E3 is almost upon us, and some of Mobile Nation's games writers recently got together to discuss our most anticipated announcements!
Microsoft is hitting E3 2016 in a big way on June 13th, starting with a press briefing at 9.30AM PDT, and further announcements throughout E3 itself between June 14th and 16th. Some of us will be heading out to E3 to bring you all the latest and greatest first hand, as we have behind the scenes access to some of the biggest Xbox One games on the horizon. So stay tuned.
Until then, here's what we want to see the most from this year's E3!
As someone who recently verged on bankruptcy to fund a new PC build and HTC Vive, the concept of modern virtual reality is more intriguing to me than ever before. With Sony releasing their virtual reality solution for the PlayStation 4 this fall, the pressure is on Microsoft who have stayed strangely detached in recent years. At this current point in time, a partnership with existing headset manufacturers is looking more likely than ever, utilising the Windows Holographic platform to bring VR to Xbox.
While I'm excited about additional VR hardware, I feel greater potential lays with upcoming experiences that take advantage of the new technology. Modern consumer VR gear has only recently hit the market and more titles and peripherals are appearing that expand upon the traditional experience.
I'm also looking forward to Microsoft's attempts at continuing to converge their Xbox One and PC line-up, which has been far from perfect up until now. In recent months, the company has shown they're willing to improve their approach to the PC market and this year's E3 may be our first look at that improved platform.
In recent months Microsoft's UWP platform has seen its fair share of criticism, failing to offer what is expected within in the PC gaming industry. Most recently we've seen updates for greater customization of the UWP experience, which will continue to happen past this summer's Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Hopefully with the platform in a capable state to support some of this year's biggest releases, even more of the biggest Xbox One titles will be hitting the PC in the coming months.
In terms of game unveilings, I'm hoping to see more of this year's strong shooter line-up, which so far includes a range of varied titles across the board. Electronic Arts has taken a huge risk introducing a World War 1 themed Battlefield title – an era rarely explored by the triple-A landscape. The company is also scheduled to debut Titanfall 2 over the E3 period, for a worldwide release later this year. This will prove interesting when up against the Call of Duty franchise, which receives two franchise entries this fall.
I'm here for the role playing games. Or rather, that's what I'm waiting to see at E3 2016. What I'm really waiting for is more about Final Fantasy XV. The Final Fantasy series are what pulled me in to gaming over a decade ago, and i'm really excited to see what is next for the franchise. I'm still interested to see the changes to the battle system, and more of the world. I need as much information on Final Fantasy XV as I can get, so that I make it to the release this Autumn in one piece.
I've got my eye on a few other games as well. Namely I am Setsuna, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Dishonored 2. I like my RPGs, and this year has several that I can't wait to get my hands on. Just the art style in I am Setsuna is enough to draw me in.
The next big game, and the other one I'm really excited about is Civilization VI. We haven't seen much yet, aside from a teaser trailer and i'm really hoping to see some of the changes since Civilization 5's release. It's been 6 years since the last release, and it's one of the best 4X game franchises out there. It'll be interesting to see what's changed and what is staying the same.
Lastly is PlayStation VR. I've been dabbling in VR, but I got really excited at the announcement of a console VR unit. It's going to be really interesting to see how they kick things off, and where they plan to bring VR with their games and system.
Three new Xbox consoles are currently rumored to be announced at E3: a slim Xbox One, the "Scorpio" – a beefy next-generation Xbox One, and an Xbox streaming machine similar to the Roku. I really hope Microsoft announces at least two of those, if not all three. I'd love a slim Xbox One for the office. Maybe it will even look sexier and less VCR-like to boot. The streaming machine would be great as a Roku replacement in the bedroom, especially if we can actually play games from it. Lots of us stream our Xboxes to a tablet or laptop, but streaming to a tiny portable box that's easy to hook up and use would be magnificent.
My big fear would be whether Microsoft would actually support such a potentially niche product through thick and thin. The big MS doesn't have a great history with products like the Zune, to say nothing of Windows Phone's long-time struggles. They wouldn't have to try very hard to make a better box than the PlayStation TV though, as that thing suffered from weak specs and terrible video app support before Son eventually killed it off.
I continue to hope for a new Battletoads from Microsoft and Rare or another developer.
Actual new-gen hardware like the Scorpio is always exciting, but this time it's also necessary to combat the persistent hardware power advantage that Sony has had over Microsoft since the Xbox One launched. If the rumors are true, the new Xbox will outclass both the PS4 and the rumored PS4 Neo, which would be a much more ideal situation for Xbox gamers who don't mind buying a new console so close to the start of this generation.
Oculus Rift support would really help get forward-thinking players on-board. And the idea of enhanced versions of existing Xbox games (such as Neverwinter, in my case) would be a great way to incentive the upgrade for current owners.
As for game announcements, I continue to hope for a new Battletoads from Microsoft and Rare or another developer. Last year we got the Rare Replay announcement, a robust collection of classics with a couple of games from the Battletoads series. But a new Battletoads (especially one that doesn't suck like the original NES game) would be even more exciting for me than Replay (or even Sea of Thieves).
My second most wanted title is Forza Horizon 3. Microsoft has annualized the Forza series for the last few years by alternating releases of mainline Forza Motorsport games and the open-world Forza Horizon spin-offs. Much as I love Forza 6, Forza Horizon and its sequel remain my favorite racing games ever. They just offer so much freedom, beauty, and variety, plus a little bit of style – something mainline Forzas sorely lack.
We already know a Forza game of some sort will be announced at E3. Fingers crossed that Forza Horizon 3 is it, having secretly been in development for a 2016 release. If it's not coming this year, it'd better at least be coming in 2017. Besides Forza Horizon 3, the return of the Project Gotham Racing series would be nearly as welcome! That's it for my E3 predictions. Game-wise I'm playing it safe – partly because of the scarcity of rumored titles, but also because the new hardware rumors have captured my imagination for quite a while now. Let's "win" E3 this year, Microsoft!
This should surprise exactly no one, but I'm mostly here for the VR.
I want to see Microsoft offer up a slim Xbox One, and then offer up some real details on playing the Oculus Rift with my Xbox One Titles. I'm not sure we're going to get a way to plug the Oculus Rift directly in to an Xbox One, but it'd be awesome if that happened.
Sony is going to push PlayStation VR hard, and it's going to be fantastic. We're going to see some great games, and learn more about how VR is going to be a differentiator for Sony. This space is going to heat up quickly once Sony starts shipping, and E3 is going to be where that hype really gets going.
The one game I want to hear about that has absolutely nothing to do with VR, the game I've been waiting for with an unreasonable amount of excitement for two whole years now, is Kingdom Hearts III. First of all, it's Kingdom Hearts with my Xbox Controller, which is going to make me all kinds of happy. Second, we're hopefully going to get a deeper look at the Keyblade War, which is going to make storyline nerds like me super happy.
So, yeah. VR and Keyblades. Bring it on.
Forza, Forza, Forza. As a huge racing nut this year's E3 is very much about the same thing as last year's game shows were for me. Microsoft has already teased that we'll be hearing about the next game to carry the badge and nothing else will top it for me.
Extra exciting is that we're expecting it to debut on both Xbox One and Windows 10, and given how good the free-to-play Apex title has been on the PC, it's something that's going to deserve attention.
Aside from actual games, I'm also more intrigued by how the Xbox One and Windows 10 are going to come ever closer together. We know about the Anniversary Update and UWP apps coming to the console, but for the past 12 months or so it's been clear that Xbox has transcended being a console and is now a full platform for Microsoft.
There's a lot that could be done, and it's going to be a wild ride worth being on, I'm sure.
Like many others, my intrigue for Battlefield 1 is completely off the scale. Triple A World War era shooters have fallen by the wayside in recent years, and EA capitalized massively on shifting attitudes towards sci-fi first person shooters. Even though they're pretty different games, Call of Duty and Battlefield are seen as major rivals in the first person shooter space, and it'll be interesting to see if Battlefield can finally edge ahead, given Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare's rumored low pre-order figures.
I'm also interested in how Titanfall 2 fits into the equation, given that it's also an EA property, and sharing a launch window with both Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. The original Titanfall was excellent, but a little thin on content and personality, hopefully the sequel will rectify some of the issues that harmed its longevity.
Beyond shooters, I'm wondering if Rare's Sea of Thieves will scratch that MMO itch that's been bugging me since World of Warcraft's glory days. The idea of co-operatively sailing a ship with a crew of friends in a whimsical, typically Rare-style world is equal parts encouraging and exciting, and we're bound to hear more about it at E3.
Some of the other games I'm looking forward to seeing include Ubisoft's For Honor, which is a faction-based, tactical melee combat game. I'm a huge fan of Sniper Elite, and I'm hyped to see check out how the upcoming fourth instalment plays. I'm also hopeful we'll see an announcement for a sequel to inXile's Wasteland 2, which remains one of my favorite games on Xbox One.
On the Xbox side of things, I'm hoping we'll see something nostalgic. Microsoft have spent a lot of time and effort pushing the industry forward. They've brought UWP to the console, they've tried out new paradigms like the interweaving experiences of Quantum Break, and the integration between Windows and Xbox will only get closer. However, I feel as though they've persistently underestimated the power of nostalgia when formulating their strategies. We've had Killer Instinct already, and Halo Wars 2 is a major step in the right direction, but where is the AAA Conker game? Where is the Age of Empires reboot? What about Perfect Dark? MechAssault?
I'm concerned that Microsoft's reliance on second party studios to produce some of their exclusives is a risky strategy in the long term, as Remedy Entertainment is now working on new games for a different partner, indicating that we might never see a sequel to Alan Wake or Quantum Break. Will Scalebound be another one-shot? I'd like Microsoft to show some commitment to some of their existing IP, beyond Halo and Gears, as you can bet Sony will be banking on Final Fantasy 7 nostalgia again at their E3 conference. Time will tell!
How to keep up with our E3 coverage
We'll be posting all of our E3 coverage using the links below, and Paul Acevedo, Mark Guim and I will be in Los Angeles itself, bringing you all the latest and greatest news, interviews and gameplay first hand. Stay tuned for some awesome giveaways next week as well.
What games are you looking forward to seeing most at E3? Let us know in the comments!