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E3 2021 began with a weekend of leaks, reveals, and weird conferences

By Justin Carter
redfall reveal

The month of June means E3, and that means plenty of game reveals and updates. Despite going all digital yet again, the opening weekend had plenty to share both from AAA stalwarts like Ubisoft and Microsoft, plus smaller indie titles that you’re sure to be charmed by.

How did it go? More or less what you'd expect from a typical E3, which is to say: pretty fun and exciting. Let’s break down the heavy hitters. 

Ubisoft brings more of the same and can’t manage to surprise...except for Avatar

Closing out Ubisoft's Saturday conference was none other than a first look at their Avatar game, which has been in development since 2017. Frontiers of Pandora will put players on the titular planet as one of the native Na'vi, and you'll have to wage war against the humans of the RDA invading the planet and explore the never before seen Western Frontier. No mention of Jake Sully or unobtanium was to be found, but there was plenty of action shown ahead of the first-person action game's 2022 release date.

Prior to that, Ubisoft's conference was mostly promising future updates to their recent titles. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will get a second year of DLC that’ll see Eivor cross paths with Odin again, guitar sim Rocksmith is getting a subscription service, that sort of thing. Their long running Tom Clancy umbrella is getting a sci-fi spinoff in September in the form of Rainbow Six Extraction, which sees the Operatives from the wildly popular Siege game go up against an alien invasion. If an Operative gets snatched up during a mission, you can’t play as them until you extract them -- get it? -- and successfully return to base.

What would’ve been some genuine surprises, such as Far Cry 6 letting you play as villains from the previous games as DLC, were unfortunately leaked the morning before the conference. The biggest came with Mario + Rabbids: Spark of Hope. The sequel to 2017’s surprisingly good crossover between Nintendo’s ever present mascot and Ubisoft’s creepy to look at Rabbids will launch in 2022 and see Mario and crew travel the galaxy, complete with new Rabbid versions of popular Mario characters. Look for it to hit the Nintendo Switch in 2022. 

Microsoft keeps planning ahead 

With Game Pass bringing in more subscribers and numerous big name acquisitions under their belt, Microsoft came into E3 swinging, opening with a look at Bethesda’s upcoming space-RPG, Starfield. Its debut was quickly followed up on by hyping up its console exclusive lineup and Game Pass catalog, from the recently released Yakuza: Like a Dragon to the 2022-bound STALKER 2. More Bethesda titles like Doom 2016 and The Evil Within 2 have now joined Game Pass as of today, and new titles like the beloved roguelike Hades are coming to the subscription service in the coming months. (Hades is also coming to PlayStation on August 13, same day as Xbox.)

First party wise, Microsoft gave a too brief taste of Halo Infinite gameplay, along with a content drop for Sea of Thieves that’ll bring in Jack Sparrow from the Pirates films. The Outer Worlds, 2019’s beloved sci-fi RPG from Obsidian, is getting a sequel and made itself known with a trailer that was perhaps too self aware for its own good.

Closing out Microsoft was Redfall, a new (and fun-looking!) game from Arkane, the developers behind Prey and Dishonored. Alone or with friends, you’ll play as a quartet in the middle of a New England town that’s currently under attack from a legion of vampires and the human cultists who worship them. Have no fear, though -- the humans you play as have varying abilities, be it telekinesis or a robotic dog who can attack enemies for you. Look for it to hit Xbox and PC in summer 2022. 

Square Enix did....whatever the hell that was 

Square Enix’s presentation was only 40 minutes long, but it definitely didn’t feel like it. Following their extended reveal of their October game Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, nearly everything else went by at a fast clip, from Black Panther’s upcoming expansion for Marvel’s Avengers to a look at their multiplayer action game Babylon’s Fall

Other than Guardians, perhaps the biggest highlight for Square was something of a focus on Final Fantasy. Though there wasn't any information on the second part of Final Fantasy 7 Remake or Final Fantasy XVI, Square did reveal a remastered collection for the first six numbered games coming on both mobile platforms and Steam later this year. There’s also Final Fantasy Origin: Stranger of Paradise, a new game in the same setting as the original Final Fantasy that’s being developed by Team Ninja. The developer is best known for the Ninja Gaiden and more recently Nioh franchises, and the new title certainly draws influence from the latter. The protagonist, Jack, also loves to mention how much he and his friends Jed and Alex are going to “destroy Chaos.” The game will hit PlayStation, Xbox, and PC in 2022, with a PS5 demo now available, although it's also apparently bugged at time of writing.

Overall, E3 2021 is off to...well, a start. With more reveals coming over the next few days, there's sure to be something that catches your eye. As developers are continuing to work from home or begin returning to the office, it's nice at least to see what awaits us for the remainder of the year and part of next year. 

Stay tuned to SyFy Wire for more E3 2021 coverage.