Now that E3 has officially concluded and Summer Game Fest has jumped into gear with its Kickoff Live! show, we took a minute to think about the highlights (and lowlights) of the past few days. From the absolutely incredible Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, all the way to never-ending Koch Primetime, we've picked out some of the best and worst moments of the trade fair.
We are pretty sure that any doubts about Microsoft's first-party offerings were erased after this explosive conference. Things kicked off with a release date announcement for Bethesda's Starfield and the momentum didn't falter from there, as the show quickly danced between one big reveal to the next. Here we got our first look at Redfall, a brand new vampire co-op shooter from Prey developer Arkane Studios and the first Forza Horizon game to appear on the shiny new Xbox Series was revealed. On top of all of this, we also got a closer look at Halo: Infinite's online mode and learned that The Outer Worlds would be getting a sequel. Honestly, we could go on and on, but we'd recommend you give it a watch.
When we think of the term E3, we think about the trade fair as a whole, not just the various publisher hosted conferences. The ESA knows this and created an online portal, accessible to fans, the media, and industry members that was expected to be the way to bring a digital trade fair to life, and act as a bridge between developers and the public. But, that is far from what we got. Instead what was delivered was a shallow social platform with an avatar creation system that served very little purpose over the duration of the event. There were pages that were simply empty and unused, and aside from acting as a place to watch the main E3 livestream, it offered little to no benefit to the trade fair.
This was one of (arguably the) best shows of the past week. Geoff Keighley and Co. delivered an entertaining showcase that featured new reveals, small interviews with developers and industry members, and did it all within a window of time that felt engaging throughout. The pacing, announcements, and format all show what a digital conference can be, and it served as a brilliant teaser of what was planned over the next few days, even if very few shows actually lived up to, or outperformed, this stellar event.
It was unusual that Koch Media announced its new Prime Matter publishing label at the Summer Game Fest the day before its own conference, but what was even more unusual was the lack of new content that came as part of this show. The German company delivered a lengthy and drab showcase that included the same trailers we had seen the day before, mixed up with developer interviews that lasted far longer than they should've. The content itself could've been much more engaging, but the format, sheer length, and monotonous nature of this showcase will forever be a tarnish on the launch and identity of Prime Matter.
Devolver Digital's conference may have only showcased six game announcements, but it still made for arguably the most entertaining watch. The entire show acted as a hilarious commentary on video game subscription models with the team plotting to establish their own known as Devolver MaxPass+. It sure delivered the laughs, and many of the games that were showcased look pretty exciting too with Wizard with a Gun and the physical-only Demon Throttle being our personal highlights. We have to deduct a point or two though as we were unfairly tricked into believing Hotline Miami 3 would make an appearance.
Where to start really. First of all, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy looks great and exciting, but did we really need 30 minutes worth of trailers, and footage to announce it? Not really. Despite the pacing already being completely shot after the Guardians portion, Square still had plenty of announcements up its sleeve, announcements that were, for the most part, underwhelmingly or a little concerning. Strangers of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin and Babylon's Fall both failed to impress, one because it looked pretty abhorrent for a new-gen title in a visual sense (we're still convinced the low bit-rate of the stream made an effect on this impression), and the other because it was a Platinum Games-developed title that is taking a live service approach for some reason. Sure, Life is Strange appeared again, both the Remastered Collection and True Colors, but it wasn't really new information, and stack that up with the other minor reveals and announcements dotted in between, and it's hard to see this one as a success.
Nintendo really capped off E3 2021 with a bang. During its conference, we received a release window for the long-awaited Breath of the Wild 2 and we also learned of several new exciting games to be hitting the Switch in the next few months. Amongst these was Metroid Dread, the series' first 2D outing in almost two decades and Mario Party Superstars, a compilation of sorts of the series' best boards and game modes from the N64-era. In addition to this, Nintendo also showcased some great third-party games coming to the hybrid machine. We learned that the Life is Strange series is soon to make its Switch debut and that Doom Eternal's Ancient Gods - Part One DLC would launch directly after the showcase.
As far as showcases go, Capcom's appearance at E3 2021 wasn't poorly produced or unengaging, it just suffered from never needing to exist. We knew what was coming before it started, and what was shown was barely new information or announcements. Resident Evil appeared for a brief period, announced another release date for Re:Verse, and revealed that plans for Village DLC were in the works (via what seemed to be a single slide of a presentation). Then Monster Hunter was up, and we got another appearance from Stories 2, and some more news on what's next for Rise, before we got a bunch of information on The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles - a game that is releasing in around six weeks. Needless to say, the whole show felt a little bit pointless.
Ben: I personally enjoyed this show, but I can see where the issues arise. We knew pretty much everything that was being shown beforehand, and what wasn't known were games that were pretty much expected, for example Just Dance 2022. The only real surprise was the subscription-based service, Rocksmith+, which is hardly an explosive announcement. But, I am looking forward to Rainbow Six: Extraction, Far Cry 6 seems like a blast, Assassin's Creed Valhalla will never not excite me, and Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope seems to be one of the most anticipated games of the entire Summer Game Fest/E3 period, so for that matter I see Ubisoft Forward as a success.
Kieran: Personally, I found Ubisoft's showcase to be comparable in quality to what Square Enix and Capcom had to offer. As Ben mentioned above, Ubisoft pretty much detailed what we saw ahead of schedule, so the entire show felt pretty predictable and was lacking any real "wow" moments to help keep me engaged. The biggest reveal here was for Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope. I'll admit it looks fantastic, but as it was accidentally leaked by Nintendo beforehand, the surprise was kind of lost on me. We also got announcements for Just Dance and a new subscription-based Rocksmith game, which I'm sure had some people excited, but I can't say they will be games that I will be purchasing on day one.
What do you think about our highlights and lowlights, and what were some of your favourite parts of E3 and Summer Game Fest?