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Gearing Up for E3

What gaming's biggest expo has in store

We've got less than a month until the ultimate gaming expo, when devotees from all across the land will convene in Los Angeles and celebrate the future of the industry. E3 will take place from June 7th to the 9th this year at the Los Angeles Convention Center. More and more titles are being confirmed to appear, and it looks like we'll be getting a solid roundup of previews. 

This year does seem to be sequel city. The infamous Duke Nukem Forever will be making its grand entrance--although perhaps it's been too long for it to count as a sequel anymore. It's moved past the purgatory of sequeldom into gaming Valhalla, and at long last will fall from the skies into our open console trays. Maybe. 2K will also be parading the latest in the BioShock series. The new title will take place not in the submerged neo-Atlantis of Rapture, but up in the sky in a big floaty city. I guess they're going for less Ayn Rand and more Jules Verne. BioShock Infinite is not a direct sequel or prequel to the first two BioShock games, but another release within the BioShock universe with similar gameplay. It's not clear exactly where Infinite fits in with the goings-on of Rapture. All we know is that its events take place before those of the first Bioshock. The air-city game world does look like good fun, and those who enjoyed the historical fiction elements of the Bioshock series thus far will probably be pleased with Infinite's take on 20th century American exceptionalism. 

Over in Bethesda's corner, we'll have the fifth installation in the Elder Scroll series. The events of ESV: Skyrim will take place two hundred years after the highly praised Oblivion, but will retain the good old open world RPG gameplay of its predecessors. The game boasts a fresh AI model with more complex NPC interactions, where different characters behave differently depending on the choices you've made for your own character. We'll also be seeing previews of Mass Effect 3 right on schedule as Bioware rounds out their hugely successful space epic. The sequel was built to be the most challenging in the series, with refined combat and more weapon options to help with gunning down the improved enemy AI. Bioware will also preview the hotly anticipated Star Wars: The Old Republic, a massively multiplayer game set in the Star Wars universe and set 300 years after Knights of the Old Republic. BioWare has had a much better grasp of the Star Wars universe than LucasArts lately, so I'm glad they're the ones fronting the MMORPG. 

Gears of War 3 will also rear its head at E3 after having broken all kinds of presale records. In less exciting sequel news, we'll see another Silent Hill, another Soul Calibur, another Assassin's Creed, and maybe even another Harvest Moon. A Metal Gear Solid sequel is rumored but not confirmed. A slew of 3DS titles, including Kingdom Hearts 3D, will be shown from Nintendo's corner, and the Japanese gaming giant might even preview a few games on their Project Cafe console. 

As for original games, two stand out as being particularly promising. Dead Island will make the rounds after seeing its trailer go viral over the past few months. The market may already be saturated with zombie games, some of them quality, but Dead Island promises some unique gameplay in its emphasis on melee combat and realistic zombie destruction. It intends to feel more like an RPG than a shooter, with as many moments of eerie suspense as spurting gore. 

We'll also get a peek at Rage, a post-apocalyptic first person shooter developed by id Software and published by Bethesda. The events of the game take place in the near future after a meteor takes out a good chunk of human civilization. The game is reminiscent of the Fallout series in its wasteland aesthetic and plot: your character escapes a sealed sanctuary to explore the ruined earth he's been protected from only to find a troubling anarchistic political climate. There are even mutants to shoot at, which is a little confusing given that meteors usually don't affect the human genome the same way nuclear bombs do. I love the post-apocalyptic aesthetic, but let's hope this isn't a weaker Fallout 3 clone. 

While the game list is not entirely filled yet, you can browse the rest of the confirmed and speculated E3 titles over at Gameinformer. If you're lucky enough to be headed to E3 this year, let us know how the demos pan out.