Forget trailers: The best upcoming games we played at this year’s E3

In another year, these weird games wouldn't necessarily rise to the top of our "best of E3" list. But when the biggest gaming companies focus almost exclusively on non-playable trailers, our picks have to go to the games we can personally test.

Enlarge / In another year, these weird games wouldn’t necessarily rise to the top of our “best of E3” list. But when the biggest gaming companies focus almost exclusively on non-playable trailers, our picks have to go to the games we can personally test. (credit: Chris Klimowski / Gamious / rose-engine)

As the dust begins to settle from another hype-filled series of gaming announcements, timed for what used to be known as “E3,” one thing stands out: folks in the press, like myself, have fewer ways to go hands-on with the biggest publishers’ wares and tell you what stands out. Carefully staging bluster is easy; getting Ars Technica staffers to agree that the games in question are fun or interesting to play is not.

While a post-pandemic landscape has led more gamemakers to begin to offer remote game demos, none of the industry’s current “triple-A” titans offered me a way to play their most-hyped titles, the ones typically slated to launch a few months after a big June showcase. Sorry, Metroid Dread and Age of Empires 4.

Even so, plenty of other gamemakers were happy to offer me 30-minute slices of their cherished games-to-be, whether via direct downloads or cloud-streamed demos on services like Parsec. No, these are not blockbusters by any stretch, but guess what, games companies? You had your chance. And the indies took it.

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