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So that's that for another year's E3 - although the all-digital 2021 edition of gaming's biggest celebration of new announcements and excessive hype building was a quieter event than usual. And with shows starting several days before E3 'proper' began, and with others yet to happen (Annapurna, EA, PlayStation), E3 2021 felt a little... incomplete. Nevertheless, we watched it all and found many games to feel excited for, others to lament the absence of, and a few that we weren't so moved by - which we're happy to summarise, below.
What I Loved: Halo Infinite's multiplayer overview stream (check out the trailer, above). It's been a year since we had the first gameplay reveal for Infinite, which was quite disappointing to put it mildly. But 343 Industries delayed the game, took time to rework many of the criticisms fans had - not just of that gameplay demo, but of the previous Halo games that 343 Industries had made - and, boy, did they make a strong comeback. The multiplayer reveal for Infinite has got me desperate to get my hands on the game. It's a clear return to form for the franchise, building on what originally made it a success.
What I Missed: Despite never having been to a physical E3, I still very much miss how the show was before publishers began doing their own Nintendo Direct-esque shows. They just don't have the same kind of buzz, even when you're watching them from home. On top of that it's also just not as fun to work them from home too - I miss being with my colleagues and spending late nights together, covering the shows together. All in all, I just miss the buzz of E3.
What I Loved: For me, there are fewer outstanding moments than usual, at this year's E3. And most of them came during the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase. After the jaw-dropping reveal trailer the previous week, we finally got a glimpse at Battlefield 2042's multiplayer and it didn't disappoint. Alongside that, as an avid RTS fan I was so happy to see Age of Empires IV get a release date - and it's safe to say that after the latest trailer October 28 can't come soon enough! And lastly, Forza Horizon 5 looks stunning (check out its trailer, above). I was particularly taken away with the high-end 12K photogrammetry which Playground Games are using to take Forza Horizon to the next gear on the Xbox Series X.
What I Missed: This year's E3 was considerably different with the event having no physical presence on the ground in Los Angeles. Having been fortunate enough to attend an E3 previously, I definitely missed the convention aspect and the pre-conference hype. Liaising with colleagues across the globe and the hectic schedule that often goes hand-in-hand with E3 wasn't there for me this year. Sticking to the actual games, and even though it is still a fair way from release, I would've loved to have seen a little something on The Elder Scrolls VI, or even something from Ubisoft Massive's upcoming open-world Star Wars project.
What Didn't Impress: I felt that a lot of the conferences this year missed a bit of that E3 magic. Perhaps that is a knock-on effect after the past year or so we've all had to endure. Hopefully events moving forward don't take a similar vein.
What I Loved: Seeing more of the breathtaking Sable (I mean, just look at, and listen to, that trailer, above) and Shedworks' game finally getting a release date in September - and being able to play both that and Tunic, via Xbox demos - was a huge highlight of the E3 season. The very Inside-like Somerville (ex-Playdead dev, so it checks out) and cyberpunk-goes-pixel-art Replaced stole the Xbox show for me - which was some feat in a showcase that included Starfield and Forza Horizon 5. I know a good few folks were down on it but I took away plenty of positives from Babylon's Fall - and when it comes to action, you never discount PlatinumGames. Elsewhere, Trek To Yomi was my standout of the Devolver Digital showcase; and then there's the Nintendo Direct, with the reveal of Metroid Dread and a very welcome new look at the Breath of the Wild sequel. I'm disappointed it's not releasing in 2021, but I am more than happy to wait (especially with that neat lil Zelda multi-title Game & Watch coming out this autumn, as a follow-up to last year's Mario effort).
What I Missed: The lack of anything at all on Beyond Good & Evil 2 wasn't a surprise, but it would have been nice to get even the slightest update from Ubisoft. While PlayStation are pretty clear with their we're not doing E3 stance, the lack of much for PS5 owners to feel excited about doesn't leave them in a particularly positive mindset when Xbox had a terrific show and the Nintendo Direct was very strong, too. While Elden Ring was a big hit at the kick-off for Summer Games Fest, that nothing more was shown of it, when gameplay was shown in the first trailer, felt like a missed opportunity for both FromSoftware and Bandai Namco (and the latter's decision to dedicate their own show exclusively to House of Ashes was also a misstep).
What Didn't Impress: Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin looks like a very uncomfortable fit for the Final Fantasy franchise - and its trailer that closed the Square Enix showcase was laughably poor so far as first impressions go. Also shown off by Square Enix, the Life Is Strange Remaster feels like a game that simply doesn't need to happen, with the original games so widely and cheaply available - although I'm pleased that it's finally coming out on Switch, so there's that.
What I Loved: Halo infinite's multiplayer overview stream, Game Pass support
What I Missed: Sony :(
What Didn't Impress: Chaos (we don't know for sure, but Tom is probably referring to that very-bad-actually Stranger of Paradise trailer).
What I Loved: Redfall. As the GAMINGbible team know, I am a big fan of Arkane Studios and I bang on about Deathloop, Prey and Dishonored whenever I can create the opportunity to. With its supernatural setting combined with a grounded yet playful premise, Redfall is so different to the worlds that have been created in past Arkane games (check out its trailer, above). The characters are so charming, the writing is punchy and punny, and I need to know more about the vampire apocalypse. I need to. Also, I didn't realise how much I missed WarioWare until it popped up during Nintendo's presentation. So here for WarioWare: Get It Together!. A Plague Tale: Requiem is absolutely on my radar after it was rumoured for ages last year, and if you've not played the original, get on it right now. Last but by no means least, it would be remiss not to refer to some of the indies that caught my eye: namely Gigabash, Kokopa's Atlas, Sable and Paralives.
What I Missed: A little dog tuckered out on the stage.
What Didn't Impress: Some companies certainly gave me the vibes of a wayward student who forgot there was homework due. Rocking up and making the most of the content you've gotten prepped, that's commendable. However, there was another, very viable option - bunk off. Pull a sickie. Bash out an out of office email and send it to everyone you've ever known. Being amped for an hour of announcements that actually turns out to be a tour of a film set that you're not even allowed to show or go into great detail about isn't a good look. Here's looking at you, Gearbox Software. And, Capcom's Resident Evil Village DLC slide! More information is coming "later". What does that mean? Later this evening? Day? Month? Year? FOMO is a powerful drug. Just say no.
What I Loved: Nintendo delivered a great show. Seeing Metroid Dread unveiled felt almost too good to be true after all this time, and it looks fantastic (our gallant Ewan Moore was given a little glimpse of it). I loved the Shin Megami Tensei V trailer, and how it showed the series is evolving while sticking with its established identity. The big moment was clearly the trailer for the upcoming Zelda game (watch said trailer, above), which I'm calling Breath of the Skyward Sword and nobody can stop me. The reaction to Link(?) falling with style over a modified Hyrule has been massive, showing that Nintendo won E3 at a canter.
What I Missed: Keanu Reeves in all his glory. Imagine him presenting a prequel to Cyberpunk 2077 that was a linear FPS game starring Johnny Silverhand? With gameplay like DOOM Eternal, but with the lead character charismatically delivering pulpy, B-movie-esque one-liners. Like Duke Nukem Forever if Duker Nukem wasn't a complete tool in a terrible game. Maybe not like Duke Nukem, then...
What Didn't Impress: Bandai Namco weren't great. A few minutes of House of Ashes (a game I'm not excited for) was a disappointment, made worse by them following Nintendo's rousing success. Oh well, there's always next year.
What I Loved: In an uneven E3, watching Microsoft and Nintendo deliver jam-packed shows that were all about the games was a definite highlight. Starfield has seriously piqued my interest and could well redeem Bethesda post-Fallout 76. Nintendo, meanwhile, managed to surpass my wildest expectations by announcing Metroid Dread. I'd long since given up on the idea of a sequel to 2002's excellent Metroid Fusion, but here we are. Oh, and Elden Ring? Wow (watch the trailer, above, for your own wows). Roll on 2022.
What I Missed: I fully appreciate Nintendo is hard at work on the sequel to The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 right now, but I would've liked to have seen just a little more than we got from that trailer. I also would've liked to have seen more 35th anniversary love for the franchise in the form of some more Switch ports (Wind Waker and Twilight Princess are gagging for it), but that's just me being selfish. I hate me.
What Didn't Impress: The number of presentations that were the definition of 'meetings that could have been an email'. Bandai Namco making us wait up late to watch five minutes of House of Ashes? Get outta here. Warner Bros. wasn't much better, offering up nothing more than ten minutes of Back 4 Blood. These games look great, yes, but roll your stuff into another presentation if you haven't got that much to show yourself, jeez.
What I Loved: Getting to John O'Groats
What I Missed: All the E3 press conferences
What Didn't Impress: 10-hour Megabus
Editor's note: Julian rode his bike from Land's End to John O'Groats while E3 was on - a terrific achievement, and we're all in awe of him. He is a superhero, truly. But it did mean he missed all of the announcements relevant to his job, so IDK if I'd want to be in his shoes, come his next review.
Editor's note, note: that's a joke, don't worry Jules. (OR, WAS IT?)
Featured Image Credit: Nintendo, EA, Xbox Game Studios, Bandai Namco Entertainment
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