Wednesday, May 29, 2019

E3 2019 Predictions

As I mentioned in the May update, this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) will likely be Xbox-centric since Sony is skipping the show. With the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 generation winding down, Sony skipping the show, and more and more games being announced or leaked ahead of time, this could be a very quiet show for new games, especially exclusives. The last couple from Sony were primarily trailers and Nintendo does the prerecorded video with some folks showing a few games afterwards (not on stage).

Last year I didn't spend too much time on third-party publisher predictions after going all out in 2017. I've spent a few hours writing this and now I'm basically rewriting it because my first draft was too much rambling and news is hitting earlier than I was ready for so I'm posting early this year too. It's not unusual for news to start weeks before the show but one of my predictions already came true! I said Nintendo would reveal a sequel to Detective Pikachu and while it did not provide many details, it did say yesterday that a new one is in development for the Switch that would conclude the story to the 3DS game. I know, that was an easy one to guess.

While Sony won't be on the show floor, E3 is still a convention for retailers to see what's upcoming and help steer their orders so Sony could be there behind closed doors and there could be some news, like the release date for Dreams (Game Informer reviewed it already based on the early access version). Sure, PlayStation 4 has sold extremely well but it still has to keep the sales going by convincing retailers to order more, more, more. In my first draft I also mentioned trailers could be shown for Death Stranding and Ghost of Tsushima, and nearly two weeks before E3 we now have both a new trailer and release date for Death Stranding (November 8, 2019).


I'll break up the rest of this post as it will still be just a bit long though I'll skip mentioning most of the games already confirmed to be there.

Microsoft
This is Microsoft's time to shine with the only console maker to have a stage presentation so I have to believe the next Xbox will be the highlight. I'd say seeing the hardware or game demos is unlikely, instead it will be a name, specs, maybe a tech demo, and perhaps a release window (November 2020?). Last year it purchased a few development studios that may or may not be able to get games ready by then. I lean toward it being too soon especially with Obsidian being busy on a game for 2K and InXile currently working on Wasteland 3. Microsoft isn't quite done with the Xbox One but I doubt there will be any exclusives we don't already know about as it looks to the future.

If, and it's a very big if, Microsoft lists a bunch of games with working titles for the next Xbox here are my guesses: Forza Motorsport 8, Halo Infinite (in addition to Xbox One), Gears of War 5 (in addition to Xbox One), Minecraft 2, Fable 4, Crimson Skies (that was my prediction for Xbox One last year), and a third-person action game from Ninja Theory (too generic? how about a third-person Age of Empires action game...but with Ninja Theory it is more likely something original).

Bill Gates and an original Xbox prototype at the
Game Developers Conference - March 10, 2000.

Nintendo
Earlier this year Nintendo stated Metroid Prime 4 development had been restarted so don't expect anything from Metroid. Maybe it's time for a new Donkey Kong Country or with Sonic and Crash returning to kart racing, it could be time for Diddy Kong Racing 2. Unlike the other consoles, the Switch is hitting its stride so Nintendo should have some new announcements, however, it could also hold back for the Tokyo Game Show. There were some rumors of a redesign for the Switch and it's probably time for new bundles and colors. I didn't think Arms was huge though it sold well enough to get a comic book so I'll predict we see Arms 2.

Random thoughts & predictions for the rest...

-Ubisoft recently delayed Skull & Bones to 2020 and it might be too soon for another Assassin's Creed. Who am I kidding, it's never too soon for another Assassin's Creed game. We all know Just Dance 2020 is coming and it must be time to leave the Wii behind (Just Dance 2019 is available for Wii and Wii U) and probably the Xbox 360 too. Following the success of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle another team up with Nintendo could be in order. Many keep expecting a new Splinter Cell and one employee mentioned it before Ubisoft said it was a joke. It's possible it unveiled the next Ghost Recon already to put the spotlight on Splinter Cell at E3.

-Sega will finally be bringing the Yakuza samurai spin-offs to North America. Skies of Arcadia 2 will be announced for release in October 2020 on the first game's 20th anniversary. Hey, it's possible!

-XCOM 3 will be unveiled, it has to be! It's been more than three years since XCOM 2 released which was my favorite game of 2016. For myself, being able to create a team that resembles G.I. Joe characters is one of the highlights when playing XCOM.

-There have already been LEGO Star Wars rumors and although Warner Bros. skipped The Last Jedi, we could be hearing about a trilogy with a complete edition of The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker. With Telltale gone and Warner owning Batman, it just might find a way to continue the Batman adventure game Telltale started or we'll hear about a brand new Batman game. Last year I thought Rocksteady would show its new game that has been in development a while but it didn't so why not this year. The money is on a Superman game though maybe it's Wonder Woman or Justice League or something else completely.

-Square Enix did confirm a big presentation for Crystal Dynamics' Marvel's Avengers game. I'm thinking Tomb Raider takes a break and I'm hoping Deus Ex returns from a break.

-What happened to Activision? Not including Blizzard, it just doesn't make many games any longer having recently let go of Destiny. Last E3 it did have Sekiro and it published that game outside of Japan for FromSoftware earlier this year. Call of Duty is the one and only big franchise it goes back to time and time again, and lately it's been leveraging older properties, such as Spyro and Crash Bandicoot. Maybe it doesn't need much more beyond Call of Duty but for a publisher of its size it must have something else in development. In 2017 I thought Pitfall could make a return and I'll just keep guessing a new Pitfall until it happens. Other than that, perhaps it will get a big license to focus on. Folks from The Simpsons television show are going to be at E3 so a game must be in the works; maybe Activision is involved?

-If Activision isn't backing The Simpsons the next best guess for publisher would be Electronic Arts which has published a variety of Simpsons games over the years. I think we know most of what EA is currently working on but I'll throw out a guess for a new SSX; not like the last one, instead something more like the first few. A remaster of the first three would work though it would probably not be able to get all of the same music.

-Bethesda is another publisher we've probably already got covered after last year's E3 where the announced games are still a ways off. It's likely going to try and redeem Fallout 76 so expect some changes for that game to be shown.

-THQ Nordic has bought up many properties and other companies the past few years and now has more than 80 (!) games in development across all of its subsidiaries. I'll say it will show a new Saints Row game and since it owns Deep Silver I'll put my dreaded Shenmue III prediction here. I'm thinking Shenmue will be delayed until at least Q1 2020. It's currently three months away which feels too soon.


The presentation schedule:

June 9th: Microsoft (1 PM PT/4 PM ET), Bethesda (5:30 PM PT/8:30 PM ET)
June 10th: PC Gaming Show (10 AM PT/1 PM ET), Ubisoft (1 PM PT/4 PM ET), Square Enix (6 PM PT/9 PM ET)
June 11th: Nintendo (9 AM PT/12 PM ET)

6/7/19 UPDATE: This past week has been full of announcements, leaks, and rumors so I'm doing a quick recap before the press conferences begin on Sunday. Only a few tie into my predictions above.

-Shenmue III has indeed been delayed though not for as long as I expected. It's currently targeting November 19, 2019.
-The next Watch Dogs game called Legion was leaked and Ubisoft confirmed it. I'd actually forgotten about this series when writing my predictions even though I did complete the first two.
-THQ Nordic unveiled Darksiders Genesis which differs quite a bit from the other Darksiders as it is an isometric RPG. Also, the publisher and Black Forest Games are remaking the 2005 title Destroy All Humans, and THQ Nordic is partnering with Purple Lamp Studios to remake the 2003 game SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom.
-Ninja Theory's next game leaked today and it appears to be an original third-person action game. However, it also looks to be multiplayer focused which is very disappointing to myself. I very much enjoyed the stories in Heavenly Sword, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice but this game might not have much of a plot.
-Rocksteady says that it will not be showing anything at E3. That's unfortunate.
-Larian Studios announced Baldur's Gate III during Google's Stadia conference (I did not realize Google was holding that this week). I've played very little of Larian's games but its Divinity RPGs have been well received so hopefully it can do Baldur's Gate justice. The first two were developed by BioWare way back in 1998 and 2000. In somewhat related news, on June 3rd Beamdog and Skybound announced the Baldur's Gate Enhanced Editions (as well as Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, and Neverwinter Nights) will be coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch this fall (at retail too).
-Bandai Namco had a big leak on Friday as well. The first Ni No Kuni is getting a remaster already. Eldin Ring is the game collaboration between FromSoftware and George R.R. Martin. A new Tales game called Tales of Arise is in development.
-Not every game announced in the past week is timed for E3 but here are a couple others: there is a sequel in the works for Yooka-Laylee and Outright Games (focuses on licensed kid games) will be publishing a game based on the most recent (2017) Jumanji movie.

6/10/19 UPDATE: Not sure if I should keep doing updates as I might make this post super long and I doubt many if any at all will come back to read the updates. In any case, I messed up and said EA wasn't having a conference; while that is partially true as it hasn't had an actual press conference in years, it did do an EA Play briefing which was held outdoors. That was primarily about FIFA, Madden, Apex Legends, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and a new expansion for The Sims 4.

The Microsoft presentation was very close to what I expected, though it did not spend too much time on the next Xbox other than to say it's powerful, it's coming holiday 2020, and Halo Infinite will launch with it. As mentioned in the previous update, Ninja Theory does have a third-person action game coming soon for Xbox One. Also, a new Minecraft game was announced but not a sequel, instead it is a dungeon crawler and I'm not too sure you can even build in it. Many of the games shown were from third-parties that are not holding conferences; with Sony not appearing Microsoft was the place for those games to get some time in the spotlight (CD Projekt Red even had Keanu Reeves representing Cyberpunk 2077). New content for State of Decay 2 and Forza Horizon 4 were shown as well but no major titles which doesn't surprise me as I expected any AAA games in development to be for the next console.

There should be more from third-parties in the next day or two so I don't know how wrong I was on all my predictions but we did see a new LEGO Star Wars title from Warner Bros. It does not appear to be a compilation of past LEGO games even though it covers all three trilogies. Sega is indeed bringing a game over to North America that has been in Japan for a while, just not the game I guessed. Phantasy Star Online 2 will be free to play on Xbox One. No other consoles were mentioned, however, that doesn't mean they aren't included. Onto Bethesda which, of course, is trying to redeem Fallout 76 and to do that it is adding human NPCs that players can converse with and a battle royale mode. New announcements included The Elder Scrolls: Blades for Switch, Commander Keen for mobile, Deathloop from Arkane, and Tango Gameworks' Ghostwire Tokyo.

6/13/19 UPDATE: This should be my final update as the show is just about over. My predictions didn't work out too well. Nintendo mostly had expected updates and third-party announcements aside from a Breath of the Wild sequel teaser. It is possible I missed some news but I didn't see anything new from Activision. I think EA might have The Simpsons license as the Tapped Out game is still active which was talked about at that Simpsons panel. However, there was no mention of a new Simpsons game which made the whole thing seem odd. 2K didn't announce anything new so no XCOM 3, unfortunately.

Square Enix's press conference had a lot of Final Fantasy and other classic JRPG stuff. It showed off Marvel's Avengers but that did not grab me at all. Ubisoft's conference wasn't as good as the last couple of years. No Splinter Cell though you can be Sam Fisher in a mobile game with other Tom Clancy characters. There is a new Rainbow Six that involves alien parasites which is not the Rainbow Six I know, and really, why even call it that (yeah, I know, brand recognition). Watch Dogs: Legion does have a cool feature where you can recruit any NPC, though the setting doesn't interest me much (dystopian London). Just Dance 2020 is actually going to be released on the Wii! The Wii U and Xbox 360 platforms have been dropped but not the Wii, amazing.

If you want to see Shenmue III footage it was shown during the PC Gaming Show. Yu Suzuki was there too though he didn't say very much. While he primarily speaks through a translator, they really should have spent more time interviewing him. I suppose PC players might not be too interested in the series, however, with Sony not there and the game not on Xbox One there wasn't anywhere else for him to be. There were plenty of other games announced from smaller publishers this week but that's about it in regards to the games/companies I was making predictions around. As I said at the start of this post, I expected a quiet E3 for new AAA game announcements and sure enough it was. Regardless, I still enjoy taking it all in and watching all the conferences, and expect next year to be a huge show.

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