European videogame trade show Gamescom 2011 kicks off this week, taking place in Cologne between August 17 – 22. This year's show is the event's third, and looks set to be its biggest yet with 550 confirmed exhibitors (up ten per cent on last year's event) including companies such as Sega, Sony, Nintendo, Capcom, Microsoft and EA.
Here we detail some of the highlights.
Ahead of the main event, Microsoft kicks things off tomorrow with a press-only "Play Day" which will include hands-on time with the likes of Gears Of War 3, Forza 4 and Halo CE Anniversary. Electronic Arts is set to follow that with a press conference beginning at 4pm, followed by Sony's conference at 7pm bringing Tuesday to a close. Expect to see more from the likes of Mass Effect 3, Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3 and Sony's Vita handheld. Keep an eye on the site for news from both conferences tomorrow evening.
NCSoft open Gamescom's trade-only day on Wednesday with a press conference at 9am sharp, in which it's set to reveal more information on Carbine Studio's new MMOG, and Konami's press event slots in just after that at 11am. The Gamescom Award ceremony, along with the event's official opening, takes place in the eveing featuring eight categories: Best PC Game, Best Console Game, Best Mobile Game, Best Online Game, Best Browser Game, Best Family Game, Best Hardware/Accessories and Best of Gamescom.
On Thursday, The first public day of Gamescom, the European Games Development Federation will present Game Development and Digital Growth in Europe, exploring the current debates about EU support for game development and the UK's struggle to obtain tax credits. Then in the afternoon, IT security company Kaspersky Lab will deliver a talk entitled Gaming the Security – Daily Hacker Tales in which virus analyst Christian Funk will demonstrate, by way of three examples, how gamers are subject to cyber-attacks and what they can do to prevent them.
At the stands, expect to see more of E3's big reveals, and a few surprises too. 2K has pegged Gamescom for the world premiere of Borderlands 2, and it will also be showing The Darkness II. Bethesda, meanwhile, will bring Skyrim and a playable version of Rage to the table. THQ is promising a surprise announcement, and will likely also show Metro: Last Light and Saints Row: The Third.
Capcom returns to the convention after last year's absence with Street Fighter X Tekken and publicly playable versions of Resident Evil: Revelations, Dragon’s Dogma and Asura’s Wrath. Another absentee last year, Sega is confirmed – perhaps we'll see more of Aliens: Colonial Marines? Dark Souls, Ridge Racer: Unbounded, and Ace Combat: Assault Horizon will find their way into the public's hands at Namco Bandai's stand, while Soul Calibur V is set for a behind closed doors showing.
The dark knight will descend on Warner Bros. Interactive stand in Batman: Arkham City, while Double Fine's Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster will represent the lighter end of the spectrum there. Expect to see Modern Warfare 3, Call Of Duty Elite and maybe even Prototype 2 from Activision. And as confirmed today, RedLynx will finally let the public at Trials Evolution.
You can follow all our coverage of the event on the Gamescom topic page.