Each June, the video game industry congregates in downtown Los Angeles and, with the help of some very loud house music and celebrity guests, reveals a flurry of new big-budget sequels and a handful of new ideas. And each June, a few weeks ahead of said event, with no EDM or celeb support, I shamelessly attempt to predict those announcements, making informed guesses from a mix of rumors, leaks, and tea leaves.
This year, friends, I will shirk my humility and confess I’m feeling pretty confident. Partly because publishers have vaguely confirmed rumors through investment calls. Mostly because long-in-development video games (of which there are plenty) must be announced eventually. Why shouldn’t E3 2017 be the place Nintendo commits to a new Pokémon? Or Bethesda finally makes its Elder Scrolls-but-in-space official?
I suppose that’s as practical a place to start as any.
Bethesda finally reveals Starfield, an open-universe role-playing game
With the publisher committed to Elder Scrolls Online, I wonder if it may be a while before we see another formal entry in that franchise. What seems more likely is continued support of Fallout 4, along with the reveal of Starfield, the long-rumored game that transplants the publisher’s role-playing foundation onto a sci-fi setting.
Bethesda filed for a Starfield trademark in 2013, but little has been heard since. However in a recent interview with Polygon, Bethesda’s executive producer Todd Howard had this to say about the studio’s future plans: “We have so many ideas that we didn't think we were ready for. But given our size now and how the tech is coming together, we can do some of the things that we've talked about for a very long time. Now they are within our grasp."
Bethesda also unveils sequels to Wolfenstein, The Evil Within, and Fallout
A sequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order has been teased since October of last year (and possibly E3 2016). As for The Evil Within, rumors of a sequel to the horror-adventure circulated in March, following a leaked job listing. My Fallout prediction is, to be transparent, coming entirely from the gut.
But I have some context clues. Bethesda’s Fallout Shelter, a massively popular mobile game hit, was originally announced at E3. What better place to reveal a sequel? Then there’s the question of what comes after Fallout 4. The open-world game cost many millions of dollars to produce, and though it has outperformed the studio’s previous champ, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, it stands to reason a publisher will want to milk the investment even further. Fallout 5 is unlikely, but maybe we’ll see more of the series in the form of a spinoff, like Fallout New Vegas, or an expansive multiplayer mode, as Rockstar has done with its money-printing machine, Grand Theft Auto Online.
Nintendo brings Smash Bros. to Switch
Nintendo has a hit in the Switch, but with few releases on the calendar, the hardware’s future is still little murky. Going into E3, we aren’t sure how third-party developers will support the system. As with the Wii U, the burden will (at least until EA, Activision, and Ubisoft reveal a plan) fall on the publisher. Nintendo can only produce so many titles on its own, so expect lots of remakes and remasters, which are comparably cheap and quick to produce.
It’s certainly possible that a new Smash Bros. will be announced. Nintendo has worked with a variety of developers on the series, meaning its development wouldn’t require too much involvement from the publisher’s internal team. But judging from Mario Kart 8, Splatoon 2, and the extended Wii U catalog, a remake or an “evolution” of a classic Smash Bros. title is more plausible. An updated version of Smash Bros. Melee, with an emphasis on competitive gaming, would fit snuggly into Nintendo’s ambitious plan for Switch to cut into the e-sports community.
Star Wars goes open-world
EA’s open-world Star Wars game is all but confirmed. Developer Scott Warner hinted at the project two years ago on Twitter. (He has since left Visceral for Oculus, and deleted those tweets somewhere along the way.) At E3 2016, EA showed a glimpse of “early in-game footage” for the unnamed project.
And over the years, EA has assembled big-name talent around the title. Game director and writer Amy Hennig, who left Uncharted developer Naughty Dog in 2014 and joined Visceral the same year, has spoken vaguely about her work on the Star Wars project. Jade Raymond, formerly executive producer on Assassin’s Creed at Ubisoft, founded Motive Studios for EA. It was revealed that her team would be co-developing the project with Hennig’s Visceral for a 2018 release.
I thought EA would announce this project in 2015; surely they’ll give it a name and trailer in 2017.
Microsoft shows an official mixed-reality headset compatible with Scorpio
Since its release last fall, Sony has sold over a million PlayStation VR headsets. At the same time, the company used VR to leverage sales of its new PS4 Pro, promising better virtual reality performance when paired with the superior hardware. Microsoft has already announced a suite of mixed reality headsets. And it has a new console in need of a raison d’être beyond 4K gaming.
Sure, VR may look to some folks like a fad. But if Microsoft doesn’t use a headset to push the Scorpio (and likewise, use the console to sell its mixed reality platform) then the company will be leaving money on the table.
Halo 6 exists and runs on Windows 10
Some math: a new Halo has been published, on average, every three years, and they tend to be announced at least a year ahead of release. Halo 5 was released in 2015. It’s 2017. At the very least, Microsoft will tease Halo 6. At most, it will use Master Chief to champion its “cross play” strategy, promising competition between Xbox One, Scorpio, and Windows 10.
Beyond Good and Evil 2 “isn’t dead”
Now that Sony has released The Last Guardian, Beyond Good and Evil 2 is the game most likely to be confirmed every E3 as “not dead.” I won’t go so far as to predict a trailer, let alone a release date. (Creator Michel Ancel has said the game won’t make a formal appearance.) Instead, I expect Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot will whisper, in the middle of an interview, that the game isn’t dead, and they can’t wait to show everybody when the time is right.
The Tomb Raider team will pass on Lara Croft and show Marvel instead
This is a long shot. In May, a rumor claimed that an announcement of Shadow of the Tomb Raider would come this year, but after E3. We already knew Crystal Dynamics, the developer behind the Tomb Raider reboot, had moved on to The Avengers — one of Square Enix’s many Marvel projects.
Square Enix said in January that more information about The Avengers would be announced in 2018. But with the future of Sleeping Dogs, Deus Ex, and Hitman in question, Square Enix has few other projects to show from its Western studios. Presumably, it’s still early days on most Marvel projects. But that hasn’t stopped studios in the past from rolling out a flash cinematic teaser.