Sunday, June 14, 2015

[E3 2015] Predictions

I won't bother you with a "sorry I haven't posted in a while sob story" and get straight to it: E3 kicks off tonight with Bethesda, and while I could sit here and ramble off what they're going to talk about, it's all known: Fallout 4, Dishonored 2, Doom reboot...

That doesn't interest me. 

What does interest me is talking about the known unknowns: the stuff we know that we don't know. Taking rumors and substantiating them. Making sense of the mess that surrounds the pre-E3 hype. There are nine conferences in the next three days: Bethesda tonight; Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, and Sony tomorrow; Nintendo, Square, and "PC gaming" on Tuesday.
It's going to be a busy next few days.

I won't have time to discuss all nine, so I'm just going to take the Big Three - Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo - and discuss my top five, not-in-order, predictions for what could (and, in some cases, should) come of their conferences.

  • Gears of War remaster - Be it a remake of the first game or the entire trilogy (with or without Judgment), the recent leak and focus on Black Tusk Studios The Coalition gives us visual proof there'll be more Marcus Fenix for the new generation. Hell, we may even get a tease at Gears of War 4, and seeing as it's four years since the third game, we should see something. 
  • Dashboard redesign - The current dashboard of the Xbox One is flat-out awful. Learning how things work does take time, but there's no intuitiveness of the One's dashboard (especially the store). The Xbox 360 went through several evolutions throughout it's life, so it's only natural to expect the same here.
  • Battletoads - Phil Spencer just loves his Battletoads, and there's plenty that Rare can do with the IPs that they still have after all of the key developers have left for better things. It's the only franchise that makes sense for Rare to revisit at the moment.
  • Rise of the Exclusives - Microsoft has a lot going for them later this year with exclusives, primarily, Tomb Raider and Halo 5. Since Sony has delayed Uncharted 4 into next year, the Xbox is the only place for climbing, exploring, climbing, shooting, and climbing to explore while shooting. There will be almost no talk of third-parties, as this will be Microsoft's "the best place to play the best games this year" speech. 
  • “One Last Thing” moment: Banjo tease - I did say "at the moment", but with focus on Playtonic for Yooka-Laylee (developed by those who created Banjo-Kazooie), Microsoft will want to quickly pull some thunder away from them and at least give us a tease of a new Banjo game

  • Heavy emphasis on third-parties/indies - As mentioned above, Sony delayed their biggest game of the latter half of 2015, Uncharted 4, into early next year. Granted, there is The Nathan Drake Collection coming in October, but other than that, there are currently no known first-party titles that I'm stoked for. Keyword there being "known"...
  • God of War IV reveal - We're getting God of War III next month as a way to whet our appetite, and it's typical for Santa Monica to release a new entry with a re-release (III had the Collection of the first two games, and Ascension had the Saga come out the same year, as well). It's been 5 years since the third game, and Ascension did nothing but confirm that prequels do nothing for this franchise. It's time for us to find out if Kratos really did survive that fall this time.
  • Vita and PS4 price drop - Microsoft making the 500 GB Kinect-less Xbox One $350 recently is going to be a big cut to Sony, especially as their momentum is going to be hard to keep without exclusives. With the Vita at $200 and the PS4 at $400, I would expect a $50 cut at least on both platforms, and maybe, just maybe, a hardware combo that includes both for around $400. If Sony really wants that extra "fuck you" to Microsoft, bring the PS4 down to $300. 
  • Destiny - Sony lauded it right before it's release, even to go as far as advertising the PS4 as the "best play to play" the game. With the expansion pass running it's course, and The Taken King looking to be the "Destiny 1.5" that's been rumored since it was known as Comet, I can see them making a big to-do about it and reiterating "the best place to play", especially with a price drop on the system. 
  • “One Last Thing” moment: The Last of Us 2 - Naughty Dog is nearing it's end with Uncharted 4. Historically, they are a one-game-at-a-time developer, with only three franchises to their name: Uncharted, Jak & Daxter, and The Last of Us. People love the franchise, and what would send a message that exclusives are still a thing with the PS4 (just not this year) but with a teaser trailer for The Last of Us 2, set for 2017; a 2016 doesn't make sense, only because of Uncharted 4's early 2016 release.

  • New Metroid - It's been far too long for (a good) Metroid game, which was Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, way way back in 2007, and the last handheld game was Metroid Prime Hunters on the DS in 2006. Samus doesn't draw the crowds that Mario or Link do, but she still commands a top-tier franchise for Nintendo. For them to go this long without a new game was most likely intentional, just to help get rid of the bad taste that was Other M. I honestly don't care on what platform the game comes out, I just want some fucking Metroid, and it appears that Retro is teasing towards something on their Twitter account. The last time we had gone this long without Metroid was between Super Metroid and Metroid Prime, so there's always a silver lining.
  • New 3D Mario - I'm already calling for a potential remake, but the Wii U needs Mario (again). Super Mario 3D World just wasn't the big appeal they were hoping for, selling just over 3 million global units; hell, Smash Bros. and Mario Kart sold more than that (not by much, but still). By comparison, the previous 3D Mario games, Galaxy and Galaxy 2, sold over 11 and 7.5 million units, respectively. Like I said, Wii U needs Mario, and we'll most likely see that with Galaxy 3, or a brand new Mario franchise (ie: SunshineGalaxy). 
  • Another HD remake of a popular first-party entry - In the past few years, Nintendo's string of remakes has been primarily isolated to just Zelda games: Ocarina, Wind Waker, and lately, Majora's Mask. Another Zelda remake would be a safe bet, but I think they've gotten all they can out of the popular entries (really, do you want to drudge through Twilight Princess again?). A remake of either a Mario or Metroid game makes sense, and you could pair that up with whatever new game is coming out. That being said, Metroid is the most likely candidate for a remake, as we've seen what they can do with one (Zero Mission). Fans have been clamoring for a remake of Super Metroid, so doing a dual-release - remake of Super and (we'll call it) Metroid X - would be a nice treat. The Prime and Fusion dual-release was a nice offer, especially with the digital goodies you got for syncing the two together.
  • Revamp all the Things - With the collaboration with DeNA, it's time for Nintendo to shine with what they've been planning, especially since it's due for launch in the fall. A reveal at TGS would be too late, so E3 makes sense. The new loyalty program, starting over on the Wii U OS and GUI, Nintendo Network 2.0, overhauling the eShop purchases, Virtual Console galore...this needs to be when Nintendo shows this off. If they don't, they have no one to blame but themselves.
  • “One Last Thing” moment: Zelda - Yes, we're getting Zelda on the Wii U sometime in the near future, and Nintendo has said that the new game won't be at E3, but a small part of me thinks they'll pull a "lol, we lied" moment and show a different trailer (not a whole lot of new footage, but enough for fans). The murmurs for the new Zelda game is that it's going to go the way of Twilight Princess, and get delayed to become a launch title for the NX in 2017 (stop lying to yourselves, it's not coming next year). To satiate fans, a new handheld Zelda game tease for release next year would be a safe bet. This should be a brand new entry and not tied to any other game (ala Majora's or Twilight).