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E3 Gaming: Psychonauts 2 invades; new Blair Witch horror game; Doom Eternal

By Benjamin Bullard
Fighting demons in the Doom Eternal video game

If you took an X-Men style assembly of telekinetically gifted mutants and gave them a cartoonishly loony video game overhaul, you’d end up with something like Psychonauts, Double Fine’s 2005 platformer that kept fans glued to their consoles back in the PlayStation 2 and Xbox era. And with a concept like that, you probably wouldn’t want to stop after just one game.

Thanks to the long-awaited first glimpse of gameplay from the Psychonauts 2 sequel that just debuted at E3, there’s no stopping Razputin (aka Raz), the plucky mind-cadet who’s trying to grow up from his first game by entering the Psychonauts workforce. Double Fine shared a new trailer for the upcoming sequel that puts Raz in a special agent’s suit and tie and then sends him out into the field — where the mission includes hopping around on giant teeth and dodging extra-dimensional winged baddies:

Microsoft also revealed that it’s acquired Psychonauts maker Double Fine studios, long cherished by fans for founder Tim Schafer’s indie, comic book approach to gaming in colorful titles like Grim Fandango and Brütal Legend. That move effectively assures Psychonauts 2 some extra breathing room after moving through development on a crowdfunded budget, and Double Fine pledged via social media that the takeover definitely won’t harm the game’s path to a release — even on competing platforms.

That means Psychonauts 2 is still on track to arrive sometime later this year for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, macOS, and PC.

The shaky cam is back, and it’s as scary as you remember. In a trailer that’s remarkably faithful to the vibe of the groundbreaking original found-footage classic, Lionsgate and developer Bloober Team unveiled a hair-raising first look at Blair Witch, a horror game that puts you back in The Blair Witch Project's Maryland woods trying to piece together what just happened — and how safe you are in that creepy abandoned cabin.

The first-person POV game will “return players to the dreadful woods in an original story inspired by the iconic Blair Witch,” the developers tease, tracking a 1996 investigation into the disappearance of a young boy in that famously cursed forest near Burkittsville. Of course no one can head into the trees without paying the witch’s price, and sure enough, you find yourself lost in an “endless nightmare as you confront your fears and the Blair Witch, a mysterious force that haunts the woods.”

Coming to Xbox One and PC as a $29.99 digital-only release, pre-orders for Blair Witch are already open ahead of its Aug. 30 release.

If the woods aren’t scary enough, well, there’s always hell itself. Bethesda capped its E3 conference with a deep dive into Doom Eternal, the upcoming sequel to its 2016 Doom reboot — and while you may have a bigger arsenal at your disposal this time out, of course it’s only natural that the demons do, too.

More blood, more fire, and more friends to fight alongside you: In addition to its single-player campaign, a big launch-day feature for Doom Eternal will be "Battlemode," which Bethesda describes as an online co-op environment that’s “a blend of raw Doom shooter action and cunning strategy.” The single-player story finds the Doom Slayer keeping the demons at bay from a complete takeover of Planet Earth, but really, it’s all about the adrenaline and the flame-belching mayhem — and with Doom, that’s the whole point.

Slated to invade on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, Doom Eternal arrives on Nov. 22.