A little later than last year, E3 swings around once again for us gamers to get all ‘kid in a candy store’ excited about. This year it is an honour to be invited to join the Microsoft Xbox team for a week in LA alongside a bunch of chosen media and social network gurus. Once there we will feast our eyes and ears on some amazing upcoming games, taste some of the biggest dishes that US cuisine can offer, and burn all those delicious calories off by getting more hands-on time with Microsoft’s upcoming peripheral – Project Natal.

Throughout E3 week I will be blogging my findings each day, starting off with the Microsoft Project Natal Experience event that is being held for a specially invited crowd on Sunday 13th. The next day I will be attending the Microsoft briefing where I hope to be live blogging or tweeting from the event. The once the doors are open to the main event, I’ll be posting my daily impressions of the games I have had my hands-on throughout the rest of the week before flying back to home. Being invited by Microsoft means my coverage will be a little weighted towards their platform, announcements and releases, but like last year I hope to cover the other players in this game as well as the whole experience as a whole, just as I did last year.

E3 2010 Predictions

So what can we expect at this year’s E3 2010? Well, for certain, we will have a real name for Project Natal, as Microsoft will announce this at their Natal-focused event on Sunday 13th and probably more officially at their briefing on the 14th. On top of this we will most likely be shown some of its launch titles and future releases that have been developed for the device.

I really hope Microsoft has a wide coverage of game genres on offer for Natal, and that they do not take the easy route by releasing a bunch of Wii-like titles and games that appeal mostly to the casual market. Although this approach is inevitable, I do hope there are also some subtle uses of Natal’s technology; such as having the game’s primary control remain using the controller but with the additional use of Natal for things like voice commands (although you could still use a headset for that), body gestures and a few other things that this new platform can offer. Overall, I hope we see some innovation in its launch titles, but I can’t see it being a device for the core gamer, at least not at the beginning of its life.

YouTube on Xbox LIVE? (Random Gut Prediction)

I have a gut feeling that we will hear about some new services or features for Microsoft’s LIVE service this year. With its competition unveiling more details of their premium service at E3 this year, it will be interesting to see if Microsoft hold firm with what they have, or continue to add even more value to their winning service.

Something tells me that YouTube might be a part of this. You see last year I attended E3 for Microsoft with a lot of social media individuals, and in that year they announced the addition of Facebook, Twitter and Last.FM social media services to Xbox LIVE. I think YouTube would be the final popular social media piece that would complete (and compliment) its social media line-up on Xbox LIVE. My reason for thinking about this is that our trip to E3 this year is heavy weighted with YouTubers (is that right?) and camera facing people, mostly out weighing the bloggers and Xbox fan sites. So maybe this year will be the year for YouTube on Xbox LIVE or maybe it is just Natal in general and they are looking for less camera shy people to sit in front of Natal’s lenses. You could expand on this more with the inclusion of Natal’s built-in camera and mic functionality – YouTube from your couch anyone? In 3D…? *ahem* OK, lets move on…

In your face3D Gaming

It seems everyone in the gaming industry, both hardware and software, will be jumping on board the 3D bandwagon this year and I am sure E3 2010 will see at least something 3D focused. Whether it is future game support or past releases being treated to some 3D upgrades, hell, maybe with Natal’s stereo cameras we will be able to record some 3D video from your own home and share it via YouTube3D…*squeals* …OK, let’s come down from the clouds for a moment. Bottom line, I’ll be surprised if we don’t hear any 3D gaming announcements this year.

Some First-Party Sequels Titles

I am sure we’ll see more of Microsoft’s first-party titles, more so in the areas of Natal, as they will no doubt be pushing that A LOT this year. I expect there will be more showing of such titles like Fable 3, Halo Reach, perhaps an early look at another title from the Halo franchise, something BIG from RARE and perhaps even a showcase of Bungie’s new venture?

Gears of War 3 will certainly be on show as well as playable, however I think the bulk of the titles shown this year will be aimed towards the masses, such as the casual and party gamer types rather than for the core, sadly. Microsoft wants a piece of the ‘Wii crowd’, and I predict that focus to be pretty clear in their announcements this year. On the other scale I expect the core to be dealt with by the likes of first party titles such as Crackdown, Fable, Halo Reach and Gears alongside the line-up of many third-party offerings.

Lots of Third Party Sequels Announcements

It goes without saying, this year we will see a fair amount of third-party titles for all platforms. Most likely sequels, but there will be some new franchises from publishers this year. I expect there to be more info on EA’s return of Medal of Honour, which will no doubt be playable. Call of Duty: Black Ops, again, should also be playable.

Rock Band 3 will be another big push for EA. Will we see keyboards? You bet. But how will they do it? Who knows? I am not expecting a full keyboard as such; maybe it will be more like those 80s keytars, the ones that you swing over your shoulder like a guitar? We’ll see, but it will be interesting to see how it turns out, and like Rock Band: The Beatles from last year, I expect it will get an unveiling during Microsoft’s briefing, perhaps with a performance from legend keytarists such as Soul II Soul, The Human League or even Jean Michel Jarre – I’ll be laughing my ass off if any of those actually came true!

There are far too many third-party titles to mention, but the ones I’ll be making a beeline towards once the gates open at E3 2010 will be Dead Space 2, Brink, F1 2010 (and Dirt 3?), Dead Rising 2, Mafia 2, Fallout Vegas, Shaun White Skateboarding, Driver, anything announced from the Valve camp and any surprises from ex-Infinity Ward startup – Respawn Entertainment.

There will be countless other games on show as well as newly announced titles and I’ll be doing my very best in bringing you my impressions back to these very pages for you to read. I am there for the whole week so I’ll keep mentioning each day if there is anything you readers want me to check out and ill make a note of it for the following day. Until then you can make a start in the comments as to what you are looking forward to and anything you’d like to hear more about. Or if you are of the Twitter persuasion, then you can follow our adventures and tweet us to using @consolemonster.

Anthony Barker

Anthony is the designer, developer and owner of Console Monster. In his spare time, Anthony is a keen gamer who enjoys playing mostly First-Person Shooters and Racing games. When he is not developing games or tweaking this site, Anthony likes to be on the slopes snowboarding or hurtling down off-road tracks on his mountain bike.

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