Put aside all the madness, the booth babe controversies, the PR-approved presentations, and the poor decision to give Jamie Kennedy a microphone. Put aside all the negatives that go along with the yearly gaming convention known as E3 and you’re left with an event that still manages to justify the hype it generates solely off of the possibility of that one great surprise announcement.
From Halo 2 to Shenmue III, the best part of E3 has always been the game that nobody sees coming. In those brief moments when a title beyond belief fills a presentation room’s big screen, the entire gaming world comes to a halt in order to bask in its splendor. There is no feeling quite like watching the unexpected come to life before your eyes and knowing that millions are sharing that sensation with you in that moment.
While you could certainly argue that a true E3 surprise is one that you’d never see coming, the fact remains that it’s harder than ever to keep these announcements shrouded in secrecy up until the point of their reveal. In reviewing the leaks, rumors, and speculation that has preceded this year’s E3, we’ve determined that the following titles are most likely to join the hallowed ranks of E3 surprises that remind us why this is indeed the most exciting time of the year.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Whether it’s going to be called Red Dead Redemption 2, Red Dead 3 or — my personal favorite — Red Dead Revenge, a steady flow of rumors since the beginning of the year all indicate that Rockstar is ready to announce the next installment in their beloved open-world Western franchise at E3 2016.
If you’re thinking that it feels like that same rumor precedes E3 every year, you’re not wrong. What makes this year different, though, is the sheer volume of supposed leaks from Rockstar’s camp regarding a new Red Dead title. That, combined with the fact that Rockstar San Diego finally seems to have reached a point of stability regarding GTA: V’s online content releases, suggests that the studio may indeed be working on a new full-time project.
Franchise fans who have waited patiently for a follow-up to what is arguably one of the greatest games of the last generation may be used to getting their hopes up by now, but this year should finally provide some relief.
Mega Man 11
About a week ago, there was a minor rustling of jimmies within the Mega Man community over the announcement of an upcoming Mega Man anime series. The revealed artwork and proposed storyline of this upcoming anime didn’t gel with the expectations of some fans and — along with the previous announcements of an upcoming Mega Man movie and mobile title — only served to bolster their fears that Capcom is ready to milk the franchise for every cent.
Even if that fear holds true, it only serves to support the claims that Capcom is going to release another a new sequel in their ongoing retro Mega Man franchise. Conceivably, Mega Man 11 wouldn’t require many development resources and could achieve the prized dual effect of cooling down a heated section of the fanbase while raking in some cash.
Also, let’s not forget that Capcom released a survey earlier this year designed in part to determine if fans would be interested in Mega Man 11. There is no way they could look at the overwhelming “Yes!” that survey question generated and not see the dollar signs.
Resident Evil 7
The phrase “monumental failure” should never be used lightly, but it is the only one that can properly capture just how disappointing Resident Evil 6 was. The entire game felt like a parody of the Resident Evil franchise and the modern state of the action/horror genre in general.
The Resident Evil name still carries a good bit of weight, though, which is why nobody should be too surprised if Capcom reveals the seventh installment into the main series at E3 2016. What would be a surprise is if Capcom showed off a new Resident Evil that doesn’t stay close to the series’ survival horror roots.
There’s been quite a bit of buzz regarding the possibility of a new Resident Evil title as of late. If we’re lucky, this new title will represent a return to form for the franchise thematically speaking.
Is it greedy to expect id Software to revive the Quake franchise so soon after they blew away the gaming world with their DOOM reboot? Well, it might be if you think that they are going to reboot Quake in the style of the original title.
However, I think it’s Quake III that the company is going to take another stab at. The overwhelming success of Overwatch made it abundantly clear that there is plenty of life left in the arena shooter market, and Quake III is still beloved enough for its follow-up to warrant a big E3 reveal.
There is the small matter of those job listings that leaked recently which suggest that id is still hiring staff for the purposes of franchise reboots. Add it all up, and you’ve got more than enough reasons to get hyped over the possibility of a Quake announcement.
However you look at it, Nintendo is occupying some shaky territory at the moment. The Wii U is nearing the end of its production run, fans may have to buy a new system to enjoy the next Legend of Zelda title, and the company is still trying to assure everyone that their plan to devote more attention to mobile games is a good thing.
What they need is a quick win. A new Mario game seems unlikely at this point and the Metroid franchise is still in too much disarray, but a new F-Zero might fit the need just right. There is never going to be a better time to take advantage of the anticipation surrounding the return of this series, as Nintendo could either use it as a parting gift for Wii U owners or as a tool to help hype the release of a new console.
As for precedent, recent interviews with Nintendo employees revealed that the franchise is still on the company’s mind, and the F-Zero courses in the latest Mario Kart 8 DLC packages prove that the technical resources needed to move this game into the next generation are partially in place.
Beyond Good and Evil 2 (A Nintendo Exclusive)
Though it may not have been a fiscal hit for the company, I still maintain that one of the best decisions Nintendo made this generation was acquiring the exclusive rights to the Bayonetta franchise. It was a bold move that suggested, for a time, that Nintendo was ready to live outside of its comfort zone.
If you believe some recent rumblings, Nintendo may be gearing up to make a similar move by ensuring Ubisoft’s next Beyond Good and Evil game becomes a Nintendo exclusive. That’s right, according to Destructoid, Nintendo is backing the next Beyond Good and Evil game in order to acquire the exclusive rights to the release. These rumors are currently unconfirmed by all noted parties, but the reported sources certainly seem credible.
Like many upcoming Nintendo games, nobody is entirely sure if this project is in development for the Wii U or Nintendo’s next console if it is indeed being worked on at all. Regardless of the destination, it seems likely that we’ll know more about the next Beyond Good and Evil game at E3.
A Rocksteady Justice League Game
Here is what we know about Rocksteady Studios at the moment: they’re working on a multiplayer-centric game and they’ve dropped hints they’re not entirely done working with Batman. It’s not a lot to go off of, but it’s enough to raise hopes that the studio might just be working on a Justice League title.
It’s not hard to imagine a Justice League game translating into that rumored multiplayer experience and — given the state of DC’s properties at the moment — it’s certainly within reason to believe that Warner Bros. would be interested in a Justice League game made by one of the most renowned developers of comic-based franchises in the world.
Not to mention that a successful run with the Justice League might give Rocksteady the clout they need to finally give us that great Superman video game.
The Last of Us 2
On the one hand, there is an argument to be made that The Last of Us ended perfectly and doesn’t need a sequel. On the other hand, most everyone who played to first game would gladly jump at the opportunity to explore this world more.
Ultimately, it’s the title’s almost universally beloved status that will probably win the day and lead to a sequel announcement at E3 2016. The Last of Us‘ DLC expansion showcased how many tales Naughty Dog still has left to tell in this world, so it is quite possible that this title will be a side-story within the universe as opposed to a direct continuation.
Regardless of what the story focuses on, all signs are pointing towards Naughty Dog making this follow-up official at E3.
Prey was a strange game. It wasn’t bad by any means, but the considerable hype it generated during its long development cycle made the final product feel slightly underwhelming.
Still, it had enough going for it to warrant a sequel announcement. Granted this game was supposedly canceled years ago, but Bethesda has really been in franchise revival mode as of late and recent rumors suggest that Prey 2 is the next game in line for a revival.
Prey 2 would be one of those feel-good announcements that would help pad the Bethesda E3 conference perfectly.
Another Wolfenstein is going to happen at some point. Whether or not you believe it will be announced at E3 2016 is the real question.
My gut says yes. id Software will likely not be handling development duties as that studio’s possibly focused on other projects at the moment, but MachineGames proved its more than capable of taking the reins of the franchise moving forward.
Still, given that the rumors swirling around Wolfenstein still place it early in the development process, don’t expect to see more than a trailer.
At some point, Microsoft has to start asking Rare to revisit its old franchises a little more. There is simply no way that Microsoft is going to let the company stop at Rare Replay.
Battletoads is the perfect candidate for a revival, simply because it would require the least amount of work. Not to imply that Rare would phone in a new Battletoads game, but the core gameplay of the franchise wouldn’t require them to release more than a good looking beat-em-up.
We’ve been hearing rumblings of this franchise’s return for some time, but it’s easy to believe that Rare could turn this into a downloadable release in between their new IP projects.
A Han Solo Open World Adventure
Though the title will — hopefully — be much more catchy, it’s still looking pretty likely that we’re going to get our first look at a Han Solo game at E3.
The Han Solo origins film isn’t out for a couple of years still, but you’ve got to believe that the plan is to give one of Star Wars‘ most beloved characters his own game to go along with his own movie.
As for the open-world theory, that comes from the separate rumors that developer Visceral is working on a Han Solo game and a game that’s a little less linear than Dead Space was.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Remastered
As much as I’d like to believe that we’re due for a new Elder Scrolls game, it seems unlikely that we’re that lucky considering that we’re still not that far removed from Fallout 4.
However, a Skyrim remaster would fill the Elder Scrolls void quite nicely. There have been rumors of this project’s existence since the Xbox One and PS4 hit store shelves, but the buzz around the project has been growing steadily louder as E3 approaches.
Ultimately, it’s hard to believe that Bethesda would ever dare pass this opportunity up.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor 2
How has no other developer stolen Shadow of Mordor‘s Nemesis System? In this modern age of borrowed innovation, how has the most exciting new action game concept since the Arkham combat system not become a genre staple?
Whatever the reason, it feels like it’s time for Shadow of Mordor to make a return. Developer Monolith Productions hasn’t been up to much since the original Shadow of Mordor dropped in 2014, and information such as a stuntwoman’s leaked resume that includes a credit for this as-yet-unnanounced game have led many to believe that we should be getting more of that sweet, sweet nemesis system action at E3.
God of War 4
Puny mortal! Did you really think that Sony would let one of their biggest franchises retire after the supposed finale in the third God of War game?
Besides the fact that a profitable gaming franchise is a hard thing to kill, the rumors of God of War‘s return actually stem from some leaked Sony Santa Monica concept art of Kratos that doesn’t belong to any current game in the series. Furthermore, there was an interview a couple of years ago with the studio’s creative director that suggested a new God of War was indeed in the works.
Yeah, this one is probably happening.
Hideo Kojima’s New Project
While Hideo Kojima has a reputation for taking his time when it comes to game development, you have to believe that the legendary developer’s high-profile fallout with Konami may have increased his drive to get a new game into the world.
An announcement regarding what exactly that new project is seems most likely, but the artwork that Kojima has shared recently suggests that the new game is far enough along to warrant a trailer release at gaming’s largest event.
At the risk of implying that Kojima is a bitter man, I’d also be willing to bet that this trailer is going to be a gloriously elaborate middle-finger to a certain former employer.
Matthew Byrd is a freelance contributor.