June 9th will see the return of the biggest event in the gamer calendar; the Electronic Entertainment Expo, a.k.a E3. As usual, we’ll be talking a lot about it here at The Arcade and to get the ball rolling, I thought I’d weigh in with my own high hopes and comparatively mediocre expectations for what Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have in store for us.
What they should do:
Sony are coming into E3 2014 in a pretty enviable position. Not only are they marching in wearing the E3 2013 crown for stealing last years show, their swagger this year will be genuinely earned. The PS4 has been selling spectacularly well since launch, despite an unfortunate – but expected – lack of software and really all Sony have to do now is build on the solid foundation they’ve already got. If Kaz and and co. have any sense, they’ll do this by finally lifting the veil on The Last Guardian, the Team ICO project that’s basically been awol since 2009. There’s also a good chance we’ll be seeing more of Project Beast, the recently teased PS4 exclusive from From Software but if Sony really wanted to surprise people, they could have Suda 51 take the stage – presumably on a pink fetishized rhino, knowing him – to show off Lily Bergamo, the latest addition his ever-eccentric oeuvre and yet another third party PS4 exclusive in the pipeline. Honestly, Sony have a lot to play with and don’t really have a huge amount to prove.
Oh wait? There’s another child isn’t there? The problem child. The child that, despite his parents’ best intentions, just can’t seem to make any friends or his parents any money; The Playstation Vita. What can Sony do at this stage to revive their floundering handheld? Honestly, I’m not sure that revival is an option but if they have any chance of winning people over, one great way to do it would be to announce some god damn games for the thing. Or Insist that third party publishers utilize their fabulous, but criminally underused, cross-buy feature. Bring PS2 classics to the Playstation Store. Where the hell is the Netflix app? That’s the thing; the Vita isn’t a hopeless case, they just haven’t figured it out yet. They need to show us that that’s changing.
What they will do:
If you’re a Sony fanboy, It would be pretty easy to get excited about the fact that they have so little to prove. Unfortunately, for the rest of us that also means it’s easy to be skeptical and Sony could very well use that comfort to play it relatively safe. We’ll more than likely see Uncharted 4 and The Order: 1886, the inevitable Assassins Creed demo and we’re probably going to find out about the next God of War too. Sony have been staunch in their support for indie developers and it’s something they’ve been praised very heavily for so don’t expect them to go any easier on that particular drum. There’s also Project Morpheus of course, Sony’s VR headset, which will most likely dominate the show in much the same way their 3D ambitions did in 2011. There’s a very strong chance we’ll see more of Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III too, seeing as they were announced at last years show.
Overall, Sony have a lot of options this year, we can only hope they bring their A game instead of trying to bank on last years success.
What They Should Do:
Almost in stark contrast to Sony, Microsoft are coming into E3 2014 with a lot to fight for. In the space of a year, they’ve backtracked on just about every ambition they had for the Xbox One, culminating in the recent decision to finally sell the thing without the Kinect. At this point, it’s a console without an identity and E3 is a perfect opportunity to give it one. How can they do this? Games. It sounds simple but that’s really what it comes down to. Microsoft introduced the Xbox One as a multimedia machine designed to entertain the family and the frat house with television and films and internet browsing and everything except what made the Xbox brand so successful in the first place. Last years E3 show was better, but marred by an unreasonable price reveal and a wholly unjustified focus on the, now seemingly irrelevant, Kinect.
This year, we need to see games. We need to see Halo 5: Guardians. We need to see Sunset Overdrive in action. We need to see Project Spark in more detail. But more than this, we need surprises. Microsoft have to blow our minds with stuff that we’re just not expecting. Imagine if Microsoft snagged the demo for the DICE developed Star Wars: Battlefront or even the demo for the highly anticipated Mirrors Edge reboot. Imagine if they got to show off Final Fantasy XV and not Sony. It would be incredible. I know it’s probably too much to ask for a new Banjo Kazooie or even a completely new I.P, but Microsoft still have the capacity to surprise us and if they really want to win public opinion, that’s what they have to do.
What They Will Do:
As much as I’d love Microsoft to blow me away, I can’t shake the feeling that they’re going to use E3 2014 to try claw their way back towards some of their former aspirations. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to finally reveal the killer Kinect app having just ditched it, so why do I feel like that’s exactly what’s going to happen? I hope I’m wrong, as really all it would do is add more confusion to why exactly anyone should buy the Xbox One at all.
In terms of games, we can definitely expect to see something on Halo 5 and will most likely see a demo of the new Gears of War. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will probably show up too. Considering Microsoft’s allegiance to the dudebro demographic appearances from Call of Duty and Battlefield are more than likely going to have prominent roles in the show and there will, inevitably, be something about television that nobody will care about.
What They Should Do:
Nintendo have the most to prove at this years show. Their decision, for the second year in a row, to eschew the annual stage show in favor of a pre-recorded web stream has left a lot of room for people to be skeptical about their wares. Add to that the fact that the Wii U’s poor sales have been public knowledge for a while now and it seems like Nintendo face an impossible task.
But not really. You’d think people would have learned by now never to underestimate Nintendo and yet here we are again. Wii U sales have, apparently, recently started to climb thanks to Mario Kart 8, the 3DS is stronger than ever and Ninty have yet to play ANY of their strongest cards. That said, the best thing Nintendo could do this year would be to wheel out their staple franchises alongside some crazy new stuff. If that’s too much to ask, there is of course one other thing they could do. Something they’ve been avoiding for years but something that would boost sales of the Wii U tenfold literally overnight.
Make it happen, Ninty. Make it happen and count your money.
What they will do:
This was a weird one to write because, dream Pokémon game aside, what Nintendo should do and what they probably will do at this years E3 are most likely in perfect alignment. We’re definitely going to see the Wii U Zelda game for the first time and it’s probably going to be as big a deal as that other Zelda reveal. Monolith Soft will most likely be showing us more of the mysterious X. You know, that game that they showed last year that had robots, tanks, dinosaurs and was definitely NOT Xenogears in all but name. It’s possible that Nintendo have a new full Mario game ready to pull out of the bag, but it’s even more likely that Retro Studios will announce that they’ve finally been put back on Metroid duty, which would be good news for everyone. Oh and Bayonetta 2 will probably rock up for 5 minutes then disappear again.
One absolute certainty is the latest Smash Bros game. Development has been steaming along since the announcement last year and there’s no reason to think Iwata won’t take this chance to show off just how far Sakurai and his team have come with it. What IS slightly intriguing is the rumor that this iteration of Smash Bros will utilize figurines in some way, á la Skylanders. Details on this are sketchy, no one is even sure that it’s happening let alone how it will work, but it would definitely be an interesting, and potentially controversial, move. Don’t be surprised if Smash Bros takes up the majority of Nintendo’s webstream, it’s the biggest gun they’ve got. Well, the biggest one we know about.
E3 2014 is going to be interesting and only time will tell if it will have the same kind of immediate impact that it had last year. The clock is ticking. For now, we wait.
There have been reports trickling in for the last two days that Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III won’t be at this years E3. While the word of producer Shinji Hashimoto is most likely reliable, Square Enix have been colourful with the truth about this sort of thing before. Once again, we wait.