Tomorrow is the first day of E3 2011, the gaming industry's flagship event. From Tuesday to Thursday gaming journalists from all over the world will descend on the Los Angeles Convention Centre in California to be spoon-fed details, screenshots and perhaps even some hands-on demos about the latest and greatest games that we will be seeing over the next 12 months.
This is my personal top 5 games that I want to see details of (and preferably beta invites as well - thanks!). Some of them might be close to release, others at least a few months off. Either way, speculation away!
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Yes, you knew it was coming and would be right at the top.
Sony's true sequel to arguably the first genuine MMOFPS, 2003's PlanetSide, still leads a somewhat shadow existence in the gaming world. Most of the information we know about the game has been tweeted by SOE President John Smedley, and there is very little to go on other than that. We were originally meant to know more around March time, but that month came and went with little fanfare. According to Smedley the game has been delayed a little for additional work and polish, but is still not far from release. What this means exactly is anyone's guess, but I am hoping that E3 will finally pull back the covers on this highly-anticipated title and gives us some solid details, screens, and may even be playable there. A release date and beta information would be nice as well.
I've talked previously about PlanetSide Next, and the news that it would officially be titled PlanetSide 2 is about the only thing we've heard in the past couple of months.
I hope you're listening, Sony. If this E3 comes and goes without my PlanetSide 2 fix then you and I are through. No spooning, no friends-with-benefits...nothing.
Mass Effect 3
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Expected: 6th March 2012
The sequel to arguably many people's choice for Game of the Year 2010, the final part of the Mass Effect trilogy was originally slated for this year's holiday season but was recently pushed back three months to March 2012. No doubt a company like BioWare with EA's resources available to them could have knocked it out in time for Christmas, but the lukewarm reaction to Dragon Age II might have made them think twice and decide that some additional polish would be good all round.
BioWare have stated that ME3 will be an extensive part of EA's showcase for this year's E3, so I'd expect to see screenshots, videos and probably a demo or two, since the game is apparently in quite an advanced state already.
Mass Effect remains one of my favourite gaming series to date. The mix of RPG and FPS in a futuristic setting hits many of my gaming food groups all at once. I very much look forward to seeing how BioWare will finish off the trilogy and shall continue my candlelit vigil for Mass Effect Online.
Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online
Developer: Vigil Games
Expected: 2H 2012 - 1H 2013
The latest Warhammer to get an MMO version, this futuristic 40k adaptation has been in the planning stages for some time and has only recently began to release tidbits of information here and there. Given that it's highly unlikely that we would see this game before E3 2012 then I wouldn't expect a myriad of information to come out from this year's event, but hope springs eternal.
Maybe we will get the scoop on additional playable races (so far only the Imperium of Man and the Eldar Exiles have been confirmed) or maybe even some gameplay details. Though still a way off, DMO is right up there as one of the games I am most interested in. It can only be hoped that it fares better than the critical hit but commercial flop that was Mythic's Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, released in 2008.
Vigil Games have a good pedigree, as last year's Darksiders was generally well-received and work on its sequel is well underway. An MMO is a different kettle of fish to a traditional game though, and it remains to be seen whether they have what it takes to deliver in this most vicious of gaming arenas.
The Secret World
Publisher: Funcom / Electronic Arts
Expected: 2H 2011 - 1H 2012
Funcom's interesting new take on the MMORPG genre, moving the setting to contemporary Earth but where all those conspiracy theories you have heard are actually true, is still chugging along. There are no classes and no levelling; instead the game is 100% skill-based, whereby the skills you acquire and use define your character.
There has been no talk of a release date, although a closed beta is expected to begin shortly after E3. Since EA are co-publishing the title alongside Funcom themselves, I am guessing they will not want to launch this and Star Wars: The Old Republic close to each other so as to not cannibalise the potential market of the other. My gut instinct says that ToR will be released before TSW, but that's pure conjecture on my part.
Hopefully we'll get further information from E3 as to when exactly we can expect to see this potentially genre-busting MMO.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Expected: 2H 2011
Also known as BioWare's other major project alongside ME3, ToR is inching closer to its projected release date of "sometime later this year".
BioWare have been subtly hinting that there will be some major ToR news coming out of this year's E3, making me think that an official release date and / or beta news could well be in the offing. Following the pitiful yet inexplicably-still-in-existence Star Wars Galaxies, ToR is the big Star Wars MMO that many fans are hoping will be The One.
BioWare rarely (never?) make bad games, although the reaction to this year's Dragon Age II was decidedly more mixed than their usual acclaim. I can only hope that they are not losing their touch and that DA2 was just a blip.
And there we have it. In addition to these games I will also be looking for information on titles such as Guild Wars 2, BioShock Infinite, Battlefield 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Tera Online and Darksiders 2; all of theses games look promising but have yet to hit my pleasure centre in that special way in order to get into my top 5. Perhaps this will be their summer.