E3 returned after a year-out with an all-virtual event. It may not quite be the expo of old but we’re just glad to have it back
We’ll forgive you if E3 2021 slipped past you relatively unnoticed what with so much going on this summer: Covid and lockdown easing, umpteenth YouTuber boxing matches and, of course, Euro 2020 – just to name a few.
The world’s most popular gaming convention was also cancelled last year among the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, so we weren’t even sure if/when it would come back for some time, especially as so many of the big boys have pulled out in recent years, with the likes of Sony favouring more focused, exclusive press conferences these days.
However, the conference returned with an all-digital E3 and although gamers didn’t get to pack out the convention floors in their cosplay, dripping in swag and fans still got to experience everything virtually billions of us do every year.
So, with that being said. We’ve put together a list of some of the biggest moments from across the four-day event. Soak it in and feel free to give in to the hype even at this early juncture – it’s been a tough ol’ year and a bit, we deserve it! Without further ado, here is your E3 2022 round-up:
We reported on the first gameplay trailer dropping a couple of days ago and my, my, what a trailer it is. Battlefield looks set to return not to present-day but to more modern warfare than ever, as this is the first game in the long-running series to be set in the future.
Thankfully, they seem to have kept things relatively grounded in reality, but that’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of madness. From the moment we saw the reveal trailer, tornados, sandstorms, wingsuit, hovercrafts, ziplines and a space rocket launch pad were all confirmed as new features. No campaign, no battle royale, just what DICE does best: multiplayer.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora
Remember Avatar? I know, right – feels like forever ago and that’s because it was: 2009, to be specific. However, believe it or not, the sequel is supposed to be done and finally on its way in 2022, with the third almost near completion. Until then, though, we’ve been hit with a surprise game entitled Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, which is said to be its own original story.
It certainly caught plenty of us by surprise – the previous and only game being one of the last to do the whole ‘recreate the film shot for shot’ all the way back in PS3 and 360 days – but a pleasant one no doubt. Ubisoft look to be acting as caretakers to James Cameron‘s baby and with their recent penchant for open-world games, it could be a good fit.
Far Cry 6
On the subject of Ubi, it may not have been much of a surprise but we got yet even more footage for Far Cry 6 which seems to have successfully roped people in again (at least it has me), as the devs look to have finally injected a bit of innovation and unique personality to the often repetitive proceedings. Judging by the pre-E3 gameplay trailer, the scope is bigger than ever.
The series has never really hit the same heights as the third game and the magnificent Vaas, but with Giancarlo Esposito stepping into mocap for this instalment’s villain, Antón Castillo, the game returning to its tropical roots, and adding some humour and silliness as you look to try your hand at guerilla warfare, we could finally have another belter on our hands.
Back 4 Blood
While not a direct sequel, the spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead 2 can trade off our late-2000s memories alone and we’ll probably buy it. We’ve seen some footage and gameplay previously, but the PvP showcase and extended E3/’release date’ trailer only further whetted our appetites.
We can’t wait to be rolling back the years of mowing down hordes of infected with our mates on co-op and absolutely trouncing them as the heavy when the chat gets a bit tetchy. There’s no witch this time round (quietly thanks god) but there are still plenty of character types to get to grips with, as well as an innovative new card system that change your fortunes.
Guardians of the Galaxy
“We are Groot”. Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those IP’s we can never really get enough of and whilst we wait for Vol. 3 (set for 2023), Square Enix is giving us the chance to play as Star-Lord himself. The franchise has already popped up in Telltale Games and Marvel Puzzle Quest etc. but they’ve never full scratched the itch, so to speak. Will this one be different?
We’re going to be totally honest: we’re nervous about this one. Whilst it doesn’t look bad by any means and we still have faith the devs can come up with a good story, the fact is it’s being made by the same guys who put together the Avengers game and we can’t stress enough how they can’t repeat the same mistakes. Either avoid the ‘games as service’ model or do it properly.
Forza Horizon 5
You’ve gotta love a bit of racing, haven’t ya? Forza Horizon 5 may not be stealing all the headlines or catching anyone by surprise all that much, but it’s still one of the Xbox‘s most popular and long-running series. More importantly, it looks more real and beautiful on that new hardware than ever.
Moreover, it is not without its surprises; as well as 60 FPS and ray-tracing graphics, Playground Games look to have included everything from a create your own ‘event lab’ tool-set to even their own battle royale. We’ll hold our hands up: we’re down for that.
Technically, the first gameplay from Elden Ring dropped just before E3, but the discussion around George R. R. Martin‘s first foray into writing for games is one that we can’t ignore – especially when we got co-creator, Hidetaka Miyazaki, talking us through it.
The game itself looks undeniably Dark Souls/Bloodborne-esque, with perhaps a bit of God of War and the usual Tolkien influences in there – a potent mix, no doubt. We can’t even necessarily say it looks particularly GoT – there’s dragons but the two are hardly mutually exclusive – but all we can say is we hope it’s more fleshed out than season eight was.
It really does feel like the old days when you see Halo and E3 in the same sentence. Believe it or not, Infinite was announced all the back in 2018 and after multiple delays, we finally got to see some gameplay last year.
Master Chief marches on and multiplayer looks just as tried and true as ever, but it was Xbox’s E2 2021 story overview that has got us intrigued. It may have been sitting with its since before the next generation of consoles was announced but it seems we still don’t know all that much about where the seminal series is going to go next. Just the way we like it!
Speaking of as yet announced games we’ve been sitting on for a while, Starfield is actually real and we have footage! Just not that much… The project has actually been in development for over 10 years, though first ground only started to break around 2017/18, but we finally have our first glimpse at the extraterrestrial world we’ll be playing around in – albeit a tiny one.
It’s been described as “Skyrim in space” by Todd Howard himself and like a “Han Solo simulator” by other executives at Bethesda, but one can’t help worry if it will live up to the hype after all this time, or whether technology has outgrown it after years in production. Please don’t be Cyberpunk, we beg of you. Also, as we feared, it’s Microsoft exclusive – sorry PS5 players.
There’s seems to be a vampire-themed game virtually every year and, for the most part, they never really hit us – Resident Evil Village being the one adjacent standout in recent history (yes, we think about the big lady too). Nevertheless, cinematic only though it may be, this looks interesting.
Created by Arkane Studios – the makers of Dishonored, Prey and the upcoming Deathloop – Redfall, from what we can gather, is an open-world vampire hunting game. The developers have said that you can play solo or with friends and, by the looks of it, you’ll have access to traditional and more high-tech, sci-fi weapons. It drops Summer 2022 – watch this space.
Now, this looks WILD! We’re not even going to pretend we know what’s going on with Atomic Heart, all we know is it looks unique, a fair bit kooky and utterly sick. From the moment you hear that almost anime-sounding backing track kick in and see the sheer variety of visuals on display, you know you’re in for something unique. There’s gameplay already out there too.
There are strange-looking robots, high-tech powers, slightly grotesque augmentations and plenty of first-person action. Despite the obvious Japanese influences, this is being made by Mundfish: a Russian studio that have one VR title to their name. However, they seem to have plenty of ideas, as this looks like BioShock and god knows what else on substances.
Now we get into some more indie stuff. Somerville was actually teased by developers Jumpship back in 2017, but we only got two fairly unassuming frames that we could make little out of. It did give us a glance at the art style but until now we didn’t realise just how pretty this game was going to be, nor did we have an inkling as to the plot.
The studio itself is comprised of former employees from Playdead, who made the likes of the equally artsy Limbo and Inside, and it looks as though they have taken their sidescroller, platforming foundations to the next step, as you look to seemingly navigate a family through a dark, grim and perhaps supernatural world. It’s coming on Game Pass in 2022 – keep an eye out.
A Plague Tale: Requiem
Another one of E3 2021’s biggest surprises was A Plague Tale: Requiem, the sequel to Innocence that virtually no one knew anything about. The first game went down as an utter cult hit that caught everyone off guard, especially considering its developers were mainly known for pumping up the game versions of Disney films and the Zoo Tycoon series.
Die-hards fans gave this otherwise modest title a second life, showing that you don’t need an AAA budget to pull off a memorable game that focuses on strong, emotional narratives in a deep, fantastical yet historicised world. New hardware will only mean the sequel will look better and that Asobo has more to work with in terms of gameplay. One to watch, for sure.
The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild 2
Our penultimate moment of E3 2021 is one that gamers all-around will surely have rejoiced at. We were all wondering what will be at Nintendo’s E3 20201 conference and while it might not have got our first look at the Nintendo Switch ‘Pro’, boy did we get a fair trade! We knew we were getting a remaster of Skyward Sword but this is really what everyone wanted.
A Breath of the Wild sequel has finally been announced and although it may only be a teaser trailer, it shows off more than most in that category and did plenty to get us excited, as well as make us want to dive back into Hyrule right now. The cliffhanger-like ending has certainly piqued our curiosity and we just it to be 2022 already now.
Winner of E3 2021
It’s been a while since we Googled the phrase ‘who won E3 this year?’ as, let’s face it, the console wars really aren’t that much of a thing anymore and the face of the conference itself has changed somewhat over the years. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t pin our blue ribbon on what we thought the best of E2 2021 was. Drum roll, please…
The Outer Worlds 2
This is an absolute masterclass in how to sell a game based on absolutely nothing but the title. For too many years, we’ve been utterly pissed off by teasers that show nothing, tell us nothing and give us nothing substantial and genuine other than the played out tropes of slow-mo action shots, epic voices, brightly-coloured expansive vistas and lens flares.
Well, that’s exactly what Obsidian, Virtuos, Take-Two and Private Division have done: given us nothing. But it was the way in which they did it – poking fun at the ridiculous, over the top nature and promo of it all – that makes this the best trailer we’ve watched in a decade, if not ever. We were laughing are bollocks throughout. Stuff your gameplay, give us more of this.
In fairness, they did give us the title. It’s The Outer Worlds 2. Groundbreaking stuff.
5 Honourable mentions from E3 2021
So, we’ve limited ourselves to five honourable mentions/surprise announcements from E3 2021 that didn’t make the list proper for one reason or another but that, equally, we want to give a nod to. Here is that list:
Contraband made our second favourites list because it looks to be the start of Xbox finally developing their line-up of exclusives. It didn’t make our proper one, however, because we literally know almost nothing about it; well, nothing other than it’s made by Avalanche (the guys behind Just Cause) and it revolves around heists. Worth keeping an eye on, though.
Turning back to the indie front, REPLACED is another Microsoft exclusive from Sad Cat Studios and Coatsink that looks to be one of the most standout titles in terms of its highly stylised visuals. Pixelated though it may be, this dystopian, cyberpunk-inspired platformer looks incredible. Its got that 2.5D look that only adds to the distinct darkness. Looks cool af.
This intriguing top-down take on the thriller might be indie in terms of scale and budget but developer, writer and director extraordinaire, Luis Antonio, has managed to secure an absolute stellar voice-cast that will no doubt acts as a selling point of its own.
The mystery of the plot itself will remain but we can tell you that James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley and Willem Dafoe are just some of the names attached to this highly autered project – you can even see them in the booth here. Publishers, Annapurna Interactive, are finally set to drop the title on August 19th and we have a feeling this will be a very intense experience.
We can’t believe we’re actually saying this but we’re finally getting a Psychonauts 2. My inner child has just done a somersault. Released way back in 2005, the first game is an undeniable cult hit and people are still going back to play it now. It had story, humour, simple yet unique platforming gameplay and you’ll finally get to revisit its weird world later this year.
Sea of Thieves: A Pirate’s Life – free Jack Sparrow expansion
Last but not least, we couldn’t ignore the fact that Xbox and the team over at Rare have managed to secure themselves the rights to Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean and Jack Sparrow, specifically. Make no mistake, this is a big coup and will no doubt draw more players to Sea of Thieves which looks to finally be receiving the love it was lacking upon launch.
Light-hearted, familiar and a fair bit of fun, we’re sure.