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Multiplayer: E3 2017: What we’re hoping to see

by Doublejump

The Electronic Entertainment Expo is the most exciting week in the video game calendar. It’s a week in which the whole industry descends on Los Angeles to show off what it’s working on, who it’s working with and what’s in store for gamers over the next couple of months or years; in many ways, this one week sets up the games industry’s next year, so it’s no surprise that our eyes are firmly fixed on the event. With so much that could happen during the week-long conference, the Doublejump Staff came together to discuss the things they’re most looking forward to seeing announced, confirmed or revealed during the major E3 press conferences, as well as peripheral events such as EA Play and Nintendo’s annual E3 Nintendo Direct. Read on to see what’s (hopefully) in the pipeline!


Abir:

PlatinumGames announcing its first original game:
In less than a decade of existence, PlatinumGames has already delivered a very diverse portfolio of titles for various publishers. Bayonetta for SEGA and Nintendo, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance for Konami, The Legend of Korra for Activision, and Nier: Automata for Square Enix are just some of these titles, with many of these games gaining loyal followings that have stayed with the studio through its ups and downs. Most recently, Microsoft cancelled Scalebound, which Bayonetta/Devil May Cry creator and PlatinumGames founder Hideki Kamiya was directing. This event brought to a head an issue that the studio had been dealing with for many years: all of its games were owned by publishers, so the developer had no final say in how and if these games were released.

PlatinumGames producer Atsushi Inaba recently told BitSummit attendees in Japan that the fan-favourite developer is working on an original title of its own before implying that the studio would be slowing down its production schedule to improve the quality of its output. I’m hoping PlatinumGames announces a project that is as energetic and fun as its employees are creative. Even more than that, I hope that the game is the result of a publishing partnership where the studio gets to keep the rights to its hard-earned work.

The reveal of cross-platform play:
The ability to play games online has been a reality for players on consoles and PC for more than two decades, yet we still can’t all play together. Ten years ago, Microsoft let Xbox 360 and PC players duke it out in Shadowrun, and in the past year Capcom let PS4 and PC players trade blows in Street Fighter V while Psyonix added PC-PS4 and PC-Xbox One cross-play to its wildly-popular multiplayer title Rocket League. Despite all of this, and both Microsoft and Sony discussing the idea, folks on PlayStation and Xbox platforms have yet to find a game that they can play together. It’s 2017, and Hearthstone players can jump from their Galaxy S8 to their mum’s iPad and from their school’s iMac to their gaming PC at home with one single login and resume from where they left off. Yet, their Overwatch-loving friends can’t play together despite having similar hardware in both the PlayStation 4 to Xbox One. The announcement of cross-platform play is one that will have a profound effect on almost every console owner, and both Sony and Microsoft have the resources and technical know-how to make it happen. I, for one, would love to see such an announcement grace the screens of both companies’ E3 stages, and I know that I won’t be alone in celebrating such a monumental step forward for gaming.

Star Wars action games:
EA has had the Star Wars licence to itself for just over four years, but its hotly-anticipated pair of story-based action titles remain under wraps. All we know so far is that the publisher’s Motive Studios (led by Assassin’s Creed creator Jade Raymond and Portal creator Kim Swift) is assisting Uncharted writer Amy Hennig and Dead Space developer Visceral Games on “an original, authentic narrative” that sounds like a reimagining of the cancelled Star Wars 1313. Titanfall studio Respawn Entertainment is helming the other action title, which “features a different style of gameplay and takes place in a different timeline” to both Battlefront games and the other unnamed project. Given Respawn’s experience with shooters, it’s safe to assume that this game will be a third person shooter with a focus on narrative.

It’s the first of these two games that really piques my interest. Back at E3 2012, Star Wars 1313 looked to have combined Uncharted’s fast-paced third person action with the grittiness of Star Wars’s seedy underworld, but it was tragically cancelled before the following E3. Five years on, the promise of such a unique take on Star Wars is still compelling, and I hope that we get to see what concoction Motive and Visceral are preparing for hungry sci-fi fans.

Alex:

A closer look at The Last of Us: Part II:
The Last of Us wasn’t just a superb game, it was a work of art. It redefined the way that video games could tell captivating stories, and make gamers question their own moral values. Developer Naughty Dog created something truly special back in 2013, and has likely known since then that the creation of any sequel would have to be treated as a follow-up painting to the Mona Lisa.

Ever since The Last of Us: Part II was announced last December, it’s been safe to say that fans have been hoping for a better look at the game by the end of E3 2017. Given where the narrative was left at the conclusion of The Last of Us, and what was shown to fans in the game’s reveal trailer last December, there’s no short list of questions that will need to be answered at some stage during Part II. While it’ll definitely be interesting to see what’s become of original protagonist Joel, it’s genuinely exciting knowing that Ellie is likely going to be the main focus this time around; she’s just that good of a character. Seeing the kind of world that a grown-up Ellie has to face is going to be truly fascinating, and should hopefully keep fans buzzing for the next few months until (hopefully) the game’s 2017 release.

More information about Star Wars Battlefront II:
There’s still a burning rage deep inside of me that hasn’t subsided since the first time I played EA’s Star Wars Battlefront; a game that strayed far from the legacy that was set by its predecessors. Ever since learning that Star Wars Battlefront II was in development, I’ve been hoping that all of the negative criticism that Battlefront received back in 2015 would have strongly-impacted the sequel’s development for the better. Thankfully, the game’s full length reveal trailer left a rather positive impression on me, and gave me several reasons to hope that Battlefront II was going to become the game that fans should have gotten two years ago.

With any luck, EA is going to step up to the plate and break down for us just how good Battlefront II is going to be. We’ve already been made aware that the sequel is going to feature all three current Star Wars eras, as well as an original single-player campaign, so it’ll be exciting to see what other new features are unveiled during the EA Play presentation.

A virtual console announcement for Nintendo Switch:
Nintendo is off to an arguably shaky start with the Nintendo Switch. Despite the console’s early sales success, there has still been a noticeable lack of games available for fans who have thus far picked it up. Games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe have certainly helped tide Switch holders over thus far, but Nintendo needs to make a rather strong impression this E3 to keep people interested, and even win over those who have had held off on purchasing the console up until now (including yours truly).

It would have made a lot of sense to launch the Switch along with at least one virtual console, but it’s not too late to see Nintendo make this move. With titles such as Super Mario Odyssey still at least several months away from release, getting the Switch some VC support would immediately expand upon a startlingly-small library of games. More importantly, it would give fans a chance to take advantage of the Switch’s convenience when playing several different classics.

Ayden:

More information about Super Mario Odyssey:
Super Mario: Odyssey, the conceptual odyssey that Mario fans can’t wait to see more of. Since its reveal, Nintendo have kept the hat down on this game. A magical cap? A sprawling open-world? Mario metropolis? This Mario-scented enigma has fans in a new kind of bind with all of these enormous and different gameplay mechanics.

Nintendo is more than aware of the Mario details fans crave and with the game’s official announcement on May 11th, the Japanese giant showed that it’s more than willing to throw us a kingdom of mushrooms to feast upon. Hell, the company’s going so far as to host the game’s first play sessions, which indicates that it’s going to be a major presence.

Fans want to follow this white rabbit down the warp-pipe; let’s hope they get their fill.

More information about the new Assassin’s Creed title:
Ubisoft has tried to keep its cards close to its chest when it comes to the upcoming Assassin’s Creed title after teasing it on Twitter last month, but you just can’t stop the Internet sometimes and the leaks are oh-so tantalising.

The rebirth of the second most-flogged dead horse of a series (second to Call of Duty, which will forever reign as King of the Flogged Dead Horses) has got fans somewhat polarised and skeptical. Can a company put sweet, sweet water back into a well that ran dry so long ago that we’ve all been drinking mud for years? Well, Ubisoft seems to think this prequel — which, according to leaks, is set in Egypt and stars the reclusive and ominous-looking Ba-Yek— will put the spring back into your leap of faith.

I was left heart-broken many-a-time by most titles preceding Assassin’s Creed: Revelations; I pray that Ubisoft took a real hard look in the mirror and found a way to make me love this series all over again. I just want to be a badass Assassin, with a deep personality and viable motivations, followed by an exceptional supporting cast as I traverse a sprawling city of thousands of crooks, brooks, nooks, and hooks from which I may swing, swim, leap, and murder to my heart’s content.

A new Metroid announcement:
Metroid is the Loch Ness Monster of possible Nintendo announcements and the one I’m hoping for the most. More specifically, I want something akin to the likes of Metroid Prime 4, not this Federation Force hocus-pocus.

Although Nintendo hasn’t said anything specific about the title, hints have been dropped and speculation has been stirred that there are two new Metroid titles in the works. One cannot put horses in carts or have chickens count eggs — but there is hope. With hope, comes possibilities, and with those, well, we may get to see Samus Aran curl up into a ball and whizz around the alien planet as though it was hers to whizz around on.

Please Nintendo, you nearly killed us with Other M and Federation Force… please use the trilogy that was so damn good again.

Cav:

A PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds console announcement:
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (Otherwise known as PUBG to the relief of typists everywhere) has already stood out as one of 2017’s biggest surprise packages. The culmination of a long line of Battle Royale mods for ARMA made by Brendan ‘PlayerUnknown’ Greene (Hence the rather unwieldy title), PUBG took the genre’s basic concept — 100 players, dropped on an island, have to battle to the death until one survivor remains — and refined it into a brutally efficient yet oddly accessible package.

PUBG is a refreshingly egalitarian take on online murder. All players start each round equally vulnerable, forced to scavenge weapons and armour from their surroundings. Where most online shooters encourage aggression, PUBG is about avoiding combat until it is absolutely necessary, and all it takes is a slip in awareness — or even a bit of simple bad luck — to do any player in. Not that skill doesn’t help: the game just values intelligent play more, which gives every player a chance.

While not making any official announcement at this stage, Greene and South Korean developer Bluehole have indicated that the game will be ported to consoles, and it seems like a no-brainer for Sony and Microsoft to jump in and strike while the hype is still hot. One way or another, I’d be shocked if PUBG doesn’t get a spotlight at E3. It’s too timely and important a release to go unloved, and it’s hard to see the big boys not wanting a slice of that glory.

News on Xbox Play Anywhere titles:
While everyone’s feverishly awaiting the Scorpio reveal, those of us who migrated from Xbox to PlayStation this generation will be eagerly anticipating news on what Xbox One titles we can expect to be playing on our PCs over the coming year. For all the Windows Store’s flaws, it’s been fantastic getting to revisit some of the franchises I’d left behind after getting my PS4.

A Crackdown 3 release date would go down nicely, but the big one for me would be a Forza 7 announcement. Getting to play Forza Horizon 3 on PC was one of my highlights of last year, and getting a proper mainline Forza would be downright incredible.

More delicious awkwardness from Ubisoft:
Ubisoft owns E3. It’s one of gaming’s biggest open secrets, but it’s true. For all the impressive tech, amazing-looking games and slick marketing we get to enjoy each year at the industry’s premier convention, the fact is that what remains in the collective memory is the gaffes. Innovation and world-shattering announcements simply can’t hold a candle to a multinational corporation playing with its figurative doo-doo on the world stage, and as much as other companies have tried, nobody makes doody like Ubi.

Want Mr. Caffeine frittering his fifteen minutes of fame on time-travel interpretive dance and “Tom Ka-lancy”? You got it. Aisha Tyler attempting to craft memes with cosplayers? Done. Or perchance, you want to bring in the big guns and be bored to tears by James Cameron dribbling on about Avatar for fourteen minutes straight? Ubi has your back.

This trend has continued in recent years, with cringeworthy scripted gameplay demos for The Division and Tom Ka-Lancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands featuring Ubisoft PR people delivering some of the most hilariously stilted voice-chat ‘banter’ imaginable. Here’s hoping that they continue this good work this year, because the more Ubisoft makes like a drunken uncle gatecrashing an 18th birthday party, the less awkward and dysfunctional we all feel. That is the true magic of Ubisoft, and all it asks is that you bring popcorn.

Damon:

More information about Pokémon Stars:
The buzz around the rumoured Pokémon Stars took quite a hit with the recent announcement of Pokken Tournament Deluxe for Nintendo Switch and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon for the 3DS. Fans have long been expecting to see a fully-fledged, dedicated Pokémon title for the Switch — like Breath of the Wild was for The Legend of Zelda — and let out their cries of disappointment when there wasn’t even a hint of that at the recent Pokémon Direct. It’s understandable that Nintendo still needs to cater to the 3DS, because it has been and continues to be a massive success, but in order to have a strong showing at E3 — and help the Switch along in its first year — the company needs to show its commitment to the console by bringing a strong Pokémon presence.

It doesn’t even have to include gameplay at this point, but a Pokémon Stars (or whatever Nintendo calls it) announcement would send Switch consoles flying off the shelves and into living rooms in anticipation. Nintendo isn’t known for showing its Pokémon titles off at E3, but it needs to happen, and it needs to not be a port. Hell, at this point, we’d probably even settle for news that Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are being developed for the Switch as well as the 3DS… I, for one, would be over the moon to see Pokémon coming to Nintendo Switch, and as skeptical as I am with pre-orders, Nintendo would have my money immediately.

News on Insomniac Games’ upcoming Spider-Man title:
Last E3, gamers were teased with a short trailer showcasing a beautiful looking, sprawling urban environment and what looked like impressive graphics and mechanics, and the hype around Insomniac’s upcoming PS4-exclusive Spider-Man title has been energetic ever since. After a year of suspense, I’m fully expecting that Insomniac will give us a good glimpse at the web-slinger’s newest adventure.

Everyone loves our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, and yet he hasn’t starred in a successful — or even respectable — video game since 2004. Spider-Man 2 was an enormous success on PS2 and Xbox, released to critical and public acclaim to boot. It truly made players feel like they were Peter Parker, gliding through the New York City skyline, and its brilliant mechanics, voice acting and storyline completely shattered the stereotype of bad “movie games”. Fans are ready for the webby wonder to make a triumphant return to their video game consoles; we can only hope that if Sony and Insomniac decide to show us anything, it’ll assure us that the final product will come anywhere close to that drop-dead gorgeous trailer from last year.

A release date for the Xbox Scorpio?
Microsoft has made some pretty monstrous promises when it comes to the Xbox Scorpio, and now it’s time for the platform holder to deliver on those promises. The company, and its Xbox division, have gone on and on about how great this all-powerful piece of machinery is going to be, but it not only needs to impress from a technological standpoint; I’m expecting a handful of games to be ready to show off and demonstrate exactly how good it is.

One can easily guess that we’ll see the Forza Motorsport 7 and potentially even Crackdown 3 used to show the console’s capabilities off in full, but the most important thing we can hope to get out of the conference is a release date. A holiday release would be the ideal release date for the console, especially given many Xbox One owners’ day-one editions are likely on the back end, and so I’m fully expecting Microsoft to announce the Scorpio for around November, as it did with the Xbox One.

Either way, success is an absolute must for the Scorpio this year, especially if Microsoft wants people to overlook the rumoured wallet-shattering US$775 price tag…

Emily:

More information about Far Cry 5:
Ubisoft announced Far Cry 5 a couple of weeks ago, but all we know so far is that it’s set in in Hope County, Montana — a quiet, serene landscape that is not all what it seems — and that players will be fighting against a religious militia of sorts. The game has already caused quite a stir, so we’re sure to see more information about it at E3; I’m expecting to see the game’s first proper gameplay demonstration during Ubisoft’s press conference in addition to the rumoured show-floor demo for those in attendance.

This new instalment should bring something different to Far Cry fans, introducing a two-player co-operative campaign and dogs, which I would love to be able to control, but we still don’t know too much — here’s hoping that Ubisoft can blow us away!

A new The Evil Within title:
2014’s The Evil Within showcased horror elements that fans haven’t seen in a long, long while, but although the horror aspect garnered significant praise, its story and characters were quite weak. Announcing a sequel would allow Tango Gameworks to make much-needed vast improvements in story and character writing while maintaining that unique brand of horror that made it so damn scary in the first place. It’s been three years since the game’s original release, so we’d also see some major improvements in visuals just to scare fans even more.

Horror fans like myself are always looking forward to their next fright-fest, but rarely more so than after having played the phenomenal Resident Evil 7 this year; a The Evil Within announcement — along with a release date, if that’s not too greedy — would be amazing to see!

More information about God of War, possibly a new trailer and release date:
We first heard about the next God of War title this time last year, but we don’t know too much aside from that Kratos is back, and he’s a father this time. I’d love to get some more information, though; first and foremost on the list is a release date, but I’d also like to know if we’re going to see Kratos with the same rage as we have previously, or whether he’ll act differently now that he’s got a son to teach and set an example for. The series has moved onto Norse mythology now, and so I would also like to see exactly what kinds of enemies we’re going to face in the game.

Since it didn’t show God of War at PlayStation Experience in November, Sony and its Santa Monica studio have left themselves with a whole hell of a lot of questions to answer; let’s hope they answer them for us!

Jake:

Proof that Nintendo is actually committed to the Switch:
The Nintendo Switch has done pretty well for itself with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe standing as its two “main” titles, but with only Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey on that level in the near future, the true test is yet to come. Players on other platforms are spoiled for choice when it comes to major releases, with multiple occurring every month or two, and Nintendo needs to start moving onto that level. I’m strongly expecting to see a mainline Pokémon title announced for the console — especially after the disappointment that was Pokémon Direct — alongside Breath of the Wild’s first expansion; outside of that, I’m hoping to see a bunch of Nintendo’s most popular IPs (read: Bayonetta, Fire Emblem, Metroid, and even Pikmin) at least announced for the console to give fans and skeptics alike some reason to really get on board with the console.

How EA is planning to follow up on FIFA 17:
FIFA 17 is a conundrum. Ultimate Team’s Squad Builder Challenges and the FUT Champions game mode have created the best and most accessible out-of-game experience FIFA players have ever been treated to, but the game goes downhill from there: it’s the buggiest FIFA title we’ve seen in recent times (we can tie this down to it being the first FIFA to use the Frostbite engine), the popular Career and Pro Clubs game modes remain in desperate need of overhauls and the EA Servers are the world’s absolute leading cause of headaches with their constant disconnections. Ultimate Team has come far enough, and aside from perhaps revamping the Weekend League, it doesn’t need to be touched — it’s the rest of the game that needs to catch up. When EA hits the stage to talk FIFA, I’m hoping to see meaningfully-reworked Career and Pro Clubs game modes and the kind of gameplay improvements one would expect after another whole year with the “new” engine.

What Devolver Digital has in store:
Devolver Digital is one of the foremost indie-focused publishers in the games industry, and for the Austin, Texas-based company to be holding its own major press conference is a monstrous step forward for the indie scene as a whole. It also shapes up to be the most intriguing of the major press conferences; we know roughly what we’re to expect from the platform holders and the AAAs, but we can’t be entirely sure what Devolver’s got in store. Given the cost — both financial and temporal — of running one of these conferences, though, we can safely assume that it’s big enough to warrant holding a conference as well as the usual “Indie Picnic” event. I can’t wait to see what makes it so.

Rhys:

A release window for Kingdom Hearts III, or at least a new trailer:
I have been avid fan of the Kingdom Hearts series for quite some time, and have been waiting for the fabled third instalment since the release of Kingdom Hearts II in 2006. Despite showing off some gorgeous trailers and screenshots, Square Enix hasn’t revealed too much about Kingdom Hearts III. This year at E3, however, I believe that Square Enix will finally give us patiently waiting fans a release window along with another gorgeous trailer. After playing Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep 0.2 — found within the Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue compilation released early this year — my excitement for the latest game in the franchise has peaked; Square Enix now has a prime opportunity to generate hype from a new trailer. Given that the last trailer was released at E3 2015, I feel as though fans deserve to see how the game is developing and to see the announcement of a new world or any aspect of its overall story. It has been way too long since there has been any relevant news about Kingdom Hearts III, so it’s about time fans are given the proper treatment.

A new Bloodborne announcement:
Bloodborne was my first foray into the world of Souls games, and it did not disappoint. Instead, I fell in love with the fast-paced and difficult combat as well as the gorgeous gothic-inspired environment that players would explore. Although it was a delight to play, I found that the first game left me wanting heaps more. I wanted to be challenged, even if that meant dying over and over again. At E3 2017, I would like to see an official announcement for Bloodborne 2 or a separate Bloodborne-esque game from FromSoftware.

More information about Hellblade:
I feel like I’m one of the only people who really enjoyed DmC: Devil May Cry, so when Ninja Theory announced its next game, Hellblade, I was immediately listening. Hellblade, which Ninja Theory has called an “independent AAA game”, follows the main protagonist, Senua, as she travels through a nightmarish world filled with her psychotic manifestations and personal demons. I have tried to avoid as much information as I can about the title so as to avoid generating unnecessary hype, but I think the game has been left in the dark for quite some time now and more information, new trailers and gameplay footage, will make for intriguing viewing on the E3 floor for this year.


With our predictions out of the way, we’re now super excited for E3 to kick off in earnest! Doublejump will be covering the major press conferences, with a Digest next Saturday covering major announcements from the show floor, so stay tuned for our biggest week yet! If you’d like to watch the events live, here’s a handy conference schedule to refer to:


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