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The Last of Us Part II

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The 10 biggest stories of E3 2018

E3 is finally over. After kicking off with EA Play on Saturday, all of the press conferences are now wrapped, and the show floor has closed. No more waiting in line for hours to get a taste of the latest Super Smash Bros. I spent the week in Los Angeles covering the show, and even I had a hard time keeping up with all the news. There was a lot — so here’s a handy cheat guide to catch up on all of the important stuff.

Fallout 76 transforms the series into an online multiplayer survival experience

Bethesda decided to officially unveil the existence of the next Fallout ahead of E3, but it saved all of the juicy details for the show. Fallout 76 represents a big shift for the post-apocalyptic series. It’s an always-online, multiplayer survival game that launches in November. It’s also a game that might not be so friendly — especially since some players will be able to get their hands on nukes. And while the thought of a new Fallout was exciting for some, especially those who really dug into the lore, other fans found themselves uneasy about the future of the franchise.

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Fortnite and PlayStation face off

It all started out so well. At Nintendo’s E3 presentation on Tuesday, the company revealed that not only was Fortnite coming to the Switch, but it would be available that same day. But it wasn’t long before the controversy started. Soon, it turned out that Sony was blocking cross-play between those on PS4 and Switch. To make matters worse, if you had played on PS4, you couldn’t use your same account on Nintendo’s tablet. Things only went downhill as Sony remained quiet before issuing a very unhelpful statement. When a game has 125 million fans (including 2 million new ones on the Switch), you probably don’t want to anger them.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Smash Bros. is coming to the Switch, and it’s huge

We knew a new Super Smash Bros. was on the way, but few predicted it would be this huge. Called Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the Nintendo Switch game will feature more than 60 characters, including every single one from the series’s history — plus a few newcomers like fan-favorite Ridley. Each one is being tweaked with a redesigned look, a faster move set, and in some cases, a controversial new butt. It’s been a big effort from the team behind the game. “I speak from the depths of my heart when I say it’s a lot of work,” director Masahiro Sakurai told The Verge.

Cyberpunk 2077

CD Projekt Red pulls back the veil on Cyberpunk 2077

It’s been three years since CD Projekt Red released The Witcher 3, and it’s been nearly as long since Cyberpunk 2077 was first announced. After all of that waiting, the studio decided to make a big splash at E3. It started with a short trailer that, while lacking in gameplay footage, was gorgeous and thrilling. Later, we were able to check out a hands-off demo of the game to see just how its role-playing mechanics work and how Cyberpunk 2077 incorporates elements from other genres like shooters and open-world action games.

Gears 5

Microsoft shifts the focus back to games

Microsoft has had a successful run of hardware with the Xbox One X and Elite Controller. But the company hasn’t done so well when it comes to actual games to play. (Delaying Crackdown 3 didn’t help.) At its E3 showcase, Microsoft tried to right that wrong, and it focused almost entirely on big releases. There was a new Halo, new Forza, new Battletoads, and a trio of Gears of War games. Even better: Microsoft unveiled a new publishing push to bring even more games to the platform.

Bethesda doubles down on single-player games

While Fallout 76’s online nature led to some concern, Bethesda made sure to show off plenty of more traditional single-player games to get fans excited. There was the wild action of Rage 2, a sequel to the fantastic Doom reboot, and a surprise teaser for The Elder Scrolls VI. Perhaps the biggest news of all came when the developer revealed a brand-new franchise, the mysterious sci-fi game Starfield.

Death Stranding

Hideo Kojima shows off actual Death Stranding gameplay

Ever since it was announced, Death Stranding has been an enigma. It’s the next game from Metal Gear Solid mastermind Hideo Kojima, and previously, all we’d seen of Death Stranding were cinematic trailers featuring Norman Reedus, Guillermo del Toro, and some creepy babies. That changed at E3. While the new trailer for the game was plenty weird — and pretty gruesome — it also featured a first glimpse of Death Stranding gameplay. We also learned that Léa Seydoux and Lindsay Wagner have joined the cast, and a few fans believe the new game has some connections to Kojima’s older work.

Kingdom Hearts III has a release date and a lot of trailers

Kingdom Hearts III was everywhere at E3. The Disney / Final Fantasy crossover appeared in three different press conferences, with a different trailer for each. We saw new worlds based on Frozen, Ratatouille, and Pirates of the Caribbean, and we finally learned when the game will come out: January 29th, 2019. We also had the chance to speak to series creator Tetsuya Nomura and learned that even he gets confused sometimes with the series’s convoluted storyline. He also has some strong opinions on Kingdom Hearts’ lead character. “Sora is like my enemy,” he told The Verge.

Photo: EA / DICE

EA takes a stand on Battlefield V

We knew about Battlefield V heading in to E3, and at its annual keynote EA showed off more of the World War II shooter. Unsurprisingly, Battlefield V will feature a battle royale mode, following Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 in adopting the mode popularized by Fortnite and PUBG. But more importantly, EA also took a firm stance on the vocal fans who have been upset by the inclusion of female soldiers in the game. “We stand up for the cause because I think those people who don’t understand it, well, you have two choices: either accept it or don’t buy the game,” chief creative officer Patrick Soderlund said.

The Last of Us Part II

The Last of Us Part II swings between harrowing and tender

One of the most arresting trailers from E3 was for The Last of Us Part II, the sequel to Naughty Dog’s beloved post-apocalyptic action game. The new clip started out sweet, with a beautiful kiss (that took some incredible animation skills to pull off and caused some censorship controversies for Disney) before delving deep into how the game will actually play. The game looks to be just as brutal and memorable as its predecessor, and it’s a game that will explore the idea of revenge from Ellie’s perspective. “With society broken down, how far would you go for justice?” creative director Neil Druckmann told The Verge. “How much would it consume you? How much would it take away from your humanity? How much would it destroy your relationships? Those are all interesting questions for us to explore.”