It's that time of the year. Rumours ahead of E3 are running rampant. We surely don't want to add fuel to the flames, now do we? Of course, we do. Here's how we see eight headlining subjects of E3 2015 playing out.
1. Fallout 4 better be there...
If Bethesda don't premiere Fallout 4 at their first E3 press conference on Sunday (June 14) there will be riots (perhaps not on the streets, but on the internet). We all expect it to happen. We're getting the information from different places. All signs point to it getting a big reveal of some kind. Doom and Fallout 4 would probably be enough for an E3 event, so that's what we're expecting from Bethesda. Anything less and there'll be trouble.
2. Remakes, Remasters, Definitive Editions...
What does Gears of War, Uncharted, Mass Effect, and Bioshock Infinite have in common? Well, they're all being rumoured to return on current-gen hardware with fancy HD graphics. We think that Gears of War and the Uncharted Trilogy are shoe-ins. Mass Effect would make sense - especially if the new Mass Effect misses E3 for whatever reason. Bioshock Infinite would fall into the same category as Tomb Raider, where the publisher likely would like to squeeze out some extra sales (and 2K Games had some nice success with Borderlands: The Handsome Collection).
Of course, these are the big names, but it seems publishers are digging through their back catalogs to find just about anything to port over, slap an HD tag on and sell to the hungry masses with their shiny new consoles. However, E3 may not be the right venue to announce a new-gen port of Lost Planet 3 as it will get completely buried... (we don't see that one coming, but we wouldn't be surprised at Lost Planet 2).
3. The next big third-party exclusive?
Microsoft and Sony have been capitalising on the weak financials of certain publishers to scoop up exclusives. Dead Rising 3. Titanfall. Rise of the Tomb Raider. Street Fighter V. What's next? Given comments from Sony's Andrew House that these exclusives are hard to come by, we doubt there's any big third-party exclusive coming at Sony's presser. But what game would Microsoft potentially spend part of their war chest on? It would be easy to peg Capcom as a likely candidate. Perhaps with a new Resident Evil. A wild card and one we wouldn't mind (though it's likely too infected to ever become a reality) would be Microsoft stepping in to take over Silent Hills. Given the PT demo was exclusive to PS4 it would be a major PR coup. Chances of that happening given Kojima's position are slim to none. Titanfall 2? No, by the sounds of it that's firmly a multiplatform release, and in all honesty we're not sure we'll see it at E3.
Sega signed away their prized mascot Sonic exclusively to Nintendo and they weren't pleased with sales of Alien: Isolation (even if it won tons of awards). Could the sequel be a potential exclusive for either Sony or Microsoft? We wouldn't rule it out. A smaller coup would be for PS4 to get an exclusive Director's Cut of the original with Project Morpheus support.
Tekken 7 has yet to confirm on any hardware platform beyond its current place in arcades, and if Microsoft wants to counter the Street Fighter V exclusivity it's the perfect candidate. We're not sure Bandai Namco would want to turn down what is likely where their fanbase resides (PS4), but as we've seen over the years, money most certainly talks.
4. What about original games?
It's easy to write up a predication piece and fill it with game titles that includes numbers. But what we're really craving is new, interesting IPs. 2K Games have teased something called Advent, it could of course be connected to an exisiting IP (a sci-fi Bioshock it's probably not, as the clues are pointing to it being the next Xcom), but then there's a chance it might be something completely new. Ubisoft have also revealed they have a new AAA title on the way. New IP? Remains to be seen, but Ubisoft have invested in new IPs a lot lately. It may be a bit scary to reveal new IP at E3, but there is also a lot to be gained (and they've a tradition of making a big announcement at the end of their annual presser). Microsoft could certainly stand to add something new to their portfolio of Xbox-exclusives as their big brands are all a decade old.
5. Fewer games at the show (depending on how you look at it)
There will be games missing in action for several reasons. First there are the games we were hoping would get shown (that may or may not be in development). Second there are the games that have been delayed recently and where the developer needs to focus on something other than producing a demo for E3 (we think Dead Island 2 may land in this category for instance, perhaps Scalebound too). Third it's just a fact that there are fewer big titles these days and that indies have filled in the gap, but for many smaller developers it makes more sense to show your game at shows like PAX or Gamescom where you'll have a better chance of getting attention while also being able to reach gamers directly as these shows are open to the public.
The end result is that you'll probably get the feeling (back home) that there are less new games to be excited about than usual. Of course, this fact could be countered by some key announcements with CG trailers for games we'll see in 2017 (if we're lucky)...
6. New Hardware premiered
E3 is a great place to premiere new hardware or hardware revisions. Microsoft and Sony have both done it at big press conferences in the past. Sometimes with near immediate launches at retail.
And that Xbox One is looking a bit chunky where it's sitting doesn't it?Could Microsoft really be planning a slim version this soon? After all it wasn't until 4.5 years into the last generation that the Xbox 360 Slim appeared. The new controller that's launching in June is an indication that something could be up over at Microsoft. Clearly their strategy has changed a lot since Xbox One was first revealed, and a smaller version of the hardware, perhaps even one that's not compatible with Kinect, would make a lot of sense as Microsoft hope to challenge Sony's resurgent dominance.
We're not sure Sony are ready to launch a new version of PS4 just yet. There has been no indication of that and these things tend to get out. It would make more sense to launch a slimmed down PS4 next year when Project Morpheus launches, making sure the designs match up nicely. We'll have to wait and see on that one.
As for Nintendo, well, they have said that they won't show NX at E3. And we highly doubt Nintendo would mislead investors and the market like that. Then again circumstances could change. It could be that Nintendo feels the pressure to reveal what their future holds.
7. Where is Japan?
The Japanese presence at Western game shows has dropped in recent years. Now we're hearing Final Fantasy XV won't make it to E3 (though we wouldn't entirely rule out new trailers/demos of this and Kingdom Hearts III at the Square-Enix presser). Sega won't have a booth. Nintendo famously did away with their traditional press conference a couple of years ago, but that's not to say they're not bringing something to E3. Their focus has shifted to a more immediate line-up of games due out in time for the holidays, however, Nintendo remains the most prominent Japanese presence during E3 week.
Capcom will have Street Fighter V. Konami will have Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (but we somehow doubt Hideo Kojima will be doing the media rounds). Bandai Namco will hopefully have Tekken 7. Keiji Inafune's Mighty No. 9 will be there, and perhaps we'll also see Igarashi at LA Convention Center. But the days when half of the interesting titles at E3 came out from Japan are well behind us.
8. Virtual Reality
With a dedicated PC show (courtesy of AMD and PC Gamer) and Sony's Project Morpheus, you'd think that VR will dominate in LA. We somehow doubt that. First of all, E3 is not a great venue for VR demos. Secondly the show is increasingly focused on this year's holidays and VR won't be much of a factor there.
That said, it is the time for some major AAA VR announcements and we expect Sony to make at least a couple if they are serious about launching Morpheus in the first half of 2016. And if you're getting bored with HD updates, the next trend may very well be VR updates of old games. We also hear that Valve won't be there, so the only VR device that is currently set for release this year won't be in attendance, which will certainly be a disappointment for those among you hoping for an explosion of VR-related announcements at this year's show.