The Entertainment Software Association’s annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), running this week at the Los Angeles Convention Centre, is traditionally one of the biggest days on the gaming calendar. It’s often where new hardware, major games, and big business deals are announced and disseminated to the global gaming community.
It’s also usually rather chaotic, with so much stuffed into so short a time that it can be difficult to weed through the flood of information and get to the most important bits. To help you hone in on what’s significant, we’ve put together a little cheat sheet highlighting some of the more noteworthy announcements and reveals to come out of this year’s pre-show press conferences and events put on by Microsoft Corp., Nintendo Co. Ltd., Square Enix Co. Ltd., Ubisoft Entertainment SA, Bethesda Softworks LLC, and Electronic Arts Inc.
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But enough preamble. Here’s what you need to know to hold your own in this week’s game-focused water cooler gabs.
1. The next Xbox has a launch window: Holiday 2020
It looks like the next generation of consoles will take flight in about 16 months with the next Xbox, currently code-named Project Scarlett. However, we still don’t have much concrete information about Microsoft’s upcoming hardware other than it features more powerful technology, and it will arrive at the same time as Halo Infinite, the next entry in Xbox’s flagship exclusive game series. Expect the real next-generation frenzy to begin at next year’s E3.
2. Keanu Reeves continues to make everything better
Further proof the beloved Canadian movie star seems unable to do wrong in 2019 came during an extended preview of CD Projekt Red’s (The Witcher series) upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, in which it was revealed that Reeves was playing a key role. More than that, he showed up on stage to promote the game — and actually looked like he was having fun and wanted to be there rather than begrudgingly fulfilling a contractual obligation. Based on glowing social media reactions, he managed to melt the hearts of even the hardest core gamers — not an easy audience to crack.
3. As expected, Sony was a no-show
The latest — and most telling — company to eschew the chaos of North America’s biggest video game show in favour of its own exclusive events is Sony. The Japanese game giant typically casts an enormous shadow at the convention, but this year decided not to have an official presence. There was neither a Sony press conference nor a Sony booth on the show floor. We can expect the hardware and software maker to instead engage gamers on its own terms, likely starting with a PlayStation 5 reveal event later this year or early next.
4. Nintendo Switch continues to host games you can’t play anywhere else
When it comes to platform exclusives, Nintendo proved that it remains the undisputed champion. The storied game company used its Nintendo Direct event to showcase a parade of titles available only on Nintendo Switch, including Luigi’s Mansion 3, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Super Mario maker 2, Astral Chain, Animal Crossing, and Pokemon Sword and Shield. It even teased a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one of the most critically acclaimed games of this generation. Nintendo Switch may not be the most powerful platform out there, but it’s using E3 to prove that it’s got it where it counts.
5. The Final Fantasy VII remake is under a year away
We learned this week that Square Enix’s remake of Final Fantasy VII, one of the most beloved and iconic games of the 1990s, will launch on March 3, 2020. A new E3 trailer shows off the game’s action-heavy combat, gives us a glimpse of fan-favourite character Tifa, is set to composer Nobuo Uematsu’s nostalgic score, and is packed with scenes that suggest this will be one of the most visually sumptuous games of this generation.
6. You can be a deadly vigilante grandma in Watch Dogs Legion
The third instalment in Ubisoft’s near-future hacker action franchise is set in a post-Brexit London brimming with citizen unrest. Even more tantalizing is the player’s ability to take on the role of just about anyone in the city. The reveal trailer showed off the range of characters over whom we can assume control, including a hunched, shuffling old woman who casually assassinates a bad guy with an enormous pistol that seems deeply at odds with her appearance. Score one for diversity?
7. We might actually get a legitimately good single-player Star Wars game
Respawn Entertainment showed off some 14 minutes of footage from the single-player action-adventure game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order at the pre-E3 EA Play event, and it seemed to leave franchise fans cautiously optimistic. It was packed with action — including lightsaber combat and an AT-ST boss fight — along with some gorgeous looking environments, most notably a level set on the Wookie home world Kashyyyk. Fallen Order is set to arrive on November 15 this year.
8. Bethesda is going all in on Deathloop and Doom Eternal
Bethesda declined to show any more of its long-in-the-making The Elder Scrolls VI at this year’s show, instead giving the spotlight over to a couple of its subsidiary studios. Arkane Studios (of Dishonored fame) premiered Deathloop, a first-person action game about a pair of assassins forever trapped on a mysterious island, while id Software revealed that Doom Eternal — the latest entry in its decades-old demon-fighting Martian marine series — will land on shelves November 22nd.
9. George R.R. Martin teams up with FromSoftware for Elden Ring
E3 is known for delivering frustratingly obscure teasers, and this year has been no different. Still, it’s hard not to get excited about Elden Ring, a new project underway at FromSoftware (the makers of the acclaimed Dark Souls games) with a narrative assist from A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin. The short, dark trailer does little beyond encourage one to imagine what such a collaboration might produce, but the names alone are more than enough to make this game one to watch.