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E3 2019: What to expect from all the major publishers this year

E3 2019 begins this weekend, technically, although it feels like it's been going on for a while. Last week, for example, a new Call of Duty game was announced, details arrived a little earlier than expected for the Avengers game from Square Enix, and hints that Larian might be working on something other than Divinity: Original Sin 3 were uncovered. And that was all in one day. In May! By 2025, E3 will probably begin in February, then finish the following January, so E3 can begin anew. There will be no escape. 

Below, we decided to take a 'health check' of the major publishers ahead of E3. We examine the recent games they've brought to the table, the headlines they've generated, how they performed at E3 2018, and what we expect from them at E3 2019. We've covered everyone with a major press conference, and touch upon some of the others, too. 

You should also check out our E3 2019 predictions, as well as our round-up of rumours and list of games that have been MIA since E3 last year. Plus, get an early look at who'll be taking the stage at the PC Gaming Show on June 10th. 

Bethesda

How did it do at E3 2018?   

Pretty well, though the most exciting games we know about—Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6—are still years off. 

What has it got right lately?

Doom Eternal is a somewhat dependable beacon of hope after a middling year, and a new Wolfenstein game will help see us through the summer. 

What has it got wrong lately?

Fallout 76 was a bit of a disaster for Bethesda. Largely panned by critics, it launched as a buggy, aimless live service game. Rage 2 was a great shooter in a shallow open world, which hasn’t helped or hindered Bethesda’s reputation.

What do we expect from it at E3?

Expect plenty of Doom Eternal and Wolfenstein: Youngblood, the two games it has on the slate this year. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. With its biggest games used up in last year’s conference, there’s no telling what, if any, surprises Bethesda has in store. Just be sure that Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6 won't be there. 

EA

How did it do at E3 2018?   

Not too bad. Anthem played well in extremely short form, Battlefield 5's multiplayer was shown off, and a battle royale mode for DICE's FPS was confirmed, which would eventually become Firestorm. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was revealed in the softest way possible, with a name, tentative release date and confirmation it'll be a full-fat Star Wars singleplayer game. A Premier version of the EA Access service was announced, which would include brand new games, but for more money.   

What has it got right lately?

EA Access regularly expands its library, for those interested in the service—Into the Breach and FTL are recent additions. Respawn's Apex Legends, released in January, was a perfect surprise. The Sims 4 was given away for free in May, which is fantastic. Another Dragon Age exists, if in a very early form, though it's hard to get too excited about that after playing Anthem. 

What has it got wrong lately?

The release of Anthem was a disaster—the game was barely in a release-ready state and there was no hiding it. It mirrored the release of Mass Effect Andromeda in some ways, except it was an inferior game, and it means BioWare has had two major disappointments in a row. Battlefield 5 continues to grow in content, but it launched in a fairly light state, and sold below expectations. Another Star Wars game, the open world project that followed the cancellation of Visceral's Ragtag, was reportedly cancelled earlier this year. As EA laid off around 350 people, CEO Andrew Wilson said this: "As we look across a changing world around us, it’s clear that we must change with it."

What do we expect from it at E3?

EA seems to be having a quiet, transitional year, with no major FPS out this holiday season for the first time in a while. We don't expect many major announcements. Instead, EA's E3 schedule sets aside a whole lot of time for a proper showing of Jedi: Fallen Order, which deserves its opportunity to shine, as well as updates to existing games like Apex Legends and The Sims 4. 

Activision Blizzard

How did it do at E3 2018?   

Black Ops 4's reveal came before E3, but Activision did reveal Sekiro at the Microsoft conference. Blizzard tends to use Blizzcon to tease updates.

How is it doing right now?

Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch are ticking along as usual but Blizzard isn’t planning on releasing anything else anytime soon. 

What has it got right lately?

Sekiro is a massive game of the year contender, a 50-hour ninja epic from the creators of Dark Souls. As other big publishers try to launch new service games, Activision has put out a peerless singleplayer experience. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is returning to the series’ highest point later this year.

What has it got wrong lately?

The Activision Blizzard layoffs went down terribly in a year of record profits. 

What do we expect from it at E3?

Expect some flashy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare trailers. The publisher has 'very large ambitions for the Overwatch universe' but it's unlikely we'll see anything concrete at E3 this year. Blizzard is skipping Gamescom as well to focus on development, so don’t expect much from the conference this year.

Microsoft

How did it do at E3 2018?   

Microsoft's conference was fantastic, but mostly for major reveals of multiformat games, like Cyberpunk 2077 and Sekiro. Halo Infinite broke cover, though, as did Gears 5. The other big news item was its list of developer acquisitions: Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Undead Labs and Compulsion Games, plus the founding of one other new studio, The Initiative. This suggested a real desire for Microsoft to finally increase its game output. 

How is it doing right now?

Microsoft has basically spent this entire console generation trying to reverse out of the large disaster zone created by the terrible reveal and flawed launch of the Xbox One. It's getting there, but an ongoing software drought hasn't looked good next to Sony's volley of popular open world games. On PC, the Microsoft Store is still bad, but we've had some decent games come across, like Sea of Thieves, which is continually improving, and Forza Horizon 4. In addition to the acquisitions announced at E3 2018, Microsoft bought RPG specialists Obsidian and InXile in late 2018, too. 

What has it got right lately?

Just last week, Microsoft confirmed it's bringing Game Pass to PC, with over 100 games in tow as part of an on-demand service. More exciting, though, is that it's bringing more of its games to Steam, with Gears 5 among those making the leap. The Halo: Master Chief Collection is rolling out on Valve's platform, too, starting with Halo Reach. Xbox seems very eager to please PC players, and it seems to be working in our favour. 

What has it got wrong lately?

Crackdown 3 should've been a top-tier open world game like its predecessors, but it felt like old hat, and was mostly ignored. Microsoft needs better games—it's that simple. 

What do we expect from it at E3?

It seems likely Microsoft will be focused on its next-gen console offering, but we know there'll be 14 first-party Xbox games at E3 this year, which will come out on PC too. We can predict a few of those: Gears 5, Halo Infinite, Gears Tactics, and the Ori sequel. It's probably too early for most of its new acquisitions to show off their projects, but one or two of them might pop up during its conference. A new Forza Motorsport entry seems like a dead cert: they've released every two years for a long time. Hopefully Age of Empires 4 reappears, too. Expect a lot more information on Game Pass for PC. 

Capcom

How did it do at E3 2018?

Capcom announced both Resident Evil 2 Remake and Devil May Cry 5 at the Sony and Microsoft conferences respectively. It was a strong showing. 

How is it doing right now?

Both Resi 2 Remake and DMC5 lived up to expectations, and earlier this year Capcom posted record high profits. Seems like it's doing well. 

What has it got right lately?

Capcom's been on a hot streak for a little while. Resident Evil 7 was a solid reinvention of that series, Monster Hunter: World dragged the series away from Nintendo handhelds, and its last two games suggests Capcom has rediscovered its old form from the mid-'00s. The publisher has also made a good fist of bringing its old games to PC, from obscure favourites to outright classics. 

What has it got wrong lately?

You have to go back to Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite in 2017 to find the last real example of a Capcom dud. Monster Hunter World took a lot longer to come to PC than we'd have liked. 

What do we expect from it at E3?

Expansion Monster Hunter Iceborne is pretty much the only thing on its schedule right now—after a busy couple of years, this might be a quiet one for Capcom. Perhaps Phoenix Wright will pop up again, although we've only just received the first three entries on PC. 

Valve

How did it do at E3 2018?   

Valve tends to skip E3 and do its announcements elsewhere. Artifact was announced at the Dota 2 International. At trade shows Valve seems more interested in showing off new VR hardware that might have a few Valve minigames attached. We’re a long way away from the era when Valve would demo new engine tech and show new games.

What has it got right lately?

Steam is still far and away the most popular digital store. Competition from Epic has applied some pressure, but Valve is still dominant in this space. Valve’s VR headsets, while expensive, are the highest quality gear in the market.

What has it got wrong lately?

Artifact clearly hasn’t done well. The original designers have left and Valve plans to rework the game, and possibly relaunch it at some point. 

What do we expect from it at E3?

Valve is making an official version of Dota Auto Chess and recently trademarked 'Dota Underworlds'. We'd be surprised if any of this turned up at E3 this year. Valve is likely to have a quiet show and show new games on its own terms, hopefully in the next year or so. Don't hold your breath, though.

Ubisoft

How did it do at E3 2018?

Ubisoft properly revealed Assassin's Creed Odyssey at 2018's show, and followed its fairly regular pattern of dropping one heavy hitter at a time. A nice Beyond Good and Evil 2 cinematic trailer popped up. Skull and Bones, a PvP pirate game we first played at E3 2017 which still doesn't have a release date, made an appearance. Trials Rising was confirmed. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was there for some reason. 

How is it doing right now?

Ubisoft's PC business had a massive 58.1 percent over the last financial year, suggesting the platform is more important to the publisher now than it's ever been. Generally speaking, the publisher has been making some decent games of late. 

What has it got right lately?

The Division 2 launched in a strong state, which is a hard thing for a live service game to do. Assassin's Creed Odyssey offered a big, chunky blockbuster with BioWare-style choices, as BioWare itself has seemingly stopped making games like that. Rainbow Six Siege continues to tick along with new operators and important changes to its fundamental systems. Assassin's Creed Unity was given away for free, with a big donation to the rebuilding of Notre-Dame. 

What has it got wrong lately?

Assassin's Creed Odyssey had a pretty poor experience point boost microtransaction, despite being an otherwise great game. Its PC version was also incredibly demanding in terms of hardware, too. Splinter Cell still seems to be dead. 

What do we expect from it at E3?

Rumours are doing the rounds about a PC-focused EA Access-style service from Ubisoft. That makes perfect sense to us, with the quality and depth of its library—expect to hear more at E3. With no Assassin's Creed this year, a new Watch Dogs seems likely (rumours suggest it's set in London). You'll almost certainly see Ghost Recon Breakpoint in action, too. 

We predict there will be one major reveal of something brand new, too, tied in with the likely reveal of brand new console hardware (similar to how the original Watch Dogs was revealed in 2012). Beyond Good and Evil 2 won't be there, it's been confirmed, but there will be a separate livestream this week. Rumours suggest a roller derby-type game is in the works from Ubisoft, too. 

Square Enix

How did it do at E3 2018?   

Square Enix's 2018 livestream—it wasn't a conference, as such—was a definite disappointment in terms of announcements. But hey, they did have The Quiet Man, which we called the worst E3 trailer last year. People wanted The Avengers, and it didn't deliver that, probably because it was too early. That won't be a problem this year.

How is it doing right now?

Square Enix has had a slightly quieter 2019 on the PC front so far—its big release was Kingdom Hearts 3 on consoles. A new expansion for FF14 is on its way. The publisher is definitely overdue some bigger, exciting multiformat releases on the horizon.

What has it got right lately?

Andy very much enjoyed Shadow of the Tomb Raider's focus on actual tomb raiding and puzzles last year. Life is Strange 2 hasn't generated the chatter the first one did—which was always going to be tough—but it's made a solid impression so far, even if the episodes are taking a while to come out. 

What has it got wrong lately?

Just Cause 4 didn't make a great case for keeping the open world series around—it's in real need of reinvention. Cancelling a pretty exciting-sounding bunch of FF15 DLC was a disappointing move, but hey, maybe interest in the ageing singleplayer game was waning. Left Alive, the Front Mission shooter spin-off, seemed to get ignored almost entirely. 

What do we expect from it at E3?

We know The Avengers game from Crystal Dynamics will be there, which is really exciting. A leaked E3 listing suggests it'll be a mix of co-op and singleplayer, with customisable elements for your superheroes. Square Enix has a whole conference to fill this year—it feels like more is going to be put on the table than just that one game, but it's likely to be the centrepiece of its Monday 10th June presentation. The Final Fantasy 7 Remake will likely be part of E3, too, as the last trailer promised 'more in June'. The problem is, that last one isn't coming to PC—not yet, anyway. A mysterious game called Outriders will also be at Square Enix's show this year. 

Other publishers and their E3 prospects

Does Konami make games that aren't PES anymore? Hopefully we'll find out at this E3. It would suck if Silent Hill and Metal Gear were just left on the shelf. 2K Games is almost certainly going to bring Borderlands 3, though it feels too early for an XCOM or Civ. Could we possibly see that rumoured new BioShock game make an appearance, though? It might be too early for that. Bandai Namco is rumoured to be bringing a George RR Martin-consulted From Software game to Microsoft's show, which could end up being the biggest announcement of this E3. Sega hasn't said what it's bringing to E3 yet, but expect a quiet one for Total War specifically, given that Three Kingdoms just came out.