This year's E3 was a bit of a head-scratcher.

As the world's largest video games trade show and marketing cavalcade came to a close in Los Angeles Thursday, gamers and press had relatively few shocking surprises or major reveals to ponder compared to years past.

Publishers like Sony, Electronic Arts and Bethesda showed off long reels of trailers and videos for upcoming games at press conferences, but most were known quantities: sequels to or expansions of existing games or forthcoming titles unveiled last year. These looked impressive, but few of them wowed.

Still, a handful of games, announcements and press conference moments managed to stand out from the crowd. Here are 10 of this year's best.


Super Mario Odyssey

super mario odyssey 01

Mario's hat is a sentient creature named Cappy, allowing him to take control of other creatures and objects in Super Mario Odyssey. (Nintendo)

Sony and Microsoft shared big numbers — millions of consoles sold, 4K resolution, 60 frames per second — but Nintendo took a different tactic. The latest trailer for Super Mario Odyssey shocked and delighted with a new feature that, while simple in concept, sparked gamers' imaginations: Mario's hat, now a sentient creature named Cappy, allows him to capture and control enemies or objects around the world.

Mario games have always been weird, but the sight of him possessing everything from a Goomba to a Tyrannosaurus rex made Odyssey the game everyone was talking about this E3. Check out our hands-on impressions of the game here.

Release date: Oct. 27

Platform: Nintendo Switch


Spider-Man

Gene mutation

All humans have gene mutations, just like Spiderman (Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment America)

Sony's Spider-Man game for the PlayStation 4 was revealed last year, but a new extended trailer showed Peter Parker going what he does best: web-slinging through New York's skyline, putting the beat down on thugs and taking time to make a witty quip whenever possible.

The buttery smooth animation and a cameo by Miles Morales — Parker's Spidey successor — stood out amidst Sony's impressive, but mostly safe, offerings this year.

Release date: 2018

Platform: PlayStation 4


Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Wolfenstein 2

A resistance fighter has an LSD-fuelled encounter during the trailer for Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. (Machine Games/Bethesda)

Developer Machine Games successfully revitalised the classic shooter Wolfenstein with The New Order in 2014: a punchy, alternate-reality, Second World War shoot-em-up with a surprisingly poignant plot. The trailer for The New Colossus ratchets the weirdness up even further as Nazis have seemingly taken over the United States with a mix of brutal violence and pop culture propaganda (which creative director Jens Matthies calls "Germericana.")

In the trailer's final scene, a resistance fighter runs into a psychedelic, LSD-fuelled hallucination while his partner, a woman pregnant with twins, savagely stabs a Nazi soldier to death. Expect a heavy serving wild tonal shifts and off-kilter humour with this one.

Release date: Oct. 27

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC


A Way Out

Video games often stretch claims of a "cinematic" experience, seemingly out of a desperate desire to be taken as seriously as film and TV in pop culture circles. But A Way Out takes the idea of cinematic presentation and actually uses it in creative, surprising ways. It stars two convicts attempting to break out of prison, and each player controls one of the pair.

The screen is split between the two perspectives, but — in an unusual move — the layout and size of the screens change and shift depending on the events. It's a clever framing mechanic that seems inspired by the complex and variable panel setups of comic books.

Release date: 2018

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC


Sonic Mania

Sonic the Hedgehog games have arguably never reached the height of the original 16-bit platformers from the early 1990s. Sonic Mania attempts to harness fans nostalgia by making a new game more like the games of old.

New trailers and video show cleverly remixed versions of classic levels and the sense of speed that fans remember. Fans who have been waiting years for Sonic to successfully go back to his roots might finally be granted their wish.

Release date: Aug. 15

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC


Donut County

Ben Esposito's Donut County is a contender for the most surprising (and oddest) indie game of E3. Players move a hole in the ground to swallow objects like blades of grass or, yes, donuts. The more objects your hole swallows, the bigger it gets. Eventually you're engulfing cars, animals and even mountains.

The bizarre premise is oddly soothing in practice and players with an obsessive need to clean and organize spaces around them might feel its pull more than anyone else.

Release date: 2017

Platform: PC, Mac, iOS


Xbox Live Avatars

Microsoft's Phil Spencer would probably consider the unveiling of their newest Xbox, the super-powered Xbox One X, as the most important announcement of E3. As far as hardware goes, it probably was. But Xbox's low-key revamping of its avatars was a pleasant surprise. Players create cartoony characters to be used across several games and the Xbox social media platforms — and the newest update includes a wide array of options.

Diversity was a key component, with promotional videos showing avatars with prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs, in addition to more fashion choices, and hair styles.


Star Wars Battlefront 2's Janina Gavankar

Star Wars Battlefront 2

Actress Janina Gavankar introduced Star Wars Battlefront 2 during the Electronic Arts EA Play event in Los Angeles. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Electronic Arts' Star Wars Battlefront 2 promises to hit all the notes for which fans and critics of the first game clamoured (including John Boyega).​ But Janina Gavankar, who stars as an elite Imperial squadron leader, stole the show at EA's press conference last Saturday.

Armed with a steely gaze, an eye-catching Star Wars-themed dress and a passion for games that couldn't be more genuine, Gavankar (seen on TV's True Blood and Arrow) injected an otherwise plodding and awkward conference with genuine enthusiasm and an arresting stage presence.

Release date: Nov.17

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC


Metroid Prime 4

metroid prime 4 teaser

Nintendo revealed a working logo - and nothing else - for Metroid Prime 4, in development for the Switch. (Nintendo)

Nintendo hasn't released a good Metroid game since 2007's Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Fans have begged for the series' lead, Samus Aran, to return to glory for years, but received only a handful of disappointing spin-offs in return.

So imagine the surprise when Nintendo revealed a working logo (and nothing more) for Metroid Prime 4, currently in development for the Switch. Fans shrieked aloud and wept with joy in reaction videos not unlike those seen after a Game of Thrones season finale. 

Release date: TBA

Platform: Nintendo Switch


Beyond Good and Evil 2

beyond good and evil 2 teaser

Ubisoft unveiled a teaser trailer for Beyond Good and Evil 2, a sequel to its 2003 cult classic game. (Ubisoft Montpellier)

Michel Ancel's Beyond Good and Evil, released by Ubisoft in 2003, was a surprise hit adventure with a diverse cast, but less-than-stellar sales. After a teaser trailer in 2008 and little else since, gamers and reporters had assumed the long-awaited sequel was dead in the water.

But a lush CG-animated trailer, reintroducing a fantastical world where humans co-exist with talking pigs and monkeys, brought raucous applause from the audience and tears from Ancel onstage. Players should temper their expectations, however, as no release date was announced.

Release date: TBA

Platform: TBA