June 2, 2013

The Pre-E3 Post: 2013 Edition

I hope you're in for one hell of an E3 this year.

MICROSOFT: Microsoft has just gotten the boring stuff out of the way. It's been confirmed that there will be not TV talk whatsoever at their E3 presser. Instead, they're going to focus on games. What games? Well, they've got a whopping 15 exclusives lined up for the first year, eight of which are brand new IPs. Three games have already been announced: Quantum Break, Ryse, and Forza 5. That's two new IPs and one old IP. So what else could they be working on? Well, it was stated that MS has more games in development now than at any other time with a whopping $1 billion invested into game development. In the past few years, the company has opened many new studios in the US, Canada, and overseas. Here's a vague idea of what they're working on:

Black Tusk: Creating "the next Halo" for Xbox One. Most likely unveiling during E3.

Connected Experiences: Designing a "large scale multiplayer" game. An MMO maybe?

MS Studios Los Angeles: Working on a "core cinematic" game.

Platform Next Studios: Making a "core" titile.

Skybox Sports: A sports game, obviously. Interesting that MS would make their own sports games. They tried that back on the original Xbox with XSN Sports who put out games like Amped, NBA Inside Drive, and the original Top Spin.

Kids and Lifestyle Entertainment: A new fitness "game".

Playful Learning: A family game.

Lift London: Cloud-based gaming projects.

MS Studios Victoria: Mystery project.

It's important to note that not all these projects may be released in year one, and not all of those 8 games may be core games. We could get more games like Kinect Sports. In fact, that could be one of the returning games. Let's take a look at what MS might be bringing back:

Gears of War: Highly unlikely since we literally just got a new Gears game. Judgement was developed by People Can Fly instead of Epic, though, so I suppose anything is possible. If they did, I wouldn't bet on them putting out another one until next fall at the earliest, which is still too soon in my opinion, though perhaps a good move.

Any excuse to post this controller again.

Halo: A new game is unlikely since Halo 4 came out. Halo 5 is a ways off. However, next year is the 10th anniversary of Halo 2. I'd say it's pretty likely that they'd put out a remake of that. It would definitely sell systems.

Project Gotham Racing: Unlikely because of Forza, though not impossible. They'd need a new developer, though.

Shadow Complex: Somewhat likely, and also a good choice. Fans have been calling for a new Shadow Complex for years now. It'd be a great way to kick of the new Arcade service.

Crackdown: Likely, though I hope it doesn't suck like the last game. It's become an important franchise as one of the only exclusives the Xbox 360 had, and one of the only games for the system that wasn't also on PC.

Fable: Very likely. The rumor is that Lionhead is working on an MMO. It would make sense to attach the established Fable brand to it. Or they could always be working on Fable 4, the prospect of which excites me since Molyneux is gone.

Really old IPs: I'm talking about games like Brute Force, MechAssault, or Crimson Skies. Though MS still owns these, I don't expect them to be resurrected. Then again, Steel Battalion came back out of nowhere so anything is possible.

Old IPs that sucked: I don't think we'll ever see Blinx again (or want to), though a Kinect enabled Fuzion Frenzy would make a lot of sense.

Rare's games: It has been confirmed that a "historic" Rare IP will be making an appearance at E3. That's pretty exciting! But which one will it be?

  • Conker: Unlikely, though possible. It would make more sense than something like Jet Force Gemini. Plus, MS went through a lot of trouble having Conker remade on the original Xbox into the best looking game on the system.
  • Banjo-Kazooie: If Microsoft wants to sell their machine, this is the one they'll pick. The series has gained a recent resurgence of popularity, and maybe Microsoft has been listening. It's not an impossible choice at all. They had a Banjo game made for the 360 that was (unfortunately) not what anyone wanted. Maybe they want to get it right this time? Composer Grant Kirkhope wouldn't be involved, though, unless he's the world's bes keeper of secrets. Can't imagine a Banjo game without his tunes.
  • Killer Instinct: This is probably going to be it. MS recently renewed their trademark on the name and settled a stupid legal dispute with Fox over it. Why do that for nothing? Plus, they've never had an exclusive fighting franchise.
  • Perfect Dark: Unlikely, especially considering what happened when they launched Zero with the original Xbox.

Maybe the reason for the lack of 360 exclusives these past few years was because they've been putting all their effort into making the Xbox One library awesome. I can only hope.

Platforming like this, please!

In any case, I expect it to be basically all Xbox One games. They'll mention the 360, sure, but that thing is pretty much winding down now. It'll have games still, but titles you can also get on the One. Which version do you think they'll be more likely to show off? They probably won't detail any of the DRM or console guts stuff at the conference itself. We'll probably get that info after. In any case, Microsoft has the potential to win big this year.

Projected Score: potentially an A+ (please don't prove me wrong)

SONY: Sony is a bit more of a mystery. I know they're going to talk games. All they've been discussing since the PS4 reveal earlier this year is games, games, games. However, they're going to be a lot more splintered than Microsoft who basically has only one system in the spotlight. The PS3 still has some huge exclusives coming out this year, and they've got the PS Vita on life support, and they're launching the PS4. It might turn out to be a mess. They're going to have to divide their time between the three so they can't focus on any one for too long. I don't, however, expect any new huge announcements for the PS3. They'll probably open up with a montage about how great the system still is and then probably demo The Last of Us and/or Beyond: Two Souls. 

Tearaway is all the Vita's got right now.

From there, they really need to sell consumers on the PS Vita as more than an expensive port machine and home console accessory. They need game announcements. Big ones. What they'll do with the machine at E3 is a mystery. We'll see Tearaway, no doubt, but there better be announcements. The PS4 portion will probably show off the already announced games more, and probably a demo of Assassin's Creed 4 since they've had those for the past few years. Destiny is also set to appear here again. I hope they make time for some super cool new game announcements, though. Will we see The Last Guardian as a PS4 title? Will Versus 13 be unveiled as FFXV on the PS4? Will Kingdom Hearts 3 make an appearance? Only time will tell, something Sony must make good use of.

Projected Score: A-

NINTENDO: The black sheep (or white knight?) of this year's show won't be holding a press conference. Instead, they'll be holding at least one Nintendo Direct and brining their E3 lineup to Best Buy stores across the US and Canada. So what's in store for their Direct presentation? Probably Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, Bayonetta 2, and other previously announced titles like Yarn Yoshi, Monolith's "X" project, Wind Waker HD, and others. Also confirmed are the newest Smash Bros, a new Super Mario, Mario Kart, and finally, finally Retro's mystery project. Yes, the lineup looks amazing... and that's just stuff we know about! I'm sure they'll be a few surprises. And, of course, we can't forget the 3DS which is having an absolutely stellar year. What new announcements they have for it are anyone's guess, but I expect to hear more about previously announced titles like Yoshi's Island, Mario & Luigi Dream Team, and A Link to the Past 2. Since Nintendo launched the Wii U last year, they too get to focus on games this time. 

Projected Score: A+

Overall, it's going to be a AAA kind of year. I expect publishers like Ubisoft, EA, Konami, and others to come out big with tons of new games too. The last time we were in a situation with one console out and two launching was 2006, and that was a hell of a year. I say it's going to be 2006 all over again. Games, games, games!

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