Monday, June 14

E3 2021 is starting now — here’s what you should expect


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After taking a year off due to the pandemic, the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show is back in action. But while E3 will showcase reveals from Nintendo, Xbox, and more, the show season is still going to feel like a mess. And that is evident this week as Sega, Sony, and Ubisoft prepare to make announcements well before E3 or the Summer Game Fest begin.

So, what should you expect from E3 and the Summer Game Mess? Let’s go over it.

Sonic, Horizon, and announcements of announcements

It is Tuesday, May 25, and a bunch of companies started making noise today. That includes Sega and Sony Interactive Entertainment. Sega announced today that Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown is launching exclusively for PlayStation 4 on June 1. But Sega also revealed plans to talk about Sonic the Hedgehog on Thursday, May 27.

That same day, Sony will showcase the gameplay reveal of Horizon: Forbidden West during a State of Play.

This is also the week that we should learn more about what E3 2021 looks like. Microsoft will announce when to expect the Xbox showcase — spoiler, it’s happening Sunday, June 13. We may also hear from Nintendo soon about the timing for its Direct video event during E3.

This should also continue through the days preceding E3. Summer Game Fest, Geoff Keighley’s E3 alternative, kicks off June 10. By then, we should hear from Ubisoft about Far Cry 6 and from Electronic Arts about the upcoming 2021 Battlefield game.

What will E3 2021 look like?

E3 2021 is going to look and feel a lot like past E3s, but with even more cohesion. Nintendo will have a Direct. Xbox will have a media briefing, and so should companies like Square Enix. And we already know that Ubisoft Forward is airing Saturday, June 12.

Other companies, like Gearbox and Koch Media, might have their own showcases, but it’s just as likely that they will use the new E3 digital infrastructure to put their games into something like the PC Gaming Show or a solo announcement during the overall E3 livestream.

E3 will have a team of hosts throwing to the major media briefings, but they will also do interviews and introduce things like one-off trailers. For example, they could set up a new trailer for Dragon’s Dogma 2 from Capcom (which we know should be coming thanks to a 2020 hack), and then the hosts could hold a roundtable with the game’s developers.

As for what to expect specifically from these companies, it’s probably going to look a lot like normal. You may think publishers have a lot ready for this year since they skipped E3 in 2020, but that’s unlikely.

Nintendo should start talking about its plans for Zelda through the end of the year. Even if Breath of the Wild 2 slips into 2022, the company will likely show it off at this event.

Microsoft, meanwhile, will focus on Halo and Starfield, and — of course — it will emphasize Xbox Game Pass.

How excited should we get for E3?

Should you take a week off of E3 to enjoy “Gamer Christmas”? Probably not, but I think it’s weird to call it “Gamer Christmas.” Take a week off to play a game and not to watch commercials.

At the same time, I also get excited for what’s coming next in games. And I think E3 2021 will deliver, as it has in the past. This means some people will come away vibrating with hype, and others will end up disappointed.

But while E3 is changing and maybe growing more irrelevant, it is still the center of the gaming universe. And we’re going to cover it like that.

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