Microsoft Bethesda Starfield, Ubisoft Avatar sport
Bethesda’s Todd Howard introduces Starfield at the 2018 E3 Show.
Christian Petersen | Getty Images
The annual trade fair for the video game industry went virtual this year and offers publishers a new format for presenting upcoming titles.
The E3 gaming expo started on Saturday and will last until Tuesday, when Nintendo is expected to showcase its new releases. Microsoft, Ubisoft and Square Enix were among the major publishers who presented over the weekend.
E3 has lost momentum in recent years, with Sony dropping out of the event for the first time in 2019 and longtime host Geoff Keighley skipping the event in 2020 for the first time in 25 years.
Still, E3 is often used as a platform for large video game companies to generate hype about their new blockbusters. And there were some highlights from this year’s event.
Microsoft teases Starfield
The biggest reveal of the weekend was undoubtedly Starfield, an upcoming science fiction epic from Microsoft’s Bethesda.
Microsoft bought the parent company of legendary publisher ZeniMax Media for $ 7.5 billion in an industry-shaking deal announced last year. One of the key results analysts were anticipating from the acquisition was Xbox exclusivity for some Bethesda titles.
Microsoft released the big guns without delay and announced in a joint press conference with Bethesda on Sunday that Starfield will appear exclusively on the Xbox Series X and S consoles and the PC on November 11, 2022.
Microsoft has long been considered to be lagging behind Sony when it comes to exclusive games – games that only run on one system. AAA franchises like The Last of Us and God of War have been key to the success of Sony’s PlayStation 4, and the company is pursuing a similar strategy with the PS5.
Here are a few more highlights from Microsoft’s E3 showcase:
- We took a first look at online multiplayer for Halo Infinite, the latest in the Halo franchise. Microsoft also announced that the game would be released around Christmas 2021 after being postponed last year due to criticism of the graphics.
- There was an official trailer for the Forza Horizon 5 racing title and a release date of November 9th.
- Microsoft has unveiled Redfall, a new multiplayer shooter from the developers behind Dishonored and Prey, and announced a release window for the summer of 2021.
- Some popular titles, including Hades and Among Us, are coming to Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s Netflix-style subscription service for games; Starfield will be available on Game Pass from the day it is released.
- Sea of Thieves: A Pirate’s Life is an expansion pack for the original game inspired by “Pirates of the Caribbean” and, thanks to a partnership with Disney, even includes the popular protagonist of the film series, Captain Jack Sparrow; the expansion will be released as a free update on June 22nd.
- A new zombie survival co-op shooter from the makers of Left 4 Dead, Back 4 Blood, will be released on October 12th this year.
- Age of Empires IV, the fourth entry in the real-time strategy game franchise, hits October 28th.
Ubisoft reveals Avatar game
Ubisoft made some big announcements on its E3 show on Saturday. The French publisher gave fans a closer look at the history of Far Cry 6, the sixth main part of the popular Far Cry series. The game with Giancarlo Esposito from Breaking Bad will be released on October 7th.
But a big surprise from the Ubisoft showcase was a game based on James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi movie Avatar. It’s called Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora and features colorful creatures and environments from the Avatar universe.
Ubisoft also showed Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Extraction, the newest entry in the Rainbow Six tactical shooter franchise. The game was originally supposed to be called Rainbow Six: Quarantine, but Ubisoft changed it due to controversy amid the coronavirus pandemic. Extraction debuts on September 16.
Another big reveal was a new mashup of Nintendo’s Mario and Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids, called the Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. As a sequel to Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle from 2017, the game will be released on Nintendo Switch next year.
Elden Ring and other great revelations
Geoff Keighley may have broken up with E3, but he’s not done broadcasting video games yet.
The host hosted his new digital Summer Game Fest last week, which ended with a reveal trailer for Elden Ring, the highly anticipated role-playing title created in collaboration with Game of Thrones creator George RR Martin.
Elden Ring will be released on January 21, 2022. The game will be published by Bandai Namco.
Meanwhile, Square Enix unveiled a new game on Sunday based on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. It will be a single-player title, unlike another game based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel’s Avengers, which received mixed feedback when it was released in September.