Although E3 each June is the largest and most known videogames show in the Western hemisphere, Germany's Gamescom is where more of the biggest forthcoming games are actually playable.

That's why we love it so much, so we can go hands-on with many more top titles. What's more, it has become something of a cosplay magnet in the last few years.

You're just as likely to bump into a fan dressed as Pikachu as an industry type at Gamescom.

We will be trudging its halls this month in order to bring you the latest on the games and hardware to keep an eye on. But, in the meantime, here's our guide to what to expect from Gamescom 2018.

Gamescom started in 2009 and is held annually at the Koelnmesse convention centre in Cologne, Germany. It generally runs in mid to late-August.

The first day this year (Tuesday 21 August) is for trade and media only, the show will then open to the public from Wednesday 22 August. It'll run until Saturday 25 August.

Some companies hold press conferences and showcases either ahead of the show opening or on the first day itself. These have shrunk in number over the years, however.

All times are listed in Central European Summer Time (CEST), as relevant to local time in Cologne.

  • Tuesday 21 August - 9am to 7pm (business centre and public halls)
  • Wednesday 22 August - 9am to 8pm (business centre and public halls)
  • Thursday 23 August - 9am to 8pm (business centre and public halls)
  • Friday 24 August - 9am to 8pm (public halls only)
  • Saturday 25 August - 9am to 8pm (public halls only)
  • Wednesday 22 August - 10am to 8pm (public halls only)
  • Thursday 23 August - 10am to 8pm (public halls only)
  • Friday 24 August - 9am to 8pm (public halls only)
  • Saturday 25 August - 9am to 8pm (public halls only)

There were several press conferences held by publishers last year and while we don't expect as many in 2018, there will be one or two. You'll find the details here as they are announced.

Nvidia is hosting a special event for press and some members of the public on the Monday before the show, where it will be giving hands-on play of many graphically intensive forthcoming games and other demos.

It will also be hosting a press conference to kick off the evening. Some are even speculating that the company might announce its new range of graphics cards, the GeForce GTX 1180 and others. Exciting times.

You can watch the event live online, with Pocket-lint hosting the video closer the time. Here is when it will start in your region:

  • UK: 5pm BST
  • Central Europe: 6pm CEST
  • East Coast USA: 1pm EDT
  • West Coast USA: 10am PDT

Microsoft will not host an actual press conference this year, but it will host a special Inside Xbox livestream from its Gamescom booth on Tuesday 21 August.

The company will showcase its forthcoming games for 2018, plus new hardware (including the Elite 2 controller, we think) and a "few surprises". Here's when you should check out the announcements:

  • UK: 3.30pm BST
  • Central Europe: 4.30pm CEST
  • East Coast USA: 10.30am EDT
  • West Coast USA: 7.30am PDT

We expect it to be broadcast through Microsoft's own Mixer service.

There are plenty of gaming companies at the show. Here are the biggest so far:

Xboxgamescom 2018 image 2

As well as its Inside Xbox live show from the stand, Microsoft is hosting an Xbox FanFest evening on the Thursday night of the show.

There will be many playable Xbox One and Windows 10 PC games at the show, including Forza Horizon 4 (above).

We're hoping we see something more substantial on Crackdown 3, but not sure yet. But we'll definitely get a chance to look at the two major DLC packs for Sea of Thieves: Cursed Sails and Forsaken Shores.

PlayStationGamescom 2018 image 3

Sony hasn't done much at Gamescom over the last couple of years, opting to focus on October's Paris Games Week instead.

InIt does always have a booth on the show floor though, maintained by PlayStation Germany, so there will still be several games to play.

We fully expect Marvel's Spider-Man (above) to be the biggest deal considering it is coming out on 7 September - soon after Gamescom's doors shut. It is also likely there will be playable a demo of zombie-a-thon Days Gone, but don't expect The Last of Us: Part II to be anywhere in sight.

EAGamescom 2018 image 4

EA often hosts a preview event before the show actually starts and we're awaiting details on whether that's the case again this year.

Unlike E3, it does traditionally have a massive booth on the show floor at Gamescom and we fully expect a range of its latest games to be playable.

FIFA 19 will definitely be there, with Europe one of, if not the, biggest markets for the footy game. There will also be a playable version of Battlefield V, we have no doubt.

We also hope to see more of Anthem, considering a playable demo was at E3 too.

ActivisionGamescom 2018 image 5

Activision has a few titles that'll be a bit more advanced - nearer release - at Gamescom so will hopefully offer new demo experiences.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will be the main title. It's not got a single-player campaign this year but we're really hoping to get the first glimpse of the much-talked about Blackout Battle Royale mode.

Then there is the Destiny 2 DLC everyone is talking about: Forsaken. It features a new campaign, Raid and team multiplayer mode called Gambit. And Cayde-6 dies at the start. No, really.

Finally, Activision will show the amazing job it has done on remastering Spyro in the Spyro Reignited Trilogy.

UbisoftGamescom 2018 image 6

Ubisoft had a stack of stuff to show at E3 2018 so will undoubtedly have plenty at Gamescom too, albeit behind closed doors for the press mainly.

The public will likely get to play Assassin's Creed Odyssey, which is shaping up to be even better than Origins, if that was indeed possible. And its toys-to-life new IP, Starlink, will undoubtedly get a public viewing.

But we also hope to play further-down-the-line versions of Skulls & Bones and The Division 2. The new Rainbow Six Siege content will be available to interact with too, we expect.

BethesdaGamescom 2018 image 8

There will be some Fallout 76 shenanigans at Gamescom, including free Reclamation Day party hats and horns for visitors, but Bethesda's main focus in terms of hands-on play will be Rage 2.

It will also be showing more on the forthcoming mobile game Elder Scrolls: Blades - its first outing in Europe. And VR fans will get a taste of Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot on the HTC Vive. It'll also be playable on the show floor.

NintendoGamescom 2018 image 7

Nintendo's undisputed star of E3 will be its star of Gamescom too. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be playable on its booth and we fully expect queues to run out of the hall.

We also expect Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee! to be available for hands-on play. As well as Super Mario Party and several third-party games coming to Nintendo Switch.

Apart from the big boys above, there will be 100s of other publishers and exhibitors at Gamescom. Here are some of the bigger names:

  • 1C Company
  • 505 games
  • Amazon
  • Asus
  • Bandai Namco
  • Blizzard
  • Capcom
  • CD Projekt
  • Deep Silver (Koch Media)
  • Epic Games
  • Focus Home Interactive
  • Frontier
  • Gameloft
  • Google
  • Green Man Gaming
  • HP
  • Intel
  • Kalypso
  • Konami
  • Logitech
  • MSI
  • Nvidia
  • Plantronics
  • Razer
  • Samsung
  • Sega
  • Square Enix
  • Team 17
  • Techland
  • Turtle Beach
  • Wargaming
  • Warner