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The Australian gamer’s guide to E3 2019

EA

Though technically separate from E3, EA Play is the publisher’s consumer-facing games showcase that just happens to occur immediately before the main expo gets underway. EA is not hosting a press conference per say, instead it will be holding a series of livestreams to talk about the new developments on one brand new game and five familiar ones: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Apex Legends, Battlefield V, FIFA 20, Madden NFL 20 and The Sims 4. BioWare’s Anthem, it seems, is nowhere to be found.

EA has also been looking to shed its (unfair) “most hated company” reputation by fostering an interesting roster of smaller-scale games, so keep an eye out for the beautiful Sea of Solitude and hopefully something new as well.

The EA Play livestreams kick off with our first look at Star Wars Jedi gameplay on Sunday June 9 at 2.30am. You can watch via YouTube or Twitch.

Microsoft

All signs point to Microsoft going big this year, and although bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better (especially when it comes to press conference length; Microsoft is aiming for two full hours this time), this is where the blockbuster announcements of the show are likely to come from. The time could be right to unveil the new generation of Xbox consoles, believed to be planned for a 2020 release. Then there’s xCloud, the company’s upcoming game streaming service. Or oft-rumoured further expansions of Microsoft properties and services onto mobile phones and the Nintendo Switch.

Besides that platform stuff though, Microsoft will be focused on games. Having struggled to provide a steady stream of exclusives throughout the Xbox One’s life, Microsoft has invested heavily in its Xbox Games Studios, and Xbox boss Phil Spencer says there will be 14 first party games on show. Already announced games will surely make up some of that number — like Gears 5, Gears Tactics, Halo Infinite, Sea of Thieves, Minecraft — but it looks like a lot will be new. Conservative guesses include something new from Ninja Theory (most recently responsible for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice) or a reboot of Fable (rumoured to be in development at Playground Games).

The Xbox E3 Briefing is on Monday June 10 at 6am. You can watch via Mixer, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook or on your Xbox One console.

Bethesda

Bethesda’s troupe of highly respected studios has made its E3 conference one of the highlights of the show in recent years, although 2019 is shaping up to be a bit on the lighter side. Two of the big guns from last year — Doom Eternal and Wolfenstein: Youngbloods — have not yet seen a release and so will definitely return, while the flagship Bethesda Games Studios has said its two next big projects Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI are still years away.

Fallout 76, which launched last year with something of a thud, will likely get a mea culpa or big update of some sort, and since Google is launching its Stadia system later this year I fully expect Bethesda to announce its 85th port of Skyrim will be playable there. If there is to be new stuff, I would look to Arkane (the Dishonored series) or Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within) who have been quiet longest.

The Bethesda E3 Showcase is on Monday June 10 at 10.30am. You can watch via Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Mixer or Facebook.

Ubisoft

Anything could happen at Ubisoft’s show, which is what makes it so exciting. Yes, we’ll see updates for The Division 2, For Honor, Rainbow Six Siege, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and the never-ending cash cow that is Just Dance. but there are also apparently three unannounced new games to be revealed. Could we be looking at a return for Splinter Cell? Rayman? Prince of Persia? Another weirdly lovable Nintendo crossover? Or something 100 per cent new?

One of Ubi’s biggest reveals — Watch Dogs Legion, a new entry in the street hacker series set in near future London — surfaced a bit early thanks to a retail leak, but will surely get a heap of details at the show, as will the recently announced Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. An earlier leak also pointed to some kind of roller derby multiplayer game

The Ubisoft E3 Conference is on Tuesday June 11 at 6am. You can watch via Youtube, Twitch, or Mixer.

Square Enix

Square, along with some other Japanese publishers including Capcom and Konami, have traditionally relied on the Sony conference to host their big reveals at E3. With their compatriot out of the equation, Square has stepped into PlayStation’s usual time slot and will hopefully bring a suitable level of hype.

We already know what the two biggest games here will be. Marvel’s Avengers from Crystal Dynamics (Tomb Raider) and a ground-up remake of Final Fantasy VII from Square’s internal team. Both are only known quantities insofar as we know what they’re called and have heard rumours about how they play, but you should expect a lot more detail here. Other good chances for a showing are Dying Light 2, a rumoured new shooter from People Can Fly (Bulletstorm) and new content for online game Final Fantasy XIV. The big question is: now that we’re a full 13 years past the announcement of the game that would become Final Fantasy XV (and three years past its actual release), is it time to tease a sixteenth main entry in the series?

Square Enix Live is on Tuesday June 11 at 11am. You can watch via YouTube, Twitch or Mixer.

Nintendo

The big N has enough already-announced 2019 software to dole them out one per month for the rest of the year, including Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, Luigi’s Mansion 3, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, Mario Maker 2, Animal Crossing and Astral Chain. We’re sure to see them during the show, both at Nintendo’s booth and during the two days of “Nintendo Treehouse Live” broadcasts, but there’s still room for new announcements during the pre-show Nintendo Direct.

A smaller-scale Metroid announcement, such as a port of older games for the Switch, would go down well after the news that Metroid Prime 4 is still a long way away. Rumours also persist of a Star Fox racing game from Retro Studios. We should expect to find out at least one new character coming to Smash Bros. Ultimate, but the potential is there for two or three. Nintendo says it will not be talking about hardware (i.e. new versions of the Switch) at E3, but I have a hunch we’ll see a new operating system or changes to the online subscription service. The company has been awfully cagey recently when talking about online functions of games like Mario Maker 2 and Pokemon.

The Nintendo Direct is on Wednesday June 12 at 2am. You can watch via YouTube

All the rest

If the big AAA space isn’t for you, this is where the niche announcements are likely to happen:

  • The “live” Devolver Digital Press Conference, for bloody E3 satire and bloodier games, is on Monday June 10 at noon.
  • The UploadVR E3 VR Showcase, for (you guessed it) VR games, is on Tuesday June 11 at 2am.
  • The PC Gaming show, which hopefully gets the pacing right this year, is on Tuesday June 11 at 3am.
  • The Limited Run Press Conference, for gorgeous physical versions of usually download-only games, is on Tuesday June 11 at 5am.
  • The Kinda Funny Games Showcase, for best friends and a lot of indie games, is on Tuesday June 11 at 9.30am.

Tim is the editor of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald technology sections.

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