Silence screams volumes. Over the past five days, video game publishers have shouted announcements for the biggest games from the rooftops. But that chorus has been drowned out by the far more deafening din of what wasn’t announced at E3 2021.
Of course, we had some inkling beforehand about which blockbusters wouldn’t show up. Ubisoft said from the jump that we’d see nothing from The Division or the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time remake. Deep Silver, the publisher behind series like Timesplitters and Dead Island, also said that it wouldn’t exhibit any games at E3. Activision, Sony, and EA didn’t even partake in this year’s show at all, meaning no Call of Duty: Vanguard, Gran Turismo 7, Dragon Age 4, God of War, or Mass Effect (though we did get a peek at gameplay for EA’s Battlefield 2042 during the Xbox showcase).
On the other hand, Kotaku sure had a bunch of fair expectations. Some of those were managed properly. Others very much were not. Here’s a rundown of everything we thought we’d see — or hoped we’d see — that didn’t make an appearance.
In November, Nintendo will release Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, snazzy new remakes of the beloved fourth-gen Pokémon games. Two months later will see the launch of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, an open-world Pokémon game that, from an initial look, bears a remarkable resemblance to Breath of the Wild. Neither Pokémon game appeared in Nintendo’s E3 2021 Direct (though we did get a decent look at the BOTW sequel).
Elder Scrolls 6
Yeah, yeah, Bethesda officially showed off Starfield, a game that is, to lift a quote from Bethesda’s Todd Howard, “Skyrim in space.” It’s safe to say that many were expecting something, anything, about Elder Scrolls 6, the actual follow-up to Skyrim. After first mentioning its development at E3 2018, Bethesda has remained tight-lipped about other details (though the Starfield trailer may have revealed High Rock or Hammerfell as a possible setting for the long-running fantasy series).
Metroid Prime 4
At its 2021 E3 Direct, Nintendo confirmed that Metroid Prime 4 — first announced at E3 2017 and rebooted internally two years later — was still in development, but didn’t show off even a flash of gameplay. Samus fans should find some solace in Metroid Dread, a 2D side-scroller and sequel to 2002’s Metroid Fusion, announced at E3 for an October release.
Bright Memory Infinite
Maybe I’m the only person still holding out for this one. When Microsoft first revealed Xbox Series X gameplay footage, it used Bright Memory Infinite as a demonstration. That was 13 months ago. Microsoft still hasn’t announced a release window, and the shooter wasn’t among the 30-odd games mentioned in this weekend’s Xbox showcase.
In 2019, Microsoft showed off an initial trailer for the very pretty Everwild, an upcoming description-free game from Rare Studios. A year later, the game’s creative director departed the project. Just yesterday, VGC reported that Rare has tapped studio veteran Gregg Mayles as Everwild’s new creative director and internally rebooted development. Nearly two years after it was announced, we still have no concrete idea what the game is or what it’s about. Microsoft didn’t even mention the game this E3.
Speaking of Rare, one of the studio’s most storied series, Perfect Dark, is coming back. Microsoft officially revealed its resurrection at the 2020 Game Awards. Note that Rare isn’t developing this one, however. The new entry is being developed by The Initiative, one of roughly 18,000 studios now under Microsoft’s slowly yet unceasingly expanding purview.
In February, as a capstone to what was then the first Direct presentation in one bazillion years, Nintendo announced Splatoon 3. The post-apocalyptic multiplayer paintball game is currently planned for 2022. It did not make an appearance at E3 this year — odd, as you’d figure Nintendo would showcase upcoming marquee games at its marquee event.
Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2
Developer Ninja Theory unveiled the Hellblade sequel back in 2019. It’s designed explicitly for the Xbox Series X — and was even initially shown off as a demo for the machine’s capabilities — but little else is known.
Beyond Good and Evil 2
The saga behind Beyond Good and Evil 2 seems destined to continue. Its origin story dates back to 2008, when Ubisoft showed a trailer for the game (at which point it faded into obsolescence). The most recent chapter dates to 2017, when Ubisoft showed another trailer at that year’s E3. Game director Michael Ancel described that footage as “day zero of Beyond Good and Evil 2” while speaking to Kotaku. Last November, Ancel left Ubisoft, following an investigation into toxic leadership at the publisher. Beyond Good and Evil 2 hasn’t been seen in some time.
PlatinumGames revealed Bayonetta 3 all the way back in 2017, at that year’s Game Awards. Since then? Precious little — and not even a mention at this year’s E3 Direct. Let’s catch up with Ash Parrish, Kotaku’s in-house Bayonetta superfan, to get a sense of how fans feel about this snub: “AAAAAAAAA.” Look at what you’ve done, Nintendo!
No one could reasonably say that Obsidian’s E3 showing was anything short of solid. At Xbox’s presser, the folks behind Pillars of Eternity announced a sequel to space-RPG The Outer Worlds and new content for their Honey I Shrunk The Kids sim, Grounded. Still, no word about Avowed, a new fantasy game planned for release at some point for Xbox Series X and PC.
Yes, Fable is coming back. No, it’s not happening any time soon (probably). At the Xbox presser, developer Playground Games showed off extensive footage — right down to the individually rendered cactus needles — of its next game, Forza Horizon 5. No word about the next Fable, but if it’s even a fraction as eye-popping as Forza Horizon 5, fans are in for a treat.
Waluigi in Smash
Starting to look like this one never happens, folks.
Forspoken (née Project Athia) is the next big action-RPG out of Square Enix, planned for a 2022 release. Granted, it’s “console exclusive” to PS5 for at least two years after launch, so Square could be sitting on a deeper reveal for a Sony event down the line, but it’s also coming to PC, so it was fair to expect a peek at Square’s E3 showcase. Instead, we got Cloud In Normal Pants alongside a same-day game demo that didn’t work for nearly a day.
Final Fantasy XVI
Pretty much every word about Forspoken could also apply to Final Fantasy XVI, a PS5-exclusive.
Skull and Bones
Ubisoft recently delayed Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag: The Sailing Parts: The Game to 2022 (or later). Development is led by Ubisoft Singapore. In November, following a “leadership audit” spurred by a reckoning regarding misconduct at the publisher, Ubisoft removed the studio’s managing director from his position. It’s safe to say that development on Skull and Bones is in rocky waters, so a surprise appearance at Ubisoft’s E3 2021 press conference probably wasn’t in the cards in the first place.
Ah, Deathloop. Arkane’s offensively stylish time-loop shooter is out this September for PS5 and PC. With Sony bowing out of this year’s E3, there was little reason to expect Microsoft — which now own’s Arkane’s parent company’s parent company — to showcase the game. Also, there’s not much we need to know, short of “Let me playyyyyy,” which is more of a statement of fact than a question. But I don’t think anyone would’ve been upset, per se, if another gameplay showcase popped up during any of this weekend’s events.
The Bethesda-published Ghostwire: Tokyo is far out; when the supernatural game eventually launches, it’ll do so on PS5 and PC first. Now that Microsoft and Bethesda have finalised their capitalism blood pact, it’s understandable that this game — which isn’t coming to Xbox for a long, long time — didn’t show up during Xbox’s showcase.
Capcom’s major E3 announcement amounted to…saying that Resident Evil Village DLC was in the oven. But it’s not like the company doesn’t have stuff in the hopper. Pragmata, an upcoming game developed and published by Capcom, is currently slated for a 2023 release. So far, all we know about the game is that it takes place on two of the most hostile locations known to humanity: the moon, and Times Square.