E3 2019 predictions: what we expect from the big show

We're edging close to E3, and we already know quite a bit about what will be there. We're getting new looks at Cyberpunk 2077 and Jedi: Fallen Order, our first look at the Avengers game, probably a bunch of announcements at Microsoft's press conference—as well as a bit of Halo Infinite, surely—and a couple of surprises from Ubisoft along with more about Ghost Recon: Breakpoint.

And this past week has seen the typical stream of leaks gushing all over the sidewalk leading up to the big event, as well as a few official announcements that popped out ahead of the show to avoid getting crushed in the mayhem. Here's a brief recap of what we've learned this week, and we'll follow it up some of our own predictions of what else we might end up be seeing.

Leaks, reveals, and rumors

Elden Ring is the game by From Software and George R.R. Martin

After some speculation a few weeks ago, the game by From Software and George R.R. Martin may be called Elden Ring. It looks like we'll hear about it at the show after Bandi Namco's E3 assets apparently leaked: it's described as an action-adventure RPG.

A new Tales Of RPG called Tales Arise

Another E3 asset leak from Bandi Namco only shows a couple of screenshots but Tales Arise appears to be the follow-up to 2016's Talse of Berseria. It hasn't been confirmed yet, but we've known a new Tales has been in development since 2018.

A new Watch Dogs game called Legion, set in London

An Amazon listing spilled the beans on Watch Dogs Legion, and at the very least the name has been officially confirmed, as is the fact that it'll appear at E3. Still unconfirmed: the details, though the leaked info tells us it will take place in a post-Brexit dystopian London and that players will be able to play as any citizen in the game, who (somehow) each have their own voice overs and animations.

Baldur's Gate 3 is confirmed

We didn't get much, just a creepy and somewhat gross cinematic teaser trailer, but Baldur's Gate 3 is heading our way and we're going to find out lots more at E3. We can say this for a fact since it'll be on the PC Gaming Show on Monday!

Rainbow Six Quarantine, a new co-op shooter from Ubisoft

It's just a rumor right now, but it comes from Nibel, a reliable source. It may be a co-op spin-off set in the Siege universe and based on the limited-time Outbreak mode for Siege that appeared in March of 2018. In Outbreak, an epidemic ravaged a town in New Mexico and teams of three agents battled their way through the streets and buildings and protected objectives against wave attacks from infected monsters.

A new expansion pack for the Sims 4 called Island Living

This looks legit, gathered after Joran Jovic from Sims Community searched the Origin Store. It only appeared for a second, but it was enough time to extract screenshots and a description of Island Living, an expansion that includes mermaids, dolphins, sand castles, and sunburns.

Our Predictions

Despite the crush of news before E3 starts, the actual show still manages to be a carnival of surprises. Every year we do our best to guess at what the major publishers have in their back pockets. Based on the rumors we've heard and our own wild speculation, here's what we think might happen this year:

Square Enix announces Final Fantasy 16 

I think this'll be the E3 where Square Enix puts everything on the table. The lesson learned from last year's conference, which showed new footage of console game Kingdom Hearts 3 but most importantly, revealed The Quiet Man, surely has to be that people have certain expectations about what a Square Enix conference will deliver. That's this year I think you'll see Square Enix overload: its Avengers game, maybe that People Can Fly collaboration that's been in the works for a while, and Final Fantasy 16. We'll find out what it is. And, hopefully, that it's coming to PC on day one this time. —Samuel Roberts

AMD jumps on the ray tracing bandwagon  

After largely dissing and ignoring ray tracing and the DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API for the past year, AMD drops a bombshell and reveals the 7nm Navi GPUs are actually fully equipped with DXR hardware acceleration. The $350 part (RX 5800 maybe?) ends up beating the RTX 2070 in performance, bringing price drops to other GPUs. Nvidia's 'Super' tease turns out to be a super price cut. Or maybe AMD just says "forget ray tracing for now" (which is more likely) and releases an RX 5700 that costs less than $300 and competes with the RTX 2070. —Jarred Walton 

Bethesda announces The Elder Scrolls 6 again  

I obviously don't have numbers to back it up, but I suspect that despite all the disappointment and outcry about Fallout 76 that the game sold well and continues to make good money for Bethesda. But the shining moment from Bethesda's last E3 was basically just a title card for The Elder Scrolls 6, a game we still know almost nothing about. Why not just roll it again as if it was the first time? Same brief shot of some mountains and the name of the game on the screen. Nothing else. "See, we're making this thing you like and we haven't given you any reason to be mad about it yet and you'll play it someday." People would cheer again, I bet.  —Chris Livingston

Lots of ludicrous teasers for games that aren't coming out for years 

It's time for the next generation of consoles, baby, and that means teasers for games you won't see for years yet. E3 always gives us one or two of these, but I expect a banner year of them at the Ubisoft and Microsoft conferences, particularly from the suite of Xbox acquisitions made last year, including Obsidian and Ninja Theory. The upside is we'll see more non-sequels than usual, as publishers take gambles on what they think will be the next big thing. —Samuel Roberts

2016-2017 influences show up in full  

While publishers scrambled to get their versions of battle royale out quickly, other less urgent influences were informing their next projects. Here are the things I predict had the biggest effect: GTA Online, Stardew Valley, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, Twin Peaks, Darkest Dungeon, Black Mirror, climate disaster, the existence of outer space, Divinity: Original Sin 2, the endless procession of Marvel and Star Wars films, and the endurance of Minecraft.

And this is what we get:

  • A more serious tone to Watch Dogs 3, with a greater focus on creepy future tech a la Black Mirror.
  • A farming/building game that takes place underwater, or in space. It's co-op.
  • A new fantasy RPG epic with sci-fi elements. It's intended to be a trilogy. Your favorite characters die.
  • '80s nostalgia for days.
  • A turn-based isometric fantasy RPG. Or two. Or three.
  • The words "procedural" and "persistent." Often in space. 
  • A GTA Online-like, except sci-fi or fantasy.

Tyler Wilde

THQ Nordic announces 80 games in rapid-fire succession  

What's better than a big game reveal? How about 80 big game reveals done one after the other, logos and gameplay pulsing by at such a fervent pace your brain matter begins to vibrate itself into constituent molecules. That's what I'm hoping THQ Nordic does at E3 this year, after a financial report indicated the mega-publisher has 50 unannounced games (in addition to another 30ish that people know about) in development across its various studios. 

It'd be like your dad catching you smoking and forcing you to smoke the entire pack in front of him as you beg for it to end, but instead of cigarettes you're watching an unending sizzle reel of mid-budget games. It would ruin E3 forever. No one could ever compare. It'd be the Red Wedding of E3 and THQ Nordic would be King in the North. Forever. —Steven Messner

Microsoft brings Xbox emulation to PC  

I'm unabashedly stealing this from a segment James lead on the PC Gamer Show a couple weeks ago, because I think it's entirely plausible and I really want it to be true. 

The Xbox team has been doing amazing work adding backwards compatibility to the Xbox One via emulation, and a huge portion of the Xbox 360 and the original Xbox catalog is now playable on the modern Xbox. And not just playable, but often dramatically enhanced. Some 30 fps games are now 60 fps. Games that ran at 480p or 720p now run at 4K. It's difficult, impressive work, and while I don't want to short sell the extra effort it would take to bring those games over to PC, I think the hardest part is already done. The Xbox One hardware is quite similar to PC, and we've seen a lot of crossover lately with Universal Windows App games like Gears of War 4 and the Forza Horizon games.

There's no better way for Microsoft to show it's serious about PC gaming, and the back library of Xbox console games on PC would be a killer selling point for bringing Game Pass over to our platform. Gimme dat Ninja Gaiden Black on PC, already. —Wes Fenlon

I’m gonna have to go to the bathroom right when the FromSoftware game trailer begins  

Leaks and speculation indicate the collab of a generation is on the way, pairing Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin with FromSoftware on what’s rumored to be a semi-open world game called Elden Ring where you’re on a horse, killing shit and absorbing the shit’s essence. Speculation and bodily rumors also indicate I’m gonna have to take a leak when the trailer starts. The Gematsu report detailing the project says it’s likely to be revealed during the Microsoft E3 conference, and if that’s true, you can bet Microsoft will position the reveal in the back third of the show, if not during the final minutes, at which point I’ll be able to see my bladder pushing against my skin. 

I imagine the trailer will have the subdued, quiet style FromSoft is loved for, and that it’ll make a big show of George’s consultation work, perhaps via voiceover from a very sad medieval man detailing his very sad situation. I also imagine that I’ll have to pee so bad that I won’t be able to comprehend what the sad man says or the images on the screen because of all the pee inside of me, trying to escape. I can’t wait to see it, if it exists. I also can’t wait to go to the bathroom, in the future. It’s going to feel very nice. —James Davenport

What are your wildest guesses, or most grounded predictions for E3 2019? Let us know in the comments. And here's the full E3 2019 press conference schedule so you can plan your viewing.