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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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Edited by iragequit

"and basically everyone over there is trying to Wayne's World ending their way into a totally different narrative for the system."

Love for Alex....growing...

Posted by npa189

Sony is poised to kick so much ass, the keynote should be led by Cerny as that guy taking center stage is the best thing that could have happened for Sony. With Kutaragi and his minions gone, it seems like they have a smart and practical direction that is focused on one thing, GAMES. While MS seems to have it's head up its ass, and betting on live TV as the future of entertainment, is it 1968?

Posted by SatelliteOfLove

We still have no idea what Rare is up to,

Shambling about in an endless search for Avatar ideas and braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains?

And if you're wondering about upcoming handheld games and you're not looking towards Japan, you're doing it very, very wrong.

Edited by Fram

Futures are forged, pasts rewritten, and the present is full of GIFs.

THIS. IS. E3.

Posted by Benmo316

No mention of Destiny showing gameplay at the Sony conference or in the third-party section?
I just hope there's a handful of surprises at any of the conferences. Yes it's nice and interesting to hear about what we should expect, but I haven't felt surprised in the past few E3s.

Posted by Cybexx

This is the image of the Rare game as seen on the Xbox One dashboard during the press conference. The best guess I've seen so far is Time Lord. Maybe just like during the Xbox 360 launch they could be working on two games? But that turned out iffy for them last time and they are not the studio they used to be. I'm just happy to see them doing something besides Avatars.

For nearly every Nintendo Press Conference and Nintendo Direct for the last couple years I've been waiting for them to announce the new Retro Studios game, they are the Nintendo studio I have the most faith in. Also looking forward to hearing more about Yarn Yoshi because I love the idea of the Kirby's Epic Yarn guys taking their tech and their wonderful ideas and applying it to a different franchise.

Posted by Vuud

Does anyone want to give me their old PS3?

Posted by synthesis_landale

My hope (and very unlikely guess) for the Rare historic property is... Battletoads. Fuck yes.

....a shame, it'd be on the system I'm likely not to buy unless everyone's fairytales and pixie-dust dreams of an online store with crazy sales like Steam happens, cause I'm not buying games for 60 bucks that will someday expire. No thank you.

Edited by Spiritof

I think the most interesting thing we'll hear is Sony's response to the whole M$ DRM fiasco.

They have an extreme play they can make that would make them VERY popular with gamers, but very unfriendly to publishers. Will they make it?

I personally think they could make a "digital copies are $10 cheaper than physical, but physical copies won't require DRM or an internet connect" and they'd come out smelling like a rose. If they don't come up with an enticing counter-argument to M$'s "always online" approach, that also addresses the publisher's need to counteract the used market, all hell is gonna break loose on the internet tubes.

Posted by BisonHero

Wait, Blizzard and Respawn both have projects code named Titan? Real original, guys.

Edited by CommanderGermanShepard

@falconer said:

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

Wasn't a gameplay demo, "game" has to be "played" for that.

Posted by GuardianKnux

The world needs a new Jet Force Gemini!

Posted by GERALTITUDE

Think you missed it on Sony, they've already said all 12 or however many of their studios are working on PS4 somehow related stuff.

Edited by Rotnac

The world needs a new Jet Force Gemini!

this times infinity!

Posted by Deckard42

Great article Alex. Glad to see an old e3 vet is still excited.

Posted by probablytuna

So effing ready for E3. BRING IT.

Posted by the_purgatory_station

Nice writeup nice end. I've been a little behind so some stuff news to me.

Posted by Falconer

@falconer said:

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

Wasn't a gameplay demo, "game" has to be "played" for that.

It's going to be at their E3 presser you dolt. Learn 2 internet, etc.

Posted by RedCream

I'm so pumped for E3! Next week can't come any sooner.

Posted by ZZoMBiE13

I just want a new Dead Rising game.

Not much chance of that though. Seems as though Capcom has been saving most of their announcements for their own event over the last couple of years. Still. I can hope, right?

Edited by Shaanyboi

I have hope for Nintendo's showing this year. Even 2010 (which was a great year for them) didn't have nearly the amount of stuff they're probably ready to show this year.

Posted by Darji

I just want more MGS5 man

gimme that

gimme that fuckin good shit

That is already happening this week or better in 3 days on the 6th at the Konami Pre E3 conference

Edited by Generiko

We still have no idea what Rare is up to, except that it is working on a new version of a "historic" property.

http://www.giantbomb.com/banjo-kazooie-nuts-bolts/3030-20586/forums/signs-pointing-to-a-sequel-1435305/

Edited by ptys

I'm as excited about a possible Vita redesign to something lighter and sleeker in line with the PS4 aesthetic.

Edited by ManlyBeast

I have too many games to play on steam to really be all that excited about E3. I will watch it but not as excited as I use to me.

Edited by Capum15

A great read. I'm looking forward to this E3, especially with the new consoles. I'm definitely interested in seeing what comes of it all.

Posted by JamesJeux007

Hey @alex ? I think Jeff Green has something to say about the title of your article.

Come on. You're better than this. As proven by the article itself. That was a great read and now I'm more pumped than ever for this E3 ! Totally on the Hype Train !

Edited by Pop

I hope people start calling the xbox one "the BONE".

I'm excited for E3, I hope to see stuff that will blow me away! This just came to me, but I kind of want Street Fighter V to appear, you gotta have a fighting game on the release of a new console right?

I bet last guardian will appear again and they'll be like "it's coming to PS4" and then never talk about it until the next console announcement.

Alex you forgot about Halo 5, that will definitely appear and I bet sony's going to have some god of war or little big planet announcement.

edit: when's the ouya press conference? BOOM headshot.

Posted by dropabombonit

Great article Alex. Now time it's time to ride the E3 HYPE TRAIN

Edited by Winternet

Oh god, E3!

Edited by Thusian

I am hoping we see More about the Yarn Yoshi game and X, what looks to be a follow up to Xenoblade. Oh and while we're on things that were announced in that winter Nintendo Direct, how about an update on SMT X Fire Emblem. I expect those will be the freshest feeling things in the Nintendo stuff, besides the Wonderful 101, and I expect we will get an update on the progress of Beyonetta.

Honestly I am a little worried that that's as much as my tastes will be catered to. Killzone and COD type stuff has left me feeling cold lately and if there was something like a Viva Pinata shown I will be more likely to sit up and take notice.

Best part is with expectations low, I have less of a chance of feeling let down. I might finally see a game that gets me excited for the other guy's new boxes. Remote play through Vita is exciting to me, but if accomplishing that requires a $500-$600 investment I'll have to wait until my own economics and price drops meet up.

Posted by Sawboss

I'm looking forward to seeing the prices on these new consoles. It certainly will be a big factor for me when/if I get a ps4 and Xbox One.

Posted by ComradeCrash

Great article Alex. Now time it's time to ride the E3 HYPE TRAIN

E3 HYPE TRAIN!

Edited by year199X

So uh... PSO2? Sega? Please?

Edited by MJHAYLETT

the current gen games that are coming and my frankly stupid backlog of games should keep me from rushing out and buying a PS4 or XBone this year. Should. We all know how fickle our resolve is when new shiny things get released for us to play with. Or is that just me? :D

Edited by itsVASH

Why doesn't anyone think that Rare is going to make a new Conker game? I guess its not historic... right?

Edited by djou

With all the hyper around the next gen consoles I wonder if there will be any gameplay or a demo for GTA5. I know if still three months out but I think its kinda weird Rockstar hasn't shown the game or let anyone play it.

Edited by MrGtD

@djou: Yeah, you're not gonna be getting that until maybe the weeks before it comes out. This is the Rockstar cycle. People hardly knew anything about GTA4 until the weekend before it came out, when reviews were allowed to hit. MAYBE they'll do their excellent gameplay trailers, like they did for Red Dead. I can hope for that, but I don't expect it. Rockstar also never ever goes to conventions or trade shows like E3, because they don't have to. They can say jack shit about their game because all you have to do is put a box on a shelf that says "Grand Theft Auto V" and everyone is going to buy it.

Edited by fisk0

@year199x said:

So uh... PSO2? Sega? Please?

I hope that if nothing else is the rumored big new Vita game. I'd totally play it on both Vita and PC if both were released here.

Posted by Budwyzer

@ptys said:

I'm as excited about a possible Vita redesign to something lighter and sleeker in line with the PS4 aesthetic.

Or they just designed the PS4 around the look of the Vita. Mmmm, console covered in glossy black. :)

Posted by JRock3x8

There's going to be a big old helping of Watch Dogs, whether you like it or not.

Posted by DharmaBum

I'm going to be depressed if Mirror's Edge 2 doesn't show up.

Posted by Ho_Blivion

I echo others sentiments regarding the headline. What can we expect next? "<something>, <something> and <something>, Oh My!"

Posted by DarkbeatDK

I am really psyched for NEW games. I think 2011 was just sequels, sequels, sequels. New consoles means new IPs!

Edited by BawlZINmotion

I already felt this way about everything game-industry related in the last year or two, but this article just amplified the depression. Not that Alex is writing negatively, but when you look at what is written, what the potential for the show is, it really is quite sad. So much has changed in the world since the last time we had this dance that things are hardly the same. I think when both Playstation 4 and Xbox One go on sale that disinterest will be made very clear. Disinterest is probably the wrong world, fatigue would be more appropriate.

Alex has a good line about Nintendo being a nostalgia marketer. I would argue that is the industry as a whole. Without trying to sound doom-and-gloom, the golden age of gaming has long-gone and we have now fallen into that of copper. And copper rusts.

I really hope I'm wrong, but in the pit of my stomach and at the bottom of my heart, I cannot bring myself to feel any different. And it fucking sucks.

Posted by TranceAddix

This E3 will be:

Edited by LegendaryChopChop

A Killer Instinct revival could sway me towards the XB1 by itself, so as long as XB1 shows some care to the gaming department of their console.

Come on, Rare/Microsoft, be smart here and MAKE IT.

Posted by Stefan

I am with Alex. The PS Vita is way better than I expected. I bought a DS and PSP when they were released but the mobile gaming experience with the Vita is much more enjoyable for me. I expected to buy the system and play with it for a couple of days, weeks at best, but I already played a few hundred hours, and I am still enthusiastic. Maybe its the better grip, the 2nd analog stick the way psn integrates in the system or whatever, I really like the device. So I am really hoping for new game announcements during E3.

Edited by Crunchman

+1 for Vita dreams. Hardware-wise, it has everything going for it and for quite a few games, it's an absolute joy to game on, portability aside.

Seeing all these games listed here is encouraging and seeing the PS4 system itself is also a thing. I really hope there are more surprises and less BS since they've gotten a lot of the logistical stuff out of the way for the announcements of the PS4 and Xbox.

Is it weird that I'm sort of looking forward to the Ubisoft Conference?

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