Geeks, assemble!

Mark Gibson

The Entertainment Electronics Expo, a.k.a. E3, is the world’s largest technology and video game convention that takes place every year in Los Angeles, Calif. From June 6 to 9, not only does the UP plan to bring you full coverage, but we’ll actually be there.

Every year hundreds of video game developers and technology hardware companies from around the world flock to the L.A. Convention Center to show off their latest and greatest as well as announce products they’ve kept secret. For the first time ever, the UP has been invited to attend, and we plan to bring you all the inside information we can get our hands on.

Because there is so much going on in the four days of the convention, we’ve compiled a comprehensive breakdown of what we expect from the big three — Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo — plus some other companies we plan to check out and talk to.

 

Microsoft

There have been numerous rumors that Microsoft is working on a new Xbox system. They recently had job listings on their website for positions like graphics hardware architect and performance engineers. These jobs are generally needed to work on hardware like consoles. The big question is whether Microsoft is going to reveal their plan at E3 or continue to hint at it without actually coming out and saying it.

Just recently there were rumors that Microsoft may be working on a console that supports 3D technology similar to that of the Nintendo 3DS. This means you would be able to play 3D games without glasses. But there’s a catch — you still need a 3D television.

As far as games go, we know for a fact that Halo creator Bungie will not be attending E3 2011. We know that they have been working on a project with Activision, but we probably won’t be finding out what that project is just yet.

“Oh, and while we’re on the subject of clarification, we won’t officially be at E3 this year,” said Bungie in a weekly update release on their website. “Sorry for the sting. We wanted to make sure you didn’t get whipped into a rumor-fueled frenzy only to have your expectations unceremoniously dashed during expo week.”

What we do expect to see is Gears of War 3 in its full glory. The game is scheduled to be released in September, but so far gamers have only gotten a taste of the multiplayer beta. The campaign mode still remains to be seen. We expect a brand-new trailer and live demo of this game.

Bottom Line: It might be a little too early for Microsoft to announce plans for a new console but we definitely won’t be upset if they do, especially if it’s some sort of innovative 3D. Bungie’s “unofficial” E3 status might be a hint that there will still be some sort of announcement. They just won’t have a booth for anyone to check out on the show floor.

 

Sony

A lot of things have gone wrong for Sony in the last few months. Their online network was hacked multiple times in a short time span, which resulted in the theft of millions of users’ personal information. This does not make a very good impression going into E3. But instead of hounding Sony about their security breach the entire conference, we should be focusing on their exciting new gadget, the New Generation Portable (NGP).

Aside from a full walkthrough of the NGP’s capabilities, we expect the NGP to get an official name at E3. PSP 2 would probably be accurate but it wouldn’t be surprising if Sony wants to get away from the PSP name. Of course the NGP will be in competition with Nintendo’s 3DS, which makes it very important that Sony sell us on their new hardware.

Aside from hardware, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is one of the more highly anticipated PS3-exclusive titles. We expect a full demonstration and mind-blowing trailer.

We’ll also be checking out the Sony Online Entertainment booth, which is set to show off the long-awaited EverQuest Ii content update to Age’s End Prophecy. We’ll be interested in hearing what took so long and telling you if the wait has been worth it. They will also be showing off Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, two unannounced titles and a new update to DC Universe Online.

Bottom Line: The NGP needs to blow people’s minds. The PSN hacks have caused quite the stir in the PlayStation community, which is a shame because Sony has been having a pretty decent year. We need an exciting announcement for us to all get behind Sony and forget about the hard times.

 

Nintendo

Project Café is Nintendo’s codename for their new console. Nintendo is definitely the company that needs a new console the most. In an age of high-definition and third-generation consoles, the Wii just doesn’t cut it anymore.

“We will show a playable model of the new system and announce more specifications at the E3 Expo,” said Nintendo in a brief statement to IGN.com.

Few details are known about Project Café, but Nintendo will need to do more than just create a Wii 2 or a Wii HD. They need to present us a console like the good ‘ol days of Mario 64 and the golden age of Zelda. They need to bring back their classic characters in a new way that is geared toward the gamers of yesteryear and new gamers alike.

“We would like to propose a new approach to home video game consoles,” said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata in an interview with Bloomberg News. “It’s difficult to make 3D images a key feature, because 3D televisions haven’t obtained wide acceptance yet.”

While a 3D console would be really cool, that’s not exactly the direction we would want to see Project Café take. It will be interesting to see what Nintendo presents, and no matter what it is, it will most likely be the talk of the convention.

We also expect to see a plethora of announcements regarding 3DS titles. The new hand-held system only has a few 3D games available, so we expect to see a wide variety of playable demos on the show floor.

Bottom Line: Project Café has the potential to steal the show. But it’s crucial that Nintendo present a console that will make people care about its existence. As of right now, it seems there is a “whatever” attitude in the gaming community toward the whole project.

 

Quick hits — what else we expect to see

 

Ubisoft — The Assassin’s Creed franchise is the biggest thing going for Ubisoft right now. A detailed preview of Assassin’s Creed Revelations has already been revealed in Game Informer magazine, and we expect to see an in-depth demo at the Ubisoft press conference. It’s also speculated that there might be some sort of teaser toward Assassin’s Creed 3, but we’re not going to hold our breath for it.

 

EA — Aside from all the sports titles, Bioware has delayed the release of Mass Effect 3. This hinders on the fact that we were hoping to get a hands-on demo, but we definitely get a brand-new game trailer.

 

BethesdaThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim looks amazing. We expect to see a full demo and get our hands on this visually breathtaking title. Alongside that, the highly anticipated game Rage will be on display for the second year in a row, but this time it’s going to be released soon.

 

Blizzard Diablo III has long been awaited and we will hopefully get a hands-on demo of this MMO. There will most likely also be a bunch of World of Warcraft stuff going on, so we’ll be sure to check that out as well.

 

2K Games Bioshock Infinite is a highly anticipated addition to the Bioshock franchise and takes place in a sky city rather than underwater. Along with that, the long-awaited sequel The Darkness II will be a big game on display, and we’re scheduled for a full hands-on demo.

 

Gameforge — A new Star Trek game is on the way with Star Trek: Infinite Space. It’s a free-to-play browser-based MMO taking place in the world of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. We also expect to see a new MMORPG title called Sphira: Warrior’s Dawn.

 

Paramount Digital Entertainment — We aren’t sure what we are going to see here. We were told that there were two game titles that would “change your life.” So we’ll see what that’s all about.

 

Have questions that you want answered at E3? Send them to [email protected] and we will make sure they get answered during the conference.

 

For daily coverage of the event, check back right here on upressonline.com for updates. For up-to-the-minute coverage, you can follow me on twitter @markthius.