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E3 2011′s press confs – The big boys go nuclear

This year's E3 will be a scorcher, setting off the next hardware arms race with Nintendo's Project Café and seeing the unveiling of what are likely to be this generation's biggest games.

Here's a breakdown of E3 2011's main press conferences and what to expect from them. Put these dates in your diary now.

Konami - Thursday, June 2 - E3's first main event, half-a-week before it actually kicks off.

In terms of core action last year, Konami gave us a date for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the first story details of MGS: Rising and teased Silent Hill: Downpour for the first time.

This year you'll see more on Downpour and hopefully a date. Kojima will undoubtedly be the star attraction, with MGS: Rising, MGS 3DS and his NGP project all on show. Dreamers can keep hoping for a Zone of the Enders 3 reveal.

Could we also see a Mercury Steam-led Castlevania sequel? We might. Last we heard, plans were at an advanced stage, so don't be too surprised if it's teased.

Microsoft - Monday, June 6: 9am PST, 12pm EST, 5pm BST, 6pm CET, 3am Sydney (Tuesday June 6) - The first of the platform holders

Microsoft's E3 thrust was Kinect last year. Launching the motion device permeated everything the company did at the show. Its press conference was relatively light on core material, but we did get Black Ops and a Call of Duty DLC exclusivity agreement, Metal Gear Solid: Rising, Halo Reach, Fable III and Gears of War 3, as well as the announcement of Codename Kingdom from Microsoft Game Studios and Crytek and the 360 Slim reveal.

From there on out, it was Kinect city. Don't expect things to have changed too much this year. Kinect will play a very important role in Microsoft's E3 conference - it would need to, what with 10 million sales worldwide since last November - but the question is whether or not the company will start pushing core content for the device in earnest. We're going to bet on the affirmative.

There's going to be a lot of Kinect stuff. Expect new services, new games from Rare, Dance Central 2 and maybe even the MGS Vancouver core shooter.

Motion aside, expect a demo of the still-unannounced Modern Warfare 3, and most likely an extension to that DLC deal that was announced last year, which saw MS tie up Black Ops' first two map packs as timed exclusives.

You'll almost certainly get Gears of War 3, Metal Gear Solid: Rising, Forza Motorsport 4 and, hopefully, more on Kingdom.

Last year's MGS: Rising E3 trailer.

And isn't it about time we seen what 343 Industries is doing with Halo outside of Waypoint and map packs for Halo Reach? This is the series' 10th anniversary after all. We're going long: you'll get a first look at the next Halo game.

Of course, all of this is easily guessable. The big question is whether or not Microsoft will bring the all-important super-nuke. With Rockstar likely to show Agent for the first time in the Sony conference this year, could GTA V get its reveal here as part of a Microsoft deal? Don't bet against it.

EA: Monday, June 6 - 12:30pm PST, 3:30pm EST, 8:30pm BST, 9:30pm CET, 6:30am Sydney - The first of the main third-parties

Last year, EA gave everyone a look at Dead Space 2, Medal of Honor, Crysis 2, Bulletstorm and more info on Star Wars: The Old Republic, making it undoubtedly the strongest publisher conference of E3 for the core.

This will, again, be the main third-party publisher conference for the show.

The key focus will be Battlefield 3 and Mass Effect 3. The DICE-helmed main competitor to this year's Call of Duty is shaping up very nicely: look for a final release date and timing on that multiplayer beta for Medal of Honor players.

A Mass Effect 3 release date? We're going to bet on gamescom for that. The RPG was recently pushed out into the first quarter of 2012, so we've got a little way to go yet.

All eyes will be on BioWare for another reason this year: a release date for The Old Republic. The MMO, being made in Austin, is seen as the strongest threat to World of Warcraft on the market. A release date announcement is likely, but it may be in the first calendar quarter of 2012.

Count on appearances as well from Need for Speed: The Run and Kingdoms of Amalur. EALA has confirmed it's working on a new Medal of Honor title, but this may still be too early. Whatever the game is, it's almost certainly going to be aimed at holiday 2012. It'd be great to see a tease, though.

On the EA Sports side, expect confirmation and details on its Persistent ID system as well as showings of SSX and its next fighting title, most likely to be MMA going by the two-year dev cycles between it and Fight Night. EA chose gamescom to showcase FIFA last year, and we're guessing it's a formula it's going to stick to.

The Café reveal will be the biggest story of E3 2011 by a country mile. History in the making. A once in a generation teraton - a new Nintendo console

As for EA Partners, expect new announcements under new EAP boss Brian Neider: barring some kind of spacetime disaster, expect Starbreeze's Syndicate reboot to be announced.

There are some other big possibilities from EAP. It wouldn't be a far reach to expect a first glimpse of Insomniac's first multi-plat game, but the clocks will stop if Zampella and West decide to reveal the first Respawn game this year. It's supposed to be further out than the Insomniac title, but we love the drama: don't blink.

Ubisoft: Monday, June 6 - 2:30pm PST, 5:30pm EST, 10:30pm BST, 11:30pm CET, 8:30am Sydney

Ubisoft's had mixed showings at previous E3 press conferences. The content's there but there are undeniable presentation "issues," which resulted last year in a bizarre game of laser tag. Oddities aside, however, Ubisoft's 2011 event is likely to be the strongest we've seen from the company in many years.

Child of Eden was fully unveiled last year, and we got to see Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, an announcement for Driver: San Francisco and Michael Jackson: The Experience. As well as infamous light-based pew-pew thing.

Assassin's Creed: Revelations will be a big deal for Ubi this year, but it may not be the centrepiece: Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is most likely the publisher's main event, and you should expect plenty of pomp. It's the series's 10th anniversary, and if you look carefully you can be reading between the lines at this point.

We'll get another look at Driver: San Francisco and most likely more on From Dust.

We also haven't see Rayman Origins since last E3. Time for Michel Ancel to show us it again? And speaking of Ancel, what about BG&E2? Ubisoft insists its still in development, but beyond its Ubidays 2008 teaser - and possibly a leaked demo from E3 two years ago - we've seen nothing on it for three years.

And of course, there's Ubisoft Toronto. It's well known that the studio, headed by ex-Assassin's Creed boss Jade Raymond, is working on a new Splinter Cell game with Conviction devs Maxime Beland and Alex Parizeau. We'd go as far as to say this is a likely hit.

And there's that little thing called Far Cry 3. How about it, Ubisoft Montreal?

BG&E2. It's a real thing.

Word to the wise: be watching the Ubisoft conference carefully. Expect a few shocks.

Sony: Monday, June 6 - 5pm PST, 8pm EST, 1am BST, 2am CET, 11am Sydney

Last year, Sony went overboard on 3D and Move, resulting in less stage time for the likes of Gran Turismo 5.

inFamous 2 got its first proper trailer, Gabe Newell announced Portal 2 and Steamworks support for PS3, Twisted Metal was unveiled (despite denials from David Jaffe he was working on it) and Kevin Butler appeared on stage.

This year, unfortunately, it's about damage control for Sony.

Tragically, a 2011 that looked so promising for PS3 in terms of software - Killzone 3, LittleBigPlanet 2, inFamous 2, the ICO and SotC HD remixes, The Last Guardian, Motorstorm Apocalypse, Resistance 3 and Uncharted 3 were all slated for 2011 shipping - the company will be on the back-foot from the start of its press conference as a result of the ongoing PSN blackout.

We're really going to see what Jack's made of this time.

Thankfully, Sony has a huge amount of interest to discuss. Its press conference will most certainly be seen as a step in regaining trust from PSN users, but will also play host to some major software showcases and, of course, details on NGP's launch.

This will be the first main showing of Sony's next-generation handheld since its January unveil in Tokyo. Expect its full proper name - we've placed £1 million on PSP2 - pricing, worldwide launch dates and new games from both first- and third-parties.

Kojima's NGP project will be shown, we'll see more of Uncharted and there's bound to be a great deal more. NGP will be one of E3's major stories.

Also expect a Final Fantasy bonanza from Square Enix. A new FFXIII-2 trailer is probable, as is formal confirmation of a release date for FFXIV on PS3 and western releases of Type 0 and Versus XIII.

Considering the former is releasing in Japan sometime this summer and the latter is likely for a 2012 launch in Japan, we reckon you could be looking at spring 2012 for Type 0. Versus's release is a bit of a mystery at this point, but hopefully we'll get a proper update.

Sony's major third-party ticket, though, is expected to be Rockstar's Agent. Tretton announced this as a PS3 exclusive in 2009, so the time's right. If this does happen, expect a multiple warhead warning and distribution of free sunglasses.

The main first-party headliners will be Uncharted 3, Resistance 3 and The Last Guardian. Naughty Dog's already promising special things for the show. Both R3 and U3 have already been dated for September and November respectively, but with TLG delayed from its original holiday 2011 launch to a likely early 2012 release, expect a proper demo and a launch timeframe.

Quantic Dream's been hinting at an E3 announce for its next game, which is to be published by Sony. David Cage's studio is working on two titles at the moment, with the last rumour being that the next one is a sci-fi love story, although Cage has denied it.

We may even hear what Sony Santa Monica is up to following the release of God of War III, although it's unlikely. God of War IV? Almost certainly. Definitely going to see something? Really not. Probably next year for this.

Obviously, expect to hear more on the second round of Move titles. What they are, we don't know.

And Kevin Butler will show up in a diamond limo that was bought by the PSN info leak (we kid).

If Tretton plays his cards right and is suitably humble about what's happened this year with PSN, the sheer strength of Sony's hardware and software offering could make 2011 a golden E3 year for the company.

Nintendo - Tuesday, June 7: 9am PST, 12pm EST, 5pm BST, 6pm CET, 3am Sydney (that's Wednesday, June 8 in Australia)

This is boom-time, baby.

After three consecutive underwhelming E3 press conferences - Mario Kart Wii, Wii Fit, GTA: Chinatown Wars, Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M - Nintendo finally came out top last year with plenty of core content for Wii and DS and a terrific 3DS unveiling.

This year, Nintendo will launch the next hardware generation proper.

Nintendo is set to announce its next-gen Wii successor, codenamed Project Café, in Los Angeles on June 7. There's been so much rumour on the machine, but very little is really known other than its 2012 launch.

Nintendo is apparently looking to recapture core attention this time, so you may well see Café games that don't fit with the traditional Nintendo image. You may actually see a gun.

It's all going to be about Café and 3DS this time. In terms of Wii, we don't quite know what to expect other than Zelda, although a new Kirby title for the platform was announced back in January.

And maybe we'll finally see confirmation of a western release for Mistwalker's The Last Story? Pandora's Tower? Will we ever get more details on the Vitality Sensor? We'll know soon.

Expect to see 3DS comes into its own in terms of software, as the handheld's "launch window" ends. There's bound to be a final look at Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D before its June 17 EU launch, as well as dates for Starfox, Kid Icarus and Mario Kart.

We'll also get to see Super Mario 3DS for the first time, following a GDC tease by Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata.

Expect to see some massive third-party stuff for 3DS, too. We're still to see a western release date for Capcom's Resident Evil: Mercenaries - it launches on June 2 in Japan. And what about Metal Gear Solid 3DS: Snake Eater? This was due to drop in spring, but sort of hasn't.

For God's sake don't miss this, though. The Café reveal will be the biggest story of E3 2011 by a country mile. History in the making. A once in a generation teraton - a new Nintendo console.

We'll have exhaustive coverage on the day.

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