By Noah Wortham
E3 2021 was the first time in two years that the revered gaming expo was held after the cancellation of last year’s event due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The Electronic Entertainment Expo has been held annually since 1995 and has been an opportunity for various video game publishers to gather together and reveal their upcoming slate of games to consumers.
Although the event is typically held physically with livestream coverage, this year’s expo was exclusively digital, due to COVID-19, with different time slots for the publishers to livestream their conferences. Due to this change, the event lacked the typical show floor with game demos for the public to try.
The company Ubisoft provided the first conference on June 12. They displayed a trailer and gameplay for their upcoming title “Rainbow 6 Extraction.” This spin-off of “Rainbow 6 Siege” is a tactical first-person shooter in which players cooperate together as they engage the threat of parasitic aliens called Archaeans. Ubisoft then revealed “ROCKSMITH +” an interactive music learning subscription that enables players to practice guitar alongside officially licensed songs from artists.
A deep dive trailer was shown for the massive multiplayer game “Rider’s Republic,” which is a sports game where over 50 players can compete in races and includes activities like mountain biking, snowboarding, skiing and wingsuit flying. Ubisoft also provided updates on post-release content for “Rainbow 6 Siege” and “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.”
Further content was shown for “Far Cry 6” and then Ubisoft unveiled a sequel to a Nintendo crossover with “Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope,” a galaxy-themed strategy game featuring iconic Mario characters alongside the antics of the Rabbids. Ubisoft closed out their event with the reveal of “Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora” based on James Cameron’s “Avatar” film from 2009.
Xbox held a showcase on June 13 and shared this time slot with their newly acquired studios at Bethesda. Todd Howard of Bethesda Game Studios opened the conference by showing in-engine footage of their upcoming sci-fi role-playing game “Starfield” with a release date of Nov. 11, 2022. “Starfield” is set to be a PC and Xbox exclusive. “S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl,” a first-person shooter and immersive horror sim, received a gameplay trailer and is set to release next year on Xbox platforms and PC. “Back 4 Blood,” the zombie shooter and spiritual successor to “Left 4 Dead,” had further footage shown.
Avalanche, the creators of the “Just Cause” series, unveiled their new project “Contraband,” which is an open world co-op game set in the 1970’s. The online-multiplayer pirate game “Sea of Thieves” is getting a crossover update with Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” and features the film franchise’s iconic character Captain Jack Sparrow.
EA’s upcoming futuristic first-person shooter “Battlefield 2042” received a gameplay trailer and will feature massive-scale 128 player battles alongside dynamic storms and environmental hazards. A story trailer was shown for “Halo Infinite” alongside a reveal of the game’s multiplayer which will be free to play. “Halo Infinite” is supposed to release sometime this holiday season. “The Outer Worlds 2” and “Slime Rancher 2” also received announcements. The racing game “Forza Horizon 5” was announced to be set in Mexico and had gameplay a demo shown that provided details on the game’s campaign and multiplayer. Xbox closed their show by announcing Arkane Austin’s new title “Redfall” which is an open world co-op shooter with vampires.
Nintendo held a Nintendo Direct on the last day of E3 June 15. They opened up their Direct by revealing the “Tekken” character Kazuya as the newest to join the fighting game “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” roster. They revealed “Metroid Dread” which is the first 2D Metroid Game to feature a new story in roughly 19 years. “Mario Party Superstars” was announced and contains classic boards and minigames from the series past. The long-awaited Japanese roleplaying game “Shin Megami Tensei V,” received a gameplay trailer with a release date for Nov. 11. The “Advance Wars” series received remakes with “Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp.” The frantic mini-game series “WarioWare” received a new entry with “WarioWare Get It Together!”
For the 35th anniversary of “The Legend of Zelda” series, Nintendo announced, “Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda” to commemorate the anniversary similarly to last years’ “Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.” The Nintendo Direct ended with another trailer for the anticipated sequel to “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” which is set to release sometime in 2022.
Despite apparent setbacks due to the pandemic last year, the ESA was still able to bring back the annualized E3 and showcase multiple publishers. Perhaps next year’s E3 will be larger and see more of a return to form for the expo with more exciting announcements from publishers as more next-generation titles begin development.