E3 2021 Recap
Another E3 has come and gone, and after skipping last year due to worldwide events, it was a much-missed event. While there wasn’t a traditional in-person event, instead of opting for an online event, there were still plenty of exciting announcements for gamers worldwide. Let’s break down some of the biggest E3 2021 announcements.
Before the show even got started, there were some gameplay reveals and announcements to break down.
After being announced last year, Sony revealed 14 minutes of stunning Horizon Forbidden West gameplay. The sequel picks up six months after the first and sees Aloy traveling west to the ruins of San Francisco, trying to unravel the mystery of the Red Blight. Developer Guerilla Games looks to be taking all the best parts of the first game -- incredible combat, stunning graphics, robot dinosaurs -- and fixing other issues. Development is still on track for a release later this year, but no firm release date was announced for the PS4 and PS5 title.
Sonic is turning 30, and in celebration, Sega held a Sonic Central announcing a bundle of Sonic games, titled Sonic Origins, a remaster, Sonic Colors: Ultimate, and a new untitled Sonic game set for 2022. It’s a good year to be a Sonic fan!
Techland also showed off 8 minutes of new gameplay for the long in development Dying Light 2, now subtitled Stay Human. The first-person parkour zombie game looks to keep the intense gameplay from the 2015 hit going while emphasizing player choice. Dying Light: Stay Human has a release date of December 7, 2021, so plan your holiday accordingly.
Square Enix held a 35th-anniversary stream for Dragon Quest. While not as popular in America as it is in Japan, reaching that milestone is huge. To celebrate, the company announced multiple new games, but the most significant announcements were Dragon Quest XII: The Flames of Fate and Dragon Quest III 2D-HD. Both games don’t have a release date, and platforms weren’t announced, but fans are already looking forward to both.
And finally, EA announced the much anticipated (and heavily leaked) Battlefield 2042 in a 5 minute reveal trailer. The first-person shooter takes the franchise to the near future, where climate catastrophes, such as hurricanes and storms, ravage the planet. EA says the game will be out in October, and they’ll showcase more of the game during their EA Play event next week.
Summer Game Fest
While technically a part of E3, the Summer Game Fest kicked off the festivities with a 90-minute presentation filled with trailers galore. We won’t be going over everything announced, but here’s a quick round-up of some of the biggest announcements.
The presentation opened with the announcement of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, a fantasy-focused spin on the Borderlands franchise. While not a part of the mainline series, expect to see many of the franchise’s staples like an infinite number of wacky weapons, over-the-top action and slapstick humor. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands also has an impressive voice cast, including former SNL member Andy Samberg, Wanda Sykes and Will Arnett.
If you’re a fan of Hideo Kojima, then you might be excited to know Death Stranding: Director’s Cut is coming. The PS5 exclusive’s trailer featured a haunting atmosphere, a box and some oranges. Whatever that all means. More details later this summer.
Summer Game Fest also had updates of some highly-anticipated games. We also got updates on Overwatch 2, Valorant and Call of Duty Warzone Season 4. A bunch of new games were announced, including Jurassic World Evolution 2 (with Jeff Goldblum revealing the game himself) and quirky simulation game Two Point Campus (the sequel to Two Point Hospital). Host Geoff Keighley also announced a new publisher in Prime Matter (who showed off a sizzle reel of games their working on) and a new developer in Deviation Games, who is working on a new game with Sony.
Image: Bandai Namco
Keighley also broke out of gamer prison by revealing a new trailer for Elden Ring. To call this game anticipated is an understatement, but since its reveal at E3 2019, we’ve had no additional details about this game. We’ve known it’s directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki (director of Bloodborne and several Dark Souls games) with lore created by A Song of Fire and Ice (better known as Game of Thrones) writer George R.R. Martin. A lone trailer is all we’ve had for nearly two years.
Well, no more. Not only did the trailer give us our best look at the game, including the open-world, combat and enemies, but we also know the release date. Yes, Elden Ring launch on January 21, 2022. Mark your calendars, call in sick to work and get ready to die -- a lot.
E3 2021 officially started on June 12 with several presentations from various developers, publishers and more. We’re not going to break down all of them, but here are the highlights of the biggest E3 2021 presentations.
Throughout E3 2021, there were a ton of indie games announced, or new details were given. It’d be nearly impossible to list all of them here (without making this longer than it’s already going to be), but here are a few beautiful and exciting games.
- SkateBIRD mixes skateboarding and birds.
- Lake has you playing as a hard-working woman who takes a break to deliver mail in her hometown.
- In Garden Story, you play as a grape named Concord, trying to protect and revitalize a community through crafting, expiration and making friends.
- Play as two kiwi birds who work together in a mailroom in KeyWe.
- Restore Pinefall Resort as a bear in Bear & Breakfast.
- Wizard with a Gun is a co-op sandbox survival game with magic and guns, just as the title suggests.
- Restore your local community as a rookie fisherman in Moonglow Bay.
- Solve puzzles by placing crafted wood pieces in Woodo.
And there’s many more!
The first big publisher to present during E3, Ubisoft’s show was more or less already telegraphed. The company let everyone know to expect some updates on the recently renamed Rainbow Six: Extraction, open-world extreme sports Rider’s Republic, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6 and Rainbow Six: Siege. And we got all of that.
The company did have a few announcements to make, though. Rocksmith+ is the latest in the guitar learning franchise with a new subscription model to keep the new tracks coming. They also announced Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, but it’s a shame Nintendo jumped the gun and launched the game’s website a bit too early.
And to wrap up, Ubisoft showed the first trailer for Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, coming from The Division developer Massive Entertainment. The first-person game looks phenomenal and explores a new part of Pandora we’ve never seen before. Ubisoft announced they were working on an Avatar game some years ago, but this is our first official look at it. Set to launch sometime in 2022, there’s a possibility you can play this game and go see Avatar 2 in theaters in the same year.
Microsoft had arguably the best showcase during the week. With over 90-minutes of game announcements and trailers, if there’s one thing to take away from their show: it’s a good time to be an Xbox fan.
The company started the show by showing off its $7.5 billion investment in ZeniMax when Todd Howard showed a Starfield teaser. While no gameplay footage was shown, the in-engine trailer gives us the best look at the much-anticipated game. The trailer ended with a release date of November 11, 2022. Yes, it’s a year and a half away, but with the pedigree behind the game, it should be worth it.
Microsoft also showed how they’re beefing up their fan-beloved Game Pass service. Of the 30 games they showed off, 27 of them are coming to the subscription service, many on Day 1. For as little as $9.99 per month, you’ll have access to over 100 games and all of Microsoft’s first-party titles (like Halo, Starfield, Sea of Thieves and more). Plus, you’ll also have access to a growing library that includes Indie, AA and AAA games from the best developers and publishers.
We also got a fantastic trailer for Halo Infinite’s multiplayer mode showing off the patented chaos the franchise is known for. Developer 343 went into further detail earlier this week, and it looks like we’re in for a treat. Microsoft also announced the latest entry in the Forza Horizon franchise. Set in Mexico, this open-world racer is set to be a showcase for the Xbox Series X and S. Be sure to have your 4K TVs ready.
A bunch of indie games got the spotlight. Some highlights include Twelve Minutes, Somerville, Atomic Heart and Replaced. But this list isn’t exhaustive, and there’s something for everyone.
Microsoft ended their show by announcing Redfall, the newest game from Arkane Austin. You can play solo or with friends as you try to stop powerful vampires in the town of Redfall. Choose from one of four characters with their own set of powers in what looks to be an upcoming gem that proves just another reason why Microsoft made their large investment.
Publisher Square Enix showed off a handful of announcements during their E3 presentation. The company provided a few updates on the fledgling Marvel’s Avengers, including the upcoming War for Wakanda free expansion. We also got to see another emotional trailer for Life is Strange: True Colors.
Image: Square Enix
But the presentation started and ended with the company’s two biggest announcements. They opened their show with the announcement of a Guardians of the Galaxy game, set to launch this October. You play as Star-Lord and command the familiar Guardians characters we’ve grown to love both in combat and in cutscenes. Like Mass Effect and any game from TellTale, your choices will impact the story, and you can change how the mission plays out. This game isn’t tied to the MCU in any way, but expect humorous writing, a cast of misfits and an awesome soundtrack.
Square Enix ended the presentation with Strangers of Paradise Final Fantasy Origins, a spin-off of the long-running franchise taking a bold direction. Combat plays out similarly to games in the “Souls” sub-genre, a far cry from the turn-based combat the series is known for. The action RPG is set to launch in 2022, but a limited-time demo is on PS5.
Publisher Capcom has seen a resurgence in recent years, but the company’s E3 2021 showcase didn’t do much to keep that momentum going. The most notable announcement is that Resident Evil: Village is getting DLC. Capcom discussed no details, and there’s no target window, so it may be a while before we get any new information.
Nintendo ended much of the festivities with a strong 40-minute long Direct. The company stated on Twitter they’d be talking “exclusively on software.” Few believed them, but they sure kept to that promise.
They began the presentation by announcing the penultimate Super Smash Bros. Ultimate character announcement with Tekken’s Kazuya. The popular character brings with him some of his signature fighting moves and meme-worthy quirks. No release date, but a deep dive will happen on June 28. These deep dives usually happen shortly before release, so it might not be a long wait.
Nintendo confirmed a few third-party titles are coming. Titles include the latest Just Dance, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Danganronpa Decadence and the freshly announced Guardians of the Galaxy, although it was later confirmed to be a cloud-based version of the game (meaning you’ll need an internet connection to play).
In a surprising announcement, Nintendo officially announced Metroid: Dread, a game that’s been rumored for over 15 years! This new, 2D side-scrolling Metroid game is the fifth and final entry in the current Metroid saga that began back on the NES. Many fans gave up hope we’d ever see this game, but not only is it announced, but it’s coming in October for the Nintendo Switch!
The bulk of the Nintendo Direct featured a dip into the nostalgia pool. Super Monkey Ball Mania collects the first three games and remasters them. Then there’s Mario Party Superstars, which features over 100 minigames and five classic boards from the series’ past titles from the Nintendo 64 and GameCube. Wario Ware is making a comeback with WarioWare: Get It Together with all the wacky minigames you can expect, plus the addition of two-player modes! And out of left field comes Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, a remaster collection of the first two entries in the long-dormant strategy franchise.
To wrap up their Direct, Nintendo gave us only the second trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sequel. Announced two years ago, fans have been eagerly waiting for more information. The brief trailer reveals new powers you’ll get to use, new sky-bound locations and new mysteries. Fans are already dissecting frames to get a better understanding. Nintendo said they’re aiming for a 2022 release, although the company doesn’t seem sure about hitting that.
Not included in the Direct? Any mention of the rumored and hotly-anticipated Switch Pro. Several sources have stated Nintendo is releasing an upgraded version of the Switch sometime this year, and those same sources also said the console should have been announced by now, but here we are. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for an announcement soon. Rest assured, whatever form the Switch Pro takes, we’ll have a mount for the console!
And that’s E3 2021. Keep in mind; we didn’t go over every game and every announcement here, just most of the big ones. From fantastic trailers to gameplay reveals and more, we love seeing everything announced at E3 and we can’t wait for next year. Be sure to check out our recap from when we went in 2017.