In just a few hours time, the eyes of millions of gaming fans around the world will turn to Los Angeles, as the giant gaming expo E3 gets underway. With press conferences, new game announcements, trailers, reveals, and surprises galore, it's an exciting time of year for the people who make, and the people who play the games alike, as we get to discover what we'll be playing for the next 12 months and beyond. There'll be more information about the biggest games, from LEGO Batman 3 to Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, to family favourites like Disney Infinity 2.0 and Skylanders Trap Team, with plenty more in between.
For four solid days, the area around the Los Angeles Convention Centre is taken over by games, as buildings are covered in murals, posters go up, and the press and important industry types descend en masse to let the world know what they've been up to, before the internet ignites with debate about who showed the best games, and who "won" E3.
As ever, we'll be keeping you up to date with all the latest news, opinion and goings-ons, in our trademark irreverent fashion, letting you know everything you need to know about the games that'll appeal to you, and that the other sites may ignore. If you follow us on Twitter, you'll be treated to regular updates from the lovely Beth (@Rorru), who will be taking control of the @everybody_plays account for the evening - so feel free to drop by and say hi!
Even if you've never really paid that much attention to E3 before, it's easier than ever to get involved. With all the action and press conferences streamed live around the world over the internet, anyone with a working internet connection (well, that rules out our Co-Editor Sarah, then) can tune in, and see what the world's games developers have up their sleeves.
Things kick off tonight at 5:30 PM UK time with the Microsoft conference, followed closely by EA, Ubisoft, and then Sony in the small hours of the morning at 2am. On Tuesday, we're granted a brief respite, before Nintendo kick off their show in the evening, and the doors to E3 open proper, as thousands of journalists descend onto the show floor. Over the next few days, there'll be yet more announcements, tonnes of info, and plenty of new games being discovered - and we'll keep you up to date with all of it.
But what can we expect?
While 2013 was a transition year for the world of gaming, as new consoles were released, development priorities shifted, and the early adopters chose whether to align with Sony's PS4, Microsoft's Xbox One, or Nintendo's Wii U, 2014 should be the year things really start to get exciting. We heard from several sources last year that there were loads of new, exciting projects just waiting to get the green light for development - but that the publishers were waiting to see how well the consoles sold first before giving the go-ahead. A bit of a chicken and egg situation, perhaps, as the consoles are relying on those same games to get their userbase (why would you buy a console if there's nothing to play on it?) - but we were assured that this year would be a massive E3.
Microsoft will be first up, and will be looking to kick things off with a bang. That said, the rumoured list of games we've seen floating around the internet might potentially be underwhelming, if there are no major blockbusters hidden within.
A Halo/Master Chief HD collection, bundling the first Halo games into a nicer looking Xbox One package is nice and all, but it's not the groundbreaking new game we'd be hoping to see. News of a new Crackdown game - an open-world super hero game that put you in charge of a special agent who could jump buildings and lift cars - is also heavily rumoured, and would be a much appreciated injection of fun, but we'll be hoping it's more enjoyable than Crackdown 2, which seemed to miss what being a Crackdown game was all about (i.e. - the fun). More footage and information about the typically British role playing game, Fable Legends is almost a given, too, although Quantum Break, the new time-bending adventure from Alan Wake studio Remedy, will be missing E3 in favour of having its first exclusive reveal at Gamescom. Which is fine by us, because we'll be there to watch it!
Perhaps the most interesting wildcard from Microsoft conference, however, is what we'll be seeing from Rare. Now that Microsoft have removed Kinect from the Xbox One bundle, and have instead started offering it as a separate sensor, there's been rumours that Rare, the English studio that have studiously supported both the original camera, and the much better Xbox One version, may be returning to make a more traditional game for the Xbox One. When you consider that Rare were working on sequels to their two Xbox 360 launch titles - the sci-fi shooter Perfect Dark Zero, and Kameo, a fantasy inspired game about a woman who could transform into a range of fantastical creatures - and a brand new platformer starring their foul mouthed squirrel Conker, with all three being scrapped when they started work on Kinect Sports, there's a lot of old games that could easily have some life breathed back into them. With Rare being the closest thing to a Nintendo-style studio outside of Japan, fingers crossed we see something cool from them at the show.
Sony are riding high in the so-called console wars at the moment, with the Playstation 4 going from strength to strength, and comfortably outselling the Xbox One. As such, rumours about what will or won't be at its E3 showcase are decidedly thin on the ground. We know we'll probably see more of their PS4 remake of The Last of Us, a game which isn't even a year old, and which everyone who wanted to play will already have played on the PS3, but other than that, the slate is pretty clear for Sony's show. While a new game in their uber-violent Greek mythology inspired God of War series has been suggested, we're far more interested to see what's next for Quantic Dream, the studio behind last year's epic story driven, point and click style thriller Beyond: Two Souls. Sarah's still holding out hope for a Ni No Kuni sequel, but that could just be her being hopeful.
Nintendo are arguably the company with the most to prove at E3. While the 3DS is still going strong, they've had a pretty poor year with their latest home console, the Wii U, which has failed to gain traction with either the hardcore or the wider audience, due to some mismatched marketing. Nintendo's slate is looking pretty empty for the rest of the year, so if there's one thing for certain, Nintendo will be bringing the games to E3.
Lots of them.
What's certain is that we'll get to learn more about Nintendo's new, Skylanders/Disney Infinity style "NFC" figures, which the company plans to invest heavily in. With plans to create its own range of figures, which can then be scanned on the GamePad for use in game, details of quite how it'll work - or what games they'll work with - are thin on the ground, but Nintendo have confirmed that they'll be compatible with several games - so we should expect to see several of them at the show. A platformer starring all manner of Nintendo characters from series new and old? Yes please.
Perhaps the biggest announcement we're expecting, though, is of a new Wii U Zelda game. The appropriately named Zelda Williams - herself a big Zelda fan - has announced that she'll be appearing at the show to "do something extra special", which surely can mean only one thing? The return of the little boy in green, and his quest to save the world - and the Wii U. Fingers crossed.
So, there's plenty of rumours, speculation and suggestions to go around - but in just a few hours time, all will become clear. At 5:30, Microsoft will kick things off, and we'll get to find out what games we'll be playing over the next few months.
So hold on to them hats and glasses, 'cause this here's the wildest ride in the wilderness.
Let the games begin!