It's almost time for E3. You know E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It's where video games journalists go to die, bloated on too-large slices of gloopy cheese and (what is at least something like) tomato pizza; burned raw by a Los Angeles sun that feels like a destructive, merciless god when measured against the "heat" we feel at the peak of a British summer; exhausted to the point of legitimate expiry by a schedule of screenings and preview sessions and developer interviews that any sane human being would look at, look back at the idiot doing it, back at the schedule, and then simply snap the idiot's kneecap to prevent them from going at all. That's E3. Isn't it?
Something like that. To be honest, this year will be my first one, so I'm really only going on what survivors of past events have told me, through floods of real tears and broken teeth. It's also the place – well, one of them, still the biggest one really, I guess; at least in America, and they like to think they've got the biggest big things (nobody mention Gamescom, K?) – where a metric shit-ton of new video games are announced. To the non-attending observer at home, it's an Exciting Time Indeed. Last year, the hits just kept on coming, like it was some sort of lucid dream that nobody could kill-streak their way out of: Final Fantasy VII remake, The Last Guardian, Shenmue III, Horizon Zero Dawn, Uncharted 4, Dreams. And that was just the PlayStation show.
This year's edition of the expo, which starts on Sunday June the 12th with showcases from EA and Bethesda, and wraps up on the 16th, by which time I'll be absolutely gagging for a sweet and frosty beer in the company of Devolver (that's my final appointment of the entire event; see you there, you filthy animals), will likely be lighter on the holy-fucking-shit-did-you-see-that surprises. But that's not to say that Big Stuff won't happen. It will. And here, a selection of VICE Gaming contributors have written a little about what they want to see, what they don't, and who might "win" E3 2016.
Me? I'm really excited to see Horizon Zero Dawn, because who doesn't want to hunt dinosaur-robot-things with bows and arrows in a post-apocalyptic America? The Last Guardian, too, has my attention, and I hope that it doesn't slip to a 2017 release date. Nintendo is travelling lightly, but the fact that we'll get a release date for the Wii U Zelda, surely, as well as proper gameplay from it, is a massive deal. I'm also keen to see more of the enveloping dive 'em up Abzû, which might be this year's Journey, and spend a little time with the next iteration of Pro Evolution Soccer. There's (obviously?) a bunch of other stuff I'll be seeing that I don't think I can tell you about here, so I won't. But keep your eye on this page collecting everything tagged E3 2016, as that's where all the reports will be landing during the expo.
What I want to see at E3: Quake. Bethesda has its own show so they've got plenty of opportunity to reveal a new Quake game. Reboots of both the Wolfenstein and DOOM franchises have been successful, and now it is time to turn attentions back to their other mega id Software series. The question is, which Quake do I want to see? Weird Lovecraft Quake, Stroggos War Quake, or even a new Quake Live, with a focus on multiplayer? I can't possibly decide.
What I don't want to see: A huge focus on VR, although it is extremely likely to be front and centre at a lot of the conferences this year. Right now, the entry cost for VR is too high for most, and chatter about a new PS4, the "Neo", being a must-buy for a better VR experience is already boiling my piss a bit. Don't get me wrong, one day I'll have a VR hat, but right now it seems like something out of my reach. I'm not that interested in seeing loads of stuff aimed at it, at the expense of regular games.
Who'll "win", and who won't: Sony to "win". Sure, they're going to be hawking a new, expensive box and a bunch of VR "experiences", but the exclusives are starting to come. No Man's Sky, The Last Guardian, Horizon and NieR Automata could be joined by a Naughty Dog game or the next God of War, as well as some other surprises. If they want to top last year's conference, though, they'll need to show Half-Life 3 or something. And as Nintendo are only showing the new Zelda, I feel they might be the "losers". It looks breath taking, but the absent NX is going to loom over the whole thing.
What I want to see at E3: A follow up to Wolfenstein: The New Order – assuming we treat The Old Blood as more expansion than prequel-framed sequel – would be interesting. That, or Half-Life 3 unveiled as a point and click game about Gordon Freeman's childhood.
What I don't want to see: Idiocy. Grown men in T-shirts and jeans talking and acting like children. You're at work and you're 45. Wear a tie.
Who'll "win", and who won't: Last year Sony made everyone else look like fat, dead dogs at a dog show. I imagine they'll do the same this time. Nintendo is an increasingly boring and irrelevant company. I don't expect much from them.
What I want to see at E3: I've never really played the Mass Effect series and now I have the problem of making the time for a trilogy and forgiving the generation gap. So it's Mass Effect: Andromeda for me. The last BioWare game, Dragon Age: Inquisition, was one of the best looking games after Battlefront on the Frostbite engine, and with a new start, this could be my "in".
What I don't want to see: I really don't want to see loads of remasters, and thankfully I don't think we will. There's enough new games announced outside of Final Fantasy that it would be odd to see more, if there even is any left to do outside of The Elder Scrolls.
Who'll "win", and who won't: You could argue that Nintendo have lost out simply by not turning up with the NX. We get to see a new Zelda, but on old hardware. And we have new consoles (supposedly) from everyone else, so Nintendo could be a generation and a half behind by the close of E3.
What I want to see at E3: I'd really like to see the next game in Rockstar's Red Dead series, the follow-up to Red Dead Redemption. The story of Redemption doesn't really need a sequel, but I'd happily spend many more hours exploring the Wild West again. It made a great change of pace from the usual open world scenarios we see.
What I don't want to see: More lazy remasters. I don't mind a remaster that does something significantly different from before, but too many end up being nothing more than prettier versions of the originals. I'm bored of being "excited" by the recent past.
Who'll "win", and who won't: Sony FTW. With the likes of Horizon Zero Dawn, The Last Guardian, and maybe even a sequel to The Last of Us, their line-up looks pretty unbeatable. Throw in more news on the updated PS4, and VR bits and pieces, and the future looks pretty rosy to me. And I have to say that Nintendo doesn't look in great shape. I want to see more than just the same old franchises being updated in some way. I love Pokémon and Zelda, but I want to see real innovation again from my childhood favourites.
What I want to see at E3: Vanquish 2. Because Vanquish, obvs. Or maybe a Resident Evil 7 that pays more than lip service to the series' horror roots rather than the action game it's become in recent times. I know that's what Capcom has hinted at, but I'll believe it when I see it.
What I don't want to see: I have absolutely nothing against violent video games or people enjoying violent video games, but it would be good to go one year without a trailer finishing on a piece of disturbingly realistic savagery and hearing a bunch of dudes going "WHOOO! YEAAHHH!" in response. I'm certainly not saying that games shouldn't ever express themselves in that way – far from it – but on the medium's biggest stage, it doesn't paint it in the most favourable light.
Who'll "win", and who won't: The biggest "winner" will be Microsoft, because why not. It might just be their turn this year. Nintendo's already all but conceded defeat by just showing up with just Zelda and Pokémon, but in doing so it's likely to have the best hit-to-miss ratio, so can it really lose? So the biggest loser will probably be me, for my terrible predictions.
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What I want to see at E3: The next proper game in Bethesda's Elder Scrolls series, the follow-up to Skyrim. Fallout is done for now. The Elder Scrolls card game is coming along. So it's about bloody time we had a life-consuming open world fantasy epic on the new consoles – in first person at least. Fallout 4 was disappointing for many, and The Elder Scrolls Online just wasn't okay. They need to at least hint at their plans for the proper continuation of the Elder Scrolls games.
What I don't want to see: More MOBAs and collectible card games. I mean, they can be fun, but absolutely the last thing we need is over-hyped, cynical addiction-simulators dressed up as having meaningful gameplay and representing worthwhile multiplayer experiences. There are plenty out there already, so it'd be such a shame if this E3 feels like a backwards-looking cash-in on current trends.
Who'll "win", and who won't: Sony just pwned everyone last year, so it's unlikely they'll be able to hit another home run. Unless they somehow have a bevvy of exciting new announcements or substantial updates on the big hitters, they could have a boring, "in-between" style showing. So much as it sounds weird to say, I see Xbox as having a slew of hotly anticipated indie titles and quirky exclusives we've not heard about for a while, and a good showing for the likes of Below, Inside, Ashen, Scalebound and maybe more could stir up a lot of good feeling.
What I want to see at E3: I'm hoping for Forza Horizon 3. The last one was the most fun I've had in a racing game for a long time, and Microsoft has already confirmed that "the next Forza game" will be revealed during its E3 conference. I just hope it'll be the next Horizon and not Forza 7, or even something totally different.
What I don't want to see: Another 20-minute Call of Duty demo, which is usually tradition. We all know the script by now, let's free up that conference time for fresh stuff.
Who'll "win", and who won't: I reckon Microsoft will "win" and Sony will "lose", for two reasons. Firstly, last year aside, the company on the back foot generally tends to come out fighting with a stronger E3 performance. Secondly, a powerful Sony ultimately becomes a cocky Sony, and when they start telling us what we want instead of listening to their audience, they tend to get a bit of backlash. There's a chance, then, that this rumoured new PS4.5, the "Neo", could be presented in a way that might leave a sour taste with some.
What I want to see at E3: As usual it's a new Streets of Rage, but as that will never happen let's just say Titanfall 2. I hope we get to see some live multiplayer footage on a conference stage at some point, and I'd place good money that some EA bigwig – COO Peter Moore most likely – will announce a public beta going live right after the show. I think this has potential to be a truly exceptional shooter and I place good faith on Respawn delivering after their superb debut. Also, the Titans appear to have swords now, which is just chuffing brilliant.
What I don't want to see: I don't want to see us gamers getting treated like mugs with some blatantly touched-up gameplay demos that deceive the paying consumer. Sure, you can play Watch Dogs with an "E3 mod" now, but it's a little dishonest to be showing something that isn't reflective of the final product. So I hope there's none of that on show, and I'd also like for EA to skip their usual wheeling out of some disinterested sports personality, Michael Buffer or someone. It's just awkward.
Who'll "win", and who won't: The biggest "winner" will likely be Sony. Their shows have just become incredibly slick since the PS4 vs Xbox One show of last year, which was something of a one-sided massacre. A PS4 price drop to coincide with the new console – if it is indeed getting revealed – should go down well with the fans, coupled with The Last Guardian finally being a thing you can play soon. My gut also tells me Rockstar will reveal the new Red Dead on Sony's stage, which would blow faces off. The biggest "loser" will probably be Nintendo, and I love the company. I just think that with the NX not being shown at E3, Shigeru Miyamoto and company's cupboard will be left feeling a little bare at the show. Still, it's potentially theirs to play for once the new hardware is announced, so we'll have to wait and see.
What I want to see at E3: Prey 2. Bethesda must have more than Dishonored 2 to show off if they're hosting their own conference again this year, and there has been a lot of chatter suggesting that Human Head Studios' ill-fated Prey sequel has been revived by Arkane. I don't have a trigger phrase that causes me to instantly orgasm, but if I did it would probably be "cyberpunk bounty hunter simulator".
What I don't want to see: A sequel to Sunset Overdrive. Don't get me wrong, I bloody loved Sunset Overdrive and I'd welcome another partnership between Microsoft and Insomniac. But I really felt that they wringed everything out of the concept in that first game. Not everything needs to be a franchise; sometimes one game done well is better.
Who'll "win", and who won't: Nintendo have made their most sensible move in years by avoiding E3 for their NX reveal, but they do so at the cost of losing E3 basically by default. He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. As for the "winners", everyone else seems to be in a dead heat.
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What I want to see at E3: I'm really excited to see more of South Park: The Fractured But Whole, as well as, hopefully, a date for it. If a second Last of Us game is announced, though, I will squeal like a child in a sweet shop.
What I don't want to see: There's nothing I really don't want to see, that won't be there. I can't stand seeing FIFA touted every year as the "most inventive sports game ever" when all they've done is make the grass wobble more and thankfully, due to EA having less of a presence there, it probably won't be a high-profile game on show. Hooray.
Who'll "win", and who won't: If Naughty Dog announces The Last of Us 2, and maybe a certain remaster for a certain bandicoot, I think they'll hand Sony the win. I can't see what Microsoft is going to have, beyond new hardware. I don't reckon this year will be a great E3 for those guys.
What I want to see at E3: While Nintendo is normally a ray of light in this, at times, bleak entertainment medium, fans of the video game vet are left wanting this June. Their E3 presence is slated to be pretty thin, but imagine if that long-spoken about sequel to Super Mario Galaxy 2 got shown off in some capacity. In the many years that have passed since SMG2, we've seen Nintendo trot out the serviceable New Super Mario Bros. series a few times and release 3D World, which was an utter delight. But Galaxy 3 is what we've wanted for years – what I've wanted for years, damn it. Their innovation knows no bounds and I'm positive Galaxy 3 would be yet another time Nintendo takes an existing idea and improves on it.
What I don't want to see: Competition is what pushes the games and tech market forward – we all benefit from a friendly rivalry between Sony and Microsoft, for instance. However, there are occasions where execs get caught in public mud-slinging matches and when you play in the dirt, eventually, everyone's going to smell like shit. Phil Spencer coming on stage with his baseball cap back-to-front, ready to freestyle Shuhei Yoshida into oblivion is a bad idea. A bit of "banter" like Sony's second hand games video from a few years back brings a wry smile to most, though.
What I want to see at E3: I've crossed my fingers, toes and all my limbs that we'll see Rocksteady's Superman game. It's not confirmed yet, and I'm not sure if I even believe the rumours, but I want Rocksteady to take a run at another DC superhero after their Batman series, so much so that I'm going to wear my Superman boxer shorts for the entirety of E3.
What I don't want to see: A surprise Assassin's Creed sequel after the promised year off. That, and the raft of VR games that are secretly tech demos. VR is growing up now, and it's time companies started pushing out full games and not 10-minute "experiences".
Who'll "win", and who won't: The real "winner" here will be EA. They're going first in the billing due to their EA Play event, split off from the main expo, on the Sunday, but are still benefitting from everyone already being in LA. Not to mention they've got a killer line-up with Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1 and a bunch of Star Wars titles. The loser, though? That's E3 itself. This is probably the beginning of the end for the trade show, after various companies declined to have booths. The reasons for this are fairly benign: Activision are showing Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare during Sony's presentation and they don't have anything else on the slate for release, Disney aren't releasing a new Infinite this year, and Wargaming have a literal bundle of money and have no need for a trade show like E3. This puts E3 in a tricky position. Even more companies will pull out, and E3 will face a tricky battle to reposition itself as a consumer show and allow the general public in. I think this will happen sooner than later.
What I want to see at E3: The Evil Within 2. Despite some positive reactions, the original Evil Within was grossly under appreciated and often misunderstood. It deserves a second chance.
What I don't want to see: New console hardware from Sony or Microsoft. The hardware market is segregated enough already.
Who'll "win", and who won't: I think Sony will have the best show. Firmer details on PSVR should generate excitement, and their first party line-up seems more diverse than the competition. The loser might be EA. A lot rests on details regarding (former Uncharted series director) Amy Hennig's next project, a Star Wars game. If that doesn't interest, then we're just left with the usual slate of sequels.
What I want to see at E3: I'm hoping that we'll see more of ReCore. The trailer shown last year really stood out from the usual Xbox fare and could be something very special.
What I don't want to see: The attempted "banter" between Ubisoft execs and Aisha Tyler is an annual low point for everyone watching, and the industry at large.
Who'll "win", and who won't: I've no idea how Sony will top last year when they granted all of our wishes at once, but I'm hoping to see some more big surprises. I'd like to see Microsoft have something for me to get excited about, as their main line-up is mostly the gritty shootymen of the last gen.
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