What to expect at this year's E3

It's going to be a busy week.

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    Dazzling press conferences. Heart-stopping trailers. A convention center packed with video games large and small. E3 is a magical week for anyone who likes to spend their free time pushing buttons on plastic gamepads. It's like the Super Bowl, the Oscars and a presidential election rolled into one. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo stand out as the hardware heavyweights, while EA, Ubisoft and Bethesda lead the third-party-publisher tussle. Throw in Square Enix, Activision and the occasional Capcom appearance, and you have the makings of a truly special show. Did I mention the army of indie developers that show up too?

    As always, the Engadget crew will be in Los Angeles covering all of the major press conferences as they unfold. We'll then turn our collective attention to the show itself, hunting down the latest games and talking to smart developers who are shaping the industry. If you're curious, here's everything you can expect to see and read about on the site.

    Microsoft

    E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo

    So. Many. Xbox. Controllers. Image: Daniel Boczarski via Getty Images

    Microsoft has the most to prove at E3 this year. The company has a new console code-named 'Project Scorpio', which promises to be the most powerful system you can stick in your living room media center (barring a gaming PC, of course). It was teased at last year's show with some vague developer endorsements, followed by a technical breakdown courtesy of Digital Foundry and Eurogamer. The specs are impressive and put it on a higher footing than Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro. But the question remains: Will there be enough games that take advantage of the extra horsepower?

    Forza Motorsport 7 seems like a safe bet, as well as a smattering of third-party titles like Middle-earth: Shadow of War and the long-rumored Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Microsoft needs to do more, however. Beyond Crackdown 3 and Sea of Thieves, there's little to pull people away from the PlayStation 4. State of Decay 2? A few special indie games like Cuphead, Tacoma and Below? While welcome, these releases are unlikely to change people's perception of the Xbox platform. Microsoft needs better exclusives, the kind that were promised with ReCore (which turned out to be a pretty average action-adventure game) and Scalebound (which was cancelled in January).

    Sony

    PlayStation stole the show last year with a presentation that was crammed with trailers and little else. On-stage chatter was kept to a minimum, leaving more time for announcements like God of War and Detroit: Become Human. Sony's mission this year is to keep that momentum going. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is out soon, so another peek at Chloe and Nadine's adventure wouldn't go amiss. Days Gone, God of War and of course, fungus survivors Ellie and Joel are likely to pop up too — I have a feeling Spider-Man will swing by as well.

    Nadine and Chloe take center stage in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Sony

    With Scorpio on the horizon, there's a chance Sony will counter-punch with some well-timed price drops. A gold, "limited edition" 1TB PS4 was announced for $249 earlier this week — $50 cheaper than the normal model. If Sony wants to crush the Xbox One S, it would make sense to offer this on a more permanent basis. Likewise, if Sony can undercut Project Scorpio, its slightly less powerful PlayStation 4 Pro will remain competitive this Christmas. Otherwise, we're expecting Sony to focus on PlayStation VR — a new bundle would be nice, as well as a bunch of extra games to lose ourselves in over the summer.

    Oh, and don't expect anything about the Vita. If it's mentioned more than once, I'll eat my press pass.

    Nintendo

    The portly plumber has a few new moves in Super Mario Odyssey. Image: Nintendo

    The Switch is out and for now, Nintendo is riding high. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a smash-hit and the first reviews for ARMS, its colorful spring-loaded boxing game, have been favorable. The system needs more games, however, and fast. Splatoon 2 is fast-approaching, but otherwise, the Switch's lineup looks a little threadbare. Nintendo has already confirmed it will focus on Super Mario Odyssey, its big new platformer for the holidays. It's an important game, for sure, but we're curious to see what else it brings to the convention center.

    Xenoblade Chronicles 2, perhaps. The Japanese role-playing game is set to come out this year, and while that might be a little ambitious, there's no reason why developer Monolith Soft shouldn't have a new trailer ready. We're also likely to see Mario & Rabbids Kingdom Battle, the controversial and heavily-leaked mashup title from Ubisoft. The Mario crew will be present, albeit wielding cannon arms, in addition to some Rabbids who have been dressed to resemble the Mushroom Kingdom's mightiest heroes. It's all very weird, with a rumored focus on turn-based combat and tongue-in-cheek humor. We'll see.

    Will Nintendo have a few surprises? We sure hope so. There's a big question mark over Retro Studios, the developer behind the Metroid Prime trilogy, Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Is this the year that we finally see a new, full-blown Metroid game? (Federation Force on the 3DS doesn't count.) We can but hope. Otherwise, I'll settle for a new F-Zero. Come on Nintendo, make it happen. Even Sony has released another Wipeout game.

    EA

    Star Wars Battlefront II will be at the heart of EA's press conference this year. The previous entry, which served as a reboot for the first-person shooter series, was a huge success, even with its limited maps and modes. The biggest omission was a traditional campaign, which Battlefront II will be rectifying later this year. You'll be playing as a member of the Empire's Inferno Squad directly after the events of Return of the Jedi. It's an interesting premise that EA needs to prove is more than a convenient whistle-stop tour of the game's multiplayer maps.

    Need for Speed is back, baby. The classic racing franchise took a year off in 2016 but will return this fall as Payback. The latest version turns the game into a Fast and Furious movie, with over-the-top stunts set pieces. Cop chases will still be present, but they'll probably play second-fiddle to the more bombastic missions and races. EA will, of course, be showing a slew of sports games too, including FIFA 18, Madden 18 and NBA Live 18. It's been awhile since EA stepped out onto the court — hopefully, it can give NBA 2K18 some competition.

    All of these are dead-certs for EA this year. If you're looking for surprises, consider the other Star Wars projects that are currently in the works. Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment is working on an action-adventure game, as is Visceral Games, led by Uncharted writer Amy Hennig. If either game is shown at E3, it will be a huge moment for science fiction fans and help to bury some of the disappointment surrounding Mass Effect: Andromeda. Speaking of, maybe we'll get a tease for Bioware's Destiny-style, massively multiplayer "Dylan" game too?

    Ubisoft

    Far Cry 5 takes the fight to Montana. Image: Ubisoft

    If you have any interest in Assassin's Creed, you're probably seen some of the "Origins" leaks by now. The game looks to be set in ancient Egypt, with pyramids, tombs and a reworked combat system centered around bows, knives and shields. Far Cry 5 will also be shown at E3 this year, with a tense conflict set in modern-day Montana. It's an unusual setting for the franchise and one that has riled a certain section of the internet, due to its portrayal of religion and the American West. Ubisoft will have its work cut out winning them over.

    South Park: The Fractured But Whole, the long-delayed superhero parody, should also get one last push before its release this October. Expect lots of crude humor and a fairly deep turn-based combat system — its predecessor, The Stick of Truth, impressed us with its complexity in 2014. As we mentioned previously, Mario & Rabbids has leaked heavily ahead of the show, and there's a good chance it will be shown off during Ubisoft's press conference too. Otherwise, we're racking our brains to think what the publisher might have in its back pocket. The Crew 2? Maybe a new Splinter Cell?

    I'm still holding out for Beyond Good and Evil 2...

    Bethesda

    It's about time for a new Wolfenstein game. Credit: Bethesda

    Bethesda is new to the E3 press conference game but has quickly established itself as a not-to-be missed publisher. Next week should be no exception, although we know little about the company's line-up. The heavily-rumored Wolfenstein: The New Colossus will probably get a reveal, showing us what William Blazkowicz has been doing since The New Order. A sequel to Shinji Mikami's The Evil Within is also on the cards, providing players with another dose of creepy wet-your-pants horror. With the recent success of Capcom's Resident Evil VII — a franchise that Mikami created — we suspect another game from the man will do very well indeed.

    Otherwise, your guess is as good as ours. Fallout 4 VR? It seems likely. Quake Champions? Maybe. A tease of the next big Elder Scrolls game? We have our fingers crossed, but probably not. Some DLC for Dishonored 2? Okay, now we're clutching at straws. If you have some ideas about what Bethesda might show, do us a favor and drop them in the comments section below.

    Follow all the latest news from E3 2017 here!

    Nick is an associate editor at Engadget, covering video games, VR and anything else that takes his fancy. Before joining Engadget he was a reporter at The Next Web. He has a degree in multimedia journalism from Bournemouth University and an NCTJ certificate. He lives in London and dreams of the day he can pilot his own Gundam.

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