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E3 2021: AIPT’s favorite announcements & biggest disappointments

Another year of pleasant surprises and dashed gamer dreams.

E3 is a wrap, with hundreds of games announced, showcased, and previewed. Read on for AIPT’s favorite games from E3 and its biggest disappointments from this year’s expo.

FAVORITES

Metroid Dread E3
Nintendo

Jordan: There were many great announcements in E3 this year, some small and some large. Nintendo brought a lot for me with finally bringing Fatal Frame V from the Wii U to the Switch, and Metroid Dread, a title that, while I don’t have much personal connection to, looks absolutely incredible and a lot of fun.

But of all the announcements, there was one title that really jumped out at me during the Devolver Digital event. Something new, something different, something fresh and scary. From the creator of The Hex and Pony Island is Inscryption, a mysterious horror title about playing a board game with an unknown monster, while trying to figure a way out of your cabin. It’s hard to fully grasp what it is, but the imagery was striking and nightmarish in the right ways. This is something that’s immediately on my radar and I can’t wait to dig into whenever it comes out.

Austin: Favorite–From Software’s Elden Ring was one of the few games from this year’s E3 that really made me go, “Damn, I need this in my life.” My first game from the lauded studio was Bloodborne, and it quickly became one of my favorite games ever. Since then I’ve enjoyed their next releases, Dark Souls III and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Elden Ring looks to build upon the classic From Software blueprint by bringing in new elements like more open-world game design, the ability to summon enemies as allies, and travel via horseback. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that George R.R. Martin partnered with the developers to create the world and backstory for Elden Ring. You know, the guy who wrote the novels that became the biggest TV series ever, Game of Thrones. Yeah, I’m pumped for this game. January 2022 can’t come soon enough.

Jack: God, so much to choose from! Metroid Dread is finally real, a new Warioware is on the way, and Mario Party is finally being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century with online functionality, but I’m most excited by what Arkane Studios is up to. Both Dishonoured 1+2 and Prey are in my top 10 games of the previous decade, and the upcoming Deathloop looks like more of the wonderful world design that Arkane are known for. Redfall, their game announced at the Xbox/Bethesda conference, was my favorite reveal for two reasons. The first is that the copyright filing for Redfall had people convinced that Elder Scrolls VI was going to be set in Hammerfall and would heavily feature the Redguard, and the ensuing fallout has been hilarious to watch. The second is that I’m a sucker for anything with vampires in it-after all, they’re the sexiest paranormal entity by a mile-and that combined with Arkane producing a third of my Games of the Decade means that I’m incredibly excited for their paranormal co-op shooter.

Holly: My favorite announcement has to be the entirety of the Wholesome Games Direct that occurred on Saturday. Besides blowing many of the other conferences out of the water with its slick pacing and volume of games (70 titles in an hour!), the entire conference got me hyped for all the amazing games coming from smaller studios. Many of the games were about cute and cozy concepts, like brewing the perfect cup of tea in Pekoe or making the best shop ever for your dino neighbors in Amber Isle. While others looked to promise interpersonal, emotional stories like the rocking We Are Ofk and stunningly crafted Behind The Frame. Whether it was a game about photography, home renovation, or being a mail carrier, each new announcement got me more and more excited to dig into these indie games. When I turned the conference off, I was full of hope and reminded how the gaming space is changing each and every day, and that a new wave of games is coming that will challenge, inspire, and tug at the heartstrings of old and new players. My personal favorites from the conference were Spirit Swap, Yokai Inn, Witchy Life Story, and Sally. Check out the full list of games here.

Hugh: After being neglected for far too long, Samus is back in a 2D game with Metroid Dread! Nintendo has been content for a while to let indie darlings like Hollow Knight and Axiom Verge build on the formula they built, so it was great to see Samus return, as it were, in a new main-line Metroid title that expands upon and fixes some of the flaws of the Metroid II remake.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

E3

Square Enix

Jordan: I don’t have much of a personal attachment to the Final Fantasy series. I was more of a Dragon Quest sort of guy in terms of JRPGs. However, I have been wanting to get into the classic franchise and when Square Enix announced its pixel remasters of the original Final Fantasy games, I was excited. What a perfect time to jump in and give them a shot! But that excitement was dashed almost as soon as the remasters were announced as the games are only coming to Steam and mobile. It’s such a bizarre, tone-deaf move that left me stunned. These games would be great for other consoles, especially the Switch, where they would be perfect. It seemed like a no brainer, but yet, they are refusing to make the obvious, money-making decision that would be a huge hit. It’s baffling, frustrating, and very disappointing.

Holly: I’m happy to report that I was overall really pleased with the Nintendo Direct — I think I can speak for others when I say that the Nintendo Direct was a last hope for a lot of us. I was pleased by all of the announcements, but I can’t help but be a little bummed that we didn’t get any news pertaining to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I had a feeling that, given the length of the presentation, an update on Animal Crossing would be a long shot, but fans haven’t gotten any updates — news or otherwise — on the game’s YouTube channel since April. Today’s presentation would have been the best opportunity to say something, even if it’s just to say, “we haven’t forgotten about this game, we promise.”

Hugh: Final Fantasy Origin: Stranger of Paradise. Square-Enix was a bit of a letdown this year, keeping their previously announced big players like Final Fantasy XVI and Dragon Quest XII out of the show. We did get the announcement of their ‘souls-like’ prequel to Final Fantasy I, but the lackluster character design and presentation felt like a letdown, especially when Jack, the Tetsuya Nomura-designed angry man faces off against the much-more interesting Garland, who still resembles his original design, giant horned helmet and all. The game may play better than it looks, but the trailer didn’t build much excitement for me.

Austin: While Microsoft flaunted its games from recently acquired Bethesda, indie devs showcased their games via the Wholesome Direct and Guerilla Collective events, and Nintendo stole the show with the Breath of the Wild sequel, Sony…sat back and twiddled its thumbs? There was no God of War: Ragnarok footage, no announcements about the all-but-confirmed The Last of Us multiplayer game, and no DLC announcements for Ghost of Tsushima I’ve so desperately been hoping for. Sony hasn’t participated in E3 in a few years, instead opting for their own conferences separate from the event. Even though Sony held a State of Play last month where they showcased Horizon Forbidden West, I can’t help but feel like Sony missed out on such a great opportunity to get fans excited for their future slate of games. I still remember when Horizon Zero Dawn was revealed at E3 in 2015 and absolutely blew me away, and I’m looking forward to Sony’s next chance to blow me away again with some exciting game reveals — whenever that may be.

Jack: Final Fantasy Origin looks set to take the Final Fantasy franchise back to the late 2000s, where every male character was a gravelly-voiced, disheveled mid-20,s dad-looking dude, and every game contained no subtext or hidden layers for the player to uncover. I hope to be proven wrong, but when the trailer literally contains the line “I know only one thing: I want to kill Chaos,” repeated by “I want to kill Chaos,” within the next three lines, it doesn’t inspire confidence.

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