Nintendo is planning a Nintendo Direct for tonight that will be 30 minutes of uninterrupted information about Super Smash Bros. Before you tune in at 3 p.m. Pacific/6 p.m. Eastern, check out a rundown of what we know and what we’re expecting.

What We Know So Far

Returning Characters

  • Bowser
  • Diddy Kong
  • Donkey Kong
  • Fox
  • Link
  • Lucario
  • Luigi
  • King Dedede
  • Kirby
  • Mario
  • Marth
  • Peach
  • Pikachu
  • Pikmin & Olimar
  • Pit
  • Samus
  • Sonic
  • Toon Link
  • Zelda

New Characters

  • Little Mac
  • Mega Man
  • Rosalina & Luma
  • Villager (Animal Crossing)
  • Wii Fit Trainer

New Stages

  • 3DS Mii Plaza
  • Animal Crossing
  • Dr. Wily’s Castle (Mega Man)
  • Lumiose City (Pokémon)
  • Pilotwings
  • Tomodachi Collection
  • Tortimer's Island 

New Items and Assist Trophies

  • Ray Gun (Redesigned)
  • Steel Diver gun
  • Olimar’s Ship
  • Wii Fit Soccer Ball
  • X-Bomb (Kid Icarus)
  • Ashley (WarioWare) Assist
  • Isabelle (Animal Crossing) Assist
  • Mother Brain (Metroid) Assist
  • Skull Kid (Majora’s Mask) Assist

Returning Items and Assist Trophies

  • Banana Peel
  • Beetle (Skyward Sword)
  • Capsule
  • Fire Flower
  • Green Turtle Shell
  • Home-run Bat
  • Poké Ball
  • Smash Ball (Final Smash)
  • Andross (Star Fox)
  • Waluigi
  • Metroid Assist
  • Nintendogs Assist
  • Starfy Assist

What We’re Expecting

Will we get a release date? No.
Nintendo of America took to Twitter this morning to promote today’s Nintendo Direct. For those expecting a firm release date, the statement is bad news. “We hope you’ll tune in to learn about the launch window for the next Smash Bros. and much more!” the company said via Twitter. We’re disappointed, too.

Our guess is that, barring a major delay that would move the game out of 2014, you can expect Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS some time during the holiday season. Nintendo will be hanging its hat on the franchise to move units during the all-important shopping season.

Character Announcements
We’re still missing a number of characters that appeared in the series’ past installments. Currently absent from the roster are:

  • Captain Falcon
  • Falco
  • Ganondorf 
  • Ice Climbers
  • Ike
  • Jigglypuff
  • Lucas
  • Meta Knight
  • Mr. Game & Watch
  • Ness
  • Pokémon Trainer
  • R.O.B.
  • Sheik
  • Snake
  • Wario
  • Wolf
  • Yoshi
  • Zero Suit Samus

We don’t expect that all of those will make a return for the new titles. In fact, Nintendo passed up an opportunity to reveal Yoshi when Yoshi’s New Island was released in March. 

We’ll also be surprised if Snake is back. The Metal Gear series hasn’t been on a Nintendo console since Snake Eater 3D, meaning that both Metal Gear Rising and Ground Zeroes skipped the Wii U. 

Ness, the Pokémon Trainer, and Wario seem like locks for inclusion, though. Given the success of Pokémon X and Y, we fully expect to see a trainer revealed today. 

As for new characters, Nintendo has a couple of exclusives it could tap. One of the Wonderful 101 or Bayonetta would make sense. Also, since Capcom is already participating, some kind of Monster Hunter presence wouldn’t be hard to imagine.

We expect a handful of character reveals during the 30 minute presentation. That’s a lot of time to fill, and character showcase videos would help pad that out.

Online Play
With Mario Kart 8 fully embracing online play, we expect that the new Smash Bros. titles will do the same. Online matches, tournaments, and leaderboards should be a given. 

A Smash Bros. TV app (similar to the Mario Kart TV app) also seems likely. This will allow users to upload their videos to share with friends. This could also be the mechanism by which users distribute created stages.

Single Player
Last year, Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai expressed his disappointment that cutscenes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s single-player campaign, The Subspace Emissary, were distributed online. He also said that the new titles won’t feature the same kind of experience. Since then, we’ve wondered what that meant for single-player opportunities in the new titles. 

Will the solo play just be a traditional fighting game arcade mode, or does Sakurai have something else planned? We expect to have a better understanding of what a lonely Smash Bros. experience looks like today.

Character Customization
In the same Famitsu story about the Subspace Emissary cutscenes, Sakurai made a casual mention of character customization. Previous games have included palette swaps, but nothing beyond that. If there’s a way to unlock new accessories for characters and make them more distinct, that will both keep people playing and reward those who accomplish the most difficult in-game challenges.

Customization could also be extended to character abilities (similar to WWE create-a-superstar mode). Being able to make your own mashups with different move sets wouldn’t be tournament legal, but it would be perfect for party games with your friends.

We’ll have all the news from today’s Nintendo Direct later today.