E3 2021OPINIONSPOTLIGHT

E3 2021 – What do we think we’ll see at the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase?

Ah, good ol’ E3. It’s been a while since we’ve felt the excitement and hype that comes from a compact week of nothing but games, and while that isn’t exactly the case once again this year, it feels a little more solid that last years drawn out mess of press releases and hastily thrown together conferences.

It’s also, arguably, the year that Microsoft really does need to put on a bloody good show.

They’ve had some really good momentum following last years launch of Xbox Series X|S, and while plenty of Xbox fans are more than well acquainted with “Wait for <INSERT EVENT/YEAR HERE>”, the sentiment out there is Microsoft really need to drive the message home; Xbox is all about Games, and the gamers that play them.

With the Bethesda acquisition now complete, and the arguments about exclusivity finally (mostly) put to bed, Team Green have a wonderful opportunity to showcase new games that are only coming to the Xbox Platform and nowhere else. With 23 studios under their belt, plus plenty of 3rd party partnerships, Xbox fans are eager to be blown away, with the hope that the oft repeated (and hilariously incorrect) “Xbox has no games” slogan finally being buried forever.

So what do we think Xbox will show? Whilst we do know that a lot of the projects in flight at present won’t be seen or felt fully until 2022 and beyond, we still think the Xbox team are more than capable of putting on, as we mentioned earlier – A bloody good show.

Halo Infinite

They call it….Halo

Following a showing that earned 343 a somewhat mixed reception last year, this is their final chance before launch in the Fall to show everything Halo Infinite has to offer. We expect a vastly improved campaign demo, with something more closely resembling the final shipping product, with all the scale and sci-fi wonder that can come from a semi open world Halo ring. Despite the debate around the graphical quality of last years Halo Infinite demo, the gameplay looked incredibly fun, and we can’t wait to see more.

Of course, it being the last big beat before launch, we also expect to get our first glimpse of Halo Infinite multiplayer, with all of it’s new bells and whistles. With Halo going free-to-play, Microsoft are betting big here, and we expect to see a serious “deep dive” into the scope of that side of the game. Perhaps it wouldn’t be to far-fetched to expect the announce of some sort of large scale multiplayer beta? We hope so!

Starfield

We are excite.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way – yes, Starfield will definitely be at the show. The game is quite the hot topic right now, and for good reason. A brand new science fiction RPG from Bethesda Game Studios, and likely one of Xbox’s first true Bethesda exclusives since the acquisition. While we know it will be at E3, it is unclear in what capacity. 

For Fallout 4 and 76, Bethesda opted to go in-depth, with both games releasing later that same year. Recent rumours seem to indicate that Starfield won’t be releasing until sometime in 2022. Will Bethesda go in-depth for a game that won’t release until sometime next year, or will they just show a gameplay trailer and have a huge blowout for next E3?

There’s really no way to give a definitive answer, but we are excited nonetheless to finally see more of this highly anticipated game, in whatever form it comes.

Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 4 is stupidly pretty.

We are technically long overdue to see a brand new Forza Horizon game get its E3 reveal, and this time around we’re leaving the UK behind, with rumours circling that Mexico is on the cards! It’s no secret that the Forza’s more ‘arcadey’ open-world spin-off is probably a little more popular that the more sim-like Motorsport series from which it spawned. Developer Playground Games has done a phenomenal job of mixing stunning, precise attention to detail with a fun and light hearted open world full of vehicular based shenanigans.

Forza Horizon 4, which was met with critical acclaim and has been played by more than 24 million players, is one of the best looking games available on Xbox. We can’t even begin to imagine how good Horizon 5 will look, considering the extra time Playground Games has had to develop, as well as the extra horsepower of the new consoles. Will seasons return? Can they raise the bar all over again? We hope so!

It would be silly of us, seeing as we’re talking about Playground Games, to not mention Fable, at least in passing. Do we think it’ll be shown off a little more this E3? No, we don’t think so. But we’d love to be wrong!

Project Typhoon

Details of this project landed on insider circles earlier this year. Rumour has it, it’s actually been in development for a significant period of time, and this 3rd party developer could finally have it’s big moment showing just what they’ve been building. We’ve heard the words ambitious, open-world and multiplayer bandied about, so we’ve got high hopes for this new Xbox platform exclusive.

Codename: Omen

As we all know, Arkane is releasing Deathloop later this year, exclusively to the Playstation 5. While Microsoft is honouring the contract Bethesda made with Sony prior to the acquisition, what you may not be fully aware of is that Arkane has two studios – Lyon and Austin. Lyon has been working hard on Deathloop for some time, but Austin haven’t been resting on their laurels. Following the superb Prey, they’ve been making something else.

Rumours suggest it’s another immersive-sim game, based in the dark and murky underworld of vampires. Time to shine a light on this one we reckon.

Release Dates and Updates on previously announced Games

Lots to expect here. Psychonauts 2, Age of Empires IV, Flight Simulator, Grounded, Sea of Thieves, Tunic, Scorn, The Gunk, 12 Minutes – we could go on. Suffice to say, we’d expect plenty of new trailers and some concrete dates assigned to more than a few previously announced titles. There’s a lot to look forward to here, with a wide variety of genres to choose from, all coming from some seriously talented developers.

For those of you into your ever-evolving games, Sea of Thieves is long overdue another large expansion so we’d expect something neat announced here. They’ve been teasing things for a while now, and now that the foundation of seasons is well and truly bedded in, we expect Sea of Thieves to have it’s next big beat. What will it be exactly? Why on earth would you want us to ruin it?

Game Pass, ID@Xbox and Japanese Developers!

All the games.

Expect Team Green to push the “GAME PASS IS AWESOME” messaging hard here, across the board.

Game Pass has been the ace in Microsoft’s hand so far this generation, with gamers loving the constant high profile additions. While the 23 first party studios will take a while to fully ripen and start bearing delicious gaming fruit, third party deals are there to keep things interesting. And it won’t be just big AAA titles to come to your subscription, we expect another slew of amazing looking indie titles from ID@Xbox.

We’d also hope to see further partnerships with Japanese and Eastern Developers, perhaps with some new titles announced along the way. If you’re expecting Kojima at E3, we’d throw water on that particular fire; if true, that’s expected later in the year.

Lots of games, big and small then, with more than a few to be announced on the E3 stage. With a focus on hardcore favourites in additions to games that have never been on Xbox before, we’d also expect more partnerships in a similar vein to what we saw when EA Play came to the service. How is Ubisoft+ nowadays, anyway?

Project Dragon

This one is a lot further out, with the wonderful folks at Windows Central reporting that IO Interactive have started building a team for a new IP, rumoured to be in full partnership with Xbox. As this is far too early to expect any gameplay, it’s possible you’ll see a CG announce trailer of some sort, which serves a couple of purposes. One, it most assuredly serves to get fans excited about a new game and two, it allows for the developer to recruit more openly. We shall see on this one.

Something Something Dark Side

Earlier this year, it was announced that multiple developers can now work with Lucasfilm to create video games set in the Star Wars Universe, following a lengthy exclusive relationship with EA. Call it a hunch, or maybe a tremor in the force, but we’ve got a good feeling about this, in that we might see something Star Wars coming from the Xbox team or a partner, be it a remaster or a new game in the Star Wars universe. The Force is strong with this one.

Wolfenstein 3 or Indiana Jones? Who knows?

This is the Xbox + Bethesda showcase after all, and we don’t think Starfield will be the only game that shows up from Bethesda’s end. Wolfenstein 3 has not been officially announced as existing, and we know Machine Games is working on an Indiana Jones title. All those caveats aside, the last proper Wolfenstein game in the non spinoff series was in 2017, meaning it’s a bit overdue for a new adventure with B.J Blazkowicz. Equally, it’s possible they’ve spent all this time deep in development on Indiana Jones, so honestly, we’re not sure at this point.

If either game does show up at E3, we’ll be more than pleased either way.

Avowed and The Outer Worlds 2

If you’d have asked us a month or two ago about Avowed being at E3 2021, we probably would have said no, it’s too soon, don’t be crazy etc. But recent rumours are swirling that the game is much further along that previously thought, with suggestions that a gameplay demo could be on the cards. Typically, when Xbox show gameplay, they like to show something that’s much closer to release, so it’s a big maybe right now. We can but hope!

Outer Worlds 2 is also a possibility, with Microsoft recently securing the future publishing rights for the franchise. It’s probably way too soon, but it’s E3. We’re allowed to dream big.

Xbox Turns 20 this year

This is our final ‘hail mary’ section, so to speak, so why not? Xbox has made a big deal about turning 20 this year, and we really do think it’s time they cashed in on the nostalgia out there for a lot of the dormant and long-in-the-tooth IP that could use a little love, and we love the idea of Xbox bringing some old school games back That being said, there’s one remaster we know we’ve all been waiting for…

…and that’s Brute Force!

C’mon Phil. Seriously.

Obviously, we’re joking. What it really should be is Banjo Kazooie. The recent remakes of Crash and Spyro have proven there’s more than a lot of love out there for these kinds of games, and a beautiful remake of the original Banjo Kazooie with stupidly gorgeous graphics would kickstart an entire generation of gamers that haven’t played the series before to fall in love all over again. If Smash Bros. can have the bird and bear back, so can we.

So that’s it! That’s our predictions, hopes and maybe even dreams for a pretty great E3. What are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below.

Jon "Sikamikanico" Clarke

Follow me on Twitter @_sikamikanico_ UK Based- Father of two, wishes he could play more games but real life always gets in the way. Halo is my jam.

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