E3-2021 is Finished: What am I Excited About?

Here’s a quick story for you all.  I received an added week of vacation this year from my employer.  My wife however, started a new job this year so I knew that I would have several days that I can take off that she wouldn’t be able to take.  So, what do I do with these extra days?  Easy – I decided to take 3 days off the week of E3-2021 so that I can fully embrace and absorb all that this digital expo has to offer.  Was this, ‘time well spent?’  Not really, but I got to watch a lot of content on-line and decide what it is I think I’m most excited about after watching ALL of E3 this year.

Below are 10 Games that I’m excited about after E3-2021

1 – Forza Horizon 5: Playground Games, Xbox [November 9th, 2021]

copyright: Microsoft, Playground Games

Was there a more picturesque game shown during E3 than this? The stunning landscapes of a very diverse Mexico, mixed with the always improving, festival-chasing gameplay from Playground Games makes for a very appetizing meal of a game. I do not own a current generation Xbox as of yet, but the presentation shown during the Xbox & Bethesda event and expanded upon on Thursday (with their “Extended show”) has compelled me to really think about making that purchase for this game in particular.  The Forza Horizon series has always reviewed well and is only becoming MORE beloved by critics and fans alike, and I think that I can say I will be joining their ranks very soon.

2 – KENA: Bridge of Spirits: Ember Lab [August 24th, 2021]

The beautiful, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, was shown off during the Tribeca Games Spotlight as one of 8 games that Tribeca (famous for their film festivals) thought gamers and non-gamers alike should be looking forward to in the coming year. I have talked about this game before, but this time a video was shown with developer interviews and plenty of footage showing new mechanics and gameplay. I love the idea that “the rot” (which would normally be very bad) gets purified by Kena and then used as tiny and cute companions that you can use in the game to help defeat enemies and buff your own growing abilities. At $39.99, this is a summer game that I will surely not want to miss.

3 – Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope: Ubisoft, Nintendo [2022]

Officially revealed during the Ubisoft Forward event on Day 1 of E3 (although leaks started in the days leading up to E3) Sparks of Hope is the sequel to the fun and playful, turn-based, tactical RPG that graced the Switch in its inaugural year. With both new playable characters and new companions in the form of ‘Sparks’ (which are a hybrid of Rabbids and Lumas) Mario & crew are off to save the world or more appropriately save the galaxy from a new threat. The game seemed to be adding new mechanics that will change up the gameplay, but it mostly looked like more of what people really enjoyed about the first game. I’m hoping that we see multiple planets and hopefully more crossover characters leading up to its 2022 release.

4 – Guardians of the Galaxy: Eidos Montreal, Square-Enix [October 26th, 2021]

There were a lot of rumors swirling about what Square-Enix might be bringing to their E3 show, and while I was excited to see if any of them were true, this was the last one I thought I would be writing about. Devoting a lot of time to this title, Eidos Montreal showed that they are trying to bring a polished, fun, action-filled game that hopefully has plenty of story beats (and LOTS of inter-squad banter) to keep you hooked throughout its single-player campaign.  If I had to describe the game in terms of its similarities, I would say it’s like: Uncharted, with Telltale decision making, FF7 remake style combat, and Mass Effect style planetary exploration.  If those things get you excited, then jump on board with me and wait for October.

5 – Metroid DREAD: Mercury Steam, Nintendo [October 8th, 2021]

While I wouldn’t consider myself a “big Metroid fan”, I got more than a little excited to see this announcement on the last day of E3. I never have owned a Nintendo home console (thank goodness for friends & extended family) but I have consistently owned a Nintendo handheld system from the O.G. Game Boy to the 3DS XL. This new game reminded me a lot of my college days, when I would play ‘Metroid Fusion’ & ‘Metroid: Zero Mission’ in between classes. I can see that it shares a lot of its DNA with ‘Samus Returns’ (which I admit I haven’t played) especially with the parry system returning and more cinematic angles, but I still saw a lot of the exploration and level-design that I loved from those 2 GBA games in this game as well.  I’m hoping that this is a return to form for 2D Metroid and that this series can learn to live alongside its modern-day peers like Hollow Knight, Axiom Verge, and Ori. In October, we’ll see if this game, and this series, still deserves that “Nintendo Seal of Quality”.

6 – Advance Wars 1 + 2: Re-Boot Camp: WayForward, Nintendo [December 3rd, 2021]

Speaking of GBA games that came out while I was in college – Advance Wars is BACK! It looks like Intelligent Systems will only be assisting this time as WayForward works to rebuild Advance Wars 1 and Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising for the Switch. Not only that, but we learned later that this game will also feature 4-player online support and it will supposedly work in multiple modes (although all 4 people need to have Nintendo’s Online service to enable the feature). This will be a new opportunity to grab the attention of a whole new generation of players and I am hoping that if this game does well, we can see the series pushed a little farther toward an all new entry.

7 – Replaced: Sad Cats Studios, Coat Sink [2022]

One of the most beautiful pixel-art games revealed during E3 is ‘Replaced’. Showing off an alternative 1980s, cyberpunk / dystopian style city in a side-scrolling action game, Replaced blew me away with its visuals and gritty feel. This is a direct quote from their website, “REPLACED is a 2.5D sci-fi retro-futuristic action platformer where you play as R.E.A.C.H – an artificial intelligence trapped in a human body against its own will.”  Sounds cool right? If you haven’t seen the reveal trailer yet, I urge you to go watch it now. As a matter of fact – here is a link: https://youtu.be/_P5OlfGbk5g  Now you are as excited about the game as I am.

8 – Rocksmith Plus {app}: Ubisoft [Closed Beta June 12th]

Okay, this will be a little different than the others on this list.  True it’s not really a game, however as someone who has dabbled with learning how to play the bass or the guitar (I actually have a bass in my house right now) this was very exciting to learn about at Ubisoft’s E3 presentation.  The closed Beta is for PC only right now, but they are hopeful to have this available on consoles by the Fall of 2021 and mobile soon after that. If you are unaware, Rocksmith was previously a video game franchise for PS3 & Xbox 360 with limited sales success which got people to use real guitars as controllers – think Guitar Hero but with real guitars.  This time it seems to strictly be a service to learn to play guitar and I’m interested in seeing how it does that. This will be subscription based, $14.99 monthly, but if effective, could be a worthwhile method to guitar instruction. Color me intrigued!

9 – Garden Story: Picogram, Rose City Games [Summer 2021]

This game has been shown before, but the sheer breadth of information and gameplay this time really got me interested in playing Garden Story. Their twitter page describes this game as – “An upcoming social sim/RPG by @picogram_art where you play Concord, a newly appointed village guardian restoring the Grove to glory!”. Think of this as a ‘Link to the Past’ style game with much more modern pixel art, a very cute stylized look, town building elements (more re-building actually), and a more defined quest system. If the story is as engaging to play through as the characters and world is to look at, then this has the makings of a sleeper hit. Look for it on PC and Switch this summer.

10 – Dodgeball Academia: Pocket Trap, Humble Games [2021]

The PC Gaming Show always brings a mixture of games people want to know more about, and games no one has ever heard about. Dodgeball Academia is the latter, announced during the show and it looked like a good time! Featuring a cartoon-ish look that is reminiscent of 2000’s Cartoon Network, this is a sports-RPG where you play as Otto – a new student who dreams of becoming the Ultimate Dodgeball Champion. To do so, you will have to win your way up the ranks and recruit better players to assist you on the way up. Both the style, the genre, and the presentation made me intrigued enough to give this game a shot. Rumor has it that it will be released sometime in August of this year.

ALL the other games I liked [including the Top 10]

  • Tribeca Games Spotlight – Highlights
    • KENA: Bridge of Spirits (Ember Lab)   *This made my Top 10
    • Sable (Shedworks, Raw Fury) September 23, 2021
  • Wholesome Direct – Highlights
    • Ooblets: Port Forward 0.8 Update
    • Skatebird (seen it a bunch of times, but still looks good)
    • Lake (Gamious, Whitethorn Digital) Fall 2021
    • Garden Story (Picogram, Rose City Games) Summer 2021   *This made my Top 10
    • KeyWe Summer 2021
    • Battlecakes (Volcano Bean) 2021
    • Moonglow Bay
    • Amber Isle
    • Game Director Story
  • Ubisoft Forward – Highlights
    • Rainbow Six Extinction
    • Rocksmith Plus (app) Open beta June 12, 2021   *This made my Top 10
    • Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope (Ubisoft) 2022   *This made my Top 10
    • Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora 2022
  • Devolver Forwarder – Highlights
    • Demon Throttle (doinksoft) 2022
  • Gearbox Software – Highlights
    • nothing of interest
  • Xbox & Bethesda – Highlights
    • Contraband (Avalanche Studios)
    • HADES (Supermassive) coming to Xbox & PlayStation August 13, 2021
    • Somerville (Jumpship) 2022
    • Diablo II: Resurrected (Blizzard) September 23, 2021
    • Shredders (Foam Punch) December 2021
    • Replaced (Sad Cat Studios, Coat Sink) 2022   *This made my Top 10
    • Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes (Rabbit & Bear Studios, 505 Games) 2023
    • Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising (Rabbit & Bear Studios, 505 Games) 2022
    • The Outer Worlds 2 (Obsidian)
    • Forza Horizon 5 (Playground Games) November 9, 2021   *This made my Top 10
  • Square-Enix Presents – Highlights
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (Eidos Montreal) October 26, 2021   *This made my Top 10
    • Final Fantasy I – VI for Steam & Mobile starting June 24, 2021
  • PC Gaming Show – Highlights
    • Dodgeball Academia (Pocket Trap, Spcine, Humble Games) 2021   *This made my Top 10
    • They Always Run (Alawar, Cheerdealers) coming soon
    • Tinykin (Tiny Build, Splashteam) 2022
    • SacriFire (Pixelated Milk)
  • Future Games Show – Highlights
    • Olli Olli World (Roll7, Private Division) This Winter
    • Jurassic World Evolution 2 (Frontier Developments) 2021
  • Intellivision – Highlights
    • nothing of interest
  • Freedom Games – Highlights
    • nothing of interest
  • Capcom – Highlights
    • nothing of interest
  • Nintendo E3 Showcase – Highlights
    • Kazuya Mishima added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
    • Metroid DREAD (Mercury Steam) October 8, 2021   *This made my Top 10
    • Shin Megami Tensei V (Atlus) November 12, 2021
    • Advance Wars 1 + 2: Re-Boot Camp (WayForward) December 3, 2021   *This made my Top 10
  • Bandai Namco – Highlights
    • nothing of interest
  • Yooreka Studio – Highlights
    • nothing of interest

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