After a year off, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety measures it necessitated, E3 is returning this year – not quite as a full-fledged, in-person live trade show as it used to be, but as a series of livestreams and digitally streamed media events. For end customers, this doesn’t really change anything. Unless you’re among the few handful who used to attend E3 in person, you’re going to be watching streamed events, the same as always.
What you can expect this year, however, is for E3 to be an eventful one. Now, to be fair, that’s the kind of thing that’s said every year, but this year you really can expect some notable announcements and circumstances that may conspire to make this year’s show one of the biggest ones in a while. For starters, this is the first E3 show for this new generation, meaning that we are likely to get a lot of companies put their best foot forward in order to try and convince a swathe of would-be purchasers of next generation games and systems around the world to invest in their products. Secondly, as mentioned, this will be the first E3 in two years. And while the lack of E3 last year didn’t necessarily stop major announcements from happening (they just got spread out over the year), you can bet that for companies that are actually returning to E3 this year with all the pomp and festivity associated with it, there will be an effort to live up to the expectations that can come after an off-year.
As for the companies returning to E3 this year? Well, honestly, that’s most of them. PlayStation is going to be the lone major exception (presumably they will opt to do an independent show of their own timed for around then so they can still deliver news in synch with the rest of the industry), but other than that, everyone’s going to be there. Xbox and Nintendo are both planning on being there, as is Activision, Sega, Square Enix, Ubisoft, Capcom, Take Two (the parent company of 2K and Rockstar), Warner Bros., Namco, Epic… it’s basically a who’s who of the industry. EA is another major publisher conspicuously missing from that list, but they have at the very least confirmed their own all-digital EA Play event for late July, so we know they’ll have something to show soon.
So, a lot of companies will be at E3 this year, but most eyes will presumably be on Xbox and Nintendo. Being platform holders, their shows are going to be the biggest by definition, and Xbox, since they have just launched a brand new next generation system, that for all its significant merits, continues to consistently lag behind the competition around the world, has the most to prove. So you have to hope that they come out swinging and put on a hell of a show. As for what that show might be? Well, we have some ideas (or some hopes. Really, they’re often the same thing).
This is the most obvious, safest prediction that can be made. Halo Infinite is obviously going to be there, and Microsoft has a lot to prove with this one. When Halo Infinite was originally announced, it looked absolutely fantastic. However, its gameplay reveal last year was met with disdain and a severe amount of backlash, in part due to how graphically middling it looked, causing the planned-to-be-launch game for the Xbox Series X to be delayed into this year. And while we have seen a lot of improvement in the state of the game since then, thanks to consistent and frequent updates made by 343 Industries, this is their chance to truly redeem the game’s image in the eyes of the broader public. All eyes will be on them this E3, and if they show off a Halo Infinite that looks decidedly next-gen in terms of graphics and gameplay alike, you can bet there will be a significant upswell in the hype and excitement surrounding Halo and Xbox in general. 343 and Microsoft both have a lot to prove – they have to show that Halo can still be the industry-leading prestige franchise it once was. They have to show that Xbox has major great games to look forward to. They have to show that they are capable of managing IP and brands successfully. And, after all, Halo and Xbox are inextricably linked, so rehabilitating the image of one can very well help the other. Halo Infinite looking great can help Xbox achieve all that in one fell swoop.
AN UPDATE ON SOME PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED EXCLUSIVES
Microsoft announced a lot of upcoming exclusives for the Xbox ecosystem last year – but we only got to see vague concept or CG trailers for them all. We have Avowed, we have State of Decay 3, we have Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga, we have Perfect Dark… and we haven’t really seen anything meaningful for any of it. A lot of them look and sound exciting, to be fair – like Avowed looks incredible, and a new Skyrim style RPG set in the Pillars of Eternity world, by Obsidian (arguably among the most accomplished RPG developers around), is, an exciting proposition. And Hellblade 2 just looks epic, and given how fantastic the original was? We’d love to see more of it. Not to mention how great the prospect of a new Perfect Dark is in and of itself.
Hopefully, that’s what we get to see this E3. While Perfect Dark or State of Decay 3 may only get CG trailers at best, we’d love to get some real, honest-to-goodness hands-on gameplay glimpses at Hellblade 2 and Avowed. Presumably, Microsoft can spend some time showing off some updates to these upcoming exclusives, and start drumming up the hype for them. Heck, maybe some of them can start getting some release windows associated with them as well.
XBOX ON PC
Microsoft’s been making good on its commitment to PC with the Xbox ecosystem, and we expect to see more of this at E3 this year. While there is always a chance that some of this material goes over to the PC Gaming Show (if it happens this year), we wouldn’t be surprised to see more of Age of Empires 4 during the Xbox E3 show, nor to see some news about the long-rumoured plans for the updated PC client Microsoft is rumoured to have in the works, or even about Game Pass coming to Steam. As Microsoft’s support for PC gaming continues to get stronger, we expect to see more support for PC from them than ever.
THIRD PARTY GAMES
It’s an Xbox show, so obviously we’re going to see a whole lot of major third party games there too – particularly since PlayStation is sitting this year out, meaning a lot of games that may otherwise have been shown off at their show may get unveiled at the Xbox show this year. Some stuff is an easy given – we can expect to see Lost Judgment, Scarlet Nexus, Tales of Arise there, given Sega and Namco’s ongoing partnership with Xbox. Presumably some major upcoming projects from Ubisoft and Warner Bros. get shown off at the Xbox show as well – though it’s honestly hard to tell what they may be. If there’s going to be any Cyberpunk redemption trailer, it will probably be at E3 as well. One big upcoming title that’s likely to be at the Xbox show is Elden Ring. If it is going to be shown off at E3 at all, it will be at the Xbox show, in part because Microsoft always gets the marketing rights to From Software’s games, and also because, again, there’s no other show for that game to really go to. Depending on how forthcoming third parties are with sharing their upcoming projects, we will probably see some exciting fare from them at the Xbox show this year.
FORZA AND FABLE
Two long-running and fan-favorite Xbox franchises are set to return on the Xbox Series X. While a new Forza game is a matter of routine at this point (even if the series has missed some years we may have expected it to have new games out in), a new Forza coming to Xbox this year was hardly a surprise when it was announced last year. Assuming the plan is still to have it out this year, we will probably be seeing some gameplay footage of the new Forza game at the Xbox E3 show. Rumors mention it being a Forza Horizon game, set in Mexico – so presumably we get another Playground Games open world racing masterpiece later this year.
Fable, on the other hand, is a trickier proposition. While the return of Fable is incredibly hyped, and showing it off in any form at the E3 show will win Microsoft some easy hype points, the truth of the matter is that the game is, by their own admission, fairly far off – probably farther off than any other first party game we have gone over in this list so far. And also by Microsoft’s own admission, they don’t really want to show off games that are too far off until they can help it. So… it’s hard to see Fable making it? Then again, Microsoft had no issues breaking their rules with announcing all these games in the first place, after all, and like I said, it would be easy hype for them. I don’t dare hope – but I wouldn’t fault anyone who does, either.
Microsoft bought Bethesda earlier this year, and while Bethesda will still have their own separate E3 show, it will be enjoined with Microsoft’s back to back, meaning the two effectively form one gigantic super-show. So whatever is shown off at the Bethesda show can effectively count as being shown off at the Xbox show. And while the hilarity of Deathloop and GhostWire: Tokyo both inevitably getting exhibited at an Xbox show while being PS5 exclusives will be amusing, there are probably other, more interesting things to look out for as well. For instance – will we get to see that Indiana Jones project that Bethesda announced earlier this year? Will we get to see a Wolfenstein 3? How about Arkane’s next big project? Maybe an update on The Elder Scrolls Online or *sigh* Fallout 76? There’s a lot from Bethesda we could expect to see – but what, exactly, remains to be seen.
The big one, of course, is Starfield. Bethesda Game Studios’ upcoming project has been shrouded in secrecy, barring a few screenshot leaks, but the pitch is incredibly simple and potent – Skyrim, but in space. It’s been ages since we got a Bethesda style open world RPG – at least six years since the last traditional one, and I won’t blame anyone for thinking it’s been even longer since the last great one, because Fallout 4, while good, wasn’t up to par with Bethesda’s previous efforts.
Starfield is a chance for Bethesda to reclaim and redeem its glory. It’s a chance for them to launch a new IP after having relied on two RPG behemoths for over a decade. It’s a chance for them to finally deliver the kind of open world space epic that so many have tried to deliver, but always failed at. We know Starfield is close to release – we don’t know how close, but rumours peg it as being a late 2021-early 2022 release. If it is, we assume we get to see it at E3 this year. And if we do, I expect it to be among the most exciting things we see at the entire show – not just the Xbox show, just in general – this year as well.
I just hope it’s not a no-show.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.