E3 starts this Tuesday (June 7), and if the rumors are any indication, this year's show will be one for the gaming history books. Read on to see what PCWorld's E3 Away Team is anticipating, and don't forget to follow PCWorld's Game On blog for up-to-the-minute E3 updates.
Patrick Miller covers HDTVs and how-tos for PCWorld, and he has a particular weakness for fighting games and StarCraft 2.
What I Want: First, I want Nintendo's new console to excite me. The Wii might have been excellent for getting video game consoles into houses that had never seen them before, but not that many Wii games could hold my interest for longer than an hour or so. Although Nintendo may have scored big with the casual-friendly Wii, I don't think the company will be able to make that magic happen again. At the very minimum, the new system needs to be substantially more powerful--at least two Wiis duct-taped together, this time.
Other than that, this year's E3 is all about follow-through. Microsoft's Kinect and Nintendo's 3DS are cool, but now I want to see games designed for the Kinect and 3DS that I'll actually pick up and play by myself for more than 20 minutes. I want to see Sony show off its new NGP portable console with some games (or even half-baked game concepts) that make me think, "Wow, that could be done only on the NGP." And I really want to see a full suite of blockbuster titles and low-budget independent games that show off everything the PC can bring to the gaming world, because we're due for a resurgence.
What I Expect: Sequels are big business in video games, and for a good reason--it's easier to sell a prospective game buyer on another iteration of a game they were convinced to purchase once before, as they're already interested in the characters and the gameplay. I hate the incessant sequelitis as much as everyone else does, but I suspect we'll see a few good sequels and spinoffs tactically employed to build enthusiasm for a new platform. For example, the Nintendo 3DS version of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater mixes arguably the best game from the series with some 3DS-exclusive features such as the accelerometer and the forward-facing camera. If I have to be stuck with the same old stories, at least use the Kinect or something to switch things up a bit.
What I Don't Want: I'm fully convinced that iOS/Android games and social games have incredible amounts of potential, and I can't wait to see what kinds of addictive gems pop out from the woodwork at this year's E3. That said, if any game is described as being in the vein of FarmVille or Angry Birds, my brain is going to reboot. Game makers won't do justice to the mobile and social categories simply by name-dropping two banal (if wildly popular) games that don't need to be rehashed yet again.
Alex Wawro is PCWorld's eternally optimistic editorial assistant, and he's already on the ground in L.A. to prepare for E3 2011.
What I Want: The short answer is simple--I want to see great games. Thankfully, E3 2011 seems well equipped to meet or exceed my expectations with blockbuster titles such as Deus Ex 3, Battlefield 3, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim available for play on the show floor.
The longer, more complicated answer is that I'd like to see games developed to satisfy the varying needs of a growing audience without snubbing any particular breed of player. I want to see great long-form single-player games like Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim, but I also want to see equally excellent titles designed to offer a unique and compelling multiplayer experience (Star Wars: The Old Republic or Battlefield 3, for example). And although Apple won't have a booth at E3, I hope that the company's stupendous success in facilitating mobile gaming positively influences how Nintendo and Sony market their respective portable gaming devices; the 3DS and NGP need to offer terrific games that are equally fun to play for a few hours on the couch or a few minutes on the bus.
What I Expect: I suspect that E3 2011 will herald a banner year for gaming hardware. We already know that we'll be seeing Nintendo's new console next Tuesday, and I expect Microsoft and Sony to respond proactively by teasing us with hints of new hardware in development during their respective press conferences. Game developers are pushing the limits of what contemporary consoles can do, and that means it's time to start talking about the next generation of hardware.
And since developers are learning to tap the full technical potential of modern consoles, I expect to see a slew of titles next week that take advantage of that knowledge and experience to deliver some of the best games we've seen this generation. (On that note, we've set aside plenty of time to play promising titles such as BioShock Infinite and Uncharted 3, so check back next week for our full report on the biggest games of E3.)
What I Don't Want: No more peripheral devices. No more motion-control wands, vitality sensors, or weird touchscreen controllers; let's focus on making games that master the controllers we already own.
A new Power Glove would be pretty sweet, though.
Nate Ralph is PCWorld's desktops guru. He likes MMOs, punching trees to find goodies, and megalomaniacal AIs.
What I Want: If we've learned one important lesson from the success of the Wii (or Apple's iOS juggernaut), it's that specs are largely irrelevant. The success of Nintendo's next platform (and Microsoft's and Sony's, for that matter) will depend largely on offering fresh, groundbreaking gameplay.
I doubt Nintendo will see the error of its ways and kill off those onerous Friend Codes once and for all. But accessible, robust online connectivity is pretty much mandatory--for gaming with friends, and (more important) downloading new content.
Nintendo's bread and butter will always be the die-hard fans and the casual gaming segment, but the company needs to offer something to get game developers on board with their big-budget franchises--instead of allowing them to resort to disposable, waggle-heavy minigame collections. That said, don't expect the Wii's successor to be a number-crunching powerhouse. Do expect an internal hard drive, wireless connectivity, a native 1080p resolution, and a launch date sometime early in 2012--if Nintendo shows us anything at all, naturally.
Also: I'd like a reboot for the Harvest Moon series that pulls it back to its SNES roots, and a Pokémon MMO. Please.
What I Expect: Game developers still have a way to go before they wring out all of the potential of the current console generation. This is great news for PC gamers. Our platform of choice remains versatile and open--and leaps and bounds ahead of its living-room-bound siblings where raw power is concerned.
But no more tired, shoddy ports for us: Minecraft and Terraria are just the tip of the indie-gaming iceberg, and titles such as Frozen Synapse and Magicka show that spirited developers with a great idea can find an audience with alarming speed. And that's to say nothing of the proverbial big kids--CD Projekt's The Witcher 2 and Valve's Portal 2 being a couple of examples.
I'm expecting to see lots of PC-centric gems as I trawl the show floor, with developers large and small taking advantage of what a platform this accessible has to offer.
What I Don't Want: Anything-Ville. Me-Too Cover-Based Shooter: Enigmatic Subtitle. '90s Relic Rebooted. (Now with microtransactions!)