We're expecting big things from Microsoft at Gamescom this year. After a cavalcade of PR cock-ups and communication mishaps, and what seems like U-turn upon U-turn, Microsoft have a chance to wipe the slate clean and do what they ought to have done from the start: give us reasons to buy an Xbox One. That means putting the console in the hands of the public, it means showing off the exclusive games that the company has been touting. The secretive morning showcase on Tuesday is being heavily tipped to contain an unannounced exclusive, and we're praying that the little sneaky comments and glimpses of Crackdown 3 might be fully realised in Cologne.
Bizarrely, Microsoft aren't streaming a press conference. We would have thought that it would have been the perfect opportunity for the company to deliver some simple facts and set a new message for a console that's looking markedly different in terms of features and services from the one that was produced back in late May. A clear line of self-publishing is needed, not to mention some kind of proof that this new Kinect camera is actually worth the money, and that its power is going to be used in innovative fashion, not as a wasted casual peripheral. There's going to be an enormous booth on the show floor, though, so the public will have plenty of opportunity to get in front of an Xbox One.
Sony always rock up to Gamescom with a strong, emphatic presence. Although they say that most of the focus will be on PS4, and we're looking out for a release date and more Vita crossover news, we reckon that there'll be a few current gen appearances. Beyond, GT6 and Rain will certainly be there, alongside the likes of Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, Infamous: Second Son, and Driveclub. Sony have been incredibly organised in locking down behind closed-doors opportunities, and expect them to take over a good half of one of the consumer halls like usual.
Nintendo are gracing Gamescom with their presence after they realised that doing so should probably be a priority if one has a new console coming out. To be honest, the Wii U might as well be coming out this Christmas, such is the minuscule impact it's had thus far. But Nintendo are keen to show off the likes of Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Sonic Lost World, Wii Party U, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and Super Mario 3D World. Mario Kart 8 will also be on the show floor, but remember that's not out until next year.
Neither Square nor Ubisoft have managed to fit us into their schedules (we had appointments cancelled at the last moment for the latter to our dismay) but both will be bringing hefty titles along to Cologne. Square in particular need to make an impression and will be hoping that Thief, Murdered: Soul Suspect, Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn, Final Fantasy X & X-2 HD Remaster, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13, and Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX can make an impact. There's been no word on Final Fantasy XV thus far, but we'll keep our eyes peeled.
Ubisoft will be looking to set Assassin's Creed to right with Black Flag, expect appearances from Watch Dogs too, as well as next-gen pillars The Crew and The Division. Ubisoft have also been touting a brand new IP, but they're not holding a press conference this year so we're looking ahead to the Sony presser potentially for this reveal.
We will be dropping in on EA, who are bringing a jam packed roster with them this year. "From Battlefield 4 and Command & Conquer to E3 Game of the Show Titanfall, EA SPORTS FIFA 14, The Sims 4 and Need for Speed Rivals as well as chart topping mobile titles from EA All Play, Chillingo and PopCap," UK MD Keith Ramsdale has said, and we'll be peering in on them on Friday.
Elsewhere, we'll be tapping up Bethesda for Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Elder Scrolls Online, and keeping an eye out for The Evil Within; we've got a date with CD Projekt first thing on Wednesday for a look at The Witcher III which is looking fabulous (emergency pants on standby-by); 2K are being very secretive about the new game that'll debut at Gamescom, but they'll also have The Bureau, NBA 2K14, and WWE 14 in attendance too.
Carl and I will be going big with the space sims and MMOs this year. We'll be chatting with Roberts Space Industries about Star Citizen and with Egosoft about X: Reunion, and we'll be catching up with the teams behind the likes of Firefall and WildStar as well as comprehensively covering everything that SOE and ProSieben.Sat have to offer -- especially Planetside 2 and Everquest Next.
We'll be touching base with Konami over Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 and PES 2014; we'll be looking in on Daedalic to chat to the team behind Memoria; we'll be touring the Warner Bros. booth to check out the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes amongst others; and Deep Silver will be serving up a few tasty little treats, including a look at Wasteland II and Dead Island: Epidemic.
You can click here to check out the latest news and updates from Gamescom 2013, do also keep abreast of action as it happens via our main site Twitter stream for 140 character reports straight from both the show floor and clandestine closed-door meetings. Our Facebook page will have a steady stream of site links too.
The Gamescom Hub is now live, and all of our feature coverage -- from hands-on write ups to video interviews to the adventures of Toby the Dealspwny -- will be found there as it comes in.
Basically, it's going to be a very busy week indeed! See you on the other side!