We're less than two weeks away from E3 2012 and the Internet is alight with all sorts of rumours regarding the showing we're going to see from developers such as EA and Ubisoft, and of course the big three in Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony.
We've heard that Microsoft are going to be placing an emphasis on Xbox Live services rather than games - and whilst they've publicly stated that they won't be discussing anything regarding their next-generation console, I'm not ruling out anything.
Nintendo have been coy over the hardware specs of the Wii U and possible launch titles, and it remains to be seen whether their new console will (proverbially) sink or swim.
Finally, Sony has stated that it will be showcasing 20 new gaming experiences, with rumours of a price cut for the Vita and perhaps (well, hopefully) the launch of new entries to the Killzone and Infamous series'.
So without further ado, here's what I want to see at E3 this year -
Nintendo steal the show
With the upcoming launch of its next-generation console and array of first and third-party games to be announced, Satoru Iwata and co. should hang their heads in shame if they don’t leave gamers drooling. First-party titles such as Pikmin 3, New Super Mario Brothers Mii and Shield Pose have been confirmed, but Nintendo need to place a strong focus on third-party titles if they want to recapture the attention of the “core” market. We know that Assassin’s Creed III will be amongst its third-party launch titles, as well as Batman: Arkham City, Darksiders II and DiRT 3, to name a few.
However, if Nintendo are really serious about their target market being “core” gamers, then it must secure future blockbuster releases such as GTA V, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and BioShock Infinite, to give gamers a reason to buy the Wii U, and only the Wii U. On top of this, they need to show they mean business concerning their online infrastructure. Friend codes need to be abolished, and a more accessible online system needs to be put in place and revealed, to instill confidence in those who may skeptical.
We know that they’ll be offering digital distribution, which is a step in the right direction, whilst cloud storage has been rumoured. Without a doubt, Nintendo are going to put on a strong showing this year at E3, and if they can deliver on the majority of the aforementioned prospects, Microsoft and Sony may as well not even exist.
No hardware reveal from Microsoft or Sony – unless it’s coming soon
That’s right, I don’t want to see Microsoft or Sony reveal their respective next-gen consoles unless they’re coming soon – and by soon I mean within the next year. There’s no point rushing an unveiling simply to steal the spotlight away from Nintendo. Even hints at new hardware and possibly the announcement of launch titles to accompany the consoles would be enough to get people talking.
If either company is not planning on releasing a new console in the near future, they should stick to their current-gen systems and focus on new games and services to deter gamers away from the Wii U.
Sony breathe life into the Vita
We’ve heard rumours of a price drop (unlikely to happen, but would certainly be welcomed), and we know that the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection will be released on June 29, but currently the Vita is lacking and Sony really need to go out on a limb and give gamers a reason to go out and grab the handheld. The portable is missing mainstream appeal, and whilst some great titles are available (namely Rayman Origins and Unchartered: Golden Abyss), it craves a selling point that can only be attained through a big-name release such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 or Killzone 4.
The Call of Duty and Killzone titles are almost are necessity at this stage for the Vita, as they would create an appeal for the product that does not currently exist. A new addition to the Infamous series, perhaps as a Vita exclusive would further bolster its lineup and could really give developers a chance to maximise the capabilities of the handheld and provide gamers with an innovative portable gaming experience. The long-awaited Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time will also be seeing a Vita release (as well as on the PS3) and should help the user base grow by winning over nostalgic fans.
Microsoft ensure they're not left for dead (no pun intended)
Microsoft have been extremely tight-lipped regarding what they’re planning for E3, with rumours circulating that they’ll be focusing more on online services than games, one has to be a little worried – but do they have an ace up their sleeve? Will they reveal anything about Bungie’s forthcoming venture, Destiny? We know that Halo 4 will receive an extremely strong showing, as well as other anticipated titles such as Forza: Horizon, Fable: The Journey and Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour.
Whatever the case, Microsoft need to distinguish themselves from rivals Nintendo and Sony, which they can achieve through innovation. Providing some truly unique online services will bolster their showing, as well as proving the kinect critics wrong with innovative demos of Fable: The Journey and Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour. Kinect does not have a lot offer to the "core" and "hardcore" gamers, and this is Microsoft's opportunity to change that. Microsoft are this year’s dark horse, and really need to pull off something special to steal the attention from Nintendo and Sony.
Blockbuster games live up to their hype
E3 2012 is set to boast a pretty impressive array of games. Assassin’s Creed III, Far Cry 3, The Last of Us, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Borderlands 2, Crysis 3, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Halo 4, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and God of War: Ascension all spring to mind. It’s safe to say I’m going to be spending the majority of the next year attempting to get through all of these stellar releases (and that’s not even all of them).
I for one am particularly interested in The Last of Us, being skeptical of the fact that it may be a little too similar to the Unchartered series from what I’ve seen (prove me wrong, Naughty Dog). Also interesting will be the unveiling of The Elder Scrolls Online, ZeniMax’s new MMO project based on the world of Tamriel. Sadly, we won’t be seeing any showing from Rockstar with GTA V or Irrational Games with Bioshock Infinite. With so many brilliant games on offer this year, let’s hope we’re left wanting more.
This year’s E3 expo is firmly shaping up to become perhaps the biggest and most anticipated we’ve seen in recent years. With Nintendo’s new next-gen console on the way, some great exclusives from Sony and Microsoft hopefully set to announce something special, we’re certainly in for a treat.
By Jake Galouzis - Bio