The biggest gaming event of the year is right around the corner; all the biggest gaming companies will be taking the stage to announce their plans for the upcoming year and showcase brand new games and consoles.
First up of the big three is Microsoft, and they are in the most interesting position of all the companies attending. Unlike Sony and Nintendo, who have definite plans and large releases coming soon, Microsoft is in a rather unique, and arguably precarious, position. In 2016, Microsoft shone the spotlight on four major franchises on Xbox: Halo, Gears of War, Scalebound and Tomb Raider. However, soon afterwards, Halo 5: Guardians and Gears of War 4 both received rather lukewarm receptions. Tomb Raider was only a timed exclusive on Xbox and released on the PS4 the following year. Most surprisingly, Scalebound was cancelled and completely scrapped. Therefore, all their previous showrunners underperformed in some way, which leaves Microsoft with very little to show this year in terms of established franchises.
However, they have a potential ace-in-the-hole: Project Scorpio, their new 4K console, and the most powerful gaming console ever produced. It’s likely they will sell the Scorpio as much as they can but they need to double down on the games. The only games we know of that may be given a definite release date are Forza Motorsport 7, which should show off the Scorpio’s 4K visuals spectacularly; Crackdown 3, which has been stuck in development for years on end; and Sea of Thieves, Rare’s new multiplayer pirate game. This leaves them with a significant amount of room to (hopefully) surprise and exceed expectations.
Sony stole the show in 2015 and 2016, and going into E3 this year it is difficult to see how they can top their previous showings. They have a track record for surprising and delighting fans with their announcements, which include the return of The Last Guardian, the Shenmue III Kickstarter, and the Final Fantasy 7 Remake. This year they still have a wealth of titles to show off. Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding is sure to make an appearance, and after the two great, very cryptic trailers we’ve received so far it would be great to see more of the world Kojima wants to create. As the game is very early in its development it’s highly unlikely we will see any gameplay, though that would make it all the more exciting.
There is also the new Spider-Man game from Insomniac, which we saw very briefly last year. Insomniac are known for producing fun, frantic games and definitely have both the skill and pedigree to do the wall-crawler justice, and another good Spider-Man game is long overdue.
God of War and The Last of Us Part II are likely to be Sony’s frontrunners, and both are hotly anticipated. God of War features an older Kratos with a son, and after killing the pantheon of gods in the previous games, this is set in the realms of Norse mythology. The Last of Us Part II is the direct sequel to Naughty Dog’s critically acclaimed The Last of Us, and the trailer indicated that Ellie and Joel would be on the hunt for members of the Fireflies.
Finally, Nintendo are in a great place with the release of the Switch, and their Digital Event will focus on upcoming games. Their showrunner is of course Super Mario Odyssey, likely the most highly anticipated Switch game; we’ll find out more about the gameplay mechanics and stages, and it will also be playable on the show floor.
Splatoon 2 and Arms will also be present and playable at the tournament this year; both will be heavily featured and are evidence of Nintendo’s push towards esports. Splatoon 2 in particular has a lot of hype behind it due to the warm reception of the original, and this looks to be taking the franchise in the right direction. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will also make an appearance after its brief announcement trailer previously, likely showing off gameplay, and after the critical acclaim the original received it should have a great showing.
Finally, the Mario and Rabbid crossover game – likely the worst-kept secret of this year’s E3 – will also be announced and detailed, along with details on the Zelda DLC packs, Virtual Console and Nintendo’s plans for their Online Services.