E3 2021: Top 5 Reveals

Christmas is over...

That’s right, gamer’s Christmas has come and gone leaving a unique and somewhat memorable E3 behind us. While the adage “A for Effort” could be consigned towards the annual event, the lingering absence of an atmospheric showcase was most evident. The ESA strived to put forward a platform for many developers and publishers that wanted to share their wares around the world, but the feeling of redundancy was most certainly present. Congregating a collective of on-air and online personalities to host this year’s coverage was an interesting take given that a great sum of these faces are seen on their respective brands. Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller, IGN’s Jackie Jing and the newly revived G4’s Goldenboy were tasked with keeping the trajectory of E3’s sinking ship afloat. But believe it or not, we’re at a point where we absolutely do not need E3 for these extravagant showcases. Of all companies to pioneer this movement, the Big N deviated from what was an industry norm of appearing on-stage by producing intimate, bite sized presentations for titles “Directly to you 👐

Without choice during an ongoing global pandemic, other studios had to adopt Nintendo’s successful format that has itself become an online sensation within its devout circles. #NintendoDirect trends daily via social media platforms, with users creating buzz and false hope until an official announcement is made, but this year with the Electronic Entertainment Expo emanating from an undisclosed location, and on a closed set, it didn’t really make for the most consumer friendly showcase it had become synonymous for within recent years. The once mighty trade show has fallen from grace, but still managed to pull out all the stops with major developers and publishers allowing a party access, and exclusive rights to broadcast their content, again that’s fine but poses the question… why? Regardless, leading studios were set on making their mark this returning expo, despite working through the gruff of our global crisis. With that said, here are our top five announcements from E3 2021.

#5 - XBOX Mini Fridge

Yes. We’re starting this list off with an appliance. Not hardware, not software… a home appliance. You may recall a twitter war that had sparked between the accounts of both Skittles and XBOX, coerced by Twitter Marketing. The poll was for “The best of brand accounts” with the colourful candy taking an early lead. XBOX weren’t about to lose this fight and encouraged its 16.2M followers to vote for the potential of a meme, becoming a reality. That’s right, they incentivised this victory by placing a wager with fans that they would manufacture XBOX Series X Mini Fridges. While I pessimistic, I voted and made it abundantly clear that I was only doing so to get a hold of the abomination manifested. I did not think they would actually do it, but by the grace of Daddy Phil Spencer, here we are.

The XBOX Mini Fridge is indeed real, and while pre-orders for the appliance are still closed, this collector’s piece is sure to be snatched up just as quick as its home console counterpart. I mean, let’s face it; I had flashbacks to the nightmarish scenario of having to sell the Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Juggernog Edition. Gamers were on the hunt for the COD branded cooler in droves, and unless XBOX plan to manufacture more than they can sell, this puppy is going to be just as rare. So while I could have awarded fifth place to an actual piece of software, this incredibly overzealous shelf piece will undoubtedly be the crowning achievement of many XBOX fans that don’t have enough lime green memorabilia that’s collecting dust. I’ll be sure to order one of these, crack open a Pepsi Max and get the real taste of next generation gaming.

#4 - Forza Horizon 5

Hell yes, I love this. For someone that touts PlayStation as the leading brand in gaming, I will no deny Forza as the king of Motorsports. What’s better than Forza’s mainline series you may ask? Forza Horizon. The arcade expedition across numerous territories and landmarks around the globe has made the series a staple for XBOX. Whether you love racing, or just want the feel of unrestricted freedom at your fingertips, while your eyes glaze over with glorious visuals, then you know that the Forza Horizon series is the racing title for you. I cannot begin to express my undying adoration for Playground’s ability in delivering picture perfect fidelity while immersing one’s self in Horizon’s endless crusade. Accelerating down highways at astronomical speeds, then taking the race off-road across the dusty plains, while flying through the air as you come over a steep slope; what a rush.

Forza’s adrenaline inducing, palpable presentations are one of a kind. While many motorsport enthusiasts had anticipated the return of Turn 10’s mainline circuit series, developers are in need of another year in development so the title could truly deliver it’s maximum potential on the Series X, so instead we were graced with the untimely sequel set in Mexico. As someone who prefers the Horizon series over Motorsport, this was surely a treat that was unexpected due to Forza’s trademark bi-annual cycle between the two titles. But to have two consecutive Horizon games only whets my whistle further, while satiating my salivating anticipation. It’s an interesting development, and one I’ll be keeping a close eye on. There is some concern that the title may be rushed to market so the XBOX has its trademark racer out by fall 2021, but if Forza’s reputation is any indicator, I’m sure we’ll be in for quite a ride. 

#3 - Redfall

I must admit, this game looks awesome. However I must temper expectations, but my thirst for this brand new IP from Arkane Austin may be insatiable. Published by Besthesda, and exclusive to XBOX, Redfall’s mighty tasty teaser showed off some insane action, and demonstrated diversity through its quirky cast of Vampire Hunters. While its concept was the pitch, there was zero gameplay shown here but it was enough to drum attention towards the incredible presentation the title was promising. It’s hard to say whether the title will contain a solo campaign, or whether it’s strictly set to have players engage in local co-op or online multiplayer. None the less, it struck home its premise of a prevailing party of four that was set to run roughshod through this post-apocalyptic metropolis, sprawling with blood sucking monsters.

Developers keyed fans in on some minor details regarding Redfall’s gameplay loop, stating the campaign would entail a large, open world co-op shooter, and despite the teaser demonstrating most of its action in third-person, Redfall will engage combat through a first-person focal point. Presenting a dynamic environment, that borrows heavy facets of rogue-like elements and is dependent on choices made throughout your experience, the experience is set to polarise its audience with dramatic juxtaposition that will randomly occur while happening in realtime. To me, this sounds like an amalgamation of Vampyr, Call of Duty and Returnal – an intriguing combination. Redfall is set to launch Summer of 2022, and will be available on Game Pass.

#2 - Metroid: Dread

Who would’ve thunk it? Almost 17 Years in the making. After leaks and teasers left fans – for the most part – empty handed and awaiting in heightened anticipation, Metroid: Dread has finally become a reality. Those crazy bastards at the Big N did it. For those unaware of why this title is such a big deal, the side-scroller action-platformer was the highly speculated working title for this out-of-world adventure, originally slated for the NintendoDS. After some disappointment in the 2006 release of Metroid Prime Hunters, fans were keen on getting their first glimpse of what was touted to be Metroid’s “return to form”. Expected to be revealed at E3 2006, the Nintendo devout were left mildly disappointed, but Nintendo’s motives were to win over its audience by showcasing new hardware set to release that fall – of course I’m alluding to the Nintendo Wii.

There were multiple attempts made by Nintendo R&D1 to recreate the concept, and reformulate its entire foundations from scratch. A working demo was also internally passed around the Kyoto-based headquarters, but had never seen the light of day outside the studio. Series designer Yoshio Sakamoto confirmed the existence of the aforementioned preview, but had gone on record that the game would most likely be in development hell for quite a period. And now, here we are; E3 2021 and Nintendo have finally pulled the trigger. Metroid: Dread has been unveiled for the very first time and we’re now getting to see its concept bought to life on Nintendo Switch. Not only has the Japanese gaming developer pushed out the promotional teasers it needed to escalate depleting hype, but a release date? That’s wild. Metroid: Dread releases THIS YEAR, October 8, 2021. Absolutely astounding, and I cannot wait. You bet your bottom dollar I have the Deluxe edition and Amiibo pre-ordered. Come to papa.

#1 - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2

Well, there it was. We finally got an extended look at the future of Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule, and the uncanny state that it seems to have fallen in. First shown back at E3 2019, fans had awaited a follow-up to the Nintendo Switch Launch title’s sequel but had been left with Anouma generalising the sequel’s development progress. While the trailer itself may have skimmed through the finer details, it still gave fans a taste of what’s to come. With the trailer’s  suspicious timing coinciding with Skyward Sword’s upcoming re-release, there was a lot of comparisons made here between Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule and Skyloft existing in the same universe. It had been mentioned by Miyamoto, that both Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild were connected directly to Ocarina of Time, so if that’s an indicator of the two sequential features tying its lore into a complicated bow, then I’m all for it.

Sparingly, the trailer displays Link confronting the supposed reanimated corpse of Calamity Ganon, who imposes the Hero of the Wild with a new power. But it seems that the campaign may entail a time leap at some point. This is hinted by Link’s lucious locks flowing through the wind as he sprints through the tall grassed valleys of Hyrule Fields, where the protagonist is equipped with what looks to be the hand of Ganon, which grants him a series of abilities to utilise in his adventure; one of which is shown near the end of the title’s showcase where the hero liquifies through a corroding rooftop, to come out the other end completely unscathed. The haunting melody that had toes curling in the initial teaser made a return, mixing in with Breath of the Wild’s trademark symphony, only to signify that a powerful threat had returned. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Untitled Sequel will release in 2022.

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