We’re just a month out from E3 2019, and that buzzing you hear in the distance isn’t a cloud of locusts. It’s understandable to confuse it as such, though – the way the industry and gaming community descends upon the faintest hints of a spoiler or rumor, devouring it wholesale and regurgitating it through a dozen speculation threads on Reddit or Resetera, certainly leaves a trail of devastation similar to an insectile horde making its way through the fields.
And, well, you want to know too, don’t you? You can be honest; this is a non-judgmental space. The hype for a long-awaited game, or a returning franchise, or a new paradigm-shifting work of interactive art is a big part of our zeitgeist. While E3 itself might be waning in importance, as the advent of digital journalism throws awry the magazine planning and release cycles that allowed for the expo’s prominence in the first place and major players like Nintendo and Sony increasingly divert resources and attention to self-curated channels, its place on the calendar still marks the most important week in gaming.
And, like every year, information about what’s to come has steadily leaked out – if not been outright confirmed, to drum up interest. Here are the highlights for what’s to come – minus Borderlands 3, given that Randy Pitchford didn’t even bother to wait for June this year to spill everything about it.
For those of you asking, yes, we will be at E3 this year.— Cyberpunk 2077 (@CyberpunkGame) February 28, 2019
CDPROJEKTRED’s critically and popularly acclaimed Witcher 3 is reason enough to be excited for anything they release. For them to tackle the Cyberpunk 2020 universe, that venerable R. Talsorian tabletop roleplaying game, in all of its gritty neon-lit technoir grandeur is even more reason to sit up and take notice. A radical departure from the dark fantasy of the Witcher realm, to be sure, but what we’ve already seen of the setting’s intermix of desperate poverty and baroque corruption suggests yet another must-have classic.
It’s no Android: Netrunner, may it rest in greatness, but it sure as hell is the next best thing.
The last we saw of Halo Infinite was at its announcement a year ago at the last E3. A curving vista of fantastically high technology, an iconic green helmet… and nada. Nothing since. Oh, sure, there has been developer gossip and an adamant refusal to bring the Battle Royale genre into the title (cynically: we’ll see how well that actually holds up in the face of temptation and accountancy). But gameplay? Cinematics? A promise for a return to pre-Halo 4 narrative quality? None as yet. But we’ve all long awaited the return of the once-and-future king of console shooters, and this may be the year it finally holds court.
Gears of War 5
Xbox/Microsoft is promising a LOT this year, bucking the trend set by Sony and Nintendo and instead doubling down on their E3 presentation. Obviously, a lot of that is going to focus on Halo Infinite – but that isn’t their only bullet in the chamber by any measure. Gears of War 5 is on deck as well, and its devs have been awfully coy about what feature sets this latest iteration of cover-based shooting will bring to us.
Bethesda’s promised us a look at Doom Eternal this year, after last year’s blood-pumpingly hype announcement trailer, and with Halo Infinite on the docket as written above, it’ll make 2019 and 2020 one literal hell of a year for top-quality shooters. Granted, the overall quality and feel of Doom Eternal is better-known than Halo Infinite at this point, thanks to a more recent predecessor in the franchise’s reboot in 2016 – though the inclusion of a grappling hook on its signature shotgun alone promises an entirely new level of player empowerment as we yet again wage a one-man holy crusade against a relentless horde of demon-pinatas full of health and ammo.
Switch Pro and Switch Light
Oh, sure, the official word from Nintendo is that there is no such thing as a Switch upgrade or sidegrade in the works. All those industry rumors of an advanced Switch Pro, or a more budget-conscious version, is surely quashed, right?
Yeah, believable; it’s not like they haven’t totally lied to press before like they did more than a decade ago about the DS Lite.
It’s been more than half a decade since triclopean eyes glowing radioactive green stared out from the dark, promising a slit throat and a plot foiled as Splinter Cell protagonist Sam Fisher annihilates yet another conspiracy. And we are extremely overdue. While the last outing for Sam might’ve returnedpoor sales by Ubisoft’s expected standards, the field is extremely ripe for its return – namely, because circumstances have removed rivals in the field of stealth shooters.
With Hideo Kojima working on Death Stranding, and Konami evidently incapable of doing anything even remotely interesting with Metal Gear without him at the helm, Sam is ironically no longer hiding in Snake’s shadows.
The Next Generation
Is it already time to save up, say, five hundred bucks or more per new console? Signs indicate “damn, guess it’s instant noodles for a few months.”
We already know that Sony has the tentatively named Playstation 5 in the works after the PS4’s venerable six years in the market, and rumors are that Microsoft’s planning to match them beat for beat. And to really rub salt into the wounds of those that recently bought the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, it seems as if this next generation also marks the return of backwards compatibility as a baked-in feature. That marks a point of concern for those that recently purchased the upgraded systems, as it can be expected that the next generation consoles will at minimum match their current capabilities – as well as feature games and programmatic features unavailable in prior generations.
But with the future of gaming looking so bright, especially at 4K resolution and with increasingly immersive VR options, you probably weren’t even remotely considering the notion of missing out, were you? See you and everybody else in E3 2019’s Twitch chat.