The good, the bad and the ugly...
Summer is steadily approaching and with it one of the most important events on the gaming calendar: E3 2015. Last year we saw Nintendo deliver the best Direct presentation they’ve ever done, packed with announcements and a fair chunk of self-mocking humour, the Big N surprised just about everyone with one of the more unique approaches to the expo; and while Sony and Microsoft took a more by-the-numbers approach, both companies had their fair share of surprises, too.
Much like Christmas or birthdays, we’re always looking ahead to what the next event will bring, and with E3 just around the corner once more, let’s take a guess as to what the big three will be showing off this year. Of course, these are just predictions and thus should be taken with a pinch of salt. Unfortunately I haven’t quite mastered the intricacies of time travel yet so I’ll have to wait until June like everyone else. But in the meantime, let’s have some fun…
I think it’s fair to say Microsoft had a few ups and downs last year. Taking a risk by rebooting Phantom Dust, a little known Xbox classic, it gave gamers a look into the mind of Phil Spencer and just what he has in store for the One. On the other hand, we were also cheated out of a new Conker game when the alcoholic squirrel gave us all the middle finger.
Now that Mr. Spencer has a bit more ground behind him as the head of the brand, I think he’s really had time to gauge what the Xbox One’s current audience looks like, and the gamers he aspires to convert. We’ve already heard talks of a Gears of War remaster, which could be great to tide over fans of that franchise, but what else can we expect? Personally, I think Microsoft will be all about the games this year, with maybe a little on the side to discussing Windows 10 integration.
We’ll see some more footage for Halo 5: Guardians, but what other franchises can Microsoft bolster their console with? Let’s not forget that Xbox has had some fantastic exclusives in the past. We could see a first reveal of Forza Motorsport 6, maybe something in the way of a new Dead Rising title. Microsoft could also look at bringing back yet another cult franchise. Following Killer Instinct and Phantom Dust, potential candidates could be Whacked!, a fun hidden gem from the original Xbox’s library, or perhaps a reboot of Brute Force. Anyone remember Brute Force? Microsoft have also had close ties with Sega in the past with exclusives like Jet Set Radio Future and Sega GT 2002, both excellent games in desperate need of a follow-up.
Of course, as is always the case with a Microsoft press conference, there’s the inevitable elephant in the room that is Rare. The last couple of conferences we’ve only been given reminders that the once godlike developer still exists, and I think Phil Spencer recognises their nigh-on untouchable legacy. This year more than ever, I think it’s highly likely we’ll see a revival of another classic Rare IP. The most likely candidate would be Perfect Dark, a fantastic sci-fi espionage-themed first person shooter with a great female lead. Just as likely would be Banjo-Kazooie, but I wouldn’t write off the possibility of Jet Force Gemini or Kameo, either. Honestly, I’d be happy with any kind of showing from Rare. Spencer could generate a lot of goodwill in the industry by making them a truly active developer again, a shrewd move considering their wealth of classic IPs.
If they’re going to top their showing at E3 2014, Nintendo certainly have their work cut out for them. Last year, not only were we shown the next installment in the Zelda franchise, we were introduced to a promising new IP in the form of Splatoon, and given plentiful details on Amiibos, Xenoblade Chronicles X and the now released Super Smash Bros. How could Nintendo possibly outdo themselves again?
Well, let me start by saying Zelda will be off the cards. As the game has been pushed back to 2016, they’ll be neck deep in development and possibly reluctant to show off any more details. Although, given Nintendo’s healthy relationship with Tecmo Koei, it’s possible (and I seriously hope this is the case) we’ll see a Hyrule Warriors 2 announcement. I’m fairly confident we’ll see more details on the new Starfox title, but it would be nice to have a few more nuggets of delicious surprise. Perhaps Pikmin 4 or a new Chibi Robo game.
Truly, though, there are only so many times Nintendo can hit an E3 home-run. This year, that would come in the form of a Metroid or F-Zero announcement. I predict we’ll get a teaser, and only a teaser, of one of these franchises. Metroid has a lot of explaining to do after the disaster that was Other M, and how can they not be developing a new F-Zero after the overwhelmingly positive reception of the Mario Kart 8 tracks?
Ultimately I’d like to see more crossover news from the Big N, and I’m not talking about the god-awful Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem trailer, but that’s a can of worms for another time. More third party support would also be lovely. Nintendo are currently in bed with the likes of Platinum Games and even Sega, a company who have shamefully neglected the majority of their franchises.
Sony’s dedication to indie developers is nothing short of praiseworthy, and the company have invested a good chunk of time in their press conferences into these lower budget titles. While this is something I expect Sony to feature again this year, they still have a lot of work to do if they’re to match the quality I expect from Microsoft and Nintendo. Sadly, following last year, I think Sony will have yet another underwhelming press conference, and here’s why…
Project Morpheus. I believe Sony’s VR device will be the main set piece of their 2015 conference. As hype continues to grow in the virtual reality market with Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, I can’t help but feel Sony will be pushed to delivering on what separates Morpheus from the crowd. And to be honest, if they can put on a convincing show based on the Morpheus, then fair play to them. But I feel like a lot of gamers would prefer to know what they’ll be playing on their PS4s through this year and 2016, rather than be conscious of yet another peripheral they’ll be coerced into purchasing.
Nobody wants to see a five minute demo of Killzone: Shadowfall being played with Morpheus…
Let’s face it, nobody wants to see a five minute demo of Killzone: Shadowfall being played with Morpheus integration. We’ll be looking at what Sony can offer software wise on a system that still has a rather paltry first-party selection. Bringing back Crash or Spyro could single-handedly turn their conference into gold, as well as a return for Parappa the Rapper. Honestly though, I think Andrew House would sooner pull down his trousers on stage, revealing a codpiece adorned with Geoff Keighley’s face.
And speaking of Call of Duty, it’s likely either Sony and Microsoft will be fighting for that Call of Duty limited exclusivity, but I’m sure we’ve all come to expect what these companies we’ll be showing in terms of third party software.
Predicting a Riot
So there’s my two cents, but I’d love to read your predictions! Think I’m being overly ambitious? Possibly a bit too harsh on Sony? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! I genuinely think this will be the most important E3 for years; let’s just hope that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all can deliver the goods. In a perfect world, all three will have stellar conferences, but only time will tell.