The inaugural PC Gaming Show was perhaps the single most excruciating event to be broadcast live from last year's E3. And that's saying something.
Looking back, it's hard to decide which was the worst part. Maybe it was how Sean Murray ended the show by chuckling to himself over year-old trailers of No Man's Sky. Or perhaps it was when Chris Roberts phoned it in from England simply to remind people that Star Citizen was still being made.
Any way you slice it, the PC Gamer-powered, AMD-sponsored event was kind of a disaster.
So this year, they decided to try again. What's changing? So far as we can tell, almost nothing besides the start time: noon PT on Monday, June 13. This year's show will have the same host — the likable Sean "Day9" Plott — and the same late-night-talk-show format. It's also, I'm told, only going to run about half as long as last year's debacle. But, given virtually the same laundry list of participants and sponsors, I'm not holding my breath.
Here are all the companies who have confirmed their participation, and one that pulled out of the event, as well as some thoughts on what to expect from each of them.
Last year, the team from Blizzard plopped down to talk about Heroes of the Storm's first campaign, Eternal Conflict, and introduce a few new characters. Since then, the game has seen good traction among MOBA fans.
With events like BlizzCon and E3 itself garnering more attention for properties like World of Warcraft, we expect Blizzard will take a similar approach to the PC Gaming Show this year.
As it turns out, Heroes of the Storm fans are expecting a big overhaul to ranked play to drop right after E3. It will introduce the game's first ranked season, with all-new tiers and divisions as well as other features. Blizzard's time on the couch could be devoted to that upgrade, or a yet-unannounced, follow-up campaign.
Of course, it's possible that Blizzard could use its time to talk about Hearthstone instead, whose latest expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods, has kicked that collectible card game's community into high gear.
The team behind Arma 3 should have a lot to talk about with the game's next expansion on the horizon, Apex. The centerpiece is a 100-square-kilometer South Pacific island archipelago called Tanoa. What was teased last year was exciting, featuring unique terrain like extinct volcanoes, quarries, dense jungle and the 60-year-old remains of World War II fighter planes. For modders looking to build Vietnam-themed missions, it's sure to be a windfall.
Also on the horizon for Arma 3 is a rather impressive graphics overhaul, new vehicles and weapons, and a much-anticipated cooperative campaign.
Meanwhile, Bohemia's DayZ team recently released its 0.60 update to the experimental branch of the game, and longtime fans are telling me that it solves many of the game's performance problems. Look for creative director Brian Hicks to stop by for an update on the road ahead.
Last year, developer Chris Roberts promised to show up in person at the 2016 PC Gaming Show to talk about Star Citizen. However, Polygon has learned that Roberts will not be on hand. Cloud Imperium will not be participating in the PC Gaming Show despite agreeing several months ago to do so.
A representative for Cloud Imperium tells us that Roberts sent PC Gamer his regrets just a few weeks ago, saying that his schedule won't allow for a trip to Los Angeles. In fact, the studio is skipping E3 entirely.
Instead, the spokesperson tells us that Roberts will be devoting all his efforts to work on Squadron 42 at his studio in England. The rep added that the studio will have something to show at Gamescom in August.
Total War: Warhammer just launched, and with luck, The Creative Assembly will be on hand to talk about more than just how well it's been selling. Some hints as to the first batch of downloadable content would be welcome.
There's also the off chance they could have more information on Total War: Arena, the free-to-play multiplayer version of the classic series, which was first announced in 2013. The very first footage of alpha gameplay was shown a little more than a year ago.
While we haven't been told for certain, it's safe to assume that Nexon's sacrificial offering to the PC Gaming Show will be Cliff Bleszinski, who will no doubt want to talk more about LawBreakers. His gravity-defying multiplayer shooter is shaping up nicely, so expect him to bring a few features or maybe even a map to share with the PC crowd.
Not long ago, the first official trailer for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 3 landed, and it now sits on my short list of the very best trailers of all time. Just look at it. It's ... majestic.
With luck, the cutscenes will come close to matching that kind of cinematic vision of the 40K universe. The gameplay itself looks much more traditional, however, thanks to some early screenshots that accompanied PC Gamer's hands-off preview. Here's hoping a blue-ribbon panel from Relic Entertainment is there for an extended, live gameplay demo, the likes of which were sorely missing from the show last year.
There are few franchises that so oversaturate the games market. We've got high hopes for Dawn of War 3 being the flagship digital experience of the Games Workshop classic.
Ark: Survival Evolved is barely a year old, but it's already mopping the floor with lesser survival games. A nasty lawsuit notwithstanding, the Studio Wildcard team has been churning out new modes and maps like crazy. The most recent release, The Center, is more fantastical than anything yet released and features giant waterfalls, underground forests and all manner of prehistoric beasts.
After a bit of a hiatus, expect co-founder Jesse Rapczak to be on hand to discuss a renewed focus on esports-type "last man standing" events held in partnership with Twitch.
Those who've followed PC gaming over the last decade will no doubt remember the Mount & Blade series. Critically and popularly acclaimed for both its melee combat and deep strategic layer, the game was in many ways ahead of its time. Four years ago, the team announced a proper sequel, Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord, and then promptly dropped off the face of the earth.
Word is, Bannerlord will have a big unveiling at this year's E3. Even if TaleWorlds isn't anticipating having the big reveal during the PC Gaming show, I expect the studio will have something interesting to share.
The team that burst onto the scene with Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is back with a brighter, more magical melee game called Mirage: Arcane Warfare. A playable version was available for fans at PAX East, and our own Brian Crecente had some hands-on time with it.
In the original Chivalry, which started out as a Half-Life 2 mod before being recreated and improved using Unreal Engine 3, players warred against one another in a medieval setting using swords, polearms, battleaxes and other weapons of the era. What helped to set the game apart was the precise controls needed to succeed in the game … and the ultra-violence that often ended a clash with lopped off limbs and geysers of blood.
Mirage, created with Unreal Engine 4 for Windows PC, will feature the same level of violence, but this time it won't just be the result of melee combat. All six classes in the game use both magic and weapons in battles. Each of the classes has its own style, spells and weapons.
You can read his full preview here.
Rising Storm 2: Vietnam was announced last year, and here's hoping Tripwire Entertainment will have something new and exciting to show at E3. A playable demo of the game traveled to PAX East, but the most recent trailer (shown below) still says the game is in alpha. The graphics and the animations are looking a little dated, so hopefully it gets some love before it goes live.
We said it last year, and we'll say it again: PC gaming deserves better. What makes the press conferences from the big publishers like Microsoft and Sony such compelling viewing is that they have real, substantive announcements to make. Ubisoft especially is known for surprising and delighting fans with new games. By keeping the core sponsors, host and format the same for the 2016 PC Gaming Show, everyone involved is clearly trying to iterate, and that shows commitment. But ultimately it's up to the companies and individual participants to save something for the dedicated fans. We'll be there in the audience covering the show in real time, and we hope you'll join us for the show.