15 games that could surprise us at E3 2017

Between leaks and creeping marketing campaigns that begin with blurry Instagram pics and wind through months of behind-the-scenes videos, there seems to be a coordinated effort not to surprise us at E3. We’re pretty confident we already know quite a few of the games that’ll appear at this year’s press conferences. But surely not all of them. Surprises still do happen.

Not to spoil anything, because we truly don’t know what this year’s surprises will be, we’ve compiled a list of games that might show up at E3 2017—both announced but unseen, and totally unannounced—and how they might surprise us. We’ve ordered them from most to least likely to appear, by our best guesses, and we’ve included some very unlikely games. Starting Saturday during EA’s conference, we’ll be counting how many times an executive says “and one more thing” followed by an awkward pause while the trailer starts up, hoping to check off at least one of the games near the bottom of this list.

We’ll be posting livestream links for all the E3 conferences (except Nintendo, unless you’d really like us to), reporting on all the announcements, and chatting about the show in our Discord channel with PC Gamer Club members all next week.

Assassin’s Creed

Likelihood of reveal: It’s as if it already happened

What we know: Not much stays secret at Ubisoft, and according to various leaks, the new Assassin’s Creed is called Assassin’s Creed: Origins. It’ll take place in Egypt and will bring a more Witcher-like feel to the series, with a bigger world than Black Flag. And boats. None of that is confirmed, but it all sounds plausible. 

What we're hoping for: No escort missions, if that’s even possible in an Assassin’s Creed game. At least one hilarious bug that turns faces inside out. And what we always want from Assassin’s Creed: gorgeous environments, smooth parkour, challenging combat (without necessarily being as deep as, say, Chivalry), and fun characters. It doesn’t need to be a reinvention. If it is, though, we’re excited to see how Ubisoft’s open world template—driven by a linear series of story missions, but full of secondary map markers and things to collect—changes to incorporate more RPG-like modes of fun, as rumored. The surprise here isn't that it'll be there, but that it might be different.

Wolfenstein: The New Colossus

Likelihood of reveal: 100-Nazi-scalps percent

What we know: Bethesda teased a game called “New Colossus” at last year’s E3, situating it on a DOS screen directly beneath “Old_Blood” and “New_Order.” Not exactly subtle. Meanwhile, a promo image for Bethesda’s E3 2017 show includes theme park sections symbolizing the publisher’s various series, including The Elder Scrolls and Doom, and two ‘under construction’ areas. Wolfenstein isn’t among the visible park sections, so it’s fairly obvious it’s one of the mystery zones.

What we're hoping for: Wolfenstein: The New Order was a narrative driven, single player first-person shooter, and frankly this sequel doesn’t need to play with that format. MachineGames rather miraculously managed to make Wolfenstein’s muscular, guns-blazing protagonist someone you wanted to learn more about, someone who felt something, so we’re inclined to trust that whatever the studio is working on will likely be great, if not especially groundbreaking design-wise. What might surprise us is a narrative twist. If the basic format of the game is going to stay the same, that's what they have to work with.

The Evil Within 2

Likelihood of reveal: Almost as certain as death

What we know: Well, we’re almost certain it actually exists, because in addition to Pete Hines’ hints to that effect, a job listing suggested earlier this year that The Evil Within 2 is in development. Also, despite the first Evil Within instalment not being a perfect horror game, it’d be silly to dismiss an improved sequel when Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami is at the helm.

What we're hoping for: It’d be nice to see Mikami depart from the third-person gore horror theme of The Evil Within. There were elements of psychological horror in the first, but during a period of revitalisation for the horror genre – Alien: Isolation, Soma, Outlast, Resident Evil 7 – it’d be great to see the format experimented with. And indeed, Hideo Kojima’s aborted Silent Hills project lingers heavily over the horror game scene at the moment, with its demo PT proving that players are more than happy to be scared without worrying about resource management and having one’s face chewed off.

 Visceral's Star Wars game 

Likelihood of reveal: The stars will war

What we know: Between the Amy Hennig led Visceral team and Jade Raymond’s Motive studio, the mystery Star Wars game has been in development for a few years now, and is scheduled to release next year. We saw a few seconds of footage at E3 last year, and we expect to see a proper trailer this year—with a title, we hope, so we can stop calling it ‘Visceral’s Star Wars game.’

What we're hoping for: At the least, we’re likely to see a flashy cinematic trailer at EA’s conference on Saturday. At the most, a lengthy gameplay session—it’s not totally unlikely, as EA is fond of showing extended demos, though the bulk of the time will probably be reserved for Battlefront 2. As for what we hope that trailer or demo will look like, we obviously demand an appearance from Jar Jar. 

BioWare’s new sci-fi game

With Mass Effect: Andromeda in the past, EA may have new nebulae to show.

Likelihood of reveal: 76% chance of success

What we know: While BioWare’s Montreal studio was working on Mass Effect: Andromeda, the Edmonton building has been plugging away at a new game since 2012. The mysterious new sci-fi game isn’t related to Mass Effect or any other BioWare property, and won’t be out until at least spring 2018, possibly even as late as 2019. But that’s no reason to delay the reveal. Bioware isn’t the sort of developer to announce a game and release it a few months later like Bethesda—Mass Effect: Andromeda was teased back at E3 2014.

What we're hoping for: We’ll save the galaxy again if we must, but we’re really hoping for a smaller scope: a richly imagined science fiction world with a detailed past, with characters we instantly want to know more about. And if we see new approaches to plot structure, dialogue, and problem solving—be it through combat or otherwise—we’ll be doubly excited. We know BioWare can make a combat-heavy RPG in which roughly lip-synced characters respond to dialogue wheel options, but we want to see what’s next for BioWare game design.

Of course, all that is based on the assumption that the new game will build on or twist the design of BioWare’s previous RPGs. There’s reason to believe it won’t, given that EA CEO Andrew Wilson describes it as an action game that’s “built around a live service.” In other words, it may very well be an always-online multiplayer shooter. If our prediction holds, we’ll know more soon. Possibly in a surprising manner.

Respawn’s Star Wars game

Imagine this, but instead of Titanfall 2 characters, it's Star Wars. Really paints a picture.

Likelihood of reveal: Just a tease

What we know: Very little, but if DICE is providing the 2017 Star Wars game with Battlefront 2, and Visceral is hitting 2018, then this one probably won’t be out until 2019 or later. Showing off three Star Wars games at E3 is a bit overkill. If anything, we’ll probably only see a glimpse of Respawn’s take on the space opera. 

What we're hoping for: Titanfall 2 but Star Wars would be just peachy.

Ubisoft’s space game

Likelihood of reveal: Ground-level 

What we know: Upon launch of Watch Dogs 2 last year, one of the biggest talking points wasn’t the game itself, but a piece of sly foreshadowing hidden within it. A fictionalised Ubisoft studio within Watch Dogs 2’s fictionalised San Francisco hid a “confidential” E3 trailer showcasing an overtly space-themed videogame. Typically enough, many jumped to the conclusion that the game was a real, forthcoming title. And indeed, it was later reported that it was, despite having possibly fallen into development hell.

What we're hoping for: Well, who knows? The trailer featured a lot of space vistas soundtracked by some rootsy Americana guitar music, so maybe a space cowboy game? At the time of the trailer’s discovery, many assumed it was some kind of No Man’s Sky clone, but that seems increasingly unlikely. Ubisoft is very good at making sprawling naturalistic game worlds (see Steep, Ghost Recon: Wildlands and the Far Cry series), and the trailer seems to suggest that those will feature. Meanwhile, the publisher’s CEO Yves Guillemot said last year that Ubisoft would move increasingly away from “narrative-driven experiences” in favour of “anecdote factories”. A massive space sandbox could fit that mould.

Borderlands 3

Likelihood of reveal: Randomized

What we know: Gearbox is making Borderlands 3, or whatever it ends up being called, that’s for certain. Back at GDC the developer showcased the tech “that will power the next Borderlands game.” But the tech demo itself was not Borderlands 3. “We’re working on it,” said Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford at the end of the demo. The tech looks great—crosshatching!—and we saw a few production assets as well as a character, whose face was intentionally obscured. So clearly Borderlands 3 isn’t just on a whiteboard, but Pitchford stressed so often that the demo was just to show off tech, we wouldn’t put money down on an E3 appearance this year.

What we're hoping for: A great story. If Borderlands 3 is revealed, we know what it’ll look like—crosshatching!—and we have a pretty good idea of how it’ll play. There’ll be a lot of guns, and maybe some of the low-gravity bouncing from The Pre-Sequel. So we’re looking for style, panache, humor that doesn’t necessarily involve an annoying robot. Gearbox would do well to take some inspiration from Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands, which was surprisingly one of its best licensed adventure series, with fantastic music video openings and characters memorable for more than annoying affectations. We wouldn’t say no to a new setting, either—the particular wasteland geology and architecture of Pandora is nice, but we’ve been exploring it since 2009.

Rage 2

Likelihood of reveal: It idn't clear

What we know: John Carmack confirmed that Rage 2 was in the plans for id Software in a 2011 interview with Gamasutra—though Carmack no longer works at id, so whether that’s still the case is uncertain. However, last year at QuakeCon, Bethesda’s Pete Hines said “I think so” when asked if Rage sold well enough to warrant a sequel. There’s a chance it’s back on, then, especially with Doom out of the way.

What we're hoping for: The original Rage was received rather ambivalently back in 2011, but since then id Software has proven it can still develop hugely satisfying first-person shooters (with hugely satisfying shotguns). A vaguely open world format could still work, only this time it could more elegantly mix vehicular combat with first-person shooting, rather than compartmentalise them so awkwardly (see Borderlands 2 and Destiny for good examples of how this could be achieved). In fact, Rage could be a good opportunity for id Software to throw its weight behind the grind-and-loot FPS, especially if it also had full cooperative play and a satisfying PvP multiplayer element.

Batman: Arkham Gotham

Likelihood of reveal: Goose egg (or Robin's egg, anyway)

What we know: Batman: Arkham Asylum arrived in 2009. Arkham City, 2011. Origins, 2013. Knight, 2015. Using our Bat Computer (counting) tells us 2017 would be the next logical year for another Arkham game, and using our Bat Calendar (it's really a kitten calendar) tells us the year we're currently in is… 2017. Holy shit, Batman! It all adds up!

What we're hoping for: Even though Rocksteady says they're done with the series, we're always up for more Batmanning, though we sort of hope if there is another game on the way Warner Brothers will take a little more time with it to make sure it, y'know, works on PC. A teaser trailer would be nice, though. And maybe put Gotham in the title for a change?

The Avengers Project

See more

Likelihood of reveal: A bit less than infinity

What we know: Back in January, Square Enix, Marvel, and Crystal Dynamics announced a multi-game partnership, and showed us a little teaser: among the ruins of what is presumably the Avenger's tower we see Thor's hammer crackling with electricity, Iron Man's gauntlet powering up, and Captain America's shield not doing anything because it's just a shield and it doesn't do anything unless you throw it at someone. The trailer ended with an invitation to hashtag reassemble.

What we're hoping for: Well, we just looked at the hashtag and there's not much reassembling going on there these days. Could be time to stir something up again, and with yet another Avengers movie arriving in 2018, it might be time for a proper game trailer, and maybe, just maybe, some idea of what kind of game it's going to be. Hashtag maybe.

Beyond Good & Evil 2

Likelihood of reveal: Niet-likely (like Nietzsche, get it?)

What we know: Game director Michel Ancel’s long rumored, long awaited sequel to 2003’s Beyond Good & Evil is starting to feel like a myth. Every now and then it’s re-confirmed by Ubisoft or Ancel (we’ve written that it’s “still happening” at least three times), but only recently has it become real enough to re-build our anticipation. Except, it won’t be shown at E3—probably. Ancel himself said so in an Instagram comment, saying E3 wasn’t the right place to show BG&E2 but that we’d see it this year.

What we're hoping for: Anything. Literally anything. Anything that proves the tease we saw in October wasn’t just some collective fever-dream. One of the older reveals showed it might feature Mirror’s Edge-like parkour gameplay through a huge city, which would be cool if it’s still the case. It would also be cool if it were in a big open desert like the other reveal we once saw, or in space, or exclusively in the Mammago Garage as a hovercraft maintenance simulator. OK, maybe not that last one. But at this point what we’re hoping for is solid details about anything, accompanied by an air of confidence that assures us this isn’t another false start for the sequel.

The return of Command & Conquer

Likelihood of reveal: Tiberium none

What we know: The Command & Conquer series was going to make a big return in free-to-play form, but that project didn’t make it past the alpha stage. It was canceled and the developer, Victory Games, was shut down. In 2013, VideoGamer reported that a now-removed help article on EA’s support site stated that Command & Conquer would resume under a new studio. We haven’t heard anything since.

What we're hoping for: Just finding out that C&C is still alive would be welcome, but if it is, how about a full single-player campaign with FMV cutscenes?


Likelihood of reveal: Barren

What we know: Very bloody little. Starfield was registered as a trademark by Zenimax some time ago, before rumours emerged earlier this week that it would be revealed at E3. According to that rumour, which you should take with a barren planet's grain of salt, it’s a Bethesda Game Studios RPG in the vein of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout, except this one has a science fiction theme. The rumour goes that it shares a universe with Fallout but takes place far into the future, will feature elements of random terrain generation ala Minecraft or No Man’s Sky, and will play host to a handful of different races. Keep in mind though, that this rumour is an unsubstantiated as they come.

What we’re hoping for: A whole new series in the vein of Fallout or The Elder Scrolls would be very welcome indeed, especially if it manages to mix randomised space elements ala No Man’s Sky with an immaculately crafted hub world or base like we see in Bethesda’s other RPGs. Imagine if, in Fallout, you could craft a space vessel and explore a (potentially infinite) universe above, collecting whatever resources and partaking in whatever battles you encountered up there? Oh, and imagine if they ramped up the base-building features in Fallout 4 so that you could feasibly settle these unexplored planets? It’s a pipe dream, but one can only live in hope.

One of Valve’s new games

Likelihood of reveal: Your winning lottery ticket is hit by a meteorite

What we know: Valve isn’t too big on E3, preferring to announce projects however it feels like announcing them—it dropped a virtual reality system on us at GDC, for instance. But there’s a chance that Valve capitalizes on all the excitement around E3 to independently show off one of the games it’s been working on. We know there’s more than one in development, and that they’ll be using Source 2, and that there are VR projects among them. The HTC Vive was announced in 2015, and it’s possible one of these games was in development even before then, so it wouldn’t be shockingly fast to see the first footage.

What we're hoping for: A game.

Other games that could show up

A new Duke Nukem, because why not? (Don't answer that.)
Red Dead Redemption 2 could appear at the Sony conference, but we don't expect a PC release announcement.
Minecraft 2: Mine Harder
Deep Down (If it still exists)
Her Story 2
Two Worlds III
Something from Amazon Game Studios
Starcraft: Ghost
Return to Return to Zork

PC Gamer

The collective PC Gamer editorial team worked together to write this article. PC Gamer is the global authority on PC games—starting in 1993 with the magazine, and then in 2010 with this website you're currently reading. We have writers across the US, UK and Australia, who you can read about here.