10 Things That Would Have Made E3 2011 More Exciting

THERE’S NO SUGARCOATING IT: this E3 has been kind of boring. There have been two big hardware announcements – Nintendo’s Wii U and the PlayStation Vita — but in terms of games, there really hasn’t been a single blockbuster surprise, anywhere. Sure, people are excited about Battlefield 3 and Skyrim, but those were things everyone expected heading into E3.

You could argue this is just a result of the current generation of consoles getting long in the tooth, that publishers are happy to run out the clock with popular franchises like Gears and Mass Effect and Call of Duty and save the new IPs and groundbreaking stuff for the next generation of consoles (whenever that is). But there’s no question: there’s been very little buzz about any new games this year.

On the other side of the fence, people say, “you’re just jaded! What did you expect? What would have made this E3 exciting?” Plenty, I say. Here’s a list of 10 completely plausible happenings that would have added a lot more buzz to this year’s E3.

Anything from Valve. Half-Life Episode 3. Defense of the Ancients 2. A ping-pong game within Portal. ANYTHING from Valve would have added some life into this E3.

A launch date for The Old Republic. Bioware’s Star Wars MMO has continued to slip, and it was especially disappointing just getting a cinematic trailer out of the EA press conference. A firm launch date, especially if it was something like September 2011, would have generated a lot of buzz.

Something cool using the Wii U controller. Nintendo’s new controller looks both awesome and insane. And I have high hopes that they’ll find cool stuff to do with it. But they had nothing really exciting to show at E3. None of Nintendo’s evil game geniuses have whipped up any game demos with it yet that do anything more than just show the big screen on the little screen?

A reveal of GTA V. Rockstar didn’t even have to show off the game. Just a 2 minute trailer during the Sony or Microsoft briefings would have gotten some buzz.

Something from Epic that isn’t Gears. A new IP? A return to Unreal or Unreal Tournament? Cliffy B juggling Wii U controllers?

Pikmin 3.We found out Tuesday that Miyamoto-san has indeed moved work on P3 from the Wii to Wii U. No prototypes at all? Even if it did absolutely nothing with the new Wii U controller, people would have gone nuts to see a teaser for a new HD Pikmin during the Nintendo conference.

Blizzard + Diablo.Blizzard’s not even at E3 this year, as they save all their big stuff for their own events these days (like BlizzCon). Having them around to show Diablo III would have been fun, especially if they could have put a release date on the game.

Respawn. With all the hoopla surrounding Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, imagine if you threw the new company formed by Vince Zampella and Jason West (formerly of Infinity Ward) into that mix. Of course, they’re probably nowhere near ready to show off their first game, and a teaser trailer probably would have had a hard time stacking up to the actual gameplay we’re seeing out of BF3 and MW3 … but it still would have been fun.

More Bioshock Infinite. Ken Levine and the folks at Irrational have been playing things close to the vest with their latest Bioshock game, and you can respect that. But considering how crazy awesome the first trailer for the game was, along with the 9 minutes of footage they released last year, the new trailer — which looks like a lot of footage we’ve seen before — just wasn’t enough.

A Return of a Classic Franchise. Which franchise? Take your pick. Syndicate? A new X-Wing / TIE Fighter? How about a crazy MechWarrior reboot for the Wii U, using the touchscreen to manage all the mech systems? A new Ultima game? I’m willing to bet that at least one of these games is in the process of being rebooted somewhere, and this E3 would have been the perfect place to unveil it.