Every year before E3, we talk about the games we expect to see, along with the ones that we hope we'll get to take another look at.
These include the obvious ones, like big games announced at the previous year's conference. But they're also the hypothetical projects, the titles that we've neither seen nor heard from in years — perhaps since they were first announced.
Some games have gone quiet much longer than others, though. We've gathered up some of the most notable "missing in action" games that we'd love to see make a grand reappearance at this year's big show.
Below, we'll offer an update on each game, plus our assessment of the likelihood of the project resurfacing at E3 2016 (on a scale of 1 to 10). Follow along and reminisce about some of the industry's most elusive games.
Agent might be the most notorious game on this list.
Nearly nine years ago, Sony announced that it had made a deal with Rockstar Games to bring "the next great franchise from the Rockstar studios" exclusively to PlayStation 3. The companies didn't unveil the project until E3 2009, when Sony spent approximately one minute during its press briefing to reveal that Rockstar North, the studio behind the Grand Theft Auto franchise, was working on a new PS3-exclusive title called Agent. Here's how Jack Tretton, then the president of Sony Computer Entertainment America, described the game:
Agent will take a player across the globe amidst the shadowy world of espionage and assassins in the darkest hours of the late 1970s.
A Cold War-era spy action game with a badass pistol-cutout-forming-the-letter-G logo? Everybody was on board — well, unless you were Microsoft or Nintendo. Then again, it seems that Sony's competitors had nothing to worry about.
The most recent official update on Agent came in May 2011, when Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Rockstar parent company Take-Two Interactive, said that the game was "still in development." A few images have leaked out over the years, such as the artwork posted by ex-Rockstar artists in August 2011 and December 2015. But we really don't know any more about Agent today than we did seven years ago.
How likely is it to show up? 1.
Yes, Take-Two just applied for a fifth and final extension to its Agent trademark. But that doesn't mean anything; the company already had a previous trademark to the name that expired, and seems to be holding onto the current one as a matter of course. Rockstar should just come out and acknowledge that Agent was killed in action long ago.
Bethesda Softworks opened a new game developer called BattleCry Studios in Austin, Texas, in 2012. That company's first project is BattleCry, a class-based multiplayer melee game that was revealed in May 2014. Bethesda announced at E3 last year that a beta was coming sometime in 2015, but said in October that it was evaluating how to improve BattleCry so the game would meet the publisher's standards. That certainly doesn't sound encouraging.
How likely is it to show up? 6.
We don't know what's up with BattleCry. Maybe it'll show up at Bethesda's E3 2016 press briefing with a new direction. Maybe the project is dead. BattleCry Studios currently has one open position for an unannounced game, although the descriptions of other roles match the type of game that BattleCry is. But it's hard to imagine that E3 will go by without us hearing some kind of status update.
It's now been more than eight years since Ubisoft announced Beyond Good & Evil 2 with a teaser trailer featuring Pey'j, the anthropomorphic boar who served as the protagonist's caretaker in the original game from 2003. Development on the sequel is being led by Michel Ancel, the series' creator. But on most of the occasions that Ancel and Ubisoft have discussed Beyond Good & Evil 2 since its reveal in 2008, the parties have tried to reassure people that the game is still in development.
That continued in July 2014, when Ancel started a new company called Wild Sheep Studio but remained in his existing role at Ubisoft's studio in Montpellier, France, to work on "select projects" including Beyond Good & Evil 2. At the time — which, let's not forget, was more than six years after Ubisoft announced the game — the publisher said, "It's still far too early to give many details about this new title."
As recently as January of this year, Ancel affirmed for the umpteenth time that he and Ubisoft Montpellier were actively working on Beyond Good & Evil 2.
How likely is it to show up? 3.
Ubisoft has a lot on its plate at the moment, even if it's not releasing a new Assassin's Creed game until 2017. The publisher will likely spend a good deal of its E3 2016 press conference discussing upcoming titles like Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands, For Honor and South Park: The Fractured But Whole, as well as additions to recent releases such as Rainbow Six Siege and The Division.
That's not to mention the sequel to 2014's Watch Dogs. In addition, Ubisoft executives have said during quarterly earnings calls that the company will soon unveil a "a new high-potential AAA brand with strong digital live services" that is scheduled to launch before April 2017. That's a lot of ground to cover, but we wouldn't rule out a brief spot dedicated to a new Beyond Good & Evil 2 trailer.
Criterion Games, the British studio best known for the Burnout franchise, announced at E3 2014 that it was "going beyond cars" with its next project. Inspired by first-person videos of extreme-sports exploits, the game would feature helicopters, jet skis, boats and other vehicles in addition to cars. Two years later, Criterion has said essentially nothing further about the game.
How likely is it to show up? 8.
Tweets from Criterion earlier this year mentioned playtests of the game, which the company refers to as "Beyond Cars," and the studio posted new job listings in late May. So the project seems very much alive, which gives us a strong indication that it will resurface at Electronic Arts' E3 2016 press briefing.
It's been a long, bumpy road for Dead Island 2.
After the original Dead Island became a surprise hit in 2011, developer Techland began pre-production on a sequel. But the studio moved on to Dying Light, so publisher Deep Silver started looking for a new partner. Enter Berlin-based Yager Development, which went in a very different direction from the first game's emotionally manipulative debut trailer with its Dead Island 2 announcement at E3 2014. At the time, the sequel was scheduled to be released in spring 2015.
That didn't happen; in April 2015, Deep Silver delayed the game all the way to 2016. In the meantime, the publisher had pumped out three additional entries in the Dead Island franchise: Dead Island: Riptide, Escape Dead Island and Dead Island: Epidemic.
After Dead Island 2 failed to rear its head at E3 2015, Deep Silver and Yager said in July 2015 that they had gone their separate ways as a result of creative differences on the project. As a result, the branch of Yager that had been working on Dead Island 2 was forced to file for insolvency.
It wasn't until March of this year that Deep Silver announced a new developer for Dead Island 2: Sumo Digital, a U.K.-based studio with experience working on franchises such as Disney Infinity and LittleBigPlanet.
How likely is it to show up? 7.
Considering the lukewarm reception to Homefront: The Revolution last month, E3 seems like a pretty good time for Deep Silver to remind people that Dead Island 2 is still a thing, doesn't it?
Capcom announced during Sony's PlayStation 4 reveal event in February 2013 that it had a game in development for the console: Deep Down, a fantastical, procedurally generated, free-to-play dungeon crawler. This was nearly a year before the console's launch in Japan, and the game was set to begin beta testing upon the PS4's Japanese debut. (No Western release had ever been confirmed.)
That was not to be; the beta still has never been released. Instead, Deep Down flirted with controversy and met several delays, pushing the beta launch from February 2014 until, most recently, sometime in 2015. It obviously missed that window, but Capcom hasn't said a word on when to expect the game since. The publisher did file to extend the trademark earlier this year, however — for the fourth time.
How likely is it to show up? 5.
On the one hand, the game does exist in some playable fashion, and Capcom has publicly maintained that it's working on the game. On the other, Deep Down's been in the works for a long, long time, and its then-impressive graphical engine just doesn't cut it anymore.
We considered just dropping an image here of Gabe Newell smiling, and leaving it at that, but that seemed mean.
More than a decade has now passed since May 2006, when Valve announced that Half-Life 2: Episode One was ready to be released on June 1 of that year. In that press release, the company also said that another expansion, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, would be released later in 2006. Finally, Valve added that it was working on one more chapter in its episodic follow-up to Half-Life 2. At the time, Valve said the trilogy of episodes "will conclude by Christmas 2007."
Episode Two ended up launching in October 2007, which suggested that Half-Life fans would have to wait a while longer for Episode Three. But Valve has not offered further details about the game — or Half-Life 3, which many people assume the company has moved on to by this point — since then. (You can see an exhaustive chronicle of every update on the Half-Life Wikia, including three pieces of concept art that Valve released.)
In a podcast with Geoff Keighley in March 2015, Newell, the managing director of Valve, spoke generally about the company's philosophy when it comes to revisiting old franchises.
"The only reason we'd go back and do, like, a super classic kind of product is if a whole bunch of people just internally at Valve said they wanted to do it and had a reasonable explanation for why [they did]," said Newell. "But, you know, if you want to do another Half-Life game and you want to ignore everything we've learned in shipping Portal 2 and in shipping all the updates on the multiplayer side, that seems like a bad choice. So we'll keep moving forward."
Newell quickly noted that his comments didn't necessarily mean Valve would never make another Half-Life game. But this all seems like a decadelong troll job at this point, doesn't it?
How likely is it to show up? 1.
Even if a new Half-Life game is alive, Valve is the kind of company that marches to the beat of its own drum. Newell did appear at E3 2010 to make a big announcement about Portal 2 during the Sony press conference, but any news on Half-Life at E3 2016 would be even more shocking to us.
We first saw Inside during Microsoft's E3 2014 conference, where the publisher debuted a short, pretty trailer. The Xbox One exclusive from indie team Playdead looked to draw obvious inspiration from the studio's previous game, Limbo; Playdead began work on Inside just after Limbo's 2010 release. After the E3 reveal, platforming fans were told to expect Inside to arrive in early 2015.
It wasn't until June 2015 that Playdead announced that Inside would be coming later than expected. The company essentially said that the game would be ready when it was ready. Still, we chose to include the game on our most anticipated titles of 2016 list, either due to wishful thinking or confidence in the studio.
How likely is it to show up? 8.
When Playdead discussed Inside during a panel at this year's Game Developers Conference, it renewed confidence that a release was imminent. It made for a lovely little reveal two years back, but a release date — or, heck, a surprise launch — during Microsoft's press conference would be an even better one.
Nearly 10 years after releasing the original on Xbox, Microsoft announced at E3 2014 that a remake of Phantom Dust was in the works for Xbox One. The publisher had put Darkside Games, a studio primarily known for contract work, in charge of the project. While Microsoft showed a trailer for the current-gen take on the unique card-based action game, the company didn't give a release window.
We haven't seen much more from Phantom Dust since, but development took a turn for the worse in February 2015. Darkside Games shut down when Microsoft reportedly ended production on Phantom Dust. But spokespeople for Microsoft were quick to say that Phantom Dust hadn't been canceled — just Darkside's version of it. As recently as this past March, head of Xbox Phil Spencer told Polygon that Microsoft still planned to remake the game, despite Phantom Dust no longer having a studio behind it or being in active development.
How likely is it to show up? 3.
Sure, anything is possible, but without a developer behind the project, we won't keep our hopes up.
Rime made a triumphant debut at Gamescom 2013 as part of Sony's PS4 lineup. Screens and a short trailer pointed to the indie exclusive as one to keep an eye on, especially once developer Tequila Works named influences like Ico and the works of anime director Hayao Miyazaki. But we were never told when to expect the game, which began life as an Xbox Live Arcade title before Sony bought the rights.
Instead, after another trailer in 2014, Tequila Works and Sony went quiet about the pretty adventure game. One couldn't be blamed for asking "who?" when, in March 2016, Tequila Works came out of the woodwork to announce that it had bought back the rights to Rime from Sony. A cryptic message about how the developer was "working hard to realize its aspirations for it" remains the first and last word on the game in some time.
How likely is it to show up? 3.
We've yet to actually play Rime; the game has only ever been teased in short trailers and stills. Rime no longer has a publisher, so it sounds like this pretty title could be left in the lurch. If Tequila Works decides to self-publish or manages to sign someone else onto the project — perhaps another console maker — an E3 appearance could be a major way to stick it to Sony.
It's been six years since Bandai Namco and Capcom announced they were bringing their two biggest franchises together. The developers revealed at San Diego Comic-Con 2010 that not one, but two crossovers were in the works: Street Fighter X Tekken and Tekken X Street Fighter, both to be released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Capcom was to produce the former in the style of Street Fighter; Namco was handling the latter, which would use Tekken gameplay.
For its part, Capcom delivered: Street Fighter X Tekken launched on PS3, 360, PC, Vita and iOS in 2012. Bandai Namco, however, kept on chugging along with its project. As recently as 2015, the company said that the game was coming together, even nearing the end of its development. But in April, Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada announced that Tekken X Street Fighter had been put on hold for the time being, so that the company could release it during "the right time."
How likely is it to show up? 4.
Harada's reasoning actually makes sense: Street Fighter 5 just launched and Tekken 7 is on the way to PS4. It's more likely that Bandai Namco will reveal a release date for Tekken 7 at this year's E3 than one for the crossover ... but why not at least show some gameplay?
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