.

Enki - Nominee

Here's a horror game that we unfortunately don't know much about, but would very much like to. Mystery is one of the grandest parts of the Survival Horror genre, after all. Enki is developed by a small studio named Storm in a Teacup, one should keep their expectations in check. Their only other title is a game named Nero, which unfortunately had mixed responses ranging from extremely positive to extremely... not. Enki is showing as much promise as Nero did at first. Hopefully the team's able to pull together an experience that's more resoundingly positive.

Enki is about escaping a serial killer who has somehow caught you and has you locked in a very mysterious place. The game features a "randomization system" to ensure each playthrough is different, and should players succeed at the game they'll discover multiple endings. Most of the time, however, they'll just meet terrible, terrible ends. The trailer insinuates lost of mystery items to look over, as well as complicated  puzzles that remind me a bit of Myst. Enki is certainly a mystery, but one that I look forward to diving further into in the future.

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water - Nominee

It has taken a year extra, but it looks like Nintendo will finally be getting the latest Fatal Frame title localized and published in North America and Europe. This series is known for defeating spirits and unlocking the story by taking haunting photographs, a great reverse on the horror trope of running and instead forcing the player to look at their fears. The game is a Wii U exclusive and tells the tale of a spiritual medium who takes up a job to find someone's lost friend. Of course it turns out the friend is lost in a forest where people commit suicide.

Fatal Frame's weird sort of action gameplay requiring the player to wait for ghosts to get right up in their face before comboing a few pictures together in order to defeat them is really classic. Unfortunately, as Nintendo's is won't to do, there's a lot of forced GamePad gameplay involving looking at the mini-screen and moving the controller to aim your camera too. It's distracting, absolutely, but a worthy price to pay to experience the terror of Fatal Frame. The mystery won't solve itself!

SOMA - Winner

Here's the trick. Play Amnesia: Dark Descent and then think how you would feel if you found out the developer, Frictional Games, were getting closer to finishing their next horror game. That feeling alone is enough to make SOMA the winner of this category. But, and I say this with mixed emotions, there's so much more than that at E3 this year. Frictional ran a great campaign leading up to E3, showing off in-game trailers for the terrifying SOMA and leading up to a couple of new trailers at the event itself. I almost want to tell them to stop, I've seen enough already with the game launching so soon. The real reason is... I'm scared. I'm a big baby. Stop scaring me, please.

What SOMA has revealed is an underwater station, someplace where something has clearly gone very wrong. Several live-action trailer have teased a team studying parts of what have gone wrong -- robots and machines seemingly having taken the minds of dead humans. The gameplay shown at E3 and such continue to push this idea of machines robbing dead humans of their minds, but also... more. Now they're teasing someone, something, aware that they've died and happy that they live again as something different.

None of this explains the monsters that have been shown, hunting the player upon discovery, or what the purpose of this underwater installation is in the first place. None of the almost alien technology that has been shown has been explained either. Odds are the mystery goes very deep, to places maybe some people aren't prepared to explore. Amnesia definitely went to those places, and I certainly expect SOMA to go to them too. E3 only confirmed that. How terrifying.


Congratulations to all of our nominees and to SOMA for winning Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award in the Survival Horror category. Make sure to check out all of our Best of E3 Awards as they're posted. 



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Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 Awards: Sports

5 comments Rory Young - 12:26am (PST) Like Share

As if the Neoseeker community would accept anything other than football

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You'll have to forgive me, because I'm not the best person to be writing about Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award for the Sports category. I'm not a particularly avid sports game player, although I am an avid sports watcher. I am also absolutely aware that Neoseeker is home to several very large and very active forums dedicated to sports games, from PES Collection for mobile devices to basically every other football game out there -- and I'm not talking about Madden, hand-egg fans. My respect for these games and for our communities outweighs my fear of sounding completely ridiculous making points on their strengths and weaknesses. It is inevitable.

That said, it's important to recognize that most of these sports titles are annual releases, and those that aren't might as well be. The changes from year to year aren't as big and eye catching as events like E3 are designed to advertise. Thus, a lot of the time we end up getting marketing overdose on relatively small features that'd otherwise not be a big deal to many sports gamers. Or features that resound with non-sports game players specifically. Forgive me for focusing one or the other, as I'm not necessarily the right person to notice the difference, but I'm confident overall in the choices we've made.

Here are the nominees and winner for the Neoseeker Best of E3 2015 award in the Sports category:

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash - Nominee

It wouldn't be a Sport category without at least one Mario and friends title, right? Just be happy we didn't end up going with Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. I'm kidding, of course. Mario Tennis on the Nintendo 64 is still, in my honest opinion, the best Mario sports title to ever have been released. That title had sharp gameplay, solid Nintendo 64 visuals, and was on the forefront of local multiplayer. It was a perfect pairing for GoldenEye parties to take the edge off.

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash looks better than ever, like a Mario Kart 8 step up in visual quality over its predecessor. Though to be fair, its predecessors have all been handheld titles unless you go all the way back to the GameCube. At the same time, what was shown and playable at E3 was not necessarily the top of Nintendo's potential. Animations cut in and out to deal with the fast-paced action. I especially didn't like the way characters slid around on the baseline preparing to serve, though they basically slide everywhere -- really jagged animations and animation transitions. Nevertheless, it's still Mario Tennis and it is visually updated for HD on the Wii U. That's all any fan really wants to see these days.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 - Nominee

No, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 does not look like a particularly great game, unfortunately. But dear god does it look like a classic Tony Hawk game. I mean, they've got Tony Hawk coming out to E3 to talk about the silly thing, chatting with Geoff Keighley about how rad it is that a boarder's skateboard can light on fire or pick up and electric charge if he jumps certain environmental hazards. He's talking about music tracks he wanted to add to the old soundtracks but couldn't, which he plans to change with Tony Hawk 5. He's talking about how punk rock the game is. It's just -- man. Dude. This is really happening. Tony Hawk Pro Skater is back, so let's celebrate it.

This is Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5's moment. Just don't necessarily expect a great game out it.

PES 2016 - Nominee

PES, to me, has always been the older brother to FIFA. And yeah, I know FIFA technically started before PES. Still, PES has always been the mature sibling. It takes itself a little more seriously. It takes interest in the details, perhaps a little too much interest. And it looks sharper around the edge, but it doesn't go out of its way to show how much effort it takes to be what it is. Just look at the big PES 2016 announcement that came out recently. There was no big flashy trailer, no huge headlines with exclamation points. There was a huge list of adjustments and changes though. The things that PES players want to know so they can start planning out their season.

That's why PES continues to be a competitor for top sports game every year. The transition to the new platforms and the new engine, oh that Fox Engine, haven't been the smoothest of occasions, but PES will keep on trucking. It'll keep on focusing on the details and when PES 2016 launches it may very well be the best sports game of the year. Or maybe it'll take a bit longer and 2017 will take the cake. One thing it won't do is stop being exactly what it already is -- the best 3D football simulation on the market.

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour - Nominee

What I wouldn't do to have another great golf game to play in this day and age. The PGA Tour series took a break in 2014 after the Tiger Woods run of the series, well, ended. Abruptly. But even then it was not the experience that it used to be. The year off and the jump to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have given the team at Electronic Arts a new opportunity. An opportunity to revisit their roots, to simply the game they've been rather mindlessly iterating on for some time, to go back and focus on fundamentals. Perfect the fundamentals and then go out onto the grass and make it look good and you're playing golf again, baby.

There wasn't too much particularly exciting content from Rory McIlroy PGA Tour shown during E3 unfortunately, as it took a backseat to EA's other franchises like Madden and FIFA. Was they did show was certainly titillating. The greens are glistening, for sure. It reminds me of showing up to the local course in the morning and smelling the cut grass. Add in those fantastic less realistic courses and I think Rory and I will be getting along just fine. Rory and Rory. COLLUSION.

FIFA 16 - Winner

Yes, FIFA is our winner for best Sports game in our Best of E3 2015 awards. Despite the controversy behind the FIFA organization, Electronic Arts has focused on meaningful improvements to their football game and we're in agreement that it has made their best title yet. The best sports title at the show. In terms of simulation, I don't think FIFA leads. But in terms of cinematic football action, recreating those exciting moments on the pitch that so many football fans live for week to week, there's really nothing as good as FIFA. Their improvements to defense, dribbling and team-wide passive field movement are apparent. Things just work, they just flow, and it makes for a great sports game.

And look, maybe in the big scheme of things this isn't a huge change, and Electronic Arts still has a long ways to go to fully implement it fully into their game, but adding women's team into the game all is important. Especially in the United States where our pride for our national women's team is larger even than the base for league.

Bringing Pele on-stage at E3 is all well and good, the man is a living legend, but it's all just stage theatrics and I think even the E3 crowd doesn't go for that the way it used to. But FIFA 16 stood up behind Pele proudly, which is no small feat.


Congratulations to all of our nominees and to FIFA 16 for winning Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award in the Sports category. Make sure to check out all of our Best of E3 Awards as they're posted. 



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Friday, Jun 19



Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 Awards: Platformer

10 comments Rory Young - 10:15pm (PST) Like (1) Share

Nominated in just a hop, skip and the collection of a puzzle piece

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Platformers are one of the simplest and oldest genres in gaming, yet these days they come in so many different shapes and forms that almost any game can be described as a platformer of sorts. What I love about platformers though isn't the mechanic of moving or leaping from one location to another, but the idea of progress. Platformers are about overcoming obstacles, sometimes small and sometimes large, but always put in front of the player not to inhibit but instead for them to overcome. 

Some of the games nominated for Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award in the Platformer category focus on platforming as a way to tell a story, one jump at a time. Others make the movement the focus of the game, slowly teaching, encouraging the player to take more risks, to be more confident in their actions. To others, the gameplay has progressed to a point where the platforming is just a piece of a very complicated puzzle. They might not even consider themselves platformers, but sometimes we can't help be what we are. Others are platformers who go back to the very beginning of the genre. Platforming is always one of my favorite genres, often for very simple, yet meaningful reasons.

Introducing the nominees and winner of Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award for the Platformer category:

Unravel - Nominee

Nobody would have thought that by the end of the EA press conference, the game everyone would be talking about would be this small indie project presented by a hipster of a man with a yarn-made doll. Yet Unravel was the talk of the town. No presenter that day was so honest and sincere in their presentation, so vulnerable in asking fans to give their game a shot. It impacted a lot of people in a meaningful way and hopefully these huge publishers will see how significant an event like that can be when Unravel sells extremely well because of it.

What is Unravel, though? It's a simple game about a traveling toy named Yarny. Wherever Yarny goes he leaves a string of Yarn behind him, but he also uses his Yarn to tie off on certain things which allow him to progress through the level. The story behind Yarny is that he's slowly connecting the memories of a family with the thread he leaves behind. But even Yarny only has so much yarn that makes him up.

Yoshi's Woolly World - Nominee

We're all familiar with Nintendo's ways anymore. Nintendo loves to put a small twist on some their most nostalgic games and make subtly different follow-ups to them. Yoshi's Woolly World is exactly this, a mix of Kirby's Epic Yarn and Yoshi's Island. On one side we get the adorable, hand-crafted world made of yarn and several clever features that come along with that, and on the other side we have Yoshi as a playable character with his tally, goofy jumps, egg-swallowing abilities and then egg-tossing too. And yeah, it all comes together very nicely.

To be fair, Yoshi's Woolly World is quite a bit more challenging than Kirby's Epic Yarn ever tried to be. Yoshi's egg tossing has always been a tougher skill to master. But the levels are designed with that same mentality that all Nintendo games these years are built on, which is that everyone should be able to play and complete the game no matter their experience level. This has its pros can cons, but it's best to take Yoshi's Woolly World for what it is -- an adorable world with simply, fun mechanics and delightful level design that's fun for all players young or old.

Tearaway Unfolded - Nominee

Okay, so Tearaway was originally a PS Vita game and it's only now being brought to the PlayStation 4, but the reasons for that are simple: first, it's an amazing game that deserves to be played by more people and second, it'll be better than ever on PlayStation 4. Even the fancy features where you put your finger on the Vita's back touchpad and it broke into the Tearaway world can be easily brought over with the PlayStation 4's controller. 

But the simple truth is that Tearaway is just a better game overall on PlayStation 4. Now that it's free of the smaller screen and not limited to the uncomfortable controls of the vita, it's able to realize its full potential. This huge, paper-made world full of color and character has truly been, well, unfolded. Welcome home, Tearaway Unfolded. PlayStation 4 gamers can't wait to meet Atoi and Iota.

Super Mario Maker - Nominee

I've called it the definitive Wii U game and I meant it then as I mean it now. There is no game that better represents the ideals that are inherently tied to the Wii U's design, creation and post-launch support -- respectful nostalgia, simple hardware with a unique twist to set the platform apart (GamePad), and a focus on fun without getting too complicated. This is basically exactly how I'd describe Super Mario Maker, which capitalizes on decades of 2D Mario Bros. nostalgia, a unique but straight forward concept involving building your own levels (with the GamePad), and a focus on playing lots of cool levels without worrying about things getting too complicated. Nothing more, nothing less.

Somehow Nintendo didn't do a particularly well job of showing off Super Mario Maker during their Nintendo Direct fir E3. Luckily, the Nintendo Championships before E3 did it in a way that the Nintendo Direct never could. Several Nintendo Treehouse employees designed levels for the competitors to play through -- whoever did it fastest won. It was hugely fun and exciting and the audience was on the edge of their seats to see who'd figure out each map. It's not quite as dramatic when you're playing yourself, but I'd imagine being able to complete difficult maps will be very rewarding even without an audience. It's still just 2D Mario Bros. though. Let's not get too excited.

Cuphead - Winner

Have you seen this game? Have you see this 1930's style, hand drawn and hand inked painfully animated game? Playing Cuphead is a lucid dream, a trip back to a year where cartoons were less politically correct (are they pouring booze into their cups!?) and bordering on terrifying in their creativity and detail. The closest comparison that comes to mind are Disney's original Mickey Mouse cartoons, or even Snow White and the Seven Dwarves -- now in Technicolor! It's just amazing what the team at Studio MDHR have been able to do with their art and animation. The action-platformer part of it almost doesn't even matter. It really is that amazing.

Luckily, however, Cuphead has amazing action-platforming. The boss fights shown in at E3, including one against two boxing frogs who turn into a slot machine and a big Bluto-looking man on a boat who'll fight you with fish and barrels, are both highly challenging and incredibly fun. They layer on new mechanics as the fight progresses, adding difficult new jumps, tricks and bullet fire. To be honest, I'm sure the developers would prefer not to be considered a platformer, as they love how action-packed their game is first and foremost, but Cuphead is the star that it is because of its movements. Its running, leaps and hops, in all that glorious animated detail, will make Cuphead at worst a cult classic and at best a platformer for the ages.


Congratulations to all of our nominees and to Cuphead for winning Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award in the Platformer category. Make sure to check out all of our Best of E3 Awards as they're posted. 



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Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 Awards: Multiplayer

4 comments Rory Young - 7:01pm (PST) Like Share

The official, "Best wait until after launch to check this game out," category

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In the age of free-to-play and microtransactions, E3 award categories for multiplayer are precarious and fraught with traps. It's a growing trend for these types of games to be designed to capture a gamer's attention in a quick amount of time, but then manipulate them towards spending real money with volatile gameplay the more the player grows invested in the game. This "first date" kind of goal is exactly the same as E3 caters to press. Just take for example last year's Evolve.

This is Neoseeker's award for Best of E3 2015 in the Multiplayer category. It's important to note that our impressions of these multiplayer games is short and we come out just as uninformed about the project the same way a consumer does. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be excited about the games we see when they're incredible, even if it's only for 15 minutes. No doubt, any pricing or accessibility details we hear are factored into our impressions. Anything we're still not sure about will be noted. Otherwise, take our nominations and award in this category for what they are -- us rewarding these games for our brief initial impressions. And that is such a worthy thing for multiplayer games to be rewarded for.

These are Neoseeker's Best of 2015 award nominees and winner for the Multiplayer category:

Star Wars: Battlefront - Nominee

Star Wars: Battlefront has already won our Best of E3 2015 award in the Shooter category, but unfortunately in the multiplayer category it falls just short. That may be confusing at first, considering Star Wars: Battlefront is whole a multiplayer title. Don't get us wrong, Star Wars: Battlefront looks incredible from a purely multiplayer standpoint. Up to 40 people will be able to play on certain maps, driving Walkers and TIE fighters, playing as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. It's going to be absolute mayhem. Star Wars mayhem, the best kind of mayhem.

Yet when we think about the studio behind Star Wars: Battlefront and their history, we falter just a step. Battlefield has been growing more visually impressive and more complicated in gameplay, but seems to only be having more and more serious problems things like server maintenance or other things like splitting their community with DLC. Our initial impressions of Star Wars: Battlefront are very good indeed, but until those servers are up and stable and everyone can tell whether they'll be playing months down the road because of pricey map packs we have to stay at least somewhat reserved. From a purely multiplayer perspective, Battlefront has some worries.

Halo 5: Guardians - Nominee

All Halo has to do to get on a multiplayer awards list is show up and say, "We've got multiplayer." That's how important Halo has been to most of us through the years. I remember wiring up a local network with wires across the hall in my college dorms, moving up to GameSpy connections and finally growing into the Xbox Live matchmaking systems we continue to use these days. Halo is, and continues to bring, the best of FPS multiplayer on consoles. Sure, they've take a step back in some ways in recent years, but we'll still be cheering 343 on as long as they're trying.

This year 343 surprised us, though. Instead of just Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer with some funny marketing like "improved matchmaking" or the like, they step up and announce Warzones. Sure, to some degree it's a multiplayer mode inspired by Titanfall, but that's a good thing in my book. Titanfall is awesome. But more than that it's inspiring to see 343 trying something new, rather than just treading water. It falls short of winning the award as we still need to see how it works with matchmaking and Microsoft's servers (odd trend this year), but needless to say we're excited and hopeful).

Sea of Thieves - Nominee

Let me get this straight -- Rare, makers of Banjo Kazooie, Battletoads and, gulp, Kinect Sports Rivals, is making an online multiplayer pirate adventure game? Boom. If they'd have announced a few more details on the game and shown some live gameplay, this game would be our multiplayer winner and would put up a fight for game of the show. Sadly, they didn't. We've only got one all-too-short trailer to go off of, but we're such fans of Rare that we're happy to nominate Sea of Thieves just for this.

Sea of Thieves shows a band of pirates, what looks to be groups of four or five, doing what pirates do. They find treasure, they fight skeletons, they sail the seven seas and they fire canonballs at other ships to fight with other pirates. I want to be one of these pirates. As straight forward and exciting as it sounds we have so, so many questions. Is this a free-to-play (ugh) or pay-to-play game? Is it an MMO or limited to 4-to-5 player party matchmaking? Can I give my pirate a peg leg and an eye patch? This is important. I highly suspect that yes, this is free-to-play and only for small parties -- not massive. Microsoft's trending towards these types of experience for Xbox/Windows 10. I hope I'm wrong, though.

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns - Nominee

Guild Wars 2, the buy-to-play and subscriptionless MMO, is getting its first full expansion after three years. ArenaNet's been delivery awesome amounts of free content up to this point, but fans have been begging for something bigger and so it has been delivered. At E3 ArenaNet showed off their upcoming Guild Hall feature, though feature doesn't really capture how expansive it is. These things are huge and filled with content designed no only to be initially fun for players, but to keep being fun for the next three years and on. 

I'm talkijng about an Arena for intra-and-inter-Guild brawls, War Room WvW boons, Guild Portals to Guild Mission locations, tons of decorations, a workshop for crafting items guild members can use, and of course upgrades and unlockables as well. And this is just one part of Guild Wars 2'sexpansion, Heart of Thorns. In an event near devoid of MMO content, Heart of Thorns reminded us that massively played online games are incomparable to smaller multiplayer titles.

For Honor - Winner

Trust me, this is as much of a surprise to us as it is to you. Who would have expected Ubisoft of all publishers to come out with this bad-ass multiplayer sword combat game? For Honor will put players in the role of a warrior fighting for one of three factions, with each featuring what seems to be multiple different classes. A battle takes places featuring only a handful of opposing players and dozens of AI controlled soldiers on each side. It's up to the players to help shift the tide of battle by defeating both opposing AI and players.

What's really exciting though is the player on player action. Combat in For Honor is focused heavily on stances, blocking and countering. Having the right stance to block an attack, followed by an attack of your own is the only way to succeed. Well, not the only way. You can always stab a guy in the back when he's facing off with someone else. But most of the time fights will turn into these really contemplative stand-offs with really rewarding finishers. And of course each fight ends up serving the greater battle as well as you push back enemy AI forces.

The more I think about it, the more it seems like Ubisoft really thinks this new combat systems is super cool, but perhaps too complicated for something like Assassin's Creed. They first try it out in this great concept game For Honor and if it's popular and fun, maybe it moves over to the bigger franchise? To heck with Assassin's Creed though, because For Honor itself looks great, and best yet Ubisoft wasn't afraid to show it off at E3. Oh, and it's not free-to-play. Oh, and it'll have its own single-player campaign too. Ahh, what a refreshing action-based multiplayer game.


Congratulations to all of our nominees and to For Honor for winning Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award in the Multiplayer category. Make sure to check out all of our Best of E3 Awards as they're posted.



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Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 Awards: RPG

18 comments Rory Young - 4:10pm (PST) Like (1) Share

An RPG's greatest challenge -- how to show lots of your game at E3

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RPGs continue to grow in to the most contentious of categories in any award process, including Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 awards. We've got our JRPGs, our Kickstarter RPGs, our eastern European RPGs, our mobile and handheld RPGs, our open world RPGs and also Dark Souls. All we need are more 2D classic RPGs and I think I'd be 100% content with the state of the RPG genre. But then again maybe that's what Square Enix's Project Setsuna thing is, so I guess we're getting close to a perfect world. Perfect or not, RPG fans have a lot to look forward to over the next year or two.

What's really complicated about this category, however, is that RPGs are super challenging to show off at E3. These aren't games that pay off in the immediate sense. Their value is found in personal investment. Players grow to care about characters, they invest time in progress, and so 20 hours in an RPG we can't imagine stepping away without progressing to some sort of conclusion. A lot of publishers just end up putting out sexy cinematic trailers, which are great in and of themselves. But you can hardly evaluate an RPG based on a cinematic. That's why it was so awesome that so many publishers gave in-depth looks at their games this year. It's no surprise to us then that the top RPGs at E3 this year tended to be the ones that we got to see the most of.

Here are our nominees and winner for the RPG category in Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 awards:

Xenoblade Chronicles X - Nominee

It feels like we've been waiting for years for Xenoblade Chronicles X, because we have. The huge RPG from Monolith landed in Japan in later April, but won't be dropping anywhere else until December later this year. It's not easy to localize such a huge game! Nevertheless, Nintendo probably should have aimed for a worldwide launch with this one. For so long it felt like the Wii U's north star, the bright light waiting for us just a bit farther way. Now it feels like a bit of the wind has left the game's sails. 

Don't let that fool you though, because Xenoblade Chronicles still looks like a great game. There's a huge world to explore, a well, pretty standard JRPG story the burn through and lots of multiplayer gameplay  to experience as well. And at this point, besides Super Mario Maker, it looks like this will be the big holiday release for the Wii U. And barring Zelda, perhaps the last.

Dark Souls III - Nominee

It's really happening! Dark Souls III has been officially confirmed and while a demo of the title was only shown behind closed doors, it should be pretty believable when I say that it's looking as good if not better than its predecessors. The title will retail its low fantasy style and trademarked lumbering gameplay, letting Bloodboorne's faster action stay with that franchise. In fact, these are two different teams making the games now. But that's a good thing. That's exciting. It means the Dark Souls team is focused on how to make itself better and now how to swipe the successes of its sister-game.

All that anyone needs to do is see the reveal trailer, featuring huge dragons, swords large enough to kill huge dragons, crumbling ruins of long forgotten kingdoms, some ugly as sin monsters and the constant dichotomy of light and darkness. This isn't just the next Souls game after Bloodborne, this is the next Dark Souls and it is incredible.

Yo-Kai Watch - Nominee

There are three Yo-Kai Watch games planned for release later this year. Three. That group includes Yo-Kai Watch 3, the third title in the main series, but the rest of the world will only be receiving the first Yo-Kai Watch later this year. This franchise is huge in Japan, an even more popular series than Level-5's other that gets so little western attention Inazuma Eleven. And it's popular because it's great. It's a spin off of Pokemon-style RPGs where the player collects the Yo-Kai, spooky creatures inspired by ghosts and spirits but completely different, and do battle with them. That's all that really needs to be said, yeah?

And if Nintendo would have published it back in 2013 with a huge marketing campaign it would probably be as big as it is in Japan only over here. Odds are, just like Inazuma Eleven, that probably won't end up being the case. But mark my words, if you have a 3DS and don't pick up Yo-Kai Watch later this year you'll regret it. Nintendo as expected didn't make the game look particularly exciting at E3, but there was no hiding how much potential this awesome RPG has.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided - Nominee

Oh, man. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is so deserving of this award. Just yesterday the developer dropped a 25-minute gameplay demo showing off some of the beginning action in the RPG and it looks incredible. Jensen is back to his sneaking-until-I'm-fighting gameplay, but he has so many fun new tools at his grasp. An electrical shock can be shot from his arm, a blade can come out of his other arm, and let's just say he is as about as close to a Transformer as humans in gritty western RPGs get.

Eidos Montreal look like they've got an outstanding game in the works with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Their story of a world pushing back against human augmentation, often in terrible ways, and augmented people "fighting back" is all sorts of interesting. It does look rather similar to the original Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but that's hardly a terrible thing. Ahh, is there a second award for RPG I can give Deus Ex?

Fallout 4 - Winner

This is why you can't have your award, Deus Ex. Bethesda had to go and announce Fallout 4 at this year's E3. Now, I'm personally not a huge Fallout fan. Fallout 3's story didn't capture me and the bleak wasteland didn't drive me to explore in the way it captured many players. Fallout 4 though looks like such a huge step forward for the franchise. The robust salvaging and crafting system, the customization system implemented for weaponry, the settlement building features  and more are all ways to bring the player closer to the experience of Fallout. And that's all before you get to a huge story that players still have the opportunity of completely ignoring if they so choose.

Bethesda gave a huge amount of time to the game's stage demo and everything they showed was rad. The initial game announcement trailer that had a lot of folk wondering if the game looked bad? I'm not sure what Bethesda did to that trailer to trick people, but live and in motion it Fallout 4  was glorious. The only bad thing about Fallout 4 to say as we walk away from E3 2015 is that its launch is still months away. I need it now. Now!

Honorable Mentions: Genei Ibun Roku #FE, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Star Ocean: Integrity & Faithlessness


Once again, congratulations to all of our nominees and to Fallout 4 for winning Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award in the RPG category. Make sure to check out all of our Best of E3 Awards as they're posted.



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Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 Awards: Racing

4 comments Rory Young - 2:58pm (PST) Like Share

This year's winner? Engines with realistic rain technology

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Our next category for Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 awards is one that's always been split between two poles -- Racing. One side of racing is constantly trying to outdo itself in terms of simulation, realism and visual fidelity. The other loves to play with and distort the ideals of the other side, raising fun above all else. This often comes at the sacrifice of authenticity, occasionally visual fidelity, and almost always the rules of gravity. 2015 is no different in this regard and our nominations will reflect that, but E3 is also largely about being made excited for a game and that ultimately made all of the difference in our decision of what game won.

While the line-up of racing games this year was at least somewhat diverse, it wasn't particularly large. Even considering expansions like for Ubisoft's The Crew we had to struggle to get a full group of games worthy of being nominated. It seems like racing game developers who don't make titled like Gran Turismo and Mario Kart aren't into the genre anymore. Nevertheless, I'm very happy with the list we were able to put together and I'm positive each of the racing titles will be solid experiences when they're each launched. 

Here are our nominees and winner for the Racing category in Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 awards:

Need for Speed - Nominee

Need for Speed's E3 press conference trailer started with a weird bit of live-action stuff fully intended to show how close the game has gotten to making its cars seem indistinguishable from the real thing. And man, they're getting pretty close. Their awesome UI for switching out car parts was extremely impressive, smooth as butter and as extensive as any car nut would want. The driving itself, a mix of street racing and police avoidance once more, looks like plenty of fun. When the player finished their race and a Twitter message from a fan popped up cheering you on, everyone cringed a little bit, but so long as the core experience is solid I don't think anyone will mind.

Need for Speed and Forza Motorsport 6 are certain to be 2015's best looking racing games, so thank goodness their release dates are a few months apart. Will they pull in any new gamers to racing? Probably not, but there's an audience there that already loves this stuff. That's probably why they're not really striving for any sort of diverse gameplay experiences, I suppose.

Trials Fusion: Awesome Level MAX - Nominee

How's this? Ubisoft didn't actually show any gameplay of Trials Fusion: Awesome Level MAX, but the lone trailer they did show off was enough to make us whimper with excitement. Trials Fusion, the latest title in a series of motorcycle racing games, is getting an expansion that lets players be a cat riding a unicorn. The cat also has a bandana and a gun. The unicorn also breathes fire. And the entire time this trailer is playing out all I can think is, "Yeah, this is what Trials was meant for." It's nothing more than a 30-track piece of DLC, but it's everything I love about Trials Fusion taken to the extreme and that's really all I want.

Fast Racing Neo - Nominee

If Nintendo can't make the next F-Zero on Wii U, why not find someone else to do it for you? Enter Shinen Games and their adrenaline-fueled sci-fi racer Fast Racing Neo. With he strips of energy players have to drive over to refill their boost meter, the odd shaped little pod racer cars the racers drive, the giant 3D tunnels players can drive all around, and even teh spinning melee attack players use to knock players off their path, Fast Racing Neo is as F-Zero as one can get without official branding. It's awesome to see a third-party who loves that kind of racing try to put their own spin on it.

But Fast Racing Neo earned this nomination on its own and not because it's derivative. The game is fast, sharp looking, brutally challenging and entirely different than any other racing games at the show. Expect it to put some smiles on people's faces when it launches on Wii U later this year.

Forza Motorsport 6 - Nominee

Microsoft lowered a Ford GT from the ceiling of their E3 2015 press event to show off a new licensing agreement in Forza Motorsport 6. They've clearly got the money to make the most realistic driving simulator money can buy these days -- and it shows. Forza Motorsport 6 is visually sharp, with tight controls and plenty of weather effects and so on to make the world better realized than Forza's ever done before. Add in 24-car multiplayer all running at 1080p and 60fps and it's understandable why Forza's turned into an annual brand in the racing genre.

That said, Forza's an annual brand in the racing genre and while it's clear Microsoft's team is making steps forward, it's just not as exciting to see anymore when other developers are doing similar things. Especially when they give a big portion of their presentation to lowering and rising a Ford GT in the middle of a stadium.

Trackmania Turbo - Winner 

Trackmania Turbo won this category mostly for one reason alone, and that's that its announcement and gameplay demos made us excited to play a racing game. When the developers were able to walk out on stage and show off a random track being created before our very eyes, a track that even caused the developer to wreck and smile, it made me extremely happy. I crave these sorts of unexpected experiences, even from racing games. Trackmania Turbo knows that's what a lot of racing fans wants and strives to create them. From the new two-player co-op driving mode, or their plans to add virtual reality support for the game, developer Nadeo's made a game that doesn't make me stress out.

200 campaign tracks, a new art direction implemented using the hardware of the new consoles, extensive customization tools and Trackbuilder's infinite random courses -- Trackmania Turbo just sounds like a ton of fun. Sure, the rain probably doesn't look like real rain and there probably isn't even any rain in the first place. But who cares? I've seen rain and sure, rain is great, but I've never seen a racecar get dropped from a blimp, do twenty flips and then win the race because the opponent accidentally crashed into a helicopter. Well, I don'tt know, maybe I have -- video games are weird. I didn't see it anywhere else at E3 though, that's for sure!


Once again, congratulations to all of our nominees and to Trackmania Turbo for winning Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 award in the Racing category. Make sure to check out all of our Best of E3 Awards as they're posted.

Neoseeker's Best of E3 2015 Awards



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