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Gaming Trend’s Best of E3 2015 Awards

After a week of press conferences, new trailers, hands-on time, and a lot of discussion, the Gaming Trend staff has decided upon the winners of our E3 awards for 2015. Each game on this list had something special that helped it stand out above the rest, but also be sure to check out the nomination lists for each category, because each of these games deserve your attention.

Without further ado, here are Gaming Trend’s picks for the best and brightest of E3 2015:

Gaming Trend's Best of E3 2015 Awards

Best Portfolio – Sony

Sony admits that its first-party lineup is pretty sparse this year, but what the company showed at its press conference is making for an incredibly promising 2016.

The conference began with the re-reveal of The Last Guardian, as well as new IP from Guerilla Games and Media Molecule in the form of the open-world Horizon Zero Dawn and creation-driven Dreams. These exciting new games added to the already-announced No Man’s Sky, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Street Fighter V, and Ratchet & Clank, as well as Tearaway: Unfolded and Until Dawn that are both coming later this year.

Sony may not be confident in its lineup for 2015, but it seems that 2016 will be a bright future for the PlayStation 4, and the wealth of games that were shown off at this year’s E3 has earned the company our Best Portfolio award. – Kenneth Shepard, Lead News Editor

Nominees:
Electronic Arts
2K Games
Bethesda
Microsoft

Hottest Trailer – Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire

Nominees:
Rainbow Six: Siege
Dark Souls III
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Ghost Recon: Wildlands

Gaming Trend's Best of E3 2015 Awards

Best Debut – Horizon Zero Dawn

Guerilla Games is known best for its work on the Killzone franchise, and after having worked on the series for over a decade, the studio finally unveiled a new IP with Horizon Zero Dawn.

This open-world RPG is set in a world dominated by machines where humanity has regressed into a more primitive state after civilization has collapsed. As Aloy, players will have to overcome enemies that outnumber, outgun, and outsize them. This creates a sense of desperation and requires players to be tactical and resourceful as they fight enemies that dwarf them in size and power.

After seeing Guerilla tethered to the Killzone series for so long, watching them come out of the gate with a game as impressive as Horizon Zero Dawn is pretty incredible. Whether the studio will return to Killzone in the future is unclear, but what we’ve seen of Horizon so far shows that Guerilla Games has been hungry to break free of the shooter series, and has brought something fresh and exciting with this new IP. – Kenneth Shepard, Lead News Editor

Nominees:
XCOM 2
For Honor
Dark Souls III
Ghost Recon Wildlands

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Best Graphics – Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

During Sony’s E3 2015 press conference, a live Uncharted 4 demo had just started when apparently the controller disconnected and we were left watching Nathan Drake, the series’ protagonist, standing in place in front of a crowd for a prolonged amount of time. My initial feeling was concern for Sony as they worked to resolve the problem while thousands of people watched, waiting for something to happen. However, after a minute of staring at Drake’s back, waiting for him to jump to life, I started paying attention to the crowd he was overlooking.

The crowd itself was anything but stuck in place; on the contrary, the people were lively, interacting with each other and objects in a realistic manner. In one case, a guy walked towards a food stand, picked up a piece of fruit (or some type of object, I’m not completely sure) that had fallen to the floor, and put it away. Then he proceeded to sit on a box on the ground and chat with another person nearby, who I presumed was the shopkeeper. This fleeting moment conveyed the extreme level of detail that is going into crafting Uncharted 4’s world.

Once the action finally kicked off, Drake was dashing through that same crowd, apologizing in a human manner when he bumped into anyone. During intense sequences where Drake is exchanging bullets with enemies, involved in car chases, and otherwise trying to survive, the camera pans in dramatic fashion to give you the most cinematic of angles.

The game gets all of the major points in a graphical presentation right, but it’s all the minute details you could miss if you’re weren’t paying close attention that take it to the next level. That’s why we’re awarding Uncharted 4 the Best Graphics of E3 2015 award. – Sean Lama, Host

Nominees:
Just Cause 3
Dark Souls III
Halo 5: Guardians
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

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Best Art Style – Typoman

Typoman is the convergence of typography and gameplay. In a world where the pen is as mighty as the sword, words can form together to forge a path – or to impede your progress. Letters seamlessly form together and create new meaning, turning rain into a drain or strapping down a trap. The intersection of letters and action create an enthralling world, where the puzzles are as much a part of the lore-building as the story itself. Typoman is truly unique, and stands out as an innovation in style and gameplay as a single experience. – Eric Van Allen, Lead Editor

Nominees:
Yoshi’s Woolly World
The Flame in the Flood
No Man’s Sky
Unraveled

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Best Indie – The Flame in the Flood

Some of the greatest indie titles are built around a core idea and deliver everything that idea has to offer, but The Flame in the Flood offers several ideas and delves into their best parts.  Crafting, survival, and narrative are simple, yet work in perfect harmony together.  Pile on top of that the absurd level of charm developer The Molasses Flood bring to the table and it’s no surprise that it was the best indie of E3 2015. – Spencer Campbell, Editor

Nominees:
Typoman
Enter the Gungeon
Rocket League
Cuphead

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Best Multiplayer – Rocket League

Rocket League really came out of nowhere at E3 2015. The game, developed by Psyonix, is a spiritual successor to their previous title, “Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars.” Rocket League’s premise is very similar, with you being at the helm of a truck/car as you play soccer with an oversized ball. During a game, four players will take on another four as you hop in the air and try to perform a header with the bumper of your vehicle. Rocket League’s multiplayer is an even ground for all that play due to their being no stats for cars. While the balance is great, the best thing about the multiplayer is when you finally drill a shot into the goal. It does not feel cheap, it actually feels skillful. WHen someone says “you play soccer with vehicles,” this is the exact game you hope to come out of that. – Jay Malone, Real Life Soccer Ball

Nominees:
Street Fighter V
Rock Band 4
Battleborn
Halo 5: Guardians

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Best Conference – Sony

What a crazy E3 2015 offered us before the showroom floor opened up this year, and the competition for best conference was stiffer than it has ever been.  Even so, Sony’s stood above the rest after delivering one surprise after another.  The Last Guardian has been teased at every E3 for the last six years, but Sony finally delivered on what seemed like a forgotten promise this year.  Then, Guerrilla showed off an exclusive new IP called Horizon: Zero Dawn that featured huge robot dinosaurs (!) and led out of that into a new Hitman game that promised massive open world sandboxes.  Street Fighter V, then the ever-inspiring No Man’s Sky, a creative tool called Dreams from Little Big Planet devs Media Molecule.  Sony deftly landed one punch after another as they showed each trailer and delivered the absolute knockout blow with news of a Final Fantasy 7 remake, and that was only at about the show’s halfway point.  The conference transcended from an impressive showing to absolute fan-fiction when Yu Suzuki took to the stage to announce a Shenmue III Kickstarter.  So many unexpected moments made Sony’s press conference the best one of E3 2015. – Spencer Campbell, Editor

Nominees:
Microsoft
Ubisoft
Bethesda

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Biggest Surprise – South Park: The Fractured but Whole

South Park: The Stick of Truth was a game that had no business being as good as it was. After numerous delays, the fear of cancellation, and even a publisher swap, the game finally released last year on last-gen consoles and, surprisingly, the game actually turned out to be fantastic. But while The Stick of Truth exceeded our expectations, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker were absolutely worn out. And so after the game’s significant development woes, the likelihood of seeing a sequel was little-to-none, leaving gamers with no hope of ever getting a sequel.

We were so wrong. Much to the shock of the Gaming Trend staff and gamers everywhere, Stone and Parker kicked off Ubisoft’s E3 press conference to announce a sequel to The Stick of Truth. South Park: The Fractured but Whole, a direct sequel to last year’s beloved installment, seems to thankfully be in a far better situation than the original ever was, with a new development team and more reliable publisher. While we don’t yet know if the sequel will suffer the same trouble the first one did, gamers can sigh a collective relief that this game exists at all. Just don’t forget to bring a towel. – Matt Welsh, Editor

Nominees:
Xbox One backwards compatibility
Shenmue III Kickstarter
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Horizon Zero Dawn

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Best Hardware – Oculus Rift

There was a lot of awesome hardware on display at E3, and it would be a shame to not credit it all. From the new Xbox Elite controller to the Hololens and even the new instruments for Rock Band and Guitar Hero, all bring something new to the table.
The Oculus Rift, however, represents one of the biggest steps forward in gaming I have seen in my lifetime. It truly is one of those experiences you need to see to believe; I spent a short demo testing out games on the CK1, and could only smile and giggle like a child at how amazing it all was. The screendoor effect is virtually nonexistent, the games are all fully realized and take full advantage of the hardware, and the headset is comfortable while still providing high-resolution rendering. This is not just hardware, it is a platform for a whole new kind of game development, and when Oculus CK1 launches in 2016 I’ll be first in line to experience it again. – Eric Van Allen, Lead Editor

Nominees:
AMD Radeon R9 Nano
Xbox Elite controller
Guitar Hero Live controller
Hololens

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Best Sports Game – Madden NFL 16

In years past, this position has been reserved for FIFA 16. FIFA 16 very rarely shocked anyone at E3, but it was so good, it was hard to put something else above it. This year, Madden NFL 16 stepped up and move forward in some promising ways. The success of their gameplay additions are still up in the air, such as the three new ways to catch a ball, but the new Draft Champions mode seems like a lot of fun. Draft Champions feels like a blend of fantasy football and Madden’s Ultimate Team mode.While the result of these additions and how they please Madden fans is still up in the air, EA Tiburon is definitely making changes that should draw some interest in the forthcoming installment. – Jay Malone, Professional Kneepad

Nominees:
Rocket League
NBA Live 16
NHL 16
Pro Evolution Soccer 2016

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Best Rhythm Game – Guitar Hero Live

This was a very, very difficult choice between several front runners at E3 this year.  Rock Band 4 was as amazing as ever, and the new freestyle solo systems are every bit as fun as you might expect.  The return of Amplitude caught our eye as well and reminded us of a simpler color-matching time.  Just Dance 2015 continued to..well…just dance.  It was Guitar Hero that not only iterated on their product but fundamentally changed it.  The guitar now has two rows of buttons, closer approximating frets on a real one, and the concept of having music as an ongoing service raised our eyebrows.  We’ll have keep an eye on what else Freestyle Games is bringing to the table with this reinvention of the concept, but what we saw was pretty amazing so far. – Ron Burke, Editor in Chief

Nominees:
Rock Band 4
Amplitude
Persona 4: Dancing All Night
Just Dance 2016

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Best Multiplatform Game – Star Wars: Battlefront

The beauty of the new Battlefront is in the way it captures warfare within the Star Wars universe. Many games have created faithful representations without really trying to imagine what it would be like to be a soldier on the frontlines, seeing each leg of an AT-AT in a slow march towards you.

DICE’s take on the Battlefront franchise captures just that, using the studio’s penchant for top-tier visual and aural design to create a fully-realized warzone. The combat is exciting, objectives are used but not abused, and the new token system alleviates many of the problems found in previous games. Battlefront may not be a perfect recreation of the original titles, but it’s forging ahead into unknown territory for Star Wars, and so far it’s a really enjoyable take on the classic trilogy. – Eric Van Allen, Lead Editor

Nominees:
Call of Duty Black Ops III
Rainbow Six: Siege
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst
For Honor

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Best PC Game – XCOM 2

I beat XCOM Enemy Unknown on Xbox 360, iPad, and PC, and then went right back at it again when the Enemy Within expansion came out — you could say I’m a bit of a fan.  Though the maps became somewhat predictable, the satisfaction of the slow motion touch of my snipers from across the map always pulled me back in.  While the team at Firaxis may have shed console support, what we as PC gamers have gained is complete and total control of the engine.  With full mod support, and all new classes and enemies, XCOM 2’s procedurally generated map system should keep all would-be Commanders on their toes.

The premise of XCOM 2 chooses the worst possible outcome from Enemy Unknown — we lost.  With the alien forces not only fully entrenched but also accepted as friendlies amongst the populous, the XCOM team now has to wage a guerilla war in their own backyard to extract the invaders.  The best part of the demo is that we won’t have to wait long to climb aboard the Skyranger — the game is coming to PC, Mac, and Linux this November. – Ron Burke, Editor in Chief

Nominees:
Pillars of Eternity
Anno 2205
Masters of Orion
D&D: Sword Coast Legends

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Best Handheld Game – Danganronpa: Another Episode

Danganronpa: Another Episode is likely not what you think of when you hear the series’ name

For this spin-off, players will be shooting Truth Bullets of a different kind as they make their way through the despair-worn streets of Towa City. But Another Episode isn’t a haphazardly built shooter spin-off, it’s filled with a variety of animatronic Monokuma that the player will face, all requiring different strategies and solutions to take out, some even through elaborate challenges and puzzles. This is all strung together by a story worthy of the Danganronpa name, one that no fan of the series will want to miss out on.

We can’t wait to revisit this world overrun by Despair when Another Episode comes to Vita in September. – Kenneth Shepard, Lead News Editor

Nominees:
Lost Dimension
Persona 4 Dancing All Night
Paddington: Adventures in London
Amnesia: Memories

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Best Wii U Game – Super Mario Maker

Following a powered-up name change leading into E3, Nintendo had a lot to prove with Super Mario Maker, and they delivered, allowing me to do everything I wanted in Super Mario Maker, no matter how stupid.  Wings on a thwomp? Done.  A cannon that shoots giant goombas? That’s happening.  Whatever fever dream of an idea you have for a Mario level, you can make it reality using Super Mario Maker’s easy-to-use tools.  Nintendo brought stiff competition for their console, and Mario Maker stands just above them all as the best Wii U title at E3. – Spencer Campbell, Editor

Nominees:
Yoshi’s Woolly World
Typoman
Star Fox Zero
Mario Tennis

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Best PlayStation 4 Game – Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Sony’s stable of PlayStation 4 exclusives is growing more and more extensive with each passing event, but none has become more prolific than Naughty Dog’s apparent conclusion to the Uncharted series.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End looks to be bringing an end to Nathan Drake’s story with action set pieces of unparalleled scale and more dynamic gunplay and combat than its predecessors. Naughty Dog’s attention to detail can be seen in every square inch of the demo we saw both at Sony’s conference and behind closed doors at the show, and the studio is doing everything in its power to make this a fitting sendoff for Nate, and perhaps the Uncharted name. – Kenneth Shepard, Lead News Editor

Nominees:
Street Fighter V
Horizon Zero Dawn
Rocket League
The Last Guardian

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Best Xbox One Game – Halo 5: Guardians

I didn’t expect Halo 5: Guardians to be my favorite game at E3. As a longtime fan, the franchise has become familiar and reliable, but not something I expect to be wowed by after so many years of playing it, which is why I was caught completely by surprise when I finally got my hands on it.

The new multiplayer mode: Warzone looks to be a great addition to a game that already has a lot going for it in terms of multiplayer if the Beta is reflective of the final version. You can read all about my time with Warzone here.

The story of Halo has thrived under 343 Industries’ reign, and Halo 5: Guardians seems to continue in that direction from everything we’ve seen so far, whether it be the peek we got at the campaign during Microsoft’s press conference, to the impressive ongoing blog called Hunt The Truth.

Halo 5: Guardians could very well be the best Halo game to-date, and that’s no small feat. – Travis Northup, Editor

Nominees:
Gigantic
Cuphead
The Flame in the Flood
Rise of the Tomb Raider

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Game of the Show Bronze Award – Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided set a very high bar to beat this year.  Human Revolution was already a triumph, but there were a few areas where the team could improve, and that’s exactly what they Eidos Montreal did.  Remote Hacking brings new stealth options, as do a wealth of new weapons.  Adam’s Nanoblades can now pin enemies to walls, but they can also explode killing nearby foes in a shower of fragmentation.  Darts to put enemies to sleep keep things quiet, but Jensen’s ability to spot weaknesses in walls and punch through them, jerking foes through vent grills and brick walls looks incredibly satisfying.

One of the shortcomings of Human Revolution was that there was very little verticality.  The team seems to have agreed, building out incredible heights in our short demo.  But this is the future.  Adam now has an augment called Icarus Dash that functions not unlike the Blink skill in Dishonored.  Able to leap forward, shoulder-striking his foes, or leap into vents for a silent escape, this system should be an interesting change to the combat flow.

On the other hand, there was a great deal that Human Revolution did exceedingly well, and the hacking minigame was one of them.  With a shiny facelift, and the promise of new node types, hacking every camera, turret, email account, and secret piece of dirty laundry should give us an even deeper look at this sepia-toned world of corruption.

This vertical slice was the highlight of the show for me, but you don’t have to take my word for it — you can watch the entire demo (though without all of the demo commentary I heard) right here.

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Game of the Show Silver Award – Dark Souls III

Not a lot was expected from Dark Souls III at E3 2015, due to it just being recently announced, as well as having a release date of 2016. Despite that, Miyazaki and From Software put on a great demo that showed off the direction the Souls series is heading. First off, there seems to be a tad bit more story heading our way as there are hidden items in the environment that provide backstory. Also spotted during the announcement trailer was the Lord of Cinder, who will be making a return as the dastardly villain once again.

The biggest changes seem to be coming within the games combat. While the basic slow approach is still similar, weapon stances have been added. With the long sword, you can now break your enemy’s block and dash in for a strong attack. The great sword brings back thoughts of Devil May Cry as you strike upwards and fling your enemy into the air. Then, my personal favorite, the dual scimitar weapon will make your character perform a circular attack that hurts all enemies surrounding him. Currently, these stances are only available for three weapons, but it seems inevitable that more will come in the future.

Ever since its earliest incarnations, the Souls series has been praised for its incredibly tight and innovative combat. Despite its already high level of excellence, Miyazaki and From Software seem to bringing it to a whole other level. Dark Souls III will kill us all eventually, but until then, the anticipation will build. – Jay Malone, Professional Dead Guy

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Game of the Show Gold Award – Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Naughty Dog continues to make a name for itself as the leader of cinematic action games in the industry with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

Nathan Drake’s final adventure already has us slack-jawed at the scale of its action, the elaborate detail of its cityscapes and lush jungle environments, and the quiet moments as it tackles some of the most personal matters that PlayStation’s resident treasure hunter has had to face. What we’ve seen of the game so far shows that Naughty Dog is perfecting the cinematic set pieces by making these sequences entirely interactive and on a scale larger than anything else in the AAA space.

Uncharted 4 is setting a bar for action games in 2016, and the rest of the industry would be smart to follow its example. Naughty Dog is doing Nathan Drake proud in his final adventure, and in a series with this pedigree, that is no small feat.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is Gaming Trend’s pick for E3 2015’s Game of the Show, and we can’t wait to see what Naughty Dog has in store for us next year.  – Kenneth Shepard, Lead News Editor

Honorable mentions:
Star Wars Battlefront
For Honor
Horizon Zero Dawn
XCOM 2
Battleborn
Halo 5: Guardians
Street Fighter V

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees! This E3 was an excellent show, and the next year of video games looks fantastic. See you all next year!

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