With master assassins scoping out ancient ruins and zombies overrunning the post-apocalyptic wasteland, video games as a genre have diversified without restraint in recent years. From the reveal of highly anticipated, fan-favorite game titles to the introduction of entirely new game franchises altogether, the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2018, or E3 2018, showcased major developments in the world of gaming across consoles and game publishers alike.
With the announcement of several in-progress role-playing games, or RPGs, from AAA publishers such as Ubisoft, Bethesda Softworks, Sony Interactive Entertainment and CD Projekt Red, gamers can surely anticipate a resurgence of the narrative-rooted, single-player experience after an era of redundant battle royale titles as new games are rolled out in the near future. Here are the most anticipated releases showcased by game publishers at E3 2018.
“The Last of Us Part II”
One of the most highly anticipated games discussed at E3 2018 was undoubtedly Sony’s “The Last of Us Part II,” the sequel to the critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic action RPG. Reviving the story of the beloved duo of Joel and Ellie after the collapse of civilization, “The Last of Us Part II” features Ellie as the game’s protagonist and a hardcore survivalist marred by an unspoken trauma. Rooted in disturbingly dark themes and hinting at sadistic, gory faction warfare, the game is expected to outpace its predecessor by introducing threats beyond the Infected roaming the wilderness.
Instead, the gameplay footage shows Ellie engaged in intense, close-quarters combat that requires the player to use stealth while outwitting a much more brutal and damage-inducing enemy artificial intelligence. Tougher, faster and more ominous than anticipated, “The Last of Us Part II” is bound to be equal parts engaging and challenging when players finally pick up Ellie’s character once again and return to the world of the Infected.
Undoubtedly the biggest surprise announcement of E3 2018 was CD Projekt Red’s reveal of the upcoming first-person, open-world RPG “Cyberpunk 2077.” Still without an official release date, “Cyberpunk 2077” allows the player to take on the role of V, a completely customizable protagonist living in Night City after the collapse of the U.S. government, when megacorporations run rampant across the country.
Boasting fast-paced and energetic gunplay as well as a vibrant, densely packed open world, “Cyberpunk 2077” appears to be a unique and aesthetically pleasing game. With RPG elements such as cyberware and implant technology as abilities that aid in combat or character progression, “Cyberpunk 2077” is poised to be a distinctive new franchise of its own upon release, leaving players to eagerly await further developments.
Shifting from its own focus on single-player RPG titles to an emphasis on a more nuanced multiplayer experience, Bethesda officially introduced “Fallout 76” at its E3 2018 showcase, providing a fresh new take on the beloved post-apocalyptic action-adventure series. Scheduled for a full release this November, “Fallout 76” is an online, multiplayer RPG that serves as a prequel for the “Fallout” franchise – the game takes place just 20 years after nuclear annihilation, when members of Vault 76 in West Virginia are tasked with rebuilding civilization.
Featuring a major graphics overhaul, advanced settlement building tools and a map more than four times the size of the one in 2015’s “Fallout 4,” “Fallout 76” is a visually stunning online game with impeccable attention to detail and immense character customization options meant to support any play style. The game gives the players the ability to team up in order to explore and tame the wasteland, inducing player-controlled faction warfare along the way.
Much to the astonishment of longtime fans, Bethesda additionally announced that development on “The Elder Scrolls VI,” the next installment of the fan-favorite action RPG franchise, has begun, and the publisher also alluded to a space-related RPG titled “Starfield,” its first new RPG in 25 years.
“Assassin’s Creed Odyssey”
Building upon the anticipation following last year’s “Assassin’s Creed Origins,” Ubisoft took to the stage at E3 2018 to announce the development of “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey,” the next title in the fan-favorite historical action RPG franchise. Set in Ancient Greece at the height of the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens, “Odyssey” allows players to take on the role of either male player character Alexios or female player character Kassandra, the option being a first for the beloved franchise.
Designed to be played as a true RPG, “Odyssey” also features newly interactive dialogue and the ability to influence story and relationship arcs through player choice. With a breathtaking open-world environment teeming with dynamic events and explorative quests, “Odyssey” appears to be a promising addition to the “Assassin’s Creed” franchise, set to breathe new life into the series upon its release this October.
In addition to “The Last of Us Part II,” Sony also revealed additional footage of Hideo Kojima’s upcoming action-adventure game “Death Stranding” at its E3 2018 showcase. Aimed to be Kojima’s first big project after his departure from the “Metal Gear” franchise, “Death Stranding” tells the story of Sam Bridges, a man caught in a post-apocalyptic landscape under siege by human enemies as well as ominous floating figures. Featuring nonlinear storytelling, time jumps and a level of complexity that is unprecedented even for Kojima, “Death Stranding” is likely to be a culmination of exploration elements and heavy combat rooted in a perplexing narrative.
Across game genres and publishers, E3 2018 collectively presented a slew of single-player titles that are bound to dominate the game space in the next few years, suggesting a return to the type of narrative-intensive games that just recently were expected to be on the decline. Yet game publishers have managed to cut through the noise and deliver what gamers are really craving — the single-player experience is here to stay.
Manisha Ummadi covers video games. Contact her at [email protected].