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Rare Air - AusGamers’ Official Top 10 Best Games of E3 List - Part 3: The Final Two
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 02:27pm 20/06/18 | Comments
Welcome to our newly-minted "Rare Air - Top 10 Best of E3" awards list, which will feature annually on AusGamers from here on out...

Over the past two days we've been counting down our inaugural "Rare Air - AusGamers’ Official Top 10 Best Games of E3 List", kicking off with Part One which featured our best games from 10 to six, in order: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Call of Cthulhu, The Last of Us Part II, Forza Horizon 4 and Rage 2. For Part Two we got a bit deeper with Ghost of Tsushima at five, followed by Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Dying Light 2, respectively getting to four and three of the very best games on display at this year's event.

And now we're at the coveted two and one positions, and we reckon you've worked out our number one by now, but we've dug in deep with both of these games. And these write-ups come from in-depth behind closed doors sessions where we saw intimate content, not on show in hype trailers or as part of any pre-show press conferences.

But enough building up -- let's get to the final two games in our "Rare Air - AusGamers’ Official Top 10 Best Games of E3 List".

2. Beyond Good and Evil 2 - Developer: Ubisoft - Release: Unknown - Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Let me set the scene: behind closed doors (or, “BCD”). We’ve seen two CG trailers the past two E3s and at this year’s, an in-game teaser tied to the whole "HitRecord” collaboration. So, the assumption is more of that, and no real deep-dive. But we were wrong. Oh-so wrong.

We’re looking at two characters in real-time co-op. (You’re going to start hating the term “real-time” by the end of this, by the way.) They’re in a subterranean space. We’re looking at their powers, how the Augmentation side of the game works -- animations and all. It’s very pretty. Specifically, the environment pops. And to contextualise, imagine an indoor public swimming centre and gym -- odd choices, I know, but probably size-perfect for this comparison. It’s highly detailed but we need to move on. So, in real-time, our co-op players leave this area for the greater functioning space that is Ganesha City. If you’ve watched Blade Runner or The Fifth Element, consider a vertical city with hover-cars, bikes and spaceships. And that, seamlessly, the player jumps on a hover-moped and is now ‘flying’ through the city. Oh, and every vehicle you see is also driveable (hoverable?). But more on that later.

Now, we’re seeing this massive open-world space. It’s gorgeous, even this early in development. Verticality is beyond impressive, and the devs show us there’s a radio station system for all vehicles that, and this is ambitious, they’re hoping will be powered by the creative fan community and the game’s collab with HitRecord. So as of now, in real-time, with no load screens, we’ve gone from a detailed interior to an open-world exterior and we’ve flown about on a little hover-scooter and listened to some funky music. Cool.

Except the other co-op player has gone off and started a fight with the local police. And it’s not a car-chase or a chase on-foot -- it’s a dog fight from a spaceship that rivals Spike’s from Cowboy Bebop -- and we join him in his battle. Nothing yet has had a load screen in front of it -- all of this has happened in real-time.

So we finish off the oppressive Ganesha City Po-Po and the devs declare we need to leave the city, the planet and head to our Mothership. So, we put on the burners and leave. We break through the atmosphere, and we’re now in the pleasant vacuum of space. Everything has still been playing out in real-time, and no load screens have appeared. We’ve only witnessed true geometry. And now we’re in fucking space looking at our very own Mothership.

Now we see some impressive gadgetry that lets the player survive in space, with no need for a spacesuit. And our demoer walks on the wing of her ship and looks back down at the planet below. We can see the continent of Old India and more. We’re also shown some cool Nazca Lines we’re told will act is planetary points of interest (or “POIs”) with a mysterious tie to Earth. And it’s just oozing with coolness -- especially when our demoer pulls out her spyglass and zooms in on the planet below, scans and we get all-new information about the place we were literally standing on a few minutes ago. But she’s not done yet.

Free of the atmosphere, we hit hyperdrive and karoon through space at a fantastic speed. The sphere behind us quickly shrinks and the greater solar system for what’s known as “System 3” emerges, and NOTHING AT THIS POINT has required a load screen. Everything has been presented in real-time, in true geometry, seamlessly.

And scene.

1. Cyberpunk 2077 - Developer: CD Projekt RED - Release: Unknown - Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (Xbox One X Enhanced)

A bubblegum future brimming with life, detail and opportunity. The world of Cyberpunk 2077 is the first thing that strikes you -- in this space: Night City, it feels like the possibilities are absolutely endless, and it’s incredibly dense. Layered, if you will; full of unwinding, deep interiors and loads of verticality. As well as the sprawling metropolis that ties it all together, with a confirmed six unique districts and no load screens -- it’s all seamless and isn’t gated. NPCs are everywhere, neon and technology is everywhere and everything truly appears to have a function and purpose. It’s honestly safe to say, I’ve never seen a game-world like this. An edgy, punk rock vibe permeates; this is both The Fifth Element and Blade Runner come to life, only better. And cooler.

Cyberpunk 2077 is not The Witcher 3 in the future -- that idea is laughable now that I’ve seen this thing running. And it’s a truer RPG, too. Deep character customisation for V, the player-character, crosses into new realms for CDPR game-design. You can be male or female, and you can choose your own backstory. You can choose a specialty or be a jack of all trades, combining them. In the world of Cyberpunk 2077 implants are as ubiquitous and accepted as tattoos are in today’s day and age. And you need “ripperdocs” -- doctors with a degree in engineering, or maybe vice-versa, to help with them. So currency is a big factor in the game, but not only from an economic sense (though you’ll be buying everything from adult fun to clothes, weapons and more), but also a resource sense. They’ve gone crazy in the RPG tentpole -- even your fucking clothes have meaningful stats.

This is a CD Projekt RED game through and through, too. Pushing maturity boundaries and not just for shock value -- if Night City is truly alive, then you need to be able to live in it the way you want. You can bang people, there’s tons of nudity, swearing, drug-use and challenging, edgy themes are everywhere. The US lies in tatters -- mega corporations and gangs, separately, run the country and the streets, respectively. And you’re a Cyberpunk -- a street-warrior of sorts that exists as an agent between the disparate factions of the city. How you go about your journey into Cyberpunk legend will be up to you, with choice and consequence truly at the game’s narrative fore -- especially if you’re the one crafting it, decision by decision.

And while this is an RPG, it’s also a fast-paced first-person experience. Action can be found everywhere and anywhere, and while your weapons are over-the-top futuristic tools of serious destruction (and boy, is there destruction), they’re also stat-valued, while enemy damage is equally measured in numerical value -- reshaping the way you need to think about combat, layering in a level of tactical play to what can usually be a slower, more measured experience.

And finally, for now, you just get to drive around in sweet, sweet futuristic rides -- the kinds of vehicles most of us grew up hoping would be real in the future, during the 80s. And because of that, we just want to say: thank you, CD Projekt RED.

And we're done. This was an absolutely epic E3 and the one major take away was that gaming, across the board, is in good shape. Visually it continues to expand. Trends are shifting at an even faster pace now, and the usual annual 'top games' are no longer hogging the lime-light, or taking the larger bulk of consumer money, because consumers are tired of consuming like-for-like media, which is a great thing for an industry that centres its strength around creativity.

And if this was just a taste of things to come, the next few years and major expos are going to deliver us excellent content in spades. It's a great time to be a gamer.