To those with more than a passing interest in games, E3 has almost a religious sort of reverence. An annual convention that takes place in Los Angeles, the Electronics Entertainment Expo, to give it its full name, is where the biggest games companies in the world get together to show off their wares, and let players around the world discover what's coming over the space of the next year. Four solid days of conferences, announcements, hands-on access and as much pomp and circumstance as the biggest musical, tens of thousands of journalists from around the world will descend on the Los Angeles Convention Centre for 96 hours of non-stop madness.
With the sun setting on the current "generation" of home consoles, the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii, this year's E3 looks set to be one of the largest ever, as the console manufacturers lift the lid on a new generation of consoles. While Nintendo have already released their new machine, the Wii U, Microsoft and Sony will be going head to head on the show floor as they try to convince consumers and journalists alike, that their machine will be the one to get. While both companies have done "reveal" events for their consoles, it's safe to say there's still a heck of a lot left to be unveiled about both. While we know the Xbox One will let you watch TV, for instance, we know little about what games the machine will have - and while we know more about the games for the PS4, we certainly haven't seen everything Sony has to show yet - or even what the console looks like.
E3 begins in earnest tonight, at 5:30 PM GMT as Microsoft kick things off with their conference. Cramming hundreds of journalists from all around the world into an ampitheatre, the company have promised to demo over 20 Xbox One games at their conference tonight, with many more set to follow over the coming months. While it's been announced that the Xbox One will be getting some 18 Microsoft-published games in its first year of existence - nine of which will be entirely original games, and not sequels - the identities of these games have been kept tightly under wraps. At the moment, the only rumours flying around online are that Microsoft will be hosting a demo of medieval role-player The Witcher 3, alongside a sequel to free-running sci-fi game Mirror's Edge, and perhaps a reinvention of the Arabian insipred Prince of Persia series.
The conferences continue with EA at 9 PM, where they're set to show footage of another medieval role-playing game, Dragon Age 3 for the very first time, alongside new details about their sports and racing titles, like FIFA and Need for Speed. Just after the sun sets over here, Ubisoft will be getting ready to kick things off at their conference at 11 PM, with more information about their cyberpunk thriller Watch_Dogs, and, if our research is anything to go by, the official reveal of Just Dance 5.
If you can avoid nodding off (we likely won't manage it), things then move on to another huge conference in the form of Sony, who'll take to the stage at 2 AM to reveal all about the Playstation 4. From its launch titles, to what the machine actually looks like, and maybe, if we're lucky, a release date and price, this is going to be a packed show. We're looking forward to seeing more of cute platform game Knack, and maybe hearing more about the social features.
As we head into Tuesday, there's a surprisingly large gap in the festivities, until Nintendo get things underway with a Nintendo Direct online broadcast at 3 PM. While they aren't hosting a conference this year, Nintendo are instead dedicating an Nintendo Direct to delivering news of their latest and greatest Wii U and 3DS games at a distinctly lower cost to themselves. While the decision to miss out on the conference this year does seem an odd one, we wouldn't assume it means Nintendo don't have that many games to show - with a new 3D Mario, and footage of their Nintendo themed brawler, Super Smash Bros Wii U set to be debuted in their broadcast, this is one to watch if you have even a passing interest in Nintendo.
If you can't be near a PC, we'll be live blogging coverage of the Microsoft and Nintendo conferences over on our Twitter account, so feel free to join in the fun - we'd love to know what you think too. Starting tonight, and carrying on over the next four days, we'll be bringing you the latest happening from the conferences, all the big announcements - and plenty of the smaller ones too - along with in depth write ups, screens, and impressions of all the day's news. It's easy for things to get lost in the shuffle as E3 rumbles on, but we'll be doing our best to highlight some of the games other sites may miss - and with so many games on show, it's bound to be an incredible few days.