The Electronic Three is nigh. Next week, the entire gaming industry will descend on E3 2014 , eager for big announcements at flashy press conferences and as many video games as can fit in LA's massive convention center. There will be new PC games and new PC hardware. That's all expected. But what about the unexpected? What E3 announcements will blow our minds? Is this the year Gabe Newell finally walks onto a stage and says "Half-Life 3 is done, and you can play it right now," and we all leave E3 early?
Probably not. As we psyche ourselves up for E3, the PC Gamer staff have made some wild and not-so-wild predictions about Oculus and Steam Machines and the biggest surprises we'll see at this year's show.
Evan: Plenty of stuff has already been revealed in the past month or so ( Far Cry 4 , Battlefield Hardline , Mortal Kombat X, Crytek's co-op shooter and lane-pusher , Homefront 2, first hands-on with Shadow of Mordor, BattleCry , GOG's new DRM-free platform , The Witcher 3 details ) in the industry's collective effort to not get lost in the noise of E3, but I'm confident more surprises await us at the show proper. Blizzard will probably hold everything back for BlizzCon in November, when it knows it'll get the most attention, and Valve hasn't indicated to us that they're showing anything or speaking to any press this year. Boo.
This E3 would, though, be the perfect opportunity for larger studios to show off Oculus projects—competition for attention in the VR space is still low and interest in the device is only going to increase. I'll be surprised if we don't see a prominent game announced as an official Oculus port, at the very least.
Otherwise I'm hoping we'll see on some activity on the Steam Machines front, even with Valve's controller delayed to 2015 . Random thought: is Raven Software working on anything other than Call of Duty Online, the China-exclusive version of the franchise?
Sam: Let's just go right out there and say there'll be something big from Bethesda Game Studios this year—I think the public denials of the studio's next project announcement are a smokescreen. There were three years between Fallout 3 and Skyrim, and just under four between Morrowind and Oblivion. It's almost been three years since Skyrim. It's at least time for an announcement. I also think this is a show where we might see some more traditionally console-centric games cross over to PC.
I believe EA will show off more than one Star Wars game, and we'll see a first teaser of Mass Effect 4 (not called that), which'll get a lot of people talking in terms of story. We'll also see an all-new series from the Mass Effect trilogy team, which I boldly predict will be something a little more real-world (but still a bit out there) versus traditional BioWare fare. Oh, and Batman will fight Superman in Arkham Knight (alright, this is more a fanfiction scenario than something I think will actually happen, but hey. There's a movie soon).
Tim: E3 feels like it's in a strange place this year. Not Los Angeles, it always happens there and she's always strange, but the show itself feels almost on the verge of another existential crisis. I haven't been less convinced by its need to exist since the infamous year it was scattered across several Santa Monica hotels and some of the stands amounted to little more than trestle tables and some posters. It's facile to debate who 'wins' E3—the eye-watering cost means everyone loses a pretty penny—but I suspect those that come out of it best will be the ones who see beyond physical show and manage to speak direct to the audience.
I'm doing myself out of a job here, but why just keep your exciting demo behind closed doors when you could stream it direct to a vast audience who, for three days, will all be desperate for the sweet kiss of brand new game?
Rumours? Go on then, just one: I expect a juicy unreleased console game to make the jump to PC. And I think The Witcher 3 will romp game of the show, but Hyper Light Drifter will be the indie darling. Oh, and finally, I think our coverage is going to be the best we've ever done. Don't miss it.
Wes: When was the last time Microsoft really paid attention to PC gaming? We got a port of Viva Pinata back in 2007. That was something. Since then, well, it's pretty much been the Xbox show. But after Rise of Nations unexpectedly hitting Steam and the Xbox One controller drivers being released , I think Microsoft is going to throw us a surprise. One of their big first-party tentpoles is going to come to PC, and they're going to tell us that during their press conference on Monday. Phil Spencer has committed to more PC gaming from Microsoft in the near future , though he says not to expect anything at E3.
Lies! It's all a smokescreen. I bet Phil's going to have at least one big game for PC at E3. It just won't be Halo.
Tyler: Electronic music, electronic lights, electronic imagery: it's the Electronic Arts E3 2014 Press Conference! “It's a great year to be a gamer,” someone will say, being sure to use the words 'next-gen' and 'blockbuster' liberally while explaining how “games have evolved.” A nod to Star Wars will get a few 'woos'—we'll see that later. First, we'll see a trailer montage cutely juxtaposing action games with The Sims 4 , a new Dragon Age Inquisition cinematic trailer and gameplay footage walkthrough, tech demos for FIFA 15 , Madden NFL 15 (expect to see an NFL player), NHL 15, and EA Sports UFC—deep breath—more about The Sims 4, something about Facebook, something about a mobile app, the audience clapping politely, someone saying “not just a game,” and then a Star Wars: Battlefront trailer . And then someone saying “more social, more connected,” someone saying “a whole new way to play,” a gag that doesn't quite work, a Mirror's Edge 2 trailer, a Battlefield Hardline gameplay demonstration, and a teaser for something from BioWare. At least, I hope that's what happens. I love routine. And I want to see Mirror's Edge 2.
Tom: What is the 'next generation' and why should anyone want it? A lot of money and energy will be spent answering that question as Sony and Microsoft step up their efforts to make their new systems seem essential. It's been a relatively slow year for big-budget releases and that'll continue as more big games flee for the distant shores of 2015, but what will left? Alien Isolation will be strong again , Dragon Age: Inquisition's open world will tantalise, The Sims 4 will continue to look like a game that I'll secretly pour hundreds of hours into when no-one's looking. Mirror's Edge 2 and Battlefront will get small teasers, but I think it'll be a quiet one this year, with few surprises. Prove me wrong, E3. Prove me wrong.
Cory: It's a really interesting time for Oculus VR. We know about the Facebook acquisition, and we know about the hiring spree that the company's been on, and we definitely know that developers at Oculus have big plans for VR. My gut tells me that it's still too early to see the long-awaited consumer version of the Rift, though. Instead, I think we'll find out a lot more information about Oculus' plan to create first-party games for its headset . Back in May, the company hired former 343 Industries art director Kenneth Scott to work with a team of developers on games in-house.
While I don't think it'll be playable, I do think we're going to learn more details on the game, including that it's multiplayer-focused. It's the one thing that could set Oculus over the edge from technological curiosity to legitimate platform, especially in the eyes of the retailers that don't yet understand VR as anything but an expensive accessory.