The 11 greatest trailers of E3 over the ages

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E3-Trailers

I f***ing love E3. Whatever the end result of all that hype is, it’s hard to not fall in love with the annual event. It’s that one time of the year when I’m truly happy to just focus on the games. None of the politics, none of the controversy. Just game trailer after game trailer as industry giants and smaller players bring their A-game to E3.

And nothing sells a game better than a trailer. Sure, you can argue about how the final game won’t look anything like the end result, but for those few minutes where you see something new, the antici…pation and excitement is priceless. Here’s a selection of some of the best trailers to ever come out of E3.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

They’re already here.

Bom bom boooom

The Elder Scrolls told of their return.

Bom bom booom booom bom

Their defeat was merely a delay.

Violin intensifies

No one wanted to believe…believe they even existed.

Woooh wuh wuuuh waaaaaaaaah

And when the truth finally dawns, it dawns in fire!

Scandinavian operatic gibberish reaches peak jibba jabba

FUS ROH DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Say what you like about the fifth Elder Scrolls game, but it’s hard to deny just how blood-pumpingly effective that reveal trailer was. Beautifully crafted, the pacing on this bit of packaged excitement builds itself to a fever pitch as we get our first glimpse at the dragons of Skyrim and that iconic shout that defined the game. And then for the rest of the night, you were probably walking around your room trying to recreate that stirring score and shouting Fus Roh Dah at your cat.

Now that’s the mark of a kickass trailer.

Dead Island 2

Los Angeles is a strange place. It’s the capital of Hollywood, a city where everyone dreams of being a star. Naturally, vanity runs deep as just about every local has enough product in their hair to kill the end-stage boss from that Evolution movie that starred David Duchovny, sport a meticulously trimmed bear and always have photographic headshots with them.

And that’s what made the Dead Island 2 trailer so special. It’s a gigantic in-joke, a running gag as a jogger embodies every single negative stereotype about Hollywood’s obsession with body image in one catchy track-laden CGI trailer. It get’s humourously macabre as the undead action unfolds around our star, the apocalypse breaks out, bicep implants fall out and Santa Monica beach is a roving den of headbiters out on a morning jog for brains.

Dead Island 2 may be deader than its zombie cannon fodder, but this trailer is a priceless example of how to savagely poke fun at your home crowd and get away with it.

Assassin’s Creed Unity

I think Assassin’s Creed Unity will go down in history as an example of how not to release a game in its first week. By contrast however, it’s E3 debut trailer was magical stuff. Oozing the beauty of France without all the shit on the streets of a starving populace that was out for blood, Unity looked like the kind of game that would reignite the franchise in much the same way that the first sequel properly defined it for several years. Everybody wants to rule the world, and this bit of promotional fluff did just that at E3.

Sega Saturn

In an age where David Lynch was directing a PlayStation commercial, Sega managed to one-up Sony by releasing a trailer for the Sega Saturn console that was peak what-the-f***ery. Featuring the kind of visuals that usually happen after you’ve swallowed a page of LSD, the 90s were alive and kicking in this trailer. Nightmare fuel was everywhere, some twat had stolen a hat from Jamiroquai’s Jay Kay and started acting like a madly frustrating hatter while various other bits of imagery tried to sell you on how extreme the Saturn was.

Gods, no wonder this console was a flop when it was marketed to a niche audience of people who happen to have a mom that doubles as their sister.

Killzone 2

Bless you Sony. With the console wars starting to heat up as Microsoft’s Xbox 360 became devastatingly dominant, Sony needed something to help sell their big fat box. And that something, was a beautiful lie. Killzone 2 was offered up to the masses, in a “gameplay” trailer that was impossibly too good-looking for its time. Nobody was fooled, Killzone had some major public relations damage to heal and the entire reveal smelt worse than Batman Forever.

But for the sheer ballsiness of this trailer and the barefaced lie that it tried to present as the truth, Killzone 2’s E3 reveal was an absolute winner back in the 2000s.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

I’m including this because Zoe asked me to. Honestly, I could have shown Advent Children at E3 last year and received a similar pop from the nostalgic chumps in attendance.

Batman: Arkham Knight

Now this one, I’m throwing in because it happens to be the root of one of our funniest in-jokes. It’s 2014, and I’m barely alive. I’ve flown for over two days to get to Los Angeles, and I haven’t slept a single hour so far thanks to traveller’s constipation and my fear of dying in a massively pressurised tin cylinder some many meters above the face of terra firma. I’m naturally shattered at the point I land and get sworn at by the US customs for daring to visit their country and I still need to actually start working right then and there.

Now let’s throw a quartet of press conferences to race to, into that mix. By the time Zoe managed to drag my corpse into the Sony conference, I was cratering. The end was nigh, I had just realised that I had left all my worldly possessions to my cats and I was pretty sure that I had eaten a f***ing mushroom in my cheap ramen.

And I soldiered on, sitting through some fab 2014 announcements. And then Sony hit me with a double-whammy of sports game and PlayStation Now announcements. Right then and there, I actually fell asleep at E3.

And then I heard a sound. Of man and technology fusing together, while a familiar orchestral score came to life. The sound of an engine roaring to life. Holy crap…Batman! And right at that moment, I jolted up and shouted “I’M AWAKE I’M AWAKE”, as I saw one of my most anticipated games of 2015 come to life. Glorious stuff, and one of our favourite in-jokes from our various E3 trips.

Metal Gear Solid 2

How do you create a sequel to one of the greatest games of all time on the PlayStation One? Metal Gear Solid rewrote the book on espionage and cinematic action on that console. It was big budget stuff, made with an unbelievable amount of love, care and attention to the smallest of details. A sequel was inevitable, but the combat boots required for it were enormous.

And to show that game off properly, Hideo Kojima doubled down on not only the cinematic style of Metal Gear Solid, but the deception as well. In a near-10 minute trailer that Kojima and his crew had put together, the future of Metal Gear Solid was shown off. In 2001, our jaws dropped at the idea of video game character models with actual functioning fingers instead of random blocks of polygons for hands.

Rain effects that looked legit. First-person perspectives to get the drop on enemies! Oh man, now this had fans frothing at the mouth as Kojima nailed the start of a massive marketing push for possibly the weirdest game in the entire MGS series.

Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem 3D may be a relic of the past, but Duke Nukem 3D was going to change all of that. It was going to be as sexist as you’d expect from a Duke Nukem game, filled with a flagrant sense of machismo and not giving a damn along the way. And by gawd, it looked pretty. In an era where video games were still getting a handle on how to properly drum up some viral marketing and use the techniques that movie trailers had managed to perfect over the years, Duke Nukem 3D came along and blew the competition out of the water.

It was epic, huge and possibly included a script of code called run/baysplosion.boom. It was the single greatest thing I had ever seen in my entire life when I scavenged this trailer from an an old cover disc of PC Accelerator. Pity that we never got to see this version of Duke in action.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

I’m a big fan of art. And catchy electronic music. So seeing two of those ideas, blended together into one trailer that served as a prequel to the cult classic Deus Ex series? WINNER! But on technical level, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a masterpiece in reveal trailers. Every single second of this 227 second video is pitch perfect, every frame a masterpiece of positioning and the rule of thirds.

It’s the kind of trailer that gets your heart pumping, your brain racing and your excitement up. It’s hard to believe that it’s six years old now already, as much like the technology present in this game, this bit of editing was years ahead of its time.

Valiant Hearts

…I just made myself sad. Sniff. Dammit Ubisoft, why you do this to me?

What’s your favourite trailer from E3? Sound off in the comments below.

 

Last Updated: June 10, 2016

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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