E3 2012 is almost upon us, and love it or hate it, it’s when a lot of the big games we’re going to be playing in the coming months and years get their first outings. So what can we expect from the big three, what new titles should we be getting our thumbs, fingers and gestures ready to play? Here are ten things of the things we’ll be looking out for during next week’s show.

Wii U
The Wii U is an intriguing prospect, with its mix of tablet and gesture control, and its focus on gaming in the same space. However, last year’s reveal was a little underwhelming, and Nintendo haven’t been able to create enough of a buzz around the console. Expect them to really push the console this year, not just in terms of titles available, but advertising space and exclusives too. A new console generation means everyone starting again, as Sony learned with the PS3, so Nintendo are going to have to work hard to stay at the head of the pack.

The PS Vita and the 3DS haven’t been doing spectacularly well of late, and the shift in mobile gaming towards smartphones has done the majority of the damage. Nintendo and Sony are going to have to do something pretty special to claw back their market shares, and E3 seems as good a point as any to do it. Nintendo have managed to turn around the fortunes of their 3D handheld with Mario and Zelda games, but both companies are going to have to pull out the big guns if they want to stop the rot.

The Cloud
Cloud gaming is already pretty big business, with the likes of OnLive and Gaikai proving that the technology and infrastructure is there for streaming games to work. Don’t think that the big console manufacturers haven’t been paying attention though. Whilst it’s unlikely that Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo are going to announce their own service, the time is ripe for some sort of partnership to bring a streaming service onto one of the current gen consoles. We already have streaming movies and music on those boxes under our televisions, so games seems like the next logical step.

Next PS/Xbox?
It’s pretty unlikely that we’re going to see Sony or Microsoft revealing their next generation hardware at this year’s show, but that doesn’t stop the rumour mill spinning. If we were betting types, we’d probably say the odds are slightly shorter on a PS4 reveal, but not by much. It’d certainly be nice to see a core console slated and dated for the next year, but don’t get your hopes up for it happening at E3.

The Last of US
Despite the fact only Nintendo have thrown their next gen console into the wild, there’s still an autumnal, end of the line feel to Microsoft and Sony’s release schedule, and The Last Of Us really typifies that. Naughty Dog look to be sucking every last byte of power out of the PS3 in their post apocalyptic survival story, and the game will likely wow a few more punters on the show floor with its gritty, violent vision of a doomed future.

New Star Wars game
It’s fair to say that Star Wars games haven’t been that much cop in recent times. Sure, The Old Republic has done reasonably well, but console gamers have had to put up with some serious dross. Hopefully, the new Star Wars title that LucasArts have been teasing will go some way to writing those wrongs. Hardly any details have trickled out yet, just that it exists, and for Star Wars fans, that’s usually enough to get excited. We’ll find out for sure on the 4th of June what the future has in store for the franchise, but hopefully it’ll be better than Star Wars Kinect.

The Last Guardian
Everyone wants The Last Guardian to be at E3, and everyone wants The Last Guardian to be magnificent. After production on the spiritual successor to Ico and Shadow of the Colossus was rocked by the departure of Fumito Ueda from Sony, and the release date slipped from April this year to TBC, concerns have been raised that the game might never see the light of day. Hopefully, that will be proved wrong at E3. The game tells the story of a boy and his giant eagle hybrid, and looked set to build on Team Ico’s ability to create meaningful, digital relationships.

Elder Scrolls Online
We’ve seen no footage of the Elder Scrolls Online yet, just a trailer that was free of any actual gameplay, but it’s still jumped to the head of most people’s “MMOs I might play” list. Hopefully E3 will provide us with some more concrete information, which wouldn’t really be too difficult considering what we’ve seen so far. With a release date pencilled in for next year, and a development term that could well stretch back five years, it’ll be good to see some actual footage of what’s already a highly anticipated title.

GTA V, the next instalment in Rockstar’s multi-million selling Grand Theft Auto series was announced to much fanfare last year, but it’s fallen off the grid a little in recent months as the company put all of their marketing brunt behind their reboot of Max Payne. With Max now out of the door, E3 is the perfect time to bombard the public with lots of new information about the highly anticipated violent crime caper.

The E3 show itself
It wasn’t that long ago that E3 took a sabbatical. It felt old, anachronistic, a throwback to a different period in gaming. Then it came back, all fresh and new and exciting. But the creaky joints are starting to show again, and with casual and mobile gaming coming to the forefront, the expo is starting to look a lot like a dinosaur again. It’ll be interesting to see what steps it takes to try and steady itself in an uncertain market, and how many concessions it makes to new and emerging styles of gaming. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of glitz and glamour, but gaming is moving forwards apace, and its so-called showcase event shouldn’t be left behind.