E3 is back this year after a hiatus in 2020, but much of what we might see in its big comeback remains a mystery. While we know that a lot of big companies plan on hawking their wares at the online-only event, any further specifics are much murkier. On one level, that obviously makes things significantly more exciting – after all, being surprised by game announcements is often the best kind of hype that fans of this medium can have. But on the other, for those who like to obsess over every tease and pore over hints and, this lack of anything concrete can be a bit unnerving.
However, the truth is, even though we may lack concrete leaks and rumours, there have been rumblings in the last few months – those, coupled with the application of some basic common sense, can help us figure out what we may be about to see soon come E3 in early June. We already had a look at what we might be able to expect from Microsoft’s event at E3 recently. Now let’s take a look at what we hope to see from the other big platform holder bringing the hype to the big annual convention this year.
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND UPDATES ON THIRD PARTY GAMES
The Nintendo Switch has seen an incredible amount of uptake with third parties, which has finally started to manifest in the form of some big name exclusives for the platform in the last few years. Right now, it doesn’t seem like that’s about to stop any time soon either. We already know major upcoming third party games are scheduled for the system, such as Shin Megami Tensei V, Monster Hunter Stories 2, and Triangle Strategy; there’s every possibility we get more information on each of those at E3 as well, including, presumably, a release date (or at least month) for Shin Megami Tensei V, which Nintendo and Atlus promised last year would get a full simultaneous release this year.
That apart, E3 2021 would also be the right time for Capcom to announce Resident Evil Outrage, the new Resident Evil title that Capcom has developed for the Switch as a lead platform, and which Nintendo apparently has marketing rights for. It’s unclear whether or not the game is a Switch timed exclusive – we know that others versions of the game exist, but we’re not entirely clear on whether or not they’ll launch alongside the Switch version. Regardless of the status of those other versions, the Switch version is, by all accounts, due out early next year, and due to be announced very soon now that Village is released, and Capcom is no longer concerned with focusing marketing on it. Now would be the time for us to see it, and it would be a pretty impressive announcement, too.
NEW FIRST PARTY GAME ANNOUNCEMENTS
Nintendo’s first party teams have been very quiet for a while; we know they’ve been working on a lot of upcoming games for the back half of this year, a lot of which got pushed back because of COVID-19, but after such a long period of silence from the company, it may be time to lift the curtain – at least a little. For example, a new 2D Metroid game has been rumoured to be in development for a long time now – apparently it even finished development a while ago. And what reason Nintendo may have had for holding it back (if it exists) is unclear, but if the game is real, announcing it at E3 for a release date for later this year will win Nintendo a lot of goodwill. Metroid is a franchise with a lot of cachet with enthusiast fans of the medium, and the IP has been dormant for a good while – unveiling a new 2D game will probably help placate fans who are getting antsy owing to the prolonged development cycle of Metroid Prime 4, as well as those are perplexed at the continual absence of Metroid Prime Trilogy from the platform.
We might get to see the next Monolith Soft title as well. Whatever that game is, even if it’s a new concept entirely, is likely to be branded Xenoblade, given that we have been told by Monolith Soft themselves that Nintendo is hoping to build that brand as a core pillar; that said, it’s not entirely necessary we see that game this year at E3. While Monolith’s last full fledged release was almost four years ago, since then they have released two expansion-sized games, one remaster, and continue to assist on the development of other Nintendo titles as well.
Finally, we have heard that Nintendo apparently went ahead and acquired the full stake to the Astral Chain IP. The original game, which launched in 2019, was fairly well received, and went on to sell over a million copies. It was also envisioned as the first game in a trilogy, so there is every possibility that more games are planned – and if they are, maybe we can see something this E3 from that? This one is a bit of a long shot, unlike the other possibilities raised so far, but since Nintendo was actively pursuing stakes in the IP as recently as a few months ago, who knows?
One big rumoured first party game announcement from Nintendo is Donkey Kong. A brand new Donkey Kong platform developed not by Retro, or any other outsourced partner, but Nintendo EPD themselves. EPD is, of course, the master of platforming games, and seeing them tackle Nintendo’s resident primate for the first time ever is an exciting proposition-particularly since the same team that got us Super Mario Odyssey is supposed to be working on Donkey Kong as well.
What’s even more exciting is that at least one of these rumours pegs this new game as being a 3D platformer. We haven’t had a 3D Donkey Kong game in over 20 years, so you can imagine why that prospect is so mouth watering to so many fans of platforms and Donkey Kong alike. The rumours peg this game as releasing later this year, so Nintendo can’t really announce it any later than at E3 – which means we may be about to see the big gorillas triumphant homecoming in very short order.
UPDATES ON PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED AND RELEASED GAMES
While Nintendo hasn’t made a lot of major announcements for first party games in a while, there still are a few that have been announced ahead of E3 that we will probably see at E3 this year. Splatoon 3 is due to launch next year, and we can probably expect to see it get at least a bit of a blowout at Nintendo’s event. Mario Golf and Skyward Sword HD are both due to launch just a bit after E3, which means we are almost certainly getting to see more of those during Nintendo’s show as well. And while Pokemon typically holds its own event separately from Nintendo, upcoming Pokemon games still do get featured in Nintendo’s E3 events – even if only as passing mentions. Which means we can probably expect to see at the very least Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, if not Pokemon Legends: Arceus as well, come Nintendo’s E3 show.
Beyond that, we will probably also get some announcements of updates for existing games. A new update for Animal Crossing New Horizon being detailed at the show is probably a given, and we will almost certainly see the announcement of the next character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as well (though who knows who that will be at this point). The last few E3 character announcements for Smash have really brought the hype, though – Ridley in 2018, and Hero and Banjo Kazooie in 2019. So whoever it is who ends up getting announced this year will probably be a pretty big deal as well.
UPDATED GLIMPSES AT METROID PRIME 4 AND BAYONETTA 3?
This one is honestly more pie in the sky than anything. We know both games are in development, but neither are presumably due for release any time soon. Metroid Prime 4 restarted development in 2019, and while that’s been enough time for Retro Studios to show off something, it’s also important to remember that most of the time since has been spent in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and so development may simply not be as far along as we may expect or want or like. Hopefully, they’re able to show us a short glimpse at the game, but CG trailers are typically not Nintendo’s style, so hopefully the game is in a state where some gameplay footage can be shown off – even if Nintendo is not willing to commit to a release, well, year, for now.
Bayonetta 3 is also in a similar situation. While we don’t have as many specific insights into its development, we do have reason to suspect it’s been rougher than expected, and with COVID disrupting that as well, it’s not as much of a given that we’ll get to see it as it may have been in other circumstances. That said, hopefully Platinum do have something to show us for it – even a short trailer will probably go a long way towards placating fan concerns.
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD 2
This one is an absolute, total shoe in. The new Zelda game will be shown off at Nintendo’s E3 event, and presumably, it will be given a final name and a release window as well. It’s unclear when that release window might be – while originally I would have insisted on it releasing as Nintendo’s Holiday game this year, and to align with Zelda‘s 35th anniversary, Nintendo has shown no sign of actually acknowledging that anniversary, and, well, we have rumblings (as well as basic common sense) suggesting that COVID may have delayed its development, and that it may be likelier to launch next year – presumably early next year – than this one.
Regardless of when it’s releasing, though, we do expect to get a good look at the game. We’ll presumably get the setup for its story, see what the major hook for this game is, see how the gameplay and mechanics have evolved since Breath of the Wild, and see how the world map has changed as well. It’s likely to be among the most exciting things shown off at E3 this year – I just hope that it’s also, against all odds, confirmed for a release this year too.
WHAT WON’T BE THERE
While it’s not necessarily within the scope of this discussion, it’s probably not a bad idea to step back from the hype and calibrate expectations to rule out things that will almost certainly not be at E3 this year. The most obvious one – Hollow Knight Silksong. The follow up to Team Cherry’s seminal metroidvania game is launching exclusively on PC and Switch, and while it, too, has been long in the coming, Team Cherry has explicitly confirmed the game will not be shown off at E3 this year. So… that sucks, but strike it off the list.
The rumours that continue to circulate about a new Mario Kart game are also almost certainly just those, rumours, and a new Mario Kart game is extremely unlikely to be launched on the Switch, given how Mario Kart 8 Deluxe continues to break every sales record in the book more than four years from its release. While, obviously, one day a new Mario Kart game will exist, it will probably be held back for the Switch successor – not the Switch Pro, the Switch 2, proper, presumably in hopes of recreating the kind of early push the Switch got from Mario Kart.
Speaking of which – the Switch Pro. I’m reasonably confident this thing exists. I’m sure it’s launching this year too, in fact. But that said, do not expect it to be at E3 this year. There are several reasons for this – the most important one is that Nintendo does not, and has never, announced a system revision at E3 (or, well, not since the days of the Gameboy Advance, more than 20 years ago). Nintendo typically tends to announce these revisions a few weeks out from release at the most – the Switch Lite, as one example, was announced just a little over two months from release, and conspicuously and decidedly not at E3. Even if the Switch Pro is real, and due to launch this year, it will probably get announced independently a bit down the line – I’d expect late June, early July at the earliest, and late August at the latest.
Which means even when E3 is done, Nintendo fans will have a lot to look forward to this year.
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