E3 2021 Round Up – The good and the not-so-good

E3 2021, for the most part, has been underwhelming. Out of the last five days including IGN’s Summer Game Fest Kickoff, blown away wasn’t one of the feelings I had. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been a real challenge to everyone in the industry and many projects have been pushed back to an optimistic 2022. While we still have half of 2021 to go, much of the anticipated titles this year like Horizon Forbidden West and Halo Infinite are still without a specific release date.

However, the one good thing about having a lackluster event is that the presentations that are exceptional really stand out. As we will list on our E3 2021 round up, there will be some good and there will be the not-so-good aspects of E3 2021. So let’s get into it.

The Good

Microsoft is ready to fight

xbox game pass new games

The PS5 had a pre-emptive strike to start this generation and it continues to hit it out the park with regards to sales and first party games such as Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart that take advantage of the latest hardware. Besides The Medium and the countless Day One Xbox Game Pass third party releases, Microsoft have been pacing themselves, but all that changed during their E3 2021 presentation.

One could argue that some of these games are still some months or years away from happening, especially the titles from their vaunted first-party lineup, but when it arrives, it’ll hit everyone hard and fast. This year alone, they’ll have made almost all Bethesda titles part of Game Pass, including 20 other additions like Yakuza Like a Dragon and Back 4 Blood. There will be more coming in 2022 and beyond, and they’ve impressed even without showing the likes of Hellblade 2, Perfect Dark, Avowed, and The Elder Scrolls VI. Everything coming to Game Pass, day one.

If you’re an Xbox owner and aren’t subscribed to Xbox Game Pass, I think its about time you seriously reconsider.

2022 is looking AMAZING

A Plague Tale Requiem

As seen in the Microsoft and the Nintendo presentations, there’s a promise that 2022 will be a phenomenal year for games. That is the messaging throughout E3 2021, as almost every presentation has a sought after title releasing in 2022. Summer Game Fest ended with the announcement of Elden Ring for January 21. Microsoft and Bethesda opened with Starfield dropping on November 11. Nintendo made us wait for a Breath of the Wild 2 first look slated for 2022. We also have the likes of A Plague Tale Requiem and other non-E3 related games like God of War Ragnarok coming in 2022.

We got the message, we just can’t get there fast enough.

2021 still has some surprises

advance wars 1 + 2

With all that talk about 2022, don’t count 2021 out just yet. While many of the more anticipated games are for next year, there are still some surprises in store. Personally, I’m curious how Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Extraction would play out and how their new player vs monster gameplay would gel with their tactical shooter setup the Rainbow Six series is known for. Our editor is highly invested in the remaster of Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp announced on the Nintendo Direct.

There are still many games on the horizon, and we haven’t even seen a Sony presentation yet. Are they even having one, though?

Forza Horizon 5 shows scary next-gen potential

forza horizon 5

Speaking of games on the horizon (wump wump), Forza Horizon 5 during the showed some of the most stunning visuals and a peek at the true potential of the latest hardware. At the moment, we’re still on that weird transition between generations where there are some games that flirt with potential (see Returnal) and for the most part, besides the slower load times, everything still runs on the PS4 / Xbox One. E3 2021 however, gave us a glimpse of what we can expect, using the latest technology to push the photo realistic nature of this open world racer and bringing it to life. I’m not a racing fan nor would I go out of my way to play a racer, but Forza Horizon 5 surely has my attention.

Never ever count Indies out

I’m not going to list presentations, but AAA publishers with the exception of Microsoft and maybe 15 minutes of the Nintendo Direct didn’t really dress to impress. Indies however, didn’t wear their granny panties to this event.

With the collection presented in the Day of the Devs, Tribeca Games Showcase, Freedom Games, and Devolver Digital and also peppered in the bigger presentations including the Summer Game Fest Kickoff and the Microsoft and Bethesda Games Showcase, E3 2021 was a vehicle for great Indie games to shine with titles like Trek to Yomi and REPLACED.

Check out our hidden gems for some of our favorite upcoming games!

The Not-So-Good

Setting expectations

house of ashes

The E3 weekend was not so bad, but when the weekday hit, some shows didn’t quite live up to expectations. While we did get an update during pre-shows and through Twitter, what about the rest of us who just want to tune into the Take Two Interactive Presentation hoping against hope for any information about GTA only to be greeted by a roundtable discussion? I could just imagine the comments section full of GTA VI hopefuls.

Anybody catch that Capcom Presentation? I dunno about you, but I’m still waiting for it.

Also, could we talk about the House of Ashes presentation just leading up to nothing else from Bandai Namco? At least replay the Elden Ring trailer, Gearbox did it for Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Which brings us to…

Gearbox’s missed opportunity

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands

So about that controversial Gearbox Presentation, I would call it a missed opportunity. The Summer Games Fest Kickoff kicked off with Gearbox’s Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands to such fanfare and we would’ve liked to see more discussions or footage about it. So, our reward for watching The Randy Pitchford Show is the same trailer?

Also, when the biggest announcement in the presentation is Godfall for the PS4, there’s probably something wrong here. It is unprecedented though: A de-make announcement as the main feature. I have no words.

We did get to see Kevin Hart, but you gotta admire the confidence of Randy to create something out of nothing.

The Cult of the Celebrity

Speaking of Kevin Hart, celebrity cameos could go either way. Keanu Reeves’ presentation really pushed the hype of Cyberpunk 2077, but this year… I really don’t know. Summer Game Fest kickoff was full of them and they range from cringe to just, why though? Giancarlo Esposito’s dissertation about dictators is a mix of WTF and did Farcry 6 even need to be here, despite his bubbly and charming personality. Jeff Goldblum’s “dramatic reading” of the Jurassic Park pitch was a mix of awkward and endearing, but I understand how fans love Goldblum no matter what.

While I did enjoy the Tribeca Games Showcase, watching Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus read their teleprompters didn’t do much for the games being presented. It worked in the past for E3s, but for not so much for E3 2021. We could probably use a little less for 2022.

Square Enix Presents and the curious case of bad footage

square enix presents recap

There’s a saying that if you don’t have anything good to say, just don’t say anything at all… or was it… Anyways, back to the topic…

While Square did show quite a number of new things for their presentation, the footage they featured probably sold some of the games short. The thing is, they really didn’t have to if it’s in that condition. Babylon’s Fall looked rough, and while Guardians of the Galaxy showed signs of promise, it needed a bit more polish especially for a big first-time reveal.

While I have faith in Eidos Montreal and Platinum Games to pull some magic to make it happen, at least maintain the illusion for the players. You only got one chance to make a good first impression but some hell to go through if it doesn’t pan out properly (See Halo Infinite).

Also, how long will this chaos meme last? There’s a special type of Hell for Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin, but at least its saving grace though is that their demo is actually pretty good.

And One More Thing…

elden ring

The Nintendo Switch Pro is out next month! No, don’t quote us on that, but yeah… I don’t know about you but I feel that some showcases put so much value on the “one more thing” segment to carry their entire presentation. Elden Ring, anyone? The “one more thing” segment should be the icing on the cake after a great presentation.

While I felt that Redfall didn’t work personally, the Microsoft and Bethesda Game Showcase was well done and we could’ve ended on Forza Horizon 5 and that would’ve still been okay.

Many presentations are trying to switch it up, others are doing away with it, because for the most part, besides Elden Ring and to a certain extent Breath of the Wild 2, many of them didn’t really land. Should we do away with showcases altogether or just have the “one more thing” segment as the main presentation like what Horizon Forbidden West or Resident Evil Village have done before? Because where it stands, maybe we shouldn’t even have showcases altogether when the only thing that we’re waiting for is that one more thing.

What did you think of E3 2021? Let us know in the comments below!

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