The following E3 predictions were originally published between June 6 and 11, 2016
For my money, EA might be the most interesting of the conferences at this years E3. Or it might be the same as it always is, just with a different audience. But for 2016, EA has decided to forego their usual spot in the normal rotation of E3 festivities and are instead hosting their own multi-day event and conference off-site. And it kind of makes sense. If you’re a company the size of EA, why not try and get a few extra headlines by taking a page out of the PlayStation Experience book and make your own event instead of sharing the time with all of the other publishers in attendance. We’ll almost certainly still see them having a presence in E3 proper (most likely during the Microsoft press conference to promote EA Access) but by hosting a fan-centric event they’re serving a different audience this year. It will be interesting to see if the conference changes as a result or if we still see a lot of the same tropes of EA conferences past.
Without further ado, here are five predictions for the EA conference that kicks off at 1:00PM PT this Sunday, June 12th:
1. EA Sports will still play a prominent role in the conference and we’ll see an interview with a high-profile Football player (likely cover athlete Rob Gronkowski) to promote Madden 17. One of the most derided moments of last year’s EA conference was when they brought out futbol legend Pele for a brief interview to promote FIFA 16. But it’s also the moment everyone remembers from last year’s press conference. So by shifting focus this year to the EA fans instead of a predominantly press crown, I imagine we’ll still get this same kind of moment highlighting some of EA’s consistently best-selling titles: their sports lineup.
Just don’t bring Pele out again and make him call the sport “soccer.”
2. Extended look at Mass Effect Andromeda and release date: March 7, 2016. Earlier this year, the much-anticipated next entry in the Mass Effect saga was formally pushed to the first quarter of 2017. We also haven’t seen a ton from the game so I think E3 will be the new commander’s coming out party. The March 7 date obviously falls in line with the first quarter 2017 time frame but also builds on the release date of Mass Effect 3: March 6, 2012. As for what my so-called “extended look” entails. I think we get a blend of cinematic and gameplay trailer akin to the E3 2011 Mass Effect 3 trailer and then a bit of behind-the-scenes imagery or developer interview about how the game is branching off from the Shepherd trilogy. Also, the trailer will feature whatever the Andromeda-equivalent of Fem Shep is (i.e. the voice of the female player character).
3. Visceral’s Amy Hennig Star Wars game announced for Holiday 2017. It’s been a couple of years since Amy Hennig left Uncharted behind to work on an untitled Star Wars game with Visceral Games for EA. Earlier this year, EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen said the game was still “a few years” from releasing so this timeline wouldn’t really add up but I’m hoping he was overestimating (plus it can be announced for Holiday 2017 and then later delayed like everything else). We’ll get a name for the game and 1-2 minute cinematic reveal trailer. We’ll hear Nolan North as the main character. Pie in the sky: he’s playing post-Return of the Jedi Han Solo.
4. Criterion’s Action Driving Game (aka “Go-Pro the Video Game”) will re-emerge with a name and release date for November of this year. Originally unveiled during the 2014 E3 panel where EA basically just ran a bunch of developer diaries showcasing projects being worked on, the Criterion game that was shown off hasn’t really re-emerged in the last two years. I think we’ll end up seeing a gameplay trailer of someone driving a quad off a cliff, soaring into a helicopter via a wingsuit, flying the helicopter, jumping out of the helicopter, and parachuting down to a boat in the water. All to an exciting rock track. You know. Like pretty much any Go-Pro video you’ll see on YouTube, right? And I’m gonna go with November 1st, in an effort to get out ahead of Gran Turismo Sport on the 15th.
5. Titanfall 2: Campaign Trailer shown, Live MP match, and Release Date: September 30, 2016. Last week, CFO Jorgensen mentioned that Titanfall 2 would be launching three weeks from Battlefield 1 which is slated for an October 21 release. So I’m aiming for earlier in an effort to get out in front of all of the other marquee shooters. Either way, Titanfall 2 will have to do something to stand out in order to make waves against Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and Gears of War 4. So I think we’ll see a trailer for the campaign, followed by a live match being played onstage. Because, why not? This one’s probably wrong anyway. But the EA event will have at least one “life-size,” well-crafted statue of the a Titan that attendees can get pictures in front of.
So there are my predictions for the EA press conference this year. And that doesn’t even cover Star Wars Battlefront, The Sims, or EA Mobile gaming (which…cry all you want when they bring it up, but those games and EA Sports probably make disgusting amounts of money). Think any of them will come to pass? What do you think or hope we’ll see. Let me know here or on Twitter.
Last year, when Bethesda (one of these days I won’t write Bethesday first and have to delete the “y”) announced their intention to host an E3 press conference, it was widely believed that it would be a one-time thing because they had a lot of high-profile games like Doom, Dishonored, and Fallout to showcase. People assumed with Fallout and Doom out this year they wouldn’t have enough of note to fill out a conference for the second year in a row but they’re doing it anyway. So let’s make some crazy guesses as to why:
1. The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dovahkiin Edition announced. Release date: October 14, 2016. Late last year, a story broke about Fallout 4 essentially having started by way of a Skyrim port to the new generation of consoles. As Todd Howard put it, “The first thing we did was port Skyrim to Xbox One…Don’t get your hopes up yet.” Rumors have resurfaced this week that a Skyrim remaster, with enhanced graphics, all of the DLC, and console mod support just like Fallout 4 could be coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4. If, as Howard alluded to, most of the work on this has been done for awhile, it would seem like getting the mod support might be the last piece of the puzzle. And with the feature now active on the Xbox One version of Fallout 4 and soon to be implemented on the PlayStation 4, it would track that the same infrastructure is probably in place for a potential Skyrim remaster. So I’m predicting October 14 in order to give people some time back in Skyrim before Dishonored 2 launches on November 11. And the Dovahkiin Edition name is just a big shot in the dark because I really don’t want them to name it something dumb like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Remastered. And just like last year, we’ll probably get a tease of this both during Bethesda’s conference and Microsoft’s the following day.
2. Future plans for Fallout 4 DLC and Fallout Shelter announced. Three DLC packs launching in September, October, and November. Fallout Shelter add-ons available in an update Sunday night after the conference. Obviously the big showcase of last year’s Bethesda conference was Fallout 4. And one of the runaway surprise announcements of the conference was the Fallout Shelter mobile app that became an overnight financial gold mine. It performed so well, that Bethesda invested in a mobile arm of the company. Now that all of the initial Fallout 4 DLC has launched, I think Todd Howard will come out for a bit of a victory lap, thanking everyone for making it one of the most successful games of last year and give the first look at the next round of DLC for the game. And echoing last year’s announcement, Fallout Shelter will receive a significant new update (available now) to reinvigorate interest in the mobile game. There will also probably be a sizzle reel of some of their favorite mods and the confirmed date of when mods will be available on PlayStation 4 (likely next Tuesday, June 14).
3. Wolfenstein 2 announced. Release window of Summer 2017. Likely May. Between the critical acclaim of Wolfenstein: The New Order and now Doom, Bethesda’s investment in reviving the founding fathers of the first-person shooter for a new generation has paid off. Machine Games has been relatively quiet since releasing Wolfenstein: The New Order in May 2014. Sure, they had The Old Blood DLC release nearly a year later but that was likely handled by a smaller team while the brunt of the company was hard at work on the proper sequel. As they’ll probably continue building on the same engine utilized for the initial game and DLC, a three-year turn around time seems appropriate to put together and polish a new 8-10 hour campaign. And as they likely found out with the last game and Doom, launching in May seems to be working pretty well for them, keeping them well out of the way of the annualized shooters like Call of Duty.
4. Dishonored 2 Cast Showcase piece. So this is a bit of a weird one. Dishonored 2 already has a release date of November 11. And Bethesda has already confirmed that we’ll get the first gameplay trailer during this conference. So both of those fun prediction-y things are off the table. So I think to supplement the gameplay trailer, they’ll also show off a series of behind-the-scenes clips and interviews with the star-studded cast they’ve gotten for the game: people like Vincent D’Onofrio, Rosario Dawson, and Sam Rockwell. I think we’ll see that well-worn style of behind-the-scenes voice acting documentary with the actors delivering lines in an animated fashion in the sound booth juxtaposed with them sitting in chairs telling the audience a bit about their characters.
5. The Evil Within 2 announced. 2017 release. I was torn on this last prediction. At first, I was going to go with “Battlecry is a no-show at the conference” in an effort to give the free-to-play team shooter some distance from the apparent poor reception for the similarly-named Battleborn and the massive success of Overwatch. But I’m not a fan of the “Game X won’t be there” or the “Game Y will be delayed” predictions. As the publisher, you either get the bad news out ahead of the conference (a la Horizon Zero Dawn) or you just don’t draw any attention to it. So instead, I’m going with the announcement of the long-rumored follow-up to The Evil Within from Tango Gameworks. I think an announcement trailer will play and Shinji Makami will come out onstage with a translator in tow to discuss the new title for a couple minutes. Nothing too exciting, but the horror title will do a nice job rounding out the conference if all of the above nonsense happens as well.
So there are my five predictions for Bethesda’s conference. We’ll see Sunday night at 7PM PT if I got any of them right. Let me know what you think and what your predictions entail.
Despite trailing in sales, many people walked away from last year’s E3 commenting that the Xbox One Backwards Compatability program may have been the announcement of the show. Between that moment and successfully managing to showcase virtual/augmented reality in an interesting way using their specially-developed camera and their onstage HoloLens Minecraft demo, I personally think Microsoft walked away with an incredibly strong showing last year. It was a near-flawless showcase of the change in direction that has come since Phil Spencer took over as the head of Xbox and has worked toward righting the ship.
Unfortunately, the most notable piece of news in recent months for Xbox was probably the cancellation of Fable Legends and closure of Lionhead Studios. So this is Microsoft’s chance to bounce back from that rough patch. So here are my five predictions for the Microsoft conference.
1. Gears of War 4 kicks off the show with gameplay and trailer focused on the three main characters. It is still unfathomably dark. Last year, we got the first “good” luck at the new Gear of War with a gameplay trailer focusing on the son of Marcus Fenix. But it was really hard to see because the whole thing was set at night. The developer’s have described the game as a bit of a night in hell for these characters so, unfortunately, I think we’ll get more of the same in terms of darkness this year to start off the show. But I think this time, they’ll pull a Captain America Civil War trailer and give the audience a closing button with Marcus Fenix making an appearance. And I think they’ll announce another Multiplayer Beta between now and launch.
2. Xbox One Slim announced for this holiday season at $299. Xbox 1.5 announced for 2017, 2TB system with more power at $399. Following the initial excitement of the aforementioned Gears of War kickoff, Phil Spencer will come out (probably in a Banjo-Kazooie t-shirt, sparking at least one major site to theorize that it’s coming back) to formally unveil the rumored new Xbox One consoles. This will be the first of two spiels that day about the ever-accelerating nature of technology (the second will come in the PlayStation conference that evening). The perks of that rapid growth mean lower prices. So the Slim is unveiled at the $299 price point. Additionally, the rapid change in technology means they can produce a significantly more powerful system at the same cost of the initial launch two and a half years ago. So starting in March, we’ll see the introduction of the more powerful Xbox One.5 (wait, they’re not Square Enix)…Xbox 1.5 for $399. Both systems will play any Xbox One game, but Xbox 1.5 will have faster load times, and better graphical fidelity. And then they’ll get back to games.
3. Sea of Thieves Release Date: November 1. People will be able to sign-up for a Beta following the conference. The latest game from Rare was announced at E3 last year and has been relatively quiet since. It still appears to be on Microsoft’s calendar for 2016 so I think they’ll showcase it here at the press-conference with an on-stage demo of the multiplayer component, probably some sort of thrilling pirate ship battle. Then they end the demo with a November 1 release date, saying people can play it there at E3 and players at home can sign up for a Beta in…let’s say July.
4. HoloLens multiplayer Minecraft showcase. One-upping the Microsoft HoloLens demo from last year, for this year’s conference they’ll bring out no fewer than four people to play in a shared HoloLens Minecraft world. These people will work together around a table and build a nice little house or something. And they’ll blow stuff up like last year too.
5. Summer of Arcade Returns, featuring Below, Adr1ft, Inside, and the big gets Undertale and Stardew Valley. People have been clamoring for the Xbox Summer of Arcade program to return for years and I think these listed games might make it worthwhile for Microsoft to revive the marketing campaign. Below from Capybara games is slated for this year. Adr1ft is already on Windows. Inside – the follow up to Limbo – has been in the works for a while and might be ready for release. And given the breakout success of Undertale and Stardew Valley on PC, I have no doubt, PlayStation and Xbox have been trying to court the developers for these titles. And I imagine Microsoft is in a position where might be willing to throw more money at it for some kind of exclusive console launch window.
So there you have my five crazy and outlandish predictions for the Microsoft conference. Will any of them come true? Find out with me Monday at 9:30AM PT. As always, let me know your predictions for the show, as well.
Day 4 of E3 2016 prediction week brings us to Ubisoft. As one of the conferences that has consistently aimed to make their show into a piece of entertainment in recent years (hiring Aisha Tyler as host, inviting Jason Derulo to perform for a Just Dance segment), it often makes for an interesting change of pace between the potentially more “business”-centric conferences (and occasional rivalry) seen from Microsoft and PlayStation. With Assassin’s Creed taking the year of game-wise, one of their conference tentpoles is most likely off the table (but might still appear…see below). So here are five predictions as to what we’ll see Ms. Tyler bring out this year.
1. Michael Fassbender to promote the Assassin’s Creed movie. Hot off the press tour for X-Men: Apocalypse, I think Ubisoft absolutely cashes in on having a star like Michael Fassbender in their film take a few minutes to come out and talk to Aisha Tyler about why Assassin’s Creed might be the first “good” video game movie or something. After all, if Ubisoft is serious about branching out beyond their gaming arm, what better time to highlight the film. I think this interview will also feature a world-premiere clip/scene from the movie. Perhaps featuring the first meeting between Fassbender’s Aguilar and costar Ariane Labed’s Maria (seen together above).
2. Watch Dogs 2 is the big focus of the show. Alongside the gameplay and a trailer, they’ll discuss having learned their lessons from the first game. Having learned their lessons from the overly-long promotional period of the first game and Bethesda’s widely-lauded Fallout 4 marketing campaign, Ubisoft came out yesterday with nearly 20 minutes showing the first official announcement of the game, a trailer, some gameplay, behind the scenes interviews, and said “and it’s coming out November 15, 2016.” Moreso than most of the other pre-E3 announcements this week, which are coming from games that might not have made the E3 conference cut or those whose publishers aren’t presenting, the Watch Dogs 2 announcement is setting the stage for a bigger showcase piece during the conference itself, likely introducing the main character Marcus Holloway and some of his allies and enemies. I suspect we’ll get a taste of an Aisha Tyler cameo in the game (just like in the first Watch Dogs).
3. Matt Stone and Trey Parker return to show South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Release window of 2017. One of the biggest surprises out of last year’s E3 was the announcement of this game. Stone and Parker had gone on record saying how their hands-on involvement on South Park: The Stick of Truth had taken a lot out of them so it was unlikely they’d ever do a follow-up. So to have this game announced so close to the first one was a welcome surprise for fans of it like myself. And it’s being pretty much radio silent since. As the first one dealt with studio changes and delays, it makes sense. They don’t want to over-commit again. So I imagine the last year has been spent hard at work on the new title and we’ll get it announced for sometime next year. Still somewhat non-committal, but a time frame they’ll think they can hit.
4. Ubisoft will reveal two new IPs. One Triple-A title with a cinematic/gameplay trailer highlighting some type of multiplayer gameplay. And another using their UbiArt engine. In recent years, Ubisoft has, more than most, embraced showcasing new IP at their conferences (For Honor, Watch Dogs). I imagine that trend continues with an effort to break into the multiplayer market this year (even if it’s for a 2017 game). Additionally, some of Ubisoft’s most critically acclaimed projects in recent years have been Child of Light and Valiant Hearts: The Great War; both developed by smaller teams using the UbiArt engine. I expect we’ll get a new entry in that vein revealed here as well, likely releasing later this year.
5. Just Dance 2017 will be announced. And feature a performance of Meghan Trainor singing “NO.” Because why not?
So there are my five predictions for Ubisoft and their potentially-star-studded conference. Think any of them are plausible? We’ll find out Monday at 1PM PT.
Phew…turns out doing this whole daily prediction thing instead of just spitting them all out there at once saved me on one of my predictions. I was going to predict that we’d see the PlayStation NEO and get a pricing announcement (as I alluded to in the Microsoft predictions). But this morning, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Andrew House confirmed that there is a “high-end PS4” in development and it will not be unveiled at E3. So I get a free prediction back. Hurray! And this is after they already gave me a #TrevorWasRight on my prediction from January that Horizon Zero Dawn would be pushed to 2017.
All told, Sony is probably the publisher I am the most familiar with – the first PlayStation Experience really helped set me down this path of whatever it is I’m doing – so I have a ton of thoughts on their ecosystem. The biggest #TrevorWasRight moment I will probably ever have was accurately predicting the Final Fantasy VII Remake at last year’s Sony conference. Narrowing it down to five predictions will be tough but here goes nothing.
1. PlayStation VR shows off at least three new previously unannounced titles. And you can demo PS VR yourself at your local Gamestop “starting tomorrow.” With PlayStation VR set to launch right around the corner in October, it makes sense that it would be the highlight of the show (especially now that the PS4 NEO is off the table). I don’t think they’ll devote too much time to it though because it has been so notoriously difficult to show off, instead being one of those “you really have to experience it for yourself” kind of things. As a result, they’ll show off at least three catchy games that will get a pop from the crowd like 100FT Robot Golf did at PlayStation Experience but they really won’t take up too much time with it. And if No Man’s Sky happens to be one of them, I’m not going to count it as one of the requisite three here because I’ve already made the prediction that it’ll be VR compatible and I don’t want to double dip on it. Instead they’ll encourage people to experience it for themselves at their local GameStops, probably starting the Tuesday following the conference (based on the Fortune report back in April that announced GameStop would have PS VR in stores across the country starting in June).
2. Activision will basically get a mini-conference within the Sony one. For years, Activision has gotten by without their own conference, instead partnering with Microsoft and Sony to showcase their latest Call of Duty and other titles. That trend will continue this year with Sony being the spot for Activision to spotlight Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and the latest Destiny expansion Rise of Iron. Bungie already devoted their own stream to reveal the expansion but as with every other Destiny release, they’ll use this opportunity to showcase the PlayStation exclusive gear and probable strike mission (most likely with Destiny superfan Adam Boyes leading the charge). Lastly, Activision will announce that Crash Bandicoot is coming back…in a PlayStation-exclusive Skylanders pack as has been rumored this week.
3. The Last Guardian release date set for August 30. Assuming the promise of last year’s E3 is true: that The Last Guardian is finally coming out in 2016, I imagine at this point it releasing one of three ways. 1. It’s available digitally immediately following the conference. 2. It’s put out to pasture as a December game. Or 3. It get’s the tiniest bit of marketing push and releases between now and the holidays. So I’m banking on that third option for this prediction. They don’t make it an “available now” title and they don’t put it in the December death slot because they’ve invested way too much money into the nearly ten years of development to not trying and recoup the cost. But it’s also an incredibly niche game so putting it up in the throws of the fall season could kill it too. So I predict they try and get out ahead of the big Triple-A titles and launch it at the end of August.
4. Tim Schafer Entertainment Block. Tim Schafer has become a staple of the PlayStation Experience keynotes and I think he’ll come out during the Sony conference to plug Psychonauts‘ release on PlayStation 4 this week, show off the Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin VR title and Psychonauts 2. And he’ll probably also plug a new game being crowdfunded through his Fig crowdfunding platform that is co-sponsored by Sony. Maybe a sequel to Brütal Legend with Jack Black set to return.
5. Final Fantasy VII Remake new trailer shown. Part One of the multi-chapter game will center on Midgar and release in 2017. If I end up being right about this one, we might as well call me the Final Fantasy VII Whisperer. I accurately guessed the announcement of the game last year. And I predicted that the PC port would be released at PSX alongside new footage of the game. So yeah, I’m going big and bold here. They show off more of the opening portion of the game and announce that Part One will launch in 2017 to kick off the 20th Anniversary celebration of the game.
So those are my big five predictions for the game. I didn’t even get to predict something like a throwaway mention in the conference about Shuhei Yoshida finally letting people change their PSN names. I didn’t touch on a new rumored God of War game or whatever Sony Bend is working on. Final Fantasy XV will almost certainly get a good showcase piece with it’s launch finally near. Sony has let people down in recent years (I’m looking at you Alex O’Neill from Irrational Passions, calling the Sony Conferences the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”), but they’ve also had some of the most exciting possibilities as the leaders of the pack this generation. Let’s see which Sony decides to show up Monday, June 13th 6PM PT.
Back when I put together the schedule for this week of E3 predictions, I kicked around the idea of not even including Nintendo at all. They’ve come out and said that the NX won’t be at E3. They’ve said they’re not doing a typical Nintendo Direct-style Digital Event conference, instead choosing to focus specifically on a Nintendo Treehouse: Live demo of the upcoming The Legend of Zelda game. And that’s pretty much it. So what really is there to predict. Nintendo has been so removed from E3 in recent years anyway that there’s no way this is all a feint to pull a surprise NX reveal. So what is there left to predict? They’ve just said Tuesday will focus on Pokemon Sun and Moon and the new Legend of Zelda, while Wednesday’s stream will focus on Pokemon GO, Monster Hunger Generations, Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. Seven games (and that’s counting Pokemon Sun/Moon as two). So let’s see what I can come up with…
1. Mother 3 finally gets localized for Wii U Virtual Console. More wishful thinking and hoping than anything else, really, but rumors are always swirling about this game finally coming West. Mother was finally localized last year as Earthbound: Beginnings. Earthbound came to the New 3DS Virtual Console in March of this year. So maybe…just maybe…they’ll do the only thing that will get me to turn my Wii U back on and finally give us a proper way to play the game. But probably not because I can’t remember the last time Nintendo did anything I would have wanted them to do…
2. Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King will get Western release dates. Dragon Quest VII will be available next month. Dragon Quest VIII will be available December. Both of these titles have been confirmed for 2016, last being referenced during Nintendo’s March Direct. Both of them are two great installments in the series. So just like Mother 3 could get me to turn on my Wii U, these games could get me to play around with my 3DS during my upcoming travels. Complete shot in the dark on the dates. I think they’d be foolish to launch them both at the same time since I put 100 hours into Dragon Quest VII and never beat it properly. So if they want to actually sell both games, they’ll want to spread them out throughout the rest of the year.
3. Pokemon GO release date announced for July. Field tests are currently going on for the game in the States. Media sites like IGN and Gamespot went hands-on with it this last week. The Nintendo livestream plan says they’re going to start their Wednesday stream at 10 AM PT with a special Q & A session with the Pokemon GO developers. So what better question to answer than “when is it coming out?”
4. Link has a voice. And we’ll see and hear from Zelda and Ganon, too. In the extended gameplay that we see, Link will speak. The internet will freak out (because internet). If they announce the voice actor or show behind the scenes imagery with him, it won’t be a big name like Troy Baker or Nolan North or anyone really “known” in the industry. Just some guy, kind of like Charles Martinet. We’ll also see the first footage of Zelda and Ganon and hear what they sound like in this iteration of the game.
5. The Legend of Zelda gets a proper title. Releasing March 24, 2017. It will likely coincide with the NX launch but Nintendo will stick to their guns and NOT announce NX details here at this event. The Legend of Zelda livestream on Tuesday will start with the announcement of the proper title of the game. And then they’ll stretch out the entire Treehouse event and announce the release date at the end. And they’ll think they were very coy about it but the Twitch chat of the stream will basically just be an endless stream of “date?”
So there you have the 5 predictions I managed to cobble together. It’s weird because they are dedicating two days of livestreaming (Tuesday, June 14th starting at 9AM PT and Wednesday, June 15 starting at 10AM PT) but they’ve already squashed most of the things people would have predicted from them. We’ll see if I get any of them right next week.