Anyone with even a passing interest in video games will know that June is a big deal for one very important reason: E3.
For the uninitiated, that's the Electronic Entertainment Expo, and it's one of the biggest events in the gaming calendar.
Every year, the massive showcase sees the biggest names in the business descend on Los Angeles to present their wares to the crowd of gamers and press lying in wait. It's a unique spectacle that's usually packed with a few massive surprises as well as the odd disappointment, but how does this year's edition stack up?
We've broken down each of the 'big three' conferences so you can decide for yourself. Will Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo be your hero of the hour? There's only one way to know for sure, so let the games begin!
Microsoft was the first of the holy trinity to present this year, and predictably the console maker wasted no time in unveiling the Xbox One X - a slimmer, more powerful version of the Xbox One that packs in more teraflops than you can count on one hand.
Technobabble aside, all you need to know about the Xbox One X is that it's an enhanced version of the now standard Xbox One S. It plays Xbox One games, but they'll look and perform better than ever, particularly if you're rocking a 4K television. There's no word on how much the X will cost in the UK, but in the US the premium console has an RRP of $499.99. So, it ain't gonna be cheap.
Although the Xbox One X stole the show, Microsoft also crammed in some other fan-pleasing reveals. For starters, the Xbox One will soon be able to play original Xbox titles, making it the true king of backwards compatibility. Beyond that, the company also debuted a stunning reveal trailer for Forza Motorsport 7, and confirmed that Crackdown 3 will finally launch this year. Hurrah.
Games to watch:
- Forza Motorsport 7
- Crackdown 3
- State of Decay 2
- Metro Exodus
- Sea of Thieves
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps
- PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
Next up was Sony, and after a few years of being the undisputed king of E3, this year's showing felt decidedly underwhelming. That's not to say the games Sony showed weren't looking razor-sharp. No, my biggest gripe with the presentation was that we'd already seen almost everything on offer.
Sure, there were new trailers and more gameplay, but ultimately E3 is about the big reveals, and aside from one or two unknown quantities like the Shadow of the Colossus remake and Monster Hunter World, this was effectively a retread of last year's show.
That said, what we did see hit all the right notes. God of War 3 is shaping up nicely, while Naughty Dog's Uncharted 4 spin-off, Lost Legacy, is as glorious as you'd expect — though I still can't believe we didn't get so much as a glimpse of The Last of Us 2.
Post-apocalyptic jaunt Days Gone By continues to look like a fun proposition, Call of Duty: WWII was predictability bombastic, and cybernetic thriller Detroit: Become Human continues to intrigue, despite feeling a tad cliched.
The clear star of the show, though, was Insomniac's insane Spider-Man game, which showed the web-slinger in all of his whip-smart, acrobatic, quip-happy glory. Sony delivered one of the best crescendos to a press conference in quite some time, and although the trailer was likely staged to within an inch of its life, if the game can live up to even half of that promise we're in for a treat.
Games to watch:
- Uncharted: Lost Legacy
- God of War 3
- Call of Duty: WWII
- Detroit: Become Human
- Monster Hunter World
- Shadow of the Colossus
- Days Gone By
See, although the Switch was well-received when it launched earlier this year, there were plenty of question marks surrounding Nintendo's ability to deliver the goods on the software front. Early adopters had plenty to shout about thanks to The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 7 Deluxe, but many (rightly) wondered whether Nintendo could sustain that level of quality software output in the long-term.
Nintendo smartly went above and beyond to allay those fears, confirming a dedicated Pokemon RPG is in the works for the Switch, and announcing, to the joy of fans around the world, that Metroid Prime 4 is on its way.
We also got an extended look at Super Mario Odyssey, which is looking absolutely, gloriously bonkers, and got to see the likes of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Fire Emblem Warriors in action. Better yet, Nintendo revealed all of those titles are coming out this year, meaning the Switch should have a formidable software roster by the time Christmas rolls around.
On the third-party front, it's a case of slow and steady wins the race. I thought Nintendo might have shown more indie offerings, but it's hard to fault what the company did spotlight, with FIFA 18, Rocket League, Skyrim, and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle all making impressive appearances.
When all is said and done, this had to be a software showcase, and that's exactly what it was. Nintendo proved they've got one eye on the present and another on the future, and if the company can build on this rock solid foundation, the Switch will have a great shot at sustaining its success.
Games to watch:
- Super Mario Odyssey
- Metroid Prime 4 Reveal
- Rocket League Switch
- Skyrim Switch
- Kirby Switch
- Yoshi Switch
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2
- Fire Emblem Warriors
- Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Chris Kerr is a blogger with an interest in all things tech. From gadgets to gaming, he is always on the look-out for the next big thing. When not testing the latest FPS or RPG, he can be found watching Sean Bean films and contributing to publications including Gamasutra, Stuff and IB Times. Find out more at http://www.chriskerrwriter.com/.