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9 things to expect from E3 2018, the biggest week in games

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Expect a few surprises

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

If you follow gaming news closely, it might seem like E3, the annual industry showcase in Los Angeles, has already been going on for weeks. Let’s run down just a few of the major games that have been announced since last month: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Battlefield V, Rage 2, Fallout 76, Pokémon: Let’s Go, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. That’s not even including the unofficial leaks, like the one that points to Fortnite coming to the Nintendo Switch.

Those are some big names — so big, in fact, that it might make you wonder: will there actually be anything new and surprising at E3 this year? But this is not a new situation. Big game publishers have been steadily moving announcements ahead of E3 for years. 2018 is just the most extreme example so far. Last year, we already knew about the likes of Destiny 2, Far Cry 5, Star Wars Battlefront 2, and the Xbox One X (then still known as Project Scorpio) before the show. Yet, despite all of this, there was still lots to get excited about once E3 kicked off. The same should be true this year.

While we don’t know all of the surprises that are in store, here are a few things to expect.

That other Pokémon game

There’s been a lot of Pokémon news recently. The series made its long-awaited Switch debut with the free-to-play Pokémon Quest, and a more robust Pokémon Go spinoff is coming to the platform in November, called Pokémon: Let’s Go. There’s even a new pokéball controller in the works. But none of that is connected to the “core” Pokémon game Nintendo revealed at E3 last year. We haven’t heard anything about that game since 2017, so it’s likely we’ll finally get some details at E3 next week. While Let’s Go is aimed at younger fans and those who were drawn in by the comparatively simple Pokémon Go, this Switch RPG will likely be much more in line with the main series.

A first look at Metroid Prime 4

One of the biggest surprises last year was the reveal that a new Metroid was in the works for the Switch. Unfortunately, all we got was a name and a logo. That should change next week. While the focus of Nintendo’s E3 presence will be on the new Super Smash Bros., there’s a very good chance that the company finally shows just what Metroid Prime 4 looks like and possibly gives it a 2019 launch window. Longtime Prime developer Retro Studios isn’t behind the game this time around, so it’ll be interesting to see how the fourth installment departs from the original trilogy.

A Star Fox… racing game?

Speaking of Retro, a series of rumors suggest that the studio is hard at work on the next installment of the beloved Star Fox series. But this won’t be a typical space shooter. Instead, it’s expected to be a futuristic racer. It’s reportedly called Star Fox Grand Prix, and it’s in the works for the Switch. And while we don’t know much about it, if it’s real, it might just be the closest thing we get to a new F-Zero for some time.

Bethesda finally unveils Starfield

For years there have been rumors and reports that Bethesda is working on a space-themed open-world role-playing game called Starfield. (Think Skyrim, but sci-fi.) 2018 might just be the year we finally see it. Bethesda has been particularly busy these last few weeks, announcing both Rage 2 and Fallout 76 ahead of its E3 showcase. It’s almost like the publisher is clearing some room so it can announce something big.

Kingdom Hearts III gets a real release date

It’s starting to look like Kingdom Hearts III will actually come out sometime this decade. Square Enix showed off the game in playable form at an event in Los Angeles last month. It’s likely that we’ll not only see more of it at E3, but we could also find out when it launches. The publisher is even hosting a live-streamed keynote for the first time in years, suggesting it has some big news in store. The real question is: when will we see the boys from Final Fantasy XV in the game?

The first look at the Avengers game

Last January, Square Enix teased a new collaboration with Marvel in the form of an Avengers game co-developed by Crystal Dynamics (Rise of the Tomb Raider) and Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex: Mankind Divided). It was an exciting concept, but since then… nothing. Given the current Avengers fever in place due to a little movie called Infinity War, expect to see the first real look at the game, which will feature a brand-new story that’s separate from the movies.

What is Beyond Good & Evil 2 really?

Ubisoft wowed everyone last year with a thrilling new trailer for the much-anticipated Beyond Good & Evil 2. But when we actually saw the game later at E3, it turned out to be not only very different from the original cult classic, but also extremely early in development. With so much confusing messaging around the sequel, Ubisoft will likely provide a clearer picture of just what Beyond Good & Evil 2 is, and why fans of the original should be interested in a massively multiplayer online game that’s set in the same universe.

Return of big Xbox names

As always, expect Microsoft to lean on some familiar faces when it comes to its lineup of Xbox One games. We’re about due for new Gears of War and Forza releases, and the long-rumored Halo 6 is also a good bet. The real question is whether Microsoft will have anything brand-new to show. Sea of Thieves was a step in the right direction, but hopefully there’s more in store for 2018. Outside of that, the company will likely lean heavily on hardware, including the recently announced Adaptive Controller and potentially a successor to the Elite as well.

Anthem is the anti-Battlefront

EA received a lot of criticism for the way it handled monetization in Star Wars Battlefront II, and since then, the company has vowed to “be better.” It started with the reveal of Battlefield V, which EA says won’t feature loot boxes at all, and it will likely continue with Anthem, a sci-fi online shooter from Mass Effect developer BioWare. With Destiny 2 struggling, there’s an opening for Anthem to fill in that gap. One of the ways EA will try to do that is with messaging, showing how Anthem can be a much more player-friendly experience.