The first online-only E3 officially ended on Tuesday, but the complementary (or competing?) Summer Game Fest has just begun. While everything went off with few hitches, there weren’t many huge announcements, and the biggest reveal of E3 wasn’t even at an official E3 event.
Even before the switch to an online format this year, huge publishers like EA, Activision and Sony had stepped away. Activision, for example, typically holds its own events at other points in the year and gets its largest games featured at Microsoft or Sony shows. EA, meanwhile, has traditionally held its own event concurrently on the other side of town, but this year has a show scheduled for July as part of Summer Game Fest.
Regardless, a bunch of games have been announced, and the end of E3 gives us a good opportunity to take stock of what the major players have done right, and wrong, so far.
Summer Game Fest Kickoff
Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest wasn’t quite the first not-E3 event — that would be the Battlefield 2042 reveal — but it was packed with new games, and even the announcement of a new publisher. (Or, a publishing label of a publisher that’s owned by a larger publisher. Video games!) While there was lots to see, there were only two truly major game announcements: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands and Elden Ring.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a spin-off of Gearbox Software’s Borderlands series, with the titular Tina first appearing in Borderlands 2. It is, as you’d imagine, a loot-shooter with a cartoon-infused style, but this time set in a fantasy world rather than a sci-fi wasteland.
Elden Ring, if you weren’t on the internet for the past week, is the latest game from Hidetaka Miyazaki and FromSoftware, the team behind Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. He’s partnered with A Song of Ice and Fire writer George R. R. Martin on the story, and, two years on from its initial E3 2019 announcement, we finally got to see what they’ve cooked up. There was even a release date of January 21st, 2022. This was quite a coup for Summer Game Fest, which only began last year in response to E3 2020 being canceled.
The first major E3 event came on Saturday 12th, with Ubisoft Forward. Far Cry 6 is Ubi’s tentpole release this year, and we got a good look at Giancarlo Esposito’s villain at the show. There was also a segment featuring classic Far Cry villains that had everyone excited, though in somewhat predictable fashion it turned out to be a new game mode that was locked behind Far Cry 6’s season pass.
Another 2021 title is Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction, which was previously known as Quarantine. And for some reason, that tagline no longer felt like a slam-dunk. Our staff's opinion is divided so far, mostly because it’s a co-op shooter where you fight aliens, which doesn’t feel very Tom Clancy. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a good game, though, and if you squint you could almost be playing Siege — just always on breach and against a very strange defense team.
The other “big” 2021 release is Riders Republic, a massively multiplayer extreme sports game. It’s definitely still a bit of an unknown, and often when a game tries to do this much it fails in at least some way, but racing against 63 other players with wingsuits, mountain bikes, snowboards and the like sure looks like fun.
Elsewhere, we got a new Mario + Rabbids game, Spark of Hope, which is naturally a Switch exclusive, and looks to be bringing a lot of Mario Galaxy themes to the fold. Also, Rocksmith+, a game-as-a-service for learning/practicing guitar or bass, had a lot of Engadget editors very excited.
The “one more thing” of Ubi’s conference wasn't Beyond Good and Evil 2, which was conspicuous in its absence again. Instead, Ubisoft showed off its latest AAA title, based on the hot 2009 multimedia extravaganza that was Avatar. It’s being developed by Massive (The Division 2) for a release next year on current-gen consoles, streaming and PC.
Given the trailer for Frontiers of Pandora was just a protracted series of (albeit in-engine) cinematics, your guess is as good as ours for what this game is and whether it’ll be any good. Despite the 2009 jab, Avatar 2 is scheduled for a cinematic release in December 2022, so if you somehow believe it’s not going to be delayed again, maybe the timing on this one will be just right.
Notable absences included the remake of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, which has been delayed until 2022; a new Assassin’s Creed, which on the company’s usual cadence should be arriving next year also; Roller Champions, which is still scheduled for “2021”; Skull & Bones, which, who even knows anymore?; and Massive’s untitled Star Wars game, which is probably years away.