With as many disappointments to go with the awesome announcements, E3 2019 wasn’t lacking in sheer excitement. It did lack Sony, for example, but on the upside, it had one of the all-time greatest moments of E3 history with Keanu Reeves and the instant classic “you’re breathtaking” moment during the presentation of Cyberpunk 2077.
Among some of the big games that everyone was expecting, there were a couple of low-profile names that I’m personally betting will become worldwide hits.
Playdead’s (Limbo, Inside) Third Game
Playdead is the kind of studio that strikes gold in every project. Limbo was a brilliant experience that focused on style over substance but didn’t neglect any part of what makes an outstanding and foreboding game. The studio’s sophomore effort Inside improved on everything that Limbo started, from mood to story or puzzle design. Two games, two colossal hits.
I have no doubt that Playdead’s third game will follow suit. While still shrouded in mystery, this game is clearly going for a sci-fi setting, but once again focusing on a solitary experience with a muted color palette art style. Apparently, you control an astronaut, but the game will be bigger than the previous titles and will be the first to break out of the 2D limitations. It will be played in a third-person perspective because PlayDead seems to be “tired of the limitations in 2D games.” Could we be in for a “Journey” of intergalactic proportions?
In the Valley of Gods
Firewatch was a breakthrough hit for Campo Santo. The unlikely fire lookout simulator was a massive success, with amazing storytelling devices. Despite the controversy with the DMCA takedown against PewDiePie and subsequent review bombing, Firewatch remains a brilliant showcase for the new studio.
Campo Santo’s next game is In the Valley of Gods, another story-based adventure, this time set in the Egyptian desert. It has all the makings of a thrilling ride, one that shouldn’t be hindered by budget or time constraints due to the recent acquisition by Valve. It feels like one of those exciting movies that you play, with a companion by your side and – hopefully – the kind of skillful dialogue writing that was praised in Firewatch.
The Last of Us 2
The sequel to one of the greatest achievements in video game history is coming. Sure, we still don’t know the release date for The Last of Us 2 and its absence from E3 2019 didn’t help. But Naughty Dog can’t do no wrong and controlling a grown-up, anger-fueled Ellie is bound to get players excited.
Maybe The Last of Us 2 is coming out in February 2020, as Ellie’s actress Ashley Johnson almost let slip. No matter what, it will be worth the wait.
Death Stranding wasn’t at E3 2019, but Kojima’s new game did go big in the days leading up to the show. A huge new trailer showing several minutes of gameplay and cinematics – with more stars such as Nicolas Winding Refn or Léa Seydoux – paved the way for the reveal of the release date: November 8, 2019.
Here is a game embodying the best of Hideo Kojima: a cryptic narrative, an overarching cast of characters and some truly impressive cinematics. Death Stranding is already a hit, if only for its thumb-sucking throat baby.
While Bethesda could live off of The Elder Scrolls for all eternity, having a plan B isn’t a bad idea – after all, Fallout 76 did enough damage to another successful franchise. Starfield could be that game, a massive RPG of epic proportions and probably unmeasured bugs.
There has been much talk about Starfield, often comparing it to a mishmash of Mass Effect and Fallout. But knowing that Bethesda is working on this game for over a decade, it was disappointing not to see it at E3 2019.