E3 2021: Everything showcased at Summer Game Fest Kick Off Live!
Updated: Jun 20, 2021
32+ events, six days, hundreds of games, all the hype. E3 week means gaming announcements of all sizes and we're here to help you catch all the news at a glance.
Chaos week is here and I couldn't be any happier. We're starting things off with Geoff Keighley's Summer Game Fest Kick Off Live! Keighley brought a little bit of everything for everyone, so buckle up, watch some trailers, and read below for tiny bits of VGG analysis at each stop.
Tiny Tina's Wonderlands - High Fantasy + Borderlands
To open the show, Gearbox Software officially unveiled Tiny Tina's Wonderlands. It was all but confirmed just a few days back when internet sleuths found the game's title hidden in some site code and even found the private subreddit that had been created for its eventual reveal.
Fans of Borderlands 2 will remember the highly-lauded piece of DLC that took players into a Dungeons and Dragons campaign run by Tiny Tina herself, Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep. This release is a full standalone game that they were quick to say was "not a Borderlands game," so I'd expect some level of difference in playstyle from Wonderlands and its older sibling Borderlands.
Metal Slug Tactics - Tactical revival of a beloved series
In the first truly unexpected reveal of the week, Dotemu, SNK, and Leikir Studio joined forces to revive Metal Slug! But not in the way you might think. Metal Slug was known for its hard-as-nails arcade shootin' action that had you chucking grenades with reckless abandon at soldiers, zombies, mummies, and aliens alike.
This time though, the Peregrine Falcon Squad of Marco, Eri, Fio, and Tarma are slowing down and bringing a bit more strategy to the table. Metal Slug Tactics brings forth grid-based tactical RPG gameplay akin to classics like Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem. It's the kind of reveal that just screams: "I didn't know I wanted this and now I want it immediately."
Death Stranding Director's Cut - PS5 flexin'
Father of stealth, Hideo Kojima stopped in to talk to Keighley in a beautifully bizarre interview where he lamented how much the world has changed since COVID struck us all. It was refreshing to see him speak so openly about his development process, and his friendship with Keighley is always a delight.
Kojima promised "one more thing" which fired off ALL of the synapses... but it turned out to just be Death Stranding Director's Cut. Which is neat and will inevitably kick the game's already amazing graphical fidelity up a few notches with the PS5's power.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 - They made 3 movies to tell us running a park would be bad... and I still don't believe them
There were a few teases before the show that Jurassic Park/World would have some sort of presence at Summer Game Fest and I really let my imagination run wild. I imagined some open-world survival game set on Isla Nublar. I imagined Dino Crisis with a more official paint job. I imagined everything but the follow-up to the respectable park builder Jurassic World Evolution. Expanding the Jurassic World Evolution world is a great idea... I just hope we'll get something new from the behemoth dino franchise one day.
Sable ft. Japanese Breakfast - One word: Breathtaking
Japanese Breakfast and Sable feels like a fated connection. Sable's a beautiful game of exploration where you wander a strange alien desert, contemplating life and discovering your purpose. Michelle Zauner's voice contains all the exact qualities needed to convey those vibes and she did so wonderfully live on the Summer Game Fest stage.
Sable has been a long time coming, having first been revealed back in 2018. Nearly three years later, it's on Keighley's stage with a September 23, 2021 release date. We can't wait to get our hands on this beautiful nomadic experience.
LostArk - Wildly popular Korean MMO goes west
Every once in a while, big gaming events will feature some completely unknown RPG or MMO that looks surprisingly rad and polished despite many never having seen it before. This year's version was the Korean MMORPG, LostArk. Set to come west in fall 2021, LostArk looks equal parts Diablo and Final Fantasy.
Call of Duty Warzone Season 4 and World Series of Warzone - A somber reminder of what Activision once was
Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War and Warzone are reminders of how far Activision has strayed, making it hard to feel anything for this gameplay trailer showcasing some weird and wild things in Cold War's fourth season. We've got ent-like fire beasts running wild with the zombies, a batch of interesting new modes, and even a few changes to Cold War's Warzone map... but it means nothing to me now.
After reports that "every internal studio at Activision is now working on Call of Duty" hit the scene, it only sealed what we already knew. Toys for Bob (Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time). Vicarious Visions (Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2). These are just two of the studios that have been roped away from the types of projects they're known for and into Call of Duty development. It's such a waste of creative talent and the only thing I'm left to think is: Why the hell do that many people need to work on Call of Duty?
Free Guy Trailer - Ryan Reynolds is our Hollywood Gamer™
There was a time where we lamented any and all movie trailers in events like these, but the media landscape has shifted a bit. With Netflix shows like The Witcher and Cuphead and movies that directly tie into our industry like Free Guy, it's a much easier pill to swallow these days.
Free Guy looks fun and inane and I'll probably find things to like when it eventually comes out. It still falls victim to poor video game representation, with things like a +200 Brutality Bonus popping up in the trailer, but Reynolds is charismatic enough to carry a flick like this.
Among Us Roadmap Reveal - Colors, modes, and achievements, oh my!
Among Us is here to stay y'all. Fresh off of a new map release, Innersloth hopped into Keighley's lap to reveal plans for the future of their massively popular title. We've got colors, more players, cosmetics, and more!
New modes like Hide n' Seek and roles like the Sherriff add a ton of variety to an already chaotic experience and I can't wait to hop in for a few more rounds of shouting fests with pals.
PS Indies Showcase (Chicory and Salt and Sacrifice) - Two vastly different releases, equal amounts of hype
Chicory is a game about an adorable dog artist bringing color back into the world after an evil force sucks it all away. Salt and Sacrifice is about lost souls coming together to fight back against monstrosities and gods in a dark Victorian setting. Clearly the two games anyone would pair together.
Jokes aside, PlayStation remains committed to indie developers and it's great to see Shuhei Yoshida continue to be a positive presence in the games industry.
Solar Ash - Giant beasts bathed in a pastel glow
Solar Ash is the highly anticipated follow-up to HEART MACHINE's freshman offering, Hyper Light Drifter. Aesthetics are all they have in common though, as Solar Ash trades pixels for 3D art, methodical combat for flowing traversal, and common enemies for giant colossus-like beasts. We can't wait to get our hands on this one later this year.
Chivalry II Launch Trailer - CHAOS awaits
It's an old trailer for a game that's already out, so there's not much to be said. I played the Open Beta and was delighted to find that Chivalry has kept its pure chaotic essence locked in with its sequel. It's all good fun and your reaction to this trailer tells you everything you need to know about whether you want it or not.
Valorant New Agent Teaser - Short, but exciting for someone
I could only find this nine second teaser on some random YouTube channel which, much like the Chivalry trailer, tells you everything you need to know. I don't play the game... but someone, somewhere does. And I hope they're excited.
Escape from Tarkov Map Reveal - Tight quarters make for chaotic fun
Escape from Tarkov is incredibly intimidating and I may never touch it, but I respect it from afar. This new map looks better than anything I've seen in the game before and the narrow streets and tight apartment complexes will inevitably lead to some tense shootouts.
Two Point Campus - Goofy college sim that doesn't put you in lifelong debt
Despite a leak earlier in the week (by Microsoft no less), this reveal was easily one of my most anticipated of the event. Two Point Campus brings the business sim genre to college, letting you build your own silly little temple of learning. Two Point's quirky style is in full effect here, paired with a setting that hasn't really been tossed into the business sim genre up to this point. Day 1 purchase for me.
Smite Stranger Things DLC - MOBA persisting on crossover hype
MOBAs find ways to keep gigantic player bases amidst waves of new releases and I have to respect them for that, especially when they survive and their names aren't League of Legends or DOTA. Smite has found new life in recent years via crossover hype, first with Avatar: The Last Airbender and now... Stranger Things.
Game Publisher Reveal: Prime Matter - New label, familiar faces
Prime Matter is the new home for a ton of indie darlings. Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Mount & Blade 2, and even new releases in the Payday series and the Painkiller franchise. Lots of games on display here, but the editing makes it hard for any one title to really leave an impression. Good for everyone involved here though!
The Anacrucis - 70s sci-fi goes Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead is back baby. The four player co-op horde shooter genre has never been more alive, and this stylish (and goofy) take on things is one to keep an eye on. The Anacrucis has a diverse cast of characters, an interesting setting, and seemingly a good sense of humor, so I'm curious to see how it plays out closer to launch.
Rocket League x Fast and Furious - Supersonic Hyperpowered Rocket Cars return
Weirdly enough, Rocket League and Fast and Furious feel like cousins. Using cars in extremely unnecessary ways to do ridiculously silly things? The pairing only makes sense. There's something strange about seeing very real, normal cars in the game though, so I guess thanks Fast 9 for adding an actual rocket car to the mix.
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodhunt - Multiplayer vampires tear each other apart
Vampire the Masquerade is a series known for its narrative. Born out of the tabletop RPG world and carrying volume after volume of backstory, it's a little strange to shift the whole thing to the multiplayer space. But there's something intriguing about the wacky supernatural powers and simplified three-person squads that competitive games have trended towards lately, this free-to-play battle royale included.
Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes - Odd choices all around...
I was so damn excited for the Dark Pictures Anthology. An episodic horror anthology series from the developers behind one of the best horror games of the last decade (Until Dawn) felt like a match made in heaven. Bugs, iffy writing, and a general lack of creativity have held the series back. Now the (presumed) last game in the trilogy features U.S. soldiers in Iraq fighting off demons? Eh. But check it out to see Ashley Tisdale of High School Musical fame take Sharpay's girlboss energy overseas as protagonist and CIA officer Rachel King.
Tales of Arise - A win for anime
I've got a soft spot in my heart for the Tales series. From what I can tell, those in the know are hyping this one up a TON. Tales of Arise features a beautiful anime-inspired art style that captures everything great about some of the best modern anime series. The Tales games have been off my radar for a while, but I'm all in for Arise.
Sky: Children of Light console launch - Freed from Apple exclusivity
After some breathtaking releases like Journey, flOw, and Flower, thatgamecompany holds a special place in many gamer's hearts. It's a shame then that so many fans were locked out of their newest release, Sky: Children of Light, for as long as we were. Formerly an Apple device exclusive, Sky: Children of Light is coming to Switch with a Little Prince season of content, too. Can't wait to see what this game's all about.
Planet of Lana - Gouache paint on full display
Wow. A stunning art style plus a cute-as-heck little blob cat companion equals a happy Nate. This is the second indie game in this month alone that reminded me of the Wii reimagining of A Boy and His Blob. It's still far off, coming in 2022 for PC and Xbox, and you can bet the VGG staff is eagerly awaiting its release.
Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance - Geoff Keighley and Hannibal Burress walk into a Let's Play...
Keighley is taking over the Let's Play community with his pals Hannibal Burress, Ember Moon, and Jeff Hattem. This was a great way to showcase the co-op focused spiritual successor to the legendary Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance — especially after the first few trailers were a bit of a turn-off for parts of the fanbase.
Monster Hunter Stories 2 - Gotta hunt 'em all
Monster Hunter is one of those franchises that a ton of people around me are in love with, but I'm still on the outside looking in. How do I find my way to eventually loving these things? Spinoff games. Monster Hunter Stories 2 is Pokémon by way of Monster Hunter, an RPG instead of a meticulous hunting action game. Much more my speed. The story trailer does little for me, but fans of the first game are probably hyped!
Weezer and Wave Break - World's first skateboating game
Weezer is a 10 in my book for this song and performance. It's streamer friendly, it's debuting in a game's soundtrack, and it's just a cheeky fun time. Wave Break looks incredible as well, introducing the "skateboating" genre that evokes Wave Race 64 and Tony Hawk simultaneously. It looks as fun as it sounds... and by the time this article comes out, the game will be, too! Happy release day, Wave Break!
Endless Dungeon - Keep your friends close and the core closer
This co-op tower-defense dungeon crawler looks like the right kind of fun for me and my pals. Colorful aesthetic, light and fluffy vibes between the game's protagonists, and a simple to understand gameplay loop. All the keys to an engaging game in the content creator era.
Giancarlo Esposito Interview - Just listen to the man talk, it's fun
Sit-down interviews in the middle of a ton of game reveals can feel like the worst lull ever, but Giancarlo Esposito is a delightful human being and this conversation with Geoff Keighley shows how committed he is to every role he takes. He just sounds like he's had the time of his life bringing Far Cry 6's villain to life and you love to see it.
Nier Automata's 2B is in Fall Guys - The weird get weirder
Fall Guys, much like Among Us, has a tough task ahead of them. After a summer that saw millions flocking to games for comfort and entertainment, Fall Guys saw a surge unlike any other. Now that things have quieted down some, it'll be all about keeping that audience engaged. So why not bring in the protagonist of the existentialist release Nier Automata? Much like life, 2B in Fall Guys makes no sense and all the sense all at once.
Deviation Games Reveal - New game developer! Neat!
These incredibly nervous game developers stole my heart while they talked about their brand-new studio. After escaping the overbearing clutches of Activision's Call of Duty machine, these folks are bringing a new AAA IP for PlayStation and their excitement is palpable. Nice to meet you, Deviation Games!
ID@Xbox Demo Series - Exclusive demos for Fox Zelda
ID@Xbox, Microsoft's indie focused label, is bringing exclusive demos into our homes for a limited time. They've done this before, very much in line with Steam Game Festivals of yore, and this time they're promising tastes of games like Tunic! That's been on my hype list for a long time, but the demo is only coming to Xbox so... I'll just wait for it to launch.
Tribes of Midgard - Valheim must have pissed these guys off
Tribes of Midgard has been in development for years now. I follow the developers on Twitter but haven't checked in on the game in a long time. How pissed must they be that the game they've advertised here is essentially the same gameplay loop of the indie megahit, Valheim. GIVE TRIBES OF MIDGARD A TRY! IT LOOKS GOOD.
Evil Dead: The Game - Don't be a dick
Bruce Campbell needs to be in more games. After star turns as the tutorial guide in Spider-Man 1 and 2, he makes his grand return with Evil Dead: The Game. This co-op take on the prestigious horror comedy movie franchise looks super fun. It's got Friday the 13th: The Game vibes. But Evil Dead's the much cooler older brother, obviously.
GRAND FINALE: Elden Ring - Kept you waitin', huh?
To close things out, Keighley broke himself out of Gamer Jail in spectacular fashion by finally giving the gamers what they want... Elden Ring. This HIGHLY anticipated release sees FromSoftware's Father of Souls, Hidetaka Miyazaki, combining forces with Game of Thrones legend George R.R. Martin. They've delivered an open world Souls game with ghost horses, giant bosses, and everything fans of the genre could ever ask for. And it's coming out in fuckin' January! Truly the best reality.
38 notable announcements... and it was only the first event of the week. Only the first of the day, even! We hope you found something to like deep inside this dense event. Let us know in the comments: Which games have your attention?
The fun has only just begun. Read about the AMAZING variety of indie games that were showcased in the Day of the Devs event that took place minutes after the Summer Games Fest ended. Check us out on Twitch to share the excitement during livestreams throughout the week.