E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is the biggest event of the year in the gaming world. The 2018 edition takes place June 12-14 in Los Angeles, but the festivities really begin on Saturday June 9th with the first company Press Conference. Whether you’re new to E3 or you put all the important dates and times in your personal calendar (like me), it’s always an exciting time to watch for what you’ll be playing throughout the next year and beyond. In this primer, I’ll give you a look at what we can expect (along with the many surprises likely to be in store) at this year’s events.

 

Console-Makers

If you own a major console, then you’ll be keeping an eye on Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo’s presentations. Don’t expect to see any new hardware announcements – the most recent consoles/console iterations for each company or only a year or two old at this point. Microsoft is up first on June 10th and will likely reveal a handful of new console exclusives for the Xbox One. While Gears of War is expected, count on a reveal of a new Forza title and hopefully some surprises (maybe the return of Fable after all?).

Sony’s Press Conference holds onto its traditional Monday evening slot (in this case, June 11th) to talk mostly about four previously-announced exclusive titles: Spider-Man, Death Stranding, The Last of Us: Part II and Ghost of Tsushima. Sony might be looking to temper expectations by announcing the focus on these games ahead of time, but their often lengthy event usually features its fair share of surprises. In fact, Sony’s event is known for pulling out a trailer for a game you haven’t heard about in years.

Many years ago Nintendo dropped the live Press event for a pre-recorded digital video – this time branded as part of their “Nintendo Direct” series. Nintendo always takes the last slot on Tuesday morning (or afternoon, depending on your time zone), dropping the last surprises before the E3 show floor opens. Since Nintendo is featuring a Super Smash Bros. tournament at E3 this year, the Direct will likely spend a lot of time on the new game, rumoured to be coming this year for Switch. Just announced – and no doubt to be explored in detail – are the new Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee games. Also expected are more details on Bayonetta 3, Metroid Prime 4, the new Fire Emblem game, and Yoshi. At the same time, this is Nintendo, so they could just as easily announce a sequel to a random game from 1992 then reveal a port of a Virtual Boy game, and fans will be thrilled regardless.

Game-Makers

This year features four Press Conferences from dedicated game-makers, some of which are returning to the format after absences in past years. Starting the festivities on June 9th is EA, known mainly for angering players with loot boxes and making annual sports games. They’ve already announced Battlefield V for this fall, and you can expect highlights on the upcoming 19 series of sports titles. We’ve also been waiting for more details on Anthem now that EA has fielded months of consumer complaints around the micro-transactions in last year’s Star Wars Battlefront II. As with all the others, expect some surprises, likely from the newer EA Originals imprint that give indie games a bigger spotlight.

Bethesda is a large game publisher anchored by a number of studios with well-known games (including Skyrim and Fallout 4 developer Bethesda Game Studios). Their press event on June 10th comes as a bit of a mystery since only two games (Rage 2 and the mysterious Fallout 76) are known to be in Bethesda’s pipeline. DLC for recent games will likely be a hot topic, but I anticipate a significant major announcement or two, with rumours pointing at a sequel to the recent Doom reboot and a space-based RPG that many are hoping will be Skyrim in space.

Final Fantasy-makers Square Enix return to E3 in style with their first Press Conference in a few years. Fans are counting on a release date for the very-long-awaited Kingdom Hearts III and you expect more details on Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the third game in the new Tomb Raider series. There will also be some updates on major international games (which hopefully means they’ll come west as well) including the latest Dragon Quest game. Square Enix also has a studio at work on an Avengers game, which I imagine will be ready to go in time for the next Avengers movie in May 2019.

Finally, Ubisoft’s press event occurs June 11th and will definitely talk about some new upcoming titles (like pirate game Skull and Bones) and sequels (Division 2 and other likely Tom Clancy games). The long-gestating and constantly changing Beyond Good and Evil 2 will also get some airtime, even if just a minor update. Thanks to a surprising leak, Ubisoft has just revealed Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, rumoured to release this year. Far more than any of the other game makers, Ubisoft will likely have the most “out-of-left-field” announcements, akin to last year’s Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle and Starlink.

What Not to Expect

I can’t say I know what will happen at E3, but if I you really want to be ready, you may have to lower some expectations. Don’t expect a PlayStation 5 (already announced to be at least three years away) or a new Fortnite sequel – that will likely be discussed at a few different press events depending on which consoles it might soon be playable on. Some sure things that won’t be talked about this year include Final Fantasy XVI, the next Elder Scrolls game or, unfortunately, a good Star Wars game. The PC Gaming Show, which I haven’t detailed here, may have a few unexpected additions, but PC games are finding their way to more consoles and will likely be addressed in other events throughout the week. For those fans holding on to hope that their favourite series might get a unique update – or for those wishing for something completely and truly original – just go into E3 ready to be impressed and you’ll be happy either way.

Stay tuned for my E3 follow-up, and we can all see just how wrong (or right) I really am!