E3 2018 kicks off next week, which means Gamer Christmas is almost here. 'Tis the season to gorge on new reveals, details and trailers gifted to us by Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and big publishers like EA, Ubisoft and Bethesda. Since half the fun is shaking the presents and trying to guess what's inside, New Atlas runs through the games confirmed, expected or suspected to be at the show.
Sony has announced that this year's conference won't be a "traditional" one, instead mainly focusing on four previously-announced upcoming titles: The Last of Us Part II, Death Stranding, Ghost of Tsushima, and Marvel's Spider-Man (not to be confused with anybody else's Spider-Man, we guess).
We've known about The Last Of Us Part II for about 18 months now, but we still haven't seen much beyond a pair of cinematic trailers. Given this is easily the PS4's most anticipated exclusive, we'll no doubt see some gameplay footage this time, and should get answers to some of the most pressing questions from those trailers. What's happened between Joel and Ellie in the five years since the first game? What's going on with that creepy cult? And will we find out about Ellie's mom?
Full of Lovecraftian cosmic horror themes and a strange fixation on babies, Death Stranding looks utterly insane, but we can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing yet. Hopefully the deep dive at Sony's conference will help us figure out our feelings on it, and show us what exactly we'll be doing in this open-world sci-fi game.
Ghost of Tsushima is another title we know only through a trailer, so a gameplay reveal is almost definitely on the cards. The samurai theme suggests a mix of stealth and melee combat, and it might play a little like developer Sucker Punch's Infamous series.
We saw a pretty extended gameplay video of Spider-Man at last year's E3, so we might get more details on the story, other game modes, or just what other tricks Spidey has up his lycra sleeves.
Those four are the meat of the show, but Sony has also promised a side dish of other announcements from third-party and indie developers. Days Gone, revealed last E3, could get some more love, as might the remasters of Spyro and MediEvil. There's even been hints of a brand new Crash Bandicoot game, after the success of last year's remake.
Although PlayStation CEO John Kodera recently said that the "PS4 is entering the final phase of its life cycle," the company has made it clear there's no new hardware announcements incoming at this year's E3 – so don't be expecting news of a PS5 just yet.
We don't know much about Nintendo's plans yet, but what we do know has us excited for the future of the Switch.
Super Smash Bros for Switch will headline the show, with Ninty promising an extended look at the game. That will no doubt include reveals of characters, stages, game modes – and most importantly, whether this is a brand new game or a deluxe edition of the Wii U version. So far, the Inkling kids from the Splatoon series are the only newcomers confirmed to be joining the roster.
Just last week, Nintendo finally addressed the rampant rumors of Pokémon on the Switch by revealing no less than four upcoming games, and two of them will probably get a bit of E3 attention. Let's Go Pikachu! and Let's Go Eevee! are designed to ease the Pokémon Go crowd into the traditional RPG series, which will focus on the first generation of critters and cross over heavily with the mobile game. A brand new "core" Pokémon RPG has been teased for late 2019, but it seems too early for any juicy details just yet.
Other than that, we don't know much else. There's a new Yoshi platformer quietly stewing away on the backburner, which might now get an official title and release date. Maybe it's time for Nintendo to whip the covers off of Metroid Prime 4, the new Fire Emblem or Bayonetta 3. Some details on the console's upcoming online service wouldn't go astray, either.
If the overactive rumor mill is to be believed, Pikmin 4 is underway, Retro Studios is working on Star Fox: Grand Prix, and we could be in for Switch ports of Fortnite, Dragon Ball FighterZ and a sequel to Overcooked.
Microsoft's poker face is probably the hardest to read this year. Rumors abound about what might be headed to the Xbox One this year, but there's not a whole lot to work with here.
Crackdown 3 is basically the only guaranteed game for the Xbox conference. Barring yet another delay, it's due later this year, but we still haven't seen much of it in action. This is the time for new gameplay footage.
Halo 6 has been confirmed to be in development, so Microsoft might have an official reveal up its sleeve. Other than that, we have to rely on industry whispers, and they have some intriguing things to say. Apparently, there are not one but three new Gears of War games in the works. Along with a conventional sequel, Microsoft is said to be jumping on the battle royale bandwagon with a Gears-flavored twist, and might also be working on a strategy spinoff of the series.
Call of Duty games tend to be shown off at length in Xbox pressers, so that might be where we see more of Black Ops 4, due out later this year. Also incoming is Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the third game in the reboot series, so a longer look could be in store here.
Just a few weeks ago we would have had no idea what was making Bethesda confident enough to claim that its 2018 E3 show was going to be its biggest one ever. Now though, the company has teased just enough to have us frothing at the mouth.
The biggest news is the surprise announcement last week of a brand new Fallout game. Although it's been three years since Fallout 4, the turnover is usually far longer, so nobody was really expecting another one for a while yet. That said, Fallout 76 may not be your garden-variety Fallout game – whispers indicate it's an online multiplayer survival game, in the vein of DayZ or Rust. Color us incredibly intrigued.
What we do know is that the game is set inside Vault 76, which could tell us a bit about the story. According to previous Fallout games, this vault was meant to be one of the first to open, 20 years after the bombs dropped. Since the rest of the series all takes place a century or two after the war, Fallout 76 could be the earliest iteration, unleashing players into a more turbulent world than usual.
Speaking of apocalypses, Bethesda dropped an announcement trailer for Rage 2 last month. A sequel to the fairly so-so shooter from 2011, the new game looks like it'll be much the same, with plenty of over-the-top guns, vehicular manslaughter, and a splash more color than the brown-and-gray world of the original. We were told to expect more info at E3.
The fact that developer id Software has been working on Rage 2 suggests that maybe one of the other rumors won't come true after all. It's been said for months that the team was working on a sequel to 2016's Doom reboot, especially after Bethesda marketing man Pete Hines was quoted in April as saying "Whether or not folks realize it, this is the Hell on Earth time for us with E3." Hell on Earth, the geekiest of us will remember, was the subtitle of Doom II back in 1994. Coincidence, or concerted hint?
Other announcements might include Starfield, a new sci-fi RPG that's been rumored for years, or the long-awaited reveal of The Elder Scrolls 6.
Ubisoft is one of the leakiest companies in the industry, and true to form, this year's Assassin's Creed was unceremoniously revealed by a keychain, of all things. The single blurry photo told us that the full name is Assassin's Creed Odyssey and the Spartan helmet suggested an ancient Greece setting. The company, which was probably planning an E3 reveal, begrudgingly came out and confirmed the rumors were true with a five-second teaser trailer. So expect plenty of details on that one.
Also confirmed for the show is The Division 2. A sequel to the 2016 online multiplayer shooter, the team says it's learned a lot from the regular updates to the first game – which hopefully means the launch of the new one won't force players to line up to use an in-game laptop. We don't know much about it yet, besides the fact that it's built in an updated version of the Snowdrop engine.
Beyond Good and Evil 2 has been on E3 predictions lists for about 10 years, but this could be the year we finally get a good look at it. The sequel to the cult classic was only officially confirmed last year with a cinematic trailer and last month Ubisoft revealed a pre-alpha glimpse of gameplay. It looks a bit like No Man's Sky, with players zipping between planets as "space pirates," dogfighting between ships and taking each other on in melee combat.
Speaking of pirates, Skull and Bones is a shoo-in for the show. Ubisoft has delayed the naval combat game until late 2019 or early 2020, but E3 is still a good chance to see it in action.
A new Splinter Cell could also be waiting in the wings, if an early retail listing from Walmart Canada is to be believed. And maybe it should be, since several other games from the same leak have since been confirmed, like Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Lego DC Super-Villains and Rage 2.
In the miscellaneous pile, the spaceship-building toys-to-life game Starlink: Battle for Atlas will probably show up, the relentless Just Dance series will no doubt have its annual entry, and it's been a while since we've seen anything new from Rayman.
EA has outlined the two headliners for its press conference – Anthem and Battlefield V – but promised that it has a few other surprises as well.
After last year's mediocre Mass Effect: Andromeda, EA and developer Bioware will be looking to hype up the new franchise Anthem. Judging by last year's lengthy gameplay demo, it seems to have a Destiny-styled structure, with players donning exosuits and teaming up to explore ruins and take down bad guys and beasts. EA says the conference will showcase a new trailer, story details and a deep dive into how combat works.
Revealed at a dedicated event a few weeks ago, Battlefield V is returning to the series' World War II roots. The game will no doubt play very similarly to its predecessor, Battlefield 1, but with a few new game modes. Maybe the biggest change though is EA's hard left turn on loot boxes, which fell so hard out of favor last year that international commissions have criticized and even banned them for encouraging gambling. As such, all Battlefield V DLC will be free. Other than that, we're not sure what else is left to reveal about the game, but they'll find something.
The usual roster of sports games will of course be trotted out, if you still get a kick out of FIFA, Madden or PGA. What the other surprises might include is anyone's guess at this stage.
Have we missed anything? Let us know what you're looking forward to seeing at E3. The press conferences run between June 9 – 12, and the times are as follows:
EA: June 9, 11am PT
Microsoft: June 10, 1pm PT
Bethesda: June 10, 6:30pm PT
Ubisoft: June 11, 1pm PT
Sony: June 11, 6pm PT
Nintendo: June 12, 9am PT
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