The last couple of E3s have been a bit slow as the Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 generation has been winding down. This year, however, is flush with possibility. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will be duking it out on the big stage, and Nintendo will be doing its thing, introducing some highly anticipated first-party titles to the masses. There are sure to be many surprises in store, but we have gathered here some of what to expect from E3 2013.
What To Expect:
After an Xbox One console reveal that mainly focused on the system's multimedia capabilities, Microsoft has promised to go full-on with game announcements at E3. With a promised fifteen exclusive games to announce at E3, the company could go a long way towards redeeming itself in the eyes of gamers. Still, it will be difficult for Microsoft to resist adding in some of its trademark conference time-wasters, like children playing Kinect and pointless rock- or sports-star cameos. We can only hope that Microsoft keeps that stuff to a minimum and concentrates on core games, like the Halo game that must surely be planned alongside the TV show, and perhaps even a few games outside the shooter and sports genres.
Since we have yet to see the actual PlayStation 4 console's design, its reveal at Sony's E3 conference is a near certainty. We'll probably also find out more about the PlayStation Eye's integration into the PS4, and we're crossing our fingers that Sony avoids another Wonderbook-style snore fest. In a coup against Microsoft, Sony will feature the first gameplay footage of Bungie's highly anticipated MMO/FPS/RPG Destiny. With lots of first-party studios at its disposal, there are plenty of opportunities for new PlayStation 4 game announcements. Unfortunately, Sony has had a bad habit of flubbing E3 conferences recently. With the strong position it has coming into E3, Sony will only have itself to blame if it allows Microsoft to steal the show without a fight.
Nintendo will not be holding a big press conference at E3 this year, but the company will still be present. It's hoping to take its upcoming Wii U and 3DS games to the people via Nintendo Direct videos and exclusive demo stations at participating Best Buys. The company has already stated that the new 3D Mario game and the next Mario Kart will be playable at the show (and presumably at the public demo stations). Super Smash Bros. is confirmed to make some kind of appearance. We'll likely see more of Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, Zelda: Wind Waker HD, and perhaps get some Wii U surprises as well. Don't forget the 3DS, either—it's been going strong over the past year and has some solid titles in the works. The question is whether Nintendo will be able to drum up hype for all these games, or if its lack of a big press conference will seriously hurt its coverage chances.
In the third-party world, we're sure to get some more solid information on Watch Dogs now that all the next-gen consoles have been officially announced. Ubisoft's booth will feature that game along with Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, Rayman Legends, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist, and some yet-unannounced titles for the next generation. Activision, of course, will be showing off Call of Duty: Ghosts, and EA will be shooting back with Battlefield 4 multiplayer footage.
Metal Gear Solid 5 will be in attendance, with a trailer that, according to producer Kojima, focuses on gameplay and story rather than on flashy CGI explosions. Along with Battlefield 4, EA will be showing off a next-gen Need for Speed game, displaying plenty of sports titles, and revealing juicy new Star Wars video game information. Fighting game fans and Vita owners will want to head over to Tecmo Koei's booth for Dead or Alive Ultimate 5 and Vita games like Toukiden and Atelier Meruru Plus. Bethesda will be showcasing The Elder Scrolls Online and is rumored to be bringing The Evil Within and Wolfenstein: The New Order to the show. More companies will surely be announcing their lineups in the next few weeks, giving us even more game information to look forward to.
Square Enix is a big wild card this year. We know the company will be at the show and will be announcing something about a Final Fantasy game, but who knows what that game will be? All we know is that Square Enix has brought enough material to host some live broadcasts from E3. I wouldn't expect to see much from Eidos, considering that the company just released several major titles, and that Thief 4 is reportedly in development Hell. Could we possibly hear about Final Fantasy Versus XIII and/or Final Fantasy XV, or will the company let everyone down by focusing on the Final Fantasy XIV reboot? We simply don't know.
[Editor's Note: Square Enix announced their E3 lineup via press release after the publication of this article. Some of the games they're showcasing are Final Fantast XIV: A Realm Reborn, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Thief, Murdered: Soul Suspect, and Deus Ex: The Fall.]
Sony's first-party game releases are a big question mark for now. Many gamers hope to see something from Naughty Dog, but considering that The Last of Us comes out on June 14, Sony may not want to interrupt the hype for that game with an announcement of something like Uncharted 4. We'd like to see some new franchises from Sony's first-party studios, as the usual launch lineup of Little Big Planet, Ridge Racer, etc. won’t be able to create much buzz for the console. Will The Last Guardian finally arrive this year? Don't hold your breath.
What Not To Expect:
Don't expect new pricing information on any of the upcoming consoles. We could see some, but Sony has been bitten badly by announcing console prices at E3 in the past, and Microsoft would probably have already announced the Xbox One price if it was going to do so before the fall. Nintendo is unlikely to lower the price of the 3DS or Wii U, concentrating instead on all the games it has to show off for those systems. The only price drop we might see announced at E3 is for the Vita, which has already received a price drop in Japan.
Continuing with console news, don't expect either Microsoft or Sony to go into detail about how their consoles will handle used games, despite the fact that games journalists will likely be peppering both companies with questions along those lines. Both companies want their E3 coverage to be full of hype for the games that are coming to their new systems, not about the used game controversy. Unless Sony has made a final decision to allow the unfettered play of used games on its system and wants to get one over on Microsoft by trumpeting the fact, expect both companies to issue a big, fat, “no comment.”
Certain companies, like Rockstar and Blizzard, generally don't attend E3. Rockstar's publisher 2K is skipping E3 entirely this year, and we won't know what Blizzard's working on until BlizzCon in November. Valve has also confirmed that it is not exhibiting anything at E3, although famous faces from the company will likely be present at the show. We could still see some sort of Steam Box reveal from a third party, though. Finally, although Bethesda will be exhibiting at E3, the rumors swirling about a Fallout 4 reveal seem to be false.
Gamers are unlikely to be disappointed by what's not available at E3, however, as the next generation of consoles is bringing us plenty of new announcements. Whether they're fans of Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo, console gamers should have plenty of things to be excited about from E3 this year.
Senior Contributing Writer