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E3 2021 Roundup: Here’s What Happened and What Didn’t

E3 2021–the annual convention for video game developers, publishers, and hardware manufacturers–launched digitally over the weekend to an online audience that was very thirsty for some big video game news. After the disappointing cancellation of last year’s in-person events, it seems like folks were hoping that the 2021 conference would bring better things.

Well, honestly, it wasn’t too different from previous conferences. Sony and EA decided to sit this year out in favor of their own presentations. Some announcements were dull and some were exciting. In my eyes, the biggest game trailer actually came from the start of the Summer Game Fest instead–which is kind of an “oof” for E3 and its relevance. I’ll add it at the end of this list.

In the meantime, here’s a look at some interesting titles that popped up during this year’s E3.

Halo Infinite

This year, Microsoft showed off some multiplayer gameplay from their latest entry in the popular Halo series, Halo Infinite. Details about the story are scant, but a recent Xbox blog post described it as a continuation of “the story of the Master Chief and Cortana from Halo 5” that’s presented in a way that won’t alienate new players to the series.

Halo Infinite does not yet have a set release date at this time.

Starfield

First announced in 2018, Starfield–Bethesda’s first new original franchise in 25 years–aims to be the open-world, space exploration RPG of a space fan’s dreams. The developers believe there’s a lot to look forward to. In an interview with The Washington Post, executive producer Todd Howard described it as “Skyrim in space” and managing director Ashley Cheng called it a “Han Solo simulator.” It all sounds grand–maybe too grand. Could it be too good to be true?

We’ll get to see for ourselves when Starfield launches on November 11, 2022.

Forza Horizon 5

Racing games aren’t completely dead, thank god. Forza Horizon 5 will take players to Mexico to take a virtual drive through its cities, rainforests, deserts, and other beautiful locations. Players can expect to see plenty of different modes and multiplayer content to fiddle around with.

Forza Horizon 5 will drop this year on November 9.

The Outer Worlds 2

Microsoft announced the development of The Outer Worlds 2, a sequel to the highly praised action RPG released in 2019. There’s not much to talk about, as the trailer’s narrator admits, since all they’ve got for certain is the title.

But it will exist at some point, so keep an ear out for more news about the game in the future.

Xbox Mini-Fridge

I love it and hate it at the same time. I love it because I get a kick out of the fact that so many people joked about the new Xbox’s appearance that Microsoft went ahead and turned it into an actual mini-fridge. I hate it because I’m legit interested in the stupid thing.

No price yet, but expect to see more mini-fridge info as we get closer to its Holiday 2021 release date.

Devolver Digital

As a good little consumer of video games, I enjoy watching Devolver Digital’s marketing during E3 every year. Even if I have a limited interest in the games they present, I faithfully sit down to spend minutes of my limited lifespan to watch Nina Struthers–the intense and very fictional Chief Synergy Officer of the company. I love her.

My parasocial relationship with this character began when they introduced her in 2017 and continued to feature her in their marketing during the following years (2018, 2019, and 2020). I highly recommend watching Devolver’s satire-filled presentations, but do be warned for gore and heavy swearing throughout the videos.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

Square Enix announced a Guardians of the Galaxy game this year that’s developed by the same team behind the Deus Ex series, Eidos Montréal. Players will get to control Star-Lord as he leads his crew while making decisions that will impact the characters and the story.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is set to release this year on October 26.

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

This is a weird one, and I say that as a fan of the Final Fantasy series. This title is a collaboration between Square Enix and Koei Tecmo/Team NINJA, the developers behind Ninja Gaiden and Nioh. And, uh, it shows. Videos of the trial version already reveal a very Nioh-like fighting system and design that probably threw off a lot of longtime Final Fantasy players. And, to put it bluntly, it doesn’t quite have the Final Fantasy “prettiness” many fans have probably come to expect.

Even Tetsuya Nomura, creative producer, seemed to acknowledge the strangeness in a press release from Square Enix. (I really don’t envy his position when it comes to announcements like these.)

“While it is Final Fantasy, it feels different–but there’s no doubt that the blood of Final Fantasy runs through its veins,” he said. “We’ve undertaken the challenge of finding this difficult middle ground for this mature and stylish title. We need a little time until we’re able to complete it, and while the battle system is a bloody one, it does link to the story, so I hope you’ll use this opportunity to give it a try.”

From what I’ve seen, the response to the announcement trailer has involved a lot of confusion, bewilderment, and ridicule. And, to be fair, it’s not like anyone asked for a grungy, grimdark retelling of the first Final Fantasy.

But maybe it’s worth a try. I enjoyed Nioh, and people who’ve tried the Stranger of Paradise demo are already praising the battle system. The trailer is terrible, but the game is still in development; there’s a lot of room for improvement.

A trial version of the game is already available for PS5 users until June 24. Players can also offer any feedback they might have in a survey after trying out the demo. Team NINJA has a positive reputation for taking fan feedback seriously during the development of Nioh 2, so I’m optimistic Stranger of Paradise will get the same treatment.

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is another game that surprised me, but mostly because I didn’t think anyone still cared that much for the franchise. I remember hearing about the first movie getting four sequels or something, but that’s about it. It looks like they’re aiming to release the first Avatar sequel in December 2022, so maybe this game will drum up some hype for that.

The trailer is very pretty, but there’s not much else known about the details of the game. You’ll be able to control a Na’vi, so that might be something to look forward to if you’ve always wanted to feel what it’s like to live on Pandora.

Resident Evil Village DLC

During Capcom’s presentation at E3, the company announced that they were making DLC for Resident Evil Village due to popular demand.

There are no other details, but since most of the “popular demand” I’ve seen have centered around the villains of the game, perhaps it’ll be related to them?

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles

Fans of the Ace Attorney series, we rise to feast again!! Capcom is finally bringing over both The Great Ace Attorney games by combining them into one collection. This puzzle game sets players as a young attorney who uses testimony, deduction, and evidence to learn the truth behind each mysterious case.

The game is set to release this year on July 27.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC

I love fighting games, and I love the fact that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is apparently determined to collect as many guest characters from fighting games as it can. Kazuya Mishima from Tekken is the next DLC character to join a roster that already includes Ryu from Street Fighter and Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury. Nintendo announced his presence at this year’s E3 with a humorous trailer that shows him tossing multiple opponents off a cliff (a tradition that’s between him and his father).

More details about Kazuya will be released on June 28.

Metroid Dread

Nintendo stunned Metroid fans with the announcement of Metroid Dread, the first new 2D Metroid title in 19 years. It’s a direct sequel to Metroid Fusion, which was released in 2002 for the Game Boy Advance. Rumors of the game’s development have been floating around since 2004, but no official announcements ever appeared. Some people began to think it was just a rumor.

But now the rumor has become reality. Metroid Dread will be released on October 8 this year.

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope

I’m gonna be honest, Rabbids rank very low on my list of cute things. I don’t like their bulgy eyes and their pink, fleshy mouths. But the last Mario + Rabbids game was very solid with engaging, turn-based gameplay that required more tactical thinking than you might’ve anticipated. Sparks of Hope looks to be more of the same but with less grids and more colorful places to visit.

The game is expected to release on the Switch sometime in 2022.

WarioWare: Get It Together!

My group of friends and I used to play WarioWare: Smooth Moves for the Wii whenever we got together. It was always the perfect party game. Especially as people drank and struggled to work the already janky motion controls properly.

WarioWare: Get It Together! looks like the latest in the franchise to bring back the frantic, absurd, and hilarious mini-games the series is best known for. Available in September this year, the new title will also feature a 2-player co-op mode for BFF fun.

Shin Megami Tensei V

Shin Megami Tensei V finally gets a release date this year with an exclusive launch on the Nintendo Switch on November 12.

This series is well known for playing with themes such as the apocalypse, remaking a new world, Heaven and Hell, god and devil, human and demon, and law and chaos. It’s been a while since we last heard anything about this game since its announcement in 2017, so it’s great to see it’s ready to go by the end of the year.

Breath of the Wild 2

The official name isn’t Breath of the Wild 2, but it’s pretty much that–the sequel to the widely praised The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. There’s still a lot we don’t know, and Nintendo isn’t even revealing the official title yet because it might spoil too much, but the latest trailer appears to indicate something that has to do with the reversal of time. More details are likely to come at a later date.

At this time, the sequel is aiming for a 2022 launch.

The Honorable (Non-E3) Mention

When E3 cancelled all its in-person events last year, it seemed to completely lack a backup plan that could move the conference online. Instead, various companies and other big names in the video game industry had to step in.

That’s how the Summer Game Fest came to be. It became something of a celebration of games, with demos and sales and launch trailers aplenty as people enjoyed this much-needed entertainment during a pandemic that kept most folks in their homes.

This year, the festival has already planned another season of announcements, showcases, performances, and special guests. It wasn’t meant to compete with E3, but we have to be honest–it kinda does. And it kinda blew off E3’s doors before the conference could even open them.

There was only one game to blame for the explosion.

Elden Ring

Elden Ring stole the “Best in Show” crown from E3 before E3 even started. This game is the fruit of a collaboration between the creators of the famously difficult, lore-rich Dark Souls franchise and George R. R. Martin. Yes, that George R. R. Martin. The author of the famous fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.

When this game was first announced, people went nuts. They needed more information. What kind of game could these two creatives produce? We still don’t have a full answer, but why spoil the surprise? We’ll likely get to figure it out ourselves when the game is released on January 21, 2022.

In the meantime, the latest trailer promises more Dark Souls-like goodness with some additional features such as horseback riding.

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Written By

Tebany Yune is a writer who likes to casually chat about science and nature, complain about unnecessarily "smart" devices, and play all kinds of video games. She is constantly sabotaging herself by accidentally damaging her poor fingers.

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