Could have been an email
If 2020 was the year of video games because we had nothing better to do, 2021 is – at least so far – about remembering why we like to stick around and play Xbox games even when we could. rather be in a bar. This year’s E3 feels all the more under pressure due to this revitalized burden on the world’s biggest gaming companies. They can no longer be satisfied with home orders.
Add to that the fact that Sony and Microsoft have now launched their next gen (now barely current gen) consoles to the world and you have a Forza-style race to the next big peak. E3 mirrored this fad into a barely usable digital hub and a wide array of pre-recorded announcements. This year’s conference really faltered on the verge of being uncomfortable to follow, often leaving us with existential crises rather than real excitement.
If we put E3 aside for a moment (easier said than done, I know), we ended up with a slew of top-notch gaming announcements. E3 has proven that there is something to be excited about in the gaming world, despite the delays caused by the pandemic. The gaming industry is doing better than ever – E3 left us feeling like this “conference” could have been easily completed in the form of a few tidy emails instead.
So here it is: the TL; DR version of E3. We promise it will be more fun that way.
For Xbox, it’s all about Game Pass – Microsoft really took advantage of E3 to double its commitment to Game Pass and, more broadly, its burgeoning cloud gaming network, xCloud. Microsoft kicked off E3 by teasing the far-reaching expansion of the xCloud system – the company is even working to integrate it directly into TVs and streaming sticks. And the entire xCloud backend is upgraded to Xbox Series X servers, which should make the experience smoother.
Microsoft has also prioritized Game Pass during its Bethesda game showcase. A bunch of big name tracks, like last year’s hit Yakuza: like a dragon and the whole Fall series, are coming to Game Pass this year and next. Microsoft is also planning to make more new games available on Game Pass on the day they are released – Infinite halo and Forza Horizon 5 will be available on the first day, for example.
Overall, the shortage of Xbox exclusives finally seems to be healing – Flight simulator coming to Xbox next month, Psychonauts 2 released in August, and Infinite halo arrives (finally) during the holiday season. And then there is Starfield, Bethesda’s first new universe in 25 years, which seems to be a lot of fun on every release.
Another impressive surprise at the Bethesda x Xbox event: the announcement of The Outer Worlds 2, a sequel to 2019’s open-world space adventure. Details are scarce, but it will almost certainly be an Xbox exclusive, and we probably won’t be able to play it for quite a while.
A nice Switch range, but no Pro – Nintendo didn’t announce the Switch Pro at E3, so it may not even exist. But the company’s 40-minute presentation – structured like any of its other Directs – included big game announcements.
After literally years of waiting, we finally got to see some gameplay footage from the sequel to Breath of the wild. the Zelda ended up with the most attention overall, with the release of a new Game & Watch and a new Skyward Sword HD trailer.
The biggest surprise of the presentation actually went to Metroid, however – Nintendo is working on the series’ first 2D platform entry in nearly 20 years. Metroid: Terror, a title initially planned for release on Nintendo DS, will be released in a few months.
Speaking of classic franchises: Advanced wars and WarioWare both keep coming back – ads that honestly rival the Metroid new.
Also, there is another Mario + Rabbids game coming next year. Dude, those Raving Rabbids are everywhere.
Take out the big guns – Besides the Switch Pro, the most notable absence from this year’s E3 was Sony; PlayStation has decided not to host any events for the conference. Good for her, frankly.
Third-party developers took to the stage instead, showing off upcoming AAA games like Ubisoft’s Avatar: Pandora’s Borders (apparently we always do the Avatar thing) and Rainbow Six Extraction (who was called Rainbow Six Quarantine until, you know, the actual quarantine happens).
Ubisoft also announced Rockstar +, a subscription service for learning to play the guitar. A subscription will cost $ 14.99 per month, although there are offers for three-month and annual plans. This is a whole new direction for the Rock star series, which has been around for about ten years. Ubisoft actually let this slip into a press email ahead of its event. Oops.
An unruly number of other big name series have also announced new games, like the new Life is strange game, which will arrive on all gaming platforms. Square Enix announced Stranger From Heaven Final Fantasy Origin, with a severely broken trial. And that of George RR Martin Ancient ring showed a ton of new footage with a release slated for January 2022.
As usual, small developers weren’t in the spotlight for most of E3. One of our favorite indie shows of the week, from Devolver, wasn’t even technically part of E3. Devolver’s presentation was handled by Nina Streuthers, a character the company created some time ago to dunk the serious tone of E3 presentations. Streuthers has announced a few upcoming Devolver games, including Wizard with a gun, Phantom Abyss, and The door of death.
Well, that’s about it. Unless you include Post Malone’s much publicized “appearance” – which was virtual and lasted 30 seconds.