So, E3. Huh. That sure snuck up on us, didn't it? One of, if not the, most pivotal events of the gaming industry's annual cycle, the Electronic Entertainment Exposition is a seemingly endless buffet of breaking news (large and small alike), rumors put to rest as well as raised anew, and demonstrations of the latest and greatest hardware and software that their developers hope will define the future of the gaming industry, at least until next year.
It begins, though, with the announcements, the proclamations handed down from on high with promises that the companies making them aim to fulfill. These are the most prominent in our minds:
The Wii U's Launch Date/Lineup
This may not be the most anticipated reveal, but it is certainly the first one to come to mind, both because it's so glaringly obvious that it must occur and galling that it hasn't, as of yet. I mean, the hardware was unveiled last year, at the same trade show! Surely, in the intervening twelve months, Nintendo would have wanted to drop something more than their vague assurance that the console would hit retail in 2012.
Then again, what better time than E3 to ensure maximum coverage? All eyes will be on the house that Mario built when they hold their pre-show press conference, bloggers and industry vets alike rapt at attention as the company doubtless holds off on its reveal until Reggie Fils-Aime feels that his audience has had their appetite appropriately whetted, at which point they will take furiously to their livestream broadcasts, news feeds, and Twitter accounts as they spread the word, unveiling the date to all.
More nebulous, and more interesting than the hardware alone, is the expected announcement of what software the system will see at launch. We already know a few of the culprits (cough*Darksiders II*cough), but, given that new hardware's initial success is made or broken on the strength of its library (and that this lesson is fresh in Nintendo's mind after the less-than-stellar start of the 3DS), it seems likely that we will get a comprehensive primer on the system's launch day and launch window products. Perhaps we're looking at a sequel to the much beloved Rayman Origins?
The New Star Wars Property
This is a relatively recent reveal, and one that is less an E3-exclusive and more a production spread out over the preceding week, all leading up to a gameplay preview during the conference itself. LucasArts is getting behind a brand new Star Wars game, set in a brand new series to be added to the venerable license's extensive oeuvre. And, in spite of ourselves, we can't help but be excited. The ratio of great Star Wars series (Knights of the Old Republic, X-Wing) to the execrable (Kinect Star Wars, Obi-Wan) may strongly favor the latter, but something about the property just keeps a gamer coming back for greater and greater doses of punishment and, occasionally, a reprieve in the form of a game that either lives up to or tremendously surpasses expectations.
So we're looking forward at this game, which is to be revealed on May 31, and thinking about the "gameplay reveal" slated for June 4, wondering what it could be. A peek into the past of one of the series more enigmatic characters? A story set between major events of the trilogies, focusing on the everymen affected by the actions of the influential few? A (dare I say it?) extension of the series into the New Jedi Order timeline, combating the force-less Yuuzhan Vong in a title that borrows as much from classic survival-horror as it does the franchise's spotty history?
Probably not the last, to be fair. The most likely culprit appears to be the first, a trademark for Star Wars 1313 and website of the same title registered to LucasArts implies a tenuous connection to iconic Star Wars extra Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who became awesome in the canon because fans thought his armor was beyond boss. That almost sounds like a sequel to Star Wars Bounty Hunter, though, and the impression has been given that we're looking at a wholly new series within the Star Wars universe. That said, there are worse Star Wars properties to grace with a sequel than Bounty Hunter.
New Gears of War
And if the last one was recent, this one is actually breaking as you read this. The cover of the August issue of Game Informer features a silhouette of three figures in a familiar, chunky style. These burly men have been confirmed to be exactly what they appear to be: Gears. Yes, a new Gears of War game is on the way and, though we now know that it exists, Microsoft is playing extremely, extremely coy. They will only confirm that this latest title will not be called simply "Gears of War 4."
They'll reveal the real title at E3.
Obviously, since you're just finding this out now, you didn't know you anticipated it yet. But now you do. The silhouette on the cover features one of the gears, round head (possibly Marcus' cap?) being led in illuminated restraints down what appears to be a hallway, flanked by two masked soldiers. It appears we can expect more in the way of the Gears of War story, then, rather than a purely multiplayer outing.
The Last of Us Given A Date
There are a lot of games people want to see dated at E3. Dead Space 3, Lost Planet 3, and Grand Theft Auto V, but there's something you'll notice about all of the aforementioned titles: they're sequels. Their series have had their time to shine, to build a following, and now they're just trying to satisfy that core while, ever so occasionally, stretching in some way that they hope doesn't offend fans, but manages to draw in a few new players regardless. It's unfortunate to say it, but it's true: the sort of revolution begotten by Resident Evil 4 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on their respective series is a rare thing. On that note, I'm sure there are millions upon millions of gamers waiting to hear details on Black Ops II now that we know it's a real thing.
But it's because of this sequel worship that something like The Last of Us really stands out in the E3 lineup. It's not just the lack of a number or a pithy subtitle in its name, either. This is the sort of survival horror that stresses survival, relies on abject brutality to make it resonate with us as individuals as well as gamers. And it's by Naughty Dog, so we know they have the chops to at least make us feel something, as well as move units (if the Uncharted series has been any indication).
With a demo promised for the show, it's extremely likely we'll be getting a date for the game as well. As an absolute system-seller, The Last of Us certainly has a date on our list of "most anticipated E3 announcements."
There are, of course, many more announcements we're all chomping at the bit to see, this hardly serving as a comprehensive list. Let us know what you are looking forward to in the comments. Remember: we're here to inform you, and with E3 around the bend, we'd love to know what you want us to see so we can tell you all about it later.
Date: May 31, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*