Hello fellow video game enthusiasts! After skipping last year due to the pandemic, E3 came roaring back to life in 2021 from June 12-15. I had the good fortune of being selected by Devolutions to attend the virtual event and report my impressions and discoveries back to the community.
What Is E3?
Before I dive into the recap, let me take a moment to explain what E3 is for those of you who have not yet become video game fanatics. E3, which stands for Electronic Entertainment Expo, is the largest and most important trade event in the video game industry. Until 2016, E3 was an industry-only event. In 2017, however, it became open to the public for the first time. The event is typically held in May, June, or July, and since 2008, it has taken place at the Los Angeles Convention Center (the exception as I mentioned earlier was in 2020, when E3 was canceled due to the pandemic, and this year when the event was held entirely online).
It is also interesting to note that this year, E3 took place two days after Summer Game Fest, during which the gameplay trailer for Elden Ring was released. This is the much-anticipated collaboration between George R.R. Martin and Hidetaka Miyazaki.
The best thing about E3 is learning about all the major releases. Here is a recap of what each developer has in the pipeline (along with my comments). You can also click the links to view the trailers.
- Guerrilla Collective: Death Trash (action RPG, amazing pixel art, the universe looks unique); White Shadows (cinematic platform with a Tim Burton-esque look and feel).
- Ubisoft: Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora (video game for the second movie, looks amazing — this was the only “new and original” franchise that Ubisoft revealed).
- Devolver Digital: Trek to Yomi (black and white, old Japanese movie vibe, truly stunning visuals); Death’s Door (dungeon crawler, delightful visuals, Legend of Zelda retro vibes for all of the nostalgia buffs out there!).
- Xbox + Bethesda: 27 of the 30 games that were presented will be on the Game Pass (Xbox’s video game streaming service). Titles include S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, Back 4 Blood (co-op shooter that looks promising), Halo Infinite, Starfield, Atomic Heart (immersive simulation, Bioshock vibes), Forza Horizon 5 (MAYBE THE MOST VISUALLY STUNNING GAME EVER!).
- Square Enix: Babylon’s Fall (comes from the same team that developed Nier Automata, which is a highly acclaimed game). Guardians of the Galaxy was a big surprise coming from Eidos Montreal (published by Square Enix) and is set to release on October 26, 2021.
- Nintendo: Mario Party Superstars, Metroid Dread, the sequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (video and 2022 release).
While there were some amazing reveals at E3, unfortunately, there were some pretty big letdowns as well. Here is what I found disappointing:
- Ubisoft is apparently just releasing the same games for the same franchises every year. There doesn’t seem to be any substantial improvements or gameplay changes. C’mon Ubisoft, where is the creativity, the passion, and the “WOW!” that characterized such classics as Far Cry 3, Raymond’s Legends, and Child of Light (which, by the way, was developed by Ubisoft Montreal)?
- Don’t ask me why, but there were no images for Metroid Prime 4 after the sneak peek at E3 2019. Nintendo says that “they’re working hard” on this, which is great. But what’s the hold-up? Yeah, Metroid Dread is nice, but it was teased 16 years ago.
- Sony and EA — two of the biggest developers — were absent (the EA Play Live event is in July).
- Halo Infinite looks really promising, but the “Holiday 2021” release date is stressful. After being delayed more than once, this vague release date doesn’t really fill me with confidence, and I expect that it will be postponed yet again. Quick reminder: the last ‘standalone’ Halo game was Halo 5, which was released in October 2015.
- When Bandai Namco presented Elden Ring at Summer Game fest the day before the beginning of E3 (as I mentioned earlier), people were really excited and hoped that we might see some more at E3. Sadly, that didn’t happen. Bandai Namco only showed one game during the event: The Dark Pictures Anthology.
- Capcom presented three games at their press conference, and I’m sorry to say that it was kind of disappointing. First, they said that they were working on a Resident Evil Village DLC (the game came out a month ago). The second game was Monster Hunter Story 2 (Nintendo presented the game as well). The third game, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, looks to be the most interesting. It combines two games from the Great Ace Attorney franchise, which is loved in Japan and only available there.
The big highlights for me were Xbox + Bethesda with the huge announcement that 27 games out of the 30 will be available on Game Pass the day they are released. I also felt that Devolver Digital stood out with their funny and original conference, and their different game style (visual and gameplay-wise).
Overall, I would say that E3 this year was interesting, but it didn’t quite live up to the hype, and at times it was a little underwhelming. I think the obvious reason for this is the pandemic, which really stalled everyone’s plans. Hopefully though, E3 next year will be back in top form — and news just came out that it’s scheduled to be an in-person event!