Brawlers, Strategy Sims, and Big Head Mode Collide

After a whirlwind four-day event, this year’s Summer Game Fest has officially come to an end. Held in Los Angeles, the gaming industry expo – now in its fifth year – delivered a slew of major game reveals, world premieres, and updates on tons of previously announced titles fans have been clamoring for. Beginning with a two-hour showcase hosted by founder Geoff Keighley that was streamed live from the YouTube Theater, the event served not just as a series of teasers but as a celebration of developers and publishers of all sizes.

With the inclusion of subsequent livestreams from indie devs, Xbox, and Ubisoft —  and of course three full days of hands-on demonstration for media and creators — Summer Game Fest continued to fill the void left behind by gaming’s previous big annual spectacle, E3, which officially shut down in 2021 following the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even for those who couldn’t attend, the festival was a must-see for gamers, with major announcements Lego Horizon Adventures, Sid Meier’s Civilization VII, and Killer Bean (literally a game about a bean-shaped assassin) all making a splash both in-person and online. Xbox, too, had one of its best showings in years with first looks at the next Doom title and the return of two of its most beloved legacy franchises with Fable and Perfect Dark.

With so much to absorb, it’s easy to get lost in the noise. Rolling Stone was able to play over 20 of the biggest games from AAA studios and indies alike, and speak with many of the developers behind them.

From a sea of new titles coming in 2024 and beyond, here are the most exciting games we played at Summer Game Fest 2024.

Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves

Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves


Following the release of Capcom’s Street Fighter 6 in 2023 and Bandai Namco’s Tekken 8 earlier this year, it’s clear that the industry is in the middle of a fighting game renaissance. Now, one of the all-time greats is coming back after over 25 years away with publisher SNK’s Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves.

For the uninitiated, SNK is fighting game royalty whose franchises like Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, and crossover character mashup The King of Fighters ruled Nineties arcades and home platforms like Neo Geo.

Announced back in March 2024, City of the Wolves brings the Fatal Fury series back with bang, complete with completely overhauled fighting mechanics that aim to make the game more accessible to newcomers while retaining the complexity SNK is known for. The first game of the franchise released in the modern 3D era, its visuals toe the line between three dimensional models and environments while upholding a 2D fighting style, similar to games like Street Fighter 6. With a comic book-coded aesthetic, characters pop with color and an ink-like shaded veneer that makes the game stand out from the more complex polygonal styles of games like Tekken.

Playing with a traditional arcade stick, we were able to demo five characters, including mainstays Terry Bogard and Rock Howard, as well as new addition Vox Reaper. True to its roots, the latest Fatal Fury can be brutally difficult when playing against the CPU, but anyone familiar with SNK titles or even Street Fighter (to which it plays similarly) should be able to get the hang of the game relatively quickly. According to SNK reps on site, the game is on track to launch in early 2025 on PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows, with more official information to come in the months ahead.

Battle Aces

Battle Aces

Uncapped Games

For anyone who has always wanted to get into real-time strategy (RTS) games but feels overwhelmed by the sheer density and high skill ceiling in games like Starcraft 2, Battle Aces is a game made explicitly for you.

For the developers at Uncapped Games, the RTS genre is a crown jewel of gaming, but they’re keenly aware that games with sprawling armies, towers, and layers of resource management can be off-putting to new players. Their solution is to streamline many of the systems that can easily confuse and make an easy to pick up, difficult to master strategy game that eases gamers into its various systems but remains fully featured.

On the surface, it has everything a classic RTS needs: Players square off against either the CPU or online opponents in an army-vs-army showdown, wherein they’ll build dozens of types of ground and aerial units — each with their own strengths and weaknesses — dropping towers and refineries along the way to take control of the arena.

Unlike games like Starcraft, player armies aren’t locked into specific unit types defined by any particular race or allegiance (this isn’t Terrans vs Zerg or humans vs orcs), instead allowing players on both sides of the competition to select the individual unit types they want to cherry pick to create their own personalized strategy. The build playable at Summer Game Fest had access to the full gamut of unit types, but as part of the learning curve, the final game will start players off with a select few units as they grasp the basics, with larger or more complex ones becoming available as they progress.

One major facet of the game that makes it so user-friendly is its visual design. With a simple cartoonish aesthetic that makes each unit easy to differentiate in size and type, Battle Aces avoids bogging down the battlefield with too much visual clutter. Teams are clearly color coded, making them easily identifiable despite potentially sharing the same unit types, and even when massive swaths of foes are slamming together through the fog of war, the ebbs and flow of engagement are always clear. Despite all this, the game isn’t lacking in personality. Many units are designed to resemble animals like hornets or anthropomorphic bombs with emotive faces across their screens that add a touch of personality amid the chaos. There’s even a flying unit called the “katbus” that’s inspired by the iconic cat bus from Studio Ghibli’s anime classic My Neighbor Totoro.

With the style and gameplay alike, there’s always more than meets the eye with Battle Aces. Designed to appeal to a broad base of all ages and skill levels, it’s a game whose simplicity belies its elegance. Uncapped Games plans to bring Battles Aces to PC players in early access later this year with a full release to be announced thereafter.

Hyper Light Breaker

Hyper Light Breaker

Arc Games

One of the most anticipated titles at Summer Game Fest was the open-world indie roguelike actioner Hyper Light Breaker. The follow-up to 2016’s pixel art styled, top-down shooter, Hyper Light Drifter, the new game from developers Heart Machine has had fans curious about how it would manage to reinvent the first game’s beloved aesthetic and grueling retro-inspired combat to a 3D sensibility — with the addition of three-player cooperative gameplay to boot.

In the game, players take on the role of Breakers, adventurers who are on a mission to defeat the Abyss King, unlocking the lore of the world along the way. Players can choose their preferred Breaker and outfit them with gear in customizable slots to build the type of character they want to play from loot scavenging through the Overgrowth. Combat feels clean, yet frenetic, with melee combos giving way to crunchy gunplay and a trusty hoverboard on hand to traverse the world a la Marty McFly.

True to its roguelike roots, the hook of Hyper Light Breaker is that its world, despite being a sprawling expanse to explore, is entirely randomized. Unlike many other games in the genre, which force players to restart entirely upon death, Breaker affords the grace of multiple lives per generated map, allowing for a more accessible experience befitting a large scale open-world game that doesn’t dampen the exploration aspect. After losing enough lives, however, the map and all progress will reset, although the primary bosses and objectives will remain the same, albeit in different locations. Learn the game, defeat the bosses, and it won’t matter that nothing is where it was before.

With a radiant art style that resembles a neon-soaked take of Breath of the Wild, Hyper Light Breaker is gorgeous to behold and through its moment-to-moment gameplay, feels like an evolution of the original game’s design viewed through a brand-new lens.

Hyper Light Breaker doesn’t yet have a confirmed release date, but the developers on site are still targeting 2024 for its PC release, with additional information on other platforms launches to come.




First announced during the Xbox Games Showcase over the weekend, FragPunk caught attendees at Summer Game Fest off guard with a playable build available to press in sessions behind closed doors. Despite not knowing about the game’s existence until dropping into a play test, we walked away highly impressed.

From developer Bad Guitar Studio, FragPunk may seem familiar on the surface. A 5v5 “hero shooter,” it closely resembles Riot Games’ esports and streaming staple Valorant. With colorful characters of all classes and specialties to select, each player has only one life per fast-paced round to work together to either wipe out the enemy team or accomplish their primary objective. Like Valorant (or Counter-Strike before it), the objective usually comes down to planting or defusing a bomb in specific area of the map, or controlling certain regions for extended periods of time.

Like Valorant or even Overwatch, individual heroes all have their own bespoke abilities that can allow them to turn the tide of encounters, but the game’s major twist comes in the form of randomized elements that impact each round even more than player-selected powers ever could.

Called “Shard Cards,” each round begins with teams receiving a randomized hand of three cards that will change the rule set of the match. Some cards can power up individual team’s abilities or add detrimental effects to the opposition, like making them more susceptible to certain weapon types. Others completely shift the battlefield itself, like one card from our play test that caused a torrential downpour, reducing footstep audio so that players couldn’t hear the enemies on approach. One even adds “Big Head” mode, ripped straight from classic shooters like Goldeneye, that makes the enemy team’s heads swell — making them easy targets to pop with a well-placed sniper shot.

Much of what you’ll see in FragPunk skews closely to other hero shooters; at first glance, it appears like a 1:1 rip-off of Valorant. But its inventive take on the card system mechanic adds a feeling of unpredictability that profoundly changes the moment-to-moment gameplay in a fresh way. It’s like playing a modern hero shooter with a rotating selection of cheat codes enabled, a blast from the past type feeling that very few games, let alone competitive shooters, would dare embrace today.

FragPunk is scheduled for release in 2025 with an early access or public beta still to be announced. Speaking with the devs, they committed to PC as a platform for launch, although the inclusion of Xbox in the game’s official announcement may tease a wider console release to come.

Yars Rising

Yars Rising


When you think of Atari, it’s safe to say you’re thinking of days long gone. The iconic publisher has been on a comeback in recent years, with renewed focus on working with developers like WayForward, the acclaimed studio behind the Shantae series, to produce smaller games that are true to the retro ethos of the brand.

Yars Rising is one of these games. Set in the world of 1982’s Yars Revenge, one of Atari’s classic shooting games from the 2600 era, the new game aims to introduce players to an entirely new take on the franchise, while injecting a retrospective homage to the original game through certain gameplay mechanics.

Like many of WayForward’s games, Yars Rising is a 2D side-scrolling platformer with an emphasis on labyrinthian exploration and shooter combat that’s reminiscent of games like Metroid. Players take on the role of Emi Kimura, a young hacker who becomes embroiled in a conspiracy on the run from the ominous Qotech corporation. Along the way, she’ll discover the truth behind the shadowy organization’s true motives.

In our hands-on session, we explored the beginning of the game, learning to use Emi’s basic abilities to fight robots, stealthily sneak around corporate guards, and hack terminals. It’s in the hacking aspect where the retro flavor of yesteryear’s Yars stands out. When hacking a terminal, the game switches to a beautifully rendered reimagining of the original Yars Revenge game, where players navigate a CRT screen-like grid and shoot enemies to solve the visual puzzles that will result in a successful hack.


By introducing this mechanic, the game feels like multiple smaller ones woven together. There’s full-on action-oriented exploration that serves as a framework for these smaller sections, in addition to the stealth-heavy areas, that make Yars Rising an amalgamation of various gameplay styles. Separate from the playable section, the developers gave us a sneak peek of some later sections of the game, where epic boss battles that require higher level skills also introduce bullet hell aspects to the game, where the combat becomes a more hectic frenzy of projectiles raining down on players.

As a celebration of Atari’s storied history as a gaming pioneer, Yars Rising looks to be a perfect blend of old school sensibilities and modern ease of play wrapped in a anime-inspired cyberpunk vibe befitting its Eighties era soul. Although a release date hasn’t been announced, Yars Rising is set to debut in late 2024 for PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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