The month of June is the most significant in the world of video games. For over 25 years, it’s been the time of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in the US, a conference where major game publishers from around the world converge to hold flashy press conferences, announce new titles, and reveal in-progress work of existing ones. It’s a very exciting time for people who love games; a tidal wave of marketing campaigns that creates a swell of anticipation for what’s to come in the coming months and years.
In recent years, the convention’s relevance was in decline, with major publishers like PlayStation, Electronic Arts, and Activision all pulling out. 2020 saw E3 primed to fundamentally change its identity as a conference… until a global pandemic happened. In 2021, E3 is a digital-only event with many of the traditional players still involved but it’s not the only one. The ‘Summer of Games’ is a collection of multiple digital publisher events spearheaded by industry personality Geoff Keighley that operates in opposition to E3.
The result is that June 2021 feels even fuller than ever for the videogame industry, with more events spread across a longer period of time, and announcements ranging from solo independent projects to the biggest of tentpole blockbusters. This article will be a continually updated record of all the biggest announcements we found to be significant.
[Last updated 16 June, 2021]
Nintendo Reveals New Metroid, Shows New Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 footage
While numerous industry sources pointed to Nintendo revealing an updated version of their Nintendo Switch console around this year’s E3 proceedings, they did no such thing during their Nintendo Direct presentation. It focussed on software, as the company stated, with the highlight being a brief look at the followup to the critically acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
• Kazuya Mishima from the Tekken series was announced as the next character for Nintendo’s enduring mascot fighting game, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It continues the trend of folding in guests from non-Nintendo games, much to the delight of their respective fanbases. Unexpected franchise crossovers in videogames have become a pretty expected occurrence since Ultimate’s release in 2018.
• A new game in the Metroid series was announced for Nintendo Switch. Metroid Dread is the first 2D Metroid in 19 years. It’ll be available on October 8, 2021. The announcement was preceded by an assurance that the eagerly awaited 3D title, Metroid Prime 4, was still in development.
• A new Warioware game was announced, the latest in the personality-filled series that challenges your cognition and reflexes with endearing microgames that only last for a few seconds. Warioware: Get It Together launches on September 10, 2021, and it’s a cooperative experience, too.
• Nintendo revealed a deeper look at Shin Megami Tensei V, the latest mainline entry in the challenging and devoutly traditional Japanese role-playing game. It’ll be available on November 12, 2021.
• The beloved turn-based strategy game Advance Wars is getting the remastered treatment, with Nintendo releasing Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp. It collects the first two games, originally released for the Game Boy Advance, rebuilt on a new engine with a 3D visual treatment. It releases December 3, 2021.
•Legend of Zelda producer Eiji Anouma closed off proceedings by revealing a deeper look at the sequel to Breath of the Wild, a game first announced two years ago. It revealed a more vertical world, populated by floating islands above Hyrule, and showed off some of the new abilities players will have to experiment with. It’s slated for 2022.
Square Enix Announces New Marvel and Final Fantasy Properties
The Japanese publisher announced two major new titles from both their Western and Japanese arms. The big one was a single-player action-adventure game based on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, developed by the ever-capable Eidos Montreal and due to release on October 26, 2021. This will likely have better reception than the company’s Avengers game, which went through a tumultuous pre-release marketing journey, and whose design focussed on the contentious games-as-a-service model. Avengers had a roadmap of upcoming content revealed here too, with a focus on the introduction of Black Panther.
Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin, was also announced, an action RPG that revisits the narrative of the very first Final Fantasy game from 1987 with a gritty edge. It’s certainly a departure from the role-playing roots of the series, but its developers, Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo, are experts in the genre.
Other notable Square Enix announcements:
• Masters of the combat-action genre PlatinumGames had footage of its new property, Babylon’s Fall, revealed. It is both a single and multiplayer experience, however, no release date was provided.
• More details were provided for Life Is Strange: True Colors, the latest in the evocative narrative adventure series. The plot revolves around the new protagonist’s ability to absorb and influence the emotions of other characters, and will release on September 10, 2021.
• A series of Final Fantasy remasters, called “Pixel Remasters” was announced for PC and mobile platforms. This applies to the first six games of the series, though no other details were provided, so we can only speculate on the kind of treatment these games, some of which have had numerous remasters already, will get.
The First Xbox & Bethesda Press Conference Hits Hard With First Look At Starfield
Elder Scrolls and Fallout company Bethesda is now Microsoft-owned after a $7.5 billion dollar acquisition, and their presence certainly helped Xbox’s 2021 conference dominate the conversation with the first look at Starfield, a hard sci-fi epic first announced in 2018 with no other details. Described by Bethesda head Todd Howard as ‘[The Elder Scrolls] Skyrim in space’, it is the first original intellectual property to come from Bethesda’s development arm in 25 years, and will arrive on November 11, 2022. Skyrim also released on this date in 2011.
Other announcements from the Xbox & Bethesda Press Conference:
• Halo: Infinite had a brief showing of its multiplayer mode. The game was delayed from its original launch date alongside the release of the Xbox Series consoles last year after a lacklustre first showing. It is still slated for 2021.
• Open-world driving game Forza Horizon 5 was revealed. This entry will be set in Mexico. This series has had a consistently exceptional track (hah) record. It is arriving November 9, 2021.
• Age of Empires IV, a sequel to the classic historical strategy series was revealed to be launching on October 8, 2021.
• Twelve Minutes from Annapurna Interactive, a timeloop game featuring James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and William Dafoe, will release on August 19, 2021.
• Psychonauts 2, the long-in-production sequel to the cult-classic comedy platforming game from Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine (also a recent Xbox developer acquisition) was revealed to be coming August 25, 2021.
• Somerville was revealed as a new project created in collaboration with Dino Patti, formerly of Playdead (Limbo, Inside)
• A sequel to the award-winning black plague action-adventure, A Plague Tale: Innocence, was revealed. It’s called A Plague Tale: Requiem and due for a 2022 release.
• The Outer Worlds 2, a sequel to the critically acclaimed, satirical first-person role-playing game of the same name from Obsidian Entertainment, was revealed. There is a lot of interesting history between Obsidian and Bethesda regarding this style of game, which is too long to fit into this dot point.
• The transcendent Microsoft Flight Simulator, which accurately simulates the entire real-world globe, was confirmed to be coming to Xbox consoles on July 27. 2021.
• Back 4 Blood, from the new creators of the beloved co-op zombie shooting series Left4Dead, had a release date announced: October 12, 2021. It’s also coming to Xbox’s Game Pass subscription service, as are the majority of the games mentioned in the conference.
• Redfall was announced as a new game from Bethesda’s criminally underrated Arkane Studios. It’s a cooperative first-person shooter, involving vampires, set in Massachusetts, coming mid-2022.
• We were given an extended look at S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, the long-awaited followup to the Ukrainian-developed first-person shooter set in the eponymous disaster area. The last game in the series was released all the way 2009, this one will be available 28 April, 2022.
• Contraband was revealed as the new project from Avalanche Studios, the team behind the chaotic open-world action game, Just Cause. Contraband will also be open world, but also support cooperative play. No release date was announced, but the trailer did feature Steely Dan, which was a plus.
Xbox also announced a mini-fridge, styled after the Xbox Series X console. Audiences pointed out comparisons between the console and a fridge when it was first announced, and Xbox have a habit of embracing jokes and killing them by turning them into a profitable marketing stunt.
Devolver Digital satirises the state of the industry, again, and reveals eye-catching titles
The subversive independent publisher’s now-yearly satire of the marketing circus that is the games industry in June continues in 2021. Devolver Digital created an entertaining and sometimes uncomfortable short film that saw the company launch a “monetisation as a service” scheme. The gist of it is that a free subscription would allow you to… purchase their games and merchandise. The narrative-driven presentation is worth watching for the great, straight-faced acting chops of its cast and some wonderfully long, single-shot takes.
Some of the new, eye-catching games announced include:
• Trek To Yomi, a side-scrolling samurai swordfighting adventure whose aesthetic drawers heavily from the black and white films of Akira Kurosawa, and seems to pull it off better than PlayStation’s Ghost of Tsushima at first glance. Releasing 2022.
• Inscryption, an incredibly unsettling-looking game that mixes ‘deckbuilding roguelikes, escape-room style puzzles, and psychological horror’, according to the official statement. Planned for 2021.
• Demon Throttle, a top-down shoot-em-up action game that looks to be heavily inspired by Super Nintendo’s Pocky & Rocky. It is notable because it will only have a limited, physical release. No digital version whatsoever. Available 2022.
The company also offered a limited-edition VHS copy of the presentation in its store as a “Non-Fuckwithable Tape (NFT)”. It was limited to one unit, priced at $1000 USD.
It has sold out.
Ubisoft Shows Avatar Project, New Nintendo Collaboration
The French publisher revealed a number of significant details about its plans for the upcoming year, with a notable focus on post-release plans for its existing and upcoming games.
• Far Cry 6, which features Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul) as the primary antagonist, had its post-launch Season pass content revealed. It will put you in the shoes of the series’ former antagonists, including Far Cry 3′s Vass, portrayed by Esposito’ Better Call Saul castmate, Michael Mando.
• Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope was revealed as sequel to the original Ubisoft/Nintendo collaboration. The turn-based tactical game had a surprisingly positive reception, and is a codevelopment between Ubisoft Milan and Ubisoft Paris. It’s planned for 2022.
• Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction will release on September 16, 2021. It is a three-player cooperative title that places the characters from Rainbow Six Seige in a new, fantastical situation. It was previously titled Quarantine before… all of 2020 happened. It’s planned for September 16, 2021.
• Rocksmith+ was revealed as a subscription-based followup to the company’s successful guitar-learning software. It will build upon the gamified educational elements in a number of ways, and will no longer require any proprietary accessories to bridge the gap between a guitar and the program, just a smartphone. Rocksmith+ does not have a planned release date, but will have a public beta phase.
• Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora was shown off. The game, based on James Cameron’s film series, is built on the latest version of Ubisoft’s Snowdrop engine. It looks impressive. It will apparently release sometime in 2022, but Avatar things have a habit of being pushed back.
• Extreme sports title Riders Republic received a release date of September 2, 2021. The title comes from Ubisoft Annecy, who developed winter sports title Steep. Snowboarding nuts will tell you that game was exceptional.
• A second season of post-release content was announced for Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. This move sees Ubisoft moving away from the yearly cadence of Assassin’s Creed titles, and is likely informed by the incredible success Valhalla achieved. It is a series high, and Ubisoft is smart to capitalise on it.
The ‘Wholesome Direct’ reveals over 70 non-violent independent games
Among them was Unpacking, a previously-announced game about moving and growing up (we assume) featured. It is being developed by Brisbane-based developer Witch Beam Games.
Moonglow Bay, a slice-of-life fishing, exploration, and cooking game was also a big point of interest. It has a dispersed team which includes Australian-based programmer Shelly Lowe, formerly of Melbourne’s League of Geeks.
Elden Ring from George R. R. Martin and Dark Souls studio has detailed revealed
The long-awaited next project from Dark Souls studio FromSoftware had more details revealed. It will be an open-world game and release on January 21, 2022. More comprehensive details in our story:
Borderlands spin-off features all-star comedy cast
Fan-favourite Borderlands character Tiny Tina, voiced by Ashley Burch (Mythic Quest) is getting her own game that will deviate from the design of the main series. Titled Wonderlands, Burch willl be joined by a strong cast of American comedy performers including Andy Samberg, Wanda Sykes, and Will Arnett. Releasing 2022.
A behind-the-scenes-look at the Borderlands film, directed by Eli Roth, was also shown as part of the Gearbox E3 showcase, but didn’t reveal much. The film stars Cate Blanchett, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Arianna Greenblatt.
Jeff Goldblum reveals Jurassic World: Evolution 2
Digital-only events are primed to host surprise celebrity cameos, it seems. The sequel to the park management strategy game was revealed, it’s coming in 2021 and takes place after the current film series. Goldblum will be playing the role of Dr. Ian Malcolm, of course.
Koch Media unveils new publishing label, Prime Matter
One of Europe’s biggest game publishing behemoths revealed a new publishing label, which will handle the release of new and previously announced titles. They include cooperative crime game Payday 3, a new game in the FPS series Painkiller, a new game in the videogame-turned-anime series Gungrave, and a series of other new intellectual properties.
Xbox Reveals Future Strategy and Console-free Gaming
Xbox head Phil Spencer together with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella came out ahead of the company’s formal press conference to restate their commitment to videogames, and announced their strategy to release more first-party games, acquire more developers, and integrate cloud-based game streaming to more devices, including Smart TVs, through their Xbox Games Pass Ultimate subscription service. Soon, the only hardware you’ll need to play Xbox games is a controller. More details in our story:
Battlefield 2042 revealed by Electronic Arts
The latest entry in EA’s large-scale multiplayer military combat game was revealed, with a near-future setting and an announcement trailer that focussed on populated combat scenarios, various new modes of traversal, and ridiculous combat maneuvers. The initial audience reception appears to be far more positive than their previous title, Battlefield V, which was focussed on World War II. A closer look at the gameplay experience was had during Microsoft’s conference. It’ll be released on 22 October, 2021.