E3 is nearly here. As we enter the home stretch leading up to the gaming industry’s biggest week of the year, there’s one question on everyone’s mind: “what’s going to be there?” The number of reports, rumors, and speculative conjectures has spiked dramatically in recent weeks. The rumor mill hasn’t been churning as wildly this year as it has in the past — in many cases, the scoops are coming from reputable sources — but even safe predictions aren’t official until the publishers say so.
With the show just around the corner, we’ve put together a picture encompassing some of the biggest releases that may make an appearance. Some seem more likely than others, but parsing through the rumors and half-truths on the way to figuring out the future of the gaming industry is half the fun.
PlayStation VR and PlayStation 4 “Neo”
It’s a foregone conclusion that Sony is going to spend a decent chunk of time discussing the PlayStation VR headset, which is on track to hit stores in October. Expect to read up on the details of how it will work — what’s the deal with that external processor? — as well as its starting lineup, which will likely feature both new games and some VR fans will already recognize.
With reports coming in from multiple outlets, there is also strong evidence that Sony is building a more advanced PlayStation 4, one that everyone’s been talking about for the past few months. The hardware, which reports suggest may launch by the end of the year, will allow for 4K video output and would augment the console’s processing power. While it’s possible that Sony may hold off on showing the Neo, its inherent connection to the PlayStation VR is a strong reason to show them together.
Xbox One Slim and “Scorpio”
Not wanting to be outdone, recent reports have suggested that Microsoft will unveil two new versions of the Xbox One. First, there will be a smaller version of the Xbox One in stores this August. The “Xbox One Slim” will reportedly offer a few new or improved features, such as a 2TB hard drive and 4K video support, while incorporating a design that’s 40 percent smaller than the current model.
Microsoft may also reveal an upgraded version of the Xbox One, internally called Scorpio, at the show ahead of its rumored 2017 launch. Based on the projected specs, the Scorpio will not only offer a major hardware upgrade over the current Xbox One, but may be more powerful than Sony’s upgraded hardware. While it’s really a toss-up as to whether or not Microsoft will unveil its hardware upgrade at E3, the pressure to outmatch Sony’s hardware slate may drive Microsoft to pull the trigger early.
Watch Dogs 2
For the first time in the better part of a decade, Ubisoft will not publish a new Assassin’s Creed title in 2016. That doesn’t necessarily mean that fans of open-world games will have to go without, however. Ubisoft confirmed that a Watch Dogs sequel will come out by the end of the financial year, which ends in April 2017. It’s hard to imagine Ubisoft won’t take this opportunity to unveil the next entry in the franchise, which features similar gameplay to Assassin’s Creed, but kinda, sorta exists in the same universe.
The Legend of Zelda
Though it has one — or perhaps two — new consoles on the way, Nintendo will devote most of its E3 time to evangelizing one game, the next installment in the Legend of Zelda franchise. The game is set to launch on both the Wii U and Nintendo’s as-yet-unveiled hardware, the Nintendo NX, and the company is allowing attendees to take the game for a test spin ahead of its 2017 launch. Presumably, Nintendo will show the Wii U version to the public, but it’s entirely possible that investors will get to see the next-gen version as well.
Mass Effect Andromeda
We don’t have much to say yet about the next Mass Effect, which EA has confirmed will be on display at its E3-adjacent fan event, EA Play. According to developer Bioware, Andromeda will offer “unprecedented level of freedom,” which sounds great, but doesn’t really give us a sense of what to expect from the next entry in a series whose primary narrative has already run its course.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Announced at E3 last year, Horizon: Zero Dawn is the next PS4-exclusive game from Killzone developer Guerrilla Games. The game puts players in control of a woman living in a future where giant robot animals and robo-dinosaurs roam the Earth. Horizon is one of only a handful of non-sequels we expect to see from a AAA publisher this year, and the game’s interesting concept makes for a universe we’d love to see more of.
Dishonored 2 was first announced with a trailer shown during Bethesda’s E3 keynote last year. This year, we’re looking forward to spending some playing the game — or at least watching someone else play it. Though Bethesda announced that the sequel will come out November 11, we still know little about the forthcoming title. Trading the London-inspired city of Dunwall for the Mediterranean-like Karnaca, players will choose to stalk and assassinate their enemies as returning protagonist Corvo, or princess Emily Kaldwin, who has grown up to become a capable assassin in her own right.
More expected games
Microsoft announced at Gamescom 2015 that it planned to roll out a soft multiplayer launch for Crackdown 3 this summer. If there’s any chance they still plan to hit that target, the open-world shooter will have to make a big splash this month.
Ubisoft unveiled For Honor, a swordplay-based action game, at E3 2015. Now, with the game on track to launch by the end of the publisher’s financial year (April, 2017), we’re expecting to get a better feel for what distinguishes this game from the long lineage of fighting games and beat-em-ups we’ve played for decades.
Electronic Arts also confirmed that the multi-platform sequel to its mech-intensive shooter, Titanfall, will make an appearance at E3. According to a leak published on Reddit last week, the sequel will build on its signature mechanics by adding a grappling hook, which will give players more mobility outside of their Titans. Developer Respawn has also assured players that the game will offer a more substantial campaign than the original.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Activision picked a heck of a year to abstain from the showroom floor. The publisher’s premier franchise is making a big leap this year … into space! The game will reportedly make an appearance on the show floor at the PlayStation booth. After years of annual releases, you can generally take on faith that each new Call of Duty will deliver a small, incremental upgrade over the previous year: Infinite Warfare could make some big changes that will make or break the series’ future with fans.
Like its primary competitor, Call of Duty, the Battlefield franchise will make a large aesthetic shift this year in Battlefield 1, which will trade the series modern motif for World War I. Though EA unveiled the game during a livestream earlier this month, we have yet to see the game in action. We’re looking forward to seeing how much the series will change when scaled back to reflect the weapons and vehicles of that era.
Yes, even The Last Guardian
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
It seems like so long ago, so it may be easy to forget that Ubisoft purchased the rights and many of the assets for South Park: The Stick of Truth from defunct publisher THQ in 2013. Last year at E3, Ubisoft announced it would make a superhero-themed sequel, aka South Park: The Fractured But Whole. With the game expected to launch later this year, we’re looking forward to seeing how Ubisoft handles the adaptation without a roadmap already in place.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands
It’s been a surprisingly long four years since the last notable Ghost Recon game — Ghost Recon Online doesn’t count — and the tactical franchise will almost certainly make its debut at E3 given Ubisoft released a new trailer for the game last week. Wildlands appears to return to the modern tactical motif, too, while other series, such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, are trying to steer away from it. That newly vacant space, combined with Ghost Recon’s tactical gameplay, could be enough for the series to carve out its own following among shooter fans.
Microsoft’s upcoming human-versus-the-robots-in-the-wasteland exclusive remains a large question mark in the publisher’s lineup. The game was announced with an impressive trailer at last year’s show, but there’s been little information shared about the game since. Still, any game that combines the talents of Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune and Armature Studios, a studio formed by members of the Metroid Prime team, is worth keeping an eye on.
The Last Guardian
Another year, another chance to see more of The Last Guardian. The third game from developer Team Ico and director Fumito Ueda has been in development for almost a decade, and it’s more than fair to laugh at the prospect of it showing up on yet another show preview. And yet, we’re confident it will make an appearance, and there’s legitimate hope that the game will be released soon. There’s no way the title can overcome the burden of its own hype, but that doesn’t mean it won’t still be great.
A new Forza
Microsoft has already announced that it will show the next Forza at E3, and that the game will feature the Lamborghini Centenario on its cover. However, that still leaves a few questions up in the air, such as when it will it come out and whether it will offer a more simulation-style experience or return to the more arcade-friendly Forza Horizon sub-brand.
A little bird told us about these too…
Oculus VR on Xbox One or HoloLens games
As part of the reporting that has led us to keep an eye out for a pair of new Xbox consoles at E3, some outlets have suggested that the upgraded Xbox One will also feature some sort of dedicated VR support. Furthermore, a recent report from Ars Technica suggested that at least one developer will show an unannounced VR game at E3 that will come in a Xbox One-compatible format. Some speculate that Microsoft will partner with Oculus; a natural fit given that Microsoft already supplies Oculus with controllers for its headset, but that is far from a safe bet. If Microsoft does unveil the Scorpio, it will also likely need to show at least a couple of games running on the platform.
Microsoft also has its Hololens AR headset, which it has shown will support games like Minecraft. While E3 does not seem like the venue to turn the page on the utilitarian device, there’s always a chance we may get the opportunity to check in with the project.
Kingdom Hearts III
It’s always a toss-up as to whether Square Enix will have anything to say about Kingdom Hearts III, the the next numerical entry in its Final Fantasy/Disney crossover saga. With Final Fantasy XV launching in September and definitely making an E3 appearance, there’s a chance the Kingdom Hearts team may stay home this year. Of course, it could always be the year Square Enix locks in a release date.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has now officially announced Injustice 2, the sequel to the company’s DC-themed fighting game, Injustice: Gods Among Us. NetherRealm is still on board as the developer, and the studio plans to continue the story introduced in the first title. According to NetherRealm boss Ed Boon, the game will also till tout a “massive roster” of superheroes and villains — including Batman, The Flash, and Gorilla Grodd, among others — as well as more robust character customization and larger arenas. We have yet to see the recently-unveiled title in action, so a bigger reveal at E3 isn’t completely out of the question.
Shadow of Mordor 2
Rumors out of the of Warner Bros Interactive camp also suggest that the publisher might show off a sequel to the critically-acclaimed Shadow of Mordor. The game’s signature feature, the “nemesis system,” was heralded as a major success by fans and pundits, and has remained relatively untouched by competitors. The road seems clear for a sequel, but the question is whether or not developer Monolith Productions will unveil it at E3.
CD Projekt Red’s next game (not Cyberpunk 2077)
With CD Projekt Red closing the door on The Witcher III, the time is right for them to shift the public’s focus to its next project. The studio has already said that Cyberpunk 2077 won’t be at the show, which leads some to believe CD Projekt Red may announce something new instead. In a financial report earlier this year, the studio said it is working on two projects, one of which is “a new type of video game format previously unexplored by the studio.” The language could be interpreted in many ways, but it really does not sound like another Witcher title.
Dead Island 2
Emerging publisher Deep Silver has announced that it will unveil a “big” title at E3 this year. While this leaves the door open for one of a handful of sequels — including a new Saint’s Row, Metro, or new IP — the most likely candidate has to be the one it has already announced, Dead Island 2. After the game’s Steam page disappeared, prompting a series of rumors regarding its cancellation, the publisher confirmed that the game has been in development for some time. Maybe the page was taken down because its about to get a fresh coat of paint? We may find out soon.
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