E3 2017 is just around the corner (a little over a month away at the time of this writing) and the gaming industry as a whole is gearing up for its biggest annual event. This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo is shaping up to be a hugely important one for all of the big players in the industry, particularly the three console juggernauts: PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo.
We know that Microsoft will be showcasing the Scorpio, a new more powerful Xbox slated to launch by the end of the year, and Nintendo will have much more of a presence than they did last year given that they just released a brand new console in March. It’s a bit more difficult to predict what Sony is planning, as the continued success of the PlayStation 4 means that they could play things safe and just show a bunch of games, or do something bold and make an unexpected hardware announcement (there are, after all, rumors that a PS4 successor is coming in 2018). Whatever happens, the great thing about E3 is that there is a little something for everyone to get excited about, but these are the games and announcements we fully expect (and in some cases, hope) to see this year.
12. Nintendo Switch Virtual Console
It’s hard to say whether or not Nintendo will make this announcement before, during, or after E3, but one thing’s for sure: it’s only a matter of time before the Virtual Console service makes its way to the Nintendo Switch. The Switch received quite a bit of heat for not launching with Virtual Console, which has been a standard Nintendo feature on Nintendo systems since its debut on the Wii back in 2006. While Nintendo has not come right out and said why VC wasn’t on Switch from day one, the consensus seems to be that it had to get cut in order to get the Switch out on time.
The frustrating thing is that Nintendo hasn’t mentioned anything about their plans for Virtual Console besides that they have nothing to say about it, but it would be a big win for the company if they were to make a big deal about it at E3. My expectation is that they’ll reveal a release date and emphasie some of the big games they have lined up to hit first (your old school Marios and Zeldas, for instance) but I think we’ll also finally receive confirmation that GameCube titles are being introduced to the service for the first time. Virtual Console has the potential to be a big selling point for the Switch going forward and it would be a shame if Nintendo missed the opportunity to hype it up at the industry’s most publicized event.
11. New Metroid Prime
Nintendo has revealed some of their plans for E3, with previously announced games like Super Mario Odyssey, ARMS, and Splatoon 2 set to receive much of the focus. Of course, it would be a pretty uninteresting E3 for Nintendo if all they had to show off were games we already know about, so you just know (or at least hope) that they have a few surprises up their sleeves. Pretty much every E3 for the last decade or so has come with the hope that Nintendo will announce a new entry in the Metroid Prime series, which hasn’t seen a proper game since 2007’s Corruption for the Wii. And while I’m kind of expecting to be disappointed yet again, it certainly feels like the right time for Nintendo to start the franchise back up again.
For one thing, we know that Retro Studios, the developer behind the original Metroid Prime trilogy, has been working on a mystery game for a few years now and there’s good reason to suspect that it’s a new Metroid. There’s also the Nintendo Switch’s early success to take into consideration as traditionally, Metroid hasn’t been a system-selling franchise, but it is still an important one for Nintendo. With the Switch selling well out of the gate, Nintendo is more free to take risks with some of its games and a new Metroid Prime would be a good way to bolster the Switch’s library. It would also serve as a goodwill gesture to help bring back some Nintendo fanboys who have felt burnt by the company in recent years.
10. Full Xbox Scorpio Reveal
This year’s E3 feels like Microsoft’s to lose. With the PS4 continuing to dominate the console market and the Nintendo Switch enjoying early popularity, the Xbox brand is in desperate need of a turnaround to put it back into contention. Of course, everyone knows that Microsoft has a new Xbox system on the horizon with Project Scorpio, which the company is touting as the most powerful console ever. The Scorpio will no doubt be the central focus of Microsoft’s E3 press conference but really, Microsoft needs it to be the talk of the entire show.
That’s quite a tall order, but the main thing Microsoft can do to really sell people on Scorpio is to illustrate why it’s the next big thing in gaming and why gamers should plunk down their hard-earned cash for it over a PS4 or gaming PC. And to do that, Microsoft is not only going to have to present the hardware itself as a must-own product, but also come out swinging with a killer lineup of exclusive games, something that the company has struggled with in recent years. What that lineup will look like is anyone’s guess, but it’s fair to say that it’s going to take a lot more than just a new Halo game to get people excited about Xbox again.
9. Elder Scrolls VI Announcement Trailer
Bethesda has stated on multiple occasions that Elder Scrolls VI is still a ways off, but an announcement trailer could very well be in the cards for E3 this year. As they have done in years past, Bethesda will host their own press conference, where they will showcase upcoming games under their developing and publishing arms. There have been rumblings that Bethesda will announce two brand new games at their press conference, so it would make sense if a new Elder Scrolls is one of them. While it’s true that Elder Scrolls’ popularity really hasn’t waned since the 2011 release of the enormously successful Skyrim, the franchise is back at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now thanks to the release of a remastered Skyrim last fall and the upcoming Nintendo Switch version.
The only thing I can think of that would point to Elder Scroll VI not being announced is the way Bethesda announced Fallout 4 at E3 2015. That game went on to be released only five months later and since we’re probably still a couple years away from the release of a new Elder Scrolls, it would make sense if Bethesda decides to keep a lid on the game until it’s close to being finished.
8. New Splinter Cell Announced
There was a time when Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell was giving the Metal Gear Solid franchise a run for its money in the stealth-action genre, but the series lost its way a bit during the previous console generation. The most recent game in the series, 2013’s Splinter Cell Blacklist, was a good effort but seemed to fade into obscurity almost immediately (it probably didn’t help that it was released mere months before the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launched). Since that time, Ubisoft has made no announcements as to the franchise’s future, but there were rumors last summer that a new game was in active development, with Michael Ironside returning as the voice of series protagonist Sam Fisher.
With the recent success of Ghost Recon: Wildlands — another Tom Clancy game franchise that had been dormant for some time — it would make sense for Ubisoft to bring Splinter Cell to current gen platforms, which is why I think an official announcement will happen at this year’s E3. I just hope that Ubisoft resists being Ubisoft and avoids the temptation to make Splinter Cell open world like so many of its other franchises these days.
7. Return of Burnout (With a Catch)
A little over a decade ago, Burnout was one of the best racing franchises in gaming, with 2004’s Burnout 3: Takedown in particular representing a (at the time) bold new take on what a blisteringly fast arcade racer should look and play like. In 2008, developer Criterion Games went open world with Burnout Paradise, but what we didn’t know at the time is that this would be the last traditional Burnout game we’d get to play. The series has been on indefinite hiatus for close to a decade due to a variety of factors, including publisher EA focusing more on the Need For Speed series and Criterion actively moving away from the racing genre.
Unfortunately, there really isn’t anything out there that has been able to deliver the same style of reckless racing gameplay as Burnout, meaning that there is definitely a void in the genre to be filled. That’s why I think (or at least hope) that EA will reveal the next Need for Speed game is a crossover of sorts with Burnout. By that I mean that while the game would be part of the Need For Speed franchise, it would be in name only and would play like the proper Burnout sequel we’ve been waiting far too long for.
Also, it needs to have Crash Mode.
6. New Details For The Last of Us Part II
Sony released the announcement trailer for Naughty Dog’s much-anticipated The Last of Us Part II at the annual PlayStation Experience event in December 2016, and we haven’t seen nor heard anything else about the game since then. Of course, The Last of Us Part II is still quite a ways off and likely won’t be out until late 2018 at the very earliest, so it makes sense that neither Sony nor Naughty Dog have much to say about it at this point. Still, as one of the biggest upcoming PS4 games, it would be a good idea to keep The Last of Us on everyone’s minds, and while there’s pretty much no chance that we’ll see any gameplay footage at E3, a new trailer and some more details about what to expect in terms of story and characters isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
Sony actually did something similar with the original The Last of Us, as they released an announcement trailer in December 2011 and followed it with a new trailer at E3 2012, so there’s certainly precedent for this marketing tactic. The Last of Us is also the kind of franchise that makes headlines no matter how little footage or information is revealed, so it would be surprising to see Sony not mention the game at E3 when doing so would get a lot of press.
5. Bloodborne 2 Announcement
It’s hard to believe that the original Bloodborne is already more than two years old, as the game was an early hit for the PS4 at a time when it was sorely lacking in exclusives. Developed by From Software, the same studio behind the beloved Dark Souls series, Bloodborne may be quite similar to Dark Souls in terms of gameplay and design, but it’s different enough to be considered its own independent franchise.
With Dark Souls 3 representing the end of the franchise (for now, at least), you would think that From Software would be hesitant to start work on a game that is essentially the same thing but with a Gothic, Lovecraftian aesthetic, but I think Bloodborne is still fresh enough that doing another one wouldn’t feel like a chore. You also have to consider that Bloodborne is a PlayStation-exclusive franchise and given the success of the original title, Sony has probably been actively courting From to do a sequel.
4. New Infamous Game Announced
Infamous: Second Son was an early hit for the PS4, but it definitely had some problems, such as an unlikable lead and an overall design that didn’t do enough to push the franchise forward (although it sure was pretty to look at). Since then, we haven’t heard anything about Sony’s plans for the series going forward and with developer Sucker Punch Production’s next project still shrouded in secrecy, it’s not unreasonable to think that they’re hard at work on a new Infamous.
The only reason to doubt this possibility is the fact that Suck Punch has been putting out nothing but Infamous games since 2009 and could be ready to move onto something else. However, even if Sucker Punch isn’t involved, that doesn’t mean that Sony couldn’t have handed Infamous off to another studio under its umbrella, as it’s too important a franchise — and one that still has a lot of untapped potential — to keep dormant for long, especially when good superhero games are still few and far between.
3. Halo 3 Anniversary Announcement
It’s easy to be worried about the Xbox One’s lineup of upcoming exclusives, primarily because there really aren’t all that many to be excited about. There’s Crackdown 3 of course and Sea of Thieves looks like it could be a return to form for the beleaguered Rare, but it’s safe to say that there are way more PS4 and Nintendo Switch exclusives to be excited about right now. The problem is that Microsoft is going to need more than just new Halo and Gears of War games to make people care about Xbox again, so it’s a good bet that they’re going to reveal at least one big, all new exclusive game.
That being said, the Scorpio also needs at least a few “launch” games and considering Microsoft didn’t miss the 10th anniversary marks for Halo and Halo 2, one would assume that a Halo 3 Anniversary edition is on the way. The game celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and also happens to be widely considered the best game in the franchise, so a beautiful new version of Master Chief’s greatest adventure would make a lot of sense as a Scorpio launch title.
2. Borderlands 3 Announcement
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I saw that if Gearbox doesn’t announce Borderlands 3 at E3, they might as well just give this whole making games thing up. The studio has been having a tough go of it over the last few years, tarnishing their reputation by releasing a mix of downright awful games (Aliens: Colonial Marines, Duke Nukem Forever) and commercial flops (Battleborn). Gearbox is a talented studio but it seems like they’re not sure how to harness that talent unless they’re working on a Borderlands game.
While Gearbox definitely shouldn’t just rest on its laurels and crank out a new Borderlands game every other year, they could really use a win right now and Borderlands 3 would certainly fit the bill. It’s also been some time since we’ve seen a new entry in the series and there aren’t actually that many games out there that scratch the loot-chasing, first-person shooting gameplay that Borderland does so well. People love this series and it would be shocking if we don’t at least get a reveal trailer at this year’s E3.
1. Sony Will NOT Announce New Hardware
A few weeks ago, a rumor came out that Sony is planning to release a PlayStation 5 in 2018 to compete with whatever the Xbox Scorpio ends up being. While Sony is definitely hard at work on a proper PS4 successor that isn’t just a half-step power jump like the PS4 Pro, I not only don’t think they’ll mention anything about it at E3, but I don’t believe it’s going to come out in 2018 either. Sure, Sony probably isn’t too happy that Microsoft is going to have the edge when it comes to power with the release of Scorpio later this fall, and Nintendo releasing a brand new system this year means that Sony will, in a sense, have the most “dated” hardware on the market at year’s end (albeit hardware that still outperforms the Switch by a significant margin).
That being said, Sony is still in such a dominant position in the market that it makes little sense for them to abandon the PS4 so soon by rushing new hardware to market. Many PS4 owners were already a bit miffed by the release of the PS4 Pro last fall and it would even more of a slap in the face if Sony were to release a brand new console only two years after putting the Pro out. Of course, I could be wrong and 2018 very well could be the year of the PlayStation 5 but either way, I don’t believe for a second that we’ll hear anything about it at E3 this year.