E3 2018 is scheduled wall to wall with new games (but no new consoles)

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I’m not expecting to see any new Xboxes or PlayStations. But I’m counting on E3 to showcase enough new video games and gadgets arriving in the next year to keep avid gamers, including me, excited about what’s coming next.

Over 65,000 people are expected to attend the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles this week, a convention that plays host to the biggest announcements coming out of the $108 billion-a-year video game industry.

Many of the 2.6 billion gamers around the world will be watching, as will the 15,000 excited fans who paid $249 each to attend the show. It’s the second year in a row E3 is open to the public (before then, only industry insiders and press could attend). And while having so many fans in the Los Angeles Convention Center means there will probably be plenty of long lines to play new game demos — and lots of people dressing up as their favorite game characters — that’s far from the main event.

The real action happens before the “expo” floor opens, during the press-only media days. This year, everything started Saturday, as Electronic Arts kicked off three days of nonstop announcements, with news from game makers Bethesdaand Ubisoft, and console makers SonyMicrosoft and Nintendo.

Microsoft said it’s working on a new Xbox, but no other details.

Josh Miller/CNET

On the console front, Microsoft said it’s working on a new Xbox but didn’t share any other details. Meanwhile, Sony said it’s holding off on a new PlayStation console for a few more years to “prepare the next step.” And Nintendo’s hit Switch console just came out last year.

So what does that mean for E3 2018?

Fans are especially looking forward to details on Kingdom Hearts 3​, the latest in the Disney character adventure series starring beloved characters such as Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. Another crowd-pleaser will likely be Sony’s The Last of Us: Part 2, a sequel to the hit 2013 postapocalyptic zombie survival game. Bethesda Softworks, meanwhile, already teased Fallout 76, the latest in its postapocalyptic role-playing series.

Electronic Arts used its press conference kicking off E3 on Saturday to announce that its next big war game, Battlefield 5, will have a “battle royale” mode, taking on the hit online game Fortnite from Epic Games. This genre of games refers to dropping about 100 players into an arena where they battle against one another, Hunger Games-style, until the last player is standing.

Some people criticized the company for quickly following its competitors to offer the game mode, but Patrick Söderlund, EA’s head of design, said many fans had been asking for it.

“That’s why you’ll see Activision and us and others try to come up with our formula for what this means,” he said.

The company also announced a new Star Wars game coming late next year and that its Anthem online epic, from storied developer BioWare, will be released Feb. 22, 2019. And EA showed off its efforts to build a cloud gaming service, which it’s testing with an eye toward a release “soon.”

Meanwhile, Microsoft announced its own take on the service, also without a release date, in addition to Halo Infinite, the latest in its hit space adventure series. The company didn’t say much, other than that it was the main character Master Chief’s “greatest adventure” yet. It also showed a series of new games to answer criticism that it hasn’t been able to attract enough popular new titles. So Microsoft showed a new installment in its Forza Horizon driving series, and followups to its hit Ori and the Blind Forest and Cuphead action games.

And Bethesda announced new games ranging from Doom Eternal, the latest sequel for the industry-defining shooting sequel, to a new Nazi-shooting game Wolfenstein Youngblood, to the November planned release for its highly anticipated post-apocalyptic adventure game, Fallout 76.

Living up to the hype

Each E3 has its share of hype, but this show seems to have a bit more than normal as the press conference weekend gets underway. Games like Red Dead Redemption 2, the highly anticipated sequel to Rockstar Games’ hit 2010 western drama, have been gathering more views on YouTube than many movie trailers.

Meanwhile, I’ll be watching to see if Spider-Man from Insomnia Games can be the next character to break the curse of bad superhero video games. I also can’t wait to see what Nintendo is going to do next with its hit Super Smash Bros. fighting game series.

And those are just the games we know about.

After the media days, the convention center opens. The expo and its surrounding theaters and event halls promise 3,250 games, gadgets and toys spread across 410,000 square feet of exhibit space, with multimillion-dollar booths filled with props and life-size re-creations of game worlds — like when Electronic Arts brought in a bunch of re-created Star Wars props, or when you could walk through Nintendo’s Metro Kingdom from Super Mario Odyssey.

There are also going to be two esports pavilions, hosting some of the world’s best gamers playing against one another, plus celebrity sightings (Lord of the Ringsstar Elijah Wood is scheduled to show off a VR horror game called Transferencethat he helped make).

We’re also being promised a blimp flying over the convention center, displaying selfies that people take on the ground below. Because, why not?

“It’s the largest stage in the world for video games,” said Mike Gallagher, the head of the Entertainment Software Association trade group that puts on E3.

Entertaining entertainment

With this many excited fans tuning in for nearly a week of nonstop gaming news, there tends to be some drama, too.

The most common issue to pop up is GamerGate, a backlash against feminist media critics and game reviewers that was ostensibly about media ethics but turned into an internet movement that attacked women, game developers and journalists perceived as threatening game culture. Though it largely fizzled out a few years ago, flare-ups still happen.

Electronic Arts got caught up in the drama in May when it announced Battlefield 5. The latest installment in the 16-year-old series is set in World War II and prominently features women soldiers in its marketing — a move some fans complained was inaccurate, despite the fact that many women fought and died in the war.

Even so, cultural battles likely won’t steal too much attention away from the larger show, which in the past two years shifted from being an industry-only event to a fan event.

There will be esports competitions and a festival devoted to Fortnite. There’ll be T-shirts, toys and tchotchkes celebrating games, too.

E3 organizers are also trying to make the famously long lines to play new gamesmore appealing by offering us things to do while we wait — like more game stations and food options. The show will also stay open later in the day to help accommodate everyone attending.

“It shows we’re listening,” Gallagher said. “It’s going to be exciting for everyone.”

I’ll be ready.

The E3 press conference schedule

Saturday, June 9

  • Electronic Arts announced that its upcoming Battlefield 5 game will take on Fortnite. It also unveiled a new Star Wars game, called Jedi Fallen Order, and a release date for its Anthem online epic. [Read our recap here.]

Sunday, June 10

  • Microsoft said it’s building a new Xbox, as well as creating a game streaming service. It also announced highly anticipated games like the space dramas Halo Infinite and Gears 5 and more. [Read our recap here.]
  • Bethesda showed off a bunch of new installments to its most popular franchises, including the alternative-history Nazi shooting game Wolfenstein Youngblood, a new game in the industry-defining Doom series, a sequel to the post-apocalyptic shooter Rage and a new Elder Scrolls game. Probably the most popular announcement of the evening though was Fallout 76, the latest in its post-nuclear war series of games. [Read our recap here.]

Monday, June 11

  • Square Enix — 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET) [How to watch the livestream]
  • Ubisoft — 1 p.m. PT (4 p.m. ET) [How to watch the livestream]
  • PC Gaming Show — 3 p.m. PT (6 p.m. ET)
  • Sony — 6 p.m. PT (9 p.m. ET) [How to watch the livestream]

Tuesday, June 12

  • Nintendo (livestream only) — 9 a.m. PT (12 p.m. ET) [How to watch the livestream]

First published June 7, 5 a.m. PT.
Update, June 9 at 5 a.m.: Adds info on upcoming announcements and press conference schedule; 12:45 p.m.: Adds details from EA’s press conference kicking off E3; 6:50 p.m.: Adds details about EA’s cloud gaming efforts.
Update, June 10 at 5 a.m.: Adds detail about EA’s battle royale mode for Battlefield 5.
Update, June 11 at 5 a.m.: Adds detail about Microsoft and Bethesda’s press conferences.

E3 2018: CNET’s coverage of the biggest video game event of the year.

E3 at GameSpot: Everything you could want from CNET’s game-focused sister site.


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