E3 Expectations: Sony

Sony had a lukewarm conference last year, it had a strange pace as it appeared to have no rhythm, especially when compared to 2016’s conference. This year there won’t be any major first-party announcements, however, they’ll bring 4 major exclusives, and we can expect third-party titles to make an appearance.

The Last of Us: Part II

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The sequel of a modern classic, The Last of Us: Part 2 must either begin or finish the conference. After 2 impactful trailers, we should see an extended gameplay for the first time. We’ll probably find out more about the setting, the story and a release window for the title.

Ghost of Tsushima

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Sucker Punch’s first title since the release of Infamous Second Son, Ghost of Tsushima is Sony’s new IP. Little is known about the title other than the Japanese setting focused on a samurai story. At the conference, we should have a gameplay demo and a release date.

Spider-Man

Spider Man PS4

After appearing for 2 straight E3’s, Spider-Man will come out this year. Last year’s demo was interesting but I feel that it could sell the game a little better. Another gameplay highlighting the story could do just that. But since it’s an Insomniac game, there aren’t many reasons to doubt the quality of the title.

Death Stranding

Death-Stranding

Death Stranding is a really bizarre case, we’ve seen it for years, however, we still have no idea what it’s all about. Each trailer becomes weirder than the previous and we keep getting hyped solely because of Kojima. He has hinted on another trailer and maybe we’ll find out what Death Stranding actually is, but that should be it, as a gameplay demo is unlikely.

Resident Evil 2 Remake

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Announced years ago, Resident Evil 2 Remake remains a mystery. No details were revealed, only a few rumors surfaced but nothing concrete yet. Given Sony’s relationship with Capcom, it should be revealed at their conference and I believe it will happen this year, possibly with a trailer.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2

Rockstar usually doesn’t appear on any E3 conference, however, GTA V’s current-gen console was announced on Sony’s stage. Since we haven’t seen any gameplay and the game will come out this year, we could expect to see the gameplay reveal tonight.

Call of Duty Black Ops 4

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Due to the partnership, that Sony has with Activision, Black Ops 4 should make an appearance. If I had to guess I’d say that Blackout, it’s Battle Royale mode, should be demonstrated on stage.

Dreams

Dreams

Media Molecule’s new title should make a quick appearance with a trailer that should announce it’s release date and a beta. It would be wise to show a gameplay trying to explain what is Dreams, talking more about the campaign and the experience, that remains somewhat mysterious.

New Crash

Crash

The N’Sane Trilogy was an incredible success, surpassing every single expectation. With that, we should see a new title in the Crash series being developed, I believe that if it was announced it’d be at Sony’s conference.

Shenmue III

Shenmue III

Coming out next year, Shenmue III was revealed on Sony’s stage and should make a comeback with a gameplay as we haven’t seen any yet. It would be the perfect setting to reveal this long-awaited sequel to the world.

VR

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This should be very quick, just a regular trailer talking about some of the VR projects coming out to the PS4 in the near future. Given that Sony has admitted that VR didn’t take off as they expected, they shouldn’t pay a lot of attention to it.

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E3 Expectations: Ubisoft

Coming from a very strong presentation last year, Ubisoft should have another great showing this year as they appear to have a good lineup of games. Even though Bethesda has been giving them a run for the craziest conference, Ubisoft should reclaim the title with another bizarre and entertaining presentation.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Assassins-Creed-Odyssey

Again suffering from leaks, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey should have a major presence on the presentation focusing on the changes compared to Origins. According to reports, it will have a much heavier RPG influence and we’ll probably see a gameplay highlighting those changes and introducing ancient Greece. We should get the release date, either Fall 2018 or early 2019, let’s hope it’s not in February.

Skull & Bones

Skull & Bones

Skull & Bones was one of the surprises last year and it felt like a Black Flag sequel but focused on multiplayer. Delayed to 2019, it should have a gameplay demo to show how it differentiates itself from Black Flag and to announce a Beta coming later this year, early next year.

Watch Dogs 3

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This is more of wishful thinking than a guarantee as nothing leaked about the project. It’s been almost 2 years since Watch Dogs 2 came out and an update hinted at a London sequel. Since they already have The Division 2 and AC Odyssey on the show, I believe that they will only announce it next year so it won’t overcrowd their conference.

The Division 2

The Division 2

Coming from a gameplay at Xbox’s conference, The Division 2 should be another game to have a big presence at Ubisoft’s presentation. Located in Washington now, we should find out more about the story, the improvements, and promises related to content. We’ll probably see a developer talking about how they are looking to fix the mistakes made on the first one and a new gameplay.

Splinter Cell

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The probable surprise that closes the show, clues about a Splinter Cell comeback seem to corroborate this assumption. Michael Ironside hinting at a new project at Inside Xbox and Sam Fisher’s presence in Ghost Recon: Wildlands show that Ubisoft wants to bring the character back to the spotlight.

The fact that Metal Gear appears to have died also creates an opening in the stealth genre so that Splinter Cell could dominate. Fans have been clamoring for a sequel and this should be a great time to announce it.

Just Dance 2019

Just Dance Panda

The cringe-worthy moment of the conference every year, Just Dance 2019 will make a comeback and let’s hope it will be like last year. A singer went there, sang and that was it, making it easier for everyone. Personally, I would like to see the dancing panda back.

Transference

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A strange psychological thriller that was announced last year, Transference should make a quick appearance with another trailer and a release date. Originally slated for 2018, no news came out about the project and we should hear more about it on the conference.

UbiArt makes a comeback

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This is more a personal wish, as the UbiArt games have been some of my favorites this generation. I absolutely adored Child of Light and Valiant Hearts and it would be amazing to see sequels or maybe an entirely new project using the engine. These projects didn’t have the scope of most Ubisoft titles but they showed a lot of creativity and heart.

Starlink

Starlink

A game that feels some years too late, Starlink was announced last year to little fanfare. The toys-to-life genre died a few years ago and it feels strange to see Ubisoft releasing a title focusing on it. We should see a trailer, maybe a gameplay with a release date.

The Crew 2

The Crew

Coming out this month, The Crew 2 should have a quick showing just to remind people that the release date is close. They might talk about the season pass but I don’t think it’s likely, we’ll probably just see a trailer, a developer talking about the success of the closed beta and the date of an open beta.

Siege and Wildlands Update

Wildlands

This should be quick as they will only talk about new characters, missions, maps or another season pass.

Aisha Tyler Back

Aisha Tyler Ubisoft

Loved by some, hated by others, Aisha Tyler as host of Ubisoft’s conference became a staple of E3. Last year she wasn’t a part of it but we could see a comeback this year.

E3 Expectations: Square Enix

After skipping last year’s E3, Square Enix is about to come back with the expectation of a deeper look at their games. This year they come with some eagerly awaited sequels and the possibility of some very interesting announcements.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

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The final chapter of the trilogy, Shadow of the Tomb Raider will end the story of how Lara Croft became the Tomb Raider. Apparently focused on how Lara’s choices impact her and those around her, it is one of the most anticipated games of the year. At the conference, we should see a larger gameplay demo focusing on the world and the innovations brought to the series.

Kingdom Hearts III

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5 years after being announced, and more than 13 years after the release of Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts III will be released in January 2019. Combining various Disney properties such as Toy Story, Frozen, Wreck-it Ralph, this Square Enix’s RPG will represent a new opportunity for the franchise. There should be a gameplay demo highlighting many worlds and the more action-oriented combat.

Just Cause 4

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A surprise announcement since Just Cause 3 wasn’t a huge success, Just Cause 4 comes to consoles in December. The story appears to be a little bit more serious, something unusual for the series and hurricanes should bring a new element to gameplay. Speaking of gameplay, we should see one to show what’s new in this unique franchise.

Avengers Project

Avengers

One of the titles that are part of a partnership between Square Enix and Marvel, The Avengers Project was revealed last year. This year we should find out more about the project, the genre, the name and possibly a release window. What better stage to introduce such a high profile project than at E3, probably with a trailer.

Life is Strange: The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

Adventures of Captain Spirit

Another story in the Life is Strange universe was announced at Xbox’s conference. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit marks the return of Dontnod to the franchise and should work as an appetizer for the second season. It will be free and will come out on the 26th of June. I hope there will be a teaser for Life is Strange 2.

Left Alive

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Announced at TGS last year, Left Alive was supposed to come out in 2018 but since the reveal trailer we haven’t had anything new coming out about the project. Part of the Front Mission universe, the shooter could make a comeback at Square’s conference with a new trailer and release date, probably coming out in 2019.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

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After going through development problems, to the point Square took the control of the project back, I believe Final Fantasy VII Remake will make an appearance after being under the radar for a while. Nothing major, I think they’ll show gameplay just to try to ease fans, however, I don’t think we’ll have a release date.

Octopath Traveler

Octopath Traveler

A game that became known for its unusual name, Octopath Traveler has gained a lot of attention for its beautiful art style and interesting characters. Since it’s coming out in about a month we should expect a trailer.

Dragon Quest XI

Dragon Quest 11

The same goes for Dragon Quest XI, we should see a trailer as we’ve already seen gameplay. It will come out to the West in July and it shouldn’t take that much time in the presentation.

 

E3 Expectations: Bethesda

Coming from an interesting conference last year that felt more like a Nintendo Direct than an average presentation, Bethesda comes to E3 once again but this time with the feeling that we know everything we’ll see. Rage 2 and Fallout 76 have already been announced and it doesn’t appear they will have much more to show. But Pete Hine has promised that we’ll see more than one unannounced projects.

Fallout 76

Fallout 76

An announcement that took everyone by surprise, Fallout 76 is still shrouded in mystery, as not many details about the project have surfaced. According to reports, it will stray from the common Fallout formula. Apparently, it will be an online game like Dust but still focused on singleplayer missions. We’ll probably see a gameplay demo looking to explain how it will work and how it will differ from Fallout 4.

Rage 2

Rage2

Coming completely out of the right field, Rage 2 was leaked and since officially announced. A sequel to a game that wasn’t particularly beloved or revered, Rage 2 took everyone by surprise, especially because of how different it looks compared to the original Rage.

Gone the grey art style of the original, here comes this colorful punk visual, focused on a frenetic action filled with explosions. The partnership with Avalanche Studios looks like the right choice as they’re known for creating exciting action games given their history creating the Just Cause series. We should see some extended gameplay.

Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset

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Released earlier this month, the Summerset expansion of Elder Scrolls online shouldn’t take much time. There will probably be a trailer highlighting positive reviews, talking about how successful it’s been and that must be it.

Another Mobile Game

Fallout

It has been a while since Fallout Shelter came out and it was quite successful so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Bethesda announced another mobile game. This time I’d guess it will take place in the Elder Scrolls world.

New Elder Scrolls

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Almost 7 years ago Skyrim came out and took the franchise to a whole new level, becoming one of the most successful RPG’s ever, being released on every possible platform. It’s been 3 years since Fallout 4 was announced and Todd Howard’s team hasn’t revealed any new games. According to Pete Hines, the team has been working on several projects and even though he said it wouldn’t come out in the near future, a new Elder Scrolls could be announced at the conference.

New Todd Howard Project

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Speaking of Todd Howard and his several projects, one of them could be announced as one of the other surprises that were promised. There’s no idea of what the projects are about but given their pedigree, we can expect a quality game. A teaser or even a gameplay demo could be on stage.

Prey DLC

Prey

This has been hinted for months now. Prey wasn’t the game that many expected but it does have a fanbase craving for more content. We should expect something similar to the scope of Death of the Outsider, that came to Dishonored 2. At E3 they could bring the title again to the spotlight by showing something new, most probably a trailer.

 

 

E3 Expectations: Microsoft

Coming from a lackluster presentation last year that had a lot of games, but not very meaningful exclusives, Microsoft hopes to show to the industry that they are working on their first-party library. According to rumors, Microsoft might have some tricks up their sleeves, and we can hope to see a few exciting announcements.

Halo 6

Halo 5

It’s been almost 3 years since the release of Halo 5: Guardians and it appears to be the perfect time to announce the next iteration of Microsoft’s flagship franchise. The third main title of the series released by 343 Industries is surrounded by mystery and some uncertainty.

While Halo 5’s multiplayer was one of the best in the series, the campaign left a lot to be desired, something that really felt out of character in a franchise revered by its rich story. The silence surrounding Halo 6 has been very interesting, as there’s no idea on which approach Microsoft will take or if it will work as a reboot or as a sequel.

On Sunday we will find out what the future of the franchise holds. I would guess we will at least see a teaser trailer, but that will mean it won’t come out this year, if it comes out in 2018 I’d say that the conference will begin with a trailer and end with a gameplay.

Gears of War Spin-off

Gears

There are many talks about a Gears of War 5 announcement, but it seems too early to start talking about it, Gears 4 was released less than 2 years ago. Announcing a spin-off, however, could work extremely well, as Microsoft did with the Forza series, that grew with the release of the Horizon sub-series.

It could expand the franchise, avoid fatigue in the series and provide more time for The Coalition to work on the main titles. For a while has been rumored a survival horror game in the world of Gears, and it could become Microsoft’s main Fall product. I’d guess we’ll see a gameplay and it will come out in November.

Forza Horizon 4

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This is the safest bet in the entire conference since Forza became an annual franchise. The surprising fact about it was that the Horizon series surpassed the Motorsport series both critically and commercially. Given the huge success of Horizon 3, we can expect for Horizon 4 to be even bigger and hopefully better.

There are rumors regarding a Japanese or English setting, with Japan appearing as a clear preference from fans. We can expect an extended gameplay and a possible September release date.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the will of the wisps

After Ori and the Blind Forest’s critical and commercial success, its sequel was announced in last year’s conference with a beautiful trailer. We’ll probably see another trailer and a release date, I’d say in August so it won’t be buried by bigger releases in September. It could be released as part of Microsoft’s Fall schedule, but it doesn’t have the size to compete with AAA titles.

Crackdown 3

Crackdown 3

After another delay, Crackdown 3 will have a defining moment at E3. A franchise that isn’t big enough to create hype on its own, it will need to have an exciting showing to regain some traction, generate expectation around the project. We should see an extended gameplay with some major improvements and a bigger focus on Terry Crews’ character.

The Last Night

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The most interesting game from last year’s conference, The Last Night is due to appear again, and we should see another trailer and finally a release date. I think it will either come out in this Summer or Earlier 2019.

Below

Below

Announced in 2013, Below has been through a rocky development, to the point it was delayed indefinitely in 2016. But it has resurged this year and we will probably get a release date on it. Given how long the game has been talked about, I think it might be available after the conference, or in July.

Ashen

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Revealed in 2015, Ashen is another indie exclusive with a long development cycle. Its unique design style and Souls-like battle system have garnered a lot of interest. Due to its slated 2018 release date, I believe it will come out in early August or early September.

Studio Gobo’s Exclusive

Studio Gobo

A partnership that was announced a while ago still remains a mystery, as we know absolutely nothing about it. If we look at their background, they mainly worked on the Disney Infinity series, but also in For Honor and F1 2012. If I had to guess, I’d say that they are working on a new Banjo game, possibly Conker, given their history.

Bohemia Interactive’s Project

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Hinted by a tweet from the composer of the project, we might have a reveal on Sunday. Their project should be another exclusive and a shooter based on the studio’s history. It already has a tagline “What if Humanity Falls” and the studio has retweeted an Xbox tweet talking about Inside Xbox on Monday, almost confirming the announcement.

Cyberpunk 2077

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One of the most awaited games of the last few years, CD Projekt Red’s next major RPG is expected to make its debut on this E3. Since they have a past with Microsoft, it will probably appear on their stage. The fact that they can show it on the X gives it more credence, as it would make sense to show it running on the most powerful console available. It will probably have a huge gameplay demo and it should come out in 2019.

Splinter Cell

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A rumor that has been going on for years but that this year appears to finally turn into a reality. The fact that Sam Fisher made an appearance on Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Michael Ironside’s interview at Inside Xbox where he hinted about a possible new title seems to corroborate the idea of an announcement.

All of that converging on a possible sequel and his return to the character for good. Given the series history on Xbox consoles, it would make sense if the title debuted on Microsoft’s stage. Not necessarily a gameplay, but at least a teaser trailer, with a gameplay demo on Ubisoft’s stage.

Anthem

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Having its gameplay debut on Microsoft’s stage last year, it is expected that Anthem will make another appearance. Maybe with a trailer focused on the story, but another gameplay would be welcomed, even though they might not want another huge sci-fi title on stage. The announcement of a beta exclusive to the console could also happen.

Kingdom Hearts III

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This may be a long shot, but since it’s the first title to come to the Xbox consoles, it would be interesting to see a trailer or a gameplay on Microsoft’s conference. If it happens I believe they would also announce the release of all the remakes to the Xbox One.

Sea of Thieves

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Their main bet in the first semester, Sea of Thieves had a successful release but was heavily criticized by its lack of content. I think they will release a trailer talking about future DLC for the game, highlighting the expansions that have been announced and their expected release timetable.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

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The sequel to Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow won’t be an exclusive as the previous title of the series was, but I believe it will make an appearance on Microsoft’s stage. It will probably be its gameplay debut, highlighting the changes on the gameplay side and the stunning graphics.

New Studios

Playground Games

They will probably use some time to address their first-party woes, and I think they’ll bring Matt Booty to talk about investments on new studios. Playground’s purchase should be announced and the opening of new ones.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Assassins-Creed-Odyssey

After Assassin’s Creed Origins’ incredible success last year, a new entry in the series wasn’t expected. However, Ubisoft surprised us with Odyssey, that will take us into ancient Greece, and if rumors are correct, will go even deeper on RPG mechanics. A gameplay demo should be expected and a release date, either Fall 2018 or early 2019.

Game Pass

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It should be a celebratory moment, talking about how successful it has been and the overwhelming reception. New games should be announced, especially their first-party games. Forza Motorsport 7, Horizon 3, Cuphead and other should come to the service this year.

My crazy guess is that they will announce that AAA third-party titles will be available on release. If I had to guess I’d say Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Splinter Cell will be the first titles to adhere to that.

Changes to Xbox Live Subscription

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The backbone of the Xbox division, Xbox Live Gold has been supporting the console and has been working as a great subscription service. But I believe that they will announce an evolution of the service, that they will create a premium option combining it with Game Pass. You will be able to access both services for a single price, it makes sense as Microsoft looks into converging their products and focus on becoming a service led company.

Battlefield V

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Their partnership with the Battlefield franchise has been very successful and it should receive a special attention. We should see an extended gameplay demo of the campaign and they should mention the fact that all DLC will come first to Xbox consoles.

ID @ Xbox

ID @ Xbox

Some titles of the program may appear on stage with quick gameplay demos, and I believe we’ll see a trailer that will focus on some of the best titles to come.

Japanese Titles

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Like last year, new Japanese titles should take the stage in order to confirm their focus on the Japanese market. I think the release of Nier Automata and Nioh will be announced.

Avengers Game

Avengers

Announced earlier last year, Crystal Dynamics’ Avengers title has been radio silent in the past year. This would be an interesting time to finally show it to the world, especially because Square Enix will have a conference this year. I would only expect a teaser, a gameplay demo would be little unlikely, but I hope I’m wrong.

Rocksteady

Rocksteady

Heavily rumored as a Superman game, Rocksteady’s new title has been greatly anticipated since the release of Batman Arkham Knight. I believe it should appear on Microsoft’s stage given Sony’s exclusive Spider-Man game. I don’t think Sony would want for another hero game to steal Spider-Man’s thunder. A gameplay demo and a release date in 2019 should be expected.

Project Dark

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This sounds more like wishful thinking, but this has been a rumor for the past few years and it would be a lovely surprise. It’s a franchise that would work really well on current consoles, with a modern gameplay. I don’t think it’s being worked by Coalition but I think they are assisting on the project if it’s real.

Banjo-Kazooie Anniversary

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It’s been 20 years since the release of the original Banjo-Kazooie and it would be a great time to release a remaster all of the titles. It could also work as a way to hype the release of a new entry in the franchise.

Features

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A part of the show that should be boring but that has brought some great news in the past few years. This year I think it won’t be as explosive as backward compatibility but I think mouse and keyboard compatibility, avatars, wishlist and a refund policy will come to the console this year.

 

E3 Expectations: EA

Another E3 has come around and that brings many expectations and many leaks, as we apparently know the vast majority of games that will be shown. However, some surprises are bound to happen, with some conferences shrouded in mystery, such as Microsoft’s. Let’s begin talking about EA, that will kick things off once again, and even though it didn’t look that exciting at first, some possibilities arose that could be very interesting.

Anthem

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Their biggest bet in the last few years, Anthem is their new IP that represents their entry in the Game as a Service market. Bioware helms the project with the comeback of Casey Hudson to the studio and in spite of the rich background they have, many doubts circle the project.

Questions about Bioware’s ability to create enough content to keep the game alive, if they will successfully combine a significant story, create an exciting world, and bring great mechanics to a mainly multiplayer experience. Something that neither Destiny nor The Division managed to do.

Andromeda’s failure also created uncertainty about the studios’ current state, as stories regarding its troubled development surfaced as well as about what could happen if Anthem fails, given EA’s track record of closing studios. We can expect to see a trailer at EA’s conference and a large gameplay chunk at Microsoft’s.

Battlefield V

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Not many surprises should happen here, as Battlefield’s return to WWII after many years looks great. We might see a little bit of the campaign, but we’ll probably see more of the multiplayer, that like Battlefront last year, will probably have a live match after the conference. We should see some new mechanics in action. The most unexpected thing that could be announced would be a battle royale mode.

Sports

 

As it always happens, there will be a section of the show dedicated to sports. We should hear about new mechanics, more ultimate team, and story modes. Alex Hunter should make a comeback in FIFA 19, Devin Wade and Colt Cruise will start their career in Madden NFL 19 and NBA Live should see an improvement after a good iteration.

Respawn’s Star Wars

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After Battlefront II’s debacle, some good publicity around EA’s partnership with Star Wars would be welcomed and the announcement of Respawn’s Star Wars would absolutely help. Directed by Stig Asmussen, that directed God of War III, the project has been in development for quite some time and should be about time to announce it to the world.

There aren’t many details about the game, as it remains a secret. No details if it will be single or multiplayer focused, but on Saturday that should change, as hinted by Vince Zampella, head of the studio, on Twitter.

Skate 4 or Reboot?

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This long-requested comeback might actually happen this year, given some strange coincidences that occurred recently. The servers, that have long been dormant, were switched on in the week of E3. Maybe it’s nothing, but the company has been in need of good publicity and announcing the return of a beloved franchise wouldn’t hurt them.

Unravel 2

Unravel

The first title of the EA Originals initiative, Unravel was a great debut for the program and as we know a sequel has been in production for more than 2 years now. We could expect a teaser trailer, maybe even some gameplay.

EA Access

EA Access

EA Access has proved to be a successful endeavor of EA, but since the launch of Game Pass, it feels like it needs to go through some changes and improvements. Need for Speed Payback and FIFA 18 both appear to have been released on the vault, but we should expect for the announcements on Saturday and more on what’s to come, such as backward compatible titles and dates for other releases.

Dragon Age and Motive’s title

These are long shots, but there’s always the possibility that it could happen, probably as teaser trailers. Since Dragon Age Inquisition we haven’t heard a lot about the future of the franchise, even though having 2 projects of the same studio in the same conference wouldn’t make a lot of sense, a teaser could serve to entice fans. When it comes to Motive, we only know that they developed Battlefront 2’s campaign, but not much about their project. It probably won’t appear as it risks overshadowing Anthem, but we might hear something about it.

 

 

Hellblade’s Lesson on Managing Resources

Most games nowadays boast on how massive they are, how the map is the biggest ever in their franchise or in the industry, how many characters are part of it, the thousands of lines, planets, possibilities. But we rarely see games that rely solely on a more concise approach to storytelling, combat, that has its strength in its simplicity.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is one of those examples. A game that was made with a budget of less than $10 million, a team of 20 employees, and that somehow managed to become profitable three months after its release selling 500.000 copies and received critical acclaim, winning several awards in the Game Awards, the BAFTA, just to name a few.

A feat that becomes even more impressive when we hear about titles that in spite of selling millions of copies still can’t become profitable. Like Sleeping Dogs, that sold more than 2 million copies, and the Tomb Raider reboot, that sold more than 5 million copies in the first month, and still left Square Enix “very disappointed”.

Through a smart management of scope, especially when compared to some bigger titles such as Shadow of The Tomb Raider, that had a budget between $75 – $100 million without accounting for marketing, Hellblade found success.

Ninja Theory managed to accomplish that with an intelligent use of its limited resources. The main character was played by an editor of the studio, that did an amazing job, all the motion capture was made in their boardroom. Their marketing strategy was much simpler, consisting of trailers and a myriad of development diaries, a smaller presence in conferences, and Sony’s support due to a timed exclusivity.

By creating a linear story it didn’t require huge environments, but smaller areas, that felt part of the story, instead of huge, lifeless maps such as in Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Mafia III. It also told a straightforward story, that due to a charismatic, troubled and relatable protagonist created a bond between the player and the game, helped by the fact there were no distractions, as it didn’t have side quests, only environmental puzzles.

The Crew
The Crew is another example of a game with a huge but lifeless world

Since they didn’t have a publisher spending millions they had a lot more liberty than they would otherwise. The subject of mental illness would hardly be tackled if the project was backed by a huge publisher. It allowed them to go even further, treating it with respect and honesty.

And we see that in how they worked with Hellblade’s sound, creating an experience that was unique and disturbing through the use of binaural audio, truly immersing you to the point that playing it can become oppressive, without the need for an orchestra. By recording using two microphones to simulate a 3D space, they simulated the feeling of having voices in your head.

Senua Sacrifice

The smaller budget created a situation that we used to see on older consoles, but in a different way. Whereas in the SNES developers had to use their creativity due to memory limitations, Ninja Theory used theirs due to a lack of capital. And with that, they achieved a quality unseen in many games.

In an age in which AAA titles appear to all feel the same with its Games as a Service mindset and aversion to risks, that when you invest $100 million on a project you have to mitigate as much as you can, Hellblade stands out. I’m not saying that we don’t have great AAA titles, but we see more and more titles being massive just for the sake of it, in a pursuit of grandiosity without content.

Hellblade’s success also represents another path to single-player games, that can create interesting stories without the need for a major investment. Some sacrifices would be required but it has proved to be viable and profitable, possibly igniting a resurgence of the mid-tier games that apparently had died in the 360/PS3 generation. And it leaves a lesson to bigger projects, that less could be more if resources are used responsibly and carefully.

 

 

 

Companies Microsoft Could Invest in Instead of EA

In the past few weeks, rumors regarding companies that Microsoft was thinking of investing in surfaced around the media. It would work as a way to enhance their first party portfolio, that has been criticized in the past for its lack of quality, original titles, and also as part of the strategy to make Game Pass an even more appealing service.

Valve, PUBG Corp, and EA were named as possible targets, even Sega was rumored due to a visit of the company’s executives to Microsoft’s HQ. And all those news made me think of possible targets for them to go after.

I wouldn’t consider Valve a good option, given that it still is a private company and Gabe Newell would need to approve the sale. And let’s be honest, they haven’t produced many games in the last few years, it wouldn’t help boost their catalog. PUBG Corp. has only produced 1 successful title, and yes it is a massive success, but it doesn’t appear that PUBG will have the longevity Minecraft has, and it might end up being another fad, albeit a huge one.

The only one left was EA, however the company has dealt with PR problems, something that could stifle Xbox’s good momentum, and except for their annual sports franchises and Battlefield, most of their latest releases have been critical or commercial failures, like Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Need for Speed Payback and Star Wars Battlefront 2.

They also seem to be overly dependent on their established IP’s, and currently, they appear to go through problems with their own development studios. Bioware Montreal merged with Motive after Mass Effect Andromeda’s troubled release, Visceral Games was closed as they developed a single-player Star Wars game, Bioware is allegedly under a lot of pressure as expectations grow around Anthem, as reported by Kotaku. News that Disney was willing to negotiate the Star Wars’ license with other studios also shows another warning sign, even though it could point to an EA sale. There’s no doubt that they would be a great addition to Xbox’s array of studios, but those problems might come in the way of a purchase.

Thinking about those possibilities, I looked into what they could do with the money they’d spend on buying EA, the most realistic possibility for me. To calculate the value of the companies I used the market cap, or the market value of the shares of a publicly traded company at a point in time, market evaluations of private companies, and for some studios, I based it on the value of other studios with similar sizes or franchises of similar success.

Bethesda

 

Market Value: $2.500.000.000,00 (2016)

Buying Bethesda would require a negotiation with ZeniMax Media, their parent company, but it would bring franchises like Elder Scrolls, Skyrim, Prey, Dishonored, Wolfenstein to their portfolio. There wouldn’t be many new games added to Game Pass, but they would be titles with a great critical reception that would bring an amazing value to the service.

Studios such as MachineGames, Arkane and Tango Softworks would be added to their team, and as a plus, they would bring a renowned developer in Todd Howard as part of their staff. Some cultural differences could present a challenge, but it has everything to be a productive partnership.

Capcom

 

Market Value: $2.720.000.000,00

Capcom has seen its better days, nonetheless, they appear to go through a process of recovery after years of struggles. The success of Resident Evil 7, that made fans of the series happy again, and the incredible sales of Monster Hunter World have proved that they still can produce quality titles. Speaking of Monster Hunter, if they made an exclusive title of the series for the Xbox, it would be huge to the Japanese market, that they have failed to succeed at.

Their extensive back catalog would be very attractive, with Okami, the DMC series, Dead Rising series, Mega Man, still resonating with gamers, and many others able to be resurrected such as Dino Crisis (that would look incredible nowadays), Onimusha, Lost Planet, Strider, Viewtiful Joe.

CD Projekt Red

 

Market Value: $2.000.000.000,00

The opportunity to buy one of the most exciting studios certainly sounds appealing. Even the small number of games shouldn’t come in the way or stop them from looking into this talented studio that produced one of the best titles of this generation, possibly ever.

Acquiring them would bring Xbox’s slate of studios to another level, as Naughty Dog did to Sony. Cyberpunk 2077 may come out next year, and we haven’t seen it running to attest its quality, but if The Witcher 3 proved anything is that they have potential to create something incredible. It could also work as a boost to their PC strategy as CD Projekt Red owns GOG, a virtual store that sells PC games without DRM, that if given more investment could work either as a rival to Steam or help them boost their Windows store library.

Insomniac

Market Value: $150.000.000,00 – 300.000.000,00

One of the best independent studios for the past 20 years, Insomniac has produced great titles and is responsible for iconic franchises, like Ratchet & Clank, Spyro, and Resistance (to a lesser degree). They are able to create huge AAA titles and smaller indie games, somehow managing to always deliver high-quality products.

The fact that they already have a relationship with Microsoft, having worked on Sunset Overdrive, could facilitate a negotiation. It would also be a strategic partnership as it would end the relationship they have with Sony whilst adding a very talented studio to their team.

IO Interactive

Market Value: $70.000.000,00 – 125.000.000,00

Coming from the latest Hitman title, IO became an independent studio leaving Square Enix and keeping their IP’s. Even though they only really have one famous franchise, Hitman, they would bring a genre that we rarely see as exclusives anymore, stealth titles.

Yes, a reboot of Kane & Lynch could work, Dog Days had some very interesting ideas, however, the execution was flawed. The last Hitman could work in Xbox’s strategy, as it has the potential to be a live service. The elusive target system worked very well, and the maps were vast and felt alive. Instead of releasing a single title, they could turn it into a service seamlessly.

Remedy

Market Value: $90.000.000,00

A long-time partner of Microsoft, Remedy has also been seen as a possible target of Redmond’s company. Working on 2 exclusives for the company, the revered Alan Wake, and the innovative Quantum Break, they are also responsible for the beloved Max Payne series, that has been dormant, and could make a comeback on the Xbox platform.

Their established relationship could make the transition much easier, their engine could be used by other first-party studios, and their storytelling focus should bring new and interesting titles, even though they might take some time to finish.

Sega

Market Value: $3.970.000.000,00

Sega has been part of gaming history for decades now, with franchises like the Valkyria series, Shenmue, Sonic, Yakuza, Persona, under their umbrella. But it would be a complicated purchase as they have deep relationships with both Sony and Nintendo, creating exclusives for them,  with Yakuza being the best and most successful example.

This would be an appealing purchase not only because of their franchises but because of their studios, especially for the PC market. The possibility of bringing Relic and Creative Assembly to their side, recognized for the RTS titles, with both having worked on Xbox exclusives (Age of Empires IV and Halo Wars 2). Atlus would also come as part of the negotiation, famous for creating quality JRPG’s and games with a unique vision, that are very different than what we can find on the Xbox platform.

Square Enix

Market Value: $5.300.000.000,00

Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, Just Cause, Deus Ex, Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts, Life is Strange, Parasite Eve, Legacy of Kain, Thief, just to name the most famous. The sheer variety of Square Enix IP’s would be enough to back up the decision to purchase them. The ability to continue franchises and reboot several shows the potential of this negotiation, as many of their games please western and eastern audiences.

Their partnership with Marvel could come in the way, but Microsoft could publish those titles as multiplatform. It would allow Microsoft to have exclusives on genres they don’t have, like JRPG’s, Horror and Open World action games. Their partnership in Rise of the Tomb Raider wasn’t as successful as expected, however, the release date was the main responsible.

It may sound small, but their Action Figure division would be another source of income and could work in conjunction with Xbox’s marketing team to enhance character’s recognition and on release strategies.

Take-Two

Market Value: $12.800.000.000,00

This would be massive mainly because of three letters: GTA. If the series became an exclusive it would have an enormous backlash, but let’s be honest, in the end, it would generate huge sales, becoming an actual system-seller unlike we’ve ever seen.

Bioshock, that was originally an Xbox exclusive and is deemed as one of the best franchises of the 360 generation, Red Dead Redemption, that got the internet crazy over a color change in their logo, the NBA, and WWE 2K series, that amass millions of copies sold yearly, would all become part of their catalog, working as a recurrent source of income.

As for the studios, Firaxis, the studio responsible for XCOM and Civilization, Hangar 13, the one behind Mafia, Visual Concepts, would all be part of Xbox’s development team. Their new publishing label, Private Division, could produce small to mid-size titles creating a stable stream of Game Pass additions, keeping the service appealing without having to rely so heavily on third-party support.

But the biggest inclusion would be Rockstar, in a move that would instantly elevate their first-party team to a whole new level. As they are the only studio that can release a title without any gameplay, and with minimal marketing solely on their brand recognition, a topic that I wrote about previously.

Ubisoft

Market Value: $9.290.000.000,00

This prolific publisher became a juggernaut in the last decade, since the release of the original Assassin’s Creed. Some may argue that all of their games are similar, but their formula works as they are always part of the top 10 highest sold titles worldwide every year.

They went through PR problems, yet they appear to have recovered from it. Their catalog is big enough to attract all types of gamers, from platformers to e-sports centric titles. Microsoft could bring UbiArt games back, that were critical darlings, successful commercially, and definitely deserve more attention. And in this live services age, their ability to continue to provide support to their games and practically reboot them after launch is a very valuable skill.

The fact that The Division, Rainbox Six, Assassin’s Creed, Beyond Good & Evil, The Crew, Ghost Recon, Just Dance, Trackmania, and Trials would become Xbox’s franchises is a huge plus as well.

Just to Compare

Currently, EA is valued at approximately $38.6 billion, and for Microsoft to buy them they would need to pay a higher value in order to accrue interest from their stakeholders. I didn’t consider Sony or Nintendo, but I thought of 10 companies that could be bought for roughly $39 billion. It would be impossible to buy all of them because of regulations, and the headache that it would be to organize so many operations, but some could be valuable purchases.

Companies Market Value
Bethesda  $    2.500.000.000,00
Capcom  $    2.720.000.000,00
CD Projekt Red  $    2.000.000.000,00
Imsoniac  $        300.000.000,00
IO Interactive  $        125.000.000,00
Remedy  $          90.000.000,00
Sega  $    3.970.000.000,00
Square Enix  $    5.300.000.000,00
Take-Two  $  12.800.000.000,00
Ubisoft  $    9.290.000.000,00
Total  $  39.095.000.000,00
EA  $  38.590.000.000,00

Other possibilities:

  • Sumo Digital
  • Ninja Theory
  • Obsidian Entertainment
  • Studio MDHR

 

 

The Digital Future Has Finally Arrived on Consoles

Last week Microsoft announced that all their future exclusives would be released as part of Xbox Game Pass’ library the same day as they are released. More than just a bold move by the company, that will allow every consumer to play their biggest franchises without the requirement of purchasing them, it represents a movement that has been long in the making when it comes to consoles. At last, the digital future has arrived.

From now on every new exclusive title released by Microsoft such as Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves, and the new Halo, Forza, will all be available at launch. And that aligns with Xbox’s focus on digital services like Games with Gold, EA Access and Game Pass itself.

 

Sea-of-Thieves (1)
Sea of Thieves will be the first title to debut their new strategy

 

It also works in tandem with what Phil Spencer declared on Unlocked #285, where he talked about his focus on reworking their first party slate and on the subscription service and its future, that after this announcement appears to not only receive more attention from the company, as it also shows that it is an integral part of their business strategy going forward.

That’s not to say that everybody was happy with the news, like Gameware, an Austrian retailer that won’t sell Microsoft’s products anymore, a movement that was followed by more retailers worldwide. Gamestop’s stocks also dropped right after the news came out, failing to recover. And there’s a clear reason why that happened, as it represents the inevitable undoing of physical stores, that lost the PC market, and sooner or later will see the same scenario with the console market.

 

GME_YahooFinanceChart (1)
From the 23rd forward, Gamestop’s stocks have fallen steadily, struggling  to recover

 

Even though it’s a clear sign of things to come for the physical market, that, unfortunately, will be the most affected party by this decision, in the past few years we have seen the digital market growing aggressively whilst companies like Gamestop have seen their business losing space. But in the end, it is a consumer-friendly strategy that was bound to happen. And we can expect benefits for gamers and for Microsoft.

For Gamers

  • The first and clearest of all is that like Netflix and Spotify, consumers will have access to more content for a low price, and now, at launch.
  • If proven to attract consumers, more publishers will adhere to the service, possibly releasing exclusive titles to the service.
  • Games will take less time to be released to Game Pass.
  • If successful, it will force Sony and Nintendo to create similar programs.

For Microsoft

  • More consumers will feel attracted to subscribe to the service, that has received quality additions monthly, and if that keeps up, they may become regulars.
  • Customer perception regarding the company will certainly be more positive, as we’ve seen in the past few years with customer-friendly strategies.
  • Non-customers might feel inclined to buy an Xbox console, as you can easily assemble a library for a reasonable price.
  • It clearly differentiates the company from its competitors, that through innovations (quietly coming back to the original Xbox One ideas), has created an identity that company didn’t have for years now. Of being a ground-breaking, fresh, bold division willing to take risks, looking into bringing the easiest and best experience to the Xbox consoles.

We may see some downsides, as publishers might try to force microtransactions given that they’ll lose their early windows push when the majority of sales happen. In order to attract more companies, or to appease to the physical market, the price can rise. But as we saw recently in the Star Wars Battlefront 2 controversy, the market is not afraid to use its voice, and they will probably leave the price alone since it remains as it most appealing factor.

Whether we like it or not, the video game market is just following the example of other entertainment industries, that changed their entire behavior to adjust to a digital future. It took some time, but finally, we see the console market willing to take the first step for that to happen. A step that at first will bring some pain, but that will advance the industry as a whole.

 

 

 

 

2017 The Game Awards Predictions

2017 ended up being an amazing year for games, to the point it might even be considered the best of this generation. New and interesting games, old franchises making incredible comebacks whilst others established themselves. Like last year, let’s make some predictions about the possible winners of this year’s The Game Awards. What are your favorite choices, let’s talk in the comments.

And the nominees are:

Game of the Year

  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Persona 5 (Atlus)
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corp.)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

If I had to guess

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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In a year with great nominees, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild really stood out. Personally, my game of the year would be Horizon Zero Damn, I still am enamored by the beauty of the world, the exciting combat, great lead character, Aloy may become as big as Nathan Drake, Master Chief. However, BoTW brought something new and changed the way open world games should work, allowing the player to access any region of the map. It also had interesting survival aspects, varied landscapes, and a real feeling of joy and discovery.

PS: I just can’t accept the fact that an early access title is nominated to game of the year, no matter how much it sold or how much people love it, it would be better to add a new category for that type of game.

Best Game Direction

  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games)
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Capcom)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD)
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (MachineGames / Bethesda)

If I had to guess

Super Mario Odyssey

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I believe another Nintendo game takes the award, but instead of Zelda, Super Mario Odyssey will be the winner. They managed to completely change what we think of 3D platformers again, while games like Yooka-Laylee hold on to the glory days of the genre, Super Mario Odyssey has innovative mechanics, such as the ability to use a hat to transform into any character. And not only that, every part of the game feels that has a purpose, impressing with the variety of gameplay options, and the beautiful design.

Best Narrative

  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Tameem Antoniades, Elizabeth Ashman-Rowe / Ninja Theory)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (John Gonzalez / Ninja Theory)
  • Nier: Automata (Yoko Taro, Hana Kikuchi, Yoshiho Akabane / Platinum Games)
  • What Remains of Edith Finch (Ian Dallas / Giant Sparrow)
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Jen Matthies, Tommy Tordsson Bjork / MachineGames)

If I had to guess

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Moment_of_Truth_Sanitized - Wolfenstein 2.jpg

One of the biggest surprises of the year for me was how great the story of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was. The New Order was a very good game, but its sequel manages to turn a story that could just be silly into something unique, with crazy, charismatic and compelling characters. It has one of the most believable couples in games, and it goes to completely unexpected places without losing steam or feeling rushed. The other candidates also have great stories, like Hellblade touching important subjects, and Horizon, that created an enticing world and an incredible character like Aloy, What Remain of Edith Finch having a bizarre, unusual story. But none reached the same level of Wolfenstein II.

Best Art Direction

  • Cuphead (Studio MDHR Entertainment)
  • Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Persona 5 (Atlus)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

If I had to guess

Cuphead

cuphead

Horizon’s creature design was impressive, Persona 5 has a style unlike any other game, BoTW showed that you don’t need a powerful machine to create a vast and breathtaking world, and Destiny 2 is just jaw-dropping. But Cuphead is a design feat, to see a small team recreating the look of 1930’s cartoons into a game is something to marvel at. It manages to bring something never seen before in the industry whilst feeling modern, and I think that it will resonate with voters. It is a design masterpiece.

Best Score / Music

  • Cuphead (Kristofer Maddigan)
  • Destiny 2 (Mike Salvatori, Skye Lewin, C Paul Johnson)
  • NieR: Automata (Keiichi Okabe, Keigo Hoashi)
  • Persona 5 (Shoji Meguro)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Naoto Kubo, Shiho Fujii, Koji Kondo)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Manaka Kataoka, Yasuaki Iwata)

If I had to guess

Destiny 2

destiny-2-1

This may be my weirdest guess, but Destiny 2’s soundtrack was completely unexpected, especially after the departure of Marty O’Donnell, a drop in quality wouldn’t surprise anyone. But what we saw was a diverse soundtrack, with different sounds that you might see at a regular FPS. It created an amazing atmosphere throughout the entire campaign, enthralling the player from beginning to end.

Best Audio Design

  • Destiny 2 (Bungie)
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Capcom)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

If I had to guess

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

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This will sound impartial, but if Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice doesn’t win the award, it will be an outrage. Hellblade’s sound is just perfect, powerful, an integral part of the experience, that without it would be lessened. Using binaural audio Ninja Theory made the gameplay a lot more tense, oppressive, nightmarish, putting the player in the head of Senua, as you hear the voices that guide, deceive, frighten, torment her. A game that must be played with headphones to be fully experienced, it goes beyond its competitors.

Best Performance

  • Ashly Burch, Horizon Zero Dawn (As Aloy)
  • Brian Bloom, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (as BJ Blazkowicz)
  • Claudia Black, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (as Chloe Frazer)
  • Laura Bailey, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (as Nadine Ross)
  • Melina Juergens, Hellblade (as Senua)

If I had to guess

Ashly Burch as Aloy – Horizon Zero Dawn

ashleybursch_1401x788-bce7581b-68ce-4122-93c4-8076e39d58f7 (1)

Melina Juergens is also very deserving of the award, especially if we consider the fact that she wasn’t even an actress prior to playing Senua, as she made you feel every emotion she went through, the pain, the doubt, the misery. However, I think Ashly Burch will take it, as she performed Aloy in a way that perfectly displayed the various facets of character, her courage, her fear, her doubts, her hope, in such a charismatic, honest manner that she will become not only the face of PlayStation but of the industry as well.

Games for Impact

  • Bury Me, My Love (The Pixel Hunt / Figs / ARTE / Playdius)
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
  • Life is Strange: Before the Storm (Deck Nine / Square Enix)
  • Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)
  • Please Knock on My Door (Levall Games AB)
  • What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive)

If I had to guess

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

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I love the Life is Strange series, even though Before the Storm doesn’t have the same level of quality as the original, and Night in the Woods deals with depression in a natural and genuine manner. Yet, Hellblade doesn’t only tackle mental issues in the story, but also in the gameplay, in the sounds and sights. It creates the entire experience around it, using advisers to assist on how to demonstrate the aspects of the disease. And the fact that we see that in a game with a bigger budget represents a bold and much-needed move by the developers, that throughout the story showed how it affected Senua, the struggles she went through and how she dealt with them.

Best Ongoing Game

  • Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision)
  • Grand Theft Auto Online (Rockstar Games)
  • Overwatch (Blizzard)
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG. Corp)
  • Rainbow Six: Siege (Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft)
  • Warframe (Digital Extremes)

If I had to guess

Overwatch

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My personal vote would go to Rainbow Six: Siege, simply because of the fact that not only they brought gamers back, but greatly increased the audience, reshaping the entire game with constant updates. But my bet would be on Overwatch, that consistently adds great characters, thematic events while maintaining an active audience that became so big it turned into an important part of Blizzcon.

Best Independent Game

  • Cuphead (Studio MDHR Entertainment)
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
  • Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)
  • Pyre (Supergiant Games)
  • What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive)

If I had to guess

Cuphead

cuphead (1)

After several years of development, Cuphead was expected to be underwhelming, as it usually happens with games that are shown years ahead of release. Gladly that wasn’t the case, even the added platform moments felt amazing, it was as beautiful as expected and incredibly challenging, feeling like an old school game that fits perfectly in our current gaming landscape.

Best Action Game

  • Cuphead (Studio MDHR Entertainment)
  • Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision)
  • Nioh (Team Ninja / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Prey (Arkane Studios / Bethesda)
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (MachineGames / Bethesda)

If I had to guess

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

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It is beautiful, bold, brash, crazy, the gameplay is frantic, explosive, visceral and it deserves this award. Wolfenstein II greatly enhanced aspects of the first game whilst adding new mechanics, new and surprisingly compelling characters, and turned “B.J.” Blazkowicz into one of the best characters of the year. The fact that they annoyed nazis was a plus.

Best Action/Adventure Game

  • Assassin’s Creed: Origins (Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

If I had to guess

Horizon Zero Dawn

HorizonZeroDawn_o

Since I betted that Zelda would win game of the year, and award shows tend to prefer to spread the awards, I would bet on Horizon to take this category. And I really do believe that it is a better action game than Zelda, the characters are more well-developed, the variety of enemies is great, the world is mysterious and beautiful, and the combat is truly exciting and challenging. It made me tense like I wasn’t in a long time, as it requires you to think fast and adapt to enemies. The fact that it is one of the most beautiful games on any console also helps.

Best Role-Playing Game

  • Divinity: Original Sin II (Larian Studios)
  • Final Fantasy XV (Square Enix Business Division 2 / Square Enix)
  • NieR: Automata (Platinum Games / Square Enix)
  • Persona 5 (Atlus)
  • South Park: The Fractured But Whole (Ubisoft San Francisco / Ubisoft)

If I had to guess

Persona 5

Persona 5.jpg

Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a remarkable title, NieR: Automata is strangely amazing, Final Fantasy XV was a rebirth for the series. Persona 5 on the other hand, represents the epitome of the franchise, improving on every single level, with a refined combat system, time management mechanics, a wonderful cast, stunning visuals. Simply the best example of what JRPG’s can bring to the market, and why they are so loved.

Best Fighting Game

  • Arms (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • Injustice 2 (NetherRealm Studios / Warner Bros. Interactive Ent)
  • Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (Capcom)
  • Nidhogg 2 (Messhof Games)
  • Tekken 7 (Bandai Namco Studios / Bandai Namco Entertainment)

If I had to guess

Injustice 2

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The easiest category for me, mainly because Injustice 2 is not only the best fighting game of the year, especially after Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite’s disappointment, it is one of the best games of the year. When it comes to gameplay it still feels great, the graphics are flawless, with some of the best facial expressions we’ve ever seen, there’s a robust customization system. And let’s talk about the story, an example that the DCU should follow, by creating a serious story with huge stakes, but that doesn’t feel forced or dragged, it has light and dark moments, and it worked perfectly.

Best Family Game

  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo EAD / Nintendo)
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Ubisoft Paris + Milan / Ubisoft)
  • Sonic Mania (PagodaWest Games, Headcannon / Sega)
  • Splatoon 2 (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EAD / Nintendo)

If I had to guess

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

3279789-mario-rabbids

Despite my impression that either Super Mario Odyssey or Splatoon 2 will win, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle caught people off guard. What many expected to be just this simple strategy game ended up becoming a lighter, more colorful version of XCOM, without the squad management, but as much fun and exciting to play.

Best Strategy Game

  • Halo Wars 2 (Creative Assembly, 343 Industries / Microsoft Studios)
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Ubisoft Paris + Milan / Ubisoft)
  • Total War: Warhammer II (Creative Assembly / Sega)
  • Tooth and Tail (Pocketwatch Games)
  • XCOM 2: War of the Chosen (Firaxis Games / 2K)

If I had to guess

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

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This category I had some question before choosing. After all, Halo Wars 2 was good, but kind of a disappointment and I don’t believe that neither Total War: Warhammer 2 nor Tooth and Tail have the profile, the attention required to win. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen was well-received, however, it just an expansion and it didn’t get the level of adoration for that to happen. So I chose Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle to win another award, it had critical acclaim, it managed to reach a bigger market, and it really was a good strategy game.

Best Sports/Racing Game

  • FIFA 18 (EA Vancouver / EA)
  • Forza Motorsport 7 (Turn 10 Studios / Microsoft Studios)
  • Gran Turismo Sport (Polyphony Digital / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • NBA 2K18 (Visual Concepts / 2K Sports)
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 (PES Productions / Konami)
  • Project Cars 2 (Slightly Mad Studios / Bandai Namco Entertainment)

If I had to guess

Forza Motorsport 7

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This one was based on elimination. Fifa 18 wasn’t a great evolution and has microtransactions issues. NBA 2K18 doesn’t deserve the award because of the microtransactions. Gran Turismo Sport was a letdown. Project Cars 2 was praised but didn’t seem to garner a lot of love or a huge audience. PES 2018 didn’t make any noise. Forza Motorsport enhanced some areas, changed some things, and still is a great addition to the series, known for its huge quality, so that’s why I think it will win.

Best Multiplayer

  • Call of Duty: WWII (Sledgehammer Games / Activision)
  • Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision)
  • Fortnite (Epic Games)
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo EAD / Nintendo)
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corp.)
  • Splatoon 2 (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

If I had to Guess

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

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This one is a lock, although I don’t agree with the game of the year nomination, there’s no denying PUBG’s huge impact this year for multiplayer games. It sold more than 20 million copies, reached more than 2 million concurrent players. The fact that they accomplished that without a major marketing budget, or a huge publisher behind speaks to the quality of the game, that became a phenomenon.

Most Anticipated Game

  • God of War (Santa Monica Studio / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Monster Hunter World (Capcom)
  • Red Dead Redemption II (Rockstar Games)
  • The Last of Us Part II (Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

If I had to guess

Red Dead Redemption 2

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Rockstar has had a track record of winning The Game Awards and its previous iterations and not only that, but the other nominees end up competing with each other. Monster Hunter World doesn’t have the cache, the 3 others are PlayStation exclusives. God of War is just around the corner and we have already seen it for a long time, both Marvel’s Spider-Man and The Last of Us Part 2 might not even come out next year. Red Dead Redemption II has a release window and is a highly expected sequel from an adored game, just remember the commotion this picture caused last year.

Best Debut Indie Game

  • Cuphead (Studio MDHR Entertainment)
  • Golf Story (Sidebar Games)
  • Hollow Knight (Team Cherry)
  • Mr. Shifty (Team Shifty)
  • Slime Rancher (Monomi Park)

If I had to guess

Cuphead

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Again Cuphead, but it really is an accomplishment most notably coming from a debuting studio, that created a product that captured the imagination of gamers around the world. Slime Rancher and Golf Story have a big change to win as well, however, I put my chips on Cuphead.