With E3 less than a month away, we’ve still got a nice run of games coming out before the summer lull, and while there are a lot of new titles coming out, we thought it’d be worthwhile to check out some of the most anticipated new additions to popular franchises. In honor of E3 (as well as the fact that this field of new titles made it easy), these games are all the third installments of their AAA series. Aside from just being an easy way to group these reviews, this is actually a pretty solid test of these franchises themselves; one good game in a series is luck, two good games is coincidence, but three good games in the same universe is a pattern (fourteen is just confusing, I dunno)(HOW MANY FF GAMES?) It’s a solid litmus test of what we’re expecting from our games as they move into the new generation and, hopefully, a good lead for other major studios to follow.
The first of the series of threes to come out, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt has been a long time coming. Finally, we get to see the end of Geralt of Rivia’s tale as he tries to save Ciri, a child of prophecy, from the mythical horsemen of the Wild Hunt. After the amazing blowout success of its predecessor, we’re all expecting a lot from The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, and if the trailers are to be believed, they’re ready to bring it. For the first time in the Witcher series, Wild Hunt will take place in an open world, blending its unique style of swordplay, traps, and magic with real freeroaming across an enormous map. In this map, you can do all of the things you had done in previous Witcher games, just on a much much larger scale. For fans of The Witcher II: Assassins of Kings, the combat is going to be comfortably familiar, with the only major change being an expanded magic system and a crossbow in lieu of thrown bombs, so veterans of the series can jump right in and, if they’re feeling particularly hardy, start at a nice high difficulty level to get the full experience.
Of course, we still believe the story is going to stay true to its predecessors; expect a dark, rich fantasy world full of betrayal, sorcery, and a choice system set entirely in shades of grey. Geralt of Rivia has never been a squeaky-clean hero, and even though the series has become immensely popular, the studio CD Projekt Red doesn’t intend to change him into one either.
Because we’re all out of modern wars to fight, Treyarch is moving us further into the future with Black Ops 3. Set in the same universe as the first two, it’s unsure how Black Ops 3 will fit into the nature of the Mason family and the numbers; this game is set almost fifty years after the events of Black Ops II, so either everything has been changed for a long time ( however you finished it, the events of Black Ops II did leave us a few big unsolved mysteries), or they may take a spiritual sequel route, keeping the numbers and changing everything else.
While it’s been said Call of Duty’s biggest failing is its lack of story, the Black Ops series at least tried to give us noteworthy characters and a believable rationale for their actions. With Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, we got a lot of tech and some great multiplayer, but none of the campaign characters (save Kevin Spacey, obviously) made any real impression. The first Black Ops had a main character with a surprising twist. The second Black Ops had a thoroughly believable villain. While we shouldn’t expect anything like Deus Ex from Black Ops 3, even though by this point in the series there’s some healthy overlap, it’s a safe bet to say that we can expect more from this storyline than we got in Ghosts.
Of course, like most Call of Duty games, this one’s going to ring all the familiar bells; a single player campaign, a huge multiplayer setup, and another zombies co-op mode. From what we’ve already seen in the beta, the multiplayer is going to seem a lot like Advanced Warfare and Titanfall, so get ready for a lot of boost jumps, drones, and wallrunning to make your multiplayer games even more chaotic. In addition, there’s talk that some of the longest running perks in Black Ops 3 are going to be tweaked or even removed, so even veteran multiplayer fanatics may have to adjust their styles a bit when the game releases.
Star Wars: Battlefront (or, Battlefront 3)
While it’s technically not the third installment of the Battlefront series but rather a reboot, it is the latest piece of the franchise and one we’ve been waiting for for a long time. Fortunately, just this past May 4th, we got a lot of new details about this exciting new game.
There is something that is troubling fans of this franchise, however; because of the popularity and quantity of futuristic first-person shooters, there’s a growing fear that Battlefront III won’t stand out. The tagline “Call of Duty: Star Wars” and a handful of variations have made their way around the Internet a few times and, especially with Black Ops III, Deus Ex: Humanity Divided, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, it’s not an irrational fear to have. However, just recently, DICE worked to put those fears to bed, saying that your regular blasters won’t have iron sights and that there won’t be squads or classes in the new Battlefront. While the new “classless” system with player-controlled loadouts may sound a lot like Call of Duty, this should just be the exception that proves the rule.
For gameplay, we can expect a return to all the big name planets from previous games like Tatooine, Hoth, and Endor, as well as planets that were only alluded to in the films like Sullust, as well as the planet Jakku from the new film, The Force Awakens. What we’re not getting, however, is space combat and, while that might be a turn-off for Rogue Squadron fanatics, the game should still be pretty solid.
If good things come in threes and we’ve got three good threes coming out in our near future, what does that mean for us gamers? Hopefully, it means we can keep enjoying the franchises that have proven themselves twice already.
Dusty has interviewed some of the brightest minds in the video game industry at E3, written for Lifehacker, and much more. Dusty is also a passionate PS4 gamer who has a BA in journalism.