What’s on your E3 list this year? Star Wars: Battlefront or Disney Infinity 3.0 (because The Force Awakens has you in the mood)? The Legend of Zelda for Wii U? (Alas, Nintendo says it won’t make the show this year.) A new Gears of War? The next Mass Effect? The Wii U’s maiden Metroid voyage? Dark Souls 3? (All rumored, but at this point still more “wishful thinking” than reality.)
Here’s a list of announced games — some we’ve played, but several we haven’t — that we most want to lay hands on at this year’s show.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
This year’s Call of Duty has several series firsts up its nano-mesh-augmented sleeves: Female soldiers on the front lines, cybernetic perks and “neurally connected” squad mates, a new parkour-ish movement system, and the option to tweak the physiques, personalities, backstories, weapons and abilities of up to nine soldiers.
Disney Infinity 3.0 (Star Wars)
It’s the only toys-to-life game on the planet with all your favorite Star Wars characters. The “Twilight of the Republic” starter pack capitalizes on all the love (post prequel disdain) for George Lucas’s critically acclaimed Clone Wars TV series. Or if you’d rather go older-school, the “Rise Against the Empire” pack takes place during the original trilogy.
Last week I’d jotted down all the reasons another post-apocalyptic installment in the Fallout roleplaying series was the biggest surprise we’d likely get from Bethesda at E3. And then the company went and preempted a bazillion curtain-raisers by formally outing Fallout 4 weeks before the show. What did they reveal? That the game’s coming for PS4, Xbox One and PC, but also, based on the box art and preorder options, that the biggest surprise to come may be a late 2015 ship date.
Halo 5: Guardians
The Halo series’ second trilogy mid-quel is a revisionist look at the series’ iconic hero (a predictable trope, though the devil’s in the details). Microsoft’s complicated the game’s narrative with a few enigmatic “he-said, he-said” trailers, so even with the game’s launch this fall (October 27), I’m guessing this year’s E3 coverage will be more about Halo 5‘s multiplayer wrinkles than any major story reveals.
Want to build your own side-scrolling Super Mario Bros. levels? Skin them to look like different Mario games, from the NES’s halcyon 8-bit days to the Wii U’s slick, high definition New Super Mario Bros. U? Do all of that from the comfort and convenience of the Wii U GamePad? Then share your creations with others online? With The Legend of Zelda for Wii U off E3’s books, expect Nintendo to focus heavily on this DIY platform-roller.
Mirror's Edge: Catalyst
No Man's Sky
In your imagination, open universe ambler No Man’s Sky really is as infinite as developer Hello Games keeps boasting, giving you an endless, procedurally generated cosmos to plumb (and enough to do that you’ll never tire of doing it). In reality, no one has the faintest idea whether all the game’s random-seeded vastness is going to be beautifully significant, or astronomically shallow. Fingers triple-crossed, then — and that we finally get a release date at this year’s show.
Developer Atlus’ fifth “high school shindig plus dungeon reconnoitering” roleplayer has enormous shoes to fill, after Persona 4 made just about everyone’s “best roleplaying game in forever” list. All we know about Persona 5 is that — weirdly but also intriguingly — director Katsura Hashino’s been pitching the game as an interactive self-help experience. Another one I’m hoping this year’s E3 sheds further light (and perhaps even a 2015 release date) on.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Studio Crystal Dynamics’ followup to Tomb Raider is technically a timed Xbox One exclusive (meaning it’ll eventually land on PC and PS4), but that may be all Microsoft needs to move systems in 2015 given the plaudits accorded the 2013 reboot. Expect Microsoft to focus on the game at this year’s show, as well as give us a release date.
2015 could have been the year of Zelda, but with Nintendo’s anticipated open-world Wii U celeb delayed to 2016, the burden falls to Star Fox, luminary Shigeru Miyamoto’s attempt to make the Wii U GamePad — you maneuver the game’s transformable spacecraft with simultaneous motion and traditional button controls — indispensable.
Tom Clancy's The Division
Another epic angle on Ubisoft’s recent obsession with open-world games, The Division imagines a The Stand-like disease upending civilization, and a group of U.S. sleeper agents — trained to respond to just such a breakdown — emerging to do battle (in third-person) against the forces responsible for the virus’s deployment.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Since Uncharted series mainstay Amy Hennig abruptly left developer Naughty Dog last year, I’ve been worried about Nate and Sully’s fourth tour of duty. The game looks as terrific as you’d expect in preliminary teasers, so the question’s whether the series’ tropes — another “lost treasure” adventure, clambering over elaborate scenery (mostly on autopilot in the prior games) and relentlessly gunning down hordes of foes — haven’t overstayed their welcome.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
All I want from E3 2015 is a release date for Xenoblade Chronicles X. It may lack Halo 5 or Uncharted 4‘s franchise power or entrenched demographic appeal, but I’d throw those games under a bus to play this one. That is, assuming developer Monolith’s crafted something as vast, dynamic and compulsive as Xenoblade Chronicles. With any luck, we’ll learn a lot more about the game at this year’s show.