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18th April 2016

Why E3 2016 may be the best year yet

E3 2016 is less than two months away so it is time to start getting hyped up. Can Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony and the rest deliver some blow-out news that will make this years E3 the best in a long while?

It’s getting to that time of year again when the world’s largest expo for gaming shows up with a bang and leaves us tantalizing over all the new game and tech reveals. The Electronics Entertainment Expo is once again being held in Los Angeles Convention Center, from Tuesday June 14th-Thursday June 16th 2016. Attending this show are a lot of the usual video game developers from Bethesda to Tell Tale Games, and some of the larger companies will be having pre-E3 shows, often starting on the Sunday before (so this year it will be the 12th of June), and this is where, for most of us, the most exciting part of E3 happens.

Many of gaming’s giants come to the convention and open the floodgates on everything they have got. Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony will be trying to convince you why you should stick with their systems for the coming years while other industry big-shots like Square Enix and Ubisoft will be holding their own smaller conferences to get you hyped up for their products and potentially fork over your cash early through pre-orders of their newly announced games. The whole event is essentially one big advertisement, but it is definitely one to get excited about and this year looks to be shaping up to be one of the best yet.

Starting with the oldest company, Nintendo has a massive year ahead of it as their software line-up for this year is very minimal. The Wii U is beginning to look a lot like a system entering its final year, and that’s because it probably is. Nintendo announced last year it was working on a new dedicated video game machine code-named the Nintendo NX. We were told this machine would act as a third pillar to the already existing Nintendo 3DS and Wii U however we heard a similar line when the Nintendo DS was announced and it was promised not to replace the Game Boy Advance. One year later and we see the GBA gone and the same thing is likely to happen here with the Wii U. Nintendo already promised fans that it would reveal more information at this years E3 and fans are definitely starved for information, only being able to rely on rumours and patents to keep the hype train rolling.

Photo: Entertainment Software Association

The Wii U was a very enjoyable system and one I was recommending to people, but it has certainly lived a fulfilled life and so it comes as no surprise to me that Nintendo’s NX may very well launch this year. While Nintendo has not confirmed anything yet, most rumours point to a holiday 2016 launch-date worldwide and if this is to be believed then Nintendo needs to go all out. The typical Nintendo console reveal involves hardware one year and then software the next, at the E3 prior to the launch. It is too late for this to happen for Nintendo so now there E3 is going to essentially have all the content of two E3’s in one as they talk not only about all the new hardware features for the NX but also its entire launch software line-up which again, according to rumours, is sounding far more impressive than what the Wii U recieved. It is very possible that Nintendo may have to have a pre-E3 conference just to contain all this information, similar to what Sony and Microsoft did when announcing their latest systems, but that has to be coming up soon and knowing this makes me very excited.

Rumours abound with what software might be coming out for the NX with reports of big name Wii U titles like Super Mario Maker, Splatoon, Super Smash Bros for Wii U and Zelda for Wii U, as well as big name third party titles such as Tekken 7, Final Fantasy XV, and Beyond Good & Evil 2. Aside from all these rumours though, Nintendo still has three other systems to cover as well. The previously mentioned Zelda for Wii U is the talk of all Nintendo fans as we still know very little about the game despite it launching this year. A massive blowout of the game is guaranteed to happen this E3 and it is almost as exciting as the NX reveal itself. Along with this is the controversial Paper Mario Color Splash that was announced early March. While receiving little fanfare, it is the only other Wii U game we know of that is coming this year (other than Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE in June which is already out in Japan) and we know little about that game as well so I imagine it will get some cover this year.

Moving onto the Nintendo 3DS we also have a controversial game with Metroid Prime Federation Force that is set to come out in early summer and a more loved game being Rhythm Heaven Megamix. Both will likely get a lot of coverage this year as will one other unknown major Nintendo title. We only have rumours to go off by with this one but undoubtedly E3 is the place where all will be revealed. The biggest 3DS game that is currently generating major discussion in the community is the new Pokemon title for the series’ 20th anniversary: Pokemon version Sun & Moon. While we will hear something about the game in May through the Japanese children’s magazine CoroCoro, it seems that E3 will be where we finally see the first gameplay footage and get a major blowout of all the new Pokemon.

Photo: Entertainment Software Association

The next system is one that last year no one expected to see Nintendo on and that is your mobile phones. Nintendo just launched Miitomo this March for Android and iOS devices but they have confirmed that we will be getting at least four more mobile games before the end of March 2017. We do not know anything about these titles so Nintendo may be waiting for E3 to reveal the next one, a game that is reported to use one of Nintendo’s major IP. Could it be a new Mario Kart or perhaps a Zelda? Only E3 will tell us. The final, non-NX, game I should mention is the possible localization of Mother 3. The final part of the Earthbound trilogy, rumours from January of this year all seem to indicate that this game will finally be leaving Japan for its 10th year anniversary.

This is a time many people have been waiting for and this year Nintendo may just deliver.

That covers it for Nintendo, so what about its competitors? Both Sony and Microsoft have had their current systems, the Play Station 4 (PS4) and Xbox One (XBO), out for only two and a half years now, yet recent rumours seem to suggest that something very different will be happening with the two of them in this console generation.

This rumour applies mostly to Sony however Microsoft CEO Phil Spencer has recently hinted that Microsoft would be considering something similar for the Xbox One. Sony may very well be prepped to announce the PS4.5 at this years E3 for a holiday 2016 launch. According to the rumour this new system will be less like a PlayStation Slim styled upgrade and more like a New Nintendo 3DS upgrade. The PS4.5 will have more CPU and graphical power, being able to run games at a 4K resolution earning it the nickname PS4K.

Photo: Entertainment Software Association

The big question on everyone’s mind about this new system is ‘How much like a New Nintendo 3DS is this?’ The New Nintendo 3DS came under some fire due to it having exclusive games that can only run on this system and some games that run awful on the original but are still released because they run well on the New model. If the same thing happens with the PS4.5 then I imagine it may upset early PS4 adopters as an upgrade seems too soon. If it is completely optional then Sony is definitely looking to attract the technophile crowd with this new machine. With Microsoft the rumours seem to imply it more as an add-on to the Xbox One, like with a PC, and hopefully all of this will be confirmed this E3.

Moving from hardware to software, Sony defeated its competition last year with the reveal of a remake of Final Fantasy VII, the confirmation that the Last Guardian is in fact not dead and still coming, and finally ended it all with the reveal of a Shenmue 3 kickstarter campaign. Hopefully this year we will see a lot more of these three with a potential release window for the first two and our first gameplay of Shenmue 3. Alongside this there are rumours of a new God of War to launch alongside the PS4.5 and rumblings of a new Crash Bandicoot title to really hit that Play Station 1 nostalgia.

A big focus for Sony this year is the launch of PlayStation VR, also known as Morpheus, to the public, and so much like with the Nintendo NX we can expect a heavy focus on VR gaming this year. Whether these games are exclusive to PlayStation VR or not remains to be seen but so far the device has had a very warm receptions from those who have tried it so there is no doubt that Sony will want to draw in more and more potential costumers at this years Expo.

Onto Microsoft’s software line-up instead we will most likely be getting another look at Rares upcoming Pirate MMO, A Sea of Thieves, as well as a new trailer for Gears of War 4 and Crackdown 3. Fans of Platinum Games should definitely expect an update for their upcoming Dragon-riding action game, Scalebound, after it missed Microsoft’s last major event. What new games we will see from Microsoft are very up in the air at the moment but undoubtedly Microsoft needs to go in big this year as they are starting to fall behind Sony by a reasonable margin.

Photo: Entertainment Software Association

Just like with PlayStation VR, Microsoft also have their own new hardware add-on to talk about with Microsoft Holo-lens. Instead of Virtual Reality Microsoft have gone in the direction of Augmented Reality however we know little about which games will work for this device. We saw Minecraft on it last year and we know about Young Conker but that is nearly it. Microsoft needs to stand out this year and to do that they need to push hard on this AR, as the rumours suggest they will.

Lastly for Microsoft we should be expecting more from their plans for a unified system. The company already announced that many Xbox One titles would be coming to PC in the future and this fusion of all their platforms will likely continue to be a focus at this years event. How they will continue to entice Xbox One players remains to be seen but Microsoft must have something planned.

That is it for the big three but one should not forget the 3rd party publishers in all of this. While Ubisoft have stated that a new Assassin’s Creed would not be launching this year that means nothing for a potential Watch Dogs sequel or an Assassin’s Creed compilation game. Square-Enix will likely focus on their two new Final Fantasy titles for this year but that is not all they have with a new Deus-Ex and Kingdom Hearts on the way. There is also Dragon Quest XI which may get a big focus this year after it’s reveal last year. Along with EA’s usual sports titles they have more to talk about with the latest Mass Effect title and rumours of a new Star Wars game coming out. Sega and Atlus will be making an appearance to show off the fifth entry in the Persona series and to celebrate Sonic’s 25th Anniversary we are definitely getting the first trailer for Sonic’s next outing, a game that has been teased by their social media since the dawn of this year. Resident Evil 7 has been hinted at by Capcom as has Fallout 4 DLC by Bethesda and this has all just been the tip of the iceberg for what games we might see at this years E3.

E3 2016 is just under two months away and the hype train is speeding steadily along. How this year will play out all comes down to how the big three handle their reveals however I hope that you are now thoroughly hyped for this end of exam event that will shake the gaming world once again.

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