As Gamescom begins, big expectations from major players

Colin Campbell, Wednesday, August 23rd, 2023 11:03 am

Opening night at Gamescom – the annual convention held in Cologne, Germany – is usually the starting point for gaming’s busiest time of the year. As we barrel towards the Northern fall, trailers and release dates herald incoming games, big and small. Here’s a look at updates from some of the most notable franchises, new and old, in gaming.


Bethesda released a stirring trailer for its incoming space epic role-playing game Starfield, which launches on September 6 (early access is available on September 1). It’s the company’s first new franchise in 25 years, and is likely one of the biggest games of the year. 

Company head Todd Howard was on hand to boost the game’s appeal to an enthusiastic opening night crowd. “A lot of gamers out there, we have dreamt of a game where we look to the skies and we can blast off into space and explore,” he said. “We’ve done that with The Elder Scrolls and the Fallout series but we wanted to do something brand new, where you could explore the galaxy with complete freedom.”

Assassin’s Creed Mirage

It’s been three years since the Viking-based Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and it feels like the time is right for Ubisoft’s long-running historical stealth-combat-exploration saga took a slightly different turn. Mirage – set for release on October 5, will be shorter than recent games, with more focused missions and stories. 

Judging by the beautiful new trailer, its central location of 9th century Baghdad will mark a triumphant return to the Middle East. Speaking about the location, artistic director Jean-Luc Sala said: “We started our research on Baghdad very early on. The more we learned, the clearer it became that this city was a perfect setting for a game. At the time, Baghdad was the center of the world, a vibrant lively city, and one that would make the perfect playground for aspiring assassins.”

Little Nightmares 3

Bandai Namco dropped an announcement trailer for the third installment in the distinctive platform, puzzle, and stealth series. Due for release next year, the game features two odd-looking protagonists – Low and Alone – creeping through a place called The Spiral, full of foreboding and dangers. It’s a co-op game, with single-player options. 

“Low and Alone are each equipped with their own iconic items that will allow you to solve various puzzles and defend yourself against the new and dangerous challenges that await you,” writes Bandai Namco’s Maya Ziani on PlayStation Blog. “You’ll be able to interact with the world using Low’s bow and arrows and Alone’s wrench, but you’ll also need your wits, tenacity, and creativity to survive your trip across the Spiral.”

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Shooter fans enjoyed an extended trailer for Modern Warfare 3 (out on November 10) showing a visually impressive submarine-launched operation against a heavily fortified castle. 20 games into the series, no-one is harboring expectations of high originality, but it’s also true that developer Sledgehammer Games knows how to produce a slick FPS, and the company has stated that missions will be less linear than in years gone by.

Narrative director Brian Bloom recently told The Washington Post: “If you could picture a screenplay page where action would ordinarily be written, the typical version would be ‘See X as we approach X, and X are moving toward X. Now, I had at the very beginning in a bracket for every action that says, ‘if/when.’ That’s an exciting development for us.”

Mortal Kombat 1

We’re only a few weeks away from the release of the 12th main installment in the 80 million-selling fighting franchise (September 19). But that’s just enough time to show off gruesome fatalities. For example, Warner Bros latest trailer shows General Shao having his arms and head ripped off. 

According to development head Ed Boon, the reboot suggested in the game title might be a draw for new fans. “There’s a big number 1 in the title,” he told Gamesradar. “If a player was looking at MK11 and thinking to themselves: ‘I’ve missed the first 10, I can’t jump into this one,’ then yeah, maybe this one is a better game to on-board new players. The fact is we are telling a new story, literally from the big bang of this universe, it’s a new story that we’re creating.”

Sonic Superstars

Sega confirmed that its latest Sonic games will be released on October 17, just a few days before the release of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. Wonder. A trailer for the upbeat action game, in which players can take on the roles of favorite characters like Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles, showed four-player co-ops mode, and online battle mode. 

In an interview with Videogames Chronicle, creative officer Takashi Iizuka recently talked about bringing a classic 16-bit-era franchise to new audiences. “I didn’t want the 2D Sonic to just be ‘retro’ gameplay, I wanted it to appeal to a new audience. So it really needs to look unique and like something like a modern casual person would see and say, ‘oh, that’s a new game’. It also needed content that a non-hardcore fan would expect from that sort of title. We’re taking what people liked from the classic games in the series, putting a new look on top, while still keeping the same feel.”

Alan Wake 2

Also due for release on October 17, Alan Wake 2 is the survival horror sequel to the 2010 original, which was noted for its original approach to storytelling. The new game tells the story of a fiction author trapped in a nightmare dimension, and trying to write his way out. 

Speaking on the use of a dream-like reality as a setting, creative director Sam Lake told Entertainment Weekly: “It felt like a fascinating idea of using different mediums to communicate this idea of you are slightly unbalanced and you don’t quite know what to expect.”

You can find out more about Gamescom, including livestreams, here.

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell has been reporting on the gaming industry for more than three decades, including for Polygon, IGN, The Guardian, Next Generation, and The Economist. © 2024 | All Rights Reserved.