E3 2021 Reactions

I’ve got a lot to type. Putting this under a cut.

Another year, another E3 is in the books.

You don’t need me to tell you it’s a weird world right now, that we live in weird times. It’s all around us. After E3 was canceled last year and having survived what we as a society have survived since the last E3, it was all down to these four days. We were all looking to E3 for something. For something new. For something fresh. For something exciting. For something to look forward to. For some hope. For something good. For something positive. For something fun, something exciting, to look forward to. We were looking for something at E3, collectively.

Microsoft had their event early on. I guess there were one or two exciting things there. I heard a lot of people talk about something called Elden Ring. Or is it all one word, Eldenring? I don’t know what it is. I’ve had people explain it to me and I still don’t know what Elden Ring is. It’s a Dark Souls-like game, which to me says that it’s a brutally hard hack-and-slash just for the sake of being punishing and unforgiving in its difficulty. I guess people like games like that these days because that was one of the trending topics of E3 overall. Bethesda, which is now owned by Microsoft, talked about their Starfield game and some Fallout and Elder Scrolls stuff. It was all as expected, which given the past two years could be a good thing. But that was it, it was all what was expected.

Okay, back up a bit. Ubisoft was the first major event at this year’s E3. Their big new announcement was heavily rumored, and was even leaked by Nintendo themselves when (I think) the French Nintendo website posted the big page for the new Mario + Rabbids game (subtitled Sparks of Hope, interestingly enough) hours before the event. And then the game was confirmed and it didn’t make much of an impact on me. I’ve seen enough about the first game but it isn’t really my thing so I never played it.

Sunday was the big day for E3. Microsoft had their event. There were lots of games announced for their subscription service. There was a Pirates of the Caribbean crossover for Rare’s Sea of Thieves. Nothing that exciting.

And I guess that is where this is all heading. What is exciting anymore in the world of video games? When I was a kid. E3 was full of hype and wonder. It was the ’90s, the Internet was just coming on to the scene in the consumer market. My family didn’t have an Internet connection in the ’90s, so my exposure to the Internet was occasionally going to the local public library and using the computer there for an hour a week sometimes. That usually ended up being maybe two hours a month online. Back then I was hugely interested in the development of the then-upcoming “Zelda 64” from Nintendo. I would check Nintendo’s site to see the latest screenshots. I saw the screenshots for the unicorn fountain, of the Triforce, of all these early temples and forests and lake areas. It was new, I’d not played a game like that before (no one had), and it was mysterious. Follow Zelda 64 up with the quick development of “Zelda Gaiden” (Majora’s Mask eventually), which was even more mysterious.

Is it just that I’ve gotten older? Yes. Is it that I’m more jaded? Yes. Is it because I suffer major, debilitating depression nowadays? Yes, definitely. It takes a lot to excite me, but video games have always been that refuge for me. The problem here in 2021 is the prolific nature of video games. They’re everywhere, a lot can be had for cheap. Then there’s the time issue, finding time to play the games I want to play. After work, I’m tired and only have a few hours to spare. I have to find time in those few hours to fit in some video games. What do I play? It’s overwhelming. I’m surprised I managed to play through all of Final Fantasy VII Remake (part one of however many there end up being) and even Paper Mario: The Origami King.

Let’s get back to E3 2021. I watched Microsoft’s event, via Easy Allies’ stream on YouTube. I then watched their stream of SquareEnix’s event. That started off with a Guardians of the Galaxy game which I had some slight interest in until the additional trailers killed that. And then there was the trailer for the Pixel Remasters of the first six Final Fantasy games. That was what I’d been waiting for, some collection of the older Final Fantasy titles. “I’m definitely getting that for my Switch,” I thought. Then the trailer ended, saying the collection would be available for Steam (on PC) and mobile. That was a huge let-down. They could’ve at least ported it to the Switch, that would’ve been amazing. The rest of SquareEnix’s event was lackluster. The grimdark visuals of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin were a disappointment. On the one hand, cool, a game set in the world of the first Final Fantasy, but the visual style was boring.

The rest of Sunday’s events were forgettable. PC Gaming Show had a neat narrative throughout but I don’t have a gaming PC so what’s the point of me watching? I got around to watching Devolver Digital’s event. Points to them, their events have become a highlight of E3, both them and Limited Run Games. Their event didn’t disappoint and even had some neat titles announced. I don’t even remember the Future Games show, though I’m sure I watched it.

I worked on Monday so didn’t watch any of those events. Apparently there was a meme briefly from Capcom’s event of “What about eSports?” which, fair enough, what about eSports? I don’t watch them. I don’t care about them. I saw some article recently where somewhere was thinking of considering eSports as athletics which is such an astoundingly dumb choice. Anyway.

I mentioned Limited Run Games. They do physical releases of games. Their E3 events have become highlights. Whether its budget or a conscious aesthetic that they’ve decided to just run with, their events are low-budget, and so was this one. They had some cool announcements and some really funny bits. Limited Run Games really hit it out of the park, to use a sports analogy. And then they ended their event by announcing an upcoming physical print run of the infamous PC and 3DO game “Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties” (though calling it a “game” is being really generous) for PS4 and Switch. I missed out on nabbing their print of Night Trap, so I’ll probably end up trying to get this. That was the sort of crazy, from-out-of-nowhere announcement I like to hear at E3 events.

And then Nintendo. Oh, boy. Nintendo. It’s always the highlight of E3. They close out the show. Everything leads to Nintendo. After weeks of everyone (but me) expecting a new Switch hardware announcement and not getting one, it was down to this Nintendo Direct. I expected (and got) a new Smash Bros. character announcement (but I’ve never played Tekken so don’t care about this character). There were some ports. There were low-key announcements.

And then Samus returned, and it turned out to be Metroid Dread.

For those unfamiliar, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was a game released on the Wii back in 2007. One feature of the Metroid Prime games is the ability to scan and read recorded logs from the Space Pirates. One of these logs at one point in the game mentioned an experimental project Metroid Dread that was nearing completion. Lots of people took this to be a sly hint to an upcoming and unannounced video game. This was confirmed to be a game that was in development but was never officially announced and was quietly shelved when the developers couldn’t get anything running to their satisfaction. Metroid Dread was set to be a pipe dream, a what-if in the annals of Metroid history.

And then Samus returned. Metroid Dread was confirmed as the fifth main-line title, and the first 2D Metroid in 19 years. It looks cool, it looks exciting, and it’s being released this October. You bet I’ll be playing it that very weekend. That was the highlight of Nintendo’s Direct, for me.

I don’t know. There wasn’t that much for me at E3 this year. A few things here and there. Samus returning, finally.

And I can’t think of much else to type and I’ve typed too much as it is. Thank you for reading.

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