11 Big Games We’ve Played That You Need to Know About

Call of Duty is back on track, Mario is looking better than ever, Far Cry plays great and is drumming up some new controversy, even Sonic is set to make a comeback. There’s a ton of great games coming out in the latter half of 2017 and beyond, so here’s 11 that we got to play at E3 2017 and think you should definitely keep an eye out for.


Call of Duty: WWII

Sledgehammer Games
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
November 3, 2017

Call of Duty was never in too much trouble sales-wise, but the writing was on the wall that fans wanted a change. Since it was announced earlier this year, Call of Duty: WWII has been garnering nothing but praise from nearly everyone, and I’m happy to report that after getting my hands on it, those waiting patiently for its release won’t be let down.

I played the new War mode, which is very different to a mode of the same name from World at War. In WWII, War is a story-driven multiplayer mode that sees an attacking side moving the action from point to point up the map, while the defenders try to hold them off and run out the clock. I played a map called Operation Breakout, which was set in the French countryside and saw Allied troops trying to destroy an Axis owned AA gun.

Our first objective was to take over a mansion, which was being used as a forward operating base by the Axis troops. It took quite a bit of work, but by using smoke grenades and mounting some Lewis machine guns outside nearby in a destroyed home, we managed to complete the objective.

Next, we had to build a bridge to cross a river, which also meant we were separated from the enemy. Some of my teammates switched to sniper rifles to hold the enemy back, while a few other players and I switched to M1 Garands and Sten guns as we moved into position to start constructing the bridge. Building happened automatically, you just have to be in range.

In the end, we completed yet another objective and continued the push forward. Towards the end of the battle, we were tasked with guarding a friendly tank, which would only move if our troops were nearby. This was by far the hardest part of the battle, with half of us pushed up against the tank for cover and the rest using medium range weapons to provide support. We did eventually win, but with only seconds to spare.

It’s great to see this sort of objective-based action in Call of Duty: WWII, especially on a purpose built map. It’s a huge step in the right direction for the series, and it’s got me more excited for new Call of Duty game than I’ve been in a long time.


Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

MachineGames
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
October 27, 2017

I think a lot of gamers were surprised how great Wolfenstein: The New Order actually was. I mean it looked alright, but MachineGames were so clearly invested in it that they turned what was once a tired franchise into critical and commercial success. And then they did it again with The Old Blood! Now, in 2017, we’re all here hoping they can do it a third time with Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.

From the moment I started playing, I knew this wasn’t going to be like other game demos. For one thing, the hero of the story, B.J. Blazkowicz, was confined to a wheelchair after nearly dying at the end of The New Order. It was strange going from feeling like a one man army in previous games to being far more vulnerable now. Yet it was also great to see the developers continuing to take chances with the series, even when they don’t have to.

As the demo went on I continued to roll B.J. around in his chair, killing Nazis with my rifle as the recoil pushed me backward. Occasionally I’d fry them alive with microwave traps set up by an ally of mine, or watch them fly through the air when my grenades would explode near them. At the end of the demo, a short cutscene played, which showed SS Lieutenant Engel from The New Order was back and looking for revenge. I loved seeing some of the returning cast, even if it was clear their underground resistance was fighting a losing battle.

Like I said, it was an odd demo to lead with, but MachineGames know what they’re doing and what I saw whetted my appetite just enough that I know I want to see more. And thankfully the game is out in just a few months, so the wait won’t be that long.


South Park: The Fractured But Whole

Ubisoft
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
October 27, 2017

I haven’t been an avid watcher of South Park for years now, but I’ll admit to laughing out loud a lot while playing The Fractured But Whole. My time with the game was spent inside a strip club where I was trying to find a stripper named Classi.

In order to see her, I had to complete a few tasks first, one of which included grinding up against drunk businessmen while farting on them so they didn’t get turned on too much. I also had to make the Club DJ sick by mixing him a drink with various stuff I found in the bathroom. And I mean stuff that kids should not be picking up ever, even with gloves. So basically, normal everyday South Park stuff.

Like in the last game, The Stick of Truth, combat in The Fractured But Whole is turn-based but uses a grid system this time, which means positioning matters. One of the battles was with the aforementioned businessmen, who I had just farted all over, and if they lined up properly I could punch one of them and send him flying into the other. Make no mistake, The Fractured But Whole might have a ton of low brow jokes in it, but the game itself is not half-baked at all. It’s a serious turn-based RPG with a ton of gross humor and a dedicated fart button.


Far Cry 5

Ubisoft
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
February 27, 2018

Forget the tropical islands and scary jungles of the previous Far Cry games – Far Cry 5 takes place in the good old United States of America, in a little place called Hope County, Montana. You play as a sheriff’s deputy caught in the middle of bible-bashing cult’s attempt to take over the region and ‘save’ all the non-believers. And when I say save, I mean pretty much the exact opposite. Led by a charismatic preacher named Joseph Seed, the cult known as Eden’s Gate is more like a small militia, and it might be too much for just one person to take on. Which is why you’re going to need some help.

Far Cry 5 lets you enlist people and animals to help you in combat, so during my play session, I used a dog named Boomer who had the distinct advantage of being basically invisible to the cultists. See to them, Boomer looks like all the other dogs, which meant I could move him into any position then open fire and let him tear through enemies in his own time.

There’s a whole heap of tweaks coming to Far Cry 5, including the removal of the radio towers you had to climb in previous games to unlock more of the map, but overall it’s the Far Cry you know and love and I’m fine with that. I mean, the series has been pretty great so there’s no need for a major shakeup just yet. Plus, you can pay a bear or a cougar to come fight with you, so it’s likely going to be my game of the year.


Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Ubisoft
Nintendo Switch
August 29, 2017

One of the bigger surprises from E3 2017 was Ubisoft teaming up with Nintendo to make a turn-based strategy game starring Mario and the Rabbids. In hindsight, it makes a lot of sense as Ubisoft and Nintendo have had a good working relationship for years. Yet Nintendo letting someone else make a Mario game is a big deal. Thankfully, Ubisoft has hit it out of the park with Kingdom Battle which is like a cutesy version of XCOM starring Mario and some Rabbids dressed up as other characters from the Mushroom Kingdom.

The Rabbids are both your friends and your enemies in Kingdom Battle, and during my play session I teamed up with one Rabbid dressed as Luigi and another as Princess Peach. In battles, they could do tricks, like launch each other into their air to be kicked further down the field and into combat. Without getting bogged down in too much detail I will say that Kingdom Battle is a pretty serious strategy game mechanically, so I’m just hoping there’s an optional hard mode for those of us who want an extra challenge.

One aspect I really liked was the third parties you have to be wary of. In one area I played a Chain-Chomp was in the middle of the field and would attack the nearest character, no matter who they were if they were in range.

Overall, what I played impressed me, and it’s great to see Nintendo doing things a little different this generation. Here’s hoping for some more interesting collaborations down the line.


Super Mario Odyssey

Nintendo
Nintendo Switch
October 27, 2017

I don’t think I’ve been this excited for a Mario game since Super Mario Sunshine – and that’s probably the best game to compare Super Mario Odyssey with. One of Odyssey’s greatest strengths is how well it merges the realism of locations like New Donk City (a Nintendo-ish take on New York City) with the cartoon-like aesthetics of the Mario universe. At first, it was jarring, but now I have to say I love it for being kind of surreal.

The world’s most famous plumber also has a new friend in the form of Cappy the hat, who lets him take the form of a variety of enemies and objects. At one point I needed to clear a large gap, so I threw Cappy at a Bullet Bill and flew my way to safety. Another time I needed to get to the top of a building, so once again I used Cappy, this time on a power pole which turned Mario into a bolt of electricity capable of traveling down the power lines.

In my limited time with the game, I took over about a dozen different enemies, allies, objects, and Nintendo has already revealed there’ll be a lot more creatures and vehicles for players to control. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into another big 3D Mario game.


Dragon Ball FighterZ

Arc System Works
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
TBA

This game was nothing short of stunning. Seriously, there were times when I was playing Dragon Ball FighterZ that I figured I must be watching a cutscene, it looked that much like the animation. Even when I finally got a chance to play it, I have to say the illusion was not broken – this looks like the anime series in motion, especially during special attacks where all that crazy anime-ness takes over as dust and pulses of energy fly around the screen.

Developed by Arc System Works, the same team behind the Guilty Gear series, FighterZ is a 2D fighting game (with 3D character models) that feels geared towards hardcore fighting fans.  Some fighting game fans have lamented the watering down of their favorite genre of late, but from my time with FighterZ I can assure you it’s playable for newcomers, yet clearly designed for gamers willing to take the time to learn how to play it properly.


Sonic Mania

SEGA
Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
August 15, 2017

Sonic fans, this is our year! Sonic Mania is coming this August and was made for those of us still in love with classic 16-bit era Sonic games. Of course, Sonic Mania is more than just a collection of the levels from Sonic’s early years, it also throws a bunch of new ones into the mix that feels like they were cut straight out of the first three games.

My time with Mania was limited though, so I headed back to an area I knew well – Chemical Plant Zone from Sonic The Hedgehog 2. Act 1 of classic stages contain all the elements you’re used to, such as spring boards and good old fashioned loops. But things get really interesting in Act 2 where the level designers begin to throw curveballs at the player by adding new elements that would have totally worked even back in the 90s. For example, in Chemical Plant Zone players would spend quite a bit of time underwater, constantly worrying about drowning. In Sonic Mania’s Act 2 you’ll find giant syringes filled with a goo that changes the water into a thick, bouncy surface. Suddenly you’re flung high into the air and experiencing a classic stage in a totally new way.

Little changes to the formula like this keep the nostalgia fires burning, but also show that the team working on Mania really understand what made Sonic work back in the day. It’s not a rehash of old ideas, it’s a mix of the things that made Sonic great and fresh ideas that totally fit in with the classic games style. This is the Sonic game fans have been clamoring for. Welcome back, old friend.


Sonic Forces

SEGA
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
TBA 2017

I think most long-time Sonic fans would agree that Sonic Generations was the best Sonic game to come out in the past decade, so it’s heartening to see SEGA using it as a foundation for Sonic Forces. Just like Generations both Modern and Classic Sonic appears in Sonic Forces, with Modern Sonic blasting through the ultra-detailed 3D levels and Classic Sonic exploring more traditional side-scrolling stages.

Players can also create their own custom hero and have them be a part of the Sonic universe, complete with their own storyline, stages, and abilities. For my play session, I used a premade character, which looked kind of like a rabbit with glasses, that came equipped with a flamethrower-like weapon that could destroy enemies or be used to do a double or triple jump.

Now I know what you’re thinking – a flamethrower? But it kind of works in a weird way. There’ll be other load-outs for players to try when the game launches, but rest assured, Sonic Forces still feels like a Sonic The Hedgehog game – it’s just a new take on the old formula. And hey, if you want to go really old school, Sonic Mania is there for you. But I get the feeling Sonic fans are going to be pleasantly surprised by Sonic Forces, much like they were by Sonic Generations. Just wait until you get your hands on it and judge for yourself.


Strange Brigade

Rebellion
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
TBA

Here’s a game I knew nothing about going in and left feeling like it’s a must-buy. Strange Brigade is a four-player co-op shooter that draws influence from the 1930s adventure serials, complete with a terribly British narrator, over-explaining all the action. Players can choose from one of four characters and play single-player offline, or go online and team up with friends.

The best way to think of Strange Brigade is a new take on the Left 4 Dead formula. You’ll also be fighting waves of enemies, and occasionally using traps strewn about the level to help you manage the action when things get too crazy. At one point I was surrounded by undead creatures that were summoned from the ground by a pissed-off mummy. I ended up using their stupidity against them by luring them into the path of a giant spinning blade machine. Watching them get torn to shreds was so satisfying, I can’t even explain it.

The penalty for dying isn’t too severe right now, with players just losing some gold (used for upgrades) and having to wait a few seconds to respawn. But the developers did tell me they’re still tweaking a few aspects of the game like this, so there may be more consequences in the future. Regardless of what work is still to be done, Strange Brigade left a big impression on me. If Valve isn’t going to give us a new Left 4 Dead, it’s nice to see Rebellion stepping up to the plate.


Sea of Thieves

Rare
Xbox One, PC
TBA 2018

The open world pirate simulator Sea of Thieves has re-emerged after disappearing for a little while after last year’s E3. Giving players the chance to live the pirate life they’ve always wanted to, Sea of Thieves is actually a more demanding game than it’s cartoony exterior may have you believe.

I played with three other people and just to get our ship moving required one of the crew to raise the anchor, another to adjust the sails, one up top to steer, and one below deck looking over the map. There’s no hand-holding here either – no waypoint markers, fast travel, or minimaps. Do you want to get to that island? You’ll have to work out how to do it manually.

Eventually, my crew and I did make it to an island, and I was the one that found the treasure chest we were looking for. The treasure itself was cursed though, which meant it would cry now and then and its tears would begin to flood the ship if left unchecked. I took it upon myself to bail out the tears as needed while the rest of the crew loaded cannonballs into the cannons in preparation for a battle with a ship on the horizon.

The only real issue I had with Sea of Thieves was that I had only a limited time with the game. I wanted to do and see more. I wanted to ram our pirate ship into our enemies, then board them and steal their treasure. Maybe head to an outpost and sell it too. But alas, time got the better of us. Still, if the worst thing I can say about a game is I wish I could play it for longer, you know it’s worth checking out.

Andrew Whitehead

Andrew Whitehead

Andrew Whitehead is a journalist and writer with over thirteen years of experience in the media. He has written for Game Informer, Hyper Magazine, PC & Tech Authority, PC PowerPlay and worked for over a decade at APN News & Media, one of Australia’s largest media outlets. He moved from Australia to Los Angeles in 2015 and is currently the Content & Community Manager at SeaNanners Gaming Channel.

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