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The Guns of Navarro: Let the Games Begin...

With only a week until the whole staff heads down to E3, Alex ponders what to expect, what to hope for, and what probably just isn't true.

A week from today, the Giant Bomb staff, alongside pretty much the entirety of the greater video game industry, will descend upon Los Angeles, CA for the 17th annual Electronic Entertainment Expo. This will be my 13th trip to the show in 14 years. Granted, for the early chunk of that time, I wasn't really "covering" the show so much as I was "sneaking into the show with fake credentials," but even without a real need or purpose for being there, I still had the opportunity to witness numerous consoles, publishers, and franchises parade themselves in front of the gaming audience in the hopes of capturing just a bit more of the industry's collective attention.

My first E3 was in 1999. All I remember is the Dreamcast stuff, playing WCW Mayhem, and watching a friend win a Michael Buffer sound-alike contest.

This year's E3 promises to be an especially intriguing one. It's been eight years since the Xbox 360 first ushered in the last console generation, and seven since the PlayStation 3 and Wii essentially solidified it. For the first time in a long while, we are on the cusp of a "next-gen," and suddenly there is an electricity in the air that's been all but absent the last several years. While I feel bad sort of dismissing the Wii U's debut last year, it seems to me that most people are far more intrigued with the possibilities of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 right now, since those systems represent the kind of technological leap one associates with a proper console generation evolution.

New console E3s are totally different beasts from the rest. There is a palpable sense of heated competition prevalent in those years, one that generally cools off when there isn't new hardware to huck. Moments like the Kinect and Move bumping up against one another pale in comparison to the kind of heated rhetoric that tends to arrive once companies have to try to prove that their shiny new box is the most important of all shiny new boxes.

While all new console E3s are generally pretty exciting, there is an overwhelming sense of grave importance that seems to be hanging over this year's show in particular. All anyone seems to want to talk about lately is how dire the console market situation is right now, and while some of that is hyperbole, generally, there is cause for concern. Microsoft and Sony are butting heads directly with two boxes that may prove expensive and potentially alienating, depending on how each of their various services shake out. Meanwhile, Nintendo stands in the corner, politely smiling and pointing to its several-months-old system and all the new games it plans to have for it, simply hoping that anyone will pay attention to them.

In anticipation of the show, I thought it might be fun to dig through what we know about each of the major companies' E3 lineups, make a few predictions, and generally just discuss what we'd like to see at the show. So, without further ado...

Microsoft

Hey, everybody who freaked out that Microsoft hardly showed any games at its May 21 unveiling event, guess what? Microsoft's gonna have some games at E3.

Now, whether or not they're games you'll want to play, that's another situation entirely. We, in fact, know very little about Microsoft's E3 game lineup. Because of the delay in getting the Xbox One out there, developers were forced to keep their XBONE (nope, not dropping that abbreviation any time soon) games out of E3 judges week. What we do know is that there will be several games, and they won't all just be EA Sports titles and Call of Duty.

A new Killer Instinct game would be interesting to think about, but really, we all know what the world needs is a Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts sequel.

Remedy's Quantum Break will most likely be one of them, though given the studio's penchant for "extended" development cycles, they may not have a ton to show just yet. Forza Motorsport 5 will definitely be there, probably in playable capacity; but again, this is a known quantity. Crytek's Ryse will also be there, though I haven't seen a great deal of cause to get excited about that one, yet.

While I expect the remainder of the XBONE lineup will be peppered with various action games and Kinect-friendly family fare, I expect at least one or two loops to be thrown. We still have no idea what Rare is up to, except that it is working on a new version of a "historic" property. Depending on who you ask, that sounds like it could be a reboot of its Killer Instinct fighting franchise, or maybe even some new Perfect Dark thing. It's probably not a Viva Pinata or Banjo-Kazooie game, as much as the latter would delight me.

Just don't expect to see anything about TV or sports league partnerships. Microsoft is back on the offensive now trying to win over the people they inadvertently pissed off with their first conference. Now Don Mattrick is talking about investing "$1 billion" into new games for the system, and basically everyone over there is trying to Wayne's World ending their way into a totally different narrative for the system. We'll see if it pays off or not when we actually see the games.

Sony

We actually know a lot about Sony and its forthcoming lineup. Sure, we haven't seen the PS4 box yet, but if there's a more overrated piece of information out there when it comes to new consoles, I've yet to see it. Otherwise, we know of several games that will likely be shown in greater detail. Stuff like Knack, The Witness, Infamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall, and DriveClub seems all but assured to put in some kind of appearance on the show floor, either in theater-demo, or possibly even playable form. Hell, it even sounds like we may get to see more of whatever Squeenix has cooked up for Final Fantasy on the PS4, and maybe if we're lucky, Capcom will even have more of Deep Down to show.

That, of course, doesn't leave a lot of room for surprises. There seems a likelihood that Sony will treat things like the box unveiling, tech involving the new and improved Eye, and other miscellaneous details left out of the first briefing with some importance. That might mean we're in for a bunch of games we've seen already in some capacity, which would be a minor bummer. Still, there's plenty of room for third-parties to swoop in and show off a few more projects. I'm not necessarily holding out any hope for a Last Guardian PS4 demo, though. Sorry.

Excited as I am about PS4 stuff, I'd love it if Sony had one more big push for original Vita games, before inevitably relegating it to the role of an expensive PS4 accessory.

This does, sadly, leave us with the gaping wound that is the current state of the Vita. We'll definitely get to see more of Media Molecule's Tearaway, and probably one or two other things we don't know about. Still, the total lack of chatter around that system right now is deafening. I'm not trying to discount the totally decent selection of indie games currently available for it, but in terms of the major publishers and developers, Vita versions of games recently sound like total afterthoughts, if they even exist at all.

I do not want this. I like the Vita a great deal. Technologically, it's the best handheld system I've ever owned. It just doesn't have enough games to justify spending much time playing with it. I'm all for these PS3/Vita split games, and while the "mandatory" PS4 remote-play support thing is a nice, if slightly beside-the-point kind of gesture, that isn't necessarily what I had in mind for the system when I bought it. If I really wanted a system with remote play, I'd have invested in a Wii U by now (I haven't).

Nintendo

And then there's Nintendo. With no new console hardware to show, and no press conference to tout, Nintendo is perhaps in the strangest position of any company this year. The Wii U continues to flounder, though on the horizon there are several major games headed for stores this year. Unfortunately, many of them are hitting this fall, during a time when they will be forced to vie for limited holiday dollars against two new mammoth pieces of hardware.

Granted, at least several of those games look good-to-great. Pikmin 3 has never looked anything but delightful, though it's not the sort of game that will likely move units on its own. The same goes for other familiar games like The Wonderful 101 and Game & Wario. More likely, it's going to be the stuff we sort-of-know-about-but-haven't-really-seen-yet that's going to have to make the case for the Wii U. Whatever's next from the Mario Galaxy team, the new Mario Kart, and Sonic Lost World will have to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Other big games, like Smash Bros. and whatever the new Zelda ends up being, will undoubtedly churn some excitement out of the audience as well, but there seems to be little expectation that we'd be seeing either of those until 2014 at the earliest, which doesn't really help Nintendo's immediate problems.

Nintendo has plenty of big, familiar brands ready to appear at E3, but I'm personally hoping for at least one surprise, out-of-left-field debut. Perhaps something from Retro?

Nothing from that list depresses or worries me. Those are all known quantities in one way or another, and all those games should be expected to do well (or, at least, as well as a Wii U game is capable of doing). My worry is the total, utter lack of surprise in any of it. We all know Nintendo is primarily a nostalgia marketer, but that isn't really enough anymore. If people still bought Nintendo consoles just because they were Nintendo consoles, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. The expected no longer translates to automatic interest, and while I expect that Mario, Zelda and Smash Bros. will all do very well, short of insane overhauls that I don't think will happen, we'll still be experiencing some version of that which we already have.

My hope is that Retro's new game, which is purported by some to be an all-new IP, will be a solid kick in Nintendo's creative junk. New IPs are always risky and don't always engender huge sales relative to the initial interest they tend to draw, but Retro's a damn good studio, and there's reason to hope that whatever they have cooked up will be of interest. This, of course, assumes that what they're working on will even be ready for E3, which is anything but confirmed at this point.

As for the 3DS? It's fine, and Nintendo doesn't seem terribly panicked about it. While I'd love to see some diversity in lineup there as well, I expect we'll be getting a lot more of the expected stuff for the system from both Nintendo and third party publishers. Again, with no reason to worry about that system's health at the moment, there's not much reason to diverge from the current path.

Third Parties

With the consoles taking center stage, third-party publishers are a bit more in the background this year. Some, like Take Two, have chosen to skip the show entirely. Most everyone else is on-hand, albeit with perhaps fewer games to show overall, as we make the transition into a new console generation.

EA is maybe the most interesting of the bunch. Not necessarily because of their lineup, which will assuredly be heavy on both sports titles and Battlefield 4, but more because they're in the most unique position. Having just announced the acquisition of the Star Wars license, EA won't have anything to show for those games except for perhaps a bit of explaining about what directions each studio assigned to the games (DICE, Visceral, and BioWare) will be heading. Need for Speed: Rivals will almost assuredly be there, as apparently will Dragon Age 3, and perhaps even the still-rumored Mirror's Edge 2, which apparently EA inadvertently put up a help page for last week. Hey, stranger things have happened.

A new Mirror's Edge at E3? That's no less believable than any of the other rumors floating around right now.

There is also the matter of that Respawn game, which EA is publishing. Most recent rumors have that title, reportedly codenamed "Titan," appearing potentially as a Microsoft exclusive, though little has been learned since those rumors first popped up. It seems likely that the game would appear at one of the major conferences, but whose, and in what context, we most definitely do not know yet.

Ubisoft will come with its expected lot, showing off more of Rayman Legends, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Assassin's Creed IV, and Watch_Dogs. Presumably they will also have more of South Park: The Stick of Truth to show, which hopefully will also come with a release date (finally). There is also reportedly a new game from the studio behind Driver: San Francisco, rumored to be called The Crew. That could be cool.

Beyond them, it seems like it'll be a lot of one-and-two-game showings from other publishers. Warner will have Batman: Arkham Origins and Techland's new zombie parkour thing, Dying Light; Activision will have Call of Duty: Ghosts; XSEED will have Killer Is Dead; Square Enix could have Thief on-hand in addition to its Final Fantasy stuff; Konami will have the one-two punch of Metal Gear Solid V and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2; Deep Silver will have more Saints Row IV to show; and Capcom will have a few different things, though it's highly unlikely that any of them will be Resident Evil 7. Maybe that's for the best right now.

Beyond all of that, there will most certainly be a few surprises, a few disappointments, and a few curious no-shows. Everything we do and do not know roughly adds up to a show that should be very exciting. I have hope for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to impress, and even some hope that Nintendo's fortunes could be turned around with a strong showing. It's going to be hectic, brutal, and, with any luck, a whole lot fun. Even after all these years of attending E3, I still can't wait to get there and get going. I expect this year's show to be the good, the bad, and the weird all wrapped up into one, and I wouldn't miss it for the world.

As always, you'll be able to follow along with us at home through our live coverage, video interviews, and yes, even written coverage (*gasp!*) from the press conferences and show floor. Hopefully you're looking as forward to our coverage of the show as we are to actually covering it.

--A

Note: There will be no Guns of Navarro next week as the staff prepares for E3. However, if you would like to participate in the following week's edition, send your post-E3 questions to alex@giantbomb.com, and he will amass them for a big ol' after-E3 blowout.

Alex Navarro on Google+
102 Comments
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Posted by MrToft

another great article by alex

Edited by MEATBALL

Aside from the Bombcasts, I think I'm actually most excited about Nintendo going into E3, though I also can't wait to see Sony and Microsoft's game lineups.

I'm hoping that both Sony and Microsoft will clarify their stance on DRM with their games, and personally hope (probably in vain) for purchasing game discs to remain largely unchanged.

I'm beginning to think, though, that the larger videogame business model is careening towards a future that I just don't want any part of. Which is a shame, because, honestly, I probably haven't enjoyed videogames more than I have over the last 7 years. I still love what videogames are doing, even the big, much maligned "AAA" games like Assassin's Creed III and such, but I'm just not really interested in a future where ownership doesn't mean what it used to.

Maybe the future of games for me will be Indie, but not because I'm not interested in high-budget, mass-market games (I honestly enjoy most of them) but because there are so often completely DRM-free options for purchasing those games.

Edited by Max_Cherry

Booth babes

Edited by csl316

Can't wait for the show, so glad it coincidentally lines up with my vacation.

And bring on the written coverage!

Posted by TheManWithNoPlan

Edited by AMyggen

What I'm looking forward to the most this E3 is the late night Bombcasts!

Posted by Video_Game_King
Posted by RecSpec

I've stayed somewhat optimistic about the Vita, hoping that they are waiting until more PS4 info is out there to really give a big push to that system. I know it's bad to think of that thing as a companion to a console, but that may be the biggest thing the Vita will have going for it.

Posted by umbaglo

Nothing from that list depresses or worries me. Those are all known quantities in one way or another, and all those games should be expected to do well (or, at least, as well as a Wii U game is capable of doing). My worry is the total, utter lack of surprise in any of it.

Are you not expecting X or SMT x FE to make an appearance? I really hope they do, because both of them need more stuff to be revealed about them. While I'm really interested in most of the other known quantities, I'm REALLY excited about these games.

Posted by Fawkes

Posted by Eribuster

Oh, this E3 will be fun to watch.

As for wanting new stuff from Nintendo, I'm always a bit sad that nearly everyone in that conversation forgets Monolith's follow up to Xenoblade Chronicles, X. Granted, Nintendo has treated Xenoblade poorly so it's not unexpected that people respond somewhat in kind. However, since so many people hunger for new worlds and characters from Nintendo (and Monolith is owned by Nintendo, lest we forget), I would hope that said people would remember to grab the high-hanging fruit such as Monolith's X.

The ignorance to the full-breadth of Nintendo's announced future line up is more fuel to the incredibly poor job Nintendo has done messaging and generating interest for its products.

Posted by McGhee

Biggest thing I want to see is Final Fantasy Versus 13, perhaps renamed FF 15, for the PS4.

And Fallout 4 would be awesome.

Posted by joshthebear

GET HYPE.

Edited by MjHealy

I hope Nintendo do turn it around this E3. Many in the industry have been bashing them (myself included) but it's time for them to show off that roster of games that always follow after a system's launch. Although they will continue they usual "nostalgia mining" business, I think the Wii U's line-up should look quite nice by the time E3 ends. Maybe this will mean they will stop being everyone's punching bag but, honestly, they been that way for a while anyway.

Edited by ICantBeStopped

In all fairness, it probably wasn't necessary to add Reggie's picture. No one is going to be talking about the Wii U any time soon.

Edited by Phatmac

Hoping to see Nintendo give it their all with their Nintendo Direct. Exciting times for the industry.

Posted by MichaelBach

Best "Guns of Navarro" yet, excited for E3! When will the crew be heading down there? Hoping for some road trip live streaming!

Posted by Aegon

"Now, whether or not they're games you'll want to play or not"

Posted by Silver-Streak

I keep hoping that a new Soul Reaver/Defiance/Legacy of Kain gets announced. Despite Squeenidos' horrible math in regards to expectations. The numbers are supposedly panning out that not only was Tomb Raider profitable, but apparently decently so, So here's hoping they let them work on the new Kain game.

Edited by Sunspots

If I had to bet on one thing, that would be guessing at just what"historic" game Rare is going to pull out of their hat. My guess would be Jet Force Gemini. Hopefully the xbox one will have a expansion pack ready for that beast of a game.

Posted by Jayzilla

i can't wait to get an xbone. i am gonna take a picture of me sitting on the couch and put it in front of the kinect camera, because cameras connected to the internet and always taping me are creepy. also, kinect sucks and now it always has to be on. can't wait to buy one of those.

Edited by JesusHammer

Final Fantasy Versus 13 will be there, right? Right guys? RIGHT?! GUYS?!

Posted by Axersia

Square Enix had better have Versus XIII at the show, because sweet baby jesus on a pony, I don't think my heart can handle another year of disappointment. Even SE wouldn't be so stupid as to announce a new numbered entry for next-gen consoles while continuing to pretend Versus doesn't exist, right? Honestly, I think they'd be more likely to give us a troll announcement like FF14 or even 11 getting ported to PS4. Please be excited.

Posted by Rhaknar

Versus XIII will be right there next to Half Life 3 and Last Guardian

Edited by mellotronrules

i don't know about you guys, but i for one will be watching all the presentations with this softly playing in the background:

Posted by DeF
Edited by Cirdain

Edited by BoOzak

@def: Bayonetta 2 is personally my most hyped game of E3. (and it's not even technicly being shown there) Obviously i'm exited to hear more about the new consoles (and new IP's etc.) but being the cynical bastard that I am I fear all my problems with the next Xbox will be shared by the PS4 because that's the way the world's evolving.

Whichever way things turn out there's sure to be some awesome games at E3. I just hope all the corporate bullshit doesnt get in the way.

Edited by FLStyle

I'm fiending for some fresh MGSV, South Park Stick of Truth and Dragon Age 3 info, screens and video.

Good write-up Alex, good luck with the whole video game journalist at E3 thing, it sounds really exhausting, if not fun to soak up so much new next-gen details.

Posted by DeF

@umbaglo said:

Nothing from that list depresses or worries me. Those are all known quantities in one way or another, and all those games should be expected to do well (or, at least, as well as a Wii U game is capable of doing). My worry is the total, utter lack of surprise in any of it.

Are you not expecting X or SMT x FE to make an appearance? I really hope they do, because both of them need more stuff to be revealed about them. While I'm really interested in most of the other known quantities, I'm REALLY excited about these games.

X was indirectly confirmed (as in 99% sure) to be there with Soraya Saga (wife of MLSI's Takahashi, the game director) retweeting the Nintendo Direct announcement. (She did the same before the reveal of the game in January). SMT x FE is a different thing as we have no idea how far a long that is and if that's showable at all. It would be a good game for a later Direct.

@boozak said:

@def: Bayonetta 2 is personally my most hyped game of E3. (and it's not even technicly being shown there)

Why do you say that? It's pretty safe to assume that it's there. Obviously it hasn't been confirmed but now is the time to finally show it off.

Posted by Parsnip

Beyond Good & Evil 2 from Ubisoft, calling it.

Edited by EXTomar

Haha, Bayonetta 2 could very well be the biggest game at E3 which would be such a joke.

Posted by vinster345

Eugh, come on Alex, did you have to use such a Good Morning America type of headline?

Good article nonetheless

Edited by BoOzak

@def: I have no doubt Nintendo will be showing Bayonetta 2 (probably via Nintendo Super Direct or something) while E3 is being held at the LA convention center. But they're not going to be there. They opted out remember?

EDIT: Just did some more research. As it turns out they will be there just in kind of an unorthodox manner.

Posted by Adrian79

Looking forward to seeing more about the PS4 and Microsoft (hopefully) making me want an XBONE. Other than that all I really want to see is Fallout 4.

Posted by Draxyle

I do hope it'll be an interesting show. Last year's was kinda depressing with all the known quantities and neck stabbing. Watch Dogs wouldn't have gotten half of the publicity it did without being one of the only new IP's in the show.

And if SE shows their Ignis trailer again, I will be convinced that we are the fools for being pulled by their ropes.

Posted by DeF

@boozak said:

@def: I have no doubt Nintendo will be showing Bayonetta 2 (probably via Nintendo Super Direct or something) while E3 is being held at the LA convention center. But they're not going to be there. They opted out remember?

EDIT: Just did some more research. As it turns it they will be there just in kind of an unorthodox manner.

Yea, the press did a bang-up job reporting on their E3 strategy. They are there, their booth is JUST as big as those of Sony and MS. There is actually zero difference other than that they will not be standing on a physical stage on Tuesday. They are at E3 in full force.

Posted by Cold_Wolven

"Everyone over there is trying to Wayne's World ending their way into a totally different narrative for the system." Great analogy for Microsoft Alex! As for what I want to see at E3, playable demos of a lot of those next gen titles, Rare announcing a new Perfect Dark/Banjo-Kazooie or something nobody would expect like Jet Force Gemini/Kameo sequels.

Prices and release dates both new consoles would be much appreciated as well as what will be the launch titles. From Nintendo I want to see what Retro have been making as well as the Mario 3D platformer and anything on the next Legend of Zelda for Wii U. This will be an E3 to remember and I'm really excited for it.

Posted by Vuud

PS3 HAZ NO GAEMES!!!

Posted by Falconer

Good job not mentioning Desinty. Gameplay demo at Sony's press conference.

Posted by Row

Brilliant article Alex. Keep it up.

Posted by Jolt92

Guns of @alex is great as usual.

I'm really excited to see what Nintendo brings to the Wii U, as I own one of those.

And to see if Sony or Microsoft can sell me on their systems. So far they have not, but I hope they do because PC gaming isn't something I really enjoy.

Edited by TheRedDeath

Great article Alex. My favorite part of Giant Bomb is THE GUNS!

E3, at this point, is about one thing to me. Ubisoft's press conference, and it's who-the-hell-runs-the-marketing-department-and-thought-of-this-never-second-guess-any-marketing-decisions-cocaine-fueled insanity.

Edited by buckybit

2006 was a good year.

... that's all.

Posted by FinalDasa

@mrtoft said:

another great article by alex

This. :D

Moderator Online
Posted by Dan_CiTi

@vuud said:

XBONE HAZ NO GAEMES!!!

Edited by PHenry1991

@parsnip said:

Beyond Good & Evil 2 from Ubisoft, calling it.

This.

Posted by EuanDewar

I just want more MGS5 man

gimme that

gimme that fuckin good shit

Posted by AURON570

Meanwhile, Nintendo stands in the corner, politely smiling and pointing to its several-months-old system and all the new games it plans to have for it, simply hoping that anyone will pay attention to them.

Awwww.. Nintendo.

The only thing I'm excited for next-gen is Metal Gear Solid V.

Posted by TheLordFagan

Hmmm. If I'm reading this right, it appears the Oculus Rift doesn't exist in Navarroland. That's a pity.

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