In the Limelight

The hype train is getting ready to leave the station for another year’s worth of big video game announcements, with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) press conference schedule kicking off on Saturday, June 9, 2018. We’ll be doing a wrap-up and a “report card” of sorts on these pressers after the show, but before it gets going, we wanted to do a preview and a round of predictions. Here’s what we hope will happen – and what we think will actually occur – at E3 from these developers and publishers.

Electronic Arts – June 9, 2 PM ET

EA’s primarily known for two things: sports and shooters. I think we’re going to see a lot of both this year, especially given the pre-E3 hype that’s been placed on the announcement of Battlefield V. Chances are, that’s going to be a leading focus of their show, as the game is going to be their big holiday sales driver. EA experienced a surprising amount of success with Battlefield 1, and I think expectations are pretty high for Battlefield V. While there’s long been a glut of WWII shooters on the market, it looks like EA’s twisting history a bit here, so hopefully Battlefield V will present a fresh spin on the genre.

We’re also likely to get in-depth looks at the various sports titles EA publishes, including Madden NFL, FIFA, NBA Live, and so on. I doubt anything groundbreaking will occur on that front.

The other big title bound to see a ton of time dedicated to it is Anthem, being developed by BioWare. Anthem looks very similar to Bungie’s Destiny games in a lot of ways – for better or for worse. We haven’t seen too terribly much of what Anthem is going to play like so my hope is that we get some dedicated gameplay demonstrations at this year’s show. After the lukewarm response to Mass Effect Andromeda, it seems as though Anthem could be a make-or-break title for BioWare as a developer, so I really sincerely hope they nail it. We’ll have to wait and see.

EA turned a lot of people off with the past year’s worth of lootbox-related controversy (particularly with Star Wars Battlefront II) so I think it’s safe to say that they have some work to do in order to win back fans’ trust here. Hopefully they’re able to right the ship on that front. I don’t really expect any surprises from EA this year – it seems that they’ve been in a routine for many years now – but I’m ready to be wrong about that.

Microsoft – June 10, 4 PM ET

Microsoft and the Xbox One have had kind of a rough go of things this console generation, with their hardware struggling out of the gate against Sony and never being able to fully catch up. It’s seemed for the past couple of years that the company has been so narrowly focused on producing the most powerful console hardware on the market that they’ve forgotten to make any games worth playing on it. With the Xbox One X now firmly in the market, hopefully Microsoft can spend the time they have now to focus exclusively on software.

The Xbox lineup of exclusives has been severely lacking for quite some time – particularly when compared to Sony and Nintendo – so the big hope this year is that the company comes out strong with exclusive titles. A new Gears of War title seems overdue at this point, and I think it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that a new entry in the shooter franchise will be announced this year. There’s also the possibility of a new Halo and the likelihood of a new Forza as well. We could also get a new Fable, which has been rumored for a while now and I think would be welcomed.

But my biggest hope here is that they announce some new intellectual properties – and then actually produce and release those games. Microsoft has, within the last few years, announced new IPs (or long-lost returning ones) only to cancel them mid-production. They really need to come out with something fresh and new in order to feel like a legitimate contender moving forward, because right now it feels like they’re doing little beyond bringing up the rear.

Bethesda – June 10, 9:30 PM ET

Bethesda actually announced a title in one of their two flagship franchises last week, with the reveal of Fallout 76 (after effectively trolling fans with a stream of a Vault Boy bobblehead for 24 hours, myself included). The reveal trailer gave some hints as to when the game takes place in the larger Fallout timeline, but left fans with few clues as to how the game will actually play – though rumors and alleged leaks are pointing it to having online multiplayer as a main focus, which would be a stark departure from the franchise so far. Chances are pretty high that this will be a main focus of Bethesda’s presser, and that we’ll know all about how the game is supposed to play as well as a release date for Fallout 76 by the end of it.

Another preshow announcement was for Rage 2, a follow-up to the severely underrated Rage from 2011 that seems to be a pretty significant tonal shift from the first game. The original game takes place in a post-apocalyptic environment (think Mad Max) but the reveal trailer for Rage 2 was pretty colorful. It should be interesting to see what they do with the game, and we’ll probably see a lot of it at E3.

Besides those two, there’s really no telling what Bethesda is going to do – they’re notoriously tight-lipped about what they’re working on at any given moment. I don’t think we’ll see anything new on Wolfenstein or The Evil Within, both of which just got sequels this past year, but it’s possible that we’d see a sequel to last year’s Prey or even another Dishonored sequel. I also think, after the success of porting Skyrim to the Nintendo Switch, that a Fallout 4 port might be in the cards as well. (At least, that’s what I want to happen.)

What I really hope Bethesda announces – and I think that, finally, it could actually happen – is the next entry in the Elder Scrolls franchise. Skyrim first came out in 2011 and Bethesda has ported it to so many consoles that, at this point, it’s kind of a joke. (That being said, they could make Skyrim playable on my toaster oven, and I’d still play it.) But, seven years removed now, I think it’s entirely possible that we get the first look at Elder Scrolls VI, and given what Bethesda did with Fallout 4, it’s just as possible that the game would release by the end of the year. Fingers crossed.

Square Enix – June 11, 1 PM ET

Square Enix is back on the E3 stage for the first time since 2015 this year, so that’s pretty exciting. It actually makes a lot of sense for them, since they’ve got a whole heck of a lot to talk about, and the most buzzed-about game in their release lineup right now for most fans is more than likely going to be Kingdom Hearts III. The long-anticipated sequel to the series has seen a couple of trailers release so far, one of which said that the game would be releasing in 2018. However, we’re now about halfway through 2018 and there’s still no definitive release date. I feel that, given Square Enix’s track record for these sort of things, that the game is likely delayed into 2019, but that we’ll be given a definitive release date at the show this year. In any case, that’s the game most people are going to be tuning in for.

There’s also bound to be some talk about Dragon Quest XI, though likely not too much of it, since Dragon Quest as a series never gained the kind of American fanbase that Final Fantasy garnered. Speaking of Final Fantasy, the company announced the FFVII remake a couple years ago and… really no new information since then. Fans are pretty antsy about it, but it seems as though production has stalled, so some clarification one way or the other as far as what’s happening there would be great. I don’t think we’ll get it, but it’d be nice.

Square Enix also publishes a number of other titles, not the least of which is Tomb Raider, and it’s expected that the upcoming Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be a large focus of their presser. Beyond that, it’s kind of a question mark, though. Maybe we’ll see something new from Just Cause, Deus Ex, Thief, or heck, even a new Final Fantasy.

Ubisoft – June 11, 4 PM ET

We know Ubisoft is going to be talking extensively about their new Assassin’s Creed game, subtitled Odyssey, and that it’s going to take place in ancient Greece. Besides that, we also know they’ll be talking about The Division 2 and Skull and Bones, so with those three being the big games they are, that’s going to take up a lot of time.

But Ubisoft’s conferences have generally been full of surprises in the past, and it’s fair to expect a good few of “but wait, there’s more!”-style reveals. I’d love to see a new Prince of Persia or Splinter Cell entry, and I think both of those could easily happen this year. There’s also the possibility of Watch Dogs 3 being announced. Personally, I think a new classic, 2D-platforming Rayman would be great, especially with the recent success of both Origins and Legends.

Sony – June 11, 9 PM ET

Sony has already come out and said that the bulk of their presser this year will focus on four specific games: Spider-Man, Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us: Part II, and Death Stranding. Beyond that, it’s a question mark. Of those, I think the largest amount of time will be dedicated to Ghost of Tsushima, which is being worked on by Sucker Punch Productions, the studio that previously developed the Sly Cooper and Infamous series for Sony. Sucker Punch’s games have always had a real stylistic flair about them, so that’s something worth expecting from Ghost of Tsushima, but beyond that – no idea.

Hideo Kojima has a whole lot of explaining to do regarding what, exactly, is even happening in Death Stranding. I don’t know if we’re going to get clued in to that, but maybe we’ll see some gameplay, and we’ll probably see appearances from Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen (his actor buddies, both of whom appear in the game). Death Stranding was announced two years ago, and much as Kojima kind of gets to do whatever the heck he wants in this industry, I don’t think Sony would let him back up on stage if he didn’t have a release date for this nonsense, so we’ll probably get an idea of when it’s coming out.

Sony did say that they’ll be featuring some third-party announcements as well as indies, so there’s some surprises to look forward to. Many are expecting the project being worked on by From Software (first teased at last year’s Game Awards) will be featured here, and that’s probably reasonable to anticipate. Just don’t go looking for any Vita games here.

Nintendo – June 12, 12 PM ET

Nintendo is another company that very closely guards what it’s working on at any given time, so they’re probably the biggest question mark yet again here. Last week they announced Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! so it stands to reason that those games will be a big focus of their presentation this year. I hope more details are given regarding connectivity to Pokémon Go as well as gameplay differences from mainline games in this franchise, but I’ll personally be pretty happy with any information Nintendo feels willing to share about the games. (I literally already have the Let’s Go, Pikachu! game preordered, so I’m pretty easy to please here.)

I think the other thing we’ll definitely see from Nintendo is a big spotlight on the new Super Smash Bros. title they announced earlier this year. We’ll see a bunch of new fighters announced, for sure – and, maybe more importantly, some clarification on whether or not this is a brand-new title, or if it’s an updated port of the Wii U version.

Outside of those two? No idea. We might see some new details on the previously-announced Metroid Prime 4. Maybe we’ll get a new Star Fox. Maybe we’ll get a new Animal Crossing, or a new Mario Party. I’d love a new F-Zero. Who knows! Maybe I’ll finally get a fourth Golden Sun game, and Nintendo can release me from the hell they trapped me in eight years ago when they ended the last game on a cliffhanger. That’d be neat!

More realistically, we’re bound to see some big third-party games being developed for or ported to the Switch, and a bunch of cool new indies heading to the eShop. We’ll also hopefully see some confirmations regarding the Switch’s online services, and maybe some news regarding what the future of the games previously seen on Virtual Console looks like.

That wraps it up for our E3 predictions this year here at Scoop, but stay tuned for a full report card on all of these presentations (and maybe more) as E3 kicks off.

-Carrie Wood