As we quickly approach the most celebrated gaming convention of the year, I just want to point out a conundrum I'm having with myself, and that is the shocking similarity between the games I am looking forward to heading into the show.

Whether it is because I simply wasn't looking forward to any huge games during the previous holiday season, which turned out to be mostly true, or because the games I really want to play are spending an unusually long amount of time in development, the six games I most want to play heading into E3 2016 are nearly identical to the six games I most wanted to play back heading into E3 2015.

Most anticipated games of E3 2015

  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Persona 5
  • No Man's Sky
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Dragon Quest VII

And now, here are the games I am looking forward to most heading into E3 2016. Let's see if you can spot any differences.

Final Fantasy XV

Square Enix greatly downplayed its upcoming blockbuster Final Fantasy XV last year in order to make way for some smaller and generally surprising localization choices. I mean, if Square Enix indeed had dedicated an entire press conference to Final Fantasy XV, would the confirmations of NieR: Automata, I Am Setsuna, World of Final Fantasy and Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness have registered with fans at all?

The Square Enix loyalists were still in recovery mode from the epic Final Fantasy VII Remake explosion that rocked them the day before. After that, the series obviously needed a little bit of cooldown time, and Final Fantasy XV slipped out the fire exit.

And now we are getting it full blast heading into E3 2016. Final Fantasy XV will certainly be headlining the Square Enix show, and now that we have a release date, it's all beautiful, glorious, unadulterated hype from now until the end of September. I wonder if Square Enix is going to be able to top that excellent "Stand By Me" trailer from its exclusive press-conference earlier this year.

With the way the video game industry works these days, you never known when the next Final Fantasy will indeed be the actual "final fantasy." Right now, I don't want this feeling of excitement to end. We finally have a new entry in the beloved series to look forward to, and I think I prefer this blissful wishing and hoping to actually playing the game itself!

Persona 5

Again, much like Final Fantasy XV, Atlus didn't bring its upcoming JRPG hit to E3 2015 in any real capacity, probably understanding that it had at least had one more show in between then and the game's launch.

Unlike Final Fantasy XV though, Atlus has yet to grace us with an official North American release date. Japanese fans have already marked their calendars for Sept. 15 and planned for an entire week of hooky from school or work to play as a group of thieves who essentially play just as much hooky. Us, we're still hoping and praying for something not too far off, and definitely, not too close to Final Fantasy XV either.

Atlus and Square Enix sounding off with their two biggest franchises, going head to head in an E3 convention sounds like the stuff of dreams from my late 90s/early 2000s teenage years. Can't wait to see sparks fly between the genre's two leading giants.

The Legend of Zelda

If you're noticing a pattern here, it's because none of these games really showed up at the convention back in 2015. Three of the biggest and most beloved franchises in Japanese gaming history, and 2015 was totally devoid of a single one of them!

Oh well, that just stands to make 2016 all the better, doesn't it? And this year, Nintendo is shooting for the polar opposite effect of its 2015 experience. Last year showed off absolutely zero new Legend of Zelda footage, and compare that to this year in which The Legend of Zelda is the ONLY game it will be showing off!

The pairing of Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda under a single roof is a childhood dream of mine, and we should cherish every moment of E3 2016 because of it. You never know when either of these franchises are going to run out of steam with the way big console releases are trending these days.

As long as they headline their respective company's rosters though, they will always top my list of most anticipated games. It feels magical to still be playing these franchises after 25 or even 30 years, and that's something Call of Duty and all those silly mobile games still have a long way to catch up to.

No Man's Sky

We go from three no-shows at E3 2015 to a game that has become somewhat infamous for popping up big at conventions and then disappearing for months at a time!

We haven't even arrived at E3 2016, and already No Man's Sky is scoring headlines with rumors of a delay beyond its June 21 release date. While I am eagerly anticipating finally slipping into this universe through the extended powers of the DualShock 4, I am not excited about getting a new date to look forward to.

I've seen enough to sell me on this revolutionary title, but I'm getting to the point where any more footage or explanations is starting to kill the mystery for me. Of course, I know anything I see on stage I have a lightning strike's chance of bumping into in the actual game, but still… this is a title I actually hope comes up minimally a E3 2016.

I want it. I anticipate it. I need it. I just don't want to see anymore until it is secured in my hands. A date and radio silence from here on out, Hello Games.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor 2

…Hooray! You found the perpetrator. The defector. The n00bie to the list. Yes, now that The Phantom Pain has been released, it can no longer titillate us with jaw-dropping trailers and juicy behind the scenes drama. With this proper timing, I can only think of one game that can replace it also.

In fact, Shadows of Mordor and The Phantom Pain have a lot in common. Both star a super soldier in a relatively small open-world map launching a one-man insurrection against an entire opposing army. Cause chaos within the ranks, allure enemies into an alliance with you, take out named commanders. One just happens to take place in a goofy fantasy setting, and the other takes place in Middle-earth.

Really, the games aren't that different, so it makes sense for the sequel to replace Konami's final Metal Gear Solid.

It's also on here because I know the game will be announced thanks to a leak from earlier this year.

However, the main reason I'm going with Shadows of Mordor 2 is because, while this current generation has yet to produce any "classics" that I will be playing years from now, the first Shadow of Mordor probably tops the list as my favorite game on the new consoles. I want to see if a sequel can carry that reputation or if it was just a "one-off" accident that a Tolkien game landed on the top of my generational hits.

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past

Yes, yes, yes. YES, YES, YES! It's been a good long while since I've been able to straight up blow my top on how Nintendo and Square Enix treat Dragon Quest, mostly because they are taking it in the proper direction… for the time being. We don't have this game yet, but with both it and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King lined up for release, I can only assume that means good things for Dragon Quest XI.

Still, I don't yet have Dragon Quest VII installed on my Nintendo 3DS, and I am not yet able to sink the 100 hours I promised I would as a New Year's Resolution. Originally, Nintendo pegged this for a release in the summer, but a delay pushed it to later in the year.

Hey, we all knew that the translation for this monstrous game would take a long time, but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make on behalf of those behind the scenes. Thanks guys, you're the best!

Hopefully, E3 2016 has a release date for us, because I am really in need of some Dragon Quest in my life. Come on. You know the tune! Let's hum!