Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: The best and worst of E3 2021

Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 – a short but sweet tease (pic: Nintendo)

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.

Beating expectation
I’d say E3 2021 was actually better than I was expecting, considering I was expecting absolutely nothing. I knew Microsoft wouldn’t go all out but Forza Horizon 5 looked good and was technically a new announcement. I was resigned to not seeing Elden Ring but that actually was there and is coming out sooner than I would’ve expected.

I had no idea how Nintendo was going to fill 40 minutes but while I was surprised the Donkey Kong rumours didn’t pan out, and I found the Tekken addition to Smash Bros. underwhelming, the rest was good.

Zelda was briefer than I would’ve liked but seemed interesting, in that it implied a lot of new areas in the sky. Advance Wars was a great surprise and so too was a new 2D Metroid, which I’m already more interested in than Metroid Prime 4.

So overall I would say that Nintendo had the best of the show. Clearly not their best ever but given how bad I thought it was going to be I was pleasantly surprised.

Keeping secrets
I was impressed by Microsoft at E3. It’s always baby steps with them but I thought this was one of the bigger ones, with Forza Horizon 5 looking excellent (what happened to Forza Motorsport though?) and a good line-up of other games, even though we didn’t really see much of them. I do wonder what’s happening with Fable though as I really thought we’d get to see some more of that. Did it only start development this year or something because I’ve been hearing rumours of it for what seems like forever.

Elden Ring was good as well, if a little spoiled by the leaks, but then you could say that about everything really, including Battlefield 2042 – which also looked good. I really do hate leaks, they spoil everything and I wish publishers would do more to stomp them out. When even Nintendo is leaking other people’s games you realise things have got out of control.

I’m guessing the average wage of people in charge of shop sites isn’t very high because they don’t seem to give a damn when it comes to embargoes or keeping secrets.

Arcade action
Nintendo really saved E3 for me this year and I’m definitely intrigued by Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania, as it seems to be a compilation of stages from earlier games that I’ve got a lot of nostalgia for. I’ve also got a soft spot for arcade conversions, and Cruis’n Blast looks like good arcadey fun.

But, as a Metroid fan for most of my life (28 years and counting!), I must say Metroid Dread is looking very tasty and I like the stealth/persistent threat mechanics they’ve added. I just wish there was also a Samus Returns port, as I had sold my 3DS on by the time it released. Overall, I thought Nintendo’s show was very strong and even brought back Advance Wars, while the Zelda: Breath Of The Wild footage was amazing.

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Two favourites
I don’t think anyone’s going to say it was a great E3 but, as GC pointed out, it was noticeable the big difference in how Microsoft and Nintendo put in a real effort and basically none of the third party publishers did. I think it was pretty obvious they’d rather Sony had been there so that they could have shown their games their. Although why the likes of 2K, Capcom, and Ubisoft put on such poor events I don’t know. I would’ve thought it would be better to do nothing than be the ridicule of the internet.

My favourite reveal was definitely Elden Ring, followed by Zelda, and… that’s about it really. I can’t say I was particularly interested in anything Microsoft showed. I imagine I would be when it comes to Starfield but given they didn’t show anything even close to gameplay I’m not really sure what I was mean to make of it (although it certainly wouldn’t have been a Han Solo simulator).

Online disappointment
E3 was overall rather a let-down.

There were some bright spots: surprisingly after 16 years Metroid Dread is finally a reality. I’m still a little leery of it, as I’ve not liked a single MercurySteam game (including the Metroid 2 remake) but hopefully they’ve learned from making two and this time they’re not constrained by the basic Metroid 2 structure (and Metroid 2 on the Game Boy was never itself a good game) so we’ll see what they’re really capable of.

Limited Run Games announcing Castlevania: Rondo Of Blood on the Turbografx CD was great too. None of the re-releases have been perfect (especially the PlayStation 4 Requiem collection), so I’m glad this version is finally available in the West.

Babylon’s Fall looked quite disappointing. Bit worried about Platinum, they’ve had the Scalebound cancellation, Cygames pulling Granblue away from them, The Wonderful 101 release was a bit of a damp squib with the Kickstarter backers not particularly pleased with how Platinum went about things, and Bayonetta 3 has taken over three years in development and presumably isn’t out anytime soon since we didn’t see in in the E3 Direct. I hope Babylon and Bayo 3 both end up good and Platinum land on their feet.

Nintendo put on the best show for me, with quite a few good announcements like the aforementioned Metroid Dread, as well as Advance Wars 1 and 2. Microsoft announced a lot, but mainly in genres I’m not interested in. Though Replaced looked rather good and it sounds like it overall pleased their fanbase. You really feel how important the Bethesda purchase has been to them as well, as it would have been rather sparse without them. Square Enix/Capcom/etc. had garbage shows, which I sadly expected going in anyway.

Since I’ve never actually been to E3, it’s much of a muchness to me – just a time when a load of game announcements are made. I guess I miss the noisy video cam feeds of people playing the games with show staff telling them how to play it, which can be quite fun. I’m guessing GC doesn’t miss running from booth to booth through a sea of humanity?
Lord Darkstorm

GC: That’s far preferable for the chance to speak to developers face-to-face and actually play the games, rather than just blanky watching videos online.

Multi-dimensional Samus
I’m surprised and delighted by the announcement of Metroid Dread at E3. Metroid: Samus Returns on 3DS was fantastic so we know the developer, MercurySteam, is a safe pair of hands for Samus.

I really hope it’s a success as having both 3D and 2D Metroids would be great going forward, similar to how we get 3D and 2D Zeldas.

Relatively OK
This year’s E3 was a relatively OK show, without the much missed grand theatre of a live audience with big special guests and grand light displays, orchestras and live bands accompanying it all! Without that it really loses its appeal as a coming together of the world’s gaming icons, with the fans and journalists very much missed.

I might as well come out with it, Microsoft pretty much won the overall show, with Nintendo coming second, and the PC showcase in third. Makes me want to get an Xbox Series X, due to some very promising titles coming out on the Xbox Game Pass. The games looked epic, like Starfield, The Outer Worlds 2, and Redfall. Then you get smaller titles, but still graphically spectacular, like Replaced – which looked so amazing with its futuristic cyberpunk style neon lights and cityscapes. Looked like fun gameplay also.

Nintendo had Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 and a Metroid title, which were my favourites from there. They looked so gorgeous to look at and it shows, especially with the Breath Of The Wild animations, that artwork really shines through/ Forza Horizon 5 on the other hand was created using photorealism of such magnitude it was utterly mind-blowing in a different way.

I won’t go into any more titles apart from noting Elden Ring as possibly my most highly anticipated game of the future. It is a game collaboration between Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R. R. Martin. What lore will these two geniuses concoct together, and what dark deliciously scary delights await for us gamers in January 2022?

E3 is still very relevant and I for one miss the stage shows but we must remember this is possibly temporary and the safest and correct way to do this type of show during the pandemic. Roll on the next couple of years!

E-mail your comments to: gamec[email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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