In the first E3 to take place during the Covid-19 pandemic, gamers were excited to see what developers were working on and were hoping for some big announcements.
While this year’s E3 was unlike any other, opportunities still existed for industry giants including Microsoft and Nintendo among others to use their respective showcases to build hype around future releases.
In particular, Microsoft has been facing considerable pressure after its flagship title ‘Halo Infinite’ received lukewarm reception upon reveal last year and was forced to be delayed from November 2020 to the holiday season this year.
Further, there has been a conspicuous lack of console exclusives for the Xbox Series X/S, placing additional pressure on the company to show off as many exclusive titles as possible in order to keep fans happy and looking forward to the future.
Ubisoft kicked off with the first showcase last weekend, providing updates on supports for existing titles including ‘For Honor’, ‘The Crew 2’, and ‘Watch Dogs: Legion’ among others.
In addition, the France-based studio revealed that James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ would be receiving the video game treatment, with ‘Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora’ set to release some time in 2022. Other games highlighted included ‘Rainbow Six: Extraction’, which injects a sci-fi theme into the famous Tom Clancy franchise, ‘Far Cry 6’ and ‘Riders Republic’, an MMO sports game including mountain biking, snowboarding and wingsuit flying among others.
Square Enix, renowned for franchises including ‘Final Fantasy’ and ‘Dragon Quest’, showed off several upcoming mobile games, most of which did not drum up much enthusiasm among their fans.
Of greater interest to gamers was the company’s updates on titles including ‘Babylon’s Fall’, an upcoming action-RPG, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and remastered editions of several Final Fantasy titles.
In addition, ‘Life is Strange’ is also set to receive the remaster treatment and a second sequel, titled ‘Life is Strange: True Colors’ featuring a new character, Alex Chen.
In a fairly short presentation, ‘Resident Evil’ creator Capcom revealed relatively little of note. New content has been announced for owners of recently-released ‘Resident Evil: Village’ and, in partnership with Nintendo, ‘Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin’ will be released on the Nintendo Switch.
Much of the rest of the presentation centred around Esports, something which has garnered much popularity and media attention in recent years but is still of relatively little interest to many gamers who just want to sit down and play their favourite games after a day of work or study.
As highlighted previously, all eyes were on Microsoft this E3 to deliver a showcase to keep fans engaged after months of sparseness on the exclusive games front on the new Xbox consoles.
In just over an hour and 20 minutes, Microsoft showed off 30 titles, 27 of which will be available on Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service that allows customers to pay a monthly fee in exchange for full access to a large library of games without needing to pay full price for them.
Along with the highly anticipated ‘Halo Infinite’ demo, many other major titles were displayed, including ‘STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl’ and ‘Forza Horizon 5’, in addition to Bethesda’s ‘Starfield’ and ‘The Outer Worlds 2’. While the latter two titles featured no gameplay, fans will be excited (if not also a little relieved) at the impressive list of titles in the Xbox Series pipeline over the next couple of years.
Multiplatform titles were also shown off, including ‘Battlefield 2042’, ‘Back 4 Blood’ and the critically acclaimed ‘Hades’, the latter two of which will be available on Game Pass.
At the end of the show, a final Xbox console exclusive was teased for the first time. ‘Redfall’, from Arkane Studios of ‘Dishonored’ fame, featured a team of stylish assassins battling deadly vampires in a flashy trailer.
While no gameplay featured, Xbox fans will no doubt be delighted that a new game will be forthcoming from Arkane following the completion of their contractual duties to Sony and the launch of ‘Deathloop’ on the PlayStation 5 and PC later this year.
Closing off on the major studios and developers, Nintendo gave a 40 minute showcase which, while on the shorter side, provided plenty for fans to look forward to. Perhaps the biggest reveal of the event was that of ‘Metroid Dread’, the franchise’s first 2D platform in almost 20 years.
In addition, further details to the sequel for the celebrated ‘Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ were revealed, including some new gameplay footage. However, no title has been revealed yet and details of a release date remain vague, with Nintendo only promising a 2022 release for the much-anticipated title.
Conspicuously absent from the Nintendo showcase was any mention of an updated version of the Nintendo Switch (often referred to as the ‘Switch Pro’). Rumours have been swirling for months around the potential for this platform to debut next year but, to date, no mention of it has been made on official channels by Nintendo.
Another noteworthy absence has been that of Sony, who has again eschewed E3 in favour of releasing its own showcases at its own time. With the last showcase (or “State of Play” in Sony circles) coming in late May, fans will be eager to see how Sony responds to Microsoft’s strong E3 showing.
This will especially be the case as, after the release of ‘Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart’ on the 11th of June, there is a notable lack of confirmed PS5 exclusives in the pipeline for the near future (remember that flagship titles such as ‘God of War: Ragnarök’, ‘Grand Turismo 7’ and ‘Horizon Forbidden West’ do not count as PS5 exclusives they are cross-generational and will also be available on the PS4).