It's here! Well, almost. The little screen in the back of Rupert's seat tells me that as I write, E3 is hurtling towards us at a rate of exactly 532 miles per hour, from our current vantage point 38,000 feet above the Hudson Bay and 2552 miles from our target.
We've got five hours and nine minutes before Los Angeles' hot asphalt hits this Boeing and the video games event of the year hits us in the face. By the time you read this, it will all be about to kick off in earnest.
So here we bring you the lowdown on what to expect from the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo - and from Eurogamer's coverage. As well as our traditional big game previews and live reports from the press conferences, we're aiming to bring you closer to the show than ever before. That means better news coverage and some cool daily features running from Tuesday to Friday, including a daily podcast.
Every year in early summer, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the games industry stages an orgy of self-promotion unlike anything else in entertainment.
E3 doesn't have the glamour of Cannes or the community warmth of Glastonbury - it's always going to be a trade show, not a festival. But not even those events are this all-encompassing. E3 brings an entire industry under one roof at a single, thundering bazaar. As far as the gaming year is concerned, it's the only show in town.
Or is it? There's a new player in games, and it's delivering a pointed snub to E3. Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference takes place in San Francisco this week, and if the rumours of the iOS App Store coming to Apple TV are true, it could be as significant an announcement as anything to come from LA.
But it will definitely have competition, in the form of the unveiling of a new Nintendo home console. It's the first time since PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 all took their bows in 2005 that E3 has seen a debut of this magnitude, and for those attending and watching, nothing could be more exciting. Put simply, E3 and new home hardware go hand in hand. It's been too long.
Sony, meanwhile, will be announcing launch plans and a name for its Next Generation Portable, while Microsoft will be looking to show 10 million Kinect owners what their new gadget will do next.
We'll be reporting live from the traditional Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo pre-show press conferences today and tomorrow.
Press Conference Live Reports
While all three hosts should be supplying live video streams of their presentations, it wouldn't be E3 for us - or, we hope, you - if we weren't delivering a live blow-by-blow in good old-fashioned text.
With 'typed stand-up' pioneer Ellie Gibson far too pregnant to come to California, keyboard warrior Tom Bramwell will be manning these. Our new live report system means you can see your own comments alongside ours, and we can also post videos, screenshots and photos live to the feed. Here's when to watch the site:
Microsoft Xbox Media Briefing
- When: Monday at 5pm UK / 6pm Europe / 9am Pacific / 12pm Eastern
- What to expect: Microsoft wasn't prepared for the runaway success of Kinect, so it will be keen to play catch-up with a bonanza of Kinect software, including some non-gaming applications. Microsoft Game Studios will highlight Gears of War 3, Forza 4, potentially Crytek's Kingdoms and a major unannounced game which we're certain will be the rumoured remake of the first Halo, and we think Rare will be there - but where's Lionhead? And what's the latest with Xbox Live? There'll be plenty of third-party heavy-hitters too, like Modern Warfare 3.
Sony Computer Entertainment of America Press Conference
- When: Monday night/Tuesday morning at 1am UK / 2am Europe / 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern
- What to expect: First order of business will be an attempt to put the damaging PSN security debacle to rest - this isn't just important for the PlayStation business, it's vital to the whole corporation. After we've watched top brass eat humble pie, the twin stars of the show will be NGP - definitely a name, probably a date, maybe not a price - and Uncharted 3; Sony is throwing all its might behind Naughty Dog's blockbuster. There might well be a big third-party reveal, and Sony invariably announces a few interesting and off-the-wall first-party exclusives. The Last Guardian, though? We reckon it won't show.
Nintendo E3 Presentation
- When: Tuesday at 5pm UK / 6pm Europe / 9am Pacific / 12pm Eastern
- What to expect: The console formerly known as Project Café, confirmed back in April, makes its debut. We think it's similar in size to Wii, and in power to Xbox 360 and PS3. Reports indicate a touch-screen controller with media streaming and portable gameplay capability. Is it true that Nintendo wants to reclaim its disenchanted hardcore audience with this machine? And will there be a big game for it - maybe even a massive third-party coup? Meanwhile, Super Mario and Zelda: Skyward Sword fly the flags for 3DS and Wii respectively.
In other news...
Although we're unable to go to San Francisco, noted Apple-fancier Johnny Minkley will be keeping an eye on events at WWDC and bringing you the biggest stories. If you need something to hold your interest until the late start for Sony, watch out for breaking news through the evening from EA and Ubisoft press conferences. We're sure to hear plenty about Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 3, Need for Speed: The Run and Assassin's Creed: Revelations. We also think both publishers have a big game to reveal: a long-awaited sequel and something new from a major studio. But which is which?
During the Show
E3 itself begins after the Nintendo conference on Tuesday and runs through to Thursday evening. Additionally, both Microsoft and Sony will be showing their wares to press on Monday evening - and we've also had the opportunity to check out a few big games already, under embargo.
Our first priority will be to bring you hands-on impressions of Nintendo's new console; expect to read these on Tuesday evening. Topping our games hitlist are Halo (if it is Halo) and Forza, the new Tomb Raider and Hitman games, some secret Sony stuff, Mass Effect 3, Assassin's Creed, Super Mario 3D, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Skyrim and so many more. Of course, we'll also be taking time to check out the likes of Sesame Street, TrackMania 2, Soulcalibur V, Binary Domain and the new SSX.
Meanwhile, we'll be holding Sony's European boss Andrew House to account, finding out about OnLive's plans for the UK and chatting to a couple of games industry legends. Digital Foundry's Richard Leadbetter will be commanding a network of spies from his underground lair to bring you unrivalled insight into the new tech on display.
We're also trying something new this year, with three special features that will run daily from Tuesday to Friday.
The Eurogamer.net Podcast: The E3 Sessions
We'll be doing daily podcasts from LA, recording and uploading these in the West Coast evening so they'll be available in the early mornings in the UK. Well, your morning commute couldn't get any worse, could it?
Urbane Brooklynite and world's most tie-wearing games journalist John Teti - who presented our GDC After Dusk chat shows with Ellie earlier this year - will be your host. He'll be joined for opinion, analysis and irreverent chat every day by Oli Welsh, along with other members of the Eurogamer team and maybe a new friend or two.
A link to the podcast will be pinned at the top of the news column every day, so remember to check it out. It will also be available from iTunes as per usual.
Today's Top Trailers
E3 week is a never-ending onslaught of new video, and it can be hard to sort the wheat from the chaff - while it can be all too easy to miss something cool in all the noise.
We're here to help! Back in the UK, Ellie and Tom Phillips will sift through the mountain of trailers and game footage to bring you five choice cuts every lunchtime. Only the most exciting trailers, coolest games and moving pictures that just demand to be seen will make it - although there'll also be one additional slot for the worst, or weirdest, video of the day.
The top trailers will be pinned at the top of the news column and refreshed at noon.
Who's Winning E3?
It's the question we all ask and love to debate. Who won? What was game of the show, and which platform holder's announcements made the biggest splash?
We'll be aiming to put at end to - or more likely, spice up - those inevitable pub arguments this year with the one thing we've been missing: hard data.
What are you lot most excited about and most interested in? Our web statistics hold the answer. The idea is simple. Every afternoon, we'll bring you a chart of the most popular E3-related articles on Eurogamer.
The results might be surprising. Last year, for example, 3DS dominated headlines and blogs and was the talk of the show floor. But it was articles about Kinect that did the most traffic on this site. Given that Microsoft's new gizmo has sold much more strongly than Nintendo's, that seems pretty telling in hindsight.
And if this sounds like fanboy-bait, it's honestly just a bit of fun that we thought you'd find interesting. Well... mostly.
Because let's be honest - E3 is all about rivalry and posturing. It's what makes the show what it is. It's the one time of year when it's OK to let your inner fanboy out - when even a stiff executive finds himself screaming about arcade racing games at the top of his lungs.
Play nice, stay classy and enjoy yourselves. It's looking like a great year. And when E3 is great, games are great, and we all win.