E3 2016 is imminent... stand-by
E3 2016 is mere weeks away, and we already have a good idea what games will be at the show. PS4, Xbox One, PC, and even Nintendo - who have increasingly shied away from the event - will all be looking to make a splash for various reasons. Microsoft and Sony are battling for your attention in this crucial, mid-life-cycle stage of their console's lifespan, PC owners are being courted for VR, and Nintendo desperately needs to get back on the horse.
With that in mind, here are the very biggest games you can expect to see at E3 2016. It's not an exhaustive list, but it boils down the titles that will raise the biggest cheers at the show. Obviously there will be surprises too, but here are the hottest games we already know about.
The Battlefield 1 reveal caused quite a stir, and with good reason. Heading back to WW1 feels - ironically - like the breathe of fresh air the series needs, and response to the announcement trailer has been unprecedented. What’s got us excited? It’s the promise of more intimate combat, with shorter range weaponry and melee implements featuring more heavily. There’s a more analogue, direct feel to the weaponry that makes everything feel less complicated, more simplistically savage. On top of that the settings should be genuinely fresh, plus the prospect of new classes, heaps of vehicles, horses, and the ability to pilot a zeppelin or battleship… it’s all hugely exciting, and the world still knows relatively little about the whole thing.
Titanfall was a hell of a good time and an engaging spin on multiplayer shooters. Did grabbing a pilot out of their Titan ever get old? No. No, it did not. Neither did shooting down a drop ship at the last moment, foiling the other team’s escape. Several elements of Titanfall did get old a bit too quickly, though. The game had a lot of great ideas, but what it didn’t have was any kind of single-player mode, and with just a handful of game types and maps, it all began to feel too thin too quickly. Titanfall 2 will hopefully build on what came before, delivering the fast-paced, wall-running, mech-punching combat we adored, along with enough variety to keep players around for the long haul. We are prepared for Titanfall... again.
Gears of War 4
Gears of War 4 is a fresh start on pretty much every level. We have a new developer, The Coalition, led by ex-Epic man Rod Fergusson. We have a new cast and story, picking up 25 years after Gears 3 with Markus’ Fenix’s son, J.D. But perhaps most importantly, we have a clean slate, Gears 4’s design sweeping away the last couple of games’ excesses and stripping things back to the basics of the 2006 original. Fear, tension, close, demanding combat, a two player co-op limit, and a set-up where a single enemy is enough to scare the crap out of you. Sounds incredibly refreshing.
The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda Wii U is a bit of a mystery at the moment. Nintendo has been coy about revealing too much about it; we haven't seen Link in his traditional green garb, there's new open-world gameplay we know nothing about, and there are no clues about the story whatsoever. That's why I'm so excited to see what Nintendo is going to show at E3 2016. The game is still said to be released this year, and if that's true, Nintendo needs to put the new Zelda in the spotlight. There are also strong rumors that the game could end up on Nintendo's NX, and if Zelda is going make that transition, it might be the game that showcases the capabilities of the new console.
Destiny expansion / Destiny 2
We don't know for sure that Destiny 2 will be announced at E3 2016, but mounting evidence certainly seems to suggest it. As to why it's worth getting excited over, you need only look at how much vanilla Destiny has changed since launch. Three expansions later, Destiny finally has a leveling system that makes sense, more customization options, and a story that … well, at least there is one now. The lessons learned by Bungie were hard, as critics and players alike lamented the lack of content, nonsensical, threadbare plot, and the slog for better gear. If Destiny is the proof of concept, look to Destiny 2 as the game that will prove the formula not only works, but can be truly exceptional. Even if it doesn't garner the hype that the original did, as long as Bungie adds matchmaking to Raids, I'm in.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
It’s going to be an interesting time for Adam Jenson in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. While the previous game had a range of possible endings, Mankind Divided picks the one where all augmented people went crazy. As a result anyone with enhancements is now treated like a criminal and it’s basically a bad time for people with robot bits. Cue resistance and Adam’s new role hunting down rogue augs. This instalment promises to nail the freedom that the previous game didn’t quite perfect with new gear and hopefully more freedom, building on what already works from before. So that means better shooting if you want to take the action route, and more exciting non-lethal options if you still want action but with a lower body count.
Mass Effect Andromeda
It’s definitely time to move on and the lack of a '4' on the end of Mass Effect Andromeda is a very clear sign we’re shifting into fresh and uncharted territory without our beloved Commander Shepard. Given the fact that we still don’t have a name for our hero - other than the widely rumoured ‘Rider’ emblazoned on a set of dog tags in the trailer - expect that to finally be revealed at this year’s E3. We’re also banking on footage of the teased increased exploration, more vehicles and settlement building as humans colonise the Andromeda galaxy. And, hey, did someone say something about jetpacks?
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Now this is a post-apocalypse that I can really get behind. Civilization as we know it is a thing of the ancient past in Horizon: Zero Dawn, but this new world is vibrant and thriving. Life has, uh, found a way, and bizarre new creatures roam the land. Giant animals made from the detritus of our former world, flocking and hunting like their flesh-and-blood predecessors? Yeah, sign me up. We’ve seen futures that go high-tech and those that go low, but Horizon looks to be blending the two into a new and intriguing spin on the open world adventure as heroine Aloy takes down mighty technobeasts with her bow, her arrow, and her wits. We don’t know a darn thing about the story yet, so hopefully this E3 will clue us in.
The surprise hit of last year’s Gamescom, our recent two-hour play of the historical open-world crime spree revealed that the best of the series is still present and correct, but reshaped to create a far more involved free-roaming experience, with freedom and tactical choice at its core. Beating down the mob means hitting all of their going concerns so that you can take over, and your means of doing that are vast and varied. Assassination, destruction of property, good old fashioned theft... All are open to be tackled, and in any way you see fit. Go loud, ghost it through, get creative with explosives and traps, or snipe a target from across the road and walk away. There's almost a light touch of Metal Gear and Hitman in anti-hero Lincoln's freedom to get the job done, making Mafia 3 the open-world game to keep an eye on this year.