E3 2017 is well and truly underway, with Microsoft, Sony and a range of third-parties having made their pitches to the gaming public. As is now standard Nintendo is saving its show for the opening of the expo, this year in the form of a 25 minute 'Spotlight' followed by more reveals, demonstrations and Invitational events from the Treehouse team.
Nintendo comes into its own event with a bit of pleasing momentum in its favour. Ubisoft dedicated a large part of its conference to Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (with some help from Shigeru Miyamoto) and the Switch seems to be the lead platform for Starlink: Battle for Atlas. There are some question marks, too, particularly following the reveal of Monster Hunter: World for PS4, Xbox One and PC; we've only seen a heavily scripted opening sequence, but it looks like a Western-centric entry that adopts the larger (perhaps open) world standards of modern blockbusters. If Nintendo doesn't have an equivalent MH announcement from Capcom (like a localisation of Monster Hunter XX) that will raise questions around the franchise on the big N's systems (more on this below).
With the Nintendo festivities just hours away, in any case, here are five key points we expect to be covered by the Spotlight and early moments of Treehouse reveals.
There's Something about Mario
Super Mario Odyssey won't be carrying the show on its own to the same degree as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in 2016, but it will be a key part of Nintendo's E3. It's supposed to be a return to the 'sandbox' approach seen in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, and will no doubt be significant in scope. The January trailer (above) looked fantastic, but now we'll see much more.
While the Treehouse will give no doubt give deep dives on gameplay, and it'll be fascinating to see how significant this game will be to Nintendo's Holiday plans. Should a release date be announced today we may see whether a special hardware bundle is planned, perhaps with those red / blue Joy-Con hues. Will the game support amiibo, too, and perhaps have its own range? Nintendo is hard to predict right now with its toys-to-life range, on the one hand showing it little love while announcing new figures out of the blue for some games.
All of that said and done, a full 3D Mario game is always a hugely exciting release on Nintendo hardware. Super Mario Odyssey, after the focused and almost 2.5D approach of Super Mario 3D World, looks like a return to the series' 3D roots; that will certainly get the blood pumping for fans of the franchise.
A Look at 2017's Big Hitters for Nintendo Switch, and Some Surprises
Nintendo, it seems more than likely, will have at least one tasty surprise up its sleeve; that's the norm. We think a Smash Bros. Director's Cut looks more of a longshot due to the focus on Pokken Tournament, but beyond that most bets are off. Hideki Kamiya of PlatinumGames has been doing what he always does and teasing his Twitter followers (he hinted at 'The Wonderful 102', but Kamiya-san enjoys causing mischief on Twitter), and there are all sorts of theories kicking around. Perhaps there'll be an unexpected Animal Crossing game to tie-in with the mobile app? Will we finally see the Metroid game the fans want, and something new from Retro Studios? Lots of valid theories, and it's in not knowing that there's a lot of anticipation (despite the 'leaks' that come with every E3 that are mostly nonsense).
Beyond that, though, there are a number of games for Nintendo to touch upon in its Spotlight before extended showcases by the Treehouse, all due in 2017. Fire Emblem Warriors will no doubt get an airing, with the demonstrations over the next few days likely to focus on revealing key characters. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 also springs to mind, while we shouldn't forget the Invitational events for Pokken Tournament, ARMS (out this week!) and Splatoon 2.
In addition, expect one or two 'out today on the eShop' announcements. Nintendo recently did a hefty bit of network maintenance for the Switch, which could indicate preparations for specific releases or simply work to sure up the servers in anticipation of more traffic. There are various enticing theories - could the Virtual Console / GameCube get a sudden airing, perhaps Super Mario Sunshine to tap into hype around Odyssey? Perhaps more realistically, perhaps we'll get the first content update for Breath of the Wild; we'd love a trailer for the Holiday story addition to this incredible game, too.
Importantly, not everything will happen in the Spotlight; announcements will come in the first hour of the Treehouse stream according to Reggie Fils-Aime, so we'll need to stay tuned.
An 'App-y Future for the Switch
When the Switch launched it was a functional but bare-bones gaming device in terms of its user interface and apps, and three months+ in little has changed. Let's revisit some suggestions we've made before for quick wins that will help Nintendo make extra money and bring the system to life as an entertainment device.
Nintendo stated back in early March that it was in conversation with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and so on. Now that the system has enjoyed positive early sales we'd hope those partners will jump on board. It shouldn't be too difficult, especially if NVIDIA assists with tools - The Shield TV (also powered by a Tegra X1) has a whole lot of apps, so it's a case of whether Nintendo and third-parties have been making progress. The device would benefit from adding streaming apps, and E3 is a good time to either unveil them or at least provide release windows as an update.
Nintendo doesn't need third-parties for everything, of course. It can bring more life to the Switch UI through HOME Themes and adjustments to the core design; perhaps the current minimalist style could be a 'quiet' setting for users to keep if they wish. HOME Themes and some neat Nintendo music for the HOME page, eShop and so on would be lovely small touches. We'd also like the data management options to be less rubbish, but that's not an E3-style topic.
Finally, Nintendo may say more about the free voice / lobbies online app coming to smart devices, especially if that initial version is set to tie-in with Splatoon 2. Though the full online service is now due in 2018, that early app is still expected this Summer.
Third-Party Love for Nintendo's Hybrid System, and a Sizzle-Reel
Nintendo will likely have some third-party demonstrations in the Treehouse, most certainly of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Perhaps deals will also be done to show off titles like Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in the coming week, and Nintendo could certainly rattle through release dates too. Ubisoft held off on dates for a few of its upcoming Switch titles, for instance. Another question mark is Monster Hunter XX and whether it'll come to Switch (and possibly also 3DS) as something like Generations X in the West. With the unveiling of Monster Hunter: World for PS4, Xbox One and PC, it'll be interesting to see whether Capcom is taking the Switch re-release out of Japan.
We covered 'surprises' above, but something that will hopefully feature in the Showcase will be a good old-fashioned Nindie sizzle reel. The eShop has already delivered some gems on Switch, and there seem to be a high number of quality titles planned for this year. A two minute sizzle reel could rattle off a dozen or so release dates and indie announcements without cutting too much into the limited runtime of the Spotlight.
Ultimately, it'll be interesting to see whether third-parties get much of a look in the short Spotlight and the days to follow. Nintendo normally shows something interesting from a 'partner', so we'll see whether that trend continues.
The 3DS and New 2DS XL Show The Portable Has Life in It Yet
Of course, last but not least we have the 3DS. We think Switch will be a core focus, but Nintendo will no doubt dedicate a decent amount of Treehouse time to the portable. Perhaps we'll see some Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon gameplay, while upcoming titles like Ever Oasis and Hey! Pikmin may get a look; don't forget, either, that Fire Emblem Warriors is also coming to New 3DS.
Nintendo will also show off the New 2DS XL, too, which is due for release at the end of July. All set to take the mid-range spot in the 'family' of portables, the big N will look to tie it to upcoming titles as the system to buy this Summer. Don't forget, too, that a new Kirby title is due on 3DS this year (another one!) so that's worth looking out for.
There you have it, some of our thoughts on reveals we might see over the coming days. The Spotlight kicks off proceedings at 9am Pacific / noon Eastern / 5pm UK / 6pm CEST, so we'll have the usual live stream and blog to bring you all the news. See you then!