It’s about that time again. Schools will soon be letting out, grills are getting fired up, and game industry professionals are heading to Los Angeles for the biggest video game convention of the year. Before the press conferences are held and the reveals are dropped, I thought I’d scribble down a few guesses at what will be shown at this year’s E3.
Since announcing the Xbox One in May of 2013 things have been a bit shaky for Microsoft. The Xbox has spent the last year retracting policies, getting outsold by the PS4, and praying people would shut up and buy Titanfall. The best news for Microsoft is the short attention span of the video game consumer. While the company has spent a lot of time shrugging off last year’s debacles, it feels like they are back at square one (excuse the pun) and ready to take their product in a direction more appealing to their core audience. The delay of Halo isn’t going to help Microsoft any, but releasing the Master Chief Collection should earn them some goodwill. What else could we expect from Microsoft as they look to right the ship before E3 2015?
Gears of War
Aside from some behind-the-scenes action, we have not heard what the next step is for Microsoft’s second most notable franchise. We only know Black Tusk has taken the reigns of the series after Microsoft got the rights from Epic, but little else.
Not knowing how big Black Tusk’s studio is, I would assume this would shelf the game teased at last year’s E3. Or maybe Black Tusk has taken their previous work and applied it in a Gears of War world. Regardless, I would expect a short trailer simply letting the world know the new Gears of War is out there, even if it’s a long way from release.
ID @ Xbox
There was a lot of missteps Microsoft had last year, one of which was failing to capitalize on the indie-revolution PlayStation was rushing to take advantage of. Since the console launch last fall, we have already seen PlayStation attempt to fill quiet times with indie releases. I would expect Microsoft to get aggressive and follow suit. Giving time to smaller developers at E3, went a long way for Sony last year, it would make sense for Xbox to do something similar.
EA’s is probably ready to forget 2013 ever happened. Sim City was a nightmare, Plants vs. Zombies 2 earned plenty of scorn, and Battlefield 4 was all kinds of broken. 2014 has been off to a much better note for the publisher as Titanfall delivered strong numbers, the company finally escaped the unofficial title of “worst company” in America, and Dragon Age: Inquisition/Sims 4 are some the few games not delayed to 2015. It looks like EA is finally is out of the dog house, so what could make their future even brighter?
Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars
Dat Star Wars is sooooo hot right now. With 2015 on the horizon and Episode VII getting headlines every couple of months, Star Wars has rocketed back to the mainstream like it hasn’t since the dark prequel days. Electronic Arts should be capitalizing on this, getting the word out on the Star Wars projects they have cooking. A new Battlefront gameplay trailer from DICE could get the buzz going, and those following the Amy Hennig project are dying for any kind of information they can get. It might be 2015 before these games are on shelves, but even the slightest glimpse at these projects will make headlines at E3.
Mass Effect 4 in Spring 2015
The biggest non-Star Wars game people are stirring about from EA is Mass Effect 4. Apparently there’s a confirmed trailer for E3 and a release date impending. Announcing Mass Effect 4 with a spring 2015 release date would put EA on a roll they haven’t seen in along time and if they are announcing a release date its hard imagine anything else. A date later than E3 2015 wouldn’t make sense and anything in 2014 is too close to Dragon Age. If they have a date to talk about, March 2013 has to be it.
Ubisoft’s E3 press conferences are representative of their overall company strategy: flashy, promising, and by-the-book. For the past two years Ubisoft has hit the strong points, highlighting games like Assassin’s Creed which are bound to entice mainstream audiences and assure everyone else the company is still following script, then the publisher drops a bomb at the end of the conference with their newest IP. In 2012 it was Watch Dogs, in 2013 it was The Division. So what can we expect this year?
Prince of Persia
About a month ago an Ubisoft employee teased something about Prince of Persia, then deleted their entire account. About a year ago, there was a leaked screenshot many people thought harkened to the flavor of the blockbuster Ubisoft franchise. The biggest indicator Prince of Persia will be at E3 2014? The fact Ubisoft owns the franchise and hasn’t said anything about it. Ubisoft isn’t one to sit on their big names and Prince of Persia has been dormant for far too long.
No New IP
After dropping the bombs of Watch Dogs and The Division the last two years, Ubisoft will probably looking to get conservative. Both games went through delays and while the company has a pretty sure-fire business strategy, it would seem likely they will cool their jets until they have turned Watch Dogs and The Division into established franchises. Prince of Persia might be the only big announcement we get.
While Sony was having an impressive run through the console launch, there have been some setbacks for the company. Uncharted has ran into some serious personnel troubles with many departures marring the excitement, Sony Santa Monica suffered some serious layoffs, and the company’s biggest announced title, The Order: 1886, earned some rough word of mouth before begin delayed to 2015. So how will Sony excite people for the future?
Syphon Filter Reboot
It would be going too far to expect Syphon Filter to come back to life on the Vita, so failing to specify a platform is wishful thinking — but it’d probably be PS4. The next-gen announcements are already littered with unasked-for sequels and reboots – we’re getting a flipping Homefront sequel – and Syphon Filter has enough clout with Sony fans it could get people excited while still playing it safe.
The Last Guardian
Seriously. Do I even have to say more? Every time someone asks about this game, some Sony exec smiles and confidently says it is still in development. Team Ico has spent so much time on The Last Guardian it completely missed the PS3 generation, that is how long this game has been kicked around. If we don’t see The Last Guardian at this E3, we should all collectively never ask about it again and allow it to pass into the ether…but we won’t.
Adding a third one here for Sony because I think it is interesting. I smell a PS4/Vita bundle out there. It doesn’t smell great, but it smells inevitable. The PS4 continues to cruise while the Vita continues to burn, bundling the two could help people remember the Vita is still out there. There is almost nothing else Sony can do for the struggling handheld at this point.
Nintendo’s struggles have more or less continued into 2013. While the 3DS continues to be the handheld of choice, the WiiU continues to be the last choice for console. There are only a few moves Nintendo has left and I think we’ll see one of them at this year’s E3.
Nintendo has tried Mario, it has tried Super Smash Bros, it has tried many things, but Zelda seems to be the last software card the company has to play and it has to play it soon. They don’t need a release date, they don’t need a gameplay trailer, they simply need someone to stand on stage a say, “Zelda is coming”, followed by a 30 second teaser. That someone could be Robin Williams’ daughter, Zelda Williams, who has confirmed she is going to E3 for something special. Named after the iconic Princess, Miss Williams has been used to promote the franchise previously. It would not be surprising if she did so again. And if this is another Ocarina of Time remake everyone should just throw their WiiUs away.
While the WiiU continues to struggle, the 3DS continues to run strong. While there will be the staple announcements for the WiiU (seriously, if there’s no Zelda…) I expect to see continued push and support for the 3DS. In fact, we might see more games announced on the 3DS than on the WiiU.
Got some predictions of you own? C’Mon Nostradamus, let’s hear your thoughts on what we’ll see at this year’s E3.