E3 2016 is less than a month away, so the time has come to predict what we'll see when Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo (in a severely reduced presence), Ubisoft, EA, Bethesda and Square Enix present their offerings in Los Angeles at the gaming industry's biggest trade show (12-17 June).
Kicking things off with the current industry leaders, Sony enters the E3 fray as confident as ever and with a lot to show off. Last year Sony stole the show by announcing two games still at least a year from release (Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Shenmue 3) and reintroducing a game long-feared dead (The Last Guardian). In part it did this because it had little to offer that would be out in 2015, but it succeeded in winning it the biggest headlines of the show.
Sony could well update fans on the progress of both Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Shenmue 3, though we'd say the latter is a little less likely. A trailer for either makes most sense, with a glimpse at gameplay and, in the case of the former, a better idea of how the game will be released. As for The Last Guardian, it needs to show its face again – 12 months on from its last public appearance – or the troubled project will once again be thought to be in serious trouble. A decent-length gameplay demo with something playable on the show floor is the only way to ease fan concerns.
Of the announced titles widely expected to show up, Horizon: Zero Dawn is the biggest. Guerrilla Games' open world exclusive, was a popular debutant last year and is likely to be a big focus at the show. We saw gameplay and got a trailer last year, expect the same again. Release date news should be expected as well. Gran Turismo: Sport will be there, following next week's (19 May) press conference and gameplay reveal.
One unannounced game that is likely to finally rear its head and take centre stage is God of War 4, believed to have been in the works for some time. A recent alleged leak showed concept art for a game that would take anti-hero Kratos (or a new incarnation of the character) away from Greek mythology and into the Norse realm of Thor, Odin and Valhalla. If it is announced at the show, expect an impressive trailer.
No Man's Sky will be just a week or so away from release by the time Sony's presser comes around. It has been a regular at Sony's recent shows, but at this stage gamers will have seen enough of it, so there's no need for an extended appearance here. A quick trailer, some cool nugget of new information – in and out in a couple of minutes. Job done. JUST GIVE US THIS GAME.
Sony will be expected to address the big ongoing PlayStation story this year: that it is at work on an upgraded version of the PS4. There have been so many reports regarding the PS4.5 (apparently codenamed Neo) that it almost certainly exists. If Sony were to not address it, that would only result in lost sales for the company, as consumers wait to find out whether they are wasting their money or not. The device, believed to improve game performance without splitting the PS4 user base – is expected to launch later this year.
One piece of Sony hardware that has been announced and we know is coming this year is PlayStation VR, which is sure to figure in Sony's press conference somehow. Virtual reality is a tricky concept to demo effectively on a stage, so it may not be shown off for a huge amount of time, but it will be there. Ahead of PSVR's release in October, Sony will be well aware of the opportunity it has to dominate the early days of this virtual reality era.
The obvious source of another unannounced Sony game is Sucker Punch Studios – the team behind the Infamous series. Recent rumours have suggested it is working on a Spider-Man game, but with Activision believed to be in possession of the rights it would be tricky for Sony to make the game PS4 exclusive. It does have a good relationship with the publisher however.
In recent years Activision has pitched its E3 tent at the Sony press conference and that's unlikely to change. A demo of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare Remastered is basically a lock, and we'll likely hear more from Bungie about this year's Destiny expansion too. Could this also be the time to announce Destiny 2? Interest in the series has waned slightly, and announcing the sequel set for next year will certainly get people interested again.
Keeping things third party, Final Fantasy 15 is sure to feature as the Square Enix behemoth rolls on toward its September release date. With a lot riding on its success, Square will be eager to make a good impression. A live gameplay demo would be ideal.Keeping things Square, former Xbox One exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider is set to be released on PS4 later this year – expect that to show up and for Sony to act like this is the first time the game is being released.
In terms of surprises, how about Resident Evil 7? Capcom's recent earnings report hinted toward big plans for the series, and the game is certainly due. If it does appear, it's as likely to be at Sony's show as it is at Microsoft's.
Rockstar Games tends to steer clear of E3, but when it has shown up it's usually been at Sony's press conference – most recently with a trailer revealing the PS4 and Xbox One versions of Grand Theft Auto 5. The people want Red Dead Redemption 2 and with each passing day news of Rockstar's next game grows more and more overdue. Could E3 be the venue of this potential show-stealer?
And now, to finish off, a quick Sony press conference predictions lightning round: