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1. Sony Says “Sayonara”
Once upon a time, E3 was the place to go for all the gaming scoops for Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. But over the years, more and more of the biggest names in gaming are discovering they don’t really need E3 and can focus on their own events.
Nintendo, for example, settles for doing a Nintendo Direct during E3. But arguably, the bigger disappointment was the lack of Sony. They’ve been ditching E3 since 2018, but their absence was particularly felt this year as plenty of PS5 gamers were hoping to hear more about the “next big thing” on their fancy new console.
2. Weak Sauce From Square Enix
If you like RPGs, then your anticipation for the Square Enix presentation was likely quite high. Unfortunately, Square managed to disappoint us on several different levels.
First of all, we only got a brief glimpse of Final Fantasy 16. While Square Enix produces many different titles, the FF series remains their cash cow, and the general lack of FF16 was highly disappointing.
And for the handful of players who still play Marvel’s Avengers, the lack of Spider-Man in that game and lack of any preview of him at E3 was a slap in the face. And the general dislike for their Avengers game ended up stealing any potential momentum for their single-player Guardians of the Galaxy RPG.
3. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
Square Enix had some screwups beyond the ones we’ve already listed. And perhaps the biggest offender had to do with Stranger of Paradise.
First off, the very idea of letting the Ninja Gaiden guys design a Final Fantasy game rubbed a few people the wrong way. If you’re a fan of turn-based FF games, it looks like that may now be a thing of the past.
Second, the main character looks laughably generic. Everyone else has cool FF armor and stuff and this guy looks like an extra from an Eminem video who slept past his alarm.
Finally, they tried to build hype for this game by releasing a demo with the preview. Unfortunately, the demo was completely unplayable, which bodes very ill for the full game.
4. E3 Portal Debacle
Part of the “point” of E3 is the ability to interact with game devs and other important figures. Otherwise, E3 is really just a bunch of trailers and presentations that don’t really require a special event.
To make this happen, E3 2021 had a special portal to facilitate interaction...at least, in theory. The reality was that messages didn’t go through, most dev calendars were empty, and there was a strange business card system no one could figure out.
Ultimately, most people settled for watching everything on Youtube and Twitch, making E3 as a special event seem more obsolete than ever.
5. Ubisoft and Avatar
Ubisoft showed off many games, with some being better than others. But the one that had everyone scratching their heads was Ubisoft’s emphasis on Avatar.
As many comedians have noted, Avatar is the most influential movie where hardly anyone who watched it can remember these characters. Nonetheless, James Cameron wants to crank out countless sequels, and Ubisoft wants to make Avatar happen as a game.
Honestly, it looks like an unexciting game about unexciting characters and settings. And since those Cameron sequels are far off on the horizon, this game looks to be about 12 years too late to capitalize on interest for the first movie.
6. No Enhanced Switch News
Technically, Nintendo doesn’t participate in E3 anymore. But they were kind enough to drop a Nintendo Direct during E3, so it felt like they were participating in their own way.
And Nintendo’s presentation had some good stuff, including great glimpses of Breath of the Wild 2. However, fans couldn’t help but be disappointed that we got no news about the enhanced Nintendo Switch.
This “Super Switch” has been a persistent rumor for over a year, and it was annoying that the Big N had nothing to tell us.
7. Gearbox’s Film Focus
In many ways, Gearbox had the most baffling video games presentation. And that’s because it hardly focused on video games!
We only got brief glimpses of much-anticipated titles like Tiny Tina’s Wonderland. Instead, most of the hype was about the upcoming Borderlands movie. And while the lines between video games and movies continue to blur, it’s a sure bet that gamers were hoping to hear more about...you know...games!
8. General Lack of Gameplay
This next one is more of a general complaint about E3 rather than a specific presentation or publisher. But one of the things that most of these presentations lacked was showing us actual gameplay!
For example, we got to see glimpses of much-anticipated titles like Starfield and Halo Infinite. But these were just cinematics instead of actual gameplay footage, which is disappointing.
Then again, maybe this is what certain gamers want. With Battlefield 2042, the cinematic teaser filled with fan service got a lot more hype than the actual gameplay trailer!
9. More Final Fantasy Heartbreak
You might have thought that Square Enix had run out of E3 disappointments. But you’d be dead wrong about this!
First, they whet everyone’s appetite by showing off fun, pixilated remasters of the first six Final Fantasy games. Then they dropped the hammer by revealing these games were only coming to Steam and mobile.
Sure, you don’t exactly need a next-gen gaming rig to play these 2D remasters. But not even having the option is a huge insult to fans of the franchise.
10. Seeming Lack of Next-Gen Killer Apps
Our final complaint is short, simple, and bittersweet: for all of the games we saw, it doesn’t look like there are many “killer apps” in the works for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.
Right now, owners of next-gen systems are singing the early adopter blues. In fact, most of them are just playing slightly enhanced versions of hit games from the last generation. While that is fun in its own right, many next-gen owners are hoping that 2021 will validate their expensive purchase.
Unfortunately, E3 failed to do that in any meaningful way.