7 Big Things – Summer Game Fest 2021

By my count, there were approximately 35 announcements that came out of the “Summer Game Fest Kick-off Show (presented by Prime Gaming)”.  I will list all of them here, but mostly I’m going to talk about These 7 Big Things.

Starting with the biggest news – From Software and Bandai Namco’s team-up with George R.R. Martin has returned from its slumber.

Yes, “Elden Ring” made an appearance at Geoff Keighley’s event as the final closing act, and what a bombshell it was!  A new trailer debuted showing a lot more of the environments and the enemies within the game’s large world and giving future players a chance to wonder what it will feel like to ride around on horseback defeating foes with might & magic. While the game is heavily hinted as being open-world, I’m not sure that there was enough evidence to absolutely prove that to be either true or false, however the scale of this next game is certainly looking to be a large step forward in how the Souls-like genre will look, feel, and play from here on out.

Most shocking (of all that was seen) was the release date, January 21, 2022.  It may not be the holiday game that some folks were dreaming it would be, but it won’t be much longer of a wait than a few weeks past the new year.  Instead of 2020’s Agent 47 or 2019’s Leon Kennedy & Claire Redfield, this January is destined to have more than a few of the hardest of hardcore gamers playing as the protagonist in Martin’s & Miyazaki’s new vision. 

I will be far away from this game as Souls-like games aren’t exactly my cup of tea, but I’m confident that there will be much fanfare surrounding the launch of ELDEN RING!

Second piece of news I’ll touch on was the show’s opening act: a new high-fantasy looter-shooter from Gearbox Software and 2K Games called, Wonderlands. More appropriately it is called, “Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands”.

Ashly Burch herself was on-stage to talk to Geoff about the new game and she had this to say when Geoff asked her what kind of game this was, “It’s a high-fantasy take on the looter-shooter. And if you’re a fan of Borderlands, you will probably recognize some fantasy elements inspired by ‘Assault of the Dragon Keep’ which was the Borderlands 2 DLC which was beloved by the devs., and so this kind of inspired Wonderlands.” Burch made it clear that this game is not a Borderlands game in any way. While there is bound to be plenty of looting & shooting, this game will feature new game mechanics like spell-casting and the ability to customize your character. Add to it the Hollywood voice cast of Andy Samburg, Wanda Sykes, & Will Arnett (as well as Ashly Burch herself) and this looks to be an interesting addition to the fantasy genre that we can expect early 2022.

No Keighley event seems to be complete without a Hideo Kojima interview. The Summer Games Fest 2021 edition featured Kojima-san via a pre-recorded video chat where he expressed that he is feeling a little differently about how he writes and directs games post global pandemic. He said that he was re-thinking his creative process with his new game – offering a glimpse at his thoughts when he writes & creates game worlds. In the past, Kojima says he would try to “predict the future…maybe 5, 10, or 20 years out” and find the “entertainment essence” within it. With Death Stranding however, his prediction seems to have come too close to reality too quickly.  So, while Kojima tries to explore what his next game could be, he will try to re-think what could be both entertaining and informative for the player in this new landscape.

Before leaving, Kojima did give us a look at the very peculiar “Death Stranding – Director’s Cut”. Not much else is known other than the name, and the fact that more information is to be revealed in “a few weeks”, but the video teaser contained a lot of interesting nods to his Metal Gear franchise and whose to say if that will be significant or not?

Another surprise appearance was from S.I.E.’s Head of PlayStation Indies, Shuhei Yoshida.  He joined Geoff to discuss the continuing independent games initiatives at PlayStation and more importantly, to introduce 2 new games to the audience.  The first was a game that had already been announced at other events, and was being release that day, “Chicory: A Colourful Tale”. Chicory is a game where you play as an anthropomorphic dog character who is trying to return his world from a drab, black-and-white place, to a much more vibrant, colorful, and harmonious state. You use your character’s “painting powers” to explore, solve puzzles, and paint on every surface as you make friends and restore your home back to the way it should be.

The second game Shuhei’s wanted to bring to the stage was a brand-new announcement – “Salt and Sacrifice”. A sequel to the game Salt and Sanctuary by SKA Studios, Salt and Sacrifice takes the familiar 2-D Souls-Borne genre and amps it up. Playable as a solo adventure, or via both local & on-line co-op, this game puts you in the role of a “marked inquisitor” who is tasked with taking down Mages across the drab and always ominous landscape. The game looks to build on its predecessor and I’m sure that we will learn more about it in the coming months. For now, we learned that it is coming to both the PS4 & PS5 consoles in 2022.

Sony also showed up with a new development deal with a new team called “Deviation Games”. Geoff introduced CEO Dave Anthony & COO Jason Blundell – both known for their time at Treyarch and their work as leads on Call of Duty and more specifically, the CoD: Black Ops titles. While they didn’t have anything to show yet, the newly formed team at Deviation wanted everyone to know that they will be partnering with PlayStation on their next title.

This could be the beginning of a great partnership for Sony. Deviation will almost certainly be working on a new first-person shooter I.P. and the PlayStation has not had a 1st Party studio working on one since Guerilla released Killzone: Shadowfall on the PS4 back in 2013.  Time will tell and we can only wait.

A personal highlight for me was a new trailer for one of my most anticipated games of 2021, “Tales of Arise”.  The 17th game in the ‘Tales of’ series of JRPGs, this game is the first since 2007 to be made without longtime brand manager and producer of the series, Hideo Baba.  The trailer showed off more of the new game’s engine and some of the story details in this new entry in the way of a new region and two new party members.  Geoff mentioned that much more will be shown in the coming weeks.  Hopefully, he’s referring to Bandai Namco’s E3 event scheduled for June 15th, but if not, this does at least give a somewhat loose timetable to when we can all know more.

The last Big Thing that I want to highlight was a partnership between Summer Game Fest & “ID@Xbox”. The announcement is that once again this summer, Xbox will have over 40 games available to play as downloadable demos starting on Tuesday, June 15th.  One of the first games available will be Tunic, as Geoff highlighted this game with a new trailer at the Kick-off event. Tunic (if you haven’t seen it yet) is an isometric action-adventure game in something of the style of the Link’s Awakening remake.  The video that was shown featured the game’s creator, Andrew Shouldice, as he spoke about the concept of the game all while showing off a never-before-seen area. It looks like it’ll be a lot of fun hacking and slashing in this cutely styled game.  Some of the other games that will be featured are the narrative game, Lake, and the interesting exploration game, Sable (which was featured earlier in the show via a musical performance). Players will have until June 21st to enjoy these and many more titles.

Here are the other things that were either announced / highlighted / or otherwise showcased on the Summer Game Fest Kick-off Show (presented by Prime Gaming):

  • Metal Slug Tactics announced – Leikir Studios & DotEmu
  • Jeff Goldblum premiers – Jurassic World Evolution 2
  • Sable musical performance by ‘Japanese Breakfast’
  • Lost Ark announced for Fall 2021 – Smilegate & Amazon Game Studios
  • Call of Duty: Warzone – Season 4 shown-off
  • Among Us – new mode announced
  • Solar Ash – new trailer
  • Chivalry II – new trailer
  • Escape from Tarkov – new area shown
  • New World Deep Dive with Geoff Keighley – Friday June 11th
  • Two Point Campus from Two Point Studios announced for 2022
  • Smite to collaborate with Stranger Things (new characters & arena)
  • New Publisher: Prime Matter – several games discussed including new Painkiller game now in development with Saber Interactive
  • The Anacrusis announced – Stray Bombay
  • Rocket League to collaborate with F9 (Fast 9 movie)
  • Vampire the Masquerade: Blood Hunt announced – Battle Royale game from Sharkmob
  • Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes – new trailer shown
  • Sky – new trailer shown
  • Planet of Lana: Off Earth Odyssey announced by Wistful & Thunderful coming 2022
  • Overwatch 2 came to show off next gen character models
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance – new trailer shown
  • Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin – new trailer shown
  • musical performance by ‘Weezer’ in collaboration with Wave Break
  • Endless Dungeon by Amplitude & SEGA – trailer shown
  • Giancarlo Esposito interview to show off new Far Cry 6 trailer
  • Philharmonic Orchestra of Prague play an orchestral rendition of Sonic Unleashed – full performance on June 23rd to celebrate Sonic 30th Anniversary
  • Back 4 Blood – trailer shown, open beta on August 5th
  • Tribes of Midgard – trailer shown – releases July 27th
  • Evil Dead: The Game by Saber Interactive & BossTeam – new trailer shown

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