Somewhere buried in the depths of Sony HQ, behind armed body guards and elaborate lock panels, there’s a whiteboard with the agenda for PlayStation’s big E3 2018 showcase hastily plotted out on it. But some three months prior to the livestream getting underway, we’re curious whether those squiggles of red and black ink could possibly harbour any surprises at all – or if, like the somewhat safe E3 2017, this is going to be another presentation filled with projects we already know about.

There was nothing wrong with last year’s show, of course, but the Japanese giant is now paying the price for the shock and awe of past pressers. It won’t take you particularly long to predict the lineup for 2018’s show: The Last of Us: Part II’s full gameplay reveal has already been confirmed; Spider-Man will almost certainly get dated, too. Days Gone, fresh from its delay, will assuredly put in its third E3 appearance, while Dreams and Death Stranding are working towards similar records.

Third-party partnerships like Red Dead Redemption 2 will presumably pad out the itinerary, and with PlayStation VR and a token indie or two, we’re already looking at a 90 minute slate of advertorial entertainment. But would this lineup really satisfy when all of the games are known quantities? Can Sony even surprise at this stage?

E3 2018 Sony PlayStation PS4 Surprise 2

Ghost of Tsushima could very well be ready for the primetime, but Sucker Punch has already had its “shock” moment. And there are smaller projects like MediEvil Remastered in the pipeline – an exciting proposition, but not really the megaton that’s going to get Hip Hop Gamer out of his seat and thrusting his boxing belt in the air. What else even is there? Sony’s first-party teams are pretty much spoken for at this point.

There’s Japan Studio, we suppose – it very well may have new projects in the pipeline after putting out the likes of Gravity Rush 2 and The Last Guardian over 12 months ago. Speculation suggests it may be collaborating with From Software on Bloodborne 2, but this may just be wishful thinking. After last year’s weird reveal teaser, our understanding is that it’s something new – and multiformat, too.

There are third-party games that are likely to show up on Sony’s stage; Devil May Cry 5 is unlikely to be an exclusive, but you can expect the platform holder to smother it like it did with Monster Hunter: World. And it makes sense for Spyro’s speculated remaster trilogy to launch first on the PS4 given the character’s historical association with the brand; it won’t halt the waves of port begging that will inevitably follow thereafter. After how we all reacted to Rise of the Tomb Raider, nor should it.

E3 2018 Sony PlayStation PS4 Surprise 3

So can Sony truly surprise this year, then? Well, for it to do so, it needs to have something more than we’ve outlined in this article. Is that realistic? For as much as we hope to be proven wrong, we’d argue no. The Japanese giant is paying the price for early reveals in past years, and while it’s hard to complain about the potential lineup it will be able to assemble for E3 2018, perhaps we should calibrate our expectations accordingly in advance; true surprises look like they’ll be thin on the ground.

Do you believe Sony can still surprise at E3 2018 this year? Do you even care about shock reveals if what’s on display looks great? What does the Japanese giant need to do to impress you? Drop a megaton out of nowhere in the comments section below.