We’re now officially a week into May, which means we’re just about a month away from E3. E3 is, of course, a fantastic time for all fans of video games, a time when major new game announcements are made, and we learn what to expect from the future of our favorite system. This specific E3 promises to be interesting for PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo fans alike- for the former two, we are still a few years out from the inevitable release of the PS5 and the next Xbox, but we’re well into their lifespans that game announcements don’t shock us by virtue of simply existing. Put simply, PS4 and Xbox One need to show substantially exciting games for us to take notice of either of them- which can be hard if any games are being saved up for their successors. For Microsoft, this is doubly difficult, because they just launched the Xbox One X last year, and they have been under fire a lot recently regarding their weak first party lineup- two things that need them to pull no stops at E3.
For Nintendo, the opposite is true. The Switch launched last year, and set records along the way, quickly amassing an amazing library of games, too- but the second year of a console on the market is the all important critical year, and Nintendo needs to assure customers that exciting games are on the horizon. They’ve been in cruise control this year so far, but Switch momentum could easily dissipate if they don’t start announcing and releasing major titles soon.
"This specific E3 promises to be interesting for PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo fans alike. Each of the big three has to bring the big guns if they want to stand out and satisfy their fanbases. "
So yes, each of the big three has to bring the big guns if they want to stand out and satisfy their fanbases. For Sony, at least, this should be especially easy- they already have so many major exclusive games announced. They will already have Shadow of the Colossus, and Detroit out this year by the time E3 rolls around- on the stage show, they can, instead, show off Dreams, Ghost of Tsushima, Spider-Man, as well as the very first gameplay footage for Death Stranding and The Last of Us Part 2. Throw in some likely third party games- whatever Shadows Die Twice is, for example, is likely to be shown off on Sony’s stage, even if it is multiplatform, while Kingdom Hearts 3 and Red Dead Redemption 2, if they are at E3 at all, will probably be there as well- and you already have a solid show all around that no one can take any issue with.
By the time Microsoft rolls into E3 this year, they will have released Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2, which means of the already announced games for the Xbox One currently, Crackdown 3 will be all that is left. I do expect Crackdown 3 to get a major showing, as well as small portions of the conference for updates or new content for Minecraft and Sea of Thieves. But as for what new games Microsoft might announce in the future, that’s where things get murky.
Forza Horizon 4 is, of course, a given- it will be coming this year, and it has been rumored enough already either way. We already know a new Halo game and a new Gears game is in development, but I wouldn’t expect either of those to be shown off this E3. Maybe Below and Ori and the Will of the Wisps? The latter, especially, I can see get shown quite a bit at E3.
Without getting into what future games Microsoft might announce at E3 this year- which is something we will be looking at more in depth on a later date- it’s hard to know what Microsoft might have up their sleeves. This year marks their largest E3 showing yet, so we know they have something in the works. Third party games, such as Cyberpunk, and at least a bunch of the new Bethesda, Ubisoft, and EA games, are likely to be unveiled at their show. We know they are planning on some JRPG to be on the stage. But what about the first party front? Microsoft’s show is the most tantalizingly hard to predict of the three at the moment.
"While Sony has a secure, clearly defined road map for the PS4’s foreseeable future we can rely on, Microsoft and Nintendo are, for good or for bad, playing things way too close to their chests. "
Nintendo’s would be, too, but they’ve made our job fairly easy on that front. First off, their E3 plans have made it very clear that they intend to talk about only 2018 games at their show this year. Games coming beyond 2018, Nintendo says, will be discussed at a future date.
Which brings us to- what is the Switch getting in 2018, exactly? Super Smash Bros. is a big one, obviously, and already confirmed to be the centerpiece of their E3 showing this year, and we also know that Octopath, Captain Toad, Mario Tennis Aces, Ys 8, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, Okami, The World Ends With You, and Dark Souls Remastered will all not have been out for the Switch by then, so those might be shown off, too. Splatoon 2‘s Octa expansion will presumably get some air time as well. Fortnite getting a Switch reveal at the event for a later in 2018 release is also likely- it has been rumored, leaked, and hinted at so many times that at this point it would be more surprising if this didn’t happen. Then we need to consider that there is Fire Emblem, announced for a 2018 release, but so far never shown off for even a single minute, and Pokemon, which… may or may not be this year. We actually still don’t know.
A picture starts to take shape nonetheless. Nintendo, much like Sony, has enough to have a solid, if not mind blowing, showing. However, unlike Sony, who, this late in the console cycle can afford to get away with solid, Nintendo needs to show off something that is instantly arresting, and gets everyone’s attention. They flat out cannot afford to let the sentiment that Nintendo blew their load with the Switch in year one percolate. A lot of their E3 showing this year rests squarely on Pokemon– if it actually is a 2018 game, then they will be fine. Even if Pokemon isn’t all that ambitious, it gets everyone’s attention simply for being the first console and first HD Pokemon game.
For now, it’s hard to tell who will do well at E3 this year- I hope all of them do. But while Sony has a secure, clearly defined road map for the PS4’s foreseeable future we can rely on, Microsoft and Nintendo are, for good or for bad, playing things way too close to their chests.
Let’s hope it’s because they have some surprises up their sleeves for us.
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