The trailers that mattered from the biggest video game show of the year

Ben Gilbert

Every June, the video game industry gathers in Los Angeles to take over the LA Convention Center with massive banners and signs in an explosion of marketing. It's bombastic. It's loud. And it's a way for the game industry to demonstrate to the non-video game world what's worth paying attention to in the coming holiday season.

The event, known as "E3" (the "Electronic Entertainment Expo"), is a monument to expenditure in the service of marketing. And thankfully for us, that means dozens of gorgeous trailers. Right here, we've gathered last week's best of the best for your approval.

  • "The Last Guardian" easily stole the show, finally being "re-announced" after years of carefully worded statements from Sony's PlayStation team on its whereabouts. The game follows a small boy and his pet...cat-bird-thing. They're dependent on each other to solve puzzles and continue on their journey through what looks to be a crumbling castle of sorts. What's got people really excited is its creator, Fumito Ueda, whose previous two games ("Ico" and "Shadow of the Colossus") are widely-acclaimed as two of the best games ever made.

  • "Final Fantasy VII" is finally – finally! – getting remade after nearly 20 years of fans demanding it. This is the seminal Japanese role-playing game that gave many game fans their first taste of emotional storytelling in video games.

  • "Uncharted 4: A Thief's End," the most impressive trailer of the show in terms of visuals, is the followup to the most successful franchise on the PlayStation 3. In it, you control an Indiana Jones-esque explorer named Nathan Drake (from a third-person perspective) as he explores lost cities and knocks out the jerks guarding them.

  • "Horizon Zero Dawn" is a gorgeous, third-person action game starring a ferocious warrior who's taking on an army of dinosaur-like robots. It's from the studio that spent the past decade making "Killzone" games, Guerrilla Games, in Amsterdam.

  • "Dreams" is the next game from the studio that created the "LittleBigPlanet" franchise, and it's somewhat indescribable. It appears to be a creation engine of sorts, enabling players to create worlds (and games) based on their dreams.

  • "ReCore" is being created by two famed developers: Keiji Inafune, who created the iconic "Mega Man" franchise, and Armature Studio, which is led by the game director of the acclaimed "Metroid Prime" game series.

  • "Halo 5: Guardians" is the next major entry in the "Halo" game series, and the first major "Halo" to land on Microsoft's latest console, the Xbox One. Microsoft started its big Xbox press conference last week with this trailer, which shows off a new, eSports-inspired multiplayer game type.

  • "Cuphead" is, unbelievably, being made by two people. They're brothers, actually – Chad and Jaren Moldenhauer – and they came up with the idea for "Cuphead" many years ago. The brothers have finally made their dream a reality in "Cuphead," which takes 1930s-style animation (think: "Steamboat Willy" era Disney) and combines it with a 2D shooting game. It's dripping with style, and largely beloved based largely on its looks.

  • "Sea of Thieves" is a brand new franchise from veteran UK game studio Rare, which is now owned by Microsoft. In "Sea of Thieves," players take on the role of a seafaring lad or lady – basically a pirate, though more "Pirates of the Caribbean" than "Captain Philips" – whose mission is to loot and plunder. At least that's what we know about it so far.

  • "Gears of War 4" is the long-awaited next entry in the "Gears of War" franchise – a game where you play as humans the size of couches, who speak like truckers, and use a gun with a saw attachment to literally cut through enemy aliens. It's got quite a loyal following.

  • "Super Mario Maker" is, as it sounds, a creation tool for making new games starring Super Mario. Every Mario game, from the original NES "Super Mario Bros." through the Wii U's "New Super Mario Bros. U" is supported, which is to say, "You can create Mario games from any point in the franchise's last 30 years." Notably, that doesn't include any 3D Mario games ("Super Mario Galaxy," for instance).

  • "Star Fox Zero" is Nintendo's first foray into the "Star Fox" franchise in nearly a decade. It's a partial re-make of the original "Star Fox" – which first appeared on the Super Nintendo in 1993 – and partial new game. 

  • "Yoshi's Wooly World" is a beautifully stylized yarn world that Mario's favorite dinosaur buddy must carefully navigate. Nintendo's apparently doubling down on the concept it first tested in "Kirby's Epic Yarn," another Nintendo game starring an important but secondary character, also created of yarn. Notably, Nintendo's releasing a plushie Yoshi amiibo (the figurines that have helped reinvigorate Nintendo's financial numbers as of late) alongside the game. It's, unsurprisingly, adorable.

  • "Metroid Prime: Federation Force" is a handheld entry in the long-running "Metroid" franchise. It promises "four-player co-op experiences in the 'Metroid Prime' universe," which is to say, "It's a handheld 'Metroid' first-person shooter game, set in areas from previous games, now built around four-player co-op play."

  • "Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash" is literally the only upcoming tennis game on any console, from any game maker. Gone are the days of "Top Spin" and "Virtua Tennis" – Super Mario's tennis game is quite literally the only game in town. The next game in the franchise is headed to Wii U and, if you're looking to trounce Bowser in a round of tennis, this is your game.

  • Microsoft's demo of its "mixed reality" headset, HoloLens, was incredible. It showed how users can take their "Minecraft" worlds and bring them into the real world, using HoloLens. This video of "Minecraft" brand director Lydia Winters showcasing how the headset works with the game is unbelievable.

  • "Star Wars Battlefront" is all the "Star Wars" battles you played out in the living room as a child, but in an unbelievably handsome multiplayer game. As AT-ATs stroll through Hoth, you're either a Rebel or an Imperial trying to take down the enemy before you're taken down. "Battlefront" isn't a direct lead into the much-anticipated, upcoming "Star Wars" film, but it does feature an important battle that sets the stage for the new movie. And if nothing else, it's incredibly pretty.

  • "Kingdom Hearts 3" is the third entry in a series that asks "What happens when you combine Disney characters with 'Final Fantasy' sensibility, all in a third-person action setting?" If that sounds to you like the perfect combination of two rabidly devoted fan bases, you'd be right – fans freaked out when the game was finally shown last week for the first time. 

  • "Mirror's Edge: Catalyst" was a long-time in the making. The first game in the series, "Mirror's Edge," launched in 2008. Though critically-acclaimed, it didn't sell as well as its publisher Electronic Arts would've liked. Due to overwhelming demand from fans, EA is creating a sequel (an origin story, so maybe more "prequel") named "Mirror's Edge: Catalyst." Why do fans love it? It's unique! "Mirror's Edge" is a game about first-person parkour, and flips the generally accepted concepts of a first-person game on its head.

  • "Ghost Recon: Wildlands" is an open-world third-person shooter, which relies heavily on co-op play with friends to succeed in a variety of different missions. In the trailer, you'll see that missions can be accomplished in a variety of different ways: sneaky and benevolent or loud and savage, among others. 

  • "Dark Souls 3" is the third entry in the "Souls" series, but really the fifth entry in this style of game – unique to its developer, From Software. The simplest way to describe these games is as third-person action games, but that'd be selling them very short. What keeps fans coming back to the "Souls" series is its challenge: these are not games that will hold your hand, and if anything are more demanding than most other games available today. 

  • "Mass Effect: Andromeda" is the next entry in the ongoing space opera that is the "Mass Effect" series. Rather than follow the (hotly contested) events that concluded "Mass Effect 3," "Andromeda" has players venturing into a previously unexplored part of the galaxy. It looks to be a bit of a space western, if anything, which we're fully ready to embrace based solely on the trailer below.

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