Though the term gameplay trailer doesn’t exactly have a set-in-stone definition, it’s best to imagine them as closer looks at a particular title in action. Sometimes it’s a story trailer composed entirely of in-game footage, while mostly it’s a long-form demo with pre-determined points of interest.

As with most years E3 2012 certainly was chocked full of gameplay trailers, many of which showed us that the sequels gamers were looking forward to haven’t lost their touch, while others showcased an experience unlike anything we’ve seen before. The former category tended to dominate the expo’s proceedings, but that doesn’t mean the full slate of trailers on tap were any less cool.

Here’s our list:

Halo 4


We knew it was coming, but we never knew it was going to be this awesome. As the perfect kick-off to Microsoft’s E3 2012 Press Conference, Halo 4 showed not only how far one of the Xbox’s most popular franchises has come, but also where it is going. Part FMV trailer and part exciting new gameplay — complete with transforming, highly destructive weapons — the Halo 4 footage was exactly what a series with this much history needed.

It riffed on past enemies, introduced some new ones, and set the scene for a story that inevitably will tie back into the larger Halo mythos. Needless to say, it took top honors for Microsoft at E3 2012.

Next: Watch Dogs gameplay trailer.

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