Nintendo is in a unique position going into its E3 2019 showcase. 2017 saw the company pulling out all the stops to reassure fans that their newest console (which was just launched a few months earlier) would be getting top-tier support for years to come. 2018 brought a decidedly less aggressive E3 presentation indicative of the Switch’s immediate success, solid third-party support, and the surefire sales of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokémon Let’s Go.
Nintendo’s E3 2019 is unique in that we already know most of what this year’s lineup is. Super Mario Maker 2, a game that’s almost guaranteed to take over streaming platforms for weeks after release, is dated as June 28th. Fire Emblem’s long-awaited return to home consoles is set for July 26th. And Astral Chain, the latest effort from Nier Automata’s lead game designer Takahisa Taura, is coming out August 30th.
This summer run of exclusives harkens back to 2017’s relentless pace of one first-party game per month (much like Bayonetta 2, Astral Chain is being published by Nintendo).
But it doesn’t end there.
Animal Crossing, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, and Link’s Awakening are all previously announced blockbusters that fall under the vague “2019” umbrella. Assuming that they’ll keep up that one per-month cadence, that effectively fills out the rest of Nintendo’s first-party lineup for the year.
What does this mean? Well, unlike Mario + Rabbids at E3 2017 or Super Mario Party at E3 2018, it’s very unlikely that Nintendo will have any other major announcements for new games…coming out this year, anyway. This E3 is going to be all about fleshing out the games we’re already aware of, emphasizing continued third-party/indie support, and planting some small seeds to look forward to in 2020 and beyond.
Without further ado, here are our Nintendo E3 predictions!
For the past few E3s Nintendo has consistently had a game that stands as the centerpiece of its E3 presentation. 2016 had Breath of the Wild, 2017 had Super Mario Odyssey, and 2018 had (maybe a little too much of) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. This year? It’ll be all about Animal Crossing.
The sales behemoth of a franchise has been virtually silent since its Metroid Prime 4-style reveal back in September of last year. No further details, social media promotion, staff commentary–nothing. It’s simultaneously the most anticipated (perhaps only rivaled by Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield) and least detailed Switch release of 2019.
While Nintendo is certainly no stranger to dropping massive bombshells in random Directs throughout the year, E3 feels like the perfect platform for an in-depth Animal Crossing presentation. And assuming it’s coming this fall, there’s a good chance it’ll get a dedicated Treehouse segment as well. We have more specific predictions for the future of the franchise here.
Platinum’s long-running relationship with Nintendo might just culminate in one of the best games this year. We still have a ton to learn about..well, every part of Astral Chain, really. Its story, characters, and the extent of its combat system are all still very much a mystery. If an enhanced port like Dragon Quest XI S got a major spotlight in February’s Direct, you better believe this Nintendo-published blockbuster will get more than a few minutes at E3.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
The fact that hype for Luigi’s Mansion 3 has been so low is both strange and completely understandable. It’s a game that series fans have wanted for ages, but it’s also the least we’ve seen of the 2019 Nintendo stable outside of Animal Crossing’s static reveal image. Though we’re likely to see more in a Direct closer to launch, E3 would be the opportune time to remind players that this is still coming out.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Between its thorough spotlight in the February Nintendo Direct and a massive Famitsu feature, Fire Emblem: Three Houses shouldn’t need much more than a polished trailer to satiate fans…before its own dedicated Fire Emblem Direct in early-mid July, of course.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
The hunger for new Pokémon info is at an all-time high. Despite months of map and trailer analyses, plenty of questions still remain: What’s the rest of the new generation look like? How will gym battles play out this time around? What about the legendaries? Will Sobble actually be chronically depressed for his entire evolutionary line?
These are all pressing questions we need answers to, and the Pokémon Company knows it. Here’s hoping they just don’t reveal too much like they have leading up to past games.
Super Mario Maker 2
The recent Super Mario Maker 2 Direct and Invitational on June 8th have promo for this one thoroughly covered. It’ll nonetheless get a dedicated trailer in the E3 Direct, however, and might even reveal an unannounced game style…
News on Game Freak’s newest title has been slow, but that’s sure to change come E3. The company’s previous deviations from the Pokémon franchise have been stellar (Pocket Card Jockey, anyone?), so there’s a reason to have high hopes for this one. The ultimate hope? A demo shadow drop.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Character Reveal
By the time E3 rolls around Nintendo will have nine months to release the remaining DLC fighters for Smash (assuming they stick to their February 2020 goal). Revealing the second during their E3 Direct seems like a no-brainer. Who’ll be able to measure up to the Joker reveal hype, though? My money is on either Cuphead, Master Chief, or Dante.
Hail Mary Prediction:
A first glimpse at Super Mario Odyssey 2 gameplay (Galaxy 2-style) with a vague “2020” release date.
First-Party Brief Mentions
Being a remake of one of the most beloved Zelda games of all time, Link’s Awakening is by and large a known quantity. It’d make sense to show it again at E3, but it’s a game that most have already played at least once. No need to go for a deep dive on this one.
Daemon X Machina
Nintendo’s upcoming Armored Core-esque mech fighter has always seemed like a bit of a risky investment. This hunch was confirmed following the decidedly lukewarm response its February demo garnered. Still slated for a “Summer 2019” release, Marvelous should come out swinging with a trailer showing off a myriad of improvements based on copious amounts of fan feedback.
More realistically, though, Daemon X Machina will probably only receive a brief mention followed by an hour or so of Treehouse gameplay.
Major Third-Party Support
While the Switch hasn’t received the hottest third-party releases this year, it has been garnering a fair bit of support nonetheless. The fervor among the Marvel fan base after “Avengers: Endgame” should make Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order–which is out in July–a lock for having an E3 presence. DOOM Eternal might also make an appearance after it inevitably gets shown off at Bethesda’s conference the Sunday before; we already know it’s playable, after all.
One thing is for certain, though: major western publishers likely still won’t play ball this year. We won’t be seeing Madden 19, the new Call of Duty, or the rumored Watch Dogs 3 (despite Ubisoft and Nintendo’s close relationship) for the Switch. Instead, the majority of third-party announcements will continue to come from Japanese companies.
Square Enix has been an invaluable partner as of late and should at least reveal the release dates for Dragon Quest XI S and Oninaki. Capcom has been a bit dodgier with Switch support, but a proper Monster Hunter built from the ground-up for the hybrid would do a lot to bridge that divide.
Hail Mary Prediction:
Shin Megami Tensei V gameplay is finally shown off with a “Spring 2020” date tacked on for good measure.
It’s no secret that indies have been flourishing tremendously since Nintendo went all-in on supporting them with the launch of the Switch. From studio-saving success stories like Blossom Tales to already massive games like Hollow Knight getting even bigger on the platform, the Switch has become something of an indie haven in the two years it’s been on the market.
That said, only the most high profile indies have historically shown up during Nintendo’s E3 Direct. It’d make sense to show another quick glimpse of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night before its release the following week. Shovel Knight: King of Cards also needs a firm date after its admittedly disappointing delay from April. And while we’re on the subject, know what else needs a release date?
Hail Mary Prediction:
Ori and the Blind Forest.
That’s right. If Microsoft gave Studio MDHR the go-ahead to port Cuphead, why not let Moon Studios bring over Ori? Cuphead’s reign at the top of the eShop charts for the past month should only make the prospect that much more tantalizing.
And that’s a wrap! Nintendo is primed to have an absolutely packed E3 showcase this year. Think we might’ve missed something? Feel free to share your own predictions in the comments below!