Great Expectations This Summer at E3 2011

From the seemingly endless stream of exciting new info on all of the awesome video games we’ll be playing in the near future to the megaton announcements we never see coming, E3 defines each year in gaming.

On June 6, E3 2011 will kick off with the Microsoft press conference and last for four full days. Best of all, this year’s show already promises to be one of the biggest ever, as the first glimpse into the next generation of consoles will come with the official unveiling of Nintendo’s new HD system. Now with only a few days left, it is time to make some educated predications about just what to expect at this year’s show.

Of the big three, Microsoft is easily the most mysterious, heading in with only one major announced first-party exclusive on the horizon. “Gears of War 3” will thus be a huge part of Microsoft’s press conference, likely with an exciting demo highlighting the campaign. Another game assuredly present is “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.” After a quick demo, Microsoft will remind everyone of their exclusive early DLC deal with the franchise.

For better or worse, Kinect will again be the major focus. After an exciting launch, there has been very few Kinect releases and little news of more on the way. Expect updates on the more interesting titles such as “Steel Battalion” and “Project Draco.” Hopefully the Kinect “Star Wars” game puts up a better showing than last year’s terrible on-rails demo.

While there will be a few unexpected announcements, it is likely that the biggest announcement will be related to the “Halo” franchise. The most probable announcement will be that of a 10th-anniversary HD version of the original game. While a new “Halo” game will likely be teased, it probably will not be a full reveal.

Sony is in an interesting position, to say the least. What was once to be the “Year of the PlayStation” has been quickly derailed with the massive PSN security breach. Still, there are huge exciting projects on the horizon with “Uncharted 3,” “Resistance 3” and the hinted-at “Sly 4.” Perhaps best of all, aside from “StarHawk,” Sony thus far hasn’t unveiled too many new games recently, which means — unlike last year — there will probably be a few secrets at the show.

While the PS3 will undoubtedly be a big focus, Sony’s new NGP is definitely the most exciting thing up its sleeve. With incredibly high specs, an awesome list of franchises already on the way, and use of 3G for online gaming anywhere (for the premium model), the NGP definitely seems impressive. Sony will need to be careful though, as a potentially high price and the fact that it is powered by the PSN are reasons to be concerned.

Somewhere in Sony’s press conference will likely be quick discussions about the Move and PSP. “Sorcery” will be a key Move title to watch for, and definitely expect a few more announcements. While the Move’s future is uncertain, the PSP is clearly on the way out. Hopefully the two-disc epic “Final Fantasy Type-0” will be shown but don’t expect much else.

Nintendo is the last first-party press conference and they clearly have the advantage going in. Regardless of what it is called, there is indeed a new HD Nintendo console coming. While some of it is still rumor, the most widely suggested new feature revolves around a screen being built into the controller. The new screen will have data from the console be streamed to it.

While the new innovations will set it apart, the HD graphics should allow it so multi-platform games arrive on Nintendo’s console in addition to new first-party Nintendo games. An exciting rumor is that Retro Studios’ new game will be the premiere title for the console. Also, even if it isn’t at the press conference, expect a new “Smash Bros.” announcement by E3’s end.

Nintendo still has more to reveal as well. Expect a new demo of “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” in addition to the rest of the year’s Wii lineup. “The Last Story,” “XenoBlade” and “Pandora’s Tower” should all be there to finish the Wii’s final full year. Though it could become a 3DS game, I think the long promised “Pikmin 3” will finally appear as a Wii game.

The third pillar in Nintendo’s press conference, the 3DS will finally show nearly all of the games it promised last year. “Super Mario 3DS,” “Kid Icarus,” “Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance” – the list just keeps going. I honestly don’t know where they could go from here, but do expect some rumblings of the future of the 3DS store, which launches the day of the conference.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Throughout the show, games like “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” “Batman: Arkham City,” “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations” and “BioShock: Infinite” will all be extensively covered while many more will be unveiled for the first time. E3 2011 is set to be one of the most extraordinary ever, so don’t miss out!