The first Electronic Entertainment Expo – or E3, as the kids say nowadays – was held twenty years ago and this year’s event will officially kick off Tuesday. E3 has traditionally been the venue for massive video game-related announcements, and so, clasping my talisman of Gamez Jurnalizm close against my breast, I will now predict what we’ll see in this year’s outing.
A weird thing that’s been happening is that increasingly, the Big Announcements are actually happening in the weeks prior to E3. Bethesda’s unveiling of Fallout 4 is just one example this year, and they followed that up by accidentally announcing Dishonored 2 Friday on a live Twitch stream. Ubisoft has already shown us a bunch of promotional content for their next Assassin’s Creed game, Syndicate. Electronic Arts has announced Mirror’s Edge Catalyst (the not-sequel to 2008’s remarkable parkour-em-up Mirror’s Edge), as well as teased the third game in their Call of Duty: Black Ops series of military shooters. They’ve also shown us more about their upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront game, which they only teased last year.
On the hardware front, Thursday we saw a “final prototype” of Oculus’ Rift VR headset at their press event, which will ship in “Q1 2016” with a wireless Xbox One controller. Head Xbox exec Phil Spencer announced that you’ll be able to stream Xbox One games to the Rift at launch, but no word yet on an MSRP.
So what’s left for the actual show? Plenty, I say. Let me don my Carnac the Magnificent hat, read the entrails of a sacrificed Sega Dreamcast, and channel the vidjagamey spirits.
Microsoft vs. Sony
This one requires no occult intervention. Microsoft is about to announce a partnership with Oculus, and probably will use the occasion to talk up Windows 10, specifically how it’ll work “seamlessly” with Xbox One. They tend to go very heavy on the corporate dreamspeak without getting into many specifics about things you can actually get excited about – although, you can probably expect some mention of HoloLens, which actually does look cool. Microsoft being Microsoft, though, they’ll probably find some way to piss people off with this genuinely neat piece of tech.
Sony will present after Microsoft. The company is working on their own piece of VR tech, Project Morpheus, but if history is any indication of the future, Sony will definitely take the opportunity to undercut everything Microsoft said earlier.
They’re doing a “Nintendo Direct” online presentation, and what we’ll probably see is a couple game teasers and a ton of marketing for their ridiculous Amiibo lineup of well-sculpted plastic dreck that for some reason they refuse to make enough of. In fact, expect to see a lot of plastic figurines in general, as Skylanders and Disney Infinity are also sure to announce expansions to their already bloated lineups. Nintendo has already announced a new Zelda title, and they launched a brand new IP last month with the well-received Splatoon, so it’s hard to imagine we’ll see anything too jaw-dropping. They never seem to get tired of making new version of their DS handheld, so perhaps we’ll see a 2DS XL unveiled this week. What I’d really love to see is a new Metroid title announced. But if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.
We’ll hear more about Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, which is set in early Industrial Age London, as well as The Division, which is hopefully the last thing that has Dead Tom Clancy’s name attached to it. Because Ubisoft is incurably French, it’s nearly impossible to predict what they’ll do (other than slavishly pump out new Assassin’s Creed titles annually).
Apart from what they’ve already unveiled, there’s not much for EA to really do, other than let us know which sports licenses they still have (NCAA having dissolved their relationship with the company over an awkward issue of players not being compensated for their likenesses being used in games). Madden, NBA, NHL, MLB the Show – all pretty standard annualized series. I’ll be interested to hear about what, if any, future FIFA has with EA, given the recent
CTRL-ALT-DEL shakeup in football’s governing body.
Again, the cat is already out of the bag well ahead of Square-Enix’s E3 demo. I’m excited to see a sequel to 2013’s terrific Tomb Raider series reboot, and we’ve already gotten a peek at a new Deus Ex. Final Fantasy XV will definitely get some play now that the demo is out in the wild.
Unlike other video game conventions that have risen to prominence in the past 20 years, E3 remains an “industry only” event (this of course includes credentialed press). So instead of the creative cosplay you see at PAX and MineCon, what you have at E3 (which is held in Los Angeles) is a lot of young women looking for any modeling or acting work they can get and hired to dress up like Princess Toadstool by way of Elvira. Think Pokémon, but with absurd cleavage. We may have had a lot of conversations this past year about representation, but you’ll pry E3’s booth babes out of its cold, dead interactive digital experiences.
What we won’t see
An actual “killer app” for VR.