It is very much getting to that fantastic time of year again and E3 2017 is going to be a big one for several of the big publishers.
Microsoft have a monumental task on their hands in trying to reignite competition with their Scorpio machine; complete with promises of big power whilst not ‘leaving anyone behind’. Some analysts are even suggesting it might be do or die for Microsoft, with postulation that there must be some questioning about whether to continue with Xbox hardware inside the multi-billion-dollar behemoth. While I personally think that’s a bit of an extreme way to think, there is no doubt the company need to come out all guns blazing.
Then there is Nintendo; out of the gates in the best way possible with the Switch delivering one of the games of the generation. The console hybrid is selling well and both gamers and Nintendo themselves seem stoked. E3 for them will be about keeping the momentum going. When is Mario Odyssey coming out? What else do the masters of fun have for gamers in the near future? Nintendo can steal the show by simply announcing a good line-up of games. If they bring something good to the party, they will be fine.
Ubisoft have to reignite the love for some of their big franchises. Watch Dogs doesn’t look like it is going to be that big an IP and their more recent commercially successful games (Rainbow Six, Division, Ghost Recon) are a long way off having sequels. That means the French publisher have Far Cry and Assassins Creed to put forward as their big offerings with the latter being the victim of fan fatigue. Far Cry 5 looks fresh and intriguing and it will be cool to see what Assassins Creed has learnt from it’s gap year.
Also like Ubisoft, Activision must put forward their big IPs and ignite the hype under Destiny 2 and Call of Duty WW2. Whilst both will undoubtedly be big sellers; both also have points to prove. Destiny 2 needing to launch with a bit more content than its predecessor and Call of Duty needing to fight back against the slowly rising tide of fan fatigue with the franchise.
As for EA; sports, Star Wars, surprise sports star, tall well-dressed man pretending to know about video games and stoned celebrities I’m sure.
But what about Sony? In April we got the news the Japanese consumer electronics brand had shipped 60 million PS4’s. Sony’s console rocketed out of the gates on the back of the most simple and honest marketing campaign that went along the line of “games games games” and it is hasn’t looked back since.
The past two E3’s for Sony kept this theme with a heavy focus on both exclusive games and partnerships with multi-platform titles that are guaranteed big sellers. Sony has now amassed an impressive line-up of exclusive games from first and second party developers. Uncharted, God of War, Days Gone, Crash Bandicoot, The Last of Us, Detroit, Spiderman, Death Stranding, Ni No Kuni II and Gran Turismo are some big titles we can expect for Playstation at some point in the future. So far this year Sony fans have been treated to the likes of Gravity Rush 2, Nioh, Nier Automata and Horizon Zero Dawn. It is fair to say that Sony has the games to put behind it’s console which is just what it needs after a launch plagued with a lack of quality exclusive titles.
So where does Sony go this E3? They have fired off a lot of cannons early in the past two years, but many of these games are a long, long way off (a quick browse of Hideo Kojima’s twitter account would suggest Death Stranding is probably coming out next century). We can also expect delays from more imminent games (yes that means you Gran Turismo). This leaves me wondering what on earth they could possibly announce for the 2017 conference, so here are some ideas…
Bloodborne was one of the first great exclusives to come to the PS4 and it was quickly snapped up by the adoring and devoted Dark Souls crowd. It was a game built for Twitch and cleverly attracted a group of hard core gamers to the PlayStation brand. It has been just over two years since Bloodborne released and there is no shortage of demand on the internet for a sequel. I would bet money on a sequel being in development if I could and E3 2017 would be a fantastic arena to announce Bloodborne 2. My only reservation with this prediction is that it might be a bit too early in which case I would look towards PSX at the end of the year.
Creators of Sly Cooper and Infamous; Suckerpunch have delivered consistently great games for Sony for many years now. It is also one of the only first party studios I can think of that hasn’t announced what it is developing. Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida has confirmed that the Washington based developer is working on something new and that he has played a section of the game, but what it is remains a mystery. Could E3 be the time to drop a reveal trailer? Infamous First Light, a stand-alone expansion to Second Son was the last title Suckerpunch released in August 2014. That is coming up 3 years ago; probably too short a time to put together a new IP in today’s world, but enough time to make a trailer or polish a slice of vertical gameplay to present at E3. No matter what their new game turns out to be, it would be great to see Suckerpunch under the Sony banner in a few weeks time.
Where is Dreams?
Undoubtedly the most mysterious game among Sony’s first party studios is Media Molecule’s create-a-game/nightmare simulator Dreams. We saw Dreams at E3 two years ago now and since then the British studio’s game has gone rather dark. Perhaps struck with an identity crisis when it was first revealed, Dreams seems to be in limbo. That said, two years is plenty of time to figure out what your game is and perhaps go ahead with a bit of re-branding or to double down on the original idea for the project. If Dreams does not show itself in a big way this year, then I would be concerned about its viability and sadly the safety of Media Molecule as one of Sony’s studios (they have been swinging the axe a fair bit lately). I hope to see Dreams at E3 this year. Something a bit quirky and different deserves a place in Sony’s portfolio and Media Molecule have delivered big time for Sony in the past, they should be given the chance to make this game shine.
Where VR are going with this headset thing is a bit of a mystery:
Last year’s conference featured a pretty good segment of VR titles from big franchises in gaming. Resident Evil, Star Wars, Batman and Final Fantasy all had VR offerings among others, and from what I have read, reception for the finished products was good.
That said, PlayStation VR is very much a niche product with sales indicating a pretty small but dedicated install base currently out there to make games for. This is what Sony said their VR project would be from the beginning and things seem to be going fine for the peripheral. I do wonder if this year might however be in stark contrast to last. Some big publishers have had a go at making something for the tech, but the small install base will mean that nothing will have made them big money. What we might see this year instead is a slew of smaller titles on the way, things for the dedicated subset of the audience to go read about after seeing a title that looks interesting on a sizzle reel type presentation. Small and experimental seems to be the way this first generation of VR headsets is going and this is what I imagine the theme of the headset’s showing will be at E3.
Big title partnerships:
Sony currently has the marketing deal for a long list of big titles. These include Call of Duty, Star Wars Battlefront II, Far Cry 5, Destiny 2 and Red Dead Redemption 2. These are all titles that will likely be on the best seller list for the year and it is understandable that Sony would love a slice of that action on their E3 stage. If they keep with the theme of recent conferences, then Battlefront 2, Destiny 2 and Call of Duty will almost certainly be on stage. Likewise, I expect at least a short look at both Far Cry and the next Assassins Creed (Ubisoft will undoubtedly give us their typical big long look at their presser).
The game we probably all want to see the most however is Red Dead Redemption 2, sadly delayed to next year putting us all in store for an agonizing wait. Unfortunately, Rockstar don’t really do E3. A twitter screenshot was enough to put gamers into a frenzy late last year and if things are as far away as it might seem, it might be too soon for the studio to put out a trailer. There is hope however; their partnership with Sony and the fact that it is the smaller title Red Dead rather than GTA might make Rockstar consider an unusual appearance at E3. I hope I am wrong, but I don’t see the Western epic being at E3 this year.
The little guys:
Last year was a bit light on indies with Sony instead opting for a bombing raid of one AAA title after another. PlayStation is however the console most known for its more artistic community in recent years with titles like Journey, Guacamelee, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and just recently the fantastic What Remains of Edith Finch. I find smaller titles harder to predict, but if I had to gamble on two I would suggest Gaucamelee 2 and the next project from That Game Company. Gaucalmelee found an adoring fan base on PlayStation and That Game Company’s three game exclusivity deal lead to PlayStation being the place to play Flow, Flower and Journey, the latter being one of the games of the last generation. It would make perfect sense for both Drinkbox and That Game Company to reveal their new titles on the Sony floor despite no exclusivity contracts remaining anymore. PlayStation is the platform that gave both studios their name and it seems about time to hear from both.
A catch up on what we have already seen:
The big titles we saw last year are bound to be back, with maybe even a few getting their first of an inevitable two or three release dates. We have no idea how far along Days Gone, God of War and Detroit are and a surprise release for the holidays or early next year would be awesome. Horizon probably also has a slot booked to announce a DLC expansion with a release date. If Naughty Dog show up, I don’t think we will see the Last of Us, but rather another look at the upcoming Uncharted 4 DLC, perhaps in their traditional opening the show spot.
As for Kojima, who knows. He has probably found another celebrity to star in a mind melting trailer for Death Stranding which can’t be due any sooner than 2019 or 2020. Spiderman is also about to drop in theaters and is about to be cool now that he is officially a member of the Avengers so Sony will probably be banking on a lengthier and more exciting trailer (maybe even with a title!).
For me personally, release windows for at least two of these games is what I am hoping for and if Ni No Kuni II pops up, that would be even better.
What do you think?
That’s about all I have as far as predictions go, probably all incorrect but fun to think about. What do the NZG community think we will see on the Sony stage or any E3 stage for that matter? Will Knack 2 steal the show on it’s journey to becoming game of the century? Will Sony be back with that chilling orchestra? Let me know in the comments below :)
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