While Gamescom remains the biggest video game show in the world, it has lost a step or two in terms of major announcements in recent years. Sony was first to do away with their Gamescom press briefing (they've instead gone big at Paris Games Week in October), Microsoft followed, and now EA has thrown in the towel. That's not to say there won't be news coming out of the show; it just won't be as high profile.
In fact, we expect a fairly predictable showing from the first-parties. PlayStation are saving any potential news for Paris and PSX, Microsoft kind of showed their hand for the next year at E3 even if we'll no doubt learn more of the road ahead for games like Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2, and Nintendo are banking on Pokémon Let's Go and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - same as E3. They're bringing a playable Super Mario Party, but that's hardly headline-grabbing stuff, even if we've no doubt the party game will deliver the goods.
EA won't have a press briefing this year, and we don't expect them to drop any major announcements either. Anthem will be playable (for the press, at least), and we expect something new from Battlefield V. Ubisoft are focusing on their fall line-up with Starlink: Battle for Atlas, Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, and the local title Anno 1800, but they also have something new for the show, possibly the rumoured Child of Light II. Activision and Blizzard come bringing their usual titles, and perhaps we'll see the just-announced Diablo III on Switch at the show (seems likely). Other than that we'll see more of Black Ops 4, Destiny 2: Forsaken, and Blizzard's line-up of ongoing titles.
Take-Two are keeping Red Dead Redemption 2 away from the show circus as trailers is all we get from what is likely the biggest release in 2018, while Bethesda fresh off an E3 with lots of announcements and their own QuakeCon likely don't have any more surprises to share.
It's only natural that some of the mid-sized publishers save their announcements for Gamescom, rather than going head-to-head with first-party announcements at E3. THQ Nordic stayed away from E3 altogether this year and are bringing a formidable line-up to Cologne. We know about games like Darksiders III, BioMutant, and the recently-announced Scarf, but they have other things to reveal as well. Bandai Namco is another publisher in this category, and as with THQ Nordic they have plenty of games in their portfolio, including one we've yet to see. Capcom had a big E3 and will bring both Resident Evil 2 and Devil May Cry 5 to Cologne, but Warner don't appear likely to bring the next game from Rocksteady or the inevitable new Mortal Kombat. Maybe one of them will make its debut at The Game Awards in December?
We also expect a proper first look at Life is Strange 2, and Square Enix has a bunch of other big titles they're bringing to Cologne, even if we don't expect announcements. Deep Silver, playing the homefield advantage, won't bring Shenmue III or Dead Island 2 (we're growing increasingly worried about this one in spite of recent reassurances), but still have a couple of titles they're adding to their portfolio at the show (not actual new announcements, more new publishing deals). Sega are enjoying a strong year, but oddly we've not heard anything about them bringing Football Manager 2019 to the show, despite securing the Bundesliga license, and instead they will bring Team Sonic Racing, Total War: Three Kingdoms, and Two Point Hospital. Paradox Interactive has some announcements for the show too, and Techland will show off Dying Light: Bad Blood after wowing us with Dying Light II at E3. CD Projekt will bring Cyberpunk 2077, but we suspect it will be another look at the E3 demo, possibly with some expanded sections... and hopefully they'll soon release this video publicly too.
A Thriving PC Scene
Where E3 is mainly a console expo, Gamescom certainly offers a lot more PC games, from the main staples of the esports scene, the more niche titles in the strategy and RPG genres, to free-to-play, and naturally all the major hardware and peripheral manufacturers. It may be wrong to say that PC dominates, but it's certainly on par with the biggest console in the country (PS4), so it's only natural that there are some new PC game announcements made. We're aware of a few interesting potentially exciting projects that sit in this category, so the master race should probably pay attention as the news start to come out from Cologne. A genre that was always entirely missing at E3, the MMO genre, will still have its place at Gamescom.
Gamescom is far more affordable for independent developers than an E3 presence and so naturally they flock at the convention. And to be honest, it's a great thing, because here we've got more time available to explore smaller, more niche titles. One such game is Housemarque's Stormdivers, as well as new titles from Shiro Games and Rockfish as well as Among the Sleep developer Krillbite's new game Mosaic which reminds us of Inside.
As with each year, esports is present at Gamescom, and this year is no different, perhaps epitomised by the ESL Arena in Cologne. Here we'll get to see the PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Charity Challenge (PUBG is no stranger to Gamescom); the Valor Series for mobile title Arena of Valor; and the German ESL Meisterschaft Summer Season finals, not to mention the fact that Shadowgun will use this venue to reveal a new PvP mode too.