Heck yeah, friends. It’s the big one, video games are more than just Pac-Man now, it’s time for E3.
It’s sort of a different and slightly annoying show this year with conferences spread out across Saturday, Sunday, Monday and the usual presentation from Nintendo on Tuesday. The show itself is going through some changes this year as it will be open to the public for the first time ever, but I can’t see all of this having a great effect on the press conferences apart from some pressers going on a little longer. An element that I do think is going to have an effect on the show is just how fortunate we’ve been with great releases since the Fall of last year going into the first half 2017. I have a hard time believing that rest of the year, even the first quarter of 2018, can keep up at this pace, therefore I think this is going to be a solid, but not ‘crazy’ E3.
That being said, it’s time to put on my very serious video game pundit hat and get down to the business of guessing what will go down on the streets of LA for this year’s E3 (aforementioned hat pictured).
Prediction One – Microsoft’s show will have shades of Sony’s 2016 conference and they will have a lot of information to parse through.
Let’s get my obligatory Scorpio prediction out of the way. Scorpio will launch at $499.99 in September of this year. September because I cannot separate the pair of the Scorpio and the upcoming release of Forza Motorsport 7. Forza has a track record for releasing in September and it’s an easy showpiece for the hardware. It all makes too much sense. Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, has previously mentioned that the console’s production schedule ‘looks very good’, so I don’t think it’s too outlandish to predict it releasing just ahead of the holiday rush.
Bam, easy, slam dunk.
A more interesting prediction and feeling that I can’t shake off is that I think we are going to get a lot of game announcements at the conference with no release window in sight, a la Sony’s 2016 E3 Press Conference. I don’t think it’s subjective to say that the Xbox One has been lacking in exclusive experiences this year apart from Forza Horizon 3 DLC, Halo Wars 2, and the remaster of Phantom Dust. Microsoft has also had a significant reduction in first and second-party projects the past few years from closing down studios and canceling projects which has lead to a feeling of uncertainty towards the Xbox brand. Regardless, if they have something concrete to show, Microsoft needs to bring up morale in a big way, especially if they expect folks to go out and spend money on a new piece of hardware. Because of that, I think we’re going to see a nice amount of exclusive games coming from second-parties way ahead of their release window.
Perhaps Sunset Overdrive 2? Unlikely, I know, since it appears that some of the team who worked on the original have moved onto to Sony’s Spider-Man project. And here lies the problem with my very own prediction. While I think it’s necessary for Microsoft to show off new software, I also have a hard time coming up with developers who might get into a partnership with them given some of their questionable history with developers like Platinum Games, Capcom, Darkside Games, and Armature. Of course that’s not to say there hasn’t been successes like their partnership with Iron Galaxy and Killer Instinct.
With that, here are my best guesses for what games we might see at Microsoft’s show:
Halo 6 (teaser, no date), Forza Motorsport 7 (significantly featured, September 2017), State of Decay 2 (significantly featured, no date), Sea of Thieves (significantly featured, date given, early 2018), Crackdown (significantly featured, date given, October 2017 to follow up Forza), a new exclusive game by Iron Galaxy (teaser, no date), Below (by the end of 2017), Tacoma (September 2017), a new exclusive game by From Software (teaser, no date), Cuphead (by the end of August 2017), Sunset Overdrive 2 (again, I know it’s probably not happening, but I honestly feel that Microsoft is in a position that it might be a possibility), and a new exclusive game by Moon Studios (teaser, no date).
Microsoft has the most to prove this year, and I think they really need to put on one hell of a show to sell folks on the future of Xbox.
Prediction Two – Ubisoft’s show might not be paced well, but their portfolio of games will be impressive.
I tend to skew rather negative on all things Ubisoft and I’m starting to feel guilty about it.
While they have put out titles that have met my preconceived expectations of a very tired Ubisoft template (see Ghost Recon: Wildlands) they have also surprised with good writing and refinement in design with last year’s Watch Dogs 2. And hey, Farcry 5 at least appears to be approaching themes that could result in a game with an engaging and challenging space. Since they have shown that they can go beyond some of their blueprints and adapt to current tastes, I’m going into this Ubisoft presser with a more positive attitude. It also helps that when I stopped to think about it, every game from their conference last year, apart from South Park: The Fractured But Whole, has released. So it’s safe to assume that we are going to see a lot of new games and more information from titles we don’t know a lot about at the show. The Crew 2 is one of those titles we don’t know much about, and it’s one of the games I most look forward to seeing at the show.
Part of my interest with The Crew 2 stems from this inexplicable fascination with driving games that I’m currently going through, but it also stems from the fact that while most of us wrote off The Crew in 2014 as a game with a great pitch but poor execution, The Crew has retained a community and remains financially successful three years later. The idea of an arcade, open world racer that spans across the United States, or perhaps another country, is still an idea that I find incredibly exciting. Developer Ivory Tower not only has the opportunity to address the critiques of the original, but they can do so with the full support of their publisher. I hope that results in the game I originally wanted The Crew to be.
Oh, and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle? Well, it can’t do much more harm to the Mario series of RPG games than Nintendo has already done.
Prediction Three – Nintendo isn’t here to blow minds. No Metroid.
The Nintendo Switch launched with a new Zelda, by the end of its first year we will see a sequel to its most successful new intellectual property in Splatoon 2, an entirely new property with the release of ARMS, a Fire Emblem game in the Musou style, the aforementioned Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, and a brand new Mario game. Friends, announcing a new Metroid at E3 seems like a bad business move and would be Nintendo showing their hand too early.
Nintendo needs to keep the Switch constantly in the minds of players. Whenever anyone talks about video games, Nintendo needs the Switch to be in that conversation. To do that, they not only need to keep a healthy flow of games, but they need something big on the horizon. There’s no way the immediate future after this year holds a brand new Zelda, Mario, Smash, or Mario Kart. Games that move consoles.
If a Metroid does exist, and it probably does, this an opportunity for Nintendo to harness all of that excitement and thirst among fans for a new Metroid and use it to make Metroid the system seller it deserves to be when a system seller is needed. Nintendo could announce a Switch port of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, release it in Q1 of 2018, and it would sell 1 million units to an excited segment of its audience who never owned a Wii U.
Besides, I feel like a new Animal Crossing, one that connects to that there mobile game, is more likely to show itself in their presentation.
Prediction Four – Not much new at Sony’s conference
Sony is a very tough show to predict, mostly because it feels like they have shown their entire hand and this show has to be segment after segment of, “here’s an update on X.”
I can’t see Spider-Man, God of War, or even Detroit hitting this year. I’m still not convinced Death Stranding is even a video game. I could maybe see a 2017 with Days Gone in it, and it’s probably the game from Sony I’m most interested to hear more about. I think Dreams, Everybody’s Golf, Gran Turismo Sport, Knack 2, and Uncharted The Lost Legacy are a lock for the second half 2017. The chances of Bloodborne II at the show are high, but I can’t imagine Dark Souls creative lead Hidetaka Miyazaki having much involvement with it, and I just don’t know how I feel about that.
Side note, if Dreams doesn’t come out this year and they don’t re-introduce it, I fear for the future of Media Molecule. Their lack of confidence in that title is palpable.
So yeah, I don’t think Sony is going to put on a barnburner this year. I hope it’s a longer show than last year, that they have some third-party surprises up their sleeves, and I hope the sentiment amongst consumers on Sony’s apathy towards VR is proven wrong.
Final Prediction – EA won’t have an absolute bummer of a show
So this more wishful thinking, but come on EA, I know y’all have it in you to put on an entertaining show.
I really want a good arcade racer, so I’m excited to learn more about Need for Speed: Payback. I think it’s about time we see that Amy Hennig Star Wars game. Show me more of Fé, Sea of Solitude, and hey, I liked Unravel, give me another one of those. Give us a taste of that Star Wars Battlefront 2 campaign. Skate 4?
I don’t know, this is probably my weakest prediction, but I just really don’t want to sit through another uninteresting press conference. Especially to kick off E3.
This year’s show won’t have the bombshells provided by Sony for the past two years or the backwards compatibility moment of 2015. As a whole, it might be a bit more tepid, but I think there will be enough this year to say it was a good show.
Maybe I’m just being cynical and we’ll get a new Metroid, Okami, and Kingdom Hearts III gets a release year. Either way, a feeling of excitement is beginning to build within me. I look forward to the dumb spectacle and hope for some wonderfully awkward moments.