E3 2021 lack of AAA reveals indie games in the spotlight

Let’s not beat around the bush: E3 2021 was a bit disappointing. At least compared to previous years. While we’re generally used to the gaming annual convention being filled to the brim with important announcements and reveals, this year’s E3 arguably wasn’t quite that.

Sure, we’ve had a few big reveals, like a 2022 release window for Breath of the Wild 2, the announcement of Forza Horizon 5, and a release date for Starfield, but the sheer number of truly mind-blowing reveals doesn’t have it all. quite achieved what we hoped for. However, let’s be honest, given the state of the world last year, we were probably a little naive.

This year’s E3 was definitely different from previous years, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With fewer AAA reveals to deal with, some weird and wonderful indie games that would typically be overshadowed by these announcements were able to take center stage at E3 2021 – and that was a very welcome change.

Not the alpha and the omega

Hellblade 2

Hellblade 2: The Senua Saga (Image credit: Ninja Theory)

Frankly, complaining that E3 2021 is a little suck is a kick in the face of developers who have worked tirelessly throughout a pandemic to be able to present something., whatever, at this year’s event. The developers have fought against remote working, impatient fans, and corporate targets to always bring us the games we love – even if they end up arriving a little later than we hoped.

Frankly, complaining that E3 2021 is a bit sucked is a kick in the face of developers who have worked tirelessly throughout a pandemic to be able to present something, anything, at the time of the pandemic. ‘event of this year. “

So while it’s disappointing that you haven’t seen heavy hitters like Hellblade 2, The Elder Scrolls 6, Dragon Age 4, and BioShock 4, it’s also understandable. And the few big announcements we made were more impactful because they didn’t compete with similar announcements from other publishers.

Also, just because some of these games didn’t make an appearance at E3 2021, doesn’t mean we won’t see them in the near future. In recent years, we’ve seen publishers and developers choose to host their own conferences outside of the E3 sphere – some falling under the Summer Game Fest umbrella.

We already know that EA is planning an EA Play event for July 22, where we will have an update on the third Battlefield 2042 multiplayer experience and likely see the announcement of FIFA 22 and Madden 22, as well as an update. day on Dragon Age 4.

Likewise, we expect Sony to host its own independent showcase in the coming months, to give us an update on Horizon Forbidden West, God of War: Ragnarok, and Deathloop, as well as potentially announce the release date. PSVR 2 and a bunch of new PS5 games.

So E3 2021 isn’t the end of gaming announcements for the year.

Shiny indie gems


(Image credit: Coatsink)

But there was a major benefit to E3 2021’s most anticipated heavy hitters taking a step back this year: It gave indie games the chance to steal the show.

“The independent developers are quietly presenting some of the best games at the event – not just this year, but every year.”

Usually at E3 the focus is on AAA offerings and this can often overshadow the indie games that are featured. Instead, at E3 2021, with fewer big reveals that caught our eye, we were able to focus more on the indie games featured.

Microsoft has arguably done the best job in this regard, which is not particularly surprising how integral the company’s ID @ Xbox program is to Xbox Game Pass, with the service crammed with indie titles. The Xbox and Bethesda game showcase featured a plethora of gorgeous indies, such as the choppy adventure Slime Rancher 2, sci-fi platformer Replaced, and Inside-esque Somerville.

In other years, those titles were likely to fall through the cracks, overshadowed by Microsoft’s AAA revelations but revered by independent fanatics. But with Microsoft putting such an emphasis on these titles, and even offering 40 free Xbox indie game demos as part of the Summer Game Fest, it made these indie gems shine more than they maybe did. the previous years. What probably makes these titles even more appealing is that we know most will be available on Xbox Game Pass from day one, so even if a game tickles you a bit, you know you can try it out for free in as part of your Game Pass subscription – with nothing to lose.

But it wasn’t just Microsoft that put on a brilliant independent showing, as we also saw a plethora of exciting surprises presented at both the PC Gaming Show and the Future Game Show – which we’ve come to expect from our friends at PCGamer and GamesRadar. respectively. PC Gaming Show gave us a more in-depth look at the post-apocalyptic Death Trash RPG, FPS Lemnis Gate, and the visually striking Silt. Future Game Show featured the Grow world-building sandbox: Song of the Evertree and the Harold Halibut stop-motion adventure. These are all unique and beautiful titles in their own right, offering something different from the mainstream.


Lake (Image credit: Whitethorn Digital / Gamious)

Personally, Lake – who made a few appearances at E3 2021 – stood out to me the most. Set in 1986, the charming adventure sees you play as Meredith, a software developer who returns to her hometown after 22 years to cover her father’s postman shifts while he is away. I had the opportunity to try Lake out through the Xbox game demo event and it’s about as casual as you can imagine. You wake up, deliver mail to quirky local residents – who are scattered around beautiful Lake Oregan – and reconnect with old friends you’ve lost touch with. You might even be inclined to flirt with some? There’s no dark twist here, it’s just a healthy independent play.

If it had been another year, we might have missed these mind-blowing titles amidst the noise of the AAA reveal machine. Which would have been a huge mistake. After all, the indie developers are quietly presenting some of the best games at the event – not just this year, but every year.

Hopefully, publishers keep that same energy going next year, giving indie games and developers the attention they rightly deserve.

About Cedric Lloyd

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