With Nintendo's E3 Direct in the books, E3 2021 in general has basically ended... I think? It's hard to tell. With so many different online press events happening at once, I'm not sure which videos were technically "part" of E3, which are part of Geoff Keighley's Summer Game Fest, and well... are some part of both? Summer Game Fest is technically a whole different thing, right? Your guess is as good as mine! It's all kind of confusing! I'm just gonna lump them all together as E3 here anyway.
But what's NOT confusing is that video games are BACK... in a big way. E3 is the first time since COVID-19 lockdowns started that bigger companies have seemed very comfortable announcing games again. Now that more companies are starting to work in-person again, some of that uncertainty around releases is starting to wane. Yes, many of the companies that showed videos largely stuck to announcing games that will be released in the more immediate future, even if those near-future lineups are underwhelming (*coughSquareEnixcough*).
While I would've loved to get more updates on games like Final Fantasy XVI, the new Fable, Metroid Prime 4 and The Elder Scrolls VI, I totally understand why the developers don't have much to show or say about them. Those are already games that take years to make, and COVID through even more uncertainty into their timelines. So while there may have been a lack of oomph from the major companies, I did like that it allowed them to focus on some smaller games.
So for my long-awaited VGFamily Blog Debut, I've decided to talk about some of the games and trailers that stood out as the coolest to me. I'm also adding a qualifier that the games I talk about are games I wasn't aware of previously, whether they're completely new announcements or things I missed the first time. I'm excited for Halo Infinite, Mario Golf: Super Rush, Starfield and Back 4 Blood, but those are games I've been excited about for some time now. I wanna talk about the stuff that's the complete-freshest in my mind!
But before I talk about That Cool Stuff, here are five games that made me make fart noises at my computer:
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora: Ubisoft always has weird press conferences, but I'm still in awe that their "one more thing" last announcement of the show was an Avatar game. Maybe they had to rework the video presser after Nintendo accidentally leaked Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, or maybe they promised James Cameron that they'd pretend that people still care about Avatar 21 years after the first one came out. Maybe Cameron will get people hyped for Avatar 2 if it ever comes out, and that will get people hyped for the video game. In the meantime, all I can do is scratch my head and wonder who's all that interested in going back to Pandora in 2021.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin: This trailer has already been memed to death since it aired during Square's joke of a show. The gameplay shown as well as the repetitive dialogue about killing Chaos makes it seem more like a game from 2007 than one from 2021. Also, the released demo for the game was corrupted. Not great! Honestly all the jank around this game's announcement makes it charming to me in a way, and I can see the game being dumb fun when it comes out. Still, Square Enix has always been super-protective about the Final Fantasy IP, especially when it comes to other developers handling it. They let Team Ninja do... this?
Gearbox: This isn't a game, but Gearbox's "showcase" for E3 is one of the worst E3 showings I've ever seen. The company's big announcement for Tiny Tina's Wonderlands already happened at the Summer Game Fest, and all they did here was re-show the trailer for that. They announced that Godfall, a PS5 game that everybody had already forgotten about, was coming to PS4 now. There were plenty of Gearbox-style unfunny jokes, and the majority of the show was Randy Pitchford wandering around the Borderlands movie set having awkward conversations with the likes of director Eli Roth and Kevin Hart. Dire stuff! It's okay to not have an E3 showcase if you don't have anything to showcase, Gearbox!
Wave Break: Honestly the game looks pretty cool, but they made me listen to 2021 Weezer. That's unforgivable. This song sucks and now the game sucks by association.
That was bad! Let's talk about cool stuff! In alphabetical order!
Atomic Heart: I don't have a single idea about what Russian studio Mundfish's Atomic Heart is. It looks like some kind of first-person action game. Stuff blows up. You have psychic powers I think? You're fighting... aliens? Robots? Alien robots? I don't care, as long as that sick-ass Russian pop music isn't just a trailer thing. I need that playing the entire game.
Death's Door: This one's coming pretty soon. A lot of the trailer for this isometric action game reminded me of Hades meets Zelda, which I'm totally down for. If the combat is half as fun as the trailer makes it look, this might be one of my favorite indies of the year.
Inscryption: The second game published by Devolver Digital in a row here, Inscryption's trailer is purposefully mysterious. You're playing some kind of card game against a mysterious creature, but there's also FMV Blair Witch stuff in here, I guess? You're performing other puzzles while you play said card game? I don't know, but I'm hooked.
Metal Slug Tactics: Honestly nobody had to announce any games after Dotemu dropped this trailer at Summer Game Fest. They made a Metal Slug tactics game, and announced it with a trailer featuring cool rock music and anime cutscenes. That's extremely my jam.
Metroid Dread: The first wholly original Metroid game since the one on the Wii that we don't talk about. I would have loved an update on Metroid Prime 4, but they apparently scrapped the whole thing and started over a couple years ago, so we're still probably a few years away. In the meantime, the bastards did it! They announced a proper follow-up to Metroid Fusion! It looks rad! I want that Amiibo of the robot thing!
Redfall: Awfully bold of Bethesdasoft for their "one more thing" to be a Left 4 Dead-like on a show that already featured a Back 4 Blood trailer, but I'm all in on this one. There seem to be enough things about this game to make it different from L4D (mainly an open world and single-player capabilities, as well as what seem like magic powers), but even if the game was just straight up "Arkane Studios made a Left 4 Dead with vampires instead of zombies," that'd be enough to pique my interest.
Sable: This is the biggest stretch of the "new to me" caveat I'm going with for this article. Sable was apparently announced by Microsoft years ago and I somehow forgot about it, even though this is legitimately one of the prettiest-looking video games I've ever seen. Also, Japanese Breakfast did some of the music for this, which is extremely cool.
Shredders: I'm a huge sucker for extreme sports games, and there's usually one game in the genre every E3 that gets me hyped. Since Wave Break subjected me to Weezer and I already knew about OlliOlli World, the open world online snowboarding game Shredders gets the spot on this list. Looks super-cool, the kind of game I just wanna vibe out to after a long day of work.
WarioWare: Get It Together!: Unless you count Game & Wario (16 minigames instead of hundreds of microgames) and Gold (mostly a compilation of previous microgames), this is the first true WarioWare game in over a decade, and I've missed that franchise more than I could've thought. Nintendo announcing the return of the franchise was my biggest surprise of the weekend (even bigger than Metroid!) These games are always so fun and charming whether you're playing by yourself or with friends, and I'm so thrilled to see what kind of goofy stuff Intelligent Systems has in store for this one. Also, it's dropping a week before my birthday, hint hint.
Wizard with a Gun: It's a wizard with a gun. That trailer song is cool as heck too.
The complete list of honorable mentions, either because they weren't "new to me," are remakes/remasters, or don't look as cool as the 10 games above: Halo Infinite, OlliOlli World, Starfield, Back 4 Blood, Advance Wars 1+2: Reboot Camp, Twelve Minutes, PsychoNauts 2, Mario Party Superstars, Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters, Monster Hunter Stories 2, Demon Throttle, The Outer Worlds 2, Party Animals, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania, Phantom Abyss, Age of Empires IV, Trek to Yomi, Somerville, Replaced, Diablo II: Resurrected, basically everything coming to GamePass that I didn't already mention, all the cool Limited Run Games releases they're doing, and of course, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2