The massive media circus known as E3 really needs no introduction. So this year we thought we’d shed some light on our process for determining our Best of E3 award recipients from the dozens of games we had the pleasure of experiencing in our few days at the event.
First and foremost, we’re firm believers in awarding excellence while also making an effort to put aside any form of personal bias that might otherwise get in the way of the decision making process.
Each day the event team - consisting of David Piner, Skyla Grimes, and myself – would meet to discuss our experiences from that day. We’d make note of what stood out as nomination-worthy, or any titles we thought were worth a second (and sometimes third) look while at the event.
Once the event wrapped up, we sat down for a long, healthy debate that ended up spilling over into an even longer email thread over the following days.
The results can be seen below with our Best of E3 2014 awards. In each case we felt the titles selected represented the absolute best in the categories listed. At the end of the day, we’re all a bunch of hardcore gaming nerds too, so are just as excited to discuss our picks with our readers as you are to see the list of award recipients each year.
On that note, we’re pleased to present you with Ten Ton Hammer’s Best of E3 2014 Awards!
Best Mobile Game
When it comes to MMOGs and massively social online gaming, PC continues to reign supreme when it comes to dominant platforms. But like most genres, there has been a concerted effort to make the jump to mobile and tablet devices, though only a handful of titles have truly embraced the concept to the degree that we’ve seen with World of Tanks Blitz.
In many ways, Blitz is what you get when you take the mentality and resources of building a triple-A title, but remain conscious of what the experience needs to truly excel on a given device.
We’ve watched Blitz grow from a more basic prototype into one of the best games we’ve ever had the pleasure to experience on a tablet. Hats off to Wargaming for making World of Tanks Blitz one of the truly standout titles at E3 2014, regardless of platform.
More from E3 2014: Command from the Can with World of Tanks Blitz - Hands-On from E3 2014
Best New Concept
We know what you might be thinking: how can Shroud of the Avatar win an award for Best New Concept when the game is based upon many of the same RPG hooks that helped make the Ultima series so successful?
The simple fact is that we’ve reached an era when it is a breath of fresh air to see a developer return to the roots of what an MMORPG could – and perhaps, should – be. It’s incredibly fitting that a visionary like Richard Garriott who helped put the industry on the map to begin with would be leading that charge.
But Shroud is also genuinely pushing for innovation and will attempt to address some of the biggest nitpicks we’ve had with MMOs over the years. A perfect example is making crafting matter (finally). Items crafted by players will no longer be vendor fodder or the crappier equivalent of quest rewards. Instead, items that players create will be baked into the loot table of creatures out in the world bearing the original seal of the person who created it.
The proverbial gauntlet has been thrown down, and Portalarium one of the key developers leading the charge on the future of MMORPGs with Shroud of the Avatar.
More from E3 2014: Restricted Entry - Media and Early Access Games
Being able to truly specialize in a role based on what you choose to play is somewhat of a lost art form in the online gaming industry. Combat roles have been woefully sanitized and marginalized across genres in favor of instant gratification and couch gaming.
One of the reasons we’re so excited about Armored Warfare is that it manages to achieve both of those things in one slick package. Armored Warfare is not only instantly accessible, but also reinforces the notion that highly specialized roles in a multiplayer setting can be an amazing thing.
The cherry on top is that Obsidian has managed to achieve all of this without devolving into yet another “met too” MOBA. In fact, they deserve a lot of credit for showcasing the incredible potential for Armored Warfare to provide a kick-ass PvE experience that’s also been lost in translation with the massive push towards online social gaming.
More from E3 2014: On the Front Lines in Armored Warfare at E3 2014
Being dropped into a new MMORPG for the first time with limited time on the clock can be a daunting experience for developers and media alike. It’s kind of like test driving a new car. You know the basics of driving, but are hoping for that magical wow-factor to kick in the moment you get behind the wheel.
Our hands-on time with Swordsman during E3 2014 gave us that perfect slice of gameplay that helped illustrate the potential of its combat system, and how it holds up in a group setting.
Martial arts combat can be some of the trickiest to pull off in an MMORPG, but Swordsman looks and feels spectacular right out of the box in the combat department. Swordsman also attempts to retain true to its setting rather than being reworked too heavily based on what is assumed will be received better with a Western audience.
With the recent launch of the Swordsman closed beta, we’ll be diving deeper into the overall gameplay, but based on our hands-on time during E3 Swordsman’s gameplay deserves top marks.
More from E3 2014: Hands-On with Swordsman at E3 2014
Even though MMOs are our bread and butter here on Ten Ton Hammer, we equally big nerds for when it comes to exceptional RPGs. After all, the extended acronym for the type of games we cover does happen to be MMORPG.
While we’re still mystified at the notion that a sharp silver sword is somehow less effective against human components (seriously, what’s up with that part of Witcher’s combat system?) we’ve been longtime fans of the video game series. Even if not readily apparent on the surface, we’ve definitely seen its influence on many of the more recent takes on active combat system, talent trees, and questing.
The Witcher 3 takes all of the components that made the first two games great and adds in an extra layer of depth to choice and – even more awesomely – a proper open world experience. Our preview at E3 2014 kicked much RPG ass, and made it abundantly clear that Witcher 3 was hands-down the best RPG at the event.
More from E3 2014: The Witcher III: Wild Hunt Preview E3 2014
Right when we thought E3 was devolving into little more than canned marketing hype for titles we already know plenty about, Crytek stepped up to the plate and hit what sports ball folks would call a home run with its reveal of HUNT: Horrors of the Gilded Age.
In fact, the only thing that held HUNT back from being in the running for our Best of Show award is that it wasn’t playable during the event. However, what we were shown still managed to land HUNT squarely at the top of our list of most anticipated games.
We expect big things from HUNT: Horrors of the Gilded Age, and are already nervously eyeballing the calendar and counting down the days until we’ll be able to get our hands on the game. The multiplayer monster hunting fun in such a rich and detailed setting simply cannot come soon enough.
More from E3 2014: HUNT: First Impressions of the Gilded Age
Best of Show - E3 2014
We weren’t sure quite what to expect when we sat down to play Skyforge at E3 2014, but by the time our hands-on session was over we knew we’d just experienced our Best of Show from the event.
Skyforge packs a ton of exceptional gameplay concepts and elements into its fantasy / sci-fi setting. From its fluid combat system or unique take on class unlocks, to the superb graphics and storyline rationale as to why players can be defeated in combat but keep right on going like the Energizer bunny, Skyforge delivers.
Did we mention how the group combat in Skyforge kicks much sci-fi ass? It does.
We anticipate big things from Skyforge, and you can guarantee that we’ll be covering the game with much gusto moving forward. In the meantime, congrats to Allods Team from Ten Ton Hammer for winning our Best of Show award from E3 2014!