The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) remains as one of the most recognizable video game events in the world, with thousands of journalists from around the world flocking to the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 14-16. This year, the convention will also host a public event called E3 Live, at the LA Live entertainment district, where publishers will present games from the show floor to thousands of attending fans. According to statistics released by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which hosts E3, this year’s event will have an even greater emphasis on mobile games and AR/VR games.
However, the most talked about events are the various pre-E3 press conferences, which happen before the show floor opens. The biggest announcements, demonstrations and surprises all happen there. However, publishers appear to be very secretive this year, perhaps more so than in the past, in revealing what they plan to present—instead relying on rumor to stir up hype. So, without delving too much into speculation, these are the ways E3’s top presenters plan on making a huge impression at E3 2016.
EA took a decidedly unique approach this year by breaking away from E3 to host EA Play, a public event that puts “players first.” Attendees will be among the first to see new game announcements and try out demos. Those that cannot attend the live events at The Novo at LA Live (June 12-14) or the Hammersmith Apollo in London can still help themselves to announcements, reveals and behind-the-scenes content as it is livestreamed.
Of course, there will be plenty to see, as EA will showcase one of its most anticipated games, Battlefield 1, with a live 64-player battle that will be livestreamed after the pre-E3 presentation on June 12. Some of the other high-profile games that are expected to be revealed at EA Play include Titanfall 2, Mass Effect Andromeda and three EA Sports games, including Madden NFL 17 and FIFA 17. Although a sequel to last year’s hit Star Wars Battlefront isn’t expected to release until 2017, and the untitled Star Wars project in development by Visceral Games (Dead Space series; Battlefield Hardline) won’t come out until 2018, it’s still likely that something Star Wars-related will be revealed at the EA pre-E3 presentation.
The PlayStation 4 has a ton to show-off this year, especially given how the PlayStation VR is launching in October and pre-orders have already sold out. That means that we should be looking forward to an in-depth reveal of Robinson: The Journey. Furthermore, Activision will not be attending E3 this year, and is instead promoting top games like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare through Sony’s booth, and addition details about the newly announced Skylanders Imaginators should also be present. That’s just the start, as Sony has plenty of highly anticipated games in the works, including The Last Guardian, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and No Man’s Sky, all of which made huge impressions at last year’s E3.
Fans can watch it all unfold on the big screen, as Sony will once again bring its pre-E3 presentation to select movie theaters across the US and Canada on June 13. These events give for PlayStation fans a chance to come together and celebrate their favorite console. But those that can’t make it to theaters won’t be left out. The entire press conference will be livestreamed to PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles alongside other sites and apps.
Being the first E3 without the late Satoru Iwata, Nintendo is looking to play things relatively safe by focusing only on the new The Legend of Zelda game during its livestreamed presentation. This is despite the fact that there’s a ton of buzz around the much-rumored NX console, the new Pokémon Sun and Moon games releasing in the fall, and how Pokémon GO is expected to hit mobile devices this summer. Then again, the E3 floor plan shows that Nintendo has booked a tremendous amount of show floor space, 30,000 square feet, exceeding the size of Microsoft’s booth and is second only to Sony. That seems like an extraordinarily large space for the sake of a single game, suggesting that some surprises might be in store, but it’s more likely that much of it will be taken up by the Treehouse Stage for livestreaming and events while attendees get an in-depth Zelda Experience.
Given the tremendous success Bethesda saw with its pre-E3 presentation last year, it’s no surprise that the company will be doing it again this year. Last year’s show included some spectacular reveals, such as announcing Fallout 4 one week before the show, and the surprise launch of the mobile game, Fallout Shelter. It’s likely that Dishonored 2, which was announced last year, will be the big focus of the presentation, followed by plans for additional Fallout 4 content that’s expected to come out later this year. A first-look at Doom‘s add-on content, as detailed in the game’s Season Pass, is also very likely. As for all-new games, Bethesda is playing it close to the chest. If last year was any indication, we’re not likely to learn about new game announcements until the last minute.
Ubisoft’s official E3 website doesn’t reveal too much about what to expect from the company that’s still riding high off the record-breaking success of Tom Clancy’s The Division (which will be turned into a movie), but there are currently a handful of games that are confirmed to be shown. They include the competitive melee battle game, For Honor, Ghost Recon Wildlands, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, and the Eagle Flight VR experience. The social VR game, Werewolves Within, releases this fall, so it should also be among Ubisoft’s showcase.
As for new announcements, rumors of Watch Dogs 2—a sequel to the 2014 game that featured a hacker taking control of Chicago’s electronic infrastructure—have been simmering for quite some time after its development was mentioned in a February earnings call. It seems that the company originally meant to keep its announcement under wraps, but sent out gift boxes to various YouTube personalities without instructions to keep their contents a secret. The packages included a pair of Watch Dogs 2 branded Ray-Ban sunglasses and case, an assortment of pins, and a t-shirt proclaiming the return of the fictional hacker group, Dedsec. Afterwards, there was really no point in pretending any longer, and Ubisoft confirmed today that Watch Dogs 2 will be shown at E3.
Although 2K has only confirmed a handful of games that will be shown at E3—Mafia III, Battleborn, Civilization Revolution 2, and the recently announced Civilization VI— Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two Interactive (2K’s parent company), promised in a May interview that “We will be there in a big way.”
There are certainly plenty of rumors to support a big presence at E3, including the possibility of a Red Dead Redemption 2 announcement from Grand Theft Auto developers, Rockstar Games. Some speculate that there could be a remaster or remake of the original Red Dead Redemption to go with it. However, we can’t know anything for certain until 2K shows us what going big is all about.
Of all the companies presenting at E3, Microsoft is among the most tight-lipped. We know that an unnamed Forza game will be there, which is almost certain to be Forza Horizon 3. Gears of War 4 will also surely be shown, as will Crackdown 3, Scalebound, ReCore, and Sea of Thieves, which were all announced at previous E3 press conferences. Additionally, audiences are bound to see more HoloLens gaming, particularly from the special version of Minecraft revealed last year. Many believe that a new Xbox One model or two will debut—which is a theory that’s backed by a recent $50 price drop for the existing console—along with two new streaming devices, but nothing is known for certain. But, at the risk of delving too much further into speculation, Microsoft is likely to discuss additions to its Xbox backward compatibility feature.