E3 is a time of continual surprise, of shock and agitation so extreme that your heart threatens to judder up your throat, out of your mouth and onto your head, like a cat trying to escape a bath. Unless, that is, some miserable blaggard spoils all the major reveals for you in advance.
But what kind of man would stoop so low as to deny you the thrill of hearing about a game, platform feature or similar for the very first time at a press conference, as the gods intended? Answer: a man like me. Here are seven earnest and modestly well-informed suppositions about Microsoft's E3 2014 presser, ranging from the obvious to the... less obvious. It's possible, of course, that there are other things on the way that I'm not allowed to tell you about yet. Hedge those bets accordingly, and if you have any other spoilers to share, sing out in the comments thread.
1. Microsoft will go nuts about Halo!
Last year's shabbily dressed teaser was but the snowball that starts the avalanche. A hefty proportion of E3 video time will undoubtedly consist of actual, in-game footage of Master Chief rocking Xbox One's socks off; you can expect a release date, too, and some extended thoughts about both single and multiplayer from developer 343 Industries. But will Xbox One's first Halo game be the quasi-mythical Halo 5, which appears to involve a "mysterious data chip" and "a Herculean effort to stay alive in a galaxy where sentient life is mercilessly hunted", or the hotly rumoured Halo 2: Anniversary, which is said to grant access to a Halo 5 beta? Given that the originator of that particular rumour has been proven right on other counts, and that Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has chosen not to deny it, I'm going to assume the latter.
2. We'll finally hear about Games with Gold for Xbox One!
According to Microsoft's PR boss Major Nelson, "details" of the Games with Gold program's transition to Xbox One will arrive this year. E3 2014 is the obvious date - there should be enough in the way of Xbox One titles on the shop to give some of them away by then, and it's possible that Microsoft will make certain smaller-scale indie games available for free straight out the door, after the example of Contrast on PS4. The firm will probably want to talk up Games with Gold on Xbox 360, too. Spencer has hinted that there may be further adjustments to the program - Microsoft is apparently "playing a more active role in picking franchises that show up in Games with Gold".
Update - Following the publication of this piece, Microsoft has confirmed that the first free Xbox One games with Gold will arrive in June - they'll be made available on a subscription-access basis.
3. Brace for Japanoclusive!
The Xbox One will launch in Japan on 4th September, so now would be a very good time to start bigging up any hypothetical exclusive games or services that hail from/are aimed at the region. Exclusive games like the one Phil Spencer keeps talking about, which could be a Phantom Dust reboot. Or a new game from Platinum, developer of Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Vanquish. The latter studio's Hideki Kamiya wasn't impressed by speculation on this front earlier in the year, but what does he have to say for himself now? Let's find out.
I see. RT @Laplasakos Rumor is that Platinum is making at least an exclusive game for Xbox One.— 神谷英樹 Hideki Kamiya (@PG_kamiya) May 10, 2014
How very... non-committal of you, Kamiya-san. The tweet above contrasts interestingly to much of Kamiya's feed, which is distinguished by such pronouncements as:
REPEAT AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN : As I've told you 1000000000000000000000000000000000 times take your argument elsewhere or I'll block you.— 神谷英樹 Hideki Kamiya (@PG_kamiya) May 8, 2014
I think this is doublespeak, personally. Will Platinum's first Xbox One game run at 1000000000000000000000000000000000p?