The no-shows of E3 2021

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(Image credit: Ubisoft)

This year, some publishers gave everyone a heads-up in advance about games that wouldn't be shown at E3, a way of deflating the hype before it could spiral out of control. We knew not to expect Hollow Knight: Silksong, Gotham Knights, Suicide Squad, The Division: Heartland, Hogwarts Legacy, or Call of Duty: Vanguard. Same with Dead Island 2, Saints Row, Metro, or TimeSplitters.

We didn't expect to see The Elder Scrolls 6 either, given that Bethesda would be concentrating on Starfield (though fans are convinced a hint about it snuck into the trailer anyway), or games that are likely to show up at EA Play in July, like Dragon Age 4 and maybe a sequel to Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order.

(Image credit: EA)

On the subject of Star Wars, we weren't really expecting to see much of the tie-in that Massive Entertainment, developer of The Division, is working on, but still had our fingers crossed for at least a teaser during the Ubisoft Forward show. We didn't get it, but that pales in comparison to the big absence during Ubisoft's show: Beyond Good & Evil 2. This is a game that was aiming to have a playable beta in 2019, but the subsequent radio silence has people suspecting it may never come out. Remember when Joseph Gordon-Levitt was at E3 to help crowdsource music for this game? That was 2018.

We also didn't hear anything from Ubisoft regarding Splinter Cell, Skull and Bones, the rumored Assassin's Creed Tournament set during the Hundred Years' War, that wild Tom Clancy mash-up FPS, or Roller Champions—a free-to-play multiplayer game that's basically Rocket League on skates and would have been a perfect candidate for a surprise "and you can play it now!" launch during the stream. 

Square Enix's show was marked by absences as well. No Final Fantasy 16, no announcement of a PC port for Final Fantasy 7 Remastered. The fact the announced Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters aren't coming to console means Square Enix managed to disappoint PC gamers and console gamers in the one showcase, so well done there. Everyone who had their fingers crossed to hear about a new Deus Ex game from Eidos-Montréal was underwhelmed to find out the studio is working on Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy instead, though I think it looks alright—better this than another Tomb Raider. On the subject of Tomb Raider, we didn't hear anything about the next Lara Croft game or the Tomb Raider: Definitive Survivor Trilogy collection that leaked back in March.

If you want to see how disappointed fans were by Square Enix's E3 showings, have a look at the trailers on YouTube. Most of them have hundreds of dislikes, and Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin has 7,400 thumbs down. Oof.

These absences felt notable because of how stacked some of the other showcases were in comparison. The Xbox and Bethesda show was a reminder that Microsoft owns everyone, with new games from Obsidian and Arkane and unexpected release date announcements for Psychonauts 2 and Stalker 2 alongside Microsoft's home games like Age of Empires 4 and Forza Horizon 5. After all that and Starfield too, the fact we didn't get anything new about Avowed, the first-person RPG in the Pillars of Eternity setting, or Rare's Everwild, doesn't seem like such a big deal.

(Image credit: Devolver Digital)

Then there were overstuffed indie showcases like Guerrilla Collective and Wholesome Games Direct. Even Devolver Digital's annual parody of E3 had eight trailers in it, though none of them were Eitr or Paradise Never, both announced a ways back, or Hotline Miami 3, which Devolver joked about on Twitter.

We knew that Covid-19 was going to upset the videogame apple cart this year, and when you start listing hypothetical things that could have been but weren't it seems like a lot. The rumored Firaxis Marvel game being published by 2K was a no-show, as was Scorn, Fable, Perfect Dark, Ghostwire Tokyo, Hellblade 2, and Forspoken. We didn't see Capcom's astronaut game Pragmata, or Weird West, the top-down immersive sim on the American frontier from the co-creator of Dishonored. And this is the point where I cry my annual single tear over the absence of a new Silent Hill game. 

But there are still quite a few games from E3 coming out this year, and the list of big games coming in 2022 is growing. Videogames are returning to the river, nature is healing. Maybe waiting a little longer for Bayonetta 3 is an opportunity to get through more of our backlogs. All those games we got in bundles and the freebies we collected from the Epic Games Store? Imagine hype trailers for them filling the gap where Dragon's Dogma 2 or a new Metal Gear Solid could have been.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.