Held this year June 5 to 7 in LA, E3 2012 is probably the last E3 we'll have that focuses primarily on the current generation of consoles. It's a momentous event that always changes the landscape of game discussion, even if it tends to accomplish little on its own.
The potential for self-parody present on every public stage is one of E3's most entertaining aspects. Executives, hired talent, and developers appeal to fans with varying levels of charisma. Such antics have contributed to the fame of Nintendo's teddy bear monster executive Reggie Fils-Aime, among others.
This year's convention has a lot of potential for exciting news. Nintendo will be detailing their new console, for one. New handhelds 3DS and Vita will have to prove their longevity with interesting release lineups. The other companies will be sharing their closing lineups for what might be this console generation's last big holiday cycle.
The Nintendo Wii U, unveiled during Nintendo's press conference last year, will be detailed in full — release date, final design, and preliminary launch lineup can be expected (but not pricing). That lineup will almost certainly include New Super Mario Bros Mii and the third party big titles Darksiders 2, Arkham City, and Assassin's Creed III. The console's release will likely be in mid-November, in time for the holiday shopping rush. The final design of the Wii U's unusual tablet controller may have been leaked recently, but those images could be another prototype.
Look forward to details on the new Pikmin title and whatever Retro Studios (Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong Country Returns) is working on. All we know so far about Retro's game is that it's "a project everyone wants (them) to do" and that it's probably not another Metroid Prime. It might even be Pikmin!
Nintendo has most to prove with their third and fourth quarter 3DS lineups. Paper Mario, Luigi's Mansion, and Animal Crossing are all games supposedly in late development, but little detail has been given thus far. New Super Mario Bros 2 is coming in August, and Pokemon Black and White 2 sometime in the third quarter. Apart from those, the field is open — maybe there will even be a new handheld Zelda.
Digital distribution is likely to take a front seat at this conference as a summary of what we already know, although more games utilizing this service could be named.
Sony has once again managed to secure a long line of impressive exclusives. Most notably, this year, perhaps is Naughty Dog's new game The Last of Us. A new trailer has already debuted, but there's a lot more to see — a release date, for example. The new Sly Cooper game and the Smash Bros clone Sony All Star Battle Royale will be around, too.
For years, fans of Shadow of the Colossus and Ico have anticipated the next game in the series Last Guardian. Although it's been plagued by business-type issues, we've been assured that the game has not been canceled. Maybe this is the year we finally get to see it in action! Sony said maybe.
Sony's Vita is in an even trickier position than Nintendo's 3DS, particularly outside of Japan. It's going to have a hard time proving itself to the Western audiences of E3. You can expect it to take up a lot of conference time, though. Perhaps we'll even learn of titles and franchises developed primarily for the device.
Third parties like Square Enix, Konami, and Capcom have a history of appearances at Sony's conference. SE could have a lot to show with its Final Fantasy games, plus Eidos franchises like Tomb Raider or even a possible new Deus Ex. Capcom has Resident Evil 6 and its fighting games, and Konami could bring out Metal Gear: Rising (if not saved for Microsoft).
Halo 4. As far as Microsoft exclusivity goes for this year, it starts and stops with Halo 4. This conference is going to have a lot of Halo 4.
In absence of any real exclusives, you can expect a lot of Kinect talk, new deals and updates for Xbox Live, and an overall emphasis on the Xbox as a media console rather than as a gaming console.
To not alienate its "hardcore" audience, however, Microsoft will probably feature some of the blockbuster cross-platform titles like Black Ops 2 or Grand Theft Auto V. Any such game would be introduced with timed exclusive deals, like maps or other DLC.
There's also been some talk of the new Unreal engine 4 by Epic that might see some spotlight here. Said engine is primarily designed for the next generation, however, so any mention of it could be treated as a teaser for next year.
EA has got a lot going on this year. Bioware alone could hold a full hour conference, and then there's a whole slew of new games coming up.
Many fans are expecting details on upcoming Mass Effect 3 DLC. With the extended ending DLC supposedly coming out sometime in June, an exact release date should be revealed. They could even give us some insight into why the ending was the way it was — although this is unlikely for the public conference. They could also use the time to announce further DLC, or at least detail the direction future DLC will take. It's possible a new Mass Effect game is mentioned, but not as possible as another Bioware franchise.
Dragon Age has been making news recently, and the next game may be announced this year — either as Dragon Age 2: Subtitle (a la Awakening), or Dragon Age 3. Whether or not Hawke's story will be continued is still unknown, but there are plenty of loose ends to handle apart from him/her. We could end up with a new hero or continue one of the existing ones, but it will be most interesting to see how game save continuation will be implemented, if at all.
EA recently settled its dispute with Activision over Infinity Ward founders' new studio, Respawn. Their yet undetailed "scifi shooter" is expected to target a similar demographic as their previous Modern Warfare titles. If that's the case, it's going to need a strong marketing push to drive up anticipation and get fans excited.
I am particularly interested in seeing details on Insomniac's cheeky class/squad based third person shooter Overstrike. Its trailer last year impressed me quite a bit.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter and Crysis 3, if not featured at Microsoft's or Sony's conference, will be out here. Recently acquired PopCap games has also been working on something in secret, and this would be a good time to unveil it. Also, a new SimCity game exists — so you can probably expect some time spent on that.
There's also the possibility of Curt Schilling/38 studios' Copernicus MMO getting some spotlight, so that it might drum up support to fight against its recent financial woes. Unfortunately for Schilling, EA has not yet agreed to publish the MMO, although they did publish Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the franchise building companion piece to the MMO.
Ubisoft, year to year, has been amazing at giving us awkward conferences. Let's just hope this year's MC is as terrible as last year's.
Also, Assassin's Creed 3.
Really, the most impressive thing Ubisoft could show us us is more information concerning the potentially-in-development-fan-favorite-sequel Beyond Good and Evil 2. More screenshots were released recently, suggesting the game is more than a pipe dream, but it's really hard to expect much.
Activision will be out in full force, but most years it doesn't publicize their conference to the degree other companies do. Other than Black Ops 2, Activision's most exciting titles are on their Blizzard side of development, and Blizzard skips E3. There's no Blizzcon this year, though, so maybe E3 will be the place we hear more about Heart of the Swarm, the Starcraft 2 expansion.
Valve has already stated its presence will be minimal - they're not announcing any new games this year. They rarely need to do much at E3, considering their Steam platform is a far better soapbox from which to advertise new games. Dota 2 may get some publicity, though. No, not Half-Life.
Square Enix is going to have a hard time reselling FFXIV to the general public. It's undergoing a major overhaul, with an FFXIV 2.0 being prepared for launch next year. There's likely going to be a trailer for it, but you can also expect some people saying "No, no, it's going to be good this time." Otherwise, SE has its usual slew of franchise games - FF and Kingdom Hearts. Eidos franchises could make a showing - particularly recently delayed Tomb Raider. After the success of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, another game in that franchise could come along as well. SE will also be publishing Portal creator Kim Swift's new game Quantum Conundrum. With its release expected soon, it's going to need the exposure.
THQ has really impressed me lately, particularly with Volition's properties. Although Red Faction: Armageddon wasn't much of a success, Saints Row: The Third is both amazing and successful! There's a standalone expansion - Enter the Dominatrix - down the line that we're likely to hear more about. Volition also has Guillermo del Toro-directed survival horror game inSANE down the line.
Bethesda will likely still be on its Skyrim high, and we'll get details on the upcoming DLC expansion Dawnguard. The Elder Scrolls franchise may also get some press with ZeniMax's Elder Scrolls Online.
There will be no Bioshock Infinite or Irrational at E3 this year.
Konami has historically been amazing at providing us with terrible press conferences. Look forward to that, and possibly some Kojima and Metal Gear action elsewhere.
Games to watch
- Adventure Time for 3DS and DS
- Luigi's Mansion for 3DS
- Paper Mario for 3DS
- Pikmin 3 for Wii U
- Dota 2 for Mac and PC
- Dust 514 (EVE Online spinoff) for PC
- Elder Scrolls Online for Mac and PC
- FFXIV for PS3 and PC
- Torchlight 2 for Mac and PC
- Halo 4 for Xbox
- Last of Us for PS3
- The Last Guardian for PS3
- Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time for PS3
- Assassin's Creed 3 for PS3, Xbox, Mac, PC, and Wii U
- Beyond Good and Evil 2
- Black Ops 2 for PS3, Xbox, and PC
- Borderlands 2 for PS3, Xbox, and PC
- Darksiders 2 for PS3, Xbox, Wii U, and PC
- DmC: Devil May Cry for PS3 and Xbox
- GTA V
- inSANE for PS3, Xbox, and PC
- Overstrike for PS3 and Xbox
- Quantum Conundrum for PSN, XBLM, and PC
- Resident Evil 6 for PS3, Xbox, and PC
- Saints Row: The Third - Enter the Dominatrix for PS3, Xbox, and PC
- Tomb Raider for PS3, Xbox, Mac, and PC