The E3 press conferences might just be huge pep rallies where the press and retailers are expected to clap at anything flashed before them, but that doesn’t make the best E3 trailers of 2016 any less notable. A good game trailer can still be a powerful and memorable piece of promotion. As with other commercials, the best trailers can almost be works of art themselves. This year’s E3 doesn’t quite have anything on that level, but there were still some pretty good ads debuted at all of those press briefings, and here are our ten favorites, in no particular order.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Sure, we’re suckers for a good Zelda game. And maybe this trailer doesn’t do enough to highlight how Breath of the Wild breaks with the standard Zelda trappings. (That fighting there is some Zelda looking business.) It does prove that Breath of the Wild will have the visual splendor you expect from a Zelda game, and also reveals the series’ first legitimate jump button in decades. It looks and sounds like a Zelda, but there are also hints of new systems that might change and expand how we interact with this world, from the ability to chop down trees to the need to cook meals to regain health. And with news that this is the most open-ended and free-ranging Zelda since the original, there’s reason to hope this one will stand out a bit more than the post-Wind Waker installments have.
When Metal Gear maestro Hideo Kojima acrimoniously left Konami last year, his collaboration with Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus, Silent Hills, joined the long list of promising games cancelled in development. Now ensconced at Sony, Kojima immediately worked with Reedus again, using him as the model of the lead character in his new game Death Stranding. This clip tells us almost nothing about the game, but reassures us that Kojima didn’t lose his distinctive vision when he parted with Konami. This is probably the only trailer on this list that would work just as well for a movie or any other kind of work.
Forget that dredging up the name Prey highlights how frightened media companies are now of putting money into anything that doesn’t have a recognizable name. Prey’s a mostly forgotten shooter from ten years ago that’s best remembered today for an unreleased sequel that wasn’t officially cancelled until six or seven years after it was first announced. They should’ve called this game Good Morning Morgan. Now there’s a new Prey, it’s being made by the studio behind Dishonored, and it has almost no discernible connection to the original in any way whatsoever. We’d probably be a little more interested if the action didn’t seem to be more shooter fare, but the time looping established by the trailer and the psychological aspect to the main character’s predicament could lead to something more inspired.
Playdead brought us Limbo in 2010, a stark puzzler that still looms large in the art game canon. Inside is their first game since, and it seems to be just as dark and dread-inducing as Limbo. Who’s that shadowy figure lurking outside the window? Who’s that even more shadowy figure that lurches forth next to the first? Limbo was beautiful and memorable but maybe just a little too shallow; will Inside have more substance to it? We’ll know soon, as the game’s out on PC and Xbox One on June 29.
We Happy Few
Seemingly inspired by every BBC show that got regular airplay on PBS in the 1980s (The Prisoner, The Avengers, Doctor Who, Monty Python), along with dystopian lit like 1984 and Brave New World, this creepy but brightly colored little number looks more disturbing than any so-called horror game we can think of. This gameplay glimpse is a little bit longer than the sizzle reels we’ve otherwise included on this list, and that actually might lessen it some in our estimation—the Swingin’ London vibe is so vivid and unique for a game that the trailer starts to feel a little quotidian and videogame-y once our newly straight-edge friend starts getting chased down dark tunnels by sinister cops.