This week, the videogame industry convenes in Los Angeles for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, a days-long venue for showing off the biggest games of this year, next year, and all the years to come. This will be the first E3 in years unencumbered by new consoles, which means that the focus will be back on the games — most of them with familiar titles, although there are also some glossy originals.
But this will also be a big year for new hardware, with Virtual Reality tech that could wind up defining the future of interactivity. Let’s take a look at the biggest titles and key talking points going into this year’s E3, all of which will be rendered completely unimportant should Sony announce a release date for The Last Guardian.
The Legend of Zelda: Nintendo has a problem, and that problem is the Wii U. Outflanked by its high-powered competitors and out-buzzed by the company’s own 3DS, the tablet-y system hasn’t had much luck outside of games with Mario in the title. We already know that Nintendo will be prominently showing off its latest Super Smash Brothers, but rumors have been circling that the company is finally ready to share its next-generation Zelda game. Which is good news for anyone who liked Skyward Sword and great news for anyone who wrote 11 thousand words about how much the liked Skyward Sword.
Destiny: By some measures, Bungie’s open-world online space opera is already the most expensive video game ever made. It arrives in September. Which means that E3 is the company’s last big chance to convince people that Destiny is more than just the Mass Effect/World of Warcraft mash-up we all wanted five years ago.
Batman: Arkham Knight: Rocksteady’s Arkham City was a critical and commercial sensation. The last three years have seen plenty of pretenders to that game’s open-world-superhero throne: An Infamous here, a Saints Row there, even the off-brand Arkham Origins (which wasn’t produced by Rocksteady.) But nothing has quite recaptured that Arkham mojo. Will Knight finish off the series in style?
The Witness: There’s still not an official release date for Jonathan Blow’s Braid follow-up, but rumors persist that it’s arriving soon. The Witness was by a wide margin the most interesting game we saw at E3 last year. Blow helped to usher in the indie-games movement; with the major AAA titles mostly in the doldrums, this could be the moment for him to stage a return.
Virtual Reality is the Future, Again!: Because no E3 would be complete without elaborate new technological knick-knacks that everyone swears will define the medium in a few years, this year will see a heavy push for the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus, two virtual-reality experiences that requires users to cosplay Michael Douglas in Disclosure.
Star Wars: Battlefront: EA earned loud applause last year for a preview of a new Star Wars game — a preview that didn’t feature much more than the leg of an AT-AT. The studio has been promising to show off more footage from the game this year. And with a release date roughly sketched in for mid-2015, Battlefront could be the first major Star Wars product of the post-George Lucas era.
The Future of Watch Dogs: Good news: Watch Dogs sold like gangbusters! Less good news: After spending two years as the most hyped thing in videogames, the just-okay response to the hacker-shooter vibes a bit tepid. If Ubisoft’s smart, they’ll come out guns blazing with a grabby sneak peek at the franchise’s future, and an implicit promise that Watch Dogs 2 will be more of an Assassin’s Creed 2 than a Far Cry 2.
Halo and Gears of War: Titanfall hit the Xbox One gilded with next-big-shooter buzz. But three months later, it’s clear that Titanfall was less a Generation-Defining Killer App and more of a Real Cool Robot Shooter. So expect Microsoft to trumpet their big-name shooters by focusing on the impending arrival of Halo 5: Guardians and possibly/probably announcing a new entry in the Gears of War chainsaw-gun saga.
Uncharted and God of War: In which Sony searches for some easy money by returning to their most popular franchises. What Zelda is for Nintendo, what Halo and Gears of War are for Microsoft.
The Order: 1886: An original AAA shooter designed exclusively as a single-player experience? Is The Order a unicorn dream come to life, or is it just Dishonored meets Uncharted? And would Dishoncharted be so bad?
The Sequels We Don’t Know About Yet: A new Dishonored. A new Mass Effect. A new Dino Crisis. The final Shenmue. A new Fallout. A new Marvel vs. Capcom which features Boba Fett and Patton Oswalt as playable characters. A new Indiana Jones game with Harrison Ford’s voice. A new James Bond game. A new Bomberman game from the makers of Dark Souls. Anything is possible! E3!