Microsoft E3 2011 Conference Preview and Confirmed Announcements

E3 2011 is only one week away and fans are no doubt clambering for details on what to expect from their favorite developers and console manufacturers. We’ll be bringing our readers live coverage of all the high-profile E3 events and closed-door meetings — but, in the mean time, we thought we’d take a moment to summarize what we’re expecting to see at the upcoming keynote addresses — this time for Microsoft.

While many gamers have the press conferences for both Sony and Nintendo pretty well figured out, the big question mark in the room is the Microsoft conference. There are a few titles that most expect to see from the company, but there is a lot of mystery in the air, and a hope that some really huge surprises are lying in wait.

Without many first party exclusives this year, Microsoft’s gamer interest has waned a little ever since Gears of War 3 (sure to make a press conference appearance) was pushed into Fall 2011. What would be great to see from Microsoft is a lot of first party exclusives to help equal the content gamers were seeing offered this year from Sony.

As of right now the only titles we have pegged to make an appearance during Microsoft’s press conference — as opposed to appearing on the show floor — are Gears of War 3, Forza 4, and a new Star Wars title developed specifically for Kinect. Aside from that the console exclusives are all left to speculation, but there are a few top tier titles that we most definitely would like to see appear.

Microsoft Press Conference Preview - Gears of War 3

Ever since Bungie stepped away from the Halo franchise and passed the reins over to 343 Industries, gamers have been dying to see just what the developer has been working on. While rumors have bounced between that title being a remake of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 4, we presume that confusion will be cleared up at this press conference.

If Microsoft were to come out and unveil even just a small trailer for Halo that featured the iconic image of Master Chief, it would surely be enough to bring the house down.

Alongside Halo, we anticipate one of Microsoft’s other console exclusives to make an appearance, perhaps from the folks over at Lionhead. Peter Molyneux has always been a strong supporter of the Kinect hardware, so it would be a reasonable guess to assume he might pull out a Fable demo that utilizes Kinect in some way.

On the hardware and software side of things, rumors have been suggesting that Microsoft might finally unveil Project Opara. According to early details, Opara would be Microsoft’s answer to something like Hulu Plus or iTunes, offering subscription-based television shows for Xbox Live, Windows PCs, and Windows Phones. Since this particular conference will be in direct competition with Steve Jobs’ keynote at WWDC, it would make sense that something a little Apple-esque might be shown off.

Microsoft Press Conference Preview - Halo

Unfortunately, that is where the rumor buck stops with the Microsoft press conference, or at least what we can figure to make an appearance. There are still a few Xbox exclusives in the works — like a new Alan Wake or Codename: Kingdoms — but those might not carry enough appeal to warrant a press conference demo or trailer.

There are, however, a few third-party titles that Microsoft has included as part of their press conferences in past years, that should be front and center once again — chiefly among them Modern Warfare 3. With the map exclusivity deal between Microsoft and Call of Duty comes an assumption that Microsoft will be the company to show off the first demo of the game.

Getting to see just how Modern Warfare 3 plans to set itself apart from Battlefield 3, and how Call of Duty Elite — the newly announced subscription-based stat service — will work are high on our priority list. Also, getting a chance to see some of the game’s exciting set pieces would be a perfect way to showcase that this iteration is more intense than those that preceded it.

And then there was Skyrim. While we don’t know if for sure Elder Scrolls: Skyrim will make an appearance during a press conference, one would assume that given Bethesda’s previous success with launching Oblivion on the Xbox 360 console first, that Skyrim would be touted as more connected with Microsoft.

Microsoft Press Conference Preview - Skyrim

Getting to finally see the game in action, perhaps demoed during the press conference, would take this already highly anticipated game, and push it to the next level.

This is of course just a small taste of what we could potentially see from Microsoft at this year’s press conference. There are a few other third-party titles, like Metal Gear Solid Rising, that might make an appearance, but given Kojima’s no-show at the event it seems unlikely.

But it is also not unheard of for Microsoft to pull a real surprise out of nowhere during their press conference (they did so last year with the new Xbox 360 redesign), so don’t be shocked if it happens once again. While we have taken a few stabs at what that big surprise might be, we’ll know for sure on June 6th.

Want to know what predictions we have for the remaining conferences? Check out our other previews below:

What would you like to see unveiled at the Microsoft press conference? What do you think will be the spotlight title from the conference?

Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference airs live on Spike TV June 6, 2011 at 9:30 A.M.

Stay tuned to Game Rant for our on-site coverage of E3 2011 starting early next week.