By Gabe Gurwin

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E3 2018 featured far fewer new game announcements than we traditionally see at the yearly event, with publishers preferring to show off extended gameplay presentations of their previously-announced games. Yet we still saw plenty of pleasant surprises from nearly every major company. From shocking game reveals to unexpected acquisitions, these are the biggest surprises we saw at E3 2018.

‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ includes all past characters

We already knew Nintendo was bringing characters like Mario and Link to the new Super Smash Bros. game, but we weren’t prepared for what director Masahiro Sakurai announced during the Nintendo Direct event.Super Smash Bros. Ultimate contain new characters like Ridley from Metroid and the Inklings from Splatoon, but it will also contain every other character the series has ever seen. Young Link is back alongside Toon Link. Roy, Marth, and Ike return. Even Solid Snake is back this time, and many fighters come with extra costumes to represent multiple games they’ve appeared in. A few even have separate voice lines depending on the version you selected.

From Software’s new game isn’t ‘Bloodborne 2’ — but it is awesome

An earlier teaser for Dark Souls and Bloodborne studio From Software had us believing a sequel to the latter game was in the works, but this didn’t end up being the case. Instead, From Software and Activision announcedSekiro: Shadows Die Twice during the Xbox E3 presentation. Set in Japan during the late 16th century, the game is not following the more realistic formula of Ghost of Tsushima, and we saw numerous grotesque monsters during the short gameplay trailer. It looks to continue the excellent third-person combat from From Software’s past work, but with a little extra flair.

‘Nioh 2’ announced

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice certainly has some similarities to Team Ninja’s 2017 Souls-like Nioh, which mix historical elements with fantasy and folklore, but Sekiro won’t have to serve as a replacement for Nioh because Nioh 2 is also on the way. No release date was given when it was announced during the PlayStation E3 press conference, but the announcement trailer included an enormous red horned monster who spewed lava from his chest. We’re guessing he’ll be less-than-thrilled to meet us, though it will likely be a year or two before we’ll know for sure, as the first game was released in 2017.

Microsoft buys Ninja Theory

Microsoft had already announced its intent to form new game studios and purchase existing ones to bolster the number of exclusive games for Xbox One and Windows 10, and most of its E3 announcements regarding this weren’t surprises State of Decay 2 developer Undead Labs is now a first-party studio, for instance. But one acquisition did catch us off-guard: Ninja Theory. The action game masters had previously worked on the PlayStation 3-exclusive game Heavenly Sword, and the recent Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice didn’t original launch on Xbox One at all. With Microsoft’s resources at Ninja Theory’s disposal, the studio has the potential to create a fantastic exclusive franchise for Xbox.

Bethesda brings the goods

Bethesda isn’t the largest game publisher around, so we thought we might here some news about a sequel or two before being shown gameplay for Rage 2. Instead, the publisher announced everything. The long-rumored role-playing game Starfield is real, and it’s Bethesda Game Studios’ current project. The Elder Scrolls VI will be arriving after that. Doom Eternalis coming next year, and Wolfenstein: Youngblood brings the twin Blazkowicz daughters into 1980s Paris to kill some Nazis. Even virtual reality got some love, with a VR option coming to Prey and the separate game Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot on the way. Elder Scrolls fans have The Elder Scrolls Blades to keep them satisfied until the next full game arrives. Though playable on mobile devices, it will also work on consoles, PC, and VR, and all versions will be cross-platform compatible.

‘Kingdom Hearts III’ adds ‘Frozen’ and more

Kingdom Hearts III will include worlds from classic Disney and Pixar films like Toy Story and Monsters, Inc., but Square Enix had a few more surprises in store for fans anticipating the sequel. Sora and company will head to the world of Frozen to meet Elsa, and we’ll even be able to use special ice abilities to take out enemies.

That wasn’t the only surprise Kingdom Hearts III brought to E3, however. During the PlayStation press conference, it was revealed that Sora will meet characters from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. They won’t have their look changed to appear more in-line with the game, either, with the actors’ likenesses looking almost exactly as they do in the movies. It’s unsettling in the best possible way, and came as a shock in the otherwise cartoony game.

‘Resident Evil 2’ remake is actually a remake

The term “remake” is often used by publishers to refer to games that have received graphical enhancements or a few new gameplay features, but that isn’t what Capcom did with Resident Evil 2. The upcoming remake completely overhauls the entire game, with a third-person perspective similar to that in Resident Evil 4, gorgeous new cinematics, and environments that look just as good as anything releasing in 2018. It’s made possible by the same engine powering Resident Evil 7, and if you feel like you missed out on the chance to play the PlayStation original 20 years ago, it gives you the perfect excuse to enter Raccoon City.

‘The Division 2’ won’t divide its players

Ubisoft released several paid expansion packs for Tom Clancy’s The Division, offering players additional missions and activities to supplement the core game’s offerings. They helped make a good game even better, but those players who didn’t want to pay more than the initial $60 were left with less content than their peers. For The Division 2, three major expansion packs are planned, and Ubisoft will offer them to all players for free. On top of that, the team at Ubisoft Massive is focusing heavily on endgame content, including eight-player raids, so you should have plenty of reason to stick around in-between the major expansions’ releases.

Fox McCloud comes to ‘Starlink: Battle for Atlas’

Ubisoft and Nintendo collaborated on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle last summer, and the two companies are working together again for the Switch version of Starlink: Battle for Atlas. During Ubisoft’s press conference, we learned that Star Fox chief Fox McCloud and his Arwing vehicle will be coming to the Nintendo Switch version of the game, and players will be able to purchase a starter pack featuring physical versions of Fox and his ship and launch. It isn’t a new Star Fox game, but it’s still very cool.

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