Everything you missed at E3 2021

Square Enix

Square Enix’s E3 show followed on from Microsoft’s, and was actually pretty solid as far as news goes, despite disappointing some fans.

Guardians of the Galaxy, a new Marvel tie-in game from the team behind the Deus Ex series, got the longest presentation, and looks promising. Unlike Marvel’s Avengers, Guardians is a single-player, story-driven affair, with an emphasis on decision making and relationships.

Babylon’s Fall, a long-awaited collaboration between PlatinumGames and SquareEnix, also got a proper unveiling. Unlike the pair’s last project together, Nier: Automata, this one’s an online-only, game-as-a-service kind of deal, which is an extremely difficult thing to get right. PlatinumGames does have a strong history of making fun things, so we’re intrigued to check out the beta when it drops.

The first big meme of E3 was “chaos.” That is, the trailer for the Final Fantasy spinoff (deep breath) Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin. The internet had a lot of fun with both the normcore outfit of the protagonist and the fact he was seemingly obsessed with saying “chaos” over and over. To make matters worse, a demo for the new game dropped after the show, and it was… broken. Very broken. It wouldn’t be playable for almost two days, and then when it was, we were intrigued but overall unimpressed. You can read UK Bureau Chief Mat Smith’s opinions on that experience here.

Wrapping up the show quickly because, wow, do we have a lot to get through: Life is Strange: True Colors tried to explain that empathy is definitely as cool as time travel; there are some cool “pixel-perfect” remakes of Final Fantasy I, II, III, IV, V and VI on the way; and… that was pretty much that. No Final Fantasy XVI and no Forspoken; no Dragon Quest, no Tomb Raider, no Deus Ex, no Just Cause, no Kingdom Hearts. No, no, no.

The lack of Final Fantasy XVI and Forspoken could potentially be down to their platform exclusivity. The former is a PS5 exclusive, while the latter is PS5 and PC only. That makes them a good fit for a Sony PlayStation event, which may or may not be planned for the near future.

Nintendo

Nintendo is always the last of the major players to host an E3 showcase, and this year was no different. Mario + Rabbids: Spark of Hope was obviously a known entity from Ubisoft’s show, but there was still plenty to announce. (E3 saw no New Nintendo Switch, though, despite various press reports ahead of the show insisting there would be.)

The Direct presentation began with the customary “there’s a new Smash Bros. fighter” announcement — this time Tekken’s Kazuya, who ruined our E3 by dropping Kirby into a volcano. Then came Metroid Dread, the fifth mainline Metroid game and very much not Metroid Prime 4. Executive Editor Aaron Souppouris had a closer look at Dread and came away impressed.

Returning classics were a bit of a theme. WarioWare: Get It Together! is a new title in Intelligent Systems’ long-running mini-game series, and the first on a home console since 2013’s Game & Wario on the Wii U. Another Intelligent Systems staple is also returning: Advance Wars 1 + 2 Re-Boot Camp is a remake of the two classic Game Boy Advance turn-based tactics games, produced by WayForward Technologies, which was responsible for the excellent DuckTales: Remastered.

Although Metroid Prime 4 didn’t make an appearance, the much-anticipated sequel to Breath of the Wild did — after some low-key trolling from Nintendo. The company said it had time for “one final thing,” and proceeded to show off a very cool Zelda Game & Watch handheld, before finally dropping the trailer everyone had been waiting for. There wasn’t much gameplay, and we still don’t even know what it’s called, but the 100-second trailer had just the right mix of intrigue and (we think) time-travel hints to make fans lose their minds. The proud “2022” release window at the end of the trailer was tempered somewhat by language after saying it was “aiming for” that window. Nintendo is never shy about delaying games, so bear in mind that you may not get your hands on this next year.

At both Nintendo’s show and elsewhere, the intriguing case of the “Cloud Version” continued. Square Enix’s Guardians of the Galaxy is coming to Switch in a cloud wrapper, as are both A Plague Tale: Innocence and A Plague Tale: Requiem. This trend began in Japan with Resident Evil VII and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey releases, but we’ve seen Control and Hitman 3 come to the west this way too. It shouldn’t be a huge surprise: Helped somewhat by shortages elsewhere, the Switch is, worldwide, outselling Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 combined With an install base approaching 100 million, Nintendo’s platform is just too big to ignore. If there’s a way to get a game in front of those players, expect publishers to make it happen.

There were a lot of other announcements. Switch exclusive Shin Megami Tensei V has a release date; there’s a new Mario Party game, this one with online multiplayer from the start; the Life is Strange series, including True Colors, is coming to Switch; and the Danganronpa games, once PSP and Vita staples, are on the way as well. Outside of the Direct, OlliOlli World, the sequel to another Vita classic, is shaping up well, and will come to Nintendo Switch this winter.

Of course, Nintendo couldn’t please everyone, and the lack of Metroid Prime 4, Bayonetta 3 and Splatoon 3 was a source of a few post-show complaints. Another Switch console exclusive, Hollow Knight Silksong, was also absent, although the developers at least made clear before E3 that would be the case. In the case of Bayonetta 3, a sufficient number of people complained to PlatinumGames founder Hideki Kamiya that he took to Twitter to make his thoughts very clear. Development is going well, Kamiya said, and suggesting otherwise is “nothing but annoying pollution … That’s why the guy who says ‘Tell me if you’re developing’ is a human trash can waiting with their mouth open on the leftover belt conveyor.” Lovely.

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