There was a general sense that only a couple of the press conferences that preceded the annual expo held at the LA Convention Center in June truly delivered, while others were either mediocre or, in one or two cases, just plain awful. Perhaps Sony has spoilt us a bit in the past, to be fair, as you can't announce a new Shenmue and a Final Fantasy VII: Remake every year (both games announced in 2015 were no-shows at this year's show and remain far from finished).
But that's enough about the conferences though, because when it comes to the actual games we played and those that were shown in playable form at the convention, E3 2018 definitely delivered, and so here are the best games that were either playable or shown in playable form (either video or a live demo) at the expo or associated events.
Gamereactor's Best of E3 2018
Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Projekt Red)
It may only have been shown in video form behind closed doors, but the 50-minute demo of Cyberpunk 2077 that CD Projekt Red showed at the convention left the audience gasping, offering intense combat (though it's not a shooter, mind you), mature content, and brutal finishes. Perhaps most impressive though was the reactive, vibrant, vertical, futuristic cityscape full of things to discover and engage with. It may be a long way off (CD Projekt Red did not comment on potential release windows at the show) but from what we've seen this is going to something truly special whenever it's done, and we'd expect nothing less from The Witcher devs.
Best of the Rest:
Spider-Man (Insomniac Games/Sony)
Insomniac's take on the web-slinging superhero has impressed at previous shows, but it wasn't until we got our hands on it that we became true believers of this reboot of sorts. Gorgeous visuals, slick mechanics, and more villains than ever before help make this stand out from a sea of mediocre games featuring the webslinger, and so Insomniac's Spider-Man looks set to be the next massive PS4 exclusive to deliver something truly excellent this September.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Bandai Namco/Nintendo)
Nintendo's one-game focus may have disappointed those hoping to see Metroid Prime 4, Bayonetta 3, or even a new 2D Mario, but there's no denying the fan service on display in the latest iteration of the hugely popular fighting game... even if our main man Waluigi has been left behind. "It plays like Smash" was the verdict from those who tested it, which may sound underwhelming, but it's also a testament to the quality of the series that it still made our list. If it ain't broke, after all.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (From Software/Activision)
After three Souls games and Bloodborne, the next big hard-as-nails action-RPG from the masters of the genre From Software is the latest game helmed by director Hidetaka Miyazaki. This latest outing is set during the Sengoku era and the pace is faster than ever as you'll be dodging in and out to time your attacks, and there's a grappling hook that transforms traversal. The demo left us at a loss for words... and that's rare.
Resident Evil 2 (Capcom)
Capcom had a strong E3 reconnecting with their roots, as Mega Man 11, the long-awaited new main series entry in the Devil May Cry series, and a remake of what many consider to be the greatest game in the Resident Evil series, Resident Evil 2, were all on show. Regarding the latter, it's a fine line to walk between introducing modern elements and sticking to the original formula, but from what we were able to play on the show floor we think Capcom has done a wonderful job in capturing the atmosphere and mood of the original.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden (The Bearded Ladies/Funcom)
The cinematic reveal trailer of the lengthily-titled Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden blew us away earlier this year, but it was when we got hands-on with the tactical stealth title from The Bearded Ladies and Funcom that we saw why this take on the classic Swedish pen and paper RPG is one to keep your eyes on. Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland you're in control of a trio of mutants, a duck (complete with moth wings), a boar, and a humanoid (with the ability turn her skin into stone). A strong emphasis on story marries well with the real-time stealth and turn-based combat, and Xcom fans will no doubt be enjoying the apocalypse.
Metro Exodus (4A Games/Deep Silver)
Speaking of the apocalypse, 4A Games' Metro series has never looked better than it does in Exodus, which offers a semi-open world take on the series that in the past has delivered a fairly linear experience. Here you're based on a train as you explore and fight your way through a wasteland that looks stunning, although holds untold dangers. We're going to have to wait until February, but Metro Exodus looks like it's going to be an immersive and engaging survival shooter. It's not quite the same Metro we've seen before, but it's definitely freshening things up a bit.
Beyond Good & Evil 2 (Ubisoft)
The reveal of Jade as the antagonist in prequel Beyond Good & Evil 2 was perhaps the biggest highlight of the Ubisoft press conference, but while the cinematic trailer looked stunning, it was the behind closed doors demo we got to see that really stuck with us. Ubisoft Montpellier has a long way to go with this stupendously ambitious game, but we love the sense of adventure and scale already on show and we're hopeful that the studio will deliver an exciting and unique experience to all of those patient players who are waiting on this fan-favourite series to return. It's a slow burn for sure, but it looks like it's paying off so far.
Dying Light 2 (Techland)
Polish developer Techland is taking things to the next level and the studio's expanded vision is manifesting itself across the board in Dying Light 2. While we liked the new features being built into the open world portion of the game, it's in the choice-driven narrative and how it shapes the city that the true magic lies. This is something we've seen in other RPGs and perhaps adventure games, but never in this kind of game and never on this scale. There were plenty of zombies at this year's E3, but the infected in Dying Light 2 might just be our favourites, especially since the first one was a ton of fun to play with friends.
GTFO (10 Chambers Collective)
There's something liberating when veteran game developers take the indie route to create something they truly want to play themselves, and in this case some of the key talent behind the Payday games have set up shop to create a hardcore, survival horror co-op game. In GTFO there's no hand-holding and every bullet counts. The atmosphere and need for coordinated teamplay, the tension as you try and avoid detection, and the calamity as all hell breaks loose are elements that particularly stuck with us long after our week in Los Angeles, leaving us waking up in cold sweats thinking about the horror.
We've previewed most of the games on this list and many more besides, with the GR team working tirelessly out in LA to share their insights on the latest games. Simply head over to our E3 mini-site for more news, trailers, interviews and impressions than you can shake a stick at.