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With the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017 on the horizon, developers are gearing up for another display of their upcoming titles and announcements. As the largest gaming expo in the world, E3 has been an annual event filled with surprises, literal game-changing advancements in the industry, and many letdowns. E3 2016 delivered one of the most solid line-ups of conferences the expo has seen in years, with Microsoft announcing the promising Project Scorpio, Bethesda delivering another roster of things to gleefully be nostalgic about, and Sony doubling down on their best trailer-packed reveals, including Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding and the surprising twist of Resident Evil 7. However, E3 2017 is probably the most important and defining expo year that calls for these industry giants to lay all their chips on the table. What exactly awaits us, and why is so vital that this year makes a significant impact?

While I’m in the boat that E3 may just be a glorified festival of extravagant promises, it still excites me to see what the future of gaming could potentially hold. The last few E3 years have been quite impressive and history-making since the new generation kicked into high gear. Sony’s 2015 conference was phenomenal, revealing the long-awaited Final Fantasy VII Remake, Shenmue III, and The Last Guardian, while Microsoft proved to have a few tricks up its sleeve with pushing forward the Xbox One’s exclusive titles (though many still have yet to come to fruition). However, Bethesda easily dominated 2015 with their first official E3 conference, and what a stunning display of Doom and Fallout 4 it certainly was.

E3 2017 brings with it the expectations of exceeding all of these announcements, and it’s absolutely vital that they get it right now more than ever. As we now enter the mid-tier generation of slim-line consoles and gaming fully utilizing the potential of the technology available, it seems like a three-way showdown is underway for Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. After the unprecedented launch success of the Switch, Nintendo looks to convince not only consumers but third-party developers of its capabilities, which means we will be seeing a very prominent presence of the company in one way or another. They realize The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can only push the sales so far, so in order to compete with their industry counterparts, Nintendo will have to enter the competition guns blazing in order to make the necessary impact. Could this mean we will see a larger roster of Switch third-party games outside of their exclusive titles? I believe its imperative that we do if Nintendo wishes to remain a relevant behemoth in this generation of consoles.

However, what has caught many peoples attention is Microsoft’s Xbox Project Scorpio, the self-proclaimed “most powerful console ever built”. Recently, Microsoft revealed the specs of the console, and while it’s most certainly impressive, what’s important is how Microsoft will move forward after their console-to-PC cross-compatible policy almost made exclusivity of games irrelevant. With the console being touted as powerful as a high-end gaming PC, how will Microsoft sway gamers into going for the console route without exclusives to support it? They have the stage this year to pitch a compelling argument that could either make or break the success of the Scorpio.

Another issue the Scorpio is facing is its ties to Xbox One. Revealed by Microsoft to be an extension to the Xbox One as opposed to an entirely new console, it puts developers in a tight spot that could mean the Scorpio not being utilized to its full potential. As developers would have to cater to the limitations of the Xbox One, any new games that developers wish to create would have to be significantly scaled down to meet the standard Xbox One requirements, disregarding the power under the hood of the Scorpio. How Microsoft plans to fix this issue remains to be seen, but it could spell disaster if at least no exclusive titles for their new powerful console are revealed – a move that will also ultimately deem the standard Xbox One irrelevant, contradicting their stance. Microsoft still firmly stands behind the Xbox One and wants to maintain its legacy through the Scorpio, but I simply don’t see how that’s possible if developers can’t use the power given to them with such limitations in place.

Meanwhile, Sony have already snuggled into a comfort zone considering their recent exclusives (Horizon: Zero Dawn, Persona 5, Nier: Automata) hitting acclaimed status and the success of PlayStation VR and the PlayStation 4 Pro still keeping them well ahead of the market by a marginal gap. However, Sony still need to maintain their lead, and after their knockout 2015 and 2016 conferences, there’s high expectations for this year to be equally as emotionally charged and exciting. With seemingly no technological or hardware announcements to be made on Sony’s table, that leaves them with a huge advantage: focusing on games, what many expect of E3 after all. With the formalities out of the way, let’s talk about the crux of E3: games… and dreams.

In Nintendo’s favour, E3 is the ideal platform to display their upcoming exclusives for the Switch, including more gameplay for the upcoming Super Mario Odyssey which has many eager at the prospect of an open-world Mario title. Nintendo could also use this as an opportunity to boast about its third-party support, which sees many developers finally hopping on board a Nintendo console after the lackluster technology of the Wii almost rendered the company irrelevant in the console run – although sales tend to speak for itself as Nintendo still managed to amass a base of players, mainly in the family and children’s market. With the Switch attracting more third-party support, it means that the company will also attract a wider demographic of gamers, and it seems to be mostly working.

Microsoft’s Scorpio will definitely have a major presence at E3 considering its fourth-quarter planned launch, which means their conference will have to play up to the capabilities of the console. We can expect to see gameplay and trailers that best highlight the impressive graphical power of the Scorpio, but as the aforementioned issue still stands, they need to find a way around the exclusivity of the games and the limitations of being affiliated with the standard Xbox One. Nonetheless, a few games have me quite excited which I hope to see present at Microsoft’s event. Cuphead looks like a phenomenally original title, while Crackdown 3 looks to change things up with freeform destruction. Many also expect an official release date for Sea of Thieves, another standout title that impressed us at last year’s expo. The dreamer in me would like to see Halo 6 make an appearance, or a glimpse of another Forza to really sell the Scorpio.

The ball seems to be in Sony’s court this year with an insane amount of exclusives on the horizon. Many predict The Last of Us Part II to appear at the conference, with hopes of more gameplay and possibly a release date for the new God of War. Capcom have been mighty secretive about another project too. Earlier this year, Devil May Cry creator Hideaki Itsuno teased a new project, but dispelled rumors of it being Devil May Cry 5. Nonetheless, we could potentially see a reveal at Sony’s event. Whether or not it actually is DMC5 and Itsuno was being cheeky about the true nature of the game remains yet to be seen too. Kingdom Hearts III is also long overdue for an appearance, and we might see a release date announcement or at best, another gameplay trailer to hold us over. It’s been two years since the Final Fantasy VII Remake was announced, and we’re hopeful to hear of an expected release date or new gameplay footage. Gran Turismo Sport is also planned for a 2017 release, and will most likely have a presence at E3 too. The dreamer in me is hopeful for a Bloodborne 2 or Resident Evil 2 Remake announcement.

Apart from the three major contenders, other publishers will also present exciting new titles, but many could simply be high hopes. It’s highly unlikely that we will get the next Elder Scrolls game at Bethesda, but chances are we will see the anticipated return of the arena shooter, Quake: Champions. EA seems to be mostly dormant about possible upcoming titles, but it hasn’t stopped fans from speculating the announcement of a new Need For Speed (Underground 3, please). The rumors surrounding Call of Duty’s return to World War II might finally be answered, while it’s almost a given that Ubisoft will push their 2017 Assassin’s Creed release, or possibly Far Cry 5. CD Projekt Red, hot off the success of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, may finally reveal their upcoming sci-fi RPG, Cyperbunk 2077, while many are also hopeful for news on Rockstar’s Agent.

The possibilities are endless, and E3 is always an exciting, intense time of the year for the gaming industry to flex their muscles and build steam for the future. Nintendo’s line-up of games for the Switch is highly anticipated, Microsoft’s Scorpio has a lot riding on the reception of their presentation, and Sony’s expanding roster of games has fans anticipating how lightning may strike a third time for their conference. With so many speculations floating around, it’s hard not to be at least optimistic about what the coming months and years could mean for this generation and beyond. Wherever it goes, there’s no denying E3 2017 could be a great turning point. The chips are on the table.

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