The biggest week on the gaming calendar is almost here – the E3 expo. From June 10, we'll be bombarded with new details and trailers for already-announced games, surprise (or pre-leaked) reveals for new stuff, and more awkward PR banter and gameplay streams than you can poke a controller at. New Atlas runs through the games we know, expect or hope will make an appearance this year, from the likes of Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Bethesda.
As the standout "winner" this generation, Sony will be looking to maintain its lead, and the best way to do that is by focusing on games. The Japanese giant doesn't have new hardware to push, but it does have some exciting new titles in the pipeline.
High on everybody's list is The Last of Us Part II. Revealed only in a cinematic trailer in December, we know it takes place five years after the original, and players take the role of Ellie this time. There's no sign of any gameplay footage yet, and while we hope that's about to change, it might still be too early. Either way, it's a shoo-in for the show in shape or form.
Announced at last year's E3, Hideo Kojima's new pet project, Death Stranding, looks certifiably insane – but we wouldn't expect any less from the creator of the Metal Gear series. We haven't really heard much else about it since then, besides it being an open world "action" game, although Kojima seems to want to step away from the action label.
Also announced last year and then left to quietly simmer away is the new God of War. In this fourth entry, Kratos faces his greatest challenge yet – fatherhood. He's now raising a son far away from his homeland of ancient Greece, but something will inevitably go wrong and the pair will have to slaughter their way through a new world of Norse mythology. We saw plenty of gameplay last year, but there's still so much we don't know.
On top of that, Sony is known for springing new announcements on unsuspecting audiences, so hopefully there are a few surprises in store too. PlayStation VR, in particular, could really use some more games, or – dare we dream – new and improved Move controllers, to fix some of the playability issues we've found to plague the system.
The Switch, a home console/handheld hybrid, is off to a running start since its release in March, but Nintendo needs to maintain that momentum with some new game announcements.
The Big N has already confirmed that Super Mario Odyssey will be taking center stage during the Spotlight presentation. So far, we know it's Mario's first sandbox-style 3D platformer since 2002, and the journey will take him outside the Mushroom Kingdom for the first time, but there are still plenty of questions. What do we do in these weird worlds? When is the game out? And most importantly: Why is Mario's hat alive?
As keen as we are to see Odyssey in action, we hope there's still time for some new reveals. The most likely candidate is Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, the Ubisoft/Nintendo crossover that's been leaking all over the internet for the last few weeks. If the rumors are to be believed, this turn-based RPG was supposed to be pitched as an E3 curveball, with a quick release turnaround of August or September. That art looks pretty damn authentic, and given the persistence of these reports over the last six months, we'd put it in the "very likely" basket for E3. Just pretend to be surprised.
A less likely but more welcome reveal would be confirmation that Pokémon Stars exists. The Pokémon Company let slip last year that it's working on a title for the Switch, and a full HD companion to Sun/Moon would be an instant system-seller. Failing that, Nintendo could trot out any of its other franchises, like Donkey Kong, Animal Crossing, Kirby, Pikmin or Metroid, to a round of applause and pre-orders.
Also likely on the books are the two Fire Emblem games currently in the works, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the Skyrim port, and the usual montage of indie titles. Some details on the Switch's Virtual Console – Nintendo's digital store for games from its 35-year back catalog – wouldn't go astray, either.
With sales of the Xbox One seriously lagging behind the PlayStation 4, Microsoft will be looking to turn things around this year, and the horse it's betting on is Project Scorpio. This seriously beefy new Xbox will easily be the most powerful gaming console ever built – but will that be enough to entice more gamers to the ecosystem? The company will no doubt spend a good chunk of its E3 conference trying to convince us that it is.
Microsoft apparently couldn't wait to spill the beans, so we already know the extent of Scorpio's power: it's running a 6-teraflop GPU with 12 GB of GDDR5 RAM, and will be capable of displaying in true 4K. What we don't know is its official name, price, release date or what the box itself looks like, so expect all that (and probably more) to be announced during the show.
Of course to really show it off, Microsoft will need some hardware-hungry 4K games, and the most likely candidates will be its in-house powerhouses Forza Motorsport 7, Crackdown 3 and State of Decay 2.
Forza 7 hasn't officially been announced yet, but it does seem to have made a sneaky cameo in the reveal video back in April. And considering the series is largely focused on gratuitous car porn, it's the perfect game to highlight what's under Scorpio's hood.
Meanwhile, the destruction in Crackdown 3 is said to be so intense that it can only be delivered through the power of the cloud, so there's more high-res, low-hanging fruit for the show. And the zombie-infested open world of State of Decay 2 is already looking brutally beautiful: Scorpio could add a whole new level of grunt to proceedings.
Other than more details on those three titles, we're not sure what other software Microsoft has up its sleeves. Halo 6 is a confirmed no-show, but Rare's Sea of Thieves might make a reappearance, and there are even rumors that Rockstar will use the Xbox presser to detail Red Dead Redemption 2.
Last year EA stepped away from the main show to do … well, basically the exact same thing down the street. That's continuing this year, but now it's jumping the gun and presenting its batch of sports and Star Wars games on Saturday June 10, two days before E3 actually starts.
The biggest thing on the cards is probably Star Wars: Battlefront II. The first game was a great multiplayer shooter but lacked a single-player campaign, and EA's marketing is really focused on letting everyone know that it's fixed that for the sequel. The story mode will cover the 30-year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and the meaty multiplayer now rolls in characters and locations from the entire trilogy of trilogies, so if you want to pit Yoda against Kylo Ren, this is your chance. Space battles will play a bigger part, too. We already know most of the details, so EA will probably use the time to show off some new gameplay footage.
That's not the only Star Wars game on the way. Visceral Games, the studio behind the Dead Space series, has long been toiling away on a Star Wars adventure, and we saw a few snippets at E3 last year. With its release date of 2018 fast approaching, it's pretty much guaranteed the wraps will come off soon.
For now, we know next to nothing about the new Need For Speed, but EA has confirmed it will be unveiled at the event. Rounding out the roster of sure-things is the annual lineup of sports games, FIFA, NBA Live and Madden NFL, and we'd also expect some DLC announcements for the likes of Battlefield 1 and Mass Effect: Andromeda. On top of that, the publisher has promised it has a few surprises up its sleeve.
In May, Ubisoft confirmed it will release four games over the next year: Far Cry 5, The Crew 2, South Park: The Fractured But Whole and an as-yet-untitled Assassin's Creed game. It's a pretty safe bet that the publisher's E3 presser will focus on those four.
As excited as we are for it, we kind of hope Ubisoft doesn't spend too much time on South Park – 2017 marks the third year in a row it's appeared at E3. At this point, we know all we need to know and just want the thing to be out already.
Announced just last month, Far Cry 5 brings the series to the US for the first time, tasking players with rising up against a doomsday cult in rural Montana. We don't know much beyond the two-minute reveal trailer, but it's sure to follow the same open-world, open-narrative structure the franchise is famous for. Expect plenty of gameplay footage and story details on this one.
We know even less about The Crew 2, announced at the same time. The first was an online racing game that turned a miniaturized version of the United States into one big playground, and we'd expect more of the same here. That said, our money is on this one being set in Europe.
After taking a year off in 2016, the new Assassin's Creed will be Ubisoft's big reveal this E3. There's no official word yet on where this entry will take place, but if the leaks are anything to go by, it'll be a prequel set in ancient Egypt called Assassin's Creed: Origins.
The inevitable, annual Just Dance announcement will probably be snuck in somewhere, and Ubisoft might also take the time to show off Mario + Rabbids, if it's not kept for Nintendo's conference.
For the third year running, Bethesda has decided it has enough to show off that it's holding its own press conference. This time around, the publisher has framed the show around a theme park it calls "BethesdaLand," complete with worlds based on its biggest franchises: Fallout, Dishonored, Prey, The Elder Scrolls, Doom and Quake. Intriguingly, two sections are still "Under Construction," implying there are two major announcements to be made.
So what could they be? The two most notable franchises missing from the park are Wolfenstein and The Evil Within, so new games from those seem pretty safe bets. We know that The Elder Scrolls 6 is in the works, so maybe it's time for Bethesda to whip the covers off that. Or they could be completely new games – last year, Todd Howard said the studio had two new, long-term projects in the pipeline, "different than anything we've done before, while also being a Bethesda-style game."
If big game reveals are the main course of Bethesda's presentation, the side dish will no doubt be DLC announcements. As the most recent release, Prey is a likely suspect, there might still be life in Dishonored 2, and a season pass could be detailed for the yet-to-be-released Quake Champions.
Other miscellaneous announcements to fill out the presentation could be details on Skyrim's Switch port, Fallout 4's VR version, or even a New Vegas-style side game in the Fallout franchise. That last one is pretty unlikely, but hey, we can dream.
Have we missed anything? Let us know what you're looking forward to seeing at E3.
The E3 press conferences run between June 10 – 13, and the times are as follows:
EA: 12 pm PDT, Saturday June 10
Microsoft: 2 pm PDT, Sunday June 11
Ubisoft: 1 pm PDT Monday June 12
Sony: 6 pm PDT, Monday June 12
Nintendo: 9 am PDT, Tuesday June 13