The 10 best PC games of E3 2019

 pcworld.com  06/14/2019 10:30:00   Hayden Dingman

E3 2019 is over, and what did we learn? Well, March and April of 2020 are going to be an absolute embarrassment of riches. Four of our favorite games from this show are due to release during that two-month timespan, including heavy hitters like Dying Light 2 and Cyberpunk 2077.

Indeed, our favorite games of E3 2019 are more predictable than usual I think. Whether its because these games stood that far above the rest this year or because theres less to choose from, the end result is the same. Comparing beforehand, my stalwart editor Brad Chacos and I had pretty much the exact same list.

Its that kind of year though, and Im not going to complain about 10 games so incredible-looking they eclipse all others. Thats at least 10 games Im looking forward to playing in the next year or two. If youre looking for a wider look at the shows biggest reveals, be sure to check out our roundup of the 41 must-see PC game trailers of E3 2019. These games were the best of the best though. Without further ado&

The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds feels even more like Fallout: New Vegas than I expected. Thats our headline, and that should tell you all you need to know about why were excited. Obsidians essentially created a spiritual successor sans-license, with a V.A.T.S. stand-in (Tactical Time Dilation) and the same sort of humor Fallout is known for. But in space!

Its hard to know how long The Outer Worlds will be or how deep an experience, but our 30-minute demo made it look like one of the most promising games releasing this fall, especially for fans of old-school RPGs, skill checks, and branching quests. Uh...so thats me, then.

Watch Dogs Legion

I liked Watch Dogs 2a lot, actually!but I wouldnt have expected Watch Dogs Legion to end up on our E3 favorites list. Its wildly ambitious though. No doubt youve already heard about Ubisofts Play As Anyone tech, which allows you to recruit any character in the game to DedSecs cause, and then play through the story as them. Want to recruit all the guards at Scotland Yard? You can do that, or stage an uprising from a dance club, or assemble a crack team of grandmas.

Obviously I chose the last option, and it was fascinating to play some fairly standard Watch Dogs missions as an old woman who could barely run or climb, but was very talented at using the word Buggered. I have high hopes for the story as well, given the dystopian look of this post-Brexit London. It took an entire console generation, but it looks like Ubisoft might finally capitalize on the promise of that original Watch Dogs demo.

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 was our favorite demo at E3 2018, and no surprise it appears on the list this year as well. Weve already written an in-depth account of this years hour-long demo, but CD Projekt once again took us through a mission with no clear winners, and highlighted how the mission might change for Netrunners versus more combat-focused characters. Oh, and it also focused on Keanu Reevess character Johnny Silverhand of course.

Ill say this, Cyberpunk 2077 looks more and more like an unofficial Johnny Mnemonic sequel every time we see it, and I am into it. Most surprising is the fact its due out in April 2020, before the new consoles arrive. Im amazed its that close, and even more amazed itll apparently run on an Xbox One/PlayStation 4. Even my beefy GeForce GTX 1080 Ti-equipped PC is already sweating over the prospect of running this games luscious open world.

Planet Zoo

I love Planet Coaster, I love builder games, more generally, and I love animals. My excitement for Planet Zoo really boils down to those three components. Our behind-closed-doors demo focused on the Savannah biome, with large open areas for the various giraffes, cheetahs, wildebeest, chimpanzees, and so on that called this zoo home. And to be honest, I couldve spent an hour just watching the animals walk around and feed.

Frontier highlighted some of the management and construction features as well though. Youll be educating your visitors, not simply displaying animals. Staff Paths return from Frontiers Jurassic World game, and youll need to balance the animals needs with the zoos theme park facade. And expediting that, youll have access to Frontiers amazing construction tools again. Make the best zoo imaginable, or a hellish nightmare where all the animals escape. Your choice.

Dying Light 2

Another returning entry, Dying Light 2 impressed us last year with its ambitious branching storyline. Techland promised wed not only change our own fate but the citys, affecting which faction controlled certain districts, and in turn what rules were in effect, what items were sold, and so on.

But for 2019 they brought an even more ambitious demo. Every two or three minutes a binary choice popped up, and pressing left or right on the analog stick affecting how the entire mission played out. Stay with your dying friend or chase the escaping attackers? Kill the driver or spare him? And this culminated in the final choice, which saw an entire district of the city emerge from underwater, giving us a new area to exploreand a new zombie type to combat in the process.

It looks incredible, and like Cyberpunk Im amazed its due out next April, before the console generation changeover. It barely seems possible.

Baldurs Gate III

Its been a week since we found out about Baldurs Gate III and Im still riding high. Nearly two decades after Baldurs Gate II were finally getting a sequel, and its developed by Divinity: Original Sin studio Larian, and it involves a Mind Flayer invasion. Its the best-case scenario as far as Im concerned, especially since its being based off modern Dungeons & Dragons and not the THAC0-ridden version used by the Infinity Engine games.

There arent many details on this one yet, and I dont expect it to release in 2019 even if it was announced at Googles Stadia showcase as a launch window title. An early-to-mid-2020 release seems possible though, and I cant wait to see more.

John Wick Hex

John Wick Hex is the coolest licensed game Ive played in...forever.

Mike Bithell and Co. are calling it a Timeline Strategy Game, a brand-new genre. Every action John Wick takes requires a certain amount of time, and the same goes for his enemies. Youre vying for the upper hand, using quick actions to incapacitate one enemy and then shooting another, returning to the first to finish him off, and hoping you dont get overwhelmed by the third running in from the doorway. Time pauses after every action, so you have plenty of time to think it overbut its even more fun if you act on instinct, keeping the game in pseudo-real time and getting into the flow of it.

Personally I think the most obvious touchstone is Superhot, in that your goal is to kill a lot of people without getting overwhelmed, and the only way to do so is to carefully manipulate the time mechanics. But then...its not really Superhot either. Rarely do we see a brand-new type of game demoed at E3, and John Wick Hex is a way more interesting adaptation than some generic John Wick shooter could ever be.

Forza Horizon 4: Lego Speed Champions

Forzas Lego expansion is the most charming game at E3, I tweeted after my demo on Sundayand I stand by it. Planet Zoo gives Lego Speed Champions a run for its money, but Id still give the edge to Forza. Its the same arcade racing we loved in Forza Horizon 4, but blocky. The cars are made of Lego, the environments are made of Lego, and even the post-race celebrations are Lego. The demo race also took us through a few themed environments, including a pirate zone and a haunted forest.

Its cute, and perhaps even better than Forza Horizon 3s Hot Wheels expansion. Best of all, its available right now. Im looking forward to playing this for my post-E3 wind-down this weekend.

Doom Eternal

Doom Eternal is More Doom and thats all I needed. I didnt need a single trailer, I didnt need a single demo. As soon as Bethesda said id was creating a follow-up to the glorious 2016 reboot, I was on-board.

Of course trailers and demos dont hurt, and what weve seen of Doom Eternal looks like itll be one of 2019s standout releases. Its fast and frenetic and in your face, same as the previous entry. But now its all of those things in what looks like more ambitious levels, with more of the society-gone-to-hell look, mixing familiar landmarks with demonic influences. And I never expected to say this, but Im curious about the story as well. 2016s Doom was great at satirizing corporate influences and building the Doomslayer into a weird demigod of vengeance, and it looks like Doom Eternal will lean even further into those ideas.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2

Finally, my favorite demo of E3 2019. We saw Vampire: The Masquerade  Bloodlines 2 at GDC earlier this year, a behind-closed-doors look at the beginning of the game before it was even announced. You can read my more in-depth impressions of that demo here.

Our E3 demo was more of the same, showcasing another early mission and the various ways it could play outbetraying your contract, murdering or sparing the target, fighting your way through The Jungle or taking the stealthy route. There are a lot of choices to be made, just as youd expect from a follow-up to the original Bloodlines. And while our demo still looked a bit janky, the promise of this sequel is enough to win my heart. The characters are instantly memorable, be it the ethereal Elfi or the skulking Slugg, and the spot-on recreation of Seattle landmarks is breathtaking.

Heres 20 minutes of gameplay capture from our E3 2019 demo:

This is another early-2020 release, which along with Watch Dogs, Cyberpunk, and Dying Light 2 means youd better get a sick note from a hospital, not just your local primary care doctor. Next years shaping up to be one of those 1998-caliber years people talk about forever, and thats before the new consoles launch. E3 might be in its death throes, but it sure chose a great year to go out on.

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