I’m still in my recovery coma after last week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, the huge game industry gathering at and around the Los Angeles Convention Center. E3 itself is a three-day tradeshow, but it’s long burst from those constraints and is now a near week-long celebration (or, to borrow a turn of phrase from The Hollywood Reporter‘s Tim Goodman, a Death March With Cocktails) of gaming.
Much of E3 focuses on the triple-A (aka blockbuster) industry. Think Call of Duty: WWII, Doom, and Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Ubisoft’s latest in its flagship series. But I found that to truly appreciate this show, and the industry, you need to take a break from the pomp and the flash and see some smaller games.
And the best of those smaller games are, of course, on the PC.
Take my game of the show, Genesis: Alpha One. It won one of our Unreal E3 awards, which we present with our partner, Epic Games. It’s a mix of genres that has no right to work: space exploration, starship construction, psychological horror, first-person shooter, and roguelike. Sounds like a mess, huh? It’s ends up being quite elegant as you explore, find new races — and clone them or add their DNA to humanity’s own — and fight some nasty aliens in the gangways of your starship. And if you die, you don’t lose your progress, as the captaincy transfers to the highest-ranking officer on the ship.
Or A Plague’s Tale: Innocence. It stars a pair of children, a sister-and-brother team who try to survive in Medieval France … during a rat plague. The big question here is if the infestation is worse than mere rodents. It’s revolting — I nearly puked watching the demo, as rats and I are not on good terms — yet captivating.
And Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is the sort of game you can only find on the PC. The first started as a project from a husband-and-wife team working out of their garage in Turkey, and it became a PC gaming hit. Seven years after the original’s launch, you can still find more than 10,000 people each day playing it on Steam. Mount & Blade is about recruiting and fielding an army on a large battlefield, and in the sequel, you have more control over your soldiers. Don’t worry — it’s still fun to just trot around the field, mowing down foes with a spear or lance from atop your horseback. And the biggest reason why it’s found such success is the mod scene — I played it more as a Star Wars game than a medieval army battler thanks to modders.
While exhausted, E3 did recharge my gaming batteries thanks to these and other PC games (like Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire and the sci-fi city builder Aven Colony). Now, if you excuse me, it’s time for me to find more loot in Path of Exile, the modern take on online Diablo II.
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