It’s time to go.

e3 2015

It’s that time of year again.

E3 is, as of writing this, just two (yes, two not three) days away with the first press conference happening on a Sunday, the first time an event has happened before Press Conference Monday in five years (last time was Microsoft’s Project Natal/Kinect show).

In what will be their first ever E3 press conference, newbies Bethesda will be kicking it big time with a big show on Sunday evening (early hours of Monday morning UK time) with the main event being Fallout 4. And by the time all is said and done on Tuesday (early hours of Wednesday), another new effort will wrap up proceedings with PC Gamer’s The PC Gaming Show.

Last year, I streamed all of the pressers along with commentary for most of them from myself and other folks in the industry and it was incredible fun. This year, Cullen Plays comes off hiatus (yeah, I’ve been on hiatus for a while) as we’re doing this again, but thankfully, all of them will have folks involved in one form or another.

Here’s a preview for the show along with punditry lineups for each conference.

bethesdaBethesda
Sunday, June 14 – Conference: 7pm PST/10pm EST/3am UK BST (Monday, June 15); CP LIVE preshow from 6:30pm PST/2:30am BST
Johnny Cullen|Ben Jones|David Howard

Bethesda VP of PR and marketing Pete Hines will be MC’ing the company’s first ever E3 press conference. announced near the start of the year long before anyone else had even started announcing their plans, which is usually in April or May.

The assumption was only one game could cause Bethesda to hold an E3 press conference. And lo and behold, on Sunday, it’ll happen. Having been officially announced a week-and-a-half earlier, Fallout 4 will get its full blowout with the first public demo of the game. Needless to say, Bethesda Game Studios and Todd Howard’s next game has been long anticipated that an event just for that game would be enough. And last week’s intimal reveal proved it: the amount of attention it got was on par, if not slightly less, than when Rockstar announces a new mainline Grand Theft Auto game.

However, that’s not to say Bethesda doesn’t have anything else planned for Sunday night. After a behind closed doors public demo at Quakecon last year, id Software’s return to Doom will finally get its first public airing. And F2P PC title Battlecry from namesake Battlecry Studios will get its first airing in a good while as well. But if I was a betting person, I’d place good odds on seeing a teaser of sorts for Dishonored II – Bethesda has said previously it’ll be an established IP onwards. Arkane Lyon is rumoured to be working on that one. The main Arkane studio in Austin is said to be working on Prey 2 – or a spiritual successor that picks up from Prey 2 – as of 2013 with a 2016 release planned. Either way, there’s a good chance you’ll see an Arkane game announced.

But Fallout 4 will be the headliner. All eyes will be on whether the game will indeed release, as rumoured, this year.

microsoftMicrosoft
Monday, June 15 – Conference: 9:30am PST/12:30pm EST/5:30pm BST; CP LIVE preshow from 9am PST/5pm BST
Johnny Cullen|Ben Jones|Chris Scullion

Microsoft did a fair bit right last year. In his first E3 as Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer paid tribute to his fellow platform holders, as well as those who made their voice clear in voicing their displeasure at the initial always-on, anti-secondhand stance Xbox One had pre-launch.

In terms of software, there was not a step wrong. Call of Duty, Forza Horizon 2, Halo, Assassin’s Creed: Unity all had stage presence, to name a few, with The Division also getting an excellent live demo. Announcements came flying in too: the stunning Ori and the Blind Forest, Platinum and Kamiya’s Scalebound, Playdead’s Inside and the returns of Crackdown and Phantom Dust, though the latter remains in limbo due to recent restructuring.

This year, first-party will be a big focus. With Sony seemingly giving up on Christmas for PS4 as of writing this, instead opting to go big on third-parties and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (and possibly No Man’s Sky if that doesn’t fall into 2016), Microsoft has more or less a big gaping goal in front of them. Halo 5: Guardians, Forza Motorsport 6 and Rise of the Tomb Raider – also announced as last year’s E3 and then announced to be a timed Xbox One exclusive a few months later at gamescom – are all due by Holiday 2015.

There’s also the small matter of Gears of War, whose plans will finally be revealed to the world for the first since Microsoft bought the IP from Epic Games in 2014. The Coalition (nee Black Tusk Studios) will more than likely officially announce the remaster of Gears of War 1, coming from Splash Damage, but also tease the first original game in the series since 2013’s Gears of War Judgement.

Chatter has also been increasing we’re going to see something on Rare’s next new project. Microsoft execs has tweeted high praise of what they’ve seen of it in the past. The question is whether it’ll be the return of Banjo Kazooie, a revival of Battletoads or an entirely new IP.

For third-party, the big question is whether Call of Duty: Black Ops III will turn up? It’s been an E3 staple for Team Xbox since 2007 with a live demo of Call of Duty 4 and – with the exceptions of 2008 and 2013 – has been at every press conference since, but rumour has been rampant that Sony has picked up marketing rights for the game.

One third-party appearance confirmed for the show, however, will be the introduction of a new, console Plants vs Zombies game during the show, which EA has already confirmed wlll launch by the end of March next year. So this’ll more than likely be Garden Warfare 2.

Phil Spencer and his team have a big opportunity to take Christmas and perhaps early 2016 by the scruff of the neck. Here’s hoping they don’t squander it.

eaEA
Monday, June 15 – Conference: 1pm PST/4pm EST/9pm BST; CP LIVE preshow from 12:30pm PST/8:30pm BST
Johnny Cullen|Ben Jones|Chris Scullion|Jem Alexander

A lot of people picked on EA last year, citing it as the worst press conference last year for showing prototype footage of games still in development, such as Mirror’s Edge, Mass Effect, Criterion’s new IP, BioWare Edmonton’s new IP and MOBA Dawngate, subsequently cancelled afterwards. But although it was the weakest out of the rest of the rest of the conferences, I actually maintain the opinion that EA was alright. In fact, kinda good.

There were those games above shown as well as Star Wars Battlefront teased, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Sims 4, the sports stuff like FIFA and Madden and Battlefield Hardline. This year, EA has an incredible lineup for the show and the potential to drop a bomb or two while it’s at it.

First, Mirror’s Edge is happening. Now known under the subtitle Catalyst, DICE’s origin story of Faith will be on hand and shown in a proper format next week. And that excites me greatly. It was two years ago yesterday I went nuts when the game was properly announced. It was one of two games I maintain I’d ever go mental for. The other one was initially announced and then subsequently canned. The best part? We’ll all be playing it as soon as the end of March next year.

But while Mirror’s Edge won’t be its headline act, it does shown a common thread with DICE, who will provide said headliner in the form of Star Wars Battlefront. I was not impressed with the game’s debut trailer back in April, showing for non-gameplay footage running within the engine. It looked nice, but I wanted to see the goods within gameplay. Monday night, it’ll happen.

However, there is another element to Star Wars in play that could be factored into. Are we going to see a tease of sorts for the other Star Wars game known to be in development at Visceral and headed up by Amy Hennig, Todd Stashwick and Scott Warner? If this gets announced, even in teaser form, I’ll do a dance around my house as Hennig’s attachment to the project alone means I’m much more excited for it than I am DICE’s Battlefront.

We’re also going to see the return of Need for Speed after two years gone with Ghost Games rebooting the series full and proper with the first gameplay shown at the conference. Plus, expect your usual dosage of sports stuff including and Madden and FIFA 16, though I’ll admit this is the first time I’m excited for a FIFA in years thanks to the addition of female international teams.

Surely now is also the time to finally left the veil on BioWare’s other projects now Dragon Age: Inquisition has hit the road. We might get a brief mention of the next big story DLC for DAI, but the big meat comprises in the Mass Effect game from BioWare Montreal and BioWare Edmonton’s new IP, headed up by Mac Walters (and Casey Hudson before he left the developer last year). We’ll hopefully get a previously-acknowledged Mass Effect Trilogy pack for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as well.

We’ll also hear more of the Plants vs Zombies game that’ll be announced earlier at Microsoft, we’ll hopefully hear more on Criterion’s new IP and I personally wouldn’t be shocked if a teaser of some sorts was aired for Titanfall 2. While Respawn have said the game won’t be at the show, I wouldn’t put past a 90 second teaser of sorts for it during the press conference.

If EA plays its cards right, it doesn’t show a dramatically different Mirror’s Edge (read: NO GUNS), nails some excellent Mass Effect action and we see Amy Hennig’s Star Wars game announced, I’m unashamed to say EA may win E3 for me.

ubiUbisoft
Monday, June 15 – Conference: 3pm PST/6pm EST/11pm BST, CP LIVE preshow from 2:30pm PST/10:30pm BST
Johnny Cullen|Ben Jones|Chris Scullion|Jake Tucker

Ubisoft had a terrific conference last year. Kicking off with a strong debut of Far Cry 4, despite the appearance of its fitness game and the Just Dance segment, the show had some incredibly strong showings for the rest of its lineup. An alright trailer and decent demo for Assassin’s Creed: Unity, an incredible trailer for The Division, a touching trailer for Valiant Hearts and a great debut for Rainbow Six: Siege, which had host Aisha Tyler in a giddy fangirl state afterwards.

This year, not much is known on Ubisoft’s lineup beyond the end of its financial year (March 31, 2016). Of course, there’ll be new showings of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate – the first game in the series whose development is not led in Montreal – Rainbow Six: Siege and The Division, assuming the latter hasn’t already been demoed at Microsoft.

For others, it’s not too hard to figure out. I’m honestly expecting a Watch Dogs 2 debut during the conference, with the series now officially a mainstay for the publisher. Splinter Cell has, excuse the pun, been off the radar since Blacklist in 2013. Perhaps now is the time to see what adventures Sam Fisher will get up to next in the first Ubisoft Toronto game in the post-Jade Raymond era.

There’s also a new IP in the works which Ubisoft has said it intends to release by the end of the financial year. Considering Ubisoft’s recent stance as of late to have their one more thing dedicated to the reveal of new IP – with Watch Dogs in 2012 and The Division in 2013, the only exception being R6: Siege last year – chances are this’ll be the final game of the conference will be very high.

Put aside the expect awkward Just Dance segment and potential casual game, Ubisoft has the makings for another great press conference.

sony

Sony Computer Entertainment
Monday, June 15 – Conference: 6pm PST/9pm EST/2am BST (Tuesday, June 16); CP LIVE Preshow from 5pm PST/1am BST
Johnny Cullen|Ben Jones|Chris Scullion|Jem Alexander

Surely, this is the year? It has to be? It’s looking like it.

After six years from its first reveal and nearly five years since we last seen a glimpse of it at Tokyo Game Show, it seems like, finally, The Last Guardian will have its grand re-reveal at E3. Numerous outlets have heard of its imminent return, with The Guardian (the newspaper, hurr) sparking life back into it earlier this week. For what it’s worth, I’ve heard similar rumblings that, indeed, Team Ico and Fumito Ueda’s overdue opus will be shown at the presser. It’s happening, kids.

But Last Guardian and the joy of the reannouncement that will bring to many people aside, Sony needs to show a big first-party lineup for Christmas and early 2016, a lineup that even SCE boss Andy House has said is “sparse”. Unless Last Guardian is due this year?

For Christmas, all that’s known is Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. And that’s it. So there may be some within Sony hoping No Man’s Sky, Hello Games’ incredible looking open-galaxy procedural generated explorer, can make it out for the end of the year. Studio boss Sean Murray had said that 2015 “is the year No Man’s Sky come out,” but don’t be too shocked if it slips into 2016. Albeit, there will be a tinge of sadness if it does (for me, I’ll be balling my eyes out).

And… that’s it? Well, for first-parties at Christmas, seemingly yes. A Bloodborne expansion has been already confirmed and that will likely drop before the end of the year, Until Dawn is hitting in August and Tearaway Unfolded should be out by September, but that’s it. So don’t be too shocked if there’s an over-abundance of third-parties on Monday. Expect Star Wars Battlefront, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and, if the rumour from above is true, Call of Duty: Black Ops III to get showings. And expect that big Destiny expansion too.

For the far-flung future, things get more hopeful on the first-party front. Sony Bend, if you believe the online scuttlebutt, is working on an open-world horror game of sorts. Media Molecule should be on the cusp of announcing their big PS4 project outside Tearaway Unfolded that co-founder Mark Healey had exploding at the seems at on Twitter, but that could also be pushed to Sony’s European showcase in Paris in October. Which is also where you can likely expect Quantic Dream’s next game, though there’s has been some suggestion for the past year of a Director’s Cut version of Beyond: Two Souls making its way to PS4 in the meantime. Can we get Heavy Rain instead?

Polyphony Digital has already said its working on Gran Turismo 7, but lord knows when we’ll see. Hopefully, in the interim, Kazunori Yamauci’s team will see fit to release a GT7 Prologue of sorts to tid people over for the wait. If Cory Barlog is at E3, Sony PR will be keeping a closer eye on him this time after slipping up at PlayStation Experience last year his first game back at Sony Santa Monica will be a new God of War. It’s thought it’s still too soon for a reveal in Los Angeles, and there’ll be God of War III Remastered to make do for those who need a PS4 bite of God of War until then, but in its tenth anniversary year, don’t be too shocked to see an announcement at PlayStation Experience.

Then there’s Guerrilla Games and their two studios. It’s assumed the team in Cambridge are working on a new Killzone instalment on PS4 after the somewhat shallow Killzone: Shadow Fall from its Dutch HQ parent, but that could be a Paris Game Week announcement if anything. But as for its Dutch-based HQ, this one has been in the oven for a while. Codenamed Horizon, it’s supposed to be a sci-fi RPG with robosaurs (can’t exactly call them robot dinosaurs now, can I). The team behind Killzone 2 and Killzone 3, led by director Mathjis De Jonge, have been on this now for the past few years. With leaked concept art already out in the open and even a trailer prepped since last year, now is the time to go loud on it.

And all of this without mentioning until now the six sweetest words in the English gaming language – Naughty Dog|Druckmann|Straley|Uncharted 4. And there’s also a big focus planned for Project Morpheus during the conference, apparently.

Sony looks set to be relying heavily on third-party for Christmas, but it does have a comfortable lead going into Christmas with PS4 so maybe just for this year, it can afford to do so. But Monday needs to show a big first-party hand. 2013 only saw one first-party announcement in the dire The Order 1886. Last year was slightly better with two: inFamous: First Light and LittleBigPlanet 3. But it really needs to go all out next week on first-party because, as is on that front, Microsoft will have them dead to rights at Christmas.

And please, for the love of fuck, no Powers, no TV stuff, no enterfuckingtainment stuff. Just games. Only games.

nintendoNintendo
Tuesday, June 16 – Conference: 9am PST/12pm EST/5pm BST; CP LIVE preshow from 8am PST/4pm BST
Johnny Cullen|Ben Jones|Chris Scullion

A year after a Nintendo Direct which saw the big stuff spoiled ahead of time by said company, Nintendo came back in a big way last year with an incredibly charming digital event. Robot Chicken clay animation and skits aside, this was the best software showcase in years from Nintendo. Yoshi Wooly World, Captain Toad, Bayonetta 2, Kirby, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Hyrule Warriors, Mario Maker Splatoon. And not to mention a little thing called The Legend of Zelda. This was the showcase that made me a firm believer of Wii U outside Bayonetta 2.

Now, Nintendo will have another digital event to show what’s coming for 3DS and Wii U. Yoshi’s Wooly World will get another showing before its June 26 release here in Europe, another Xenoblade Chronicles X trailer and hopefully confirmation of a 2015 release, a official release date for Mario Maker, the official announcement of Hyrule Warriors on 3DS, a date for the new Fire Emblem on 3DS and confirmation (hopefully) of a 2016 launch for Fire Emblem x Shin Megami Tensei. And a good long look at Starfox at last as well.

The Legend of Zelda for Wii U, originally due to release this Holiday, is now a dateless game and Nintendo has already confirmed it won’t be at the show, but to get all technical, that doesn’t mean they won’t show a new trailer for the game during the Digital Event. If we do see a new trailer, we’ll hopefully find out the full title for the game as well as a new release timeline for it.

Outside games, more amiibo is a given. But we’ve yet to hear of Nintendo’s Quality of Life output besides this. Surely this is the year we’re going to see – or at least, hear – more plans for it. But the big elephant in the room will be NX. Nintendo announced earlier this year, as part of their deal with mobile giant DeNA, it will continue to manufacture home consoles, but won’t openly talk of the console until 2016. While much of that should hold up, I’d be gobsmacked if Nintendo doesn’t mention it in passing at least.

Nintendo had their strongest E3 in years last year with their digital event. Here’s hoping it’s another doozey on Tuesday. Of course, all of this before next year’s main event.

squaeSquare Enix
Tuesday, June 16 – 10am PST/1pm EST/6pm BST (No preshow)
Johnny Cullen|Ben Jones

Square Enix typically drop their megatons at the first-party conferences. Microsoft was the scene of the Final Fantasy XIII betrayalton seven years ago, whilst Sony has held host to the intital Final Fantasy XIV announce six years ago in 2009 and just two short years ago, the heart attack-inducing double that was Final Fantasy XV (coming from Final Fantasy Versus XIII) and Kingdom Hearts III.

Now, for the first time in nine years since the announcement of the Fabula Nova Crystallis saga (Final Fantasy XIII/Final Fantasy Versus XIII/Final Fantasy Type-0 (nee Agito XIII)), Square Enix will host a full on press conference at E3. And this time, western friends are coming to say hello.

In the time since Square last hosted an E3 press conference, three mainline Final Fantasy games (and sequels) have come and gone, as has their takeover of Eidos, bringing with them some of the biggest, well-known IPs in the west.

For a start, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will get its world première gameplay debut there. And we’re expecting a meatier look at Just Cause 3‘s gameplay too. Plus, more Rise of the Tomb Raider following on from Microsoft the day before. But a new Hitman is almost looking like it’ll be announced. It’s been a year-and-a-half since io Interactive announced it was making a new game in the series that would take it back to its roots. It has to be time for the reveal of what comes next about Absolution. And it won’t hurt to have some Life is Strange reppin’ in there too.

For Japan, this is where it gets prickly. Having been due to show a teaser for the show ahead of a big blowout at gamescom, Final Fantasy XV will now not be in Los Angeles next week and Kingdom Hearts III stuff will have to wait until D23 Japan later in the year. Star Ocean 5 may have to carry the weight of being SEJ’s biggest game for the show, assuming it’s announced for localisation. That said, it won’t be alone either: Dragon Quest Heroes should get a runout too and Final Fantasy XIV expansion Heavensward should get a launch trailer during the conference.

That said, fans have been clamouring for a Final Fantasy XII HD remaster following the success of X HD on PS3, PS4 and Vita. And where is that PlayStation 4 version of the PC port of PlayStation 1 classic Final Fantasy VII, which was announced for a Spring release last December at PSX? We’ll hopefully find out answers to them on Tuesday.

As they once said, please be excited.

pc gamerThe PC Gaming Show
Tuesday, June 16 – Conference: 6pm PST/9pm EST/2am BST (Wednesday, June 17); CP LIVE preshow from 1:45am BST
Johnny Cullen|Ben Jones

Until now, if you’ve been looking for a massive PC centric showing at E3, you’d have to look elsewhere. E3 is for the consoles, PC is basically a second-class citizen at the show. The biggest trade show for PC is at a place where PC gaming is a lot more accepted, gamescom in Cologne, Germany.

But for the first time, PC gaming has a place of its own with Future Publishing’s PC Gamer putting on The PC Gaming Show.

Not much has been revealed in what games are going to be on show, although we’ll get another look at Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Blizzard will have new content for Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft II – not specifically named, but that’s fair to say that could in all likelihood mean final expansion Legacy of the Void.

But it has a ton of developers down for the show, which is billed as a sort of chat show affair, with DayZ creator Dean Hall, Bosskey head Cliff Bleszinski, Creative Assembly, CCP, Devolver Digital, Paradox Interactive, Frictional Games, Fullbright Company and Splash Damage all set for appearances.

Xbox head Phil Spencer will also make an appearance to reinvigorate its plans for PC gaming and how they’ll fit into under the Xbox banner and Windows 10, which is set to launch on July 29.

Hopefully, this’ll be the start of more representation of PC gaming at E3 if this goes well because it has one hell of a great lineup planned for this year as a decent start.

—–

And there it is. E3 2015 in a nutshell. Well, if you’re going on conferences along. The showfloor opens up Tuesday through to Thursday. And then we collapse in a heap on Friday, ponder our life choices and stay in the fetal postition until next June.

But as is, this is shaping up to be the best E3 ever. Here’s hoping it delivers.

Joining me this year for all of the fun will be OMUK producer Ben Jones, ex-CVG and current freelance scribe Chris Scullion, fellow freelance scribe Jem Alexander, Videobrains chief Jake Tucker and OneHitPixel’s David Howard. This isn’t the final list of guests, I’m still trying to nail a few more names down, but they’ll be joining me throughout various conferences. Ben will be with me throughout.

Watch along here on Twitch or in the embedded player below. This is going to be fun.

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