It’s back! After a one year hiatus E3, the world’s biggest gaming show, stormed in with its first online event. The event has had it’s troubles in recent years, including a lacklustre event in 2019 which was simply light on substance and compounded by Sony skipping the show in favour of their own event earlier in the year. Despite a number of high profile absentees this year, including Sony and EA, at MTM we found ourselves counting down the days to E3 well over a month ago. The ground swell of anticipation took us by surprise as the impact of the pandemic has hit games development hard, and we weren’t expecting many major announcements that haven’t already been leaked or rumoured. The enthusiasm that fuels the video games industry, simply unlike any other, means there is great demand for news on unreleased games. Subreddits like r/GamingLeaksAndRumours, with 168,000 members, exist solely for this reason.
As E3 got closer and closer the anticipation grew; we were simply excited to have an event centred around announcements, release trailers and gameplay. Slack channels started to fill with talk of what we wanted to see. What is more exciting than a 4-day extravaganza filled with new footage? It’s something the video games industry does better than any other, visuals and noise combining to create an assault on the senses. Want to know what we’re talking about? Check out the Battlefield 2042 release and gameplay trailers. Cinematic and explosive, it’s an incredible watch.
It’s safe to say that as a whole, E3 2021 didn’t disappoint. There were new editions of big-budget franchises like Far Cry and Forza, Halo: Infinite multiplayer footage, a teaser trailer of Bethesda’s long-awaited sci-fi RPG Starfield, the first gameplay trailer of the much hyped ARPG Elden Ring (a collaboration from the acclaimed Miyazaki and George R. R. Martin), gameplay footage of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, Jack Sparrow coming to Sea of Thieves, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 (a survival horror game set in Chernobyl) and an Xbox Series X mini fridge. Yes, you read that right! A company promise they are fulfilling after defeating Skittles in a Twitter poll.
The list goes on! There’s too many announcements for us to do it justice in this article, so let some of MTM’s gamers take you through what grabbed their attention. Plus we delve into some social media data to see if we can prove who “won” E3 2021!
It Takes Two and Warzone have been my two favourite recent games with the Nakatomi Plaza addition to Warzone bringing a huge dose of nostalgia! I was looking for E3 to deliver something to add to the battle royale genre so was slightly disappointed that there seems to be no plans for a battle royale mode in Battlefield 2042. However I was intrigued by the Rainbow Six Siege spin-off, Extraction, which got a reveal trailer from Ubisoft. The name change was unsurprising! Originally called Quarantine which was never the best title given real world events. The PvE co-op experience for up to three players sees you hunt down, or escape, hordes of ever-evolving mutant aliens. The tension seems immense and coupled with some ugly af aliens makes for an intriguing title.
As someone who’s always enjoyed playing online co-op games going back to the Xbox360 and PS3 generation, I was blown away by the Back 4 Blood trailer revealed at the Xbox/Bethesda showcase. The Zombie horror game developed by Turtle Rock, the developers behind the brilliant Left 4 Dead franchise looks like it’s going to be the natural successor to the series, which hasn’t received an update since Left 4 Dead 2 was released all the way back in 2009. As a huge Borderlands fan, I was also excited at the prospect that we might get a bit more information about Borderlands 4. As with every E3, leaks and rumours in the weeks building up to the event can drive gamers into frenzy and more detail on Borderlands 4 was one of the rumours to gain traction. Sadly this wasn’t the case, with the Gearbox showcase focusing more on the upcoming Borderlands movie as well as the upcoming spin-off Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Whilst both look interesting, the lack of an update on Borderlands 4 was a disappointment I imagine was shared by many fans.
As a PlayStation gamer right from the PS1, conversely it was the Xbox/Bethesda showcase that grabbed my attention this year. A lack of console availability and compelling launch titles has held me back from making the jump to a PS5. Plus the attraction of Xbox Game Pass has seriously got me weighing up which way I go for my next console purchase. With this in mind I watched the Xbox/Bethesda showcase and was impressed. Halo: Infinite looked immensely better than when we last saw it, Contraband had a banging 70s track to go with its’ swampy New Orleans vibe, the brand new vampire infested Redfall was announced and Somerville bought an interesting take on survival horror. But what got my attention most was that of the 30 games announced, 27 are coming to Xbox Game Pass day one. It’s an impressive list which has only got better, making my upcoming holiday decision of which console to purchase all the more harder.
A look at what social media says
Well that’s what we were excited about, but can social media prove who “won” E3 2021? Social activity peaked on Tuesday, coinciding with Nintendo’s conference. Unsurprisingly given Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 is one of the most hotly anticipated sequels of recent times and the popular Metroid series got a new game. Metroid Dread, the first new entry of the 2D Metroid saga in more than 19 years. But what also got people talking was the disappointment of no reveal for the widely rumoured Switch 2/Pro, possibly due to Nintendo being impacted by the global chip shortage that has affected tech worldwide. Does this prove that Nintendo “won E3”? It’s hard to say, given the Xbox/Bethesda showcase took home ‘best presentation’ in the official awards ceremony. What it certainly demonstrates is that Nintendo got people talking in a way that no one else did.
So that’s it for E3 2021. With EA’s Play Live conference coming in July and Sony’s State of Play also rumoured for the same month, there’s more excitement for us gamers to come. And depending on what gets announced from PlayStation, Martin might be a little clearer as to which console he’s going to buy!