Every year going into E3, it seems like there are fewer and fewer surprises. So many studios choose to reveal what they've been working on ahead of time these days, and by the time the big livestreamed showcases are aired, there are only a handful of genuine shocks.
This year might be different though. This year's event is more of a public spectacle than ever, and everyone putting on a big production needs some reveals that will truly drop jaws.
While nothing seems to be able to stop the leaks that happen in the build up to the event (Assassin's Creed Origins says hi – multiple times) this year seems like it's potentially more exciting than most. Here are the rumors we've heard the most about over the past few months, along with the likelihood that they might be real.
BETHESDA'S STARFIELD: LIKE ELDER SCROLLS IN SPACE
The big Bethesda rumor is that one of the two unannounced games they'll trot out on June 11 will be a full-on, massive-scale sci fi game – like Elder Scrolls in space. But probably bigger. Imagine a large-scale epic space RPG that will hopefully deliver on everything we'd hoped Mass Effect Andromeda would provide but whiffed on. Bethesda filed for a Starfield trademark way back in 2013, but little has been heard since. Back in February, Bethesda's Todd Howard told us in an interview ahead of the DICE conference in Las Vegas that, "We've got a good number of projects on the go. We're bigger now and we do want to be putting out more stuff. We have two larger projects that are more classically the scale of what we do, but even bigger. We overlap the projects so we're working on them at the same time, but they're staggered," he teased. "I can't talk a lot about them, but I can say that they're bigger than anything we've ever done. They're a bit different, but definitely in the wheelhouse that people are used to from us."
Probability: We might get a brief taste of what the team is working on, but there almost certainly won't be a firm release date.
WOLFENSTEIN: THE NEW COLOSSUS WILL BE CONFIRMED
Of the two Bethesda rumors, this is the one that seems to be a certainty. There were hints dropped of a sequel during the studio's big media event last year at E3, with a screen showing a mock DOS directory with a filename called "The New Colossus" listed. Whether this is the actual name of the next game remains to be seen, but it seems very likely. 2014's The New Order was developed by Swedish studio MachineGames, which is owned by Bethesda, and soon after the game was released creative director Jens Matthies said the studio has a "very, very clear idea" for what it could do with a sequel. In September 2015, Alicja Bachleda-Curus, who played Anya Oliwa in The New Order, said she's working on a "second one" that could launch in 2017.
Probability: Seems like a sure thing. There's an unnamed Bethesda game listed on the schedule for Geoff Keighley's E3 Coliseum event this year, and our money is on this being the game that's shown there rather than Starfield.
BIOWARE'S SCI FI GAME, CODENAMED 'DYLAN' WILL BE PROPERLY REVEALED
Bioware Edmonton, developers of the Mass Effect trilogy, have been working on a brand new game series for over four years now. It was first mentioned at E3 2014, but only the vaguest details were shared at the time and nothing has really been mentioned since other than the fact it's still in production, and it's not an RPG. The codename Dylan, according to a report on Kotaku, is said to come from original project lead Casey Hudson's desire to make "the Bob Dylan of video games" - something that would be referenced for years to come as a huge influence on subsequent games. We already know that it's a live service action adventure more like Destiny than Mass Effect, and that the big hook for the game is an ambitious persistent universe that evolves based on player activity and feedback. EA and Bioware are rumored to be using Dylan to test a slew of next generation cloud-based machine learning tech to make the game feel more alive.
Probability: EA has been teasing it for years, and it needs something fresh and new to dangle in front of the crowd at its EA Play event this year. It seems certain that we'll see something, if only just a tease – plus, we'll no doubt finally learn its real name. EA CEO already mentioned that the game has been delayed to FY 2019 in a recent investor call, so we may see a late 2018 or early 2019 release date attached.
VISCERAL'S STAR WARS GAME COULD BE OPEN WORLD
The existence of the game is no rumor, it was confirmed ages ago – but what seems likely now is that it's of a much larger scope than previously thought. Think: open-world, third person Star Wars action adventure rather than a purely linear narrative adventure. At E3 2016, EA showed a glimpse of "early in-game footage" for the unnamed project, but refused to confirm a name or any further details. Uncharted creator Amy Hennig has been leading the project since 2014, but she told us last year that while the new Star Wars game will be spiritually similar to Uncharted, she insists it won’t be "Star Wars Uncharted." Jade Raymond, formerly executive producer on Assassin’s Creed at Ubisoft, founded EA's new Motive Studios in July 2015, and it was subsequently revealed that her team would be co-developing the project with Hennig’s for a 2018 release.
Probability: There'll almost certainly be a new trailer, that will no doubt still say nothing more specific than "2018" at the end. There's a 50-50 chance we'll get a confirmed title, and we may get enough footage to confirm that it really is an open-world game more like Assassin's Creed than Uncharted.
RESPAWN'S STAR WARS GAME COULD BE A DARK REBOOT OF JEDI KNIGHT
The big challenge facing Respawn's Star Wars game is surely not too far removed from the problem the studio faced with Titanfall before it. Just as its big robot game had to carve out a niche alongside Battlefield, now this has to demonstrate why it exists alongside both this year's Battlefront 2 and next year's big adventure from Visceral. There are rumors that this is more of a third person action game with a heavy focus on melee combat...which suggests something more along the lines of the old Jedi Knight games. Perhaps we'll finally get that Sith game we've all been craving? Could it be the video game Darth Maul has always deserved?
Probability: Our money is on it being a no-show. It might get mentioned as something that's coming at a much later date, but given what's in the queue in front of it, it seems unlikely we'll get more specifics. The only way we see any more than a glimpse of this is if it's a platform exclusive. Microsoft needs something really, really big, Respawn has history with Xbox...it's possible, but with the Star Wars license attached it seems extremely unlikely.
BORDERLANDS 3 MIGHT BE A REVAMP
There's a new Borderlands coming, that's for certain. Whether it's called Borderlands 3 is much less certain. Back at the Game Developers Conference in March Gearbox showcased the tech "that will power the next Borderlands game" but the demo itself was not Borderlands 3. "We’re working on it," said Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford at the time. Beyond that, no further hints were dropped – but given that the series has been riffing on basically the same idea since 2009, it's time for a refresh while retaining the series' signature style and humor.
Probability: Borderlands publisher 2K Games is being awfully quiet at this year's E3 (it's not showing anything, as far as we're aware), so anything we do see is only going to come at one of the big platform-holder events. Honestly, Microsoft needs this one more – so if we do get a glimpse of it, we're betting it'll be pitched as an Xbox/Windows Play Anywhere game with some flavor of exclusivity attached.
SUPER SMASH BROS. DELUXE FOR SWITCH
Nintendo is on a roll in two very specific areas that make this seem like a certainty. With Zelda and Mario Kart it has done a brilliant job of taking games you can play on Wii U already and providing a compelling case for a Switch version. With Arms, Splatoon 2 and Pokkén Tournament DX it has shown it finally gets the importance of competitive play. The perfect blend of these two notions is a remaster of Super Smash Bros. to tide us over while another studio beavers away on a totally new game for a later date.
Probability: Nintendo needs this one. To keep the momentum going on the Switch it needs to show that it's putting games people feel super-passionately about on the system, and adding enough value that it makes everyone happy. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe seemed like a cop-out at first, but in practice it was a brilliant move that showed hundreds of thousands of new players what they'd previously missed out on.
NEW CASTLEVANIA, PROBABLY FOR SWITCH
There's a new Netflix show on the way, the genre it helped define is arguably more popular than ever, and there hasn't been a proper Castlevania game since 2014's Lords of Shadow 2 – which wasn't that great. The time is right for a beautiful 2D revamp of the classic series. With Switch owners being particularly vocal in their excitement at the prospect of Koji Igarashi's spiritual successor Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night coming to their console, you've got to think someone at Konami is raising their hand in a meeting somewhere and making the suggestion.
Probability: If we do see anything, it'll only be an announcement and maybe just a logo. Remember the way things like Fire Emblem were "revealed" for Switch back in January? Yeah, like that.
NEW HALO TO SHOWCASE SCORPIO
If the Xbox ever needed to come out swinging – it's this year. Halo's job – it's sole reason for being – is to sell Xboxes. Even if it's just an early tease, the first thing we need to see coming out of the Scorpio's 4K-hole is a genuinely holy shit Master Chief moment that also hints at the whole series evolving. For good measure, let's also see it as an Xbox Play Anywhere game on day one, and it being embraced as a proper mouse and keyboard PC game as well as a console game.
Probability: If they don't show something Halo for Scorpio, they're never going to hear the end of it. Not from fans, not from people on Twitter, not from analysts, not from the media. There's no way they roll out a new console without the Chief involved in some way.
FINAL FANTASY TACTICS REBORN
This rumor is fueled almost entirely by serendipity and timing. The week after E3, on June 20 2017, it will be 20 years since the release of Final Fantasy Tactics on PlayStation in Japan. For its 10th anniversary we got the enhanced edition, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, as part of Square Enix's Ivalice Alliance project. Perhaps for the 20th anniversary we'll get a real sequel? Or at the very least, a Switch revamp?
Probability: Don't hold your breath, but it could happen.