Recap/Review of E3 2021

Hey everyone, it’s time to write the follow-up to E3 2021. In order to get this post started, I’m going to describe the main topics we will discuss. First, we’re going through the introduction as I type and as you read currently. Then, we’re jumping straight to Microsoft’s conference. We’ll hit the highlights and give it an overall score. Same thing for Nintendo afterward. I’ll save you a lot of the specific details and all of the games. This blog will cover everything with a broad stroke. After we talk Nintendo, I’m going to rant briefly about the other presentations by the third party studios. Then, we will tie everything up with a nice little bow. Honestly, I think E3 itself is at a crossroads. This year was a lot like last year in the fact that it wasn’t physical and in-person compared to years past, obviously with COVID being the main obstacle. I do not think this is how the convention will survive going forward and I’ll elaborate more further down this blog entry. Let’s go ahead and jump to Microsoft’s presentation!

To start everything off, I have not remembered a presentation as good as this year SINCE the mess of Xbox One. Microsoft, specifically Xbox, has been in a slump the past gaming generation. It was not until Phil Spencer became the figurehead of Xbox and the key driving force in their current direction going forward. Ever since he revealed the Xbox One X, each year has been a steady step upward in terms of the quality of their presentations.

This year’s presentation was centered around Xbox’s Game Pass. I have called it the best deal gaming and it’s obvious this direction is the future of gaming. Taking a similar approach to television and movies, Xbox is transitioning into offering games as a service that can be played on a plethora of devices. PCs, new consoles, old consoles, mobile, hell even a TV stick they’re working on. The best part, you can pick up right where you left off on any device. I think this direction will be more prominent as the internet infrastructure across the world gets better and we see speeds of 100 mbps be the low bar instead of the high bar for a lot of providers, especially here in the USA.

So, most of the games that were shown at Xbox’s E3 presentation were revealed as games that will be on game pass. You have the first party exclusives like Halo, Forza, Starfield (hard to believe I just typed that), Psychonauts 2, Flight Simulator, and etc. Microsoft has also enlisted some third party developers to have their games enter game pass on the first day of their releases as well. Back 4 Blood is the main example that comes to mind.

Starting as early as July, this combination will keep gamers such as myself busy on Game Pass for the foreseeable future. Once January of 22 rolls around, we’ll have a better idea of what else will be offered for the next year. Seems like Xbox wants a major release every three months or so with Starfield being the headliner in November 11th of 2022.

In terms as the presentation as a whole, I would give this presentation an 85/100 rating. I really think they did a great job setting the stage this generation early-on and they will give gamers quite a bit to play for the near future as their studios are hard at work on the games that will ideally solidify their place in the new gaming generation, further down the road. The main criticism I had is that they still do not have a concrete release date for Halo Infinite. Maybe it’s just a “cover your ass” type of deal, especially with the Cyberpunk debacle of 2020. I feel like if they were more direct with why a date is not yet set in stone, I would have upped this rating to a 90 fairly easily.

Now, we move to Nintendo!

To start, this event had the biggest rumors swirling around it. Bloomberg discussed a new Switch being in development and hinted it would be revealed at E3. This console might be in development, sure, but its quite obvious Nintendo kept their cards in their hand for this portion. To be clear, Nintendo made it very clear this event would cover software (games) and not hardware. So if folks are bummed about the new console, then that’s what you get for believing rumors.

I felt like this event should have highlighted Nintendo’s first party projects extensively. Also, I also expected we would have some additional content, even paid, for some of their biggest games.

Take Animal Crossing for example. The biggest game from 2020 and the second best selling Switch game. Not a peep about any additional content, sorry AC fans!

Most people had the sentiment, and I included, that Nintendo at the very least needs to spill some more beans about the sequel to Breath of the Wild. Of course they saved it for the end, but they did deliver in this aspect. This time, we didn’t really see a trailer but we got the next best thing: A montage of gameplay. We got to see some of the environment, new creatures, new abilities, and etc. Plus, we got a window of 2022 for the release of the game. Fully expect it to be Holiday 2022 at the earliest.

Now, Nintendo spent some time covering some first party games they have already alluded to. They gave us more information about Mario Golf, coming out very very soon, before June ends. Also, we got to see some more of the new Mario Party game slated for October.

Nintendo also covered a portion of their development toward Metroid. At the start, they revealed they are still working on Metroid Prime #4, which has been in development forever. Hey, take your time. I like what they had to offer in the meantime: Metroid Dread. They are introducing Metroid as a 2D platform shooter, which was Nintendo’s bread and butter at least two decades ago. I fully expect this game to be the main attraction this year for Nintendo.

We also got introduced to the next game in the WarioWare series. If you want to know what WarioWare is about, just think of the Mario Party minigames but even a smaller scale.

Unfortunately though, that’s all Nintendo really had to offer for what they were working on. Hopefully, there will be more games akin to Mario Odyssey for 2022. We already know Zelda will come out so that will help immensely! I think 2021 has enough games to tide everyone over before they have a chance to open up the floodgates for 2022. It’s almost the same story as I described for Microsoft but these games pack less of a punch as a combination than what Xbox has to offer for the Fall and Winter months to close the year.

These reasons, I give Nintendo a 75/100 for their presentation. Hopefully next year, they double down on their first party games like Xbox and give us more headlining games versus the quick type of games we’re getting this Fall.

This portion of the blog, I’m going to briefly cover my take on the third-party showcases that happened. With Ubisoft, they didn’t really announce any new games. They did show more of Far Cry 6, which is nice. Their presentation was mostly centered around their sweet money making DLC content for their current games.

Nothing much came from the PC showcases. No Half-Life 3 yet guys, you know better than that! As for Square Enix, I think Guardians of the Galaxy will be a fun game this Fall.

I don’t even feel like writing about these other showcases because they really didn’t offer anything.

Also, Sony was not present at E3 for this year as well. They seem like they enjoy doing their own presentations on their own time, and I can respect that. Of course, the main issue is that they need more PS5s before they can really take off this generation.

I’m going to transition to the end of this blog right now by mentioning why I think E3 as an event is at a crossroads. Even before COVID, the participation by companies has been on a steady decline year-after-year for E3. It’s almost like the companies don’t want to go on stage and get egg on their face due to the product that they’re trying to sell and the delivery falls flat.

For 2021, E3 was a virtual event and it just did not have the same magic that it used to. I think in 2022, they should try to go back to their roots and invite people to LA and have a real convention. Try to get the companies to go back to the former prestige of the event. That way, people can get the two different pathways for the event, back to back. This year, we already saw the virtual event where the companies can do as they wish and it just felt disconnected. If the event next year, in person, doesn’t pan out neither, then they really need to do some soul-searching and figure out the future of E3.

If the movement is going virtual, then I think the best bet is just to not do E3. Let each company host their own showcase/event whenever they choose along the year, ideally each will pick different segments of the year where the news is quiet. Xbox enjoyed the late summer last year and it did them well. Nintendo is known for quarterly directs. Sometimes it’s a wide sweep like this year’s E3, and other times, it’s a game specific presentation.

If this happens, I think it’s the best scenario. It keeps the cards close to the chest for the companies so they can manage their fraudulent YouTubers and streamers that claim to be insiders and get people’s hopes up. Plus, they control when the news for their games comes out and they can avoid another Cyberpunk. Honestly, Cyberpunk did everything to themselves but that is a whole rant for another blog. Maybe.

Of course the other option, a three day expo where gamers can make the pilgrimage to LA and get up close and personal with their favorite studios and games is quite an experience that can make an impact just beyond one year.

In a nutshell, that sums up my take on E3. I’ll see you next time, reader!

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