With E3 2012 on the horizon, we take a look at what we can expect to see from Microsoft's E3 conference.
E3 is here! As such, it’s time for the next 12 months of the gaming landscape to be shaped and crafted, turning its expectant public into mouth-watering zombies at the thought of what is to come. Each of the three major publishers will have some surprises up its sleeve, but what can we expect from Microsoft? Don’t be too shocked if it’s any of the following…
The Futures Bright, The Futures BlackCall Of Duty: Blacks Ops 2
Call Of Duty: Black Ops is the best-selling Xbox game of all time. It may be developed by Treyarch – long thought of as the ‘B-developer’ when it comes to the franchise – but as of right now can lay claim to outdoing all its peers by a considerable margin.
Not only does the now fabled videogame analyst Michael Pachter agree with us, stating that it’s “very likely” to be publicised in all its glory at E3, you’d have to be insane to think this wasn’t on the cards.
Microsoft has almost got itself into a pattern where Call Of Duty is concerned, showcasing a hands-on demo right as its conference starts.
This isn’t to say it makes the industry itself all that excited. While no one doubts Call Of Duty’s success or that it’s deserving of it, this is the first year in a while where those behind the consoles seem more hungry and wanting of innovation.
Cory Davis, co-creative director at Yager, currently working on Spec Ops: The Line, almost sees independent projects as having the potential to knock COD off its perch.
“If the third party can’t come with some really solid new titles for the coming years which will be released on major consoles, we will see a huge shift in the types of games that we are able to fund and develop. This is a really risky, but also interesting time for the big console publishers like Sony and Microsoft, and will drastically affect my work in the future.”
If we take Microsoft’s statement that it won’t have any new console information at the event as read, it poses the question as to what twists it does have in store. Our friend Mr Pachter assured us that “there are a couple of surprises” before teasing us even more by saying “that’s all I know.”
Where can Gears Of War 3 go now?Gears Of War
Let’s get straight to the point. Out of all the games we’re anticipating or know that are going to pop up around E3, a new Gears Of War is the one that has confused us more than anything else.
“I don’t think there will be a Gears reveal” was Pachter’s direct response and our gut tells us he might be right.
Epic has no choice but to finally explain what Fortnite is but that surely isn’t enough from a studio who is sitting pretty with the best. It may mean, then, that such information comes in the form of what Epic would like to do when the next-generation finally rolls around.
Davis agrees: “I would be interested in hearing any solid details about future console hardware. As developers, we were raped for memory (RAM) in this generation. There were some horrible decisions made on all sides from the major console developers in this regard.
"It really limited our ability to create great games, and forced us to work in a non-efficient (expensive) manner in order to fit our ambitious projects into memory without tons of loading screens, we can live without a lot of the frills which are being discussed regarding new consoles, but having plenty of memory will allow us to continue to innovate.”
We'll likely find out just how sexified Cortana has become at E3 this year.Halo 4
Microsoft has recently confirmed that Halo 4 will come out on 6 November 2012. For those that may have missed the connection, 343 Industries has essentially slotted itself into Call Of Duty’s early November slot.
Now, there’s nothing to suggest that Black Ops 2 won’t have a different day planned this year – nothing is ever set in stone. You’d be surprised how much publishers know about their rival’s games and it’s not like a new release window would effect COD’s sales.
As fond as we are of Halo: Reach and ODST they lacked one very important person: the Master Chief.
So, come E3, what can we expect? It’s a given that Microsoft will have a walkthrough demo, the first shown to the public and finally backing up the claims that is the best Halo game anyone has ever seen.
You can also anticipate the lid properly being lifted off Spartan Ops and the revolutionary multiplayer 343 has been keen to bang on about.
Michael Pachter agrees with us again, saying with almost 100% confidence that this is exactly what Microsoft will do. Could this really be it, though? Hardly.
With a new console announcement all but dead in the water – although, remember, there are at least two surprises in store – don’t be too slack-jawed to be introduced to a new hardware-sku dedicated to the newest adventure of the Master Chief as well as a tease as to what its DLC plans are.
Even a slither of information on GTA5 would be appreciated, Rockstar.Grand Theft Auto 5
Rockstar does not make a habit of attending E3. Its last big announcement came courtesy of Microsoft’s conference and the arms of one Peter Moore. No one will ever forget that moment… it was deserved too.
Grand Theft Auto IV coming to the Xbox 360 alongside the PS3 was one of the biggest console exclusive shifts for some time, bringing the world’s biggest game to an even bigger audience.
So why should we even have an inkling that Rockstar is planning to pull a rabbit out of the hat? The now much-discussed GTA V release date.
Everything from the month we find ourselves in right now to April 2013 has been put forward as a potential window, the latest rumour (strongly supported by many) suggesting that Rockstar’s next epic is actually headed for October… this year.
But Mr Pachter’s told us “it’s not likely.” Suspiciously uncommitted for a man who has made many bold claims in the past. We spoke to two different employees at two game retail different stores who both said unequivocally that GTA 5 would be on shelves October 2012.
When asked if there was a chance it could come out in 2013, their simple answer was “We don’t think so.” It would be the revelation of all revelations if this was in Rockstar’s plan, and making it known in June does it give it plenty of time to get the ball rolling, but given the magnitude of the franchise and the power it wields, we’re still warming towards an early release next year.
We've already heard plenty of rumours surrounding Dead Space 3, all sounding plausible.Dead Space 3
Dead Space 3 was currently nothing more than a series of leaked information from 2011… and then April rolled around. Apparently outed by South African retailer BT Games, who also decided to show pre-order information regarding Need For Speed: Most Wanted 2, it’d be fair to put this down to nothing more than a mistake and be done with it.
Unfortunately, it’s not the first time the shop has done something similar and actually been correct. For example, PlayStation exclusives Jak and Daxter HD and God Of War 4 (now known as Ascension) along with Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer component all popped on the site before being announced.
Carrying on from this is EA’s constant chatter that it certainly wants to continue the series, alongside plenty of escaped artwork apparently showing our friend Isaac Clarke fighting against a new enemy: the colour white. Furthermore, the publisher has promised new titles for its own conference and it doesn’t come much bigger than Dead Space 3.
The real kicker is that there are even plenty of rumours of how it will all shape up. Set on the icy planet of Tau Volantis, Isaac crash lands and has to combat blizzard-like conditions in order to stay alive.
Coming across a survivor, who informs him that the original Dead Space’s Ellie is alive and close-by, you’ll also meet Jennifer. Who or what she is remains in the hands of E3, but remember to give us a slow clap if we’re right.
Jade Raymond has been chatting about Splinter Cell, but does that mean it'll be at E3?Splinter Cell
Jade Raymond and Ubisoft have been working on the new Splinter Cell, and confirmed to be doing so, for such a long time we’re not sure it hasn’t already been released.
Considering this, you’d think it was a definite arrival at E3. Amazingly, this may not be the case. Ubisoft has bigged up the new Rainbow Six to such a degree, it seems almost a certainty that this will be its focus, especially considering there may have been some major tweaks since the concept video was released a few months ago. Pachter backs up such sentiments: “Ubisoft is due for Rainbow 6, so that is more likely than the new Splinter Cell [I would imagine].”
What if, however, the changes to the very evolutionary Patriots have changed by such a margin that it fails to ignite the gaming world as it did back in November of last year?
Maybe Ubisoft is aware it needs a back-up, and Splinter Cell 6 could very well be it. It’s not as if Raymond has been quiet about it either.
Talking to CVG, she said: “It will have all of the action flick elements for sure, but we're trying to also explore something a little bit more interesting that is actually one of the themes that's at the root of the franchise historically, but never has been surfaced so much.”
Microsoft will likely make E3 2012 all about Kinect.Kinect
For us, Kinect has to rule E3 this year. Still not living up to the potential it has often seemed capable of and in no way shape or form being ready for a technological upgrade, 2012 has to be the year Microsoft finally makes the world stand up and take notice.
Jem Lee from Sumo Digital agrees: “I’d love to see something ground-breaking [at E3] with Kinect. I’d love to see a developer like Rare who have been doing the Kinect stuff for a while – and they’ve done some great games on it – but I’d like to see those guys, or whoever else, do something that makes you go ‘Ah. Alright!’ because I’m not sure there’s been that yet.
"There’s so many creative and smart guys – way more creative and smarter than me – who should be able to utilise that tech and come up with something really fascinating.”
Plan to see Crytek’s Ryse – about time, too – as well as the first outing of ‘proper’ games on the motion-sensing peripheral. Unfortunately, one of them will definitely not be Gears Of War: Exile, due to its cancellation last month.
When will we see MGS5? Hopefully soon.Metal Gear Solid 5
Metal Gear Solid 4 never came to the Xbox 360. Although for some time it was rumoured, gossiped about and, on occasion, unofficially confirmed, it remains a PlayStation 3 exclusive.
Obviously this will change with the upcoming Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – and more information is already confirmed on that front for the summer’s biggest showcase – but does Hideo Kojima plan to walk onto Microsoft’s stage and finally announce that a true Metal Gear title is headed to the 360?
Analysts predict that we could see the fifth in the series anywhere between April 2013 and May 2014, making an E3 unveiling more than possible.
Furthermore, the Japanese designer has recently been very keen to show off his new photo-realistic Fox engine, possibly all leading up for a proper drop in June.
If it’s planned for the current generation of consoles Konami would be exceptionally brave to miss E3 entirely (next year’s is sure to be dominated by what’s next hardware-wise) and this summer would give enough time for the usual excessive build and marketing a game like that has earned.