Ah, E3 — a glorious time to be a gamer, especially if you are one who obsesses over gameplay demos, hardware unveilings, and long, boisterous speeches about how awesome video game companies are. It’s like the Oscar season, but takes place in like three days, and is more about the things we WANT to like rather than the things we actually like. Or, more appropriately, what the Academy tells us we SHOULD like…but that’s neither here nor there.
Regardless, I am obviously a fan of all things mentioned, as I have been watching E3 press conferences for over a decade at this point. I’ve never actually attended the event (and in all honesty, not sure I even want to), but most of the exciting stuff happens during the press conferences anyways. And even though the process has changed (livestreaming from Youtube is sure different from autotuning the network to G4), the actual press conferences remain pretty much the same. The companies are going to come out, present their wares, and try to wow those watching both physically and at home. So which E3 presentations will end up doing just that? It’s hard to say for sure, but, hell, might as well try anyways! Here are the 10 things that will almost certainly be at the event that I am most excited to see.
10. South Park: The Fractured But Whole
This will end up being the third E3 for South Park: The Fractured But Whole…and, hopefully, the last. The game, delayed eternally since its announcement back in E3 2015, seems to finally have a firm release date of October 22, 2017, and Ubisoft will surely take the time to give The Fractured But Whole one final splash before its (hopeful) release. The last two times we’ve seen South Park at E3 has been extremely entertaining, and I’m hoping for similar here. I don’t even need a grander look at the mechanics or story or anything like that: just bring the jokes for a couple of minutes, and I’ll be happy.
9. Super Mario Odyssey
The last few Nintendo Direct’s that the company has hosted (E3 or otherwise) have been laughably bad in my opinion, and even bolstered by the initial success of the Nintendo Switch, I don’t expect this year’s presentation to be much different. That being said…is there ever a time in which seeing a new Mario game ISN’T cool? The 3D platforming is just so fun to watch, and if you can depend on Nintendo for anything, it’s innovative and cool-looking level design. I probably won’t be playing Super Mario Odyssey anytime soon, but watching it get played? Guaranteed to be a fun time.
8. Gameplay from Call of Duty: WWII
Call of Duty at E3 has been a yearly tradition for nearly a decade at this point…and a not particularly exciting one for at least half that time. The last one I remember enjoying was for Modern Warfare 2 way back in 2009 and, since then, Activision has just been banking on the same ol’ same old: a rather long, extended look at an action moment from the game, showing off futuristic hardware and boring shooting, capped off by one cool-in-the-moment, but later forgettable, set-piece. They’ve all started to run together in my mind since Black Ops, and it’s to the point that the whole thing just seems like a necessity to power through, rather than something actually fun to watch (also see: the twenty minute sizzle-reel of EA Sports titles.)
But this year will, hopefully, be different. It will be the first time we get to see extended gameplay from Call of Duty: WWII, the most promising Call of Duty game in a LONG time. Taking things back to World War II will be good for the game overall, but even better for the presentation: though it will likely have some similarities with past Call of Duty reveals (the lame dialogue and big, forgettable set-piece likely aren’t going anywhere), but the setting will put a whole different feel to the proceedings. For the first time in a while, the general atmosphere surrounding a new Call of Duty game is excitement. I can only hope that the gameplay presentation (likely during Sony’s press conference) will be able to keep those good vibes flowing.
7. Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
We’ve already seen quite a bit of content from Middle-Earth: Shadow of War…but why not more, huh? The original was was one of the biggest surprises of the current generation, and the sequel so far looks to be a worthy follow-up. It’s likely that Shadow of War will be a part of Microsoft’s press conference on Sunday, and I’m hoping for an extremely epic, decent-sized chunk of gameplay. With Shadow of War releasing in just a few short months, I would be surprised to see otherwise.
6. The Last of Us: Part 2
For what it’s worth, we still don’t quite know if The Last of Us Part 2 will be at E3…but if I was a betting man, I would say that Sony “Yeah, Bring Everything!!” Computer Entertainment won’t balk at the opportunity to show off more of its crown jewel to an eager, excited audience. I don’t expect to see gameplay at this point (Sony can still get a lot of mileage off an extended, more detailed trailer), but Naughty Dog has always brought their A-game when it comes to E3 presentations. We’re probably get something cool, at the very least.
5. The Latest Weird Thing from Death Stranding
Will this be the E3 in which we finally see a gameplay demo from Death Stranding? If I were to guess, the answer would be no — I doubt Death Stranding will be released until next Fall at the earliest, and a gameplay reveal at E3 is probably too soon (if we see it this year, it will be at Gamescom or Playstation Experience — but that too is a big “if.”)
But does that mean we won’t get anything from Death Stranding at all? Me thinks no, as that would be both a very un-Sony AND un-Hideo Kojima thing to do. Death Stranding will pop up at some point during Sony’s presentation, but in what form it will be is anybody’s guess. But considering the hypnotically bizarre last few trailers, I’m excited to see whatever this project throws at me. CGI Guillermo del Toro breast feeding a child with black, inky goo as CGI Mads Mikkelsen watches? Sure, why the hell not — I’ll end up wanting to play the damn thing regardless.
4. Insomniac’s Spider-Man Game
I have been excited about the possibilities of an Insomniac-helmed Spider-Man game since it was first announced at last year’s E3, and it’s been quite a while since we’ve seen anything new from the game. Expect that to change next week, however, as this is the perfect opportunity for Sony to build up buzz for their upcoming exclusive. Excitement is building up for the character with the forthcoming release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, and I doubt Sony is going to balk at the opportunity to build off of synergy game/movie synergy by NOT showing the game off in a big way. I expect quite a bit here: an extended gameplay demo, a description of what the story will actually be, and (perhaps most importantly), a release date at the end of the year (I want to say…October?) Needless to say, as a massive fan of the character and many of the video games he has featured in, I’m excited to see more.
3. All Things Star-Wars
On the theme of “synergistic video game releases slated for this year,” it’s going to be a good E3 for the Star Wars brand. Ever since EA got the rights to make games in the franchise, they have always had a big segment of their press conference devoted to the future of Star Wars games, and this year will be no different. In fact, this will probably be the biggest showing of Star Wars at E3 to date — not only will a big chunk of EA’s Press Conference be devoted to gameplay from this year’s Star Wars: Battlefront II, but I also fully expect a trailer for the Star Wars game in development from EA Motive and Visceral Games. Last year, we got a really quick look at the latter game, but it’s high time the project get an actual coming out party.
Ultimately, EA will want to keep focus on Battlefront II, and I’m sure most of the conference will be devoted to that (hell, they might just do what they did last year with Battlefield 1, and have like an hour of Battlefront II multiplayer attached to their livestream.) But I still think we’ll get an Old Republic-esque teaser trailer for the other game, complete with an actual title. And if Star Wars past history at E3 is any indication, it will probably be worth getting excited about.
2. The Xbox Scorpio Unveiled
You might notice that this list is pretty short on the Microsoft side of things — that’s mostly because the company has the smallest slate of all the publishers having a press conference this year. There’s Sea of Thieves, and Crackdown 3, and State of Decay 3, and…well, that’s kind of it. But on the hardware side of things, Microsoft clearly has a leg up on everybody else — they’re showing off a whole new console, essentially.
After teasing the Xbox Scorpio at last year’s E3, Microsoft has a hell out of a lot of build-up to bring people on to the hype game. But Microsoft is pretty adept at getting people excited about their consoles and, as an Xbox One owner, I’m extremely curious to see just what Scorpio actually looks like with the layers of secrecy shaved off. I’m a sucker for console reveals and, even if Xbox Scorpio doesn’t literally measure at 27 teraflops and cures cancer, nothing gets me more hot and bothered at E3 than a sexy, sexy console unveiling. That being said, some exciting games would be nice too, Microsoft.
On that note, however…
1. All The Things I Can’t Predict
I usually balk at making lists like this for E3, for one reason and one reason only: more than anything else, the thing I end up loving about E3 is the things I could NEVER predict. The surprise announcements that we know nothing about, the leaks that finally get proven, and the games that end up making surprise appearances. On that front, this E3 has plenty of possibilities :
- What will Bethesda have in store this year? Is that space RPG they’ve been working on finally getting it’s time in the spotlight? (Possibly!)
- Will Kingdom Hearts 3 come and show us more bits of nothingness, with further promises of it being “in development” and yet little to show for it? (Probably!)
- What embarrassing nonsense will Ubisoft get itself into this year? (Mr. Caffeine returns as Mr. Covfefe — you heard it hear first, folks!)
- What cute and charming nonsense will Nintendo get itself into this year? (Has Reggie ever been animated like a Paper Mario character?)
- Will Borderlands 3 get its grand revealing? (could happen!)
- Will Red Dead Redemption 2 show up (don’t bet your life on it!)
All these questions and more are the things that I’ll later go on to cherish about my experience with E3: every press conference comes with a handful of mysteries, and things we can’t entirely predict. And if that’s not the fun of watching these otherwise dry conferences for hours on end, then just what is?
In case you need a reminder, here’s a list of all the big press conferences happening next week. Schedule those reminders, people!
- EA — Saturday, June 10 at 12 PM PT
- Microsoft — Sunday, June 11 at 2 PM PT
- Bethesda — Sunday, June 11 at 9 PM PT
- Ubisoft — Monday, June 12 at 1 PM PT
- Sony — Monday, June 12 at 6 PM PT
- Nintendo — Tuesday, June 13 at 9 AM PT
And check back to Freshly Popped Culture next week, where we’ll be sure to have a few things up recapping the event. It will probably be me pleasuring myself to Xbox Scorpio specs but, other than that, there should be some good content!
Also published on Medium.