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The ten biggest questions of E3 2014

By Rob Crossley on Wednesday 4th Jun 2014 at 9:50 AM UTC

Nothing has the potential to change the landscape of games quite like an E3 week. It's an event where new games and ideas can suddenly be at the centre of global discussion, and a place where a failure to captivate the masses does not go unpunished.

With E3 2014 returning to Los Angeles in a matter of days, CVG has lined up ten of the biggest questions that the event will (hopefully) provide answers to. We'll be down at the show in full force cover all the angles - expect world-first previews, high profile interviews, the latest videos and trailers, live blogs and video streams, analysis and reaction, and the fastest and most reliable news output around the clock.

Can Sony maintain momentum?

Sony may own more than a dozen development studios but it's not particularly clear how far along each one is in building their PS4 games. But considering the relatively sporadic game releases so far this year, it's even more important that Sony doesn't sit through a holiday without a major exclusive title.

The Last Guardian could be revealed as a PS4 project for the first time

Currently the outlook is a little concerning. LittleBigPlanet studio Media Molecule has confirmed it won't be attending E3 this year, while Sony's third-party exclusive The Order has been pushed to 2015 (which comes as no surprise given its ambition).

That leaves SCE with DriveClub to carry its holiday season, at least as far as we know. There's still some encouraging multi-platform (Destiny) and indie games (The Witness) in the pipeline, but in terms of 2014 exclusives, Sony could struggle to outshine the competition.

There will no doubt be teasers and even demos of the latest games from Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica and Quantic Dream - but considering the typical timeframe between a game's announcement and release, such games will likely come with a 2015 release date.

Perhaps it will, somewhat ironically, be The Last Guardian's turn to save Sony from its 'delaystation' dilemma. The arduous Team Ico project is now in its eighth year, and it's believed (never confirmed) that a significant chunk of that time was spent on reprogramming the game for PS4. Project lead Fumito Ueda is expected to go indie once this project is finished, but if The Last Guardian is ready for 2014, what a parting gift that would be.

How aggressive will Microsoft's comeback be?

Following a challenging year that resulted in drastic changes to leadership at the Xbox division, along with sweeping revisions to its console strategy, there is now a noticeable eagerness from within Microsoft to get E3 underway.

Phil Spencer has brought new focus to Xbox since his appointment as the head of the division

For months it has been rumoured that the company is preparing a show-stopping line-up of games to flaunt - enough, perhaps, to draw a line under past problems and redefine Xbox One as the home of the best games this year.

That's not to say there's any complacency. Let's be honest; Microsoft's Xbox division is outright incapable of being complacent after the year it has had.

But there is a palpable sense of excitement in the air. Put it this way - when you reveal Halo 5 just a few weeks before E3, instead of saving it for the event, the full line-up must be something fairly spectacular.

Will Nintendo maintain faith in Wii U?

It may come as a surprise, given the recent headlines, that 2014 is likely going to be the biggest ever year for Wii U. Nintendo may huff and puff next year and onwards, but it's unlikely that it will replicate the success of a year in which it released both Mario Kart and Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros 4 is set to be the Wii U's next major release

The question is how much will Nintendo support Wii U after its current big push is over. At E3 it will undoubtedly reveal a new Wii U Zelda, and perhaps a Metroid if we're all lucky, but without major third-party support there should be little confidence that its release list will bulk up.

Don't expect the company to mention its new hardware plans either, even if that's something that fans and people in the industry are already discussing. The Wii U successor may not even be revealed next year, but what's certain is Nintendo is working on the concept.

Transition is going to be the key word for Nintendo over the next 24 months. New ideas will inevitably replace failed ones. But at this year's E3, Nintendo will reveal how much energy, money and faith it will put into Wii U in the meantime.

Will big publishers break the sequel chain?

The common wisdom is that new IP tends to be banked on at the start of a new console generation, the payoff coming from the numerous sequels and spin-offs later down the line.

The newly announced Battlefield Hardline project means the series will now likely be annualised

But game development costs have grown to perilous heights since the Xbox 360 and PS3 broke onto the scene, and it's certainly no coincidence that a striking number of triple-A studios have closed in the intervening years.

The question now is whether the likes of EA, Microsoft and Activision will carry their scepticism of new IP into the new generation. In the past two weeks alone it has become clear that both Forza and Battlefield have become annual franchises, which may be a foretoken of things to come. If this is the final console generation, as some suspect, then there might be a long drag before it ends.

Then again, E3 2014 may be the event where the publishing sector breathes new life into the industry with major new IPs and riskier projects. Hopefully the excitement surrounding the recent E3 reveals of Ubisoft's The Division and Watch Dogs have encouraged other publishers to take a chance.

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