Easiest way for me to set this one up: Mirror's Edge meets Dead Island. That's right, the team behind Dead Island (and the not-so-good Dead Island Riptide) is back with a new publisher (Warner Bros.) to bring current and next-generation consoles a new zombie story that combines what can only be described as parkour gameplay and zombie-killing.
Here's the kicker: At night, the zombies get even crazier, so you'll have to play the game much differently when the sun goes down. I got to play around 20 minutes of Dying Light and was convinced that the team had something special brewing. See for yourself when it hits in 2014.
Warner Brothers Montreal
Batman: Arkham Origins
There's some concern about Batman: Arkham Origins, mainly because the series' original developer, Rocksteady Games, is no longer behind the wheel. Instead, Warner Bros. Games Montreal is heading up the project, albeit with same engine Rocksteady was using. I got to see and play Arkham Origins and was relieved to find that most of its entertaining gameplay was kept in tact.
But what I really enjoyed seeing was a new crime scene construction mechanic the game introduces, which adds on to what has already been in the games. But with this expansion, players can now use Bruce Wayne's detective prowess to virtually rewind time and discover events that have already taken place.
Batman: Arkham Origins hits all platforms on October 25.
The Evil Within
Could it be that survival horror is back? Maybe. Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil, has started his own studio called Tanjo Gameworks and hopes to breath new life into the genre. And when I say new life, I mostly mean blood and death. His new game, The Evil Within, was the absolute most frightening thing I saw at E3 2013, let alone in a very long time.
In the few minutes of gameplay I experienced, I witnessed a handful of things I simply couldn't unsee. The Evil Within will not only explore some pretty wicked torture and stealth, but also attempt to psychologically unravel the player with illusions and other trickery. The Evil Within will hit consoles -- both current and next-gen -- in 2014.
Super Mario 3D World
The team behind the amazing Super Mario Galaxy games has been working hard on Super Mario 3D World, the first time we're ever seeing a 3D Mario game in HD. Crazy, right? What I loved about playing Super Mario 3D World was that I could choose any of the classic Nintendo four-player roster, identical to the options in Super Mario Bros. 2. Speaking of that classic game, each player will have a similar special ability.
Super Mario 3D World will also be completely playable in off-TV mode and work with up to four players simultaneously. Look for it on the Wii U when it releases this December.
Independent gaming had a great showing at E3 2013. Give Sony credit for giving these small studios the attention they deserve by devoting a large portion of the company's booth space to these games.
One game that caught my eye was Outlast, built by a studio called Red Barrels. Outlast follows the story of a reporter who enters an insane asylum armed with nothing more than a video camera. Using the night-vision mode on it, you must traverse your way through a maze of horror.
I'm told that Outlast will hit PCs this summer and then early next year on the PlayStation 4.
Developer Remedy already has one of the most anticipated games of the next-generation, and we've only scraped the surface of seeing what the game will actually play like. However, in the short time we all saw the game, the studio has made a very compelling case for our attention.
Quantum Break will deal with elements of quantum physics and time manipulation, while being presented in a TV episodic format in some capacity. The developer has earned the reputation of one to watch, so I'm confident Quantum Break will bring its own special brand of fun when it's released exclusively on the Xbox One next year.
Blue Castle Games
Dead Rising 3
I was not a big fan of Dead Rising 2 because it seemed like a game that had lost its way. The team at Blue Castle Games says it realizes that and has shifted some of the focus for Dead Rising 3, the upcoming Xbox One exclusive.
Dead Rising 3 puts zombies first, making them the star of the game instead of the ridiculous ways you can customize your character. Sure, that side of the game is still in there, but the focus this time will be capturing the mood of a zombie apocalypse. Dead Rising 3 is grittier, gloomier, and way more intense. Did I mention it's the size of Dead Rising 1 and 2 combined and then some?
Project Spark is a tough concept to wrap one's head around. Don't be fooled by its cartoonish styling; Project Spark is a monumentally ambitious attempt at opening up game-programming abilities to ordinary players. The hope is that the platform will spawn a massive community of games and experiences, all of which can be shared and played.
Everything in Project Spark has a "brain" that can be programmed to the user's discretion. Chain enough of these reactions and rules, and the web of interconnectivity results in something that can be played. Project Spark is scheduled for a launch window release exclusively on the Xbox One. From my time talking with some of the team, Spark might hit the Xbox 360 at some point, too.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
If the Stick of Truth is half as fun to play as it was to watch demoed at E3 2013, we're all in for a hilarious experience. This turn-based strategy game looks identical to the TV show in almost every way, and that includes the masterful writing and filthy comedy. Somehow, the team at Obsidian Entertainment was able to combine the minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone with what looks like a great action-adventure game with turn-based elements. South Park: The Stick of Truth will be out November 19.
This is the second E3 in a row for Watch Dogs. With just a few months from its November release, the game had a line wrapped around the Ubisoft booth with people waiting hours to get only a glimpse of what the game will look like. This relatively short demo was a lot of the same stuff I saw in May, but highlighted by the introduction of a real-time hacking that allows another player to interfere with your single-player campaign.
Word of the first game from ex-Infinity Ward members (and their new studio Respawn) leaked just days before the doors opened at E3 2013, but those small details could do nothing to chip away at the hype this game has been able to muster.
Arguably E3's biggest game, Titanfall is a futuristic shooter and mech-battling hybrid. This Xbox One exclusive (though it'll be on PC, too) drew the biggest crowd at EA's booth.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
An open-world RPG that's supposedly larger than Skyrim? Sign me up! The Witcher 3 looks absolutely fantastic and features an even better combat system than the previous game. What stood out for me was the brilliant monster design and superfluid animations.
The world that the team at CD Projekt has created is easily one of the most convincing environments I've ever seen, and I'm counting down the days to get to play the final version of this all-but-guaranteed epic when it hits next-gen consoles and PC in 2014.