This morning, Paper Mario: The Origami King dropped out of nowhere. Yesterday, we saw the first look at the potential of next-gen with an Unreal Engine 5 reveal on the PS5. We got Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 remastered as a special birthday surprise from the Birdman himself. This afternoon, we were treated to some wind-swept Ghost of Tsushima gameplay.
Though it’s only mid-May, the summer season of gaming has kicked off in style.
The schedule has been difficult to track in the absence of a single summer event, but it might just be a reflection of the world we are living in right now. Maybe it’s not a bad thing. At home and in need of distraction, gathering gaming event news feels like some bizarre treasure hunt. And hey, if you find all the clues, you get to see exciting upcoming games!
The vacuum E3 left behind in June has attracted the most events and that’s when we’ll start to get the highly-anticipated reveals. Luckily, that leaves us a month to speculate on the surprises in store.
Developers and Publishers Going Digital
Let’s start with Ubisoft. We know, based on a recent financial call, that it has five upcoming games in its financial year (which ends March 31 2021). Four of those are accounted for: Watchdogs: Legion, Gods & Monsters, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and Rainbow Six Quarantine. But what is the last one?
Far Cry 6, Skull & Bones, Splinter Cell, and other names have been thrown around, but I am squarely in the Prince of Persia camp. Earlier this month we got a look at a long-ago canceled title that was apparently just sitting out in the open on a YouTube channel. The only thing we do know for certain is it’s not going to be Beyond Good and Evil 2, thanks to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. The mystery will definitely have people tuning into Ubisoft’s digital showcase on July 12.
EA Play, which normally runs adjacent to E3, is streaming a month earlier than Ubisoft on June 11. The publisher’s recently acquired development team, Respawn is front and center in the rumors. It’s a safe bet we’ll see something for Apex Legends and (sorry Titanfall fans!) not Titanfall 3. Maybe the most anticipated title for Respawn is the follow up to the popular Jedi: Fallen Order.
It’s not exactly a rumor. EA dropped hints that Fallen Order would be the first of a major franchise and the game didn’t really close the book on Cal’s adventure. A Mass Effect trilogy remaster is also supposedly in the works. What better place to show these off than the summer celebration?
Not to be intimidated by events offering a smorgasbord of titles, City Night Wire is CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk-focused showcase. But really, when you have arguably the most anticipated game of 2020, your show is going to pull in the viewers. Add in the fact that we don’t actually know much about the game and you have the makings of a killer showcase. Eager fans can tune in on June 11 to get more details on what the game will actually have players doing besides swapping out their character’s junk. This might be a stretch, but it would also be amazing to get a scrap of news, even if it’s just a title screen, of the Witcher-but-not-Witcher game the studio has been working on. If there’s a “one more thing” section at the end, it’ll be for the next Witcher title. Calling it now.
Where Are The Big Three?
Sony and Microsoft are going toe-to-toe in the ramp up to their next-gen console releases. Xbox’s first glimpse of its 3rd party offerings failed to inspire, but it has promised some exciting shows to come with Xbox 20/20 monthly events. IGN confirmed it would host an unknown June Xbox event which will hopefully give us more on the hardware — maybe price and the rumored “Series S” — but July will be Xbox’s big push for first-party titles.
Keep in mind that Microsoft went through a recent shopping spree and now numbers all the following developers under the Xbox Studios umbrella: Playground, Rare, The Coalition, The Initiative, Turn 10, Undead Labs, World’s Edge, 343, Compulsion Games, Double Fine, InXile, Mojang, Ninja Theory, Obsidian, and the original Xbox Studios. Out of all the possible projects from these studios, a new Fable and a spy project from The Initiative are on the top of fans’ wish list. It’s not a question that the company is likely to put Halo Infinite on display this summer, we might even get a launch-time release date.
PlayStation — currently thought to be lagging behind its rival Xbox in public opinion due to lack of communication — displayed a dazzling demo of its next-gen potential that has the industry excited. Though keeping information on both its future games and summer showcase close to the chest, many leading members of the media like Jeff Grubb and Jason Schreier, think the PlayStation blowout will hit early June. PlayStation fans are certainly spoiled for exclusives to hope. God of War 2, Spider-Man 2, Horizon Zero Dawn 2, Godfall, a mysterious Bluepoint remake, a new Ratchet and Clank, and more have realistic chances of popping up during the event.
How much about the actual box will be revealed is a horse of a different color. The PS5 “DualSense” controller made its debut in April, but reportedly only because the PlayStation team needed to send it out to developers and they feared the design would get leaked. The look is a noted departure from the PS4 and it’s easy to speculate that the console will follow suit. I’d be surprised if we didn’t get a hyped-up look at the PS5, but I’m less sure about the price. Neither Xbox nor PlayStation seem to be in a hurry to put a number on the next-gen consoles. Maybe that’s because COVID is making it difficult to manufacture parts, maybe because each box includes expensive customization. There are also whispers that neither want to be the first to name a price. The fear of going first and getting undercut by the competition might ultimately stop the PlayStation team from dropping that info in June.
[Update: 5/29] An hour-long PlayStation 5 event is happening next week on June 4 and it will focus on next-gen games. The blog post was less forthcoming about whether we could expect console details.
[Update: 6/3] The PlayStation 5 event has been postponed in respect to the protests decrying police brutality aimed at the black community after Minneapolis police killed the already-handcuffed George Floyd. The official word came from PlayStation’s Twitter account stating, “While we understand gamers worldwide are excited to see PS5 games, we do not feel that right now is a time for celebration and for now, we want to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard.” For more on this, consider watching Kinda Funny’s Games Daily show about the delay and support the voices of black content creators in our community. PlayStation has not designated another date for the show yet, but it is sure to be announced in the coming weeks.
Nintendo has been quiet about its summer plans. Too quiet. A report has been circulating that we shouldn’t expect a showcase in June, so it may be that we don’t get a traditional Direct this summer. Or maybe it will come late. Judging from the shadow drop of their new Paper Mario title, it may just be that Nintendo is looking to do things its own way this summer, which sounds like Nintendo. Still, I wouldn’t turn down information of Breath of the Wild 2 or Metroid Prime 4.
Indies Take The Stage
Next year could be dominated by Indies. We’ve been hearing that the full consequences of COVID on big titles will hit squarely in 2021, most recently from Xbox’s Phil Spencer. With these problems, independent creators may step forward into the spotlight to a larger audience than ever before. So it’s certain this summer will have indie-friendly stages and dedicated showcases.
Guerrilla Collective promises to unleash an avalanche of indie announcements, trailers, and gameplay. With partnerships like Larian Studios (Balder’s Gate 3), ZA/UM (Disco Elysium), and United Label (Röki), it’s going to be an event worth checking out. This show is running June 6-8, so there’s days of content to look forward to.
The PC Gaming Show has also traditionally been a great place to get your indie fix. It will air June 6 and, together with the Guerrilla Collective show, is under IGN’s Summer of Gaming jurisdiction. This may be where to look for some of those indies we’ve been looking for all year. But many of the larger stages have been known to host smaller titles.
Tunic, the Zelda love letter headed by a plucky fox protagonist, has been invited to Xbox’s E3 show in the past as well as Spiritfarer, the cozy management game about dying. EA has an indie initiative which brought us Unravel and Sea of Solitude. Former president of SIE Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida made the news late last year for stepping away from his role to help look after the company’s relationship with smaller independent creators. Knock on wood, this move will produce a good showing this summer.
I’ve Got My Eye On You
Not specific to any one console or confirmed show, here are the games that have either been announced or have some credible evidence which will hopefully find a place in this summer’s roller-coaster of events:
Final Fantasy VII part 2
A Batman title
Lord of the Rings: Gollum
A Harry Potter RPG
A Mafia Title [Update: Mafia II and III Definitive Editions are out with Mafia I remake out in August]
Resident Evil 8 remake
The list will grow until the summer is done!
Am I Coming Out of Left Field?
It wouldn’t be a proper summer without some unexpected announcements. That’s always the best part of these showcases, right? Here are a few surprises which might appear in the coming months, based solely on my wishful thinking:
a new Kingdom Hearts title
Kingdom Come: Deliverance sequel
I will continually revisit this article for updates when juicy (but plausible) rumors come my way, so keep checking back in! This summer is going to be wild.