Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: The best and worst of E3 2021
Readers discuss the most interesting revelations from this year’s E3, and the biggest disappointments.
E3 is over for another year and while the pandemic had a huge effect on what was shown there were still a number of surprising announcements, so we wanted to know which were your favourites and what you were most upset wasn’t there.
There was broad agreement that both Microsoft and Nintendo put on decent showcases, given the circumstances, and that Elden Ring was the most exciting trailer not tied to either of the big two companies.
It wasn’t a great E3 and I don’t think it was ever going to do be but I thought Microsoft put on a good show, even if it was still just a sign of things to come. In a couple of years though, when they’ve got a bunch of games that look as good as Forza Horizon 5 and Game Pass is even better value for money, they’re really going to be unstoppable. I don’t care how good Horizon Forbidden West looks, I don’t see anyone choosing that and the other Sony exclusives over everything the Xbox has to offer.
But that is in two years’ time. For now, all they’ve got is Forza, again, and Halo, again (but still not looking great). Phil Spencer might be on the right track but by god it has taken him a long time to get going. In that sense I can sympathise with people who say Microsoft are ‘cheating’ by having so much money that they can basically spin their wheels for a decade and it doesn’t phase them at all.
At the end of the day I’m in it for the games though and on that account the Xbox Series X is finally beginning to deliver. It’s not the beginning of the end for Sony but it’s end of the beginning for Microsoft.
Hopes and dreams
All I wanted from E3 was Elden Ring and, to my surprise, I got it! After all this waiting it was inevitably disappointing in how short it was, but not in terms of what it showed – which looked exactly as amazing as I hoped for.
I also mostly liked the Guardians Of The Galaxy game. I say mostly because I’m not sure I like the look of some of the characters, especially Star-Lord and Rocket, but I’m hoping DLC costume changes can help with that a bit.
I was disappointed by Ubisoft’s showing, considering they showed more of Far Cry 6 at Microsoft’s event than their own, but that looked good and I’m actually fairly curious about Rainbow Six Extraction; it’s not quite what I was expecting but I appreciated the slower, stealthier pacing.
Interesting little presentation from Nintendo, a lot of surprises for sure but not sure I was as smitten with it as many others. A lot of Nintendo’s releases this year have a strangely low tech feel to them, even by the general low tech standards of the Switch. I’m sure they’ll be good games but it’s difficult to escape the fact that they’re old remakes that don’t seem to remake a lot other than the graphics (from what we’ve seen so far at least) and then charge full price for it.
Mario Party from the N64, Advance Wars from the Game Boy Advance, Pokémon from the DS, Zelda from the Wii, and all WarioWare titles are essentially the same Game Boy Advance game. Metroid Dread is probably the pick and even there you could call it just another 2D platformer, if I was being particularly harsh to make a point. Their gameplay systems are now so old many small budget indie titles have been matching the originals in quality for years.
Maybe it’s all just pandemic related and if next year we do get Splatoon 3 and Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2, I guess they’ll be back on track. Or maybe after the success of Super Mario 3D All-Stars they’ve realised they can turn in the bare minimum, trade on nostalgia and make heaps of cash…
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For my tastes in gaming, this was the best E3 in years as there was a lot to be excited for. I thought Xbox knocked it out the park with everything they have lined up and I was pleasantly surprised at how many games are out this year from all the publishers, given the past year.
Games I’m looking forward to include Forza Horizon 5, STALKER 2, Hades on Game Pass, Far Cry 6, Mario Golf, Metroid Dread, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Halo Infinite, Back 4 Blood, Breath Of The Wild 2, and too many indies to mention. My absolute highlight though was Mario + Rabbids Sparks Of Hope.
This was leaked before it was revealed but it was great to have it confirmed and it looked wonderful. The first game is my favourite Switch exclusive and was the game which got me into turn-based strategy games, now I can’t get enough of them.
Now playing: Shadow Of The Tomb Raider (Xbox Series X) and Super Mario Galaxy (Switch)
GC: To clarify, STALKER 2, Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2, and Mario + Rabbids are 2022 releases.
Making the list
Given that Sony were not at E3 and I do not own an Xbox Series X I was pretty much just focused on the Switch.
Going into the Nintendo Direct my wish list was (in order of what I thought was likely):
1. A bigger look at Zelda: Breath Of The Wild’s sequel
2. A new Donkey Kong
3. A new Metroid
4. A new 3D Mario
5. Danganronpa ports
6. A new F-Zero
7. A new Advance Wars
8. A 2D Zelda where you play as Zelda
9. Skies Of Arcadia 2
10. New Switch reveal
I figured that seeing Breath Of The Wild’s sequel was a given and the rumoured Donkey Kong and Metroid games were fairly likely but the others seemed very unlikely/impossible. Given that quite a few things on my list were in the Direct I came away pretty happy.
Although I am not entirely sure why, but the Breath of the Wild sequel trailer left me a little deflated. I think it is because it reminded me too much of Skyward Sword, which is the only mainline entry (not on the NES) that I have not completed.
Also slightly disappointed that Advance Wars is a remake of the first two games and not a new entry, but this is understandable and far better than nothing. It is something I will definitely buy, unless they somehow mess it up really badly. A return for Advance Wars has been the thing I have wanted most from every single Nintendo Direct, I had pretty much given up hope.
Microsoft also had a really good showing and my purchase of an Xbox Series X seems to gradually becoming inevitable.
The only thing that I was interested in at E3 was the Nintendo Direct, and I enjoyed it. I know we didn’t get a release of the Zelda collection that everyone was hoping for, but at least we are getting Skyward Sword this year and Breath Of The Wild 2 next year.
I am looking forward to Metroid Dread which I didn’t see coming. Plus, there were a few other games that looked good.
Considering my two wishes in the pre-E3 Hot Topic were to see and find out more about Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 and Elden Ring, and to hopefully find they’re not too far out, I got almost exactly what I wanted this year.
I was initially a bit surprised that Elden Ring’s title could easily be swapped out for Dark Souls 4 based on what they showed and the obvious story parallels with the series. But having read the dev’s interview with IGN, hearing things from the horse’s mouth did at least as good a job as the actual trailer to get me hyped. Besides, new elements like the open world aspect, horse riding, and that collection system for summoning support make it sound like things will hopefully be fresh enough.
Breath Of The Wild 2 disappointed me, though. Not that I’m unhappy with what we saw but it’s clearly much further out than a lot of us had hoped. It honestly sounds like even 2022 might be a stretch. Which itself isn’t the worst thing in the world but I’d really want Nintendo to give a better roadmap of their biggest first party games.
After Mario Golf this month and the usual ports and remakes, I think all we know about from first parties, for what’s probably the next year and a half, is Metroid Dread and Splatoon 3. And, seriously, another 2D Metroidvania is the last thing the Switch needs to prioritise right now.
I want to have more that’s new to really look forward to, from the best teams working on the Switch without being strung along by Zelda or stuff that’s even further out. That’s too reminiscent of my experience with the Wii U. And, like with that console, I’m left wondering if they’re going to announce any big games with less notice or if they really do have that little lined up in terms of high-effort software.
As for Xbox, I personally think they needed more in terms of their shorter pipeline, as the only people that would be convinced by the likes of Halo, Forza, and a bunch of non-gameplay cinematic trailers for distant games are those who were already on board.
So FromSoftware saved the day for me, probably not for the first or last time. Sad that all those rumours about Nintendo having a killer 2021, prompting them to send their sales projections into the stratosphere, seem to have been wrong.
I just wish they could’ve let on a bit earlier than this E3 that Zelda really wasn’t coming any time soon. The closing image of a castle about to rise from the ground compared with the image two years later of the same castle just a couple of meters higher up seemed pretty apt.
GC: To be fair, they may simply not have known until relatively recently. That goes for all publishers and their current ability to set realistic release dates.
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