I’m spending the week at the video game industry’s yearly confab, E3. The show doesn’t officially start until Tuesday, but Monday marks the unofficial beginning, with press conferences from Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Sony. I’ll be at all of these events, plus roaming the show floor Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. My days will be pretty packed with appointments and activities, so if you want live news and quick impressions throughout the show, I recommend you follow me on Twitter. Each night, I’ll try to carve out a little time to recap and react to what I saw that day. More detailed recaps devoted to individual titles will likely follow once I’m back home.
If you’d like to engage in a little back-and-forth during the show or afterward, I’ve recently set up a Facebook group, which you can find by clicking here. I’ll use it to post links from this blog as well as to other stuff I find interesting, and I’ll spruce it up with some pretty pictures soon, I promise.
Without further ado, here’s what I’m looking ahead to the rest of the week. Because I’m just one guy and there are only so many hours in the day, there are a lot of games I’m not seeing at the show because it’s not humanly possible to see everything. If I tried, it would probably look like this:
That said, I’ve left myself a little unscheduled time so that I can wander around and check stuff out. If there’s anything you’re interested in that I haven’t mentioned, feel free to sound off in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.
Microsoft: I’ll be attending Monday’s press conference as well as an event late Monday night where I expect to get my hands on a lot of the stuff being announced in the morning. Nothing’s been made official yet, but talk has been percolating about sequels in the “Fable,” “Kinect Sports” and “Dance Central” games. Epic’s “Gears of War 3” is Microsoft’s big fall game, so I’m sure we’ll be hearing plenty about that, as well as “Forza Motorsport 4.” While there was some speculation a couple of weeks ago that Microsoft might be ready to join Nintendo in announcing a next-generation video game console, things have gotten kind of quiet on that front. I wouldn’t expect anything more than hints at this point, but new hardware is always fun to talk about. While I’m convinced that 343 Studios is working on some kind of “Halo” related project, we might not hear much about it at E3.
Electronic Arts: EA’s press conference follows Microsoft’s and if it’s anything like last year’s, it’ll be ridiculous, brash and loud. Still, the world’s second-largest publisher has some upcoming games I’m pretty jazzed for, particularly role-playing games “Mass Effect 3” and “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.” As a huge fan of the single-player “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” games, I’m still not convinced I’ll learn to embrace massively multiplayer online games when “Star Wars: The Old Republic” comes out. Still, I’ll be getting my second look at the game, and it’ll be interesting to see how it’s moved forward. I’ll be seeing a bunch more EA stuff, including “Battlefield 3,” which made waves with a stunning trailer back in February.
Ubisoft: Beyond “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations,” recently unveiled in Game Informer, I’m not sure what to look forward to out of this press conference. Two of the most interesting games mentioned in last year’s press conference, “Child of Eden” and “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier” still haven’t hit the market yet. But Ubi’s been doing some interesting stuff with downloadable games, and its “Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars” might be the best game on Nintendo’s fledgling 3DS handheld. I’m sure they’ll show some good stuff I haven’t seen.
Sony: The recent PlayStation Network failure looms large over anything Sony will announce this show. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see their press conference open with a giant apology and a lot of reassurances that they’re doing everything they can to keep their customers’ data safe. That said, I’m expecting to hear a lot more about their next-generation handheld device, which may or may not be called the PlayStation Vita. (Please just call it the PSP 2, or the PSP Touch, thanks.) During the show, I should get hands-on with a bunch of Sony’s upcoming software during my tour of their booth. I also have separate appointments to see “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception” and a currently unannounced PS3 game. (When I say unannounced, it means I don’t even know what it is yet.) Hopefully we’ll get some more details on “The Last Guardian,” the next game from the folks who made “Ico” and “Shadow of the Colossus.”
Nintendo: Pretty much everyone knows that Nintendo is going to take the wraps off of Project Cafe, the codename for its successor to the Wii. I’m guessing we’ll get a name, a general release window and a look at some of the launch software. I’ll be curious to see if Nintendo decides to do for “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” what they did with “Twilight Princess,” releasing it both on their current console and their new one. In any case, I’m sure there will be lots of new games and lots of inappropriate thunderous cheering from the media. Also, I expect Nintendo to shower some love on the 3DS. After getting a ton of great buzz close to launch, the device failed to take that momentum and run with it. Its most hotly anticipated game at the moment might very well be a $40 remake of a Nintendo 64 game, “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.” Count on Nintendo to look to fix that, both with the announcement of new titles, as well as the launch of the handheld’s download store.
Well, that’s it for the press conferences. Here are some of the other publishers I’m planning on meeting with.
Bethesda Softworks: Hot off the heels of “Brink,” which I rather liked despite the mixed reviews, and “Hunted: The Demon’s Forge,” Bethesda looks to close out the year with highly anticipated shooter “Rage” and megablockbuster/time stealer “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.” They’ll also be showing “Prey 2.” I didn’t play the first “Prey,” which was published by 2K Games back in 2006, but it’s one of those cult favorites whose sequel could end up being pretty good.
Codemasters: I know very little about upcoming first-person shooter “Bodycount,” other than that it’s being developed by the team who made cult Xbox/PS2 hit “Black,” but I’m expecting to see it during an appointment on Wednesday.
2K Games: I’ll be getting my first look at “BioShock Infinite” and “XCOM,” and I may get another look at “The Darkness II.” If you’re a regular reader, you know I’m a “BioShock” nut. “BioShock Infinite,” which is more of a thematic sequel than a narrative one, is set in a floating city in the sky and is one of my two or three most anticipated games of the show. I don’t have any nostalgia for the old “XCOM” strategy games, so I’m not going to be burned up about the fact that 2K is making the next game in the franchise a first-person shooter. I know some of the team from “BioShock 2,” my Game of the Year last year, is involved with “XCOM.” Plus, it looked intriguing when I saw it at last year’s E3.
LucasArts: I’ll be getting a look at “Star Wars: Kinect.” I’m not sure what to expect from this. Is it first and foremost a fighting game, or is there some kind of story? Will I feel like a mime waving my arms around, pretending to hold a deadly weapon, or will it be totally awesome and fun? I’ll find out sometime Wednesday.
CD Projekt Red: “The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings” has won largely rave reviews since it launched on PC back in May. I’m a pretty big role-playing game nut who lacks a good gaming PC, but I’m hoping to get my hands on the recently unveiled Xbox 360 build of “The Witcher 2” during an appointment Wednesday.
Trion Worlds and Riot Games: Speaking of PC gaming, I’ll be meeting with Trion Worlds to talk about their well-received massively multiplayer online game “Rift” and checking in with Riot Games, the folks behind “League of Legends,” to see what’s new with their free-to-play title. If you’re a fan of either of these games and have anything you’d like me to ask, speak up. I’ll admit to being somewhat out of my element with these two publishers. But part of E3 for me is expanding my horizons.
Ignition Entertainment: I’ll be getting another look at “El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron,” which was recently given a release date of July 26. I really liked the game’s art style when I saw it during the Game Developers Conference, so I’m excited to get a chance to play “El Shaddai” again.
Warner Bros.: “Batman: Arkham Asylum” was something of a dark horse Game of the Year candidate when it became a surprise hit in 2009. In 2011, the sequel, “Batman: Arkham City” won’t be sneaking up on anyone. I got a hands-off preview back at GDC and am looking forward to seeing more of Batman skulking around the rooftops of Gotham. They’re also showing role-playing games “Bastion” and “The Lord of the Rings: War in the North,” among other titles.
D3 Publisher: A friend of mine has been raving about how I have to play the first “White Knight Chronicles” on the PS3. I keep telling him that I’ll wait and pick up “White Knight Chronicles II,” since D3’s game is going to include the entire first game in the retail package. I’m also looking forward to getting another look at the campy “Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon,” which pits soldiers against giant insects.
Namco Bandai: I’m holding out hope for a surprise announcement of another “Culdcept” game, or at least an iOS version of “Culdcept Saga.” The Magic 8 Ball says that’s not going to happen, though, so I’ll have to make do with “Dark Souls” as a consolation prize. It’s the sequel to Atlus-published “Demon’s Souls,” which came out of nowhere in 2009 and became a cult megahit on the PS3.
THQ: In my short walk around the convention center while picking up my media credentials on Sunday, it was impossible to escape all of the “Saints Row The Third” advertising in the councourse. So there’s that. I’m also looking forward to the sequel to “Metro 2033,” subtitled “Last Light.” It’ll also be nice to see what THQ has planned for uDraw when it launches on the Xbox 360 and PS3 later this year.
Square Enix: I’ll be seeing a bunch of titles in a booth tour and getting a look at “Final Fantasy XIII-2.” I didn’t hate “Final Fantasy XIII” like some critics did, but I was ready for it to be over about 10 hours before it actually ended. I’ll be curious to see how they incorporate feedback from the first game into the sequel. Will we see the return of towns to “Final Fantasy,” coupled with more exploration and less grating characters? Or will it be the gaming equivalent of “Weekend at Bernies 2?” The upcoming Square Enix title I’m most excited for, “Dungeon Siege III,” actually launches shortly after E3, so I probably won’t spend a lot of time looking at it.