E3 2021: The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

E3 is always a time where there are a lot of games that are shown and revealed by multiple different publishers and developers. Chipz (Lais R.) and myself (Nicholas) discuss in this article what we thought about E3 and about the different publishers presentations we watched. Without further ado, let’s get into the discussion.

Q: Both of us are major gamers and we both play lots of games. What kind of games do you play? This question is to show what kinds of games we are interested for the discussion ahead.

Lais: I mostly play action/adventure games. I’ll dabble in some RPGs every now and then depending on what it is, and how long it takes me to finish. I really like games with an interesting story AND gameplay (both are important) and I’m a sucker for photo mode. I’ll occasionally jump into FPS games but I can honestly live without them. Halo might be the only title I’ll really dive into, given the opportunity.

Nicholas: I personally play a large variety of games, whether it be action-adventure, platformer, narrative-driven, puzzle, action, hack-and-slash, lots of RPGs, and more. I play more single-player titles than multiplayer, but I do like playing the occasional multiplayer depending on what it is. I don’t play First Person Shooters, horror games (creepy is okay but not horror), or souls titles.

Q: Xbox and Bethesda had a very large showcase. Both of us do not have an Xbox, but after this showcase… Will you be getting one? Were there any games that were good enough to get one now?

Lais: So far from what I’ve seen, I’m still on the fence about getting one but leaning more to the side of actually buying it. Of course, a majority of their games are on gamepass day 1, but some of them are console exclusives. Forza most definitely caught my attention with the amount of detail and hyper-realism that was added. I’m not a huge race car gamer, but I’d be pretty interested to play this. Halo is another big title that I’d love to jump back into, and depending on how they treat this latest installment would REALLY determine if I get an Xbox Series X or not. I would really like it if they did something special for a collector’s edition. Redfall looks like an interesting game but I’d have to see some actual gameplay before I pull the trigger on it. As of right now, I don’t have much of a reason to get one because a lot of those titles will be on gamepass for pc. Because of how many games are coming to gamepass day and date, I’m still thinking if I should just renew my pass for a little while just to play these games or just dive in and get the console. We both know I love my physical copies!

Nicholas: Honestly, there were some games that I was actually very interested in getting to be completely honest. The big stand-out for me in the entire show was Forza Horizon 5, even though I am not the biggest racing fan. That game looks absolutely real, and I actually have a hard time believing the gameplay that was shown was in-engine and honestly, this game looks absolutely stunning if it was true. I believe that this game, will be much better looking than any other racing game that will be coming out within this generation, and potentially better looking than any other game this generation. I am also super excited for Somerville and 12 minutes. Games that look interesting but need more detail on include Red Fall, Contraband, Starfield, and Replaced. Honestly, the show was very good overall but am I getting an Xbox because of this show? No, not yet. Saying this though, am I tempted to get one because of all of the games that are coming out, yes, but I need more before fully diving in. Score: 7.5/10

We are both interested in this game, even though we are not Xbox players.

Q: We are both Nintendo Fans, right? Was the E3 direct good or bad? What games are you getting that were showcased, and why?

Lais: I went into their presentation with little to no expectations because it’s easy to be let down if they don’t show something you’re dying to hear about. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the new Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC character being Kazuya Mishima from Tekken. I used to love playing Tekken as a kid but when as I got older and cared less and less about all of those crazy button combinations to pull off cool combos, I lost interest. However, the dynamic in Smash Bros. will be a bit different and maybe even more fun to play. Don’t get me wrong – there are quite a few cool characters to play as but seeing this made me want to get the season pass.

Of course, we saw more gameplay/cinematics of Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild 2, and I can’t wait for it. I liked the first one even though the story wasn’t all that great, but the gameplay is always top-notch. There’s a bunch of theories circling the interwebs as to who the other character is that was seen falling from the sky. As for RPGs go, I’m interested in Shin Megami Tensei V. That game looks like it has a much better and darker story than the Persona games and that’s right up my alley. The new Metroid game is definitely interesting to me. I’ve never really been a fan of the Metroid games, but this might be the one to get me into the series and maybe even go back and play the others….except for Metroid: Prime, that game’s controls just suck and I hate it. We’ve seen Capcom present Monster Hunter: Stories 2 before, but watching the Treehouse event made me want to pick this up. It’ll be my first entry into the Stories line of Monster Hunter so I’m excited to see what we’ll get. Overall I’d say the Nintendo Direct was good because it had something for everyone. Score: 8/10

Launching October 8, which is a solid date for this game that has a terrifying feel while you are being hunted.

Nicholas: This was the one that I was mixed on to be honest before the showcase. I was mixed on it because the rest of E3 wasn’t very good at all and I didn’t expect a huge amount of big time announcements from the big N. Man was I wrong. Nintendo not only proved that when it comes to first party developers, there is a variety of titles beyond anything anyone else can do. When they said that there is something for everyone, they really meant it. I literally thank all the other publishers and developers, and not saying everything else was bad; the games are just not for me, but I am spending most of my gaming budget on Nintendo this year. They opened the show with a new smash character that I honestly don’t really care for at all, but it really is nice seeing a Tekken fighter join the already insane roster of characters. The next big thing that I saw in the direct that everyone kind of expected was Mario Party Superstars which is a collection of 5 classic boards from the N64 games along with 100 minigames throughout the franchise.

All of these games support the pro controller, and the game supports online play from day 1, with the ability to pause the whole game and resume it later. I am excited for this game since it fixes all of the issues I had with Super Mario Party from 2018. They then showcased Metroid Dread which I am excited for since this will be the first game that I finish in the Metroid franchise, and I will probably go back and finally complete some of the others now. Warioware: Get it Together, Shin Megami Tensei V, and Advanced Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp were all absolute standouts for me as well. Then, they closed with a first look at Breath of the Wild sequel; it looks good and I am excited for it in 2022. Nintendo had lots of 3rd party support here too and I really like seeing that since Nintendo hasn’t always had the best third-party support in the past, that has definitely changed with the Switch. Score: 9/10

1 week before Pokemon Brilliant Diamond / Shining Pearl launch… that’s interesting. Lots of RPG goodness coming in November.

Q: Ubisoft had a Ubisoft Forward. What did you think of the announcements that they had? Anything stands out?

Nicholas: There really was only one game that I am interested in. I am not a first person shooter or multiplayer kind of gamer, which is a large amount of what they showcased. The only game that is remotely interesting to me was Mario+Rabbids Sparks of Hope. Honestly, the game looks very big compared to the original game as now it is not just in the mushroom kingdom, but in space where it appears as though you are exploring many different planets. The combat system also appears to have gotten a very large update to it as it is now free terrain where you can move throughout the map, with restrictions most likely, and plan different attacks that you can do now instead of before. Honestly, this is one of my most anticipated games for 2022 and I hope it is earlier in the year compared to later in the year. Everything else from the showcase was either Assassin’s Creed related or multiplayer titles or first person shooter titles, and I am not really interested in any of these. They also showed off a new partnership with Disney and the Avatar franchise… but as good as this game may look from the trailer they showed, it will be a first person shooter which means I am not interested in it. Score: 5/10

Lais: The only games that I’m interested in are Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope and Farcry 6. They announced Rainbow 6: Extraction and an update to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla as well, with the update to AC being the only other form of content that I’d buy. In my opinion, Ubisoft could’ve done better with an announcement with the Prince of Persia remakes, giving us more info on that and even a demonstration. A lot of people were hoping for Splinter Cell to come back and honestly, having that game come back on next-gen consoles would’ve been amazing. Overall I’d have to rate Ubisoft a 5/10 as well.

The sequel to one of my favorite crossovers in recent times is finally coming out in 2022.

Q: We are both big fans of Square Enix and their IPs. Was the showcase good? Are you grabbing anything?

Lais: I would say Square Enix had a pretty decent showing. When they showed their new Guardians of The Galaxy game, it caught my eye. It’s a single-player experience with decision-based story elements. So your choices impact the story and may even influence how the rest of the team interacts with you. It makes me wonder if there are multiple endings/storylines that the player can pursue and enjoy. The GoTG elements appear to all be there – how the team interacts with each other, how they team up against enemies, how they fight individually, banter, attitudes, etc. That’s what really pulled me in. Another game that I want to dive into is the Life is Strange series.

They’re giving us remasters of the first two games and then the third installment which would be Life is Strange: True Colors which is coming out in September, and much to my surprise – it’s also coming out on Nintendo Switch as both physical and digital copies. I honestly may get this on Switch instead of my PS5, but I’m also thinking about getting those trophies. The other games didn’t interest me too much even though the Final Fantasy game is supposed to be an origin story that’s also being developed with Team Ninja. I wanted to play the demo for one of the games they showed but apparently, that doesn’t even work. Score: 6/10

Nicholas: We know that Square Enix has a lot of different studios with loads of IPs that they can work with. They also have partnerships with many different companies as well. They opened the show with almost 20 minutes of a new game reveal. They, Eidos Montreal, are working on a Guardians of the Galaxy game that is coming out in October. This is a third person shooter, single player experience where you play as Star Lord and manage the team of Guardians. It has the feel of the Guardians with the banter and the camaraderie within the party, but that doesn’t stay for long. You have to make choices that affect the overall story and I wonder if there will be a bunch of different endings for this game.

It is honestly what I wanted with Marvel’s Avengers and well… we all know how that one turned out. Speaking of, they then showcased Legend of Mana very quickly along with Pixel Remasters of Final Fantasy 1 through Final Fantasy 6 going to Mobile and Steam. I would have loved to play some of the classics on Switch but that will have to wait. Then they talked about Marvel’s Avengers which I couldn’t care less, to be honest. Then they showed off Babylons Fall, and after this, I am not interested in the game at all anymore since it is a live service game. Then they showed off Life is Strange Remastered Collection and Life is Strange True Colors, both of which I don’t really care about. They closed out with the rumored Final Fantasy x Team Ninja game, and I am intrigued, but it looked really rough. Score: 6.5/10

GotG game that is single player, third person shooter where your choices affect the game overall… YES please!

Q: We are both absolute fans of physical games more so than digital. That doesn’t mean we don’t buy digital titles. Limited Run Games is just one company that helps digital only games get physical ones. Are you getting anything that Limited Run Games showed?

Lais: We watched this together actually and not a single game caught my eye. I like supporting indie games being made into physical media, but despite that fact – I don’t really care about the games that were shown. MAYBE the side scrolling beat em’ up that looked like Streets of Rage…and that’s a title I’ll probably pick up as a bargain bin title to play with friends. Score: 3/10

Nicholas: Short answer…No. Limited Run Games has had very solid projects that they have done in the past and in 2020 especially. This presentation was the worst one throughout all of E3 from the ones that I saw. The brought out one game that basically has proven that digital games should be preserved physically, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. This game came out back in the Xbox 360 generation but was later removed digitally due to rights. It was brought out digitally back in January of 2021, and released physically on PS4 and Switch. Amazing! However, I will say this; if this is the actual line up for all they have coming out in this year coming up, there is not a single game I am interested in, and that’s actually sad since I want to support them. I absolutely hope that they have more announcements, especially big time announcements coming up in the future that they haven’t finalized yet. as these games did nothing for me. They had a lot of variety of titles, announced a bunch of new physical games, and even some brand new titles as well which I thought was cool for them to do, just not interested in any game they showed. Score: 3/10

Q: Capcom had a showcase at this E3. Did you like any of the information that came out of it?

Lais: This presentation was something else and I honestly left feeling unsatisfied. So let’s start off with Resident Evil: Village – I like the fact that they’re giving players DLC with this. After how successful this game was and how intricate the story is (from what I’ve heard) they need to give players something equally as good or raise the bar. I remember Capcom telling us about the online multiplayer before and from what I’ve heard from my friends, the past version was pretty fun. I wanted to see more of it besides what was shown because we knew about RE: Verse already. A gameplay presentation about mechanics, maps, or even the types of weapons and characters you can play as would’ve been great. Monster Hunter: Stories 2 looks fun and I’m glad there’s going to be a demo at the end of the month to entice players into trying it out and potentially picking up a copy. I don’t really care too much about MH: Rise because I don’t have it and at this point, I doubt I’ll pick it up. Nothing wrong with the game, but I think I’m just not cut out for that style of Monster Hunter.

Jumping into a story-based RPG experience may be more up my alley. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles doesn’t excite me, to be quite honest. I like narrative-based games but I don’t know if I can do the “point-and-click” style games. If it’s not an interactive story like the TellTale games then I may just pass on it. The point where Capcom lost me was at the end with talking about esports. I understand there’s a market for that, but when you think of E3, you immediately think of new games being announced and even demoed to entice fans and drum up more hype. Keeping the esports market in mind – they could’ve released some info regarding new content for Street Fighter V i.e. another fighter, some new skins, SOMETHING! Just talking about e-sports and ending on that note wasn’t great at all. I know Monster Hunter: Stories 2 was left for Nintendo, but they could’ve shown us something extra. It felt like there really wasn’t a point in watching this presentation – the updates they gave us could’ve been given to us in a couple of promo videos online. Score: 4/10

Single player, RPG game from Capcom… this is rare for Capcom since they don’t really make RPGs anymore.

Nicholas: Capcom’s was not good at all, but they were not the worst. They talked about Village DLC and the multiplayer title RE: Verse, Monster Hunter Rise DLC, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin demo, and The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. Not to say that these are horrible games to market and push, but we have already seen ALL of these titles in the past. I am excited for the newly announced demo for Stories 2, and I will be playing it to see if I like it enough to pick up the whole game. They talked about new aspects to each of them, but there were no game reveals. This honestly would have been a better show, except for one thing. They closed out the show by talking about god damn eSports crap. This segment was at least 5 minutes long and I honestly turned off the stream when this came on. I don’t think people wanted to see this. I was hoping that there was “one more thing” at the end so I came back to it, and I was wrong. There were no new titles in this show and that was a big letdown. The demo for MHS 2 was a good announcement, but that was it for me to be honest. Score: 4/10

Q: There were loads of announcements from many publishers and developers. What were your top five announcements?

Lais: Right off the bat I have to say my number one announcement is Forza Horizon for Xbox Series X coming to gamepass and pc on day one. As we’ve already discussed, that game simply looks amazing, breathtaking, and all-around awe-inspiring. Halo Infinite both campaign and multiplayer coming together, again, on gamepass and pc day one. There were a few indies that are also coming to Xbox but then Nintendo’s presentation took off out of nowhere. Metroid Dread, Kazuya Mishima (honorable mention) as a DLC character was cool so I might get the season pass now to get all of the characters. Monster Hunter: Stories 2 is something that I’ll keep my eye on especially since a demo is coming our way at the end of the month. The Guardians of The Galaxy stand-alone title from Square Enix being released on all platforms is another one. The inclusion of decision making elements that affect the overall story plus great combat makes this game a contender. Lastly The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild 2. I don’t need to go into details with that game, but it looks like there’s going to be a better storyline this time around and as always the action and gameplay will be on point.

Nicholas: This is actually tough because I am not necessarily an Xbox player, but there was some great announcements in there. Square and Ubisoft both had something for me as well. Nintendo had a large amount of games that I am personally very interested in. These are not going to be in any order, just to make that clear. One of my top games was Mario+Rabbids Sparks of Hope. The next one on my list was Shin Megami Tensei V. Number three was Guardians of the Galaxy. and number four was Metroid Dread. Last pick in my top five announcements goes to Advance Wars 1+2 Re-boot camp. I never played the second one and never finished the first one, but man do I love a good tactics based game and from the gameplay they showed at the treehouse, yeah I am definitely excited for this one. It was cool to finally see Breath of the Wild’s sequel, but I personally need to see more about that game than the little tease that we got to put it higher on my list (this would be #6). I will give an honorable mention to Forza Horizon 5 because I do not have an Xbox and there wasn’t anything there that would make me get one besides this.

Breath of the Wild sequel is looking very good. 2022 is going to be a big year for Nintendo.

Q: Lastly, rank the shows from best to worst… and also… give your opinion on the whole E3 2021 event.

Nicholas: Nintendo clearly came out on top without any contest for me. There were solid game announcements from both new games coming and ports of some pretty big games that have come out in the past. Definitely a good show. Honestly, for my second choice, Xbox and Bethesda came out swinging and they definitely didn’t strike out. They didn’t get a home run, but they got quite a few hits in with many new games, and updates to their current ones. Square Enix is placing third with Ubisoft placing fourth. I loved the Mario+Rabbids reveal but that was the only thing from their show that I am looking forward to. In Square’s, I am interested in the Guardians title, especially since its single player, along with getting more information about Final Fantasy Origins but that was really it.

Capcom comes in 5th, and Limited Run comes up in last place, but honestly, both were not great and could go either way. Capcom is not last since there were no shocking reveals, but they introduced the demo for Monster Hunter Stories 2. Something that affected their show so much for me was; they closed out the show talking about fucking esports…. you don’t do that. Honestly, there was not one LRG that I will be picking up from this show which is why they are last, even though that saves me money so it is kind of a blessing in disguise. Overall for me though, E3 was a letdown compared to past shows, and I get that it was virtual due to the pandemic, but still… I seriously hope next year is much better than what we got this year. Nintendo & Xbox/Bethesda really did a lot with their announcements, but everyone else was not very good at all. Overall E3 Score: 5.83/10

Lais: I have to agree with your take on this for the most part. Nintendo came out swinging with their presentation. While some of the games didn’t appeal to me, I appreciated the fact that they’re developing games for a wide range of people and various audience types. They weren’t joking when they said there’s something for everyone! Microsoft and Bethesda also had a good presentation of games but what was sort of killing it for me is the fact nearly all of their games are coming to gamepass day and date on both console and pc. Looking at it from a different point of view while also trying to understand the business side of their gaming model – it seems like they’re cannibalizing their console sales. Not everyone has a gaming pc, I know that much. However, this isn’t something that’s being targeted towards the casual gamer market either. A lot of their player base are more experienced and (semi) hardcore gamers with pc’s to built to play games.

This also kills their software sales…but we all know by now these companies are trying to move more towards a digital method of delivering content to us. Anyway – as someone who doesn’t own an Xbox and rarely plays on pc, I enjoyed their presentation and am considering purchasing their next-gen console. We both agree that Square Enix came in third place – and what solidified this for them, in my opinion, is the live demonstration of GoTG. The other games they showed felt like a footnote. I also thought nothing could be worse than Capcom since nothing was REALLY there for me besides Monster Hunter, but lo and behold – Limited Run Games with…whatever that was. Given how bad that presentation was, I’d have to rank Ubisoft above them. To sum up my E3 2021 experience, I’d have to say it was mostly a disappointment. I think this goes to show that E3 may truly be on its way out and these companies would probably fair better on their own. Here’s a lesson to be learned here: go into these events and reveals with no expectations – that way you won’t feel like you were let down so badly. However, even doing that and watching the last several days’ worth of presentations I still feel that way. There were quite a few anniversaries for several franchises and yet we didn’t get anything special for it. The real winners this year are Nintendo, Microsoft, and Bethesda. Score: 6/11

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