E3 2019 was something of a mixed bag, with a clear emphasis being placed on finishing up the current generation of games with some standouts while publishers and developers begin earnest preparation for the next-gen consoles on the horizon. With that in mind, there weren't quite as many bombshell gaming announcements taking place on the show floor. Instead, fans witnessed a lot of updates on projects they were already aware of, especially those that had been announced long ago but had received very little of the spotlight since, like Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
Despite there being fewer gigantic announcements, the trade-off was that many of the games displayed at E3 2019 will actually be released later in the year. As developers hustle to release on-going projects before Xbox Scarlett and PS5 date them too heavily, there's an electric release schedule for the rest of 2019 that gamers simply shouldn't ignore. It's easy to look into 2020 and beyond after E3 2019 wrapped up, but doing so would be a mistake, as there's plenty of intriguing titles coming in the back half of the year that will challenge current contenders like Kingdom Hearts 3 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice for the coveted Game of the Year award.
In fact, the next six months of gaming will have a lot to offer fans of many different genres, and might be a bit difficult to sort through without some help. Luckily, Screen Rant was on the E3 2019 showfloor testing many of the games debuting in the latter half of 2019, and our team has put together a collection of games that are must-plays throughout the rest of the year.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Believe it or not, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare isn't just good - it's great. We walked away from the hands-off demo shown at E3 2019 with the impression that developer Infinity Ward was on track to completely revitalize the franchise thanks to a combination of mind-blowing graphics, stunning real-world physics, and a depth of gameplay that's never been seen in a Call of Duty game previously.
The most appealing part of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was in its level design, which took players from room to room as they attempted to clear a house of terrorist operatives. It's a sequence that hasn't been Call of Duty's bread and butter in previous iterations, with the series often choosing to incorporate larger level design that sees special operatives traverse expansive maps through several firefights to complete a mission. In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's demo, the team was confined to just one house, ratcheting up the intensity and claustrophobia to create a more stimulating experience. If the multiplayer is even close to the same level of exciting as the demo, the Call of Duty franchise is in for a resurgence in 2019.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake caught a lot of criticism for being in development since its 2015 announcement, but another title that's flown under the radar a little bit has been Psychonauts 2. The first true successor to the cult classic Psychonauts was first announced at The Game Awards in December 2015, and will finally be launched later this year. Protagonist Raz returns to unravel the mystery around who ordered the kidnapping of Truman Zanotto, the father of Raz's love interest, Lili.
While we didn't get a hands-on with the title at E3 2019, we got to view an extended demo of the game, and Psychonauts 2 looks like a sure-fire hit. That's largely because of it's exhilarating gameplay, which sees players blend a number of psychic abilities to navigate complex and visually dynamic maps inside the minds of a colorful cast of characters. Psychonauts 2 looks like the best platformer we've seen this side of Super Mario Odyssey, and provided the rest of the game looks remotely like the level we saw during the demo, there's little preventing Psychonauts 2 from being a serious contender to Game of the Year before 2019 wraps up.
Control looks absolutely brilliant. Remedy's upcoming 2019 release is equal parts third-person shooter and superhero game, with hero Jesse able to manipulate objects through telekinesis to protect herself. The mechanics look fluid, fun, and most importantly, useful, aiding the player in moving through the environment and dealing with enemies as they rise up to challenge Jesse.
The best part of Control, though, is the way it feels like a successor to Remedy's other hits like Alan Wake. Control is just weird enough to be unsettling, just unsettling enough to be scary, and its pitch-perfect tension thanks to the paranormal forces that color its world make it feel almost like a film during the demo. Although the demo's apparent glitchy nature is a red flag for one of 2019's biggest summer games, by and large, Control looks like it will be Remedy's last exciting contribution to the current generation of video games.
Bandai Namco's Code Vein has been marketed as something like a cross between anime and Dark Souls, but it really is its own game. During our hands-on with the most recent build at E3 2019, we noticed that the game feels a lot quicker than the Souls series, with an emphasis placed on flashier moves executed at the right time rather than the grind that typically accompanies combat in the genre. There's also a companion system that makes Code Vein feel like it has both a little more customization and a slightly more forgiving system, as companions deal a hefty amount of damage and can help heal or resurrect fallen players.
During our boss fight against the Blade Bearer, Code Vein felt both fair and intriguing. After dying in the first attempt, we switched companions to a longer-range option and felt the tide of battle shift perceptibly. With small adjustments like that making such a big difference in the way battles play out, and a more fleshed out companion system promised by the developer before release, Code Vein could realistically be one of the sleeper hits of 2019. A blend of atypical colorful graphics and splashes of style certainly makes Code Vein stand out from its competitors, in any case.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is the game Dragon Ball Z fans have been waiting for. While Xenoverse has been the franchise for players to live out their own Dragon Ball dreams, Kakarot will allow fans to finally live out the story of Goku, Earth's mightiest hero, with a level of attention to detail that hasn't existed in previous efforts. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot will follow the story of Goku through his battles with Raditz, Nappa, Vegeta, and Frieza at least, although it's unclear just how far the story will span at this point and if DLC is in the cards to further the narrative post-release.
What we do know, however, is that Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a lot of fun. Players can work their way through open-area maps of famous Dragon Ball locations, completing side quests, fishing, cooking, and generally getting into trouble in the way only Goku can. When it comes time to advance the story, fans will be treated to some epic battles that are satisfyingly close to their anime counterparts, with the Raditz fight in the demo so closely mirroring what happened on the popular television show that it felt like we were watching it all over again. With Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball Super: Broly fresh on the minds of fans, now seems like the perfect time to cash in with a return to the Dragon Ball Z saga that really started it all for the franchise in the west.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a bold new look for the franchise, shedding BJ Blazkowicz as protagonist in favor of his twin daughters Jessica and Sophia. It's also a dramatic change in the way developers Arkane Studios and MachineGames are approaching gameplay, as Youngblood is a co-op game at heart that's meant to be played with a friend. Naturally, the AI will take over should players not have a companion handy, but that's raised concerns with fans over whether or not the game will feel like an authentic Wolfenstein experience.
Our nearly hour-long hands-on with Wolfenstein: Youngblood at E3 2019 confirmed that the future of the franchise is in good hands. We were pleasantly surprised by the way the game embraces being a bit more light-hearted thanks to its younger protagonists, but relieved to find that the frenzied action that has come to define the series remains intact. With a combination of new characters, refined coop play, and verticality that makes maps a pleasure to explore, Wolfenstein: Youngblood should be at the top of the list of games to play in the latter half of 2019.