Remember bows? They were cool for a hot minute a couple of years back. I'm not sure if it's coincidence, or the umbran cabal of omniscient puppeteers that control the ebb and flow of the games industry (I'm onto you, Obama. And you, boogie2988), but developers regularly cotton onto the same ideas, whether generic, mechanical or just violent.
Here, I'll present to you some box-fresh new gaming trends we'll see emerge at this year's E3, and the games they'll appear in - all of which we'll be complaining about come December. Ready? Let's go! Wheeee!
The toast of Steam Early Access, survival games have only just begun to pop up in earnest on console (mainly because most of them are still unfinished, half-game messes at this point). It's only a matter of time until a mega-dev jumps onto the bandwagon and makes a AAA living-and-crafting game. At which point all the indies will abandon ship and just make platformers again.
Nailed-on: The Flame in the Flood plonks you into the floodpocalypse, KURSK dunks you into a doomed Russian submarine, and Grave is just creepy and weird.
Outside chance: FIFA '16 will include a career mode in which you control a 9 year-old Brazilian street urchin, forced to live off whatever scraps they can find to gain enough strength to play football, with the ultimate goal of being spotted by a European agent on holiday, pumped full of growth hormones and shipped off to Ukraine.
It has been too long. We haven't had a chance to slaughter our world's premier extinct animal category for ages, and with Jurassic World here, this is the year to show people we're still top dog in the evolutionary stakes (by letting us cook evolutionary steaks (look, that's almost a joke, shut up)). Also: new Dino Crisis, please.
Nailed-on: ARK: Survival Evolved not only lets you kill dinosaurs for food, materials and sport, but put massive saddles on them and ride them about like big Darwinian horses. Also, expect to see dinos in Sony's rumoured Horizon game (from the Killzone devs).
Outside chance: Halo 5's huge reveal will be that the "traitor" Master Chief is, in fact, an angry pachycephalosaurus in disguise. The real John-117 is found, armourless and nude, somewhere in a galactic spiral arm.
Now's the time, fellow older people. With a chunk of the gaming audience now born post-Millennium, we can start convincing people that the awful, day-glo '90s were actually the best period in human history. Drinks were poisonous with delightful neon colours, clothes were huge, and games? Well, games were mostly platformers featuring anthropomorphised animals we wouldn't give a second glance to in the zoo, or incredibly complex CRPGs that certain kids (me) simply could not play because we (I) were (was) too stupid. Let's bring it all back!
Nailed-on: Yooka-Laylee is looking like a very creditable homage to Banjo-Kazooie, a '90s platformer actually worth remembering. On the other hand, Divinity: Original Sin is reaching deep into the recesses of RPG history and emerging dirty with mechanical cleverness.
Outside chance: All free-to-play games will be retitled "shareware" just because we're nostalgic for old magazine coverdisks.
It's fair to say that Shadow of Mordor was a surprise - not only because it wasn't total balls, but because it might have introduced one of AAA gaming's most fascinating innovations in the story-making, Orc-brutalising Nemesis system. You can hang your hat on the fact that every developer with writers and programmers to spare will be chucking one of these babies into their new games - we wouldn't have it any other way.
Nailed-on: Er, nothing yet. Don't be surprised to see a new Warner Bros. game pop up having ripped it wholesale from SoM, however.
Outside chance: The next Gears of War will assign every Locust enemy a name, backstory, and a favourite fruit. You still won't care too much about shoving improvised gardening tools through their head, though.
Procedurally Generated Worlds
Quite apart from their basic nerdy "spaaaaace!" draw, Elite: Dangerous and No Man's Sky are exciting for having proven that a little programming work can go a very, very long way. Both are comfortably bigger games than anything else released to date, and it's not down to the hard work of a legion of near-dead artists - it's down to near-dead mathematicians instead. Using programming to generate literally billions of locations pretty much frees you up to do other things - expect galaxies to start popping up in lots of games soon.
Nailed-on: Those two games I just mentioned. Pay attention, for God's sake.
Outside chance: In an attempt to outdo the series' traditionally huge maps, Battlefield 5 will make the surreal choice of making the entire online component a single battle taking place in a literally endless plane of existence. It'll be a huge step forward for computing, but the chances of meeting another player are so remote that you'll go bananas with loneliness long before you get to pull your trigger.
Silent Hills is gone. PT has disappeared. We all think it's sad, but I'm telling you right now, executives at (non-Konami) publishers are all throwing weak high-fives and popping the champagne they were saving for the party they were going to have when we all gave in and accepted 30 DLC packs. The race to be "the new PT" is on. Believe.
Nailed-on: Experimental horror, Nevermind, aims to get inside your mind by, well, getting inside your heart. On PC it uses a heart monitor and on Xbox it uses Kinect to keep track of your insides, amping things up the more frightened you get.
Outside chance: The term "corridor shooter" will be redefined when the Black Ops 3 Zombies mode is set entirely in a single, looping L-shaped hallway.
Extreme sports went the way of plastic instrument music games - and at about the same time. Seemingly untouchable franchises like SSX and Skate. disappeared so suddenly that we barely had a chance to weep. Which I made up for by weeping solidly for the next few years. But Guitar Hero and Rock Band are back - and, as if by magic, so is a new Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. My theory is solid. Prepare to get gnarly, friends.
Nailed-on: Well, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5.
Outside chance: Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will bring back the infamous Metal Gear Solid 2 skateboarding mini-game, except this time Snake is really old. So... it's basically Tony Hawk's 5.
This is my weapon tip for this year. Bows had their time. Last year we saw floaty future-grenades pop up in CoD: Advanced Warfare and The Division. At this year's conference, I think we'll see games going at it with both barrels. It sort of ties into the survival craze - you have to make those shots count. Also: the new Mad Max has been really popular - no publisher worth their salt is going to miss out on some sweet cross-pollination dollar.
Nailed-on: Well, apart from the Mad Max game making it your only real projectile weapon outside of a car, the Doom teaser made it pretty clear where its armament allegiances lie.
Outside chance: Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC will attempt to build hype for the new Mass Effect by making a time-travelling Wrex appear as a party member, complete with a massive shotgun that makes magic look weak as hell.
We all saw how far a simple "sex on a dead unicorn" scene can go in terms of advertising when Conan played The Witcher 3. His Lazy Gamer segment is about get a whole lot more weird and raunchy, in equal measures.
Nailed-on: Well, technically all sex in Mass Effect is outlandish, because it is in space. Space is 'out of land'. So that.
Outside chance: A newly-revealed Viva Pinata is going to be gross.