It’s that special time of year. When the days of summer finally start to truly come alive, school ends, and millions across the globe turn their attention to a multi-day, game-centric event in southern California. The Electronic Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as E3.
E3 is hype. It’s promise, potential, and the home of our wildest most wishful dreams coming true. I love E3 for this. Unfounded hopes and idealism run deep here. The cynicism of the larger world and of the larger games industry aren’t allowed inside. For a few days in June we are all just allowed to roll around in our love of games. We’re allowed to just unabashedly enjoy games and the culture around them.
Now, that doesn’t mean that E3 is perfect. It’s far from it. It’s wonky, overly ambitious, and often lacking in substance. That’s fine, that’s ok. EA will probably have a bad conference in which they mention sports way too much. A conference where they will trod out a celebrity who only has a passing idea of what is even happening.
That’s part of what makes this event special too. At E3 it’s fine. Warts and all are welcome here. The community that has risen up around games takes it all, give our hot takes, and make lots and lots of jokes. What’s not to love?
Last year’s E3 delivered quite possibly one of the greatest series of press conferences we’ve ever seen, particularly from Microsoft and Sony. The two have engaged in an ever escalating war to one up and top the other for the past few years that has now lead to the perpetual feeling that it will be impossible to top the previous years conference, yet year after year they have proven themselves capable of mashing our craziest dreams and expectations with a stellar lineup of games. I think both will continue to do so.
But anyway, let’s get to the predictions, starting with…
Prediction One: Sony Attacks.
Last year Sony delivered one of the greatest E3 conferences ever. A staggering series of ever-bigger announcements, reveals, and dreams coming true for longtime PlayStation fans. Nearly every one loved the conference.
A few people however, including Irrational Passions esteemed Editor-in-Chief Alex O’Neill had problems with the fact that Sony didn’t really give any dates for the flood of games they just announced. Games were coming, but nobody knew when.
That’s all about to change. Sony is going to come out swinging at this criticism. I predict that Days Gone, God of War, Detroit, and Spider Man will all either get a definitive release date or a release window. Virtually every big game Sony announced last year will get a release window in fact, save for Death Stranding and The Last of Us Part 2.
Tagging onto this I think all of the games I just mentioned will be out by February 2019. Sony got a fair bit of flak for announcing a ton of games that weren’t coming out soon. They are about to rectify that. Get ready.
Prediction Two: PlayStation VR Shines.
PlayStation VR has had an interesting first eight months on the market. It’s early promising potential has been met with the mixed bag realities of supply shortages, better than expected sales, and a lack of big games. Sony has been mostly quiet about the machine, save for the rare interview in which they drop the odd tidbit about PSVR.
That will change at E3. Sony is about to map out the future of PSVR at E3 2017. I predict Sony will spend close to ten minutes talking about VR’s future, the big upcoming games for the machine, and the promising non-gaming applications of the device. I expect announcements about PSVR’s uses outside of games to be of big importance. Being able to attend virtual concerts, conferences, sporting events etc.
PlayStation VR was a massive bet by Sony. One that will ultimately and one way or another, play a big role in determining the future direction and shape of the company. That direction and shape should come into clearer focus after Sony’s conference Monday night.
Prediction Three: Wolfenstein The New Order 2.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is one of the best FPS shooters of the past decade. Full stop. A thought-provoking and at times meditative look at war and the horrors it can inflict on those forced to wage it. A stunning and deeply troubling ‘what if’ into the nightmarish world of a Nazi-won victory. A fast-paced, fluid, perfectly tuned gameplay system that always felt right and was always a joy to play.
The New Order came out three years ago; the time has come to announce the sequel and give the world the heroes it needs in these troubling times, B.J. Blazkowicz and Anya Oliwa. The cast of characters and plot lines featured in the New Order led to a feeling of both breathtaking closure for the series after 25 years and also an impressive foundation to be built off of for future installments.
Now is the time for said installments. After Wolfenstein in 2014 and Doom last year, Bethesda is riding on quite the high note and announcing a new Wolfenstein game, with a release date in tow is the perfect way to cement all the goodwill they’ve successfully built up these past few years. I have incredibly high hopes for Wolfenstein: The New Order 2 and I have no reason to believe that Bethesda and Machine Games won’t deliver another immersive, beautiful, and emotional tale of grief, guilt, love, and heroism as the world teeters towards its demise. I can not wait for this.
Prediction Four: Sucker Punch’s Next Game is Revealed.
Infamous: Second Son came out three years ago to good reviews but hardly universal acclaim. Neither as beloved as Infamous 1 or 2, nor as revolutionary as those two games, Sucker Punch has since drifted into a sort of self-imposed exile ever since.
That will change come Monday night. The future of Sucker Punch, one of PlayStation’s premiere first parties, will be set that night. What’s the game? When is it coming out? Will there be any gameplay shown? I don’t have any answers to those questions, but in some form or another Sucker Punch will show off what it has been working on these past few years and I’d say it’s a safe bet to assume it’s gonna look pretty damn great. Year of dreams baby.
Prediction Five: Microsoft announces a huge new exclusive that blows everyone away.
Xbox has been trailing PlayStation since before this console generation even officially began. From the opening seconds of it’s Xbox One reveal event Microsoft have been behind the eight ball and have been playing catch up ever since. They have struggled mightily in terms of exclusive games that aren’t either Halo, Gears, or Forza.
That’s not enough to survive off of. Their few attempts to expand beyond that have been very hit or miss. See Sunset Overdrive, Titanfall, Ryse, and the disaster that was their one year exclusive deal with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Microsoft needs to do something big, something radically different when it comes to first party exclusive games. Not for this generation, of which it is already too far behind to catch up, but for the future, for the next five to ten years.
If Microsoft keeps trotting out the same tired lineup of Halo, Gears, etc, it won’t last. Those franchises, while still beloved, are growing increasingly stale and stagnant. It needs something new, something that can shake up Xbox and its roster of studios, something that can help to sell the Scorpio and all of its teraflops. I believe Microsoft is more than capable of this, I just don’t know if they’re willing to act. We will see Sunday night.
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I’m incredibly excited for this year’s E3. As we move into the heart of this console generation we are finally starting to see the full promise and greatness for these consoles. From the staggering lineup of exclusive games coming soon for the PS4, to the new and revolutionary potential of the Nintendo Switch, to finally the hail mary desperation of Microsoft with the upcoming launch of the Scorpio and it’s quest to stay relevant between the PS4 and Switch. That desperation can lead to great and bold moves for Xbox.
As I said at the beginning of this piece, E3 is a special time of year where we can all collectively embrace our love and appreciation of games and just enjoy ourselves. Let our craziest dreams and hopes run wild for three or four days. Let’s all remember that this next week and just have some fun talking about the things we love and our crazy hopes for them.