What to expect from the Wii U at E3 2012
E3 is almost upon us and Nintendo is expected to unveil many of the final details about the Wii U console. While the company has said that it won’t reveal the price or launch date, they will most certainly reveal many games for the new console. So far the company has confirmed that Pikmin 3, Zelda, and a Super Mario game will be showcased at the event. Third party publishers will be revealing their big Wii U titles as well. Since last year, they have had plenty of time to get familiar with the new hardware and work on Wii U specific features and incorporate the tablet controller into their game designs. Here’s a run down of what we expect to be unveiled at E3.
Wii U games at E3
We expect Nintendo to reveal a bunch of first party titles, including ones that are pretty much confirmed. Here’s the list of games likely to be announced, according to various rumors, trademark and domain registrations made by Nintendo:
Nintendo has confirmed that they will showcase a new Super Mario game at E3 (in addition to New Super Mario Bros Mii), and that Pikmin 3 will be playable at the show. Be sure to also check out the full Wii U games list for all the titles that have been confirmed and are officially in development for the console.
Third party games and expectations
We expect third party publishers to reveal their Wii U exclusives at E3 as well. So far only one exclusive has been announced: Killer Freaks From Outer Space by Ubisoft. All major publishers, including EA, Activision, THQ, and Square Enix have at one point or another confirmed having Wii U games in development. It’s likely we’ll see many of those titles revealed at E3. One of the biggest third party supporters is Ubisoft, who is bringing 7 Wii U games for launch, 5 of which will be casual titles. Star Wars-maker LucasArts is rumored to be unveiling a unique game for the new console as well.
Another area where we could get some third party excitement is the software market. Epic Games has been rumored to have made it possible to run the upcoming Unreal Engine 4 on the Wii U, and both Crytek and id Software could reveal Wii U versions of their game engine software; the CryEngine 3 and the id Tech 5, respectively. Finally, we could see support from smaller, cheaper engines on the new console, software like the Unity Engine, which is already available for the Wii and other platforms.
Wii U console and hardware reveals
We expect Nintendo to reveal the finalized Wii U console, and release some of the system specs. However, it’s unlikely we’ll get the full specs showdown, as Nintendo isn’t known for this. We do expect the company to unveil some Wii U accessories, and although this is unlikely, possible Wii U models could be revealed as well. Some of the accessories previously hinted at include the Wii U Zapper attachment, which has been modified to hold the large touchscreen controller. Finally, Nintendo could announce a docking station for the controller — the company recently obtained a patent for a simple dock. In fact, the dock looks simple and cheap enough to be included with the console free of charge. While Nintendo is unlikely to unveil the specs, developers with access to the hardware might give details about the Wii U CPU, the Wii U GPU and other specs.
Other Wii U hardware announcements are likely to be centered around the new controller, which was recently revealed to have dual analog sticks and a rearranged button layout. We also expect to see some innovative uses of the NFC technology that the tablet controller has.
Wii U software, channels, and more
Last time, Nintendo didn’t show anything of the Wii U operating system, its menus, system software — only pre-loaded games were showcased. This time, we expect a walkthrough of the Wii U channels, the reveal of the Wii U Virtual Console and the Wii U eShop feature. The latter has already been confirmed to offer full retail games as downloadable titles at launch.
Things that could be revealed, but are probably unlikely
The rumor of a Wii U apps store just won’t die and Nintendo might reveal something at E3. While it’s unknown how this apps store will work and what will be allowed, it makes perfect sense to offer developers to create small, non-gaming apps for the tablet controller. We’ll see if these rumors are true. Another rumor is that the Wii U will support multiple tablet controllers, something Nintendo hinted at last year. But considering that the controller requires significant processing power and resources, two controllers still sound unlikely.
Crazy rumors and things that won’t be announced
One thing that won’t happen is a new name for the console (we have already gone into detail why this won’t happen). Another thing that just won’t happen is that games will remain at $50. The cost of developing games for the Wii U will likely surpass the cost of Xbox 360 and PS3 games, which already retail at $60. However it will be surprising, if not shocking, if games for the new console cost more than $60.
Nintendo’s pre-E3 press conference kicks off at 9AM on June 5 is Los Angeles. We’ll be there live-blogging the event, and we’ll cover the E3 conference as well. In addition, you’ll be able to watch it live via a stream on Nintendo’s E3 website.