Behold the Gamer’s Notebook Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) Awards, an annual tradition representing quality, originality and whether or not the line was short enough for me to get my hands on a controller.

Most Unbelievably Cool Original Title: Horizon Zero Dawn


Horizon Zero Dawn screenshot

For those of you who have dreamed of a world where you can battle robot dinosaurs, your wait will be over, shortly. Guerilla Games’ Horizon Zero Dawn is neither a sequel nor a remake, but an altogether new title that pits you — as a tribal huntress with an electronic, high-tech crossbow — against a world inhabited by robot-animal hybrid creatures, obviously the spawn of machines run amok as they’ve melded with the natural world. This title, a Sony Playstation 4-exclusive, is expected to be released in 2016.

Best “I can’t believe I’ve lived long enough to see this” Announcement: Final Fantasy VII Remake

The year was 1997 and a dweeb I knew named Jason owned a Playstation. I too was a dweeb, but this guy? Who buys Japanese role playing games? Jason did. (Sadly, I did not, a fact that I regret to this day.)  Jason brought over his copy of the newly released Final Fantasy VII and as I explored and fought my way through Midgar, I, too, became a dweeb.

To put this into perspective: announcing a remake of Final Fantasy VII is to gamers as the Pope announcing the return of Christ, in HD. The remake has all but convinced me to go next-gen, but don’t expect to see it for a few years.

Best Use of the medium for visual storytelling: What Remains of Edith Finch

Folks can argue for hours about the artistic merit of video games. I’m here to say that the debate is over. Games can be art, and as proof I offer Giant Sparrow’s What Remains of Edith Finch, a trip through the bizarre memories of a girl returned home.

You play as Edith Finch who becomes a cat chasing a bird through the trees of the Pacific Northwest, a shark hungry for seals and an owl hunting rabbits. The game takes you through these surreal visuals, challenging gamers to question the reality of their own memories. It’s a fascinating experiment and one that looks as though it could be a game of the year contender or fade into obscurity like the memories it implores. What Remains of Edith Finch will be released for the Sony Playstation 4 in 2016.

Gamer’s Notebook “Lawnmower Man” Award: Virtuix’s Omni Treadmill


Virtuix’s Omni Treadmill

As I was hooked into the harness, the Oculus headset lowered over my eyes, I thought to myself, “This is the future of gaming.” I may have also thought the same thing 20 years ago with Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, but this time I mean it, damn it.

Virtuix’s Omni Treadmill is less a treadmill than a bowl. Slip on a special set of slick shoes, step in and you’re slippin’ and slidin’ all over the place. Thankfully, a harness keeps you in place and from there it’s like learning to walk again. With assistance from the Oculus Rift, a virtual-reality headset, players move about in a 3D world through their own will power. The implications of this technology go beyond gaming and into the world of, say, physical rehabilitation or perhaps exercise for those of us who wish to reap the benefits without stepping outdoors. Virtual reality has taken the leap forward into legitimate contention for your dollars as an entire alley of VR technology was on display at E3.

The “You Left a Great Impression!” or “I’m Very Disappointed, Son” Awards

Notice a pattern? Most of the awards went to Sony. Sorry, Microsoft. But that isn’t to say that you had a bad show. Nintendo, on the other hand, well… no one wants a co-op Metroid.

Bethesda’s Fallout 4, Studio MDHR’s visually incredible Xbox One exclusive platformer Cuphead and Kojima Productions’ Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain all will be must-haves in the near future and win my “You Left a Great Impression!” award.

 


Nerdfest at E3

But finally, it must be said. The winner of the “I’m Very Disappointed, Son” award at E3 2015 is Team ICO’s The Last Guardian, a game that simply seemed outdated, dull and tedious.

 


Life is Strange – Gamer’s Notebook runner-up for artistry

So concludes another year of E3. Will we see any of the aforementioned titles before E3 2016? One thing’s for certain: the future is bright so you better wear shades, or an Oculus. Whatever you have lying around.


Sword and Backpack intrepid gamer Chris O’Neal at E3


Chris O’Neal is a visual storyteller painting a picture with words, or something like that. Follow him on Instagram @agentoneal.