Now all the announcements are done and the ray-tracing-enhanced cats are out of the proverbial bag, it’s time to look back at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3, for you youngsters).
We’ll share our own top picks in next week’s Team Talk, but in the meantime, here’s a few themes we noticed from Microsoft, Square Enix, Ubisoft and other talented developers.
Re-releases are big business (and not just Switch ports)
From Death Stranding: Director’s Cut to the welcome return of those playful primates in Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, there were plenty of ports and franchise revivals this year.
One unexpected return was Advance Wars, which is having its first and second games bundled together for a Switch release in December. We last heard from the series way back in 2008 on the Nintendo DS, so a return to the cult classic is long overdue.
We also saw more from Diablo 2: Resurrected, a remaster of the beloved base game and its Lord of Destruction expansion coming 23 September. Continuing the hellish theme, the acclaimed roguelike Hades is also coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X|S soon.
Squad-based survival is so hot right now
We met a lot of new co-op survival action games at E3, some of which look rather intriguing. Apparently, the urge to fend off waves of varying enemy types still holds strong.
Probably the most exciting of these was Redfall, a vampire-hunting shooter from Arkane Studios which closed the Microsoft and Bethesda showcase. The Anacrusis and Contraband also made brief appearances at the Xbox event, with the latter described as “a co-op smuggler’s paradise”.
Back 4 Blood also debuted a new trailer there, though later got its own platform courtesy of the Warner Bros. showcase. Put together by Turtle Rock, who were responsible for the original Left 4 Dead, it looks familiar with a few fresh ideas thrown into the mix.
Then there’s Rainbow Six Extraction for a more considered approach. Whether or not Ubisoft’s latest will alienate fans of the competitive tactical shooter series remains to be seen.
Game Pass is everywhere
Xbox has been banging the Game Pass drum for a while, but this year really saw that bet start to pay off. 27 of the 30 games shown at the Microsoft showcase are joining the subscription service, many of them on launch day.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon immediately joined the back catalogue and there’s even more Game Pass love to come in the future. Titles like artisan indie Sable and horror game Scorn, which draws inspiration from H.R. Giger, are just a couple of notable upcoming inclusions.
Most impressively, the likes of Xbox console exclusive Starfield (from the Skyrim and Fallout devs) and the Halo Infinite campaign are also coming day one. As for Halo Infinite’s multiplayer, that will be free to everyone as standard.
Indies get their time to shine
Wholesome Direct, Devolver Digital, Summer Game Fest and yet more events gave plenty of opportunities to indie developers this year.
Games like Soultstice, Far: Changing Tides, Immortality and many more might not have made as large a splash if PlayStation and EA had decided to show up. ID@Xbox was full to the brim with offerings as well, highlighting titles such as Tunic and Somerville.
The future looks bright for these underdogs, which now more than ever are fighting for attention amongst the big boys and girls.
What was your main takeaway from E3 this year? Let us know in the comments.