Gamescom 2014: the five big questions

Question Mark

Although the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles tends to attract much more hype, Gamescom is a big deal in the global industry.

Held every August at the giant Koelnmesse convention centre in Cologne, the event attracts all the big mainstream publishers and developers, as well as over 200,000 visitors, cramming its vast exhibition spaces for four hot, long days.

This year should see plenty of new information about the next wave of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One titles, as well as one or two completely new revelations. For now, here are the five questions we’d like to see resolved amid the crowds and the currywurst.

Is Sony going to reveal the new title from Media Molecule?

The Guildford studio behind the acclaimed LittleBigPlanet series was absent from E3 this year, possibly because the focus was on LittleBigPlanet 3, which is now being handled by another developer, Sumo Digital. Indeed, Media Molecule is working on something very different – something it teased very briefly and ambiguously at E3 2013: a kind of creative sculpting tool which allows PS4 owners to use the Move controller as a tool to design objects and environments. What could it be? Is it a highly intuitive game making application, or something more about performance and art? Gamescom seems like the perfect place to move the story on a bit and provide a few more details.

Elsewhere, Sony will also have Bloodborne, the new title from the creator of Dark Souls, playable on the show floor. We can also expect new footage of incoming PS4 titles like The Order: 1886, DriveClub and LBP3, plus there are suggestions that offbeat PS3 hits Journey and Unfinished Swan are getting upgraded for the new machine.

Will Microsoft make a big first-party game announcement?

Gamescom is usually used as a sort of back-up to E3, providing more advanced demos of key titles, or bulking out earlier revelations with new info. Microsoft is likely to be doing that with several big Xbox One titles including Sunset Overdrive, Forza Horizon 2, Crackdown and Remedy Entertainment’s intriguing sci-fi experiment Quantum Break.

There are also hints that it may be about to reveal some sort of backwards compatibility system, allowing Xbox and Xbox 360 titles to run on the console. A promotional tweet for Gamescom, sent out on Sunday, showed the old Xbox logo:

But there are also strong indications that Microsoft will reveal something completely new. It spent the whole of E3 2014 talking about how games are now the focus; it could build on that message very effectively with a bandstanding announcement. Also, Microsoft has the first press conference this year, at 1pm UK time – that’s the perfect opportunity to set the agenda for the show.

Of course, if it’s another retro re-make in the style of Project Dust, please feel free to laugh and point at us later.

What is Shadow Realms?

Over the past week, superstar developer BioWare (Mass Effect, Dragon Age) has released three teaser videos on YouTube, seemingly from a forthcoming project named Shadow Realms. Under the header “You’ve been chosen” the spooky live action clips show teenagers seemingly being recruited into some sort of nocturnal cabal, with extreme powers of destruction. It’s been reported that the title is a join project with UK studio Failbetter Games, a specialist in interactive fiction projects like Fallen London and Sunless Sea. All very intriguing.

Electronic Arts may also have snippets on Mirror’s Edge 2, as well as fresh information on Fifa 15, Sims 4, Dragon’s Age: Inquisition and Battlefield: Hardline.

Will Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare do something revolutionary with online multiplayer?

No wait, it could! The new title is being created by Sledgehammer Games, which previously helped out on Modern Warfare 3, so it has experience. But studio heads Glen Schofield and Michael Condry were itching to take creative control and bring something new to the seemingly endless franchise – now they have a chance. Call of Duty: Ghosts was something of a cross-generational stop-gap, so could this one be the true heir to Call of Duty 4 – i.e. the title that gives the series fresh impetus?

Watch out for the online multiplayer reveal streaming live tonight at 6pm across a variety of game news sites. Will we see major changes to the customisation and levelling up systems? Will they kill killstreaks? Whatever gets announced tonight should be playable in Cologne later in the week …

Will Far Cry 4 be the open-world game of its generation?

It has an incredible setting, a truly strange antagonist, some neat seamless co-op concepts and you can ride elephants. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? The latest in Ubisoft’s series of survival sandbox adventures sees Ajay Ghale returning to his remote mountain home town of Kyrat only to find it under the rule of fashion-conscious despot, Pagan Min. Much hilarity and bloodshed ensues.

Ubisoft has honed its skills in open-world gaming through the Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dog titles, and this game should represent the zenith of that work. Far Cry 3 had some of the best emergent gameplay we’ve seen in a mainstream title, with the island’s eco-system playing a vital role in the action. Could this extend the man vs environment theme?

We’ll soon know more – Gamescom is getting the first hands-on public demo. Expect queues several hours long.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Keith Stuart, for theguardian.com on Monday 11th August 2014 13.06 Europe/London

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