We're mere days away from Gamescom, and as the convention gears up to be not just Europe's, but one of the world's biggest gaming trade shows, we're getting ourselves prepped for some sweet reveals.
That said, some expectations will have to be checked like an oversized suitcase. For example, Xbox will be present, but it won't put on a media briefing this year - and likely not discussing Project Scorpio, given that the souped-up Xbox One semi-successor isn't due out until next holiday.
As for Sony, PlayStation is skipping the show altogether - presumably to conserve hype for September 7 when it's reported to unveil the PS4.5 Neo. You best not get hopes for any details on Nintendo's elusive NX console, while you're at it.
However, just because the Big Three won't be the movers and shakers we'd expect from something like E3 doesn't mean you should skip out on Gamescom. There's still ample room for some fun surprises to crop out from Cologne, such as...
Bandai Namco announcing its new IP
With brands like Ace Combat, Soulcalibur, Ridge Racer, Tekken, and just about every game based on an anime under its belt, Bandai Namco is not short for intellectual property. However, like a Dark Souls boss fight, that won't stop the publisher from taking a risk and wading into the unknown.
While the company still plans to show up with titles from long-established series like Tekken 7 and Dragon Ball Z Xenoverse 2, Bandai Namco says it has an unannounced original IP up its sleeve to debut at Gamescom.
While details are slim, sources tell Shacknews that the game will be targeted towards Western audiences. Perhaps a spiritual successor to Ninja Theory's woefully underrated Enslaved: Odyssey to the West? From Software's newest project since concluding the Dark Souls trilogy? Only time will tell.
Speaking of brand management...
Blizzard's got something for everyone
The folks who brought you World of Warcraft and Diablo love keeping a busy schedule at Gamescom, and this year is no exception.
In addition to several livestreams and a special presentation, Blizzard will also be showing off a peek at WoW's upcoming Legion expansion, a Heroes of the Storm tournament, and the debut of a new Overwatch short featuring the lovably lethal automaton, Bastion.
Considering the balls Blizzard is currently juggling - from the aforementioned World of Warcraft: Legion, to last week's launch of a new Hearthstone adventure, to recently celebrating over 15 million players in Overwatch - odds are pretty high that at least one of Blizzard's ongoing and successful franchises will have something new announced.
One of rumors on the street is that a remaster of the original RTS smash StarCraft is in the works, according to US Gamer. With BlizzCon around the corner, it wouldn't shock us if The Blizz teases something big to get fans pumped up for its proprietary convention in November.
The Nosolus Rift turns out to be real
Oh goodness, this thing.
In anticipation of South Park's sophomore (or depending on your view, sophomoric) follow-up to 2014's The Stick of Truth, South Park: The Fractured But Whole is lampooning the likes of VR in a way only South Park can.
The Nosolus Rift, announced last week, plans to take "virtual reality taken to the next level" - by being an olfactory take of the Oculus Rift...that lets you smell farts.
Considering that flatulence is a superpower in the world of The Fractured But Whole, the development team decided the only way truly immerse players into their game was to strap a foul-smelling wearable to their face.
At first, we thought (and hoped) this was just another one of Matt Stone & Trey Parker's trademark over-exaggerated parodies, but publisher Ubisoft insists that you'll be able to try the Nosolus Rift for yourself at Gamescom. Heaven have mercy on those who do.
[NOTE: The video below may be NSFW. This is South Park, after all.]
Oculus Touch gets a release date
VR is inescapable at any video game gathering in 2016 - so much so that you could devise a lethal drinking game just from counting how many attendees you see with an Oculus Rift strapped to their face.* (Note that we said could and not should there.)
While the Rift released for public consumption earlier this year, the Oculus Touch - the VR headset's motion controller companion - remains at large. Originally slated to release in the first half of 2016, the Touch wound up needing more time in the oven - moving to the second half of 2016 instead.
We saw the Touch for ourselves back at E3 this past June - and over 30 games are expected to use the controllers come launch day - so we at least have confidence Oculus hasn't left the device to wither on the vine.
We wouldn't be surprised if Palmer Luckey & Co. drop a few more bread crumbs about the Touch this week at Gamescom. If anything, it would make sense to aim for a holiday release date now so Oculus can save something juicier - such as opening up preorders - for its own Connect conference in October.
Rockstar surprising us with Red Dead Redemption 2 (please)
Last but not least, an obligatory wish fulfillment prediction!
Take-Two Interactive, the publisher behind the you-miiight-have-heard-of-them Rockstar Games, will be making an appearance at Gamescom. That's not the exciting part, however.
During its latest earnings report, Take-Two briefly stated that Rockstar is "hard at work on some exciting future projects" which it plans to reveal soon, according to GameSpot.
Like clockwork, fans posited that a sequel to 2010's Red Dead Redemption is in works - with the game resurging to public consciousness lately thanks to the Western epic's debut on Xbox One last month, and a possible leak showing what appears to be a map to a new Red Dead game.
It's almost a guarantee that Take-Two won't overshadow its upcoming open-world game, Mafia III, with a surprise announcement of RDR2, but hey - this is the stuff dreams are made of.
[Top Image Credit: Marco Verch, via Flickr]
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