Once again we find ourselves on the backend of another E3. Gamers across the world have been gifted with countless game announcements and news from studios big and small, giving us plenty of trailers to pick apart and dissect. With COVID-19 still a global issue, it doesn't come as a surprise that some announcements and shows were more successful than others.
Geoff Keighley's Summer Game Fest started proceedings, and set this years template. It was a straight-forward affair, with Geoff presenting from a small stage and showing trailer after trailer. There were of course updates from online hits such as Call of Duty Warzone and Among Us, but there were also welcome surprises in the form of Borderlands spin-off Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, a Death Stranding Director's Cut for PS5, and more. Arguably the highlight of this show, and the whole of this E3, was Keighley's final announcement: a gameplay trailer for FromSoftware's Elden Ring. After two years of complete silence gamers were treated to not just one of the most epic trailers in recent memory, but also a release date – January 21st 2022.
After lighting the internet on fire with Elden Ring fever, it was difficult for anything to live up to that moment. Ubisoft had a much shorter show that revealed updates for existing titles and unveiled more information on projects we already knew are in the works. The publisher is known for having outlandish stage shows at E3, complete with dance numbers and celebrity guests, but even with a pre-recorded presentation it was a shame to not see their usual extravagant flair. Much like Ubisoft, Square Enix was a lighter affair with a similarly predictable line up. There were Final Fantasy remasters, updates on Life is Strange and Avengers games, and a gameplay reveal of the Guardians of the Galaxy game that went on for too long. The most normal thing to happen at E3 this year was the typically cringe-worth PC Gaming Show.
The Xbox and Bethesda showcase wisely followed Keighley's format, presenting a no-nonsense onslaught of game after game after game. Even with news that Bethesda's Starfield is an Xbox exclusive, and that a new Forza Horizon sequel is coming this year, the biggest winner at Microsoft's show was Game Pass. It was almost comical how nearly every single trailer capped off with “Play day one on Game Pass”, but it cemented just how central the subscription service is to the Xbox ecosystem moving forward. For the price of two PS5 exclusives, you can play Halo Infinite, Starfield, Back 4 Blood and hundreds more.
Nintendo stuck to their tried and tested Direct format, but the publisher somehow managed to simultaenously disappoint and surprise Switch owners. There was no Bayonetta 3 or Metroid Prime 4, but fans were treated instead with Metroid Dread. The fifth, and apparently final, entry of the mainline 2D Metroid series looks to be a terrifying and exciting experience coming as soon as October 2021. Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma made an appearance to show a sliver of gameplay from the sequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It unsurprisingly looks gorgeous but the trailer left even more questions surrounding the story.
With Sony missing out for the third year in a row, and Nintendo and other publishers making announcements through their own dedicated online presentation, E3 has been on its last legs for a while. This year might have been the final nail in the coffin. E3 2022 has since been confirmed as an in-person event, but this year cemented the idea that publishers and developers don't need a fancy stage show to get gamers excited for upcoming releases. The only concern of not having E3 around is removing the stage, be it physical or digital, from indie developers. A lot of indie studios rely on being present on the E3 show floor, or on stage during one of the big conferences to show off their projects. Whilst a lot of smaller development teams have lately garnered attention through savvy social media posts, it would still be a massive blow to those small studios fighting for the spotlight.
This isn't all to say that those involved in putting these shows together have done a bad job. Far from it. It's just unfortunate that no one was really prepared to unveil much, as developers have had to deal with a global pandemic alongside the usual development issues such as crunch. It remains to be seen how E3 2022 plays out, but it wouldn't be surprising if that was to be the final curtain call for the long-running gaming convention.