E3 is almost here, and this year's installment of gaming's biggest show could be quite different from what we're used to. Kicking off on June 12 in downtown Los Angeles, E3 2016 could see the debut of brand-new consoles from Microsoft, and will feature a handful of fan-focused events that could make this year's expo the most accessible yet.
That said, E3 is still shaping up to deliver what it always does: tons of awesome game reveals. Titanfall 2, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, The Legend of Zelda and Mass Effect Andromeda are just a few of the huge titles we're expecting to see, and there are bound to be some exciting surprises. From groundbreaking new hardware to massive new games, here's what to look out for at E3 2016.
A New Xbox, No New PS4 (Yet)
The PS4 and Xbox One are less than three years old, but that might not stop Sony and Microsoft from unveiling new hardware. Sony is reportedly prepping PlayStation Neo, an upgraded PS4 that would pack in stronger guts and could potentially support 4K video output. However, while the PlayStation Neo is rumored to be launching as soon as this fall in time for PlayStation VR, Sony executive Andrew House confirmed in a Financial Times interview that the system won't be surfacing at E3 2016.
Microsoft, on the other hand, is expected to unveil multiple new Xbox machines over the next few years. A report from Kotaku claims that Microsoft will unveil a refreshed Xbox One at its E3 showcase, featuring a slimmer design and a 2TB hard drive that offers twice the storage of the current biggest model. But that's just the beginning -- we could see a significantly upgraded Xbox One in 2017, complete with a beefier graphics card that may support the Oculus Rift.
If that's not enough Xbox for you, Microsoft is also reportedly working on a set of Xbox streaming devices that would compete with the likes of Chromecast and Apple TV. Xbox head Phil Spencer doesn't seem to be denying any of the big rumors, recently tweeting, "Lots of creative chatter today. Excited to share our gaming story at E3."
Nintendo: Zelda and Pokémon, No New Hardware
Nintendo always does things a bit different at E3, and this year is no exception. The company is focusing almost entirely on the new Legend of Zelda game, which is slated to hit both Wii U and the upcoming NX console sometime next year. However, Nintendo promises to also showcase the first live gameplay of Pokémon Sun and Moon, as well as new footage from Monster Hunter Generations, Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (yes, that's the actual name of a game).
Speaking of the NX, don't expect to see Nintendo's mysterious new console at E3. The company confirmed that it won't be showing any new hardware at the big show, and will have more to share on the NX during a special presentation later in the year.
Press Conferences and Major Games: Where to Watch
E3 is largely defined by its press conferences, at which you'll witness massive game reveals and in-depth gameplay previews of some of the year's most anticipated titles. As always, keeping up with the action from home is incredibly easy -- you can watch all of the major showcases on Twitch and YouTube Gaming, as well as from gaming sites such as IGN and GameSpot.
Monday is shaping up to be extra-special this year, as veteran games industry host/journalist Geoff Keighley tweeted "we have perhaps the best lineup we've ever had." Keighley, who has been to every E3 to date, followed up with "y'all aren't ready for what's about to happen."
EA (Sun., June 12; 1 p.m. PT, 4 p.m. ET): Expect new looks at Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and Mass Effect Andromeda, as well as a bunch of EA Sports stuff. EA typically shows off new mobile games every year, and we'll likely hear more about its latest Star Wars projects.
Bethesda (Sun., June 12; 7 p.m. PT, 10 p.m. ET): Bethesda hosted its first-ever E3 showcase last year for one big reason: Fallout 4. The only way the publisher can top that kind of hype is by unveiling a new installment in the beloved Elder Scrolls series (remember Skyrim?). Also look out for more Dishonored 2 footage, new Fallout and Doom content, and (fingers crossed) some new Wolfenstein-related announcements.
Xbox (Mon., June 13; 9:30 a.m. PT, 12:30 p.m. ET): Aside from the rumored slimmed-down Xbox One, expect a closer look at Halo Wars 2, ReCore, Crackdown, Gears of War 4 and Scalebound. Microsoft may also take some time to talk about the ever-growing merger between Windows 10 and Xbox.
PC Gaming Show (Mon., June 13; 11:30 a.m. PT, 2:30 p.m. ET. Twitch-exclusive): The second-annual PC Gaming Show promises announcements and appearances from the likes of Tripwire Interactive, Sega, Microsoft and Razer. Host Sean "Day9" Plott will return, as will the casual talk-show format -- let's just hope it's more exciting than last year's event.
Ubisoft (Mon., June 13; 1 p.m. PT, 4 p.m. ET): If you can believe it, Ubisoft is not releasing an Assassin's Creed game this year, so don't be surprised to see the series take a break from E3. Instead, look forward to more of Ghost Recon: Wildlands, For Honor and the hilarious-looking South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Also, can we please get a new Splinter Cell game?
PlayStation (Mon., June 13; 6 p.m. PT, 9 p.m. ET): Last year, Sony made shock waves at E3 with three big announcements: The Last Guardian, Shenmue 3 and the Final Fantasy 7 remake. None of those games are out yet, so you'll probably see more of them. Horizon: Zero Dawn will likely get a more in-depth look, and we may get a peek at Uncharted 4's upcoming single-player DLC. New Destiny and Call of Duty content will likely appear at Sony's show, though the company has confirmed that you won't be seeing its upcoming, spruced up PlayStation "Neo" console.
Nintendo (Tues., June 14; 9 a.m. PT, 12 p.m. ET): Expect lots of footage of The Legend of Zelda for Wii U and NX, and hopefully, an official title and release date. You can also look forward to the first actual gameplay of this fall's new set of Pokémon games, Sun and Moon. Nintendo will host a separate stream on June 15 at 10 a.m. PT, when you'll see new footage of the latest Monster Hunter and Dragon Quest games, among others.
The Most Fan-Friendly E3 Yet
E3 is typically been more of an industry-insider trade show than a fan convention, but that's starting to change. This year's show will be host to multiple public events, including E3 Live, a special (and already sold-out) showcase at which fans can play with the latest games and hardware from such companies as Oculus, Ubisoft and Warner Brothers.
Mega-publishers EA and Bethesda are also opening their doors to the public. EA Play (June 12-14) will allow fans to get their hands on Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and the year's EA Sports titles, while Bethesda will be providing hands-on demos at its BE3 plus event on the 12th.
Why does this matter? Aside from the fact that you'll actually get to take part in E3 if you live in the L.A. area, these public events will change the conversations coming out of the big show. You won't just have to rely on major media outlets and industry experts to hear about the latest games -- you might end up getting a first-hand account of them right from your best friends.