Before we kick off with a cavalcade of gossip about what’s going to be on show: Saturday June 16 is Free RPG Day. Participating venues will be giving away free adventures, cards, dice and so much more. Ever wanted to swing into some Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder, but found that wall of rules a little daunting? This is your day. I myself used to think it’d be too hard, but then I became a powerful Cleric who accidently made a goblin explode by shaking his hand, so, y’know, it’s definitely worth taking the plunge. Find a venue near you and kick off an epic quest with your mates.
It’s conflicting, but there’s a lot to love about E3. The absolute pinnacle of video game trade events, the Electronic Entertainment Expo is a strange mix of extreme spectacle and strategic business action, like a firework that’s somehow also an Excel spreadsheet. Is it all about marketing, in the end? Yes – unquestionably – but if you do it well, I’ll forgive a lot. Like, a LOT.
E3’s a strange time of year where I allow myself to be overcome by the sheer volume of news, surprises and upcoming tidbits from the video game industry. It’s thrilling, in a way, to partially suspend the cynical angle we know to be true – that each and every company is there to make coin – in lieu of plunging head-first into the hype machine, like the school days of old. Didn’t care about that last announcement? No worries – here’s 40 more. Did they just announce a new Spider-Man game? Does it look good as hell? That’s enough. Sometimes, it’s okay to just be pumped for something.
As with every year, the good ol’ Rumour Mill™ starts churning out murmurs as the anticipation builds and everybody takes shots at what secrets might be in store. Walmart, of all companies, kind of blew it straight out of the gate by accidently leaking a treasure trove of upcoming sequels on their Canadian website a couple of weeks ago, including Rage 2, Dragon Quest 2, Just Cause 4, Gears of War 5 and a brand new Assassin’s Creed. Bethesda owned up to it with a tongue-in-cheek Tweet and a trailer, but we’ll have to wait until the event to see if any other developers will show their hand.
Nintendo will no doubt continue their 14 year streak of hurting me by not giving me a new F-Zero, but there are some (shaky) rumours that Retro Studios (the team behind the lauded Metroid Prime series) are making a Star Fox racing game akin to the Nintendo 64 classic Diddy Kong Racing. Speaking of which, they’ve also recently applied for a trademark for that instantly recognisable Nintendo 64 controller, which is a very similar move that they made for the NES and SNES controllers just before they announced the NES Classic MIni & SNES Classic Mini consoles. Does this mean that there could be a N64 Classic in the works? Even if there were, Nintendo have garnered a reputation for sidestepping E3 altogether and announcing things separately through their Nintendo Direct video announcements. Are they gonna crack out the Goldeneye in a couple of weeks?
When the teaser trailer for dystopian crime RPG Cyberpunk 2077 dropped in May 2012, it turned everyone into an Archive fan for eight months and concluded with a release date of “When It’s Ready”. They weren’t kidding – we’ve barely heard a peep about it since, save for a darkly poetic moment last year when actual hackers stole their original designs and tried to extort money from them. Developers CD Projekt RED (creators of The Witcher series) scored themselves a whopping seven million dollarydoos from the Polish government back in December 2016, however, citing that the project would run until June 2019 – with no extension. A management board report from last March stated that Cyberpunk 2077 had reached “a major” production milestone late last year. Surely, that suggests SOMETHING will appear at E3 this year. A demo? A new trailer? A vague sketch of what a character might look like on scrap paper surrounded by those weird S symbols everyone drew in high school? Anything?
FromSoftware (the team behind Dark Souls & Bloodborne) released a teaser late last year for their new project, which many have speculated to be hinting at a new Bloodborne or Tenchu game but might as well be heralding a gritty reboot of A*Mazing for the amount of information they gave us. Many are hoping for more details very soon.
In other news, there’ll be more info on the new Super Smash Bros. for Switch, Bayonetta 3’s expected to get a mention and Crackdown’s supposed to come out this year at, uh, some point. Sony will also be packing news about Hideo Kojima’s highly anticipated Death Stranding, along with Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us: Part II and that objectively awesome-looking Spider-Man game. All in all, it’s shaping up to be a tasty smorgasbord of treats in an increasingly strong year for gaming.
Oh, and Frodo’s gonna steal our memories. Now, THAT’S gonna rule.