E3 expectations: what can we expect from the Big Three?

E3 is back in 2021, after a fashion. There might not be a live show as such, but the next week will see a string of online presentations loosely clustered around the E3 umbrella. It’s a much better prospect than 2020’s month or more of sporadic news drops, which really failed to maintain my interest and felt painfully drawn out. There’s definitely something to be said for grouping major presentations together – it might mean that some smaller games have less room to breathe and generate continuous coverage, but overall it creates a critical mass of news that makes the gaming world (and some of the rest of the world) sit up and take notice. Also, it’s fun.

So, what can we expect? What are we hoping for? Well Microsoft is undoubtedly the one to watch, and the company that most people are expecting great things from. The megacorp has been on a massive buying spree over the past couple of years, and now is likely to be the time when we find out what all those studios it’s bought have been up to. Plus Xbox is in some dire need of exclusives to differentiate it from the PlayStation 5 – a reason to buy a fridge-like box other than the fact it has slightly higher numbers on some of its components and a rather spiffy thing called GamePass. Although having said that, GamePass is a hell of a feather in Microsoft’s cap, so no doubt the company will be crowing about it throughout the proceedings.

We can probably expect news of another Forza game, as well as an update on the delayed Halo Infinite, but I’m hoping for a few big surprises as well. It will be interesting to see what Ninja Theory has been up to, particularly regarding Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, and I’d love to see more of Playground Games’ version of Fable – it’s a great studio, so I’m sure they will do the franchise justice. And perhaps we might even see more of Bethesda’s Starfield, although I have a feeling that game will still be some way off. The big question is whether Microsoft have something truly stratospheric lined up for this Christmas, aside from the expected Halo.

I’m particularly intrigued to see what Nintendo has in store. We’ve got Skyward Sword hitting in a few months’ time, plus remakes of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl scheduled for later this year, but what else has the Big N got tucked in the wings? We know Splatoon 3 is on the way, so we’re sure to see more of that, and possibly a pre-Christmas launch date. But the one game everyone is hoping to see more of is Breath of the Wild 2 – it’s been two years since the reveal of that title, and we’re heard practically nothing about it since then, so surely this is the moment when it’s revealed in all its glory, possibly with a release date in the not too distant future. Although given that Skyward Sword is releasing in November, I expect that Nintendo won’t want two Zelda games competing for sales, which means a 2022 date is more likely. [EDIT: my mistake here, Skyward Sword is actually releasing in July, I was mixing up my dates. Which means a BOTW2 release this year could be all the more likely.]

We’ve had main entries from pretty much all of Nintendo’s major franchises on the Switch – so is this the time when smaller IPs will get their time to shine? Maybe a new F-Zero? Or Kid Icarus? Possibly. But probably more likely is the announcement of sequels to some of the big hitters – I strongly suspect that Super Mario Odyssey 2 will be announced. We could also see more Mario Kart, although given that the current MK game is still selling bucketloads years after its release, that might be a little premature. Personally, I’m hoping for more news on Metroid Prime 4, even though it’s likely to still be some years away, but my biggest wish is for a new 2D Metroid game – and considering such a game has been strongly rumoured, that wish may very well come true.

Then there’s Sony, currently sitting pretty on monstrous sales of the PS5 coming after a generation sat firmly at the top. My guess is that we won’t see a huge amount of new stuff from Sony over the next week – instead the company will probably stick to promoting the games it has already announced, like the new Ratchet and Clank and Horizon: Zero Dawn, along with teasers for God of War: Ragnarok. It doesn’t need to do much else at this point – Microsoft is the company with something to prove, not Sony. Hopefully we will see a few new games crop up though, and maybe even some surprise blasts from the past. A reboot of Syphon Filter, perhaps? I mean, we got a new MediEvil, and no-one saw that coming…

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