In Review

E3 2019 preview: conference times, games and next-gen consoles

Blockbuster titles and an all-new console look set to take centre in the coming days

The wait for this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is almost over, as the world’s biggest video game event gets under way in just a few days time.

Some of the industry’s most important announcements are made at the show, which takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center and runs from 11 to 14 June.

But a number of gaming firms are holding press conferences over the weekend before the show officially opens to the public on Tuesday. 

EA will be the first to hold its E3 keynote, which is expected to get underway at 9:15am local time (5:15pm in the UK) on Saturday and can be streamed from the company’s Youtube channel, says Gamespot. This will be followed by Microsoft’s conference at 9pm UK time on Sunday and Bethesda at 1:30am on Monday morning. 

Google, however, will be streaming its own event on YouTube at 5pm UK time today, where it’s expected to announce the pricing and release date of its Stadia subscription service, says Engadget

In the meantime, here’s what to expect from E3 in 2019:

Borderlands 3

 

It’s been four years since the last entry in the Borderlands franchise launched on consoles. However, fans of the role-playing game (RPG) will soon have their patience rewarded as gameplay footage of Borderlands 3 is expected to be shown at E3 next week. 

Judging by a preview trailer posted by the developer Gearbox in March, Borderlands 3 appears to be “pretty much the same” as any Borderlands game before it, says TechRadar. This should be “reassuring for fans”, but “a bit disappointing for those looking for a new spin on the series.”

On the plus side, players can expect over a billion fictional guns to collect and a cast of “larger-than-life” characters to meet, the tech site says. There are also new environments to explore, including “shiny cities and creaking scrapyards”. Fans will be happy to know that Claptrap, the favourite robot character in the series, will be present in the game. 

Borderlands 3 launches on PS4, Xbox One and PC on 13 September.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare

Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward has made plans to win back the trust of fans after its recent titles in the multiplayer series received mixed reviews from both players and critics.  

Last week the company, which is owned by the gaming giant Activision, announced that it would be launching a “reimagined” version of 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, a title widely considered to be one of the greatest multiplayer games of all time.  

But the game won’t be a simple remastering of the original title. According to Gamespot, the new Call of Duty isn’t set in the same universe as the existing trilogy of Modern Warfare titles. Instead, it will be a “reboot of sorts”, albeit with some returning characters from the original trilogy.  

Fans will be able to see gameplay for the first time at E3 next week, ahead of the title’s release on 25 October.

Cyberpunk 2077

Fans got their first proper look at gameplay from CD Projekt Red’s first-person role-playing title Cyberpunk 2077 at E3 last year, but the Polish studio is expected to go even bigger at this year’s event. 

The game is set in a sci-fi world that seems to be far more gritty than the utopian environments seen in popular RPGs such as the Mass Effect and Deus Ex series. Instead, it appears to take elements from the dystopian worlds of Bladerunner and Mad Max.

CD Projekt Red, the studio behind the acclaimed The Witcher series, unveiled a one-hour gameplay clip of Cyberpunk 2077 last year, so it could be that “this year we’re going hands-on with the game for the first time”, says GamesRadar

Gears of War 5

Fans of the Gears of War series have a lot to look forward to at E3 this year. After getting a glimpse of the upcoming shooter at the games expo last year, developer The Coalition is expected to demonstrate gameplay for the very first time in June. 

According to GamesRadar, Gears of War 5 will put players in the shoes of Kait, the “sidekick” from 2014’s Gears of War 4. Little else is known about the game, but a recent leaks suggest that players will be able to complete the main story missions with a friend through online co-op, as well as fight against other players in conventional multiplayer modes “that you’d expect from the series”.

It’s also rumoured that the game will run at 60fps and feature HDR lighting effects on the Xbox One X, the gaming news site says. Gamers can also expect cross-play, meaning they can play the game on both their Xbox and PC. 

The Coalition is expected to announce the game’s release date during Microsoft’s conference in a couple of weeks. 

However, tech news site WindowsCentral says Taiwan’s games rating agency currently lists the title’s release date as 10 September. Although the leaked release window is “definitely possibly”, it’s worth taking the listing with “a grain of salt” until a confirmed date is announced.

Halo Infinite

It’s been nearly four years since a new Halo game hit stores but Halo Infinite is due to launch on the Xbox One later this year.

Little is known about the next titles in the Halo franchise other than it will spawn a new game engine and feature “massive landscapes and gorgeous vistas”, says Gamespot.  

Don’t expect a Battle Royale-inspired mode, though. Franchise boss Frank O’Connor quashed the rumour on chat forum Resetera, but said that players could “probably make your own Battle Royale mode” in the game’s Forge map creator.

Pokemon Sword and Shield

Following the success of Let’s go, Pikachu! and Let’s go, Eevee! last year, Pokemon’s first traditional RGP launches on the Nintendo Switch in 2019 and is due to be previewed during the Japanese firm’s conference at E3. 

Much like previous entries in the pocket monsters series, Pokemon Sword and Shield are two games set in the same fictional world. Those who opt for the Sword version will be given access to certain types of Pokemon to collect, while Shield owners will get their own exclusive Pokemon to find. 

Sword and Shield are set in the world of Galar, a fictional island that’s “loosely based on the UK”, says CNet. Three new Pokemon have already been announced - Sobble, Scorbunny and Grookey - but expect many more to be revealed when E3 comes around.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

The first trailer for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order arrived last month, giving fans a snapshot of what EA’s upcoming sci-fi adventure game will look like before gameplay footage emerges at E3 in June.

Developed by EA-backed studio Respawn Entertainment, the company behind the hugely popular Apex Legends game, Fallen Order will be a story-driven title that takes place after the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. It has been designed to be played solo, as opposed to the recent crop of online-only Star Wars games. 

And unlike Star Wars Battlefront II, which came under fire in 2017 for its loot boxes, Fallen Order won’t have the controversial progression system, says Eurogamer. 

Next-generation consoles

Finally, the first details about the next generation of games consoles - specifically the new Xbox - are expected to be revealed at E3.

There’s “a very good chance” that Microsoft will unveil its successor to the Xbox One - or at least “heavily hint at what it’s capable of” - at the Los Angeles show, after confirming that the console was in the works at last year’s event, says Polygon

Sony, meanwhile, has confirmed that it won’t be attending this year’s games conference. It will be the first time the company hasn’t held a product keynote at the show in E3’s 25-year history, suggesting that it will hold its own event later this year to announce the new PS5.

Project xCloud

Fans were given a glimpse of Microsoft’s Project xCloud at E3 last year, but the company is expected to showcase a near-final version of the streaming service in just over a week’s time. 

Dubbed the “Netflix for games” by the company’s chief executive Satya Nadella, Project xCloud looks set to be a monthly subscription service that allows gamers to play thousands of titles from an array of devices, Business Insider reports. 

The service is based on Microsoft’s Azure cloud systems. Rather than using a games console or high-end computer, players instead use the power of Azure’s cloud computers to stream games over the internet. For instance, Microsoft has shown that gamers can stream Forza Horizon 4, a particularly graphics-intensive game, onto their smartphones using a mobile network. 

There are a number of hurdles that the company needs to get on top of before launching the service, though. Video games are often tens of gigabytes in size, making them particularly difficult to stream over poor internet connections.

We’ll have to wait until E3 kicks off to see whether the Project xCloud lives up to Nadella’s claim of being the Netflix for games.

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