The Los Angeles Convention Center will remain open to gamers until Thursday at 6 p.m., but the bulk of the E3 news we cared about was over and done with before the doors even opened on Tuesday. Press conferences and online briefings from the likes of EA, Bethesda, Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft and Nintendo had revealed the biggest new games as early as last Saturday and Sunday.
Such is life at the show once known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo. E3 evolves year after year, sometimes growing, sometimes shrinking (and sometimes moving to Santa Monica or Atlanta). And in a year with no real hardware announcements, the show may well be best enjoyed by those who get to stay home and watch the streams in real-time.
To be clear, we’ll still have plenty of news and analysis from the show floor here at CNET. And our sister sites GameSpot and Giant Bomb continue to have wall-to-wall live coverage, as always. But if you missed the minute-by-minute developments over the past week, we’ve wrapped everything up in a TL;DR package for your convenience.
The big press events: Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo and more
As we said above, the biggest news comes before the show floor opens. Here’s how it all played out, roughly in chronological order:
EA: Anthem, Battlefield 5, Jedi Fallen Order
On Saturday, June 9, Electronic Arts announced that its upcoming Battlefield 5 game will take on Fortnite. It also unveiled a new Star Wars game, called Jedi Fallen Order, and a release date for Anthem, its online epic that incorporates elements of Destiny and Halo. And don’t worry, sports fans: Madden 19 will be on deck for August, as usual.
Microsoft Xbox: Halo Infinite, Gears 5 — and the beginnings of the next Xbox
Microsoft has an exclusives problem: The PS4 (and, arguably, the Switch) just has a better roster of triple-A games that you can only play outside of the Xbox ecosystem. So, not surprisingly, at its Sunday afternoon press conference, the company focused on some notable Xbox-only titles, including space shooters Halo Infinite and Gears 5, and the online racer Forza Horizon 4. Unfortunately, though, that final title is the only one that will be hitting before 2019. And while the Xbox event showcased highly-anticipated games like Battlefield 5, Fallout 76, The Division 2 and Cyberpunk 2077, none of them are Xbox exclusives.
But Microsoft appears to be in for the long haul. The company teased a two-prong approach to future gaming endeavors, noting the next Xbox is now in development, as is a game streaming service (which may or may not even require Xbox hardware to run). And to lock down more exclusives, it’s on a shopping spree, buying a stable of in-house game studios. So it may take years, but you can bet any games that emerge from that group won’t be on PlayStation or Switch.
More Cyberpunk 2077 coverage from GameSpot:
Bethesda: Fallout 76 was just the beginning
Bethesda’s early reveal of Fallout 76, a new prequel in the post-apocalyptic role-playing game series, already had fans on the edge of their seats. At its press conference on Sunday, June 10, the company delivered plenty of details, including the fact that it’s the first-ever online Fallout game (though you can still play solo if you choose) and, most importantly, a shockingly close release date: Nov. 14, 2018.
But it wasn’t just all Fallout: Bethesda also had new installments to its other popular franchises, including the alternative-history Nazi shooting game Wolfenstein Youngblood, a new game in the industry-defining Doom series, a sequel to the post-apocalyptic shooter Rage and a new Elder Scrolls game. Oh, and that doesn’t include the free mobile Elder Scrolls Blades, or the upcoming space game Starfield.
E3 2018: A deeper look at Fallout 76
Ubisoft: The Division 2, Beyond Good & Evil 2 and the next Assassin’s Creed
Ubisoft got a lot of cheers from fans when it made announcements around Star Fox and Beyond Good and Evil 2. The French game company also discussed The Division 2, a sequel to its popular post-apocalyptic online shooting game, and offered full details on Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, the 11th major game in that series, this time set in Ancient Greece.
Square Enix left us wanting
E3 2018 was a great show if you wanted more info on Kingdom Hearts 3, the Final Fantasy/Disney mashup that was featured at the Xbox and PlayStation press conferences — and now confirmed to arrive in January 2019. And Shadow of the Tomb Raider, coming in September, looks like a solid third entry in the rebooted Lara Croft trilogy. But the Final Fantasy VII remake was nowhere to be found, and Just Cause 4 just isn’t doing it for us.
E3 2018: Kingdom Hearts 3 makes its debut on Xbox One
PlayStation showed off its exclusive portfolio
With a big lead in the current console generation — more than 70 million PS4s have been sold worldwide — Sony is sitting pretty. And for this E3, Sony leaned in to the PlayStation’s impressive catalog of exclusives by highlighting four big upcoming ones: The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, Spider-Man and Death Stranding. We also got glimpses of upcoming titles like Capcom’s remake of Resident Evil 2, the follow-up to samurai game Nioh and a look at an action game called Control.
Nintendo Switch: Fortnite is here now, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Mario Party hit later this year
It’s hard to believe that the Nintendo Switch is little more than a year old, but it shows no sign of slowing down in its sophomore year. Nintendo had three big reveals in its online Direct stream Tuesday, just as the E3 show floor was opening: Fortnite for the Switch is here now, and Super Mario Party and Super Smash Bros are coming later this year. Ultimate are official, and hitting the console in October and December, respectively. Oh, and SSBU — as the internet is destined to abbreviate it — features every Smash Bros. character ever, plus some all new ones thrown in for good measure.
Even more Nintendo news from GameSpot:
Even more games
Plenty of other publishers are showing their wares at E3. Here are some other titles we’re looking forward to, as covered by our colleagues at GameSpot:
The show’s not over yet! What about the rest of the news?
We still have CNET folks on the ground! Rest assured, more news is coming. We’ll add final stories of the week here. In the meantime, check our E3 feed for up-to-the-minute news.
I’m in Los Angeles! Is there still time to get in?
The biggest recent change is one that officially started last year, where the previously trade-only show was finally opened up to the public, offering a limited number of $150 to $250 “gamer pass” tickets for fans. (This replaces a poorly received secondary E3 fan event held nearby in 2016.)
The show floor is open to the public on Wednesday and Thursday as follows:
- Wednesday, June 13, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT
- Thursday, June 14, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT
The fans have definitely given the show an energy boost, even if it leads to bigger crowds and congested hallways.
The show is held at the Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown LA. The general pass for people in the games industry is free. A three-day pass for members of the public is $250 (roughly £185 or AU$330), with a limited number of early bird passes going for $150. A business pass with access to VIP services and panel discussions is $995.
More details are available at E3Expo.com.
Editors’ note: This was originally a preview story for E3 2018, and it has been updated extensively to be a wrap-up. CNET’s Ian Sherr and Dan Ackerman contributed to this story (and its earlier incarnations).
E3 2018 coverage at CNET: All of our E3 2018 coverage in one place.
E3 2018 coverage at GameSpot: Wall-to-wall coverage of the show from our sister site, GameSpot.
E3 2018 coverage at Giant Bomb: More commentary and news from E3, from our colleagues at Giant Bomb.