E3plante! 2012

It’s that time of year again! Okay, so it’s still about four and a half months before E3 2012 kicks off in Los Angeles, but you better believe we’re at it again this year, and of course, we’re starting nice and early. This is the first of two posts, a couple of months apart from each other, that will highlight the rumours and speculation of what we’re expecting to happen at E3, from the perspective of 5 months before and one month before. It’ll be interesting to see how things change, but of course, more than that, it’s fun as hell to predict.

First up, I want to let you all know that I’m heading down to LA with my good friend Sean Chin, who accompanied Eggplante to E3 2010 where we had an absolute blast. He founded and runs Live In Limbo (www.liveinlimbo.com), a great source for music, movie, concert, and of course video game reviews. So check it out! Now on to our predictions…..

This year will hopefully not be the year of the sequel as it was last year. 2011 brought us a lot of threes, actually: Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3, Mass Effect 3, yada yada yada. This year, hopefully we’ll see a lot more original IP, or at least games that, while they’re based on existing story lines, tell stories in a brand new way. For example, Halo 4 isn’t going to be a true sequel. The storyline will pick up from where it left off, but it’s a new studio developing it, it’s a new trilogy, and of course, it’s been five years since Halo 3 launched. My excitement about Halo 4 can’t be tempered, and I can’t wait to get some hands-on time with the game. I just hope they delay it if it isn’t finished because holiday 2012 seems quick for such a massive title, and I really hope they nail it!

The Wii U is obviously going to play a huge role at E3 2012, and while I don’t think we’ll see any new Zelda for Wii U or 3DS this year around, I think the focus will be on Mario games like Super Mario Galaxy 3 (although truth be told, I’d prefer a new start to the Super Mario series, myself), Super Smash Bros., and of course a ton of third-party support. Speaking of Zelda, however, I do think we’ll be seeing a Majora’s Mask remake for the 3DS. You can get the game for Virtual Console on your Wii right now with Club Nintendo points, so that could be good or bad. On the bad side, people might play it now and get it out of their system and not buy a 3D remake again. However, Nintendo might be using the adoption rate on the Virtual Console to see if it would be a viable game on the 3DS. If the latter were the case, I’m not sure there would be enough time for them to conduct the research and then make the game if there is enough demand for it. But one can hope!

New PS Vita experiences will also be on display, of course, although with the handheld out and about, I hope that Sony announces something regional for the console. By regional, I mean something that makes it awesome to use the Vita in these big convention centre spaces. Last year, we were all crazy about our StreetPass functionality with the 3DS, and if Sony has people pulling out their Vitas all over the place to play around, it certainly couldn’t hurt more than the announcement that they’re using AT&T for their 3G service. Awkwaaaaard.

Speaking of Sony, it would be great if we would finally see something about The Last Guardian. I still remember that trailer as almost making me cry, but we haven’t seen anything about the game since E3 2009, and truth be told, I’m not sure it’s going to be worth the wait anymore!

On the Microsoft front, I don’t think we’ll be seeing any new hardware from the folks in Redmond. We’ll of course be getting the Kinect-blast again this time around, but hopefully in more hardcore games, and with much speedier voice-recognition support. Halo 4 will be there, of course, and I’d say a mention of the next chapter in the trilogy would be there, but before we play Halo 4, they can’t hint at what happens next. I mean, what if the Chief dies or something?

In terms of what we will be seeing from Microsoft, I think the big thing will be new experiences for a new console vision like Nintendo showed off with the Wii U last year. While we won’t see hardware or specific tech specs, there will be tech demos showed off. In the off-chance that we do actually see some hardware, I think the controller will remain mostly, if not completely, the same (it is widely regarded as the best controller of the current generation, after all), and Kinect will be in the box, but not physically built-in to the console. Doing that would force the person to put the console under their TV, or worse, on top of it, which just isn’t always possible. Hard drives will be standard across all the units (no “core” models here), but Blu-Ray is a toss up. It would only serve to fuel Sony’s position in the Blu-Ray space, but they do need a higher-capacity medium if the rumours of 6x the power of the XBOX 360 hold true.

So what will happen at E3? The above is all just musings on the industry and what I see happening. Stay tuned in May for our “E3: What Will, What Might, and What Won’t” post that is quickly becoming an Eggplante tradition.

Oh, and Splinter Cell 6 will finally be announced. Just saying’. In the meantime, take a look at some of the biggest events from E3s of years past.