This year’s E3 gaming expo in Los Angeles brought us surprise Keanu, Jon Bernthal’s adorable dog, and pep for days thanks to Ghostwire Tokyo director Ikumi Nakamura’s instantly meme-able, infectiously feel-good stage vibe.
But you know what else it brought? Games — and tons of them. With Sony sitting out this year’s E3 press conference lineup, most people expected E3 2019 to be kind of a tepid affair, lacking the spectacle and buzz-worthy gaming reveals of its most sensational E3 predecessors. And then this happened:
We didn’t know it then, but Keanu’s walk-off home run for Cyberpunk 2077 at Microsoft’s Sunday stage show was just the first in a nonstop line of gaming scores that unfolded at E3 from that point forward. Some of the biggest games were ones we’d expected to be sure: Marvel’s Avengers, the Final Fantasy VII remake, and Cyberpunk 2077 itself all were hotly anticipated.
But for every game trailer we thought we’d see, it seemed another unexpected reveal was waiting in the wings to chase it — none more surprising than Nintendo’s unveiling of an all-new followup to 2017’s instant classic The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Check out our evolving, curated lineup of the game trailer highlights from this year’s E3 — and start budgeting your time. There’s a lot of great gaming coming in the next 12 months … and beyond.
CD Projekt RED grand-slammed both the E3 audience and, well, the whole internet when it brought Keanu Reeves out to reveal his new character and the game’s April 16, 2020, release date. It could have just stopped with this trailer, which gave expectant fans plenty to chew on until the dystopian RPG arrives.
Square Enix had been quiet for so long after first announcing its mysterious “Avengers Project” that fans knew something was up the minute the studio began teasing its E3 press conference with a suspiciously Infinity Stone-hued color palate of empty picture frames. By the time the Avengers reveal was over, though, everyone had gotten the picture: With the MCU in transition, Marvel tapped a AAA video game to get fans used to the idea of seeing some fresh faces in Tony Stark’s exo-suit and behind Captain America’s shield. Marvel’s Avengers assemble starting May 4 of 2020.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
The Avengers may not even have been the highlight of Square Enix’s E3 show, thanks to a little intrusion from Cloud, Aerith, and Tifa. While the internet debated Marvel’s new look for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, nearly everyone was on the same page about how awesome the Final Fantasy VII remake looked in a new story trailer, as well as in an extended gameplay sequence. This game’s so big it can’t even be released all on one disc (just like the PS1 original!), but the first installment hurtles toward Midgar (and Earth) on March 3, 2020. Praise Jenova!
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel
We’ll see your Keanu and raise you a Zelda, said Nintendo. Taking a “one more thing” page from the ol’ Steve Jobs playbook, the Big N ended its E3 showcase with a surprise that hit with the power of the Triforce: A sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is in development for the Nintendo Switch, and — dare we say it? — it actually looks kinda spooky. Will this new followup be to BOTW what Majora’s Mask was to Ocarina of Time? Only time will tell, as we polish up our Master Swords and wait for a release date.
Game of Thrones meets Dark Souls: Is that enough to get us to bend the knee? Based on the fantastically atmospheric trailer for Elden Ring, the game co-created by George R.R. Martin and the Souls series’ Hidetaka Miyazaki, we might just die twice for this match made in grown-up gaming heaven. Expect fire, flashes of steel, and a world-breaking quest to chase a mysterious magical talisman when this power duo’s high fantasy game — which doesn’t have a release date — finally arrives.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
A cute new droid who literally has your back, a cool voice cast featuring Rogue One’s Forest Whitaker, and gameplay that appears to deliver on EA’s promise to make Star Wars a must-play experience once again: Just about everything we saw from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order left us wanting more. With all the anxiety that’s shadowed this game since its announcement, we’re forced to admit — we can’t wait for Fallen Order’s arrival on Nov. 15.
This is how you get people to volunteer for a trip to hell. Bethesda’s sequel to the 2016 reboot of gaming’s definitive demon shooter pulled no punches, expanding your evil-slaying arsenal and showing off adrenalized gauntlet runs that got our blood boiling — and that’s just from watching someone else play the game. We don’t know where you could possibly take Doom from here, and for now, we’re not asking. Doom Eternal arrives to torment your reflexes on Nov. 22.
We were as surprised as the poor guy in this trailer when Lionsgate and developer Bloober Team got all shaky-cam on us with the announcement of a new horror game based on The Blair Witch Project. Told in first person and leaning heavily into the psych-horror of what lurks in the Burkittsville woods, Blair Witch haunts your Xbox One and PC beginning Aug. 30.
Watch Dogs: Legion
Ah, dystopian London: A near-future world where Ubisoft plans to make no NPC safe from your tech-assisted powers of persuasion. Watch Dogs: Legion showed off an amazing new gaming idea at E3, demonstrating how literally every single character you see walking around the city can be hijacked to aid your resistance cause. Sweet grandmas, street punks, buttoned-down businessmen — they all have full voice acting, and they all have a backstory. And once you recruit them, they can all have a purpose. Hack in to Watch Dogs Legion when it arrives on March 6, 2020.
Destroy All Humans! Remake
We have no words. The HD reboot for 2005’s alien silly-fest Destroy All Humans! brings Crypto back to Planet Earth to steal our DNA once again, and the irreverently slapstick humor of the first game only looks more hilarious when you can see the hapless humans’ facial expressions in crisp current-gen detail. These flying saucers may be invading our wholesome postwar consumer culture, but we’re far outside of Leave It to Beaver territory here. Party like it’s 1959 when the Destroy All Humans! remake crash-lands sometime in 2020.
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint
Jon Bernthal was upstaged by his puppy dog when the pair took the E3 stage to debut his new character in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint. As Cole D. Walker, Bernthal’s rogue Wolf leader will fight against the good guys to seize all the sci-fi tech goodies stashed away on the fictional Pacific island chain of Auroa. As long as he’s pet-friendly, we’re fine rooting for the bad guy. Ubisoft lets Ghost Recon Breakpoint off the leash beginning Oct. 4.
Where’d everybody vanish to? Ghostwire Tokyo flirts with psychological horror and supernatural urban myths aplenty, but it was game director Ikumi Nakamura who stole the internet’s heart with her genuine and endearing stage presence during Bethesda’s showcase. Along with Keanu and Jon Bernthal’s dog, Nakamura became the unofficial mascot of everything that felt good about this year’s E3. Ghostwire Tokyo doesn’t have a release date yet, but that’s cool: We’re fine just watching Ikumi talk about it.