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E3 2017: The biggest unanswered questions

The 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo revealed some long-awaited games. But many questions remained.

Josh Miller/CNET

The 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was full of gaming surprises -- BioWare's Anthem, two new Metroid games, a Shadow of the Colossus remake and more -- but it also left plenty of things unsaid. 

Here are the biggest video game questions keeping us up late at night.

Will Nintendo bring its classic games to Switch?

It's a mystery. Why, despite the Nintendo Switch's slim launch lineup, has the company yet to tap into its deep and desirable library of classic games to help fill in the gaps?

To date, Nintendo hasn't even confirmed that it will ever bring the Virtual Console -- the company's name for its classic game program -- to Switch, much less when it might arrive. At the Switch's launch, the company would only say: "Virtual Console games will not be available on Nintendo Switch at launch. We will share more information in the future."

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In an interview with IGN, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime even hinted that perhaps the current Virtual Console program might not be how Nintendo winds up delivering classic games. "What we're working through is, 'OK, what's going to be the best way to make that happen, to make that available?," said Fils-Aime. 

Perhaps the wild success of the abruptly discontinued mini NES Classic has changed the company's thought process? We'll have to see. 

Will Sony allow PlayStation, Xbox and Switch gamers to play games with each other?

This was one of our biggest unanswered questions last year too, but it's only gotten more relevant -- now that both Microsoft and Nintendo will let gamers play Minecraft and Rocket League with each other, it's clear that Sony is the one putting up all the roadblocks.

I'll say it again: Sony, why don't you want me to have friends who play on Xbox and Switch?

When will Kingdom Hearts III put us out of our misery? 

The long-awaited final chapter in Kingdom Hearts, the popular Disney-Final Fantasy mashup, has been an E3 no-show two years running -- unless you count yet another infuriating teaser. 

Is that any way to treat fans who've been waiting over a decade to find out what will happen to Sora, Goofy, Donald Duck and co? My wife, once a devout KH fan, told me it's too late. She just doesn't care anymore. Clearly, not everyone feels the same way -- but Square Enix has definitely padded out this franchise for way too long. 

Will gamers buy the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro?

E3 2017 was the coming-out party for the Xbox One X: a souped-up version of Microsoft's game console which can make games look better on high-res 4K televisions among other benefits.

Thing is, the Xbox One X and similarly juiced PS4 Pro don't play any new or exclusive games -- you won't miss out on a single title by sticking with a regular Xbox One S or PS4 Slim, and you'll save a bundle of money by doing so. At $499, £449 or AU$649, the Xbox One X is twice the price of Microsoft's cheaper console, and the PS4 Pro carries roughly a $150, £125 or AU$120 premium.

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Will gamers really buy pay up to twice as much for improved graphics and slightly faster load times, particularly if they've already got an Xbox or PlayStation in the house? Sony's Shawn Layden told Time that one out of every five PS4 consoles sold since November is a PS4 Pro, so that's promising -- but it's hard to say if those early adopters point to a larger trend. 

Plus, the Xbox One X's game library might make it a particularly difficult sell. Not only does Microsoft seem to have fewer must-have exclusives than Sony, but many of them aren't technically exclusive: they'll be available on Windows 10 PCs as well, where they can theoretically look even better assuming you've got a potent enough rig.

What is the Ataribox? 

If the name "Atari" defined your childhood, this was the ultimate tease: 21 seconds of fake wood and plastic, proclaiming the arrival of a brand-new Atari game console just before E3. But E3 came and went without revealing the box in question. We checked, and Atari didn't have a booth or even a meeting room on the show floor. 

So far, the only things we've learned about the Ataribox is that it's a "PC-based" console... and that the latest owners of the Atari trademark are indeed the ones behind the teaser, for whatever that's worth. (The Atari brand has been bought and sold so many times, it's practically unrecognizable.) 

How will Metroid Prime 4 and a new Pokémon game take advantage of the Switch? 

Metroid Prime 4 is happening, but that's all we know.

Nintendo

Two of Nintendo's greatest franchises are coming to the Nintendo Switch. One (Pokémon) is capable of selling kids and parents on new hardware all by itself... but these exciting E3 announcements were tempered by the lack of any trailers, screenshots or even a rough description of how either a new Metroid or Pokemon game might work. 

So let's speculate. The Metroid Prime series is known for letting us see directly through Samus' eyes (and visor) with a first person view. Perhaps the Switch might use its built-in motion controls and docking station to switch between her various modes and visors, too? 

And perhaps Pokemon will take advantage of the Switch's two guaranteed controllers for multiplayer functionality... or use the NFC reader to bring a new wave of Pokemon Amiibo figurines into the game world?

Can Nintendo break the third-party developer curse?

It's not like the Nintendo Switch doesn't have third-party developers on board -- but they're mostly the same third-parties who've supported Nintendo in times of trouble as other devs abandoned ship. Ubisoft's Mario + Rabbids game is a great example of a high profile title for Switch, but it's not a sign the curse is lifting because Ubisoft also contributed the ill-fated Red Steel for the Nintendo Wii and the underrated ZombiU for the Wii U

E3 came and went without a major third-party developer announcing a hotly anticipated new game coming to Switch in addition to the PS4, Xbox One and PC. Will that change?

Will Beyond Good & Evil 2 arrive within our lifetimes? 

After nearly a 15 year wait -- and 9 years after the sequel to the cult-classic video game was first announced -- Ubisoft released the first cinematic trailer for Beyond Good & Evil 2 at this year's show. Fans who'd written off the game long ago were stunned.

Then the other shoe dropped. It's a prequel, not a sequel -- and it turns out the game's development is just barely starting now. It's already been 14 years: how much longer will we have to wait?      

What the heck is The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus doing in a video game?

It's hard to believe it's been a full year, and yet we still have no idea what Death Stranding is about. To recap: at E3 2016, Hideo Kojima, the spurned creator of the Metal Gear Solid games, introduced an incredibly bizarre trailer for a game starring Norman Reedus -- perhaps better known as the motorcycle-riding, crossbow-wielding Daryl Dixon on TV's "The Walking Dead."

Since then, literally the only things we've learned are Mads Mikkelsen and famed film director Guillermo del Toro will make appearances in the game as well -- thanks to the incredibly bizarre second game trailer -- and that it'll be built using Guerrilla Games' proprietary Decima game engine, the same one the company used to produce the gorgeous Horizon: Zero Dawn.

Oh, and that even Kojima's own development team was totally lost when he tried to explain the game. Good sign, yes? 

The Xbox One X was going to support virtual reality. What happened?

It's extremely weird. At E3 2016, Microsoft strongly suggested that the next Xbox would support virtual reality. But at E3 2017, the company didn't namedrop VR even once during its entire presentation.

When we asked Microsoft's Mike Ybarra point-blank whether the console would still support VR, he couldn't give us a yes-or-no answer. Just then, The Wall Street Journal wrote that the console wouldn't offer VR support after all, suggesting the company had entirely backed away from the feature. (The WSJ's headline still stands.) 

Is virtual reality coming to the Xbox or not?

Sarah Tew/CNET

Microsoft PR reps couldn't confirm or deny the WSJ's story either, giving us a non-denial about how Microsoft believes its "mixed reality" focus should be on Windows PCs for now.

And yet, when CNET reporter Claudia Cruz ran into Xbox boss Phil Spencer a day later, Spencer told us that the console would indeed support VR -- that the company's commitment hadn't changed.

It doesn't take a bloodhound to smell that something fishy is going on here. And regardless of Microsoft's statements, the reality is the company has yet to offer any details about VR support, including what sort of headset you might need, games you might play or when support might arrive. 

Have you seen these games?

For whatever reason, some of the most hotly anticipated, long-awaited video games didn't show up at E3 2017 at all -- leaving us wondering about their status. In addition to Death Stranding and Kingdom Hearts III: 

It's not that we're impatient... but it'd be nice to see some proof of life for these games, yes?

For more on E3 2017, check out complete coverage on CNET and GameSpot.      

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