E3 2019 preview – what to expect from Microsoft, Nintendo, and the rest

The biggest week on the video games calendar is about to begin, as E3 2019 prepares to usher in the next generation.

Even though it’s been running for decades there’s never been an E3 trade show like this one. As you probably already know Sony is not attending E3 2019, although their reasons for doing so remain vague and unconvincing. They claim the idea of a trade show in June no longer suits the modern news cycle, while half admitting that they haven’t got enough new games to show off.

Whether they’ll come back next year is unclear, but it’s certainly true that with the next generation consoles not expected until 2020 they, and many other publishers, don’t have as much to talk about as usual. As a result, EA and Activision also won’t be at E3 this year, although over the last few years they’ve both been slowly reducing their support for it anyway.

Even Google, who have the new Stadia streaming service to promote, have only a fairly minimal presence, with most of their major announcements expected to take place during a livestream on Thursday.

All of which sounds rather disappointing, except there’s every sign that Microsoft is going to take full advantage of the lack of competition and is planning to have it’s biggest E3 ever. There’s also plenty of new announcements expected from the likes of Nintendo, Ubisoft, Square Enix, and the rest. It’s also more than possible that Sony may release a few new trailers anyway, with a new look at The Last Of Us Part II having been heavily rumoured recently.

As usual, most of the actual announcements are made just before E3, starting from this Saturday. E3 itself doesn’t begin until Tuesday, which is when most of the hands-on previews and interviews take place. You can find the times for each company’s pre-E3 event listed below, although many are in the very small hours of the morning in the UK. Which is all the more reason to just keep an eye on our coverage, as we report back live from L.A.

 

What is E3?

The Electronic Entertainment Expo is the world’s biggest video games trade event. It’s held every June in Los Angeles and is attended by every major games publisher in the world, or at least it usually is. Companies use it to announce new hardware and games and to show already announced ones for the first time. E3 2019 starts on Tuesday, 11 June but most of the big reveals are made on Monday and the weekend before – by publishers at their own private events. In recent years ordinary members of the public have been able to attend E3, but it’s super expensive and given all the queues not much fun for anyone that’s not press. GameCentral will be there all week though, reporting on events as they happen.

 

Microsoft

Xbox Media Briefing – Sunday, 9 June @ 9pm BST

In truth, Microsoft has never really been very good at E3. Their stage shows rarely seem as slick and well-paced as Sony’s, although for most of this generation they’ve not had that much to work with. But that should all change this year.

The problem with predicting what Microsoft will show is that the next generation Xbox isn’t expected to be released until Christmas 2020, so normally you wouldn’t expect them to reveal too much now in case they put people off buying the Xbox One this Christmas (which is one of the main reasons Sony aren’t at this E3). But with the PlayStation 4 outselling the Xbox One 2:1 Microsoft has less to lose and more to gain by getting people on board with their next gen plans as soon as possible.

It’s likely to be a fairly complicated plan too (the briefing is rumoured to last two hours) with Microsoft getting ready to release multiple new consoles and their streaming service xCloud. Given the above, and the need to counter Google, they’re likely to concentrate more on the streaming than the hardware at E3, although most rumours point to them showing off both to some degree.

Microsoft themselves hinted last year that they have multiple consoles underway, likely a reference to a base model (codenamed Lockhart) and an Xbox One X equivalent (codenamed Anaconda). It’s unlikely you’ll get detailed specs at E3 but instead something more in line with the information Sony released about the PlayStation 5, with vague references to how much faster and more powerful the hardware is than the current gen.

There’ll likely be lots more on xCloud though, as it doesn’t interfere with their hardware business and they’ll be keen to contrast themselves with Google Stadia – with the few days between Google’s livestream and their event giving Microsoft the chance to fine tune their presentation accordingly.

There’s also certain to be more on the continued expansion of Game Pass, following its recent migration to PC. But talk of Nintendo adopting it, and xCloud, for the Switch has cooled in recent months, so it’s probably unlikely there’d be any industry-shaking announcements of that sort. The two companies do seem to be getting on very well at the moment though, so an appearance by one or more Microsoft characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is still on the cards.

In terms of games Microsoft has confirmed that it will have 14 first party titles, the most it’s ever shown at an E3. As we’ve already explored though that doesn’t necessarily mean as many new titles as you might expect, with probably only three or four games that have never been heard of before.

That’s widely believed to include a new Fable game and possibly Forza Motorsport 8 – although it may be that Microsoft skips that until next gen and goes with a new expansion for Forza Horizon 4 instead. Halo Infinite will obviously be there though, with Microsoft being less coy this time about exactly what formats it’s for.

Given that Sony aren’t around there’s certain to be more third party reveals than normal, even if they’re multiformat games that have no special connection to the Xbox. The new Call Of Duty is likely to be shown off at Microsoft’s event and probably games from other publishers that don’t have their own event, like Capcom and Bandai Namco.

There’s also a small possibility Microsoft could show off new hardware in the form of AR tech HoloLens 2 or a dedicated VR headset, although there’s been little sign of that in recent weeks and they probably don’t want to go completely overboard.

Guaranteed: Halo Infinite, Gears 5, Ori And The Will Of The Wisps, Battletoads, Minecraft: Dungeons, The Outer Wilds

Possible: Forza Motorsport 8, Fable IV, Gears Tactics, Gears POP!, Age Of Empires IV, Wasteland 3, New Ninja Theory game, New Rare game

Unlikely: HoloLens 2/VR headset, New The Initiative game

 

Nintendo

Nintendo Direct – Tuesday, 11 June @ 5pm BST

Even though they have no next generation hardware planned, with even the rumours of new Switch models being denied, this is a very important E3 for Nintendo. Although they have plenty of games scheduled for this year many of them have never been seen properly in public, most obviously Animal Crossing and Luigi’s Mansion 3.

There’s also Pokémon Sword/Shield, but the lid on that is being lifted on Wednesday, 5 June at 2pm, which probably means it will only have a fairly minimal presence at E3 itself.

After a quiet first half of the year Nintendo has plenty of other games to talk about though, including Super Mario Maker 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, PlatinumGames’ Astral Chain, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC fighters (with rumours of possible guest appearances from Microsoft and/or Bethesda characters).

All those games are due out this year and it’s unclear if Nintendo will talk about anything further afield, like Bayonetta 3 or Metroid Prime 4 – but the sensible guess is that they will not. What’s also uncertain is whether they will have any major unannounced games to reveal. Exactly what Retro Studios has been working on for the last several years, before they were moved onto Metroid Prime 4, remains a mystery but if we’re ever going to find out it’ll be this year.

Guaranteed: Animal Crossing, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Pokémon Sword/Shield, Super Mario Maker 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Astral Chain, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3

Possible: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC fighters, New Retro Studios game

Unlikely: Bayonetta 3, Metroid Prime 4

 

Google

Stadia Connect – Thursday, 6 June @ 5pm BST

The pre-E3 show for Stadia is this week rather than next week and will likely take a similar form to the annoucement event back in March. There’s no indication of how long it’ll last but Google are promising, ‘more Stadia news, including pricing, games, and launch details.’

They are at E3 as well, with hands-on demos of Stadia, but only as part of the YouTube stand. Since Google are new to the video games business it’s hard to predict whether they’re planning any major surprises, but it’s most likely that all the major news will come this week.

 

Ubisoft

Ubisoft Press Conference – Monday, 10 June @ 9pm BST

While some publishers make it seem like they have to be dragged to E3, kicking and screaming, Ubisoft can always be relied upon to put on a good show, including multiple new game announcements. The only problem being that they usually leak out before they get a chance to surprise anyone.

That’s already happened to Roller Champions, supposedly Ubisoft’s answer to Rocket League, and there’s also compelling evidence that they’re planning to unveil both Watch Dogs 3 (apparently called Watch Dogs Legion) and a new Splinter Cell. What will definitely be there though is Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, which was announced just the other week.

Whether they actually go through with all that (E3 conferences are infamous for being changed just at the last minute) remains to be seen but there’ll also probably be smaller reveals and announcements, as well as updates on game as a service titles such as Rainbow Six Siege, The Division 2, and For Honor.

What won’t be there though is Beyond Good And Evil 2 and Skull & Bones, with the latter having been delayed into next year and the former planning its own separate livestreams later in the year.

Guaranteed: Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, Roller Champions, The Division 2, Rainbow Six Siege

Possible: Watch Dogs 3, New Splinter Cell

Unlikely: Beyond Good And Evil 2, Skull & Bones, New Assassin’s Creed

 

Bethesda

Bethesda E3 Showcase – Monday, 10 June @ 1.30am BST

Of all the third party publishers at E3 this year, Bethesda is the one that really needs to impress the general public. The problem is that they did last year, with what most agreed was the best pre-E3 showcase, but then they followed that up with Fallout 76 and suddenly went from heroes to zeroes. So it’s going to be very interesting to see whether they bring up Fallout 76 this year or try to sweep it under the carpet.

We suspect they will try to claim that it’s been improved, and that they’ve learnt their lesson, but the focus is clearly going to be on Doom Eternal, as well as co-op game Wolfenstein: Youngblood and VR title Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot

The biggest question though is whether they’ll accelerate their plans to show off The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield. Both were teased last year, but with the clear implication that they wouldn’t be seen again properly for a few years.

If Bethesda feels it needs to curry favour with fans they may choose to show more this year, or perhaps announce that Fallout: New Vegas remake that people have been asking for for years but which Bethesda has never given any indication they actually plan to make.

Guaranteed: Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot

Possible: Fallout 76, The Elder Scrolls VI, Starfield

 

Square Enix

Square Enix E3 Showcase – Tuesday, 11 June @ 2am

Like any publisher, Square Enix has its quiet years at E3 but this is not one of them, because it’s already been announced that Marvel’s Avengers will be shown for the first time – which will undoubtedly be one of the biggest stories of the show. Rumours suggest that the game is an online co-op title inspired by Destiny, but that’s still technically speculation and at the moment there’s no official description of the game at all.

As if that wasn’t enough Square Enix is also very likely to show off their progress on Final Fantasy VII Remake, even though their partners Sony won’t be there.

That’s quite the double whammy, which is good because they don’t have much else on their books at the moment, just the recently announced – and completely mysterious – Outriders and PlatinumGames’ Babylon’s Fall, which hasn’t been heard of since it was announced at last year’s E3.

There’s also some smaller titles to name check in their livestream though, including Dragon Quest Builders 2, Collection Of Mana, and Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition for the Switch, and DLC for Kingdom Hearts III.

Guaranteed: Marvel’s Avengers, Outriders

Possible: Final Fantasy VII Remake, Babylon’s Fall

 

Electronic Arts

EA Play livestreams – Saturday, 8 June starting @ 5.15pm BST

EA hasn’t attended E3 properly for years now, but this year they’re not having a stage show either. Which considering how cringey the last few have been is probably a good thing for all concerned.

They do still have their own EA Play event planned elsewhere in L.A. though, where we’ll be able to go hands-on with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order for the first time. And they’ve also got a series of what sound like Nintendo Direct style livestreams planned for each of their games.

5:15pm – Countdown to EA Play
5:30pm – Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
6.00pm – Apex Legends Season 2
6:30pm – Battlefield V
7.00pm – FIFA
7:30pm – Madden NFL
8.00pm – The Sims 4

Given that schedule there doesn’t seem much opportunity to spring any surprises, and EA has already said that the new Need For Speed won’t be there – even though it’s out this year. It’s also telling that nothing’s scheduled for BioWare’s Anthem, which might have been the only chance to squeeze in a mention of Dragon Age 4.

What might happen though is some mention of a new Titanfall project during Respawn’s Apex Legends slot, and perhaps a new expansion or sequel for The Sims – as the recent free offer for The Sims 4 seemed liked it was leading up to something. There’s also the rumours of Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 3 from earlier in the year, which seemed very convincing at the time but have so far amounted to nothing.

Guaranteed: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, FIFA 20, Apex Legends Season 2

Possible: New Titanfall, New The Sims, Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 3

Unlikely: Dragon Age 4, New Need For Speed

 

Activision

Although they kept it quiet until the last minute, Activision aren’t at E3 this year either. Or at least they don’t have a stand. They will be behind the scenes though, offering looks at Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, and Call Of Duty Mobile.

Despite the reveal we’ve still seen very little of Modern Warfare so far, but it’s unclear if the game is going to be playable at E3. With a bit of luck though we’ll at least get our first look at the multiplayer and co-op modes, the latter of which was recently confirmed not to be Zombies.

With the loss of Destiny, as Bungie go back to being an independent developer, Activision’s portfolio is looking even thinner than usual, but if they have more announcements to make they’ve given no indication they’re going to happen at E3.

Guaranteed: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, Call Of Duty Mobile

Unlikely: anything else

 

Warner Bros.

Always a difficult company to predict, Warner Bros. is the distributor of Cyberpunk 2077 in the US (but not Europe) so much of their stand is likely to be dedicated to that. Developer CD Projekt will also be there separately, and it’s expected that they’ll be offering up another lengthy hands-off demo of the game, and perhaps even a release date.

The only other game Warner has officially announced at the moment is Left 4 Dead spiritual sequel Back 4 Blood, but they’ve not shown so much as a piece of artwork for the game yet and there’s been no indication that it’s going to be at E3.

There have been rumours of a new Lego Star Wars game, which does seem an obvious thing to come out this Christmas, so that might be there. But there’s still no sign at all of an announcement for the leaked Harry Potter game and Rocksteady has already said they’re not attending this year’s E3.

Guaranteed: Cyberpunk 2077

Possible: Lego Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker

Unlikely: Back 4 Blood, New Rocksteady game, New Harry Potter game

 

Also at E3

There are plenty of other exciting reveals expected from other publishers, with Capcom no doubt keen to repeat their positive showings at the last two E3s. Except there are no real clues as to what they might be showcasing, with the best guess being either the Resident Evil 3 remake or Resident Evil 8. At the very least though there’ll be more on Monster Hunter: World expansion Iceborne.

Then there’s all the talk of FromSoftware working with Bandai Namco and George R. R. Martin on a new game, possibly called Great Rune. But while the rumours seem pretty believable there’s no hint so far that it’ll be revealed at E3.

Netflix may also offer some surprises, as not only do they have Stranger Things 3: The Game coming out at the same time as the new series, but they have a press conference planned where it’s implied they’ll announce a number of other new games.

And finally, after a quiet year last year, 2K will finally be in a position to show off Borderlands 3, which is likely to be one of the most prominent games at the show.

505 Games: Control, Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night, Indivisible
Bandai Namco: The Dark Pictures: Man Of Medan, Code Vein, Jumanji: The Video Game
Deep Silver: Shenmue III, Dead Island 2 (possibly)
Double Fine: Psychonauts 2 and Rad
Frontier Developments: Planet Zoo
Paradox Interactive: Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
Rebellion: Evil Genius 2, Sniper Elite VR, Unannounced title
Sega: Judgment, Catherine: Full Body
Team 17: Blasphemous
Techland: Dying Light 2
THQ Nordic: New Darksiders (possibly), New Destroy All Humans! (possibly), Desperados III

 

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