Now that the madness of E3 has died down, it’s nice to finally be able to take a breath and actually digest all of the information that was whirling around over the past few weeks.
Looking back, while there was plenty of great stuff to see during the show, I was especially glad to see one genre seemed to get a lot more love this year than it has in a long time: RPGs.
As phenomenal as the last couple of years have been in video games, most of the stories we’ve been told have been fairly linear. Sure, there were the outliers like Divinity: Original Sin II and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (though its story paths were still very similar), but by and large the biggest games of the last few years have had very scripted stories, like in God of War or Horizon: Zero Dawn, or big group adventures like Destiny 2 or The Division where story more or less takes a backseat to team-based gameplay. Even massively detailed open world games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Breath of the Wild have kept relatively strict boundaries on the relationships we can pursue (or ruin) and – to me – those choices are what make for the best RPGs.
But E3 promised far more flexible narrative experiences are on the horizon. You’ve got studios like Obsidian, the team behind the original Fallout (as well as arguably its best sequel), not to mention KotOR 2, and the indelible CD Projekt Red leading the pack with The Outer Worlds and Cyberpunk 2077 respectively, but then a bunch of other great contenders coming out in the next year as well.
There’s Bloodlines 2, which is clearly leaning into the ludicrous amount of choices and options that made the original so interesting. Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory is a really unique adaptation of the tabletop game, and then, of course, there’s Baldurs Gate 3 – guys F##KING BALDURS GATE THREE IS COMING and it’s being made by the Divinity team! That’s like the dream scenario. I mean sure, it’s more of a horrifying tentacle nightmare scenario, but like that’s the dream, right?!
And I’m not even counting JRPGs – no offense to Cloud and the rest of the FF7 remake gang, or the final fantasy 8 remaster or any of the slew of of other spinoffs, updates and re-releases that Square and Nintendo showed off – but it’s been a long long time since we saw this many games give us this many options to experience their stories our own way, and I couldn’t be happier for that – even if I am terrified of how many hours it’ll take.
For more RPG goodness, have a look at what the big differences will be for The Witcher 3 on Switch, and all the old-school RPGs coming to consoles this fall. If you want to get really old-school, switch to dice and see what we thought of The Witcher as a tabletop game or check out Scream’s Matthew Lillard showing off his crazy cool D&D set.JR is a Senior Features Editor at IGN, and is really worried that he’s gonna have to lock himself away from Outer Worlds’ launch until he finishes Cyberpunk. He’ll probably stay on Twitter, though, so ask him how he’s doing.