Leading up to every E3 conference we expect to walk away surprised, blown-away, and for some reason get an update on each and every game that we’re currently hyped for. Of course that isn’t the case, except for the blown away part, and often what’s announced one year disappears the next. Sometimes, never to be seen or heard from again. With E3 2018 wrapping up we’ve decided to take a look at some of the big games and other things that we either hoped to have seen, pretty much expected to be there, or learned a little bit more about. But didn’t.
The Final Fantasy VII Remake
Three years ago the internet was set aflame by the revelation at Sony’s E3 press-conference that Square Enix was working on a top-to-bottom remake of the seminal RPG - Final Fantasy VII. The classic PlayStation One era title that is for many one of the all-time greats. In the ensuing months we not only learned that it would be optimised for PlayStation 4 - but that as a proper remake
that would recreate the size and scope of Final Fantasy VII, it would release episodically. As to not delay fan anticipation too much.
Two years passed and then we got word that the external studio working on the project, CyberConnect2 (Asura's Wrath, Naruto Shippuden, .hack) was no longer on the remake - with rumours citing development trouble. From there Square Enix took the massive undertaking in-house, where current word is that development is progressing smoothly. With Square Enix holding a press-conference this year, its first in a while, many were hoping to see this make an appearance there. It didn’t, and so after three years we’re still waiting to see more on what might be the most highly anticipated remake in existence.
Arkham Next - Rocksteady’s New Game
Arkham, not only the place where Gotham sends its criminally insane and those that love wearing tights a tad too much, but also the setting that ties together a brilliant trilogy of Batman games. From none other than Rocksteady Studios, whom have been working on the Batman Arkham series for over a decade. With the Arkham Knight releasing in 2015 the question now becomes, what’s next? Well, that’s a tricky one. There are rumours pointing toward both a Justice League jam or even a dedicated Superman outing. Which would do well to wash out the still prevalent taste that Superman 64 inflicted on the franchise back in the 1990s. That’s how bad that was.
Whatever the case, we were kind of hoping we’d get to hear from Rocksteady at E3, perhaps even see the studio make a surprise appearance as part of Microsoft’s Xbox briefing. With Arkham Knight now close to three years old, it also felt like the time was right for a reveal. Taking to social media post-E3, the team at Rocksteady basically said that it wasn’t quite ready to showcase what it was working on quite yet. Here’s hoping we won’t have to wait too long.
Star Fox Grand Prix and Retro Studios
Ever since the release of Metroid Prime for the Nintendo GameCube, Retro Studios has been a hot topic for Nintendo fans. Not only from a perspective of keeping track of what it was working on, but assigning each project an immediate glowing aura of quality. The last game from the Nintendo-owned developer was 2014’s Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for the Wii U - with the recent Nintendo Switch port handled by an external studio. So then, with the revelation that Retro was not behind the upcoming Metroid Prime 4 many have been wondering what exactly it was working on for the Nintendo Switch.
Prior to E3 several credible sources revealed that the next Retro title
would be a Diddy Kong Racing-like adventure set in the Star Fox universe called Star Fox Grand Prix. An apparent logo also leaked. Smash cut to Nintendo’s E3 Direct and outside of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate deep dive, there really wasn’t much in the way of surprise. No Retro Studios project and no Star Fox Grand Prix. Does this mean that the rumours were incorrect? We’re not sure, as its absence probably just highlights Nintendo’s ‘here’s our big game for 2018’ approach to E3 2018 with nothing left over for 2019..
Metroid Prime 4 Gameplay
A teaser trailer in the form of a logo is all but confirmation that development on a particular game is still in the pre-production phase. Which is what we got last year from Nintendo with the surprise announcement of Metroid Prime 4. The second surprise, as noted above, was that the team behind the first three titles, Retro Studios, would not be leading development. And that Metroid Prime 4 would be a collaboration between Nintendo and Bandai Namco. A strange combination for what is essentially a first-person shooter or Super Metroid in 3D.
So then, ahead of E3 2018 the question then became - would the game be in a ready enough state to showcase some footage? If not, would Nintendo invest in an E3 sizzle-reel of pre-rendered or “in-engine” Metroid Prime 4 footage. The answer to both questions was no. Ahead of the conference Nintendo stated that it would only be focusing on 2018 releases and that the bulk of its E3 presentation would be dedicated to a single title - Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It wasn’t kidding, with much of the Big N’s 2019 plans shrouded in mystery.
Age of Empires IV
Continuing the theme of announcement trailers, at Gamescom last year there came the surprise reveal that the studio behind the excellent Company of Heroes and Dawn of War series were working on the next entry
in the Age of Empires series. And not a spin-off either, but a proper numerical release from Microsoft and Relic Entertainment. As an announcement and logo-only trailer, we got excited for the expected 2018 reveal. But as the game was a no-show at either the Microsoft E3 press-conference or the PC Gaming Show, there’s still a good chance we’ll get to see it at Gamescom in August.
As for the Age of Empires franchise, thanks to the popularity of the remastered editions
of the first two titles, it’s great to see Microsoft investing in the continuation of the series. As a PC-only strategy game, in an age where the genre has become somewhat niche, it’ll be interesting so see how much Age of Empires IV stays true to the originals. Or if it leverages Relic’s more recent titles and evolves the mechanics.
The Return of Splinter Cell
This is one we would have put some money on, the announcement at Ubisoft’s briefing that the Splinter Cell series was back - with series protagonist Sam Fisher in tow. After the Splinter Cell themed content released for Ghost Recon Wildlands
earlier this year, and Sam Fisher voice actor Michael Ironside noting that he was glad to be working with Ubisoft on the series, there was an immediate buzz about the return of the franchise proper. With many all but resigning to the idea that one bit of DLC meant that the franchise was coming back.
Which still could very well be the case, except that the project is still probably a year or two away from being ready. In fact, one could easily see this as a big presence for Ubisoft next year - which financial earnings reports have hinted at in the past. According to sources one big franchise release that was planned for 2018 has been pushed back for additional development. With the surprise reveal of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey this year, Splinter Cell could be that title at next year’s show.
This one comes down to timing mixed with hope and anticipation for the next title in Gearbox’s Borderlands series. Where Borderlands 2 is still one of the best-selling games of all time for publisher Take-Two. After the lackluster and lukewarm response to 2016’s Battleborn, word from within the studio was that just about all focus at that time was put towards completion and support for that game. Which meant that Borderlands 3, if it existed in 2016, was in a very early state. Recent financial reports from 2K and Take-Two confirm the existence of Borderlands 3, but also that it its release was still a while off.
That being said, a Borderlands 3 reveal at E3 would have been pretty exciting. Up until now Borderlands 3 has only been hinted at, with Gearbox president Randy Pitchford stating last year that over 90% of the studio was hard at work on a game that everyone wants to see. Also he cryptically announced on social media that Borderlands 3 would not be at E3 this year. With that in mind our expectations were tempered, but only slightly. Because hey, this is Borderlands 3.
Square Enix Presents Marvel’s The Avengers
In January of 2017, Square Enix announced
a multi-year and multi-title partnership with Marvel Studios that would begin with The Avengers from Tomb Raider developers Crystal Dynamics in collaboration with the house of Deus Ex, Eidos Montreal. We also got a teaser trailer and a “hey, we’ll have more to show/reveal in 2018”. With no word since that time, it was only with the announcement that Square Enix would be conducting its own E3 briefing that led us to believe that The Avengers project would make its debut.
Throw in the fact that it would be the first Square Enix E3 briefing in a few years and the recent release of The Avengers Infinity War - the stars were aligned, so to speak. Instead, Square Enix’s E3 briefing was a compilation of stuff we had already seen hours earlier at other showcases - with very little in the way of new announcements. So, we can only guess that whatever the game is - it’s still not quite ready to be seen. Or, that Square Enix plan on a reveal later in the year. Here’s hoping it’s the latter - because with Crystal Dynamics at the helm no doubt it’ll look impressive.