We've officially hit this generation's midpoint. The new console smell has dissipated, prices have dropped, and the marquee have franchises have all released their "next-generation" games. So what's next?
Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft will all have to answer that question in one form or another. Sony is taking a page from last generation's playbook and releasing the PlayStation VR - this generation's equivalent of the PlayStation Move and the Kinect. Microsoft reportedly has a couple new SKUs on the way, including a slim version. And Nintendo… well, Nintendo has The Legend of Zelda - a game that isn't coming out until 2017. Maybe they'll surprise us?
With E3 2016 kicking off in earnest next week, the USG team got together to look at the major platform holders and what we should be expecting from each of them at the show.
The biggest question regarding Microsoft this year seems to revolve around whether or not we'll see two new Xbox One systems being showcased at E3 2016. Firstly, there's the much-mooted Scorpio unit - a new version of the Xbox One that's four times more powerful than the standard system thanks to its upgraded AMD Polaris architecture. Capable of an apparent 5-6 teraflops, it will allegedly run games at 4K resolution, as well as support Oculus Rift VR hardware and software. Is it too soon for the machine to make its debut? I guess we'll find out next week.
The other system is a little more humble, and that's the new reported Xbox One slim unit. It'll obviously be lighter, and more compact than the existing model, but also comes complete with its own internal power supply - which is really good news for those who hate the idea of having to find space behind their TV for the current brick-sized PSU. Considering that Microsoft have just lowered the price of the current Xbox One, it would make sense that they're creating shelf space for this new unit, which could well weigh in with a $250 price tag.
But what of the games? Well, there have been plenty of pre-E3 leaks, starting with posters for Dead Rising 4, Capcom's zombie-themed title. Some reports have suggested that it's a remake of the original Dead Rising - but if that's the case, why give it a number, rather than an "HD Remaster" monicker?
Another undead-themed game that's been rumored for reveal next week is State of Decay 2, a really interesting-sounding open-world survival game that's about building communities, rather than battling hordes of zombies. The original was a huge success on Xbox 360, PC and Xbox One, so a sequel would certainly make sense, especially if it incorporated more MMO-like features.
Few people would bet against a third Forza Horizon game being unveiled next week. It's certainly time for one based on the fact that it seems to have become a bi-yearly release at this point. The only thing to speculate on is where it'll be set this time out. Will it be somewhere in Europe, or will the series make a return to America this year? It won't be long until we find out.
It's expected that we'll see a lot more of ReCore. Produced by Microsoft in conjunction with Armature Studios (whose members worked on Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate) and Keiji Inafune's Comcept (the first three Mega Man games, and Mega Man X), the game was set for a Q2 2016 release, but has obviously slipped into the latter part of this year. It's an open world title in which you play one of the last remaining humans on a planet dominated by robot enemies. You have to team up with other robots that have their own powers and abilities to solve challenges and puzzles across a large, open world. The demo shown at E3 last year looked very promising, and I'm interested to see just how far it's come.
Another game teased at last year's E3 that we expect to see a lot more of next week is Rare's pirate-themed Sea of Thieves. Apparently, it's the company's most ambitious project to date; an open world game in which you can sail the seas in your very own ship, explore islands, and search for treasure - as well as battle other players both on land and at sea. It sounds great, and I'm really looking forward to getting some hands-on time with it.
Other upcoming releases that are likely to be showcased next week include Crackdown 3, Halo Wars 2, Gears of War 4, and Platinum Games' action-RPG, Scalebound, which was shown at Gamescom earlier this year. It all adds up to a solid, if not exactly surprising selection of games. Hopefully this isn't everything, though, and Microsoft will have a couple of completely new games to show us at their conference at 9:30 PST Monday. — Jaz