E3 is just under 3 weeks away and chatter this year has been uncommonly quiet. Next gen consoles are circling their 2nd year on the market (3rd if you count the Wii U) but things don’t quite feel like they’re off to the races yet. By this time last generation, consoles two years in to their lifecycle had already spat out new and exciting IP like Gears of War and Uncharted. The best we can do so far this time around are HD remasters of those same great titles, and a steady case of sequelitis. The biggest titles so far for the back half of the year come from familiar franchises like Halo, Assassin’s, and Call of Duty, and the less exploited (but still technically iterations of) Rainbow Six and Battlefront. So what are we in for at this year’s E3 Expo?
If rumblings are correct, E3 2015 will be the year VR comes into its own and unleashes itself on the gaming public. Sony has had in the works its Project Morpheus for some time now (Oculus Rift eat your heart out) and Microsoft has been experimenting with its Hololens augmented reality accessory that will likely bring forward some interesting game integration – whether it be a real-time HUD in your favourite shooter, or the feeling of bullets or missile fire whipping through your living room – though gamers are definitely in for some queasy times. Valve has also been working its own Steam VR prototype with partner, HTC. Though I don’t expect to see them competing for eyeballs at this year’s event. Costs and release dates on at least a few of these peripherals are likely to be provided, though Sony has played a bit coy and may only provide a window (‘Spring 2016’ anyone?) I don’t see why these companies wouldn’t get these sold during this year’s seemingly barren Holiday period, but maybe they aren’t quite retail-ready.
Nintendo has been noticeably left out of the VR conversation. The Big N this year is again skipping the oversized press conference circuit and instead broadcasting its own Nintendo Direct stream on the first official day of the expo. Nintendo has been relatively coy about its Wii U prospects over the next 12 months, most of the ‘main’ Nintendo staples (Zelda the exception) have already made it to the console and recent moves have Nintendo moving forward, relatively quickly, on its next console iteration codenamed ‘NX’. Nintendo president Iwata has already said NX won’t be at this year’s event, but I expect at least some discussion on where Nintendo is headed and a rollout of its new customer loyalty program replacing Club Nintendo. Expect something along the lines of PlayStation Plus mixed with its Virtual Console back catalogue. Otherwise, unless Nintendo brings forward some brand-new IP or an exclusive partnership with one of the big franchises, I’m going to say it’ll be a muted year for Mario.
Indie games will continue to dominate this year’s E3, in my prediction. Last year’s Microsoft and Sony events were jam-packed full of indie developers showcasing their latest passion projects. Due to the (still) elongated development time of AAA titles on these new consoles, I except indie will shore up much of what Microsoft and Sony have to show this year. But what about some surprises, huh? What follows below is my 2015 Wishlist.
- Red Dead Redemption gets a sequel: based on some recent developer postings at Rockstar, this is a shoe-in
- Final GTA expansion: nothing official on this front, but wouldn’t we all love one more romp with the Los Santos trio?
- Fallout 4 revealed: lots of rumors and speculation on this one, I think it’s gotta happen
- We get to see what BioShock creator, Ken Levine is working on: probably
- Zelda Wii U gets a date: 100% definitely (but could it be moved to the NX?)
- PS4/Xbox One ‘slim’ revealed: maybe, but probably not. Xbox is more inclined to just remove its TV input and drop the price by $20 bucks
- Mass Effect 4 makes a splash: going to happen
- A Rare sighting: Conker, Battletoads, maybe? Though I’m banking on something completely new.
- Sony virtually abandons Vita and drops the price dramatically: OK, ‘abandon’ may be a strong word, perhaps just reshaping it as a console accessory first and foremost. It will be overshadowed by Morpheus, though.
- Last Guardian gets a re-reveal and release date: has to happen or this dog is dead
- Beyond Good & Evil 2 gets the attention it deserves
- Nintendo wraps up the leftover franchises it has not yet released: expect to see a return of Samus, Paper Mario and Animal Crossing. Though I’m rooting for Pokemon and Earthbound.
What are you hoping to see at E3 2015? Comment below and let us know!