Thunderbolt logo

E3 2015: Standout titles for the year

E3 2015

E3 2015 is a show that will be remembered for those once lofty, far-away promises that unfolded within a short space of time. There is also the promise of the immediate future. While most of the show leaned heavily into what we can expect to see next year and beyond, there’s a burst of short-term promise that should come between now and the next time we are here. Here are the games that are set to define this period and have left a sizable impact throughout E3 2015.

Super Mario Maker

Nintendo are adapting to become the company everyone asks it to be. Embracing the sizable community of ROM-Hacks for their most popular franchise, it’s keyed in on the immense desire to build out imaginative levels in the world it’s provided. Super Mario Maker fulfills a lifetime of desire for many advocates of the series. As has become clear in every videogame with a level creator, everyone wants to recreate and build upon their primary experiences with videogames and now this can happen within the context of an actual Mario. During a dire Nintendo direct that found little new buzz for their showing, the 30th Anniversary of the Mario series was their crutch and stood as the crux of what Nintendo wants to create.


Unravel is after all of our hearts. Its presentation stands as the most human and genuine moment of the year’s showings. Martin Sahlin, a soft-spoken and nervous Swede, created a moving presentation that sells the concept. His representative yarn-based puzzler unravels the threads that move through everyone’s lives and next to his heavily produced contemporaries at the EA presser, stood as one of the most hopeful ideas for the future of these shows. For once, a business conference sells us on product through its own humanity.

Fallout 4

The destined ‘big hitter’ for this E3, Fallout 4’s trailer instills a huge amount of faith and confidence in the direction of the series. Much has been improved and many base complaints are being ironed out while still holding true to the overarching vision of what Fallout has always been about, experiencing the depths of a wasteland, your way. We’ll all be barricaded up, making copious amounts of babies in our Fallout Shelter apps until November.


Cuphead is a celebration of the technique and ethos of early animation. It’s simply an aesthetic pleasure. Here is a proof that size and budget no longer necessarily equates to the kind of game that might overtake a conference. Of everything shown at Microsoft, Cuphead is the game that immediately attracts us not on the promises of content or manufactured hype but on its inherent qualities as a videogame.

Halo 5

After the messy launch of the Master Chief Collection, we could only feign cautious optimism for a full-fledged new Halo. That was before the Microsoft conference, when 343 Industries showed off the new Warzone match type. Its vague pitch was that it would combine everything that is distinctive of the Halo single and multiplayer experience into one game type, spread onto matches several times larger than the largest map. The trailer played out with a large-team Red vs Blue battle filled with AI of all varieties littering the battlefield. This is the full potential that was once hinted at within the Firefights of Halo: ODST and Reach and has given a significant reason to feel excited about a series that for the first time probably needed one.


From Campo Santo comes an intriguing first-person adventure experiment. What is immediately compelling about Firewatch is that next to similar exploration adventures, it finds a way to create communication and a relationship with the player through the use of radio calls. Through use of an alluring art style and contextual narrative, Firewatch looks to move this particular segment of games forward later this year.

Xenoblade Chronicles X

Monolith Soft’s opus to the mechanical robot and the tradition of the JRPG is set for the holidays. Trailers show vast pockets of land and fun means for traversal. These guys make golden, if not longwinded epics that fulfill a niche for Nintendo that’s not going to be met anywhere else.

Just Cause 3

Bombastic and unrestrained, Just Cause 3 further emphasizes the freedom of expression through play in some exciting ways. Movement through the world appears to flow in the most phenomenal way. Once we reach the point where Just Cause’s massive, sprawling worlds are adequately met with the content and mechanical polish they deserve, this series ought to fully justify itself as a top contender among open worlds.


Super. Hot. Superhot is emblematic of the new game jam culture and is one of the early successes of rapid development. They have found a brilliant idea for a shooter and it demands immediate expansion. The scene only moves forward when you do and otherwise remains suspended in time, bullets hanging in the air, enemies frozen in place. This creates the perfect balance of tension and movement. The only problem with the original version is that there wasn’t more of it. This is what every game jam entry should strive to be, a perfect concept that leads into something greater.

Star Fox Zero

After years of demand for Platinum to take on the Nintendo series, we find them working at the early Star Fox prototype shown at last year’s show. It expresses concepts from the Nintendo 64 title and looks to expand that with new mechanics while bunkering down as a campaign-only experience. There is still the rough grounding that comes with its life beginning as a tech concept for the gyroscope. Then we look at the difference between the tech demo origins and final product of Metal Gear Revengance and can find a good deal of hope. Nintendo and Platinum probably aren’t going to make a disappointing Star Fox.


DICE is an absolute expert of first-person craft. It has formulated the ideal multiplayer template and when their games work, everything comes together in the most cohesive way. Taking this to the once spiritually inspired arena of Star Wars Battlefront with the only right developer for the project and there are immense expectations behind that. What’s being demoed at the show conveys exactly the experience that one would expect with “Battlefield from DICE”. When everything works, DICE is going to deliver exactly what you want.

Mario Paper Jam

In the midst of Nintendo’s own identity crisis, it’s taken on a preoccupation with the fractured identity of its characters. You’re a kid now, you’re a squid now. The trailer for the new Zelda pitches us into a town where everyone believes they are the hero and multiple Links must work together to prove out who is the hero of time. The latest mainline Mario’s greatest new pickup is a cherry that forms a multiple of the player on contact. Paper Jam’s concept is a torn world between the universe of Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario where they find blends of both styles of game, compartmentalizing Nintendo’s two styles of RPG into one promising package.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

  1. Walker

    26th June 2015


    No mention for D4?

    Missing honorable mentions… don’t you agree, Zach?


    28th June 2015


    This list is full of great games. Like xenoblade chronicles, halo 5, etc. Each game-play video made me want these games even more. I already know that Xenoblade chronicles is suppose to be a massive game, filled with a great story-line. I have always loved games like Halo and Fall out, so when any of these games come out, it’ll be great.

Gentle persuasion

You should like us on Facebook.