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What to expect from E3 2016

We’re less than two weeks away from E3 2016, and in spite of the incessant “E3 is dying” narrative, there’s a lot going on. Sure, the focus is shifting to live streams and satellite events held around the world, but we’re still going to get a deluge of exciting gaming news.

Let’s take a look at some of the largest companies in gaming, and explore what we might see out of them this month. Mind you, there are far too many indie games, side projects, and unannounced titles to cover everything in a single post, so let’s hit the highlights.

Zelda Wii U

The Legend of Zelda is the only Nintendo game coming to E3 this year. Attendees will get hands-on time with this elusive release, and Nintendo will be hosting a live video stream demoing the game for the world, but that’s about it. A few minor announcements might slip out, or maybe even a mention of the new 3DS Pokemon games, but Zelda is what Nintendo is banking on this year.

Of course, that also means that the Nintendo NX almost certainly isn’t making its debut at E3. Plans could change, and crazier things have happened in the gaming industry, but don’t get your hopes up for any meaningful NX coverage. Rumors are pointing toward a proper announcement at the Tokyo Game Show in September, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t be unveiled through a Nintendo Direct and an exclusive story with a major media outlet. Either way, there’s no reason to expect a peek at the hardware this month.

Horizon Zero Dawn

With the PlayStation VR scheduled for an October release, expect Sony to lean hard on its upcoming headset. Gran Turismo Sport, RIGS, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, Rez Infinite, Tekken 7 and other PSVR titles are bound to be given a moment in the spotlight. The hype of VR seems to have died down quite a bit after the muted launches of the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, so many people on the sidelines have turned to the PSVR to see if Sony can pull off a more consumer-friendly launch.

Will we see the PS4K at E3? It seems like a toss up right now. Sony still hasn’t spoken publicly about the PS4’s mid-cycle update, but there seems to be a new leak every week or two. We’re positive at this point that it’s being developed, but it’s unclear if Sony will be willing to discuss it. After all, official confirmation would definitely overshadow any PSVR coverage.

As far as traditional games go, we might end up with mostly a rehash of the E3 2015 lineup. Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last Guardian, Shenmue 3, and the recently delayed No Man’s Sky are all likely to be mentioned. It’s still early days, but if Kojima’s new game is going to show up, it’ll likely be on Sony’s stage. And if we’re lucky, a few major unannounced games will be unveiled here as well.

Gears of War 4

Say what you will about the Xbox One era of Microsoft, but Redmond has some big exclusives lined up. Gears of War 4, Crackdown 3, Halo Wars 2, and the next Forza will be representing Microsoft’s past success, but there are new franchises on the way as well. Comcept and Armature are making ReCore, PlatinumGames is developing Scalebound, and Rare is making a comeback with Sea of Thieves. And since Phil Spencer’s team clearly has its eye on the PC, it’s safe to assume we’ll get Windows 10 versions of most (if not all) of these games.

It’s not all software — there’s been an inordinate number of hardware rumors as well. Supposedly, there will be an Xbox One slim sometime this year, but a beefier hardware revision in 2017. With better internals comes the possibility of VR or even Hololens. But considering that some rumors have all of that pegged for 2017, there’s always a chance that Microsoft will stay tight-lipped about its biggest news for the time being.

Battlefield 1

After spending a lot of time in modern settings, DICE is taking its popular FPS series to World War I. The confusingly named Battlefield 1 is set in the early 1900s, and will focus on a very messy period in history that hasn’t been explored much in the world of video games. The reveal trailer was well received, but there are still many questions left to be answered.

In April, Respawn Entertainment gave us a teaser trailer for Titanfall 2. We know that the Microsoft exclusivity deal from the first game doesn’t extend to this sequel, so a PS4 version is inevitable. We’re also going to get a real campaign this time, so there’s good reason to give this franchise another chance.

It’s been over four years since Mass Effect 3 launched, and by the time Mass Effect: Andromeda finally hits shelves, it’ll have been half a decade since we last suited up in our N7 gear. We’ll probably get a nice long look at the game during the E3-adjacent EA Play event, and every tidbit of information will be consumed greedily by fans of the first three games – yours truly included.

Watch Dogs

Ubisoft is something of a question mark right now. There’s no Assassin’s Creed this year, and a Far Cry game already shipped a few months back. So what’s left? Watch Dogs 2. Despite the somewhat tepid critical response, the first installment apparently sold like hotcakes. There have been rumblings for a while that a sequel was being made, and now would be a good time to reveal it.

Ghost Recon Wildlands is lined up for a 2016 release, so it’ll get some stage time. We’ll also probably see coverage of South Park: The Fractured But Whole, For Honor, the next Just Dance, and any upcoming DLC Ubisoft has planned for the likes of The Division or Far Cry Primal. A completely new game would be welcome, but I’m not willing to place any money on it.

Dishonored 2

Taking place years after the first game, Dishonored 2 will let you play as either Corvo (the original protagonist) or Emily (the princess). With two different playable characters that will approach the world differently, this seems like quite an ambitious follow-up to a game that already offered a bevy of choices. Since this is set for a November release, Bethesda will most certainly give it time to shine.

The latest Doom game has been extremely well-received, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the success got called out at the Bethesda event. A $40 season pass is also being sold, so we might get a look at the new content they have lined up.

Fallout 4 has seen three DLC releases already — Far Harbor being the most recent. But since the season pass got a price hike, we know that there’s more content on the way. And since PC mods are working their way onto the consoles, Bethesda might want to highlight some of the most impressive aspects of this feature.

It’s also possible that we’ll hear about the next Elder Scrolls game or a new IP, but those are far from a certainty. Bethesda Game Studios is known for taking its sweet time with creating new games, so it’s not a safe assumption that we’ll see anything substantial.

Infinite Warfare

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was announced a few weeks back to… less than universal praise. Infinity Ward’s latest installment in the series doubles-down on the future tech that has been so popular in recent years, and actually puts large swaths of the action in space. There’s certainly been some pushback about leaning on the sci-fi angle, but it remains to be seen if Activision will change the marketing plan in response to the negativity. Either way, it seems likely that more footage will show up on Sony’s stage.

While most of us expected a full-on sequel to Destiny in 2016, Activision and Bungie have gone on record saying that Destiny 2 is a no-go this year. However, it seems likely that we’ll get a look at this year’s expansion content at E3. And considering just how critically successful last year’s The Taken King expansion was, there’s good reason to believe that another expansion of that scale could breathe new life into this two year-old game.

FFVII

Last year’s announcement of the long-awaited Final Fantasy VII Remake definitely raised eyebrows. It’s been nearly two decades since the original PS1 game shipped, and it seems like Square has been chasing that popularity (to varying degrees of success) ever since. So far, we know that the remake is episodic, features a new hybrid fighting system, and runs on Unreal Engine 4. Presumably, we’ll learn more soon.

Final Fantasy XV is out later this year, so it would make sense to see it being pushed pretty hard. The Platinum Demo that launched in April didn’t bowl us over, but it’s worth keeping an eye on this title nonetheless. After so many years in development hell, I’m dying to see if all of that work paid off.

As for the company’s other games, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness seem to be drawing the most interest. We’ll also get to see some new content from Just Cause 3 and the new episodic Hitman game, but it’s unclear if the PS4 version of Rise of the Tomb Raider will be touched on. Regardless, it’s just nice to see both the Japanese and western arms of Square-Enix delivering heavy hitters.

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