Last week we told you why you're going to love Gamescom 2013. But in that article we were tickling your happy faces with the broad-stroke brush of GC hype, detailing the show's increasing importance and explaining why it's now a perfectly legitimate European cousin to E3. Today however, we're going to get granular.
You see we've been thinking more specifically about this Gamescom, and we've come up with our customary array of predictions for the show. Big announcements, big reveals, and more than a bit of exciting next-gen goodness lie within. Dave's going to be at the show from tomorrow onwards, and obviously you'll get all the deets as they happen if you stick to GamesRadar for the duration. But in the meantime, click along and find out why we reckon that this year's Gamescom could be the most important in years.
There will be new Xbox One exclusives
So, Microsoft has pretty much confirmed that its going to be announcing a new, exclusive title for Xbox One. What will it be? There were several notable rumours circling before E3. Many expected a Fable to make an appearance, but its likely that Microsoft held back to give the Elder Scrolls Online announcement time to sink in. That still probably stays true. But don't forget that Fable III was revealed at Gamescom 2009...
What Microsoft needs is a killer exclusive to lure back gamers left in the cold after their DRM and Kinect policies caused a stir. Even if its just target footage, expect something significant like a next-gen Gears of War or something classic from the Rare back catalogue. There were whispers of a new Banjo before E3
Blizzard will bring something new
Theres something brewing at Blizzard. While any major new announcements will undoubtedly be saved for 2013s Blizzcon, expect the PC giant to confirm something at Gamescom. Were betting itll be a new expansion and update for World of Warcraft, orsomething that has been long rumouredit could be the confirmation of WoW for next-gen consoles.
Wed be disappointed if this was Microsofts big exclusive but it would be a significant ace up Xbox Ones sleeve. Subscriber numbers have fallen since WoWs 11+ million heyday, but a console port along with a major visual update could lure them back. Fast.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown will get a sequel
Rumours have been circulating that theres more to come from Firaxis. The Bureau, XCOMs foray into third-person shooting, is out this week after a long development cycle. However, it has been handled by the team at 2K Marin, leaving Firaxis time to develop either a significant expansion or a potential sequel to Enemy Unknown.
Theres definitely appetite for a new XCOM. Enemy Unknown was something of a surprise hit last year, and since then it has been ported to tablets, further expanding its audience. File this one as very likely. Then redact that file until later this week.
PS4 and Vita will officially team up
A couple of weeks ago we suggested a number of ways that PS4 could save Vita. Well, one way is for Sony to create a PS4+Vita bundle, and to sell it this Christmas. Gamescom has traditionally been the time for Sony to make second-tier hardware announcements (like slim consoles, and new versions of PSP), making a PS4 / Vita combo hugely likely.
Sony is in a great position to reverse the fortunes of its handheld. Its currently under-cutting the price of the Xbox One by 80 / $100, which could be the magic number when it comes to selling Vita as a perfect next-gen accessory. In other words, were calling it now: 429 / $499 for a PS4 and a Vita, this Christmas.
Microsoft will cut out Kinect
While were on the subject of hardware Now that Microsoft has pulled another U-turn by removing the need for Kinect to operate Xbox One, the company has paved the way for a cut-price console only offering. Again, Gamescom would be the perfect time to confirm something like this.
Now that Kinect is a nice to have rather than an integral part of the Xbox One experience, Microsoft can remove it from the cost of some machines. We reckon they could save roughly, hmmm, 80 / $100 per console. Which would mean they could offer a 350 / $399 Xbox One without Kinect. This means they can compete on an even footing with Sony, while offering a full-price Kinect bundle for the Xbox faithful. Hey, if we were Microsoft, its what wed do
Nintendo will do nothing
Nintendo continues to merrily separate itself from not only traditional gaming events (it hosted a painfully flat Nintendo Direct at E3 instead of hosting a press conference), but also from the traditional console cycle. Nintendo will have several playable games on the show floor, but you already know about them, and there are no plans for a Gamescom-themed Direct.
Right now it feels like Nintendo is playing the role of the mad old sea captain, boldly steering the troubled ship Wii U towards a terrifying cluster of rocks. Maybe Captain Ninty is a genius. Hes carefully piloting a course through the rocks to avoid running aground in shallow water. Or maybe hes genuinely gone brain-wrong from too much rum, and hes simply steering towards the rocks
Battlefield 4 will be there in force
No brainer this one, but expect to see much more info on Battlefield 4s multiplayer at Gamescom. DICE has already reached out to its social media communities asking what fans want to see revealed at the show. Now, theres no way DICE could prep something at the last minute, so were thinking a fan favourite map is incoming.
Want our prediction? Of course you do. Two words: Wake Island. Its one of the all-time classic Battlefield maps, so fans will demand it anyway. Plus, Battlefield 4 has a greater emphasis on boats and naval combatexactly the kind of thing you need to make Wake Island work. Even if Wake Island doesnt make it to Gamescom, wed bet our last bullet on the map making it to BF4.
PS Vita will get some love
Vita will be getting some new game announcements at GamesCom. Thats 99.9% certain. However, whether theyll be proper, AAA games, companion titles, or just more indie games remains to be seen. If Sony is going all-in with a PS4 and Vita bundle, it makes sense that well see spin-off games for some of PS4s big titles like Driveclub, Infamous, and something like Watch Dogs or Assassin's Creed.
Failing that, expect a barrage of Indie hits, as Sony looks to bulk out Vitas pre-Christmas release list. Hey, we love indie games, and Assassin's Creed III: Liberation was fine and dandy, but what were really hoping for is a couple of mega-reveals. Gran Turismo Vita? GTs kind of dull these days, but the IP's huge so an announcement would still turn heads. A proper Last of Us game on Vita? We can dream, cant we
Media Molecule will reveal... something
Two things. Firstly, Tearaway is almost finished. Its releasing this winter. Secondly, Media Molecule is one of Sonys premier first-party studios, and one that is yet to play its hand on PS4. Perhaps thats why were taking rumours about MM prepping some kind of reveal with a little less salt than usual.
The logical conclusion would be to assume the studio is working on a LittleBigPlanet for PS4. Perhaps, although MM has regularly, publically distanced itself from the LBP series since number two. Tearaway demonstrates that the studio is willing to throw new games into the mix (although both LBP and Tearaway have certain craft-heavy themes going on), so we could see something brand newand inevitably awesomefrom the team.
The Dark Knight will return
Get excited: the third Batman game (of the current series) will be at Gamescom. Youll see people playing it, and chances are itll be awesome. The series has moved away from original devs, Rocksteady, but the template will stay very much the same. Can we expect anything new and radical from it? Unlikely, but were so ready for another 20 hours of the Dark Knight.
Will there be any news on a next-gen Batman? No. Warner is looking to keep focus on Arkham Origins for the rest of the year, and Rocksteady is very much on lock-down at the moment. If we had to guess, wed tell you to expect a new Batman at E3 2014, running on both Xbox One and PS4.
PlayStation Plus will level up for next-gen
With the PS4 having already captured hearts and minds at E3, Sony now needs to consolidate that position by filling in the gaps with delicious, zesty garnishes. Chief amongst those will be the new iteration of PlayStation Plus. With the paid subscription service now a more fundamental part of the PlayStation make-up (it'll operate in a similar manner to Xbox Live Gold when it launches for the PS4), Sony will want to explain exactly how it works and exactly why gamers will want to sign up for it.
What do we reckon Sony will showcase? Well a new pricing model (or models) is likely, as is an expanded Instant Game Collection line-up (possibly with different tiers at different cost brackets). We also expect some revelation of the new PS+'s expanded functionality beyond online gaming and free titles. Expect a look at how the subscription will tie into the PS4's much-vaunted media-sharing capabilities, as well as maybe how it might discount non-game content like films and TV.
Ja, oder nein?
So there are our current clairvoyant considerations for Gamescom 2013. Reckon we're accurate with any, or indeed, all of them? And what are your predictions? Well-reasoned, sober musings or wild, feverish dream-thoughts; we'll take them all.
And while you're here, have a look at some of related stuff. If you haven't already read it, then Dave's editorial on why you will love Gamescom 2013 is a good place to start. And then why not refresh yourself on the 'prequel' to this year's GC with our fictionalised version of LA's events in E3 2013: The Movie?