The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) -- an unofficial holiday for gamers everywhere -- convenes in Los Angeles from June 14-18, promising big reveals from studios big and small. E3 2015 is shaping up to be one of the most stacked shows in the event's history, with a whopping seven news conferences from major game publishers as well as the expo's first-ever PC Gaming Show.
Hotly anticipated games such Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Assassin's Creed Syndicate and Halo 5: Guardians are all expected to have a big presence at this year's E3, and we just might learn more about the trove of virtual reality headsets looking to invade your home soon. From software surprises to game-changing hardware, here's what to look out for at gaming's biggest show -- and how to enjoy the madness from the comfort of your own home.
The Big Conferences
Bethesda (June 14 - 7pm PT / 10pm ET)
Games publisher Bethesda will hold its very first E3 news conference, and for one very big reason: Fallout 4. The company's hotly anticipated first-person role-playing game will be featured heavily at Bethesda's event, so expect to see lots of post-apocalyptic roam-and-shoot gameplay (and, hopefully, a release date) before the game eventually launches for PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Bethesda will also premiere the first gameplay footage for its reboot of Doom, the essential granddaddy of all first-person shooters. We also expect to hear updates on the Wolfenstein, Dishonored and Elder Scrolls franchises, all of which are currently published by Bethesda.
MORE: Most Anticipated Games
Microsoft (June 15 - 9:30 a.m. PT / 12:30 p.m. ET)
According to Microsoft, this year's E3 will feature "the greatest games lineup in Xbox history." That's a bold statement, but there's some exciting stuff already confirmed for this year's show. Expect to see lots of Halo 5: Guardians, Forza Motorsport 6, Fable Legends and Rise of the Tomb Raider, the latter of which is exclusive to Xbox consoles for the holiday season.
This could be the year Microsoft's blockbuster Gears of War series comes out of hiding -- alleged footage of an Xbox One remake of the original game recently leaked, and developer The Coalition promises to discuss the future of the franchise at E3. O
Unfortunately, a few highly anticipated Xbox One titles will have to wait until Gamescom for further information. The open-world romp Crackdown, cinematic shooter Quantum Break and Japanese action-adventure game Scalebound will not receive much spotlight until the major games conference in Cologne, Germany in August, Microsoft revealed.
EA (June 15 – 1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET)
Electronic Arts' developer-centric E3 2014 showcase was a bit on the tame side, so we hope to see the mega-publisher come out swinging this year. The long-awaited Star Wars: Battlefront could very well be the centerpiece of EA's event; we know the multiplayer shooter is coming this fall, but, save for a few lucky folks who went to this year's Star Wars Experience, no one has seen what the game plays like.
EA recently teased a reboot of its long-running Need for Speed racing series, which will now focus on deep vehicle customization and urban car culture. We know that new installments in the Mirror's Edge and Mass Effect franchises are in the works, but we're hoping to get official titles, release dates, and -- most important -- see how these games actually look. Other than that, look forward to a glimpse at the company's annual NHL, FIFA and Madden NFL sports titles.
Ubisoft (June 15 – 3 p.m. PT / 6 p.m. ET)
A perpetual heavy-hitter at E3, Ubisoft confirmed that it will showcase Assassin's Creed Syndicate as well as highly anticipated shooters The Division and Rainbow Six Siege at this year's show. Actress/superfan Aisha Tyler will once again host Ubisoft's media briefing, so expect plenty of humor in between a series of probably very violent trailers.
As for what's not announced, a sequel to 2014's open-world hackathon Watch Dogs seems plausible. We might see some updates to popular shooter Far Cry 4, and a peek at the company's annual Just Dance installment seems inevitable. Many an Ubi fan is still holding out hope for a sequel to beloved adventure game Beyond Good and Evil, but we wouldn't hold our breath.
Sony (June 15 – 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET)
If several rumors prove true, Sony's E3 2015 conference could put a big focus on third-party games rather than the company's own creations. The PlayStation 4 maker typically handles the marketing hype for popular multiplatform shooter Destiny, and we just might see the debut of The Taken King, the game's rumored mega-expansion, at Sony's showcase. We also know that Street Fighter V will occupy a sizable part of Sony's focus, according to a company blog post.
What would be an even bigger showstopper is the debut of Dark Souls 3, which VG247 reports could surface at Sony's show. Sony did publish the brutal and beloved Bloodborne, the last game by Souls developer From Software, so this certainly is feasible.
That's not to say Sony will be a slouch on the first-party front. Expect to see a big emphasis on long-awaited action-adventure game Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, and a look at the PS4 debut of Sony platformer Ratchet & Clank. Indie space adventure No Man's Sky nearly stole last year's show, and we want to see it back. Finally, with a remastered PS4 version of Sony's God of War 3 on the way, an all-new installment in the deity-slaying action series could be in the pipeline.
MORE: Best PS4 Games
Nintendo (June 16 – 9 a.m. PT/ 12 p.m. ET)
Nintendo has opted to broadcast its pre-recorded Nintendo Direct showcases instead of a big live stage show in recent years, but it always brings the hype nonetheless. This year will be tricky, though. The Big N already confirmed that it won't showcase the upcoming Legend of Zelda Wii U game -- arguably its most anticipated title -- nor will it talk about its next console, which is currently code-named NX.
With those two out of the question, we expect a closer look at already announced titles -- such as Mario Maker and the latest Fire Emblem -- and hopefully a few surprises. Nintendo last year teased a possible Wii U version of classic space adventure Star Fox, and it's been some time since legacy franchises such as Metroid and F-Zero got some action. Considering Nintendo's Amiibo toys are a major moneymaker, expect to see more colorful pieces of plastic debut at E3.
Curiously, Nintendo just revealed a host of new games weeks before E3, including a new Dr. Mario and the stateside version of RPG Bravely Second, so perhaps we'll see more of them at the show. Nintendo recently polled gamers on what characters they'd like to see added to its wildly popular Super Smash Bros. brawler, and E3 seems as good a time as any to reveal which of those sought-after fighters made the cut.
Square Enix (June 16 – 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET)
Final Fantasy XV is arguably Square Enix's most anticipated game, but you won't be seeing it at E3, as confirmed in a developer livestream. However, the iconic role-playing franchise will probably get a few shout-outs -- the massively multiplayer Final Fantasy XIV's new expansion arrives just after E3, and this could be Square's last big push for the game's added content.
Square is promising a "secret title" for this year's show. Is it a Kingdom Hearts remaster? Sleeping Dogs 2? Something entirely different? We'll have to wait and see. Other than that, expect a closer look at the company's upcoming sandbox adventure Just Cause 3, and possibly some details on the still-chugging Hitman franchise.
PC Gaming Takes Center Stage
PC gaming will have its biggest presence yet at E3, with a dedicated PC Gaming Show (June 16th at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET) for those who swear by mice and keyboards. According to the event description, the PC Gaming Show will showcase "new game reveals, updates on beloved series, and perspectives from key PC developers."
Some names confirmed for the show include AMD, Blizzard, indie developers Fullbright and Devolver and legendary game creator Cliff Bleszinski. Microsoft's Xbox head Phil Spencer will also appear to discuss all things Windows 10 gaming, including the upcoming Xbox Windows app and the performance benefits of DirectX 12, according to a press release.
Virtual Reality and Steam Machines
Aside from seeing tons of big games, we expect to learn more about the virtual reality headsets you might play them on one day. The Oculus Rift is scheduled for a consumer release early in 2016, and a recent conference confirmed that the headset will have a huge presence at E3. In addition to showing off the device's innovative controller and Windows 10 compatibility, Oculus will let attendees check out titles optimized for the device, such as space sim EVE: Valkyrie, temporal role-playing game Chronos and action/adventure title Edge of Nowhere from veteran developer Insomniac.
Sony's Project Morpheus PS4 headset also arrives early next year, so this year's E3 is a chance for Sony to sell the device by revealing some big, immersive blockbusters. We're also anticipating another look at Valve and HTC's Vive VR headset, which is due this fall.
MORE: VR Headset Mega Guide
While Valve's Steam Machine console concept hasn't quite invaded the living room yet, the company doesn't appear to have given up on the product line. Valve recently unveiled the new version of its unique Steam Controller, and there are a host of compatible Steam Machines expected to arrive this fall from manufacturers such as Origin and Maingear. Considering E3 2015's focus on PC gaming, perhaps we'll get to play with some of them.
Where to Watch
If you can't pack yourself into the sweaty halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center, fret not; E3 is easier than ever to follow from home.
For the first time, YouTube is hosting a dedicated E3 stream, where you'll be able to watch every major news conference, the Nintendo World Championships and a variety of gameplay demonstrations and interviews hosted by longtime host/journalist Geoff Keighley. IGN and GameSpot will provide similar broadcasts, each hosted by their own respective personalities.
As always, streaming giant Twitch will also broadcast a ton of E3 action -- and with a unique twist. The website will allow Twitch streamers to co-broadcast its own content for the first time, meaning anyone can fire up their own stream and provide live commentary over all of the press conferences and stage demos as they happen.
Twitch will have its usual exclusive Day 0 broadcast on June 15 from 9am to 7:30pm PT, and if you want to watch the PC Gaming Show on June 15, Twitch is your only place to do so.
Of course, if you prefer the written word, you can stay right here on Tom's Guide, where we'll bring you announcements and provide hands-on previews of the hottest games right from the show floor.
Mike Andronico is an Associate Editor at Tom's Guide. He's quite excited to lose sleep bringing you the best E3 2015 coverage around. Follow Mike @MikeAndronico. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.