E3’s all about one thing: ads. It’s the World Series for videogame ads, and last week’s show did not disappoint. I wasn’t even there but I felt like I was because I got to see so many ads for so many different games that I’ll inevitably have to play for work some day when I could be outside enjoying what little time we have on this earth before the human race finally kills it dead. Instead I’m inside my early ‘80s suburban abode, playing games or writing about games or watching ads about games. Sometimes I even write about watching ads about games—sometimes like right now. It’s a big, beautiful world out there, so let’s talk about videogame trailers, okay?
Here are my favorites from this year’s E3. They’re in no order and there are only like seven of them because how many ads do you expect me to be impressed by, anyway? I’m not saying these are the games I most want to play from this year’s E3—I’m just saying that these are the trailers that did the best job of getting me interested in a game. Check ‘em out.
Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The sequel to the best game on the Switch doesn’t even have a name yet, but this short preview hints at a darker, creepier tone, with ripples of fire and an unknowable evil circling through an underground cavern. This sequel seems poised to be the Majora’s Mask to Breath of the Wild’s Ocarina of Time—the quick turnaround sequel that has to create a unique atmosphere to make up for not looking or feeling like a
Maybe it’s residual love for Beetlejuice or Harry Belafonte, but the trailer for Devolver’s bite-sized battle royale hooked me from the first frame. I have no idea how any of these mini-games will actually work, or if they’ll be any fun to play, but the thought of turning that type of 100-person endurance race into a clutch of quick-hit microgames
If a trailer’s job is just to get you interested in something, Genesis Noir did as good a job as any other ad last week. It does NOT do a good job of explaining what in the hell is actually going on at any point during it, but that just ramp up my curiosity even more. I’m not entirely sold on the line-drawing style for the main character—it doesn’t always fit the backgrounds—but otherwise this is probably the most visually arresting game to get a trailer at E3 this year.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
There’s a lot of Star Wars in the world today—yes, I’m gonna plug my Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge coverage one more time—but Fallen Order promises something we haven’t seen too much of lately. It’s a substantial single-player Star Wars game driven by a story. Developed by Respawn, the company behind the excellent Titanfall games, Fallen Order has the potential to be a genuine highlight of a year that’s just positively lousy with Star Wars.
Based on this trailer, Spiritfairer aims to be a thoughtful and emotional exploration of death that’s also adorable as all get out. There aren’t enough games out there that let you ferry the dead into the afterlife, but thankfully Spiritfairer will soon be here to pick up some of that slack.
Way to the Woods
I want to know how these dear wound up on a Japanese subway train. I want to know why they’re in that store. I want to know what’s happening to these beautiful little innocents and do everything I can to save them from the terrors of modern society. I have no idea how the game will let me do that but I am determined to find out. That’s the way trailers are supposed to make us feel. Good job, game.
Part of what made this trailer so memorable is unrepeatable—the simple fact that you know what it’s for means you won’t get to experience the mystery or play the guessing game that everybody watching its first E3 reveal did. There’s a lot of reasons to be skeptical about this—it’s a movie tie-in for a film that has failed twice to launch a franchise, and whose notoriety and impact is based almost entirely on its novelty factor. At least this trailer does a good job of disorienting the viewer and hinting at a few shocks that may actually be effective. The way it keeps returning to the view screen on the video camera makes me wonder if some kind of time loop or flashback mechanic will be crucial to how you play the game. I don’t have high hopes for Blair Witch as a game, but the trailer does a fine job of reviving interest in something that has represented both the downsides of hype and the worst aspects of Hollywood’s franchise lust.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.