For this year's E3, Microsoft is still running back from their disastrous console launch and subsequent reversals of policy. The Xbox One seems to perpetually be available at a discount with games bundled in, which sends a clear message that they're behind Sony in the new console war. One advantage they've always had over Sony is a strong first party lineup, and this year's lineup looks to be no different. With several franchises old and new guaranteed to show up on stage, lets summarize what we know and make a few predictions on what will surprise us.
Halo 5: Guardians
The latest game in the Halo franchise received a warm reception from fans during its recent multiplayer beta. This might have been because The Master Chief Collection was a raging dumpster fire at the time, but speaking as a fan, Guardians certainly felt closer to Halo than the experiments they tried in 4's multiplayer. We'll probably get a big campaign reveal at the show, with hints of how much of the game we'll be playing as Agent Locke and how much we'll be playing as Master Chief. I'm cautiously optimistic that 343 Industries can pull out a decent entry in the series their second time out. However, time will tell how much damage The Master Chief Collection did to the Halo brand.
Forza Motorsport 6
The one thing everyone knows about Forza 6 right now is that it has the Ford GT in it. That was a big enough deal to have several videos dedicated to the car on the game's official web portal. I don't know enough about cars to comment on the newsworthiness of the Ford GT being in a video game, I can only say that this continues the yearly trend of Microsoft putting out Forza games, and you probably already know if you want to buy this.
Gears of War
It's a fairly certain bet that the Crimson Omen will appear on stage this year. How much Gears we're getting is still a toss-up. We know thanks to a leak that the first game to come out of The Coalition will be a remaster of the original Gears of War, or at least the multiplayer component. Whether this accompanies a new campaign or an HD upgrade of the original is up in the air. Rumors have also centered on Splash Damage handling most of the remaster work, leaving the main team free to do a proper follow-up. I think it's safe to assume that the Gears studio has been up to more than just a remaster, so maybe this year will see a short teaser of whatever that game ends up being.
This is the cooperative free to play game that Lionhead has been working on. It was a big part of last year's presentation, so don't expect much beyond a launch trailer that sets a date for when it is released. There hasn't been too much interest among fans for this new release, mostly due to its free nature and focus on multiplayer. We'll have to see how it all shakes out, but it shouldn't be too much longer before the game is available.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
The Xbox One timed exclusive will almost certainly be demoed on Microsoft's stage this year alongside a release date reveal. The game is being treated like a first party game despite it being published by Square Enix and having a planned PC release in 2016. Tomb Raider 2013 was a fun playthrough, especially for those who might not have played through the Uncharted games, and we'll see how the sequel improves things.
Expected to skip the show for the second year in a row, as Remedy have announced that they'll instead have a presence at Gamescom. This game has been coming for a while now, but it also took them a while to get Alan Wake to store shelves. We'll see later this year.
One of the pleasant surprises at last year's Microsoft event was the announcement of a new Crackdown. Sadly, the game will be joining Quantum Break at Gamescom in August instead of E3 this year. What is for certain for the game is that it will not be referencing the rightly maligned previous entry in the series, instead opting to be a second sequel to the first game.
A character action game from Platinum Games where you fight and also maybe befriend dragons? Scalebound will be also be skipping E3 this year for a showing at Gamescom. There isn't much to go on here except for what was shown last year, but Platinum's pedigree speaks for itself, and anything they do is at least worth a look.
This game from CAPY made its debut on the Microsoft stage, but it's also coming to Steam, so it's a good bet that it won't be making a return trip this year. I'd suspect that they would instead devote more time to a few other new indies coming to Xbox One to counter Sony's endless parade of indie devs.
Plants vs. Zombies
The PvZ team have confirmed that they'll have a game to announce at Microsoft's show. Will this be Garden Warfare 2? Or perhaps Plants vs. Zombies 2 will finally be released on consoles alongside its mobile version? Only time can tell. I imagine that Garden Warfare 2 is in the works though; it did well for EA and still has a solid player base on the Xbone.
Odds and Ends
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Battletoads will be coming back at this year's show. They've been teasing it all year, and Killer Instinct did well enough for them to try their hand at another Rareware IP. I'd hope that we would see a reboot and a collection of the old games alongside it. And no, I have no idea what a Battletoads game looks like in 2015. Hopefully whoever is doing it has some fun ideas to shake up the beat em up genre.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
It is tradition for Activision to make a big splash at Microsoft's showing with the latest CoD game. With Treyarch being given three years to make the game, it may have some appeal to gamers outside of the normal fanbase. It'll sell millions either way, so the best we can hope for is a quality product.
If they mention the word Kinect at the press conference, it would be a miracle. The peripheral is not bundled with the system any longer and games supporting it have been few and far between. The closest to this we might see is a dashboard refresh that would make it a bit easier to navigate with a controller.
Chances are slim that Phantom Dust will be showing up at the presentation after word leaked about trouble in the game's development which led to a studio's closure. Supposedly, the trailer at last year's show was completely divorced of the game that was being developed, so that game we all saw never really existed at all. Still, Phil Spencer said he was "committed" to the brand after the news leaked, so there is a small chance they've worked up a replacement.
That's about it for what we know about Microsoft's E3 2015 showcase. Did I miss anything? Any franchises you would like to see make a comeback? Isn't it time for a new Crimson Skies? Answer these questions and more in the comments below!