There will be a lot of news, articles, and recaps going up on the site throughout E3 2021 week. You should definitely check out everyone’s great work. However, as the newcomers at The Outerhaven, we decided to band together and give our thoughts on most of the E3 presentations that happen during this week. And Day 2 could be summed up with a very high peak and then an absolute low valley.
Since these articles are not coming out right after the showcases themselves we aren’t going to go through everything that was announced. This is more of a review of the day as a whole. So both Kyle Simcox and Sean Garmer will each have some short thoughts, their favorite game announcement, and a letter grade at the end.
You can also check out our thoughts on E3 2021 Day 1 as well.
Xbox And Bethesda
I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that this is Xbox’s best conference in years. It began and Microsoft came out with its guns blazing. They started off with Starfield, and while there wasn’t much revealed, we got a release date and a confirmation of the games’ exclusivity to the Xbox ecosystem. Then, we just saw game, after game, after game, with little interruption in between. We got a small glimpse of Halo Infinite Multiplayer, then Microsoft surprised us with Forza Horizon 5 and its absolutely stunning visuals. Finally, they finished off the show with quite a bang by showing off Arkane’s new title, Redfall. An open-world, co-op game where it seems like players battle vampires and their undead hordes.
After today, to say that Xbox does not have any games is just being ludicrous for the sake of it. Replaced has been living in my mind rent-free since it was shown off. There has been a monumental shift at Xbox going into this new generation and it shows. There are some big things coming out over the next year and no matter how gamers are involved with the Xbox ecosystem, everyone wins, especially Game Pass subscribers. – Kyle Simcox
Favorite Game: Replaced
Final Grade: A
As someone that hosts a podcast, does reviews, and also just loves freaking video games in general, I try to cover everything as fairly as possible. However, I’ll freely admit that if you have to push me, I’ll always lean Xbox. Mainly because many of my fondest gaming memories are with that console and brand whether it is from growing up with Halo and Gears, or it later becoming my ultimate Rock Band machine in college. My favorite genres are JRPG’s, music games, action games, and platformers. I also play a lot of indie games too. So, I spend quite a bit of time on my Nintendo Switch or PlayStation 5 because of that.
For the record, I do also own an Xbox Series X and I have been a huge champion of Xbox Game Pass and will gladly play pretty much any game that reaches the service even on its PC or Cloud counterparts because I just love discovering games. Sure, it can be a bit overwhelming at times, but there’s nothing like seeing the announcement of new titles coming to Game Pass, and bam I can play them the day they drop. The Xbox and Bethesda showcase at E3 was another major victory for Xbox Game Pass. 27 of the 30 games shown are all coming to the service on Day 1. It is absolutely incredible how Microsoft continues to put even more value into this thing.
Yes, a majority of the big games, and even Halo Infinite itself, could slip or are 2022 titles. But the point is, they showed off the damn games at a great clip at this showcase, which Kyle highlighted pretty well above. Plus, they also added more Bethesda legacy titles and Yakuza: Like a Dragon to Game Pass as well. Somehow I even got hyped for playing Sea of Thieves because of the Disney partnership to bring Jack Sparrow and others from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies into the game.
They also had a great mix of games that I’m hyped for like Psychonauts 2, Slime Rancher 2, Twelve Minutes, Replaced, A Plague Tale: Requiem, Party Animals, Somerville, or Eiyuden Chronicle alongside Forza Horizon 5, Red Fall, and Halo Infinite. There were also several games that aren’t for me like Stalker 2, Flight Simulator, Age of Empires 4, The Outerworlds 2, and Starfield. But you know what’s cool? I can still try them out on Xbox Game Pass anyway just to confirm that for myself. I can also play Back 4 Blood, The Ascent, or Shredders with friends.
The real winner once again here are gamers. Regardless of what you use to play games, as long as it’s in that Xbox ecosystem where Game Pass lives, you can get all these games on the service and then buy them later if you want. Hell, this doesn’t even include all the other indie titles I’m stoked about that are coming that weren’t shown here either. The fact that Xbox now has games that people really wanted to see like Hellblade 2 or Everwild that were not shown at all, speaks volumes about how Xbox and Microsoft’s mindset has changed. They certainly do have THE GAMES, many of the big ones are still a ways off, but there are also plenty coming this year as well. – Sean Garmer
Favorite Game: Psychonauts 2
Final Grade: A
Going into Square Enix’s show, I knew to temper my expectations. Square Enix was upfront and they shared their E3 showcase with us beforehand. We knew what was going to be there and what was not. However, with that in mind, I was still incredibly let down by what they brought to the table. The only notable things worth discussing from the show are the Guardians of the Galaxy Game and Strangers of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. Everything else just felt like it didn’t need to be there.
I’ll start off with Guardians. It was amazing and looks like everything I always wanted Avengers to be. Peter Quill, however, probably has the most punchable face in the game. Thankfully, if you pre-order the game (like I did as soon as I could), you get Quill’s Annihilation costume which I love. Then, there was Strangers of Paradise: A Final Fantasy Origin. It looks to be a moderately interesting and action-packed spin-off. The main characters really have a thing for killing Chaos but that was about all I got from the trailer. Square-Enix also announced a demo for the PlayStation 4 and 5 but it is unfortunately broken and doesn’t work at the moment. – Kyle Simcox
Favorite Game: Guardians of the Galaxy
Final Grade: C-
Square-Enix has taken the same approach that Ubisoft did last year. The COVID-19 pandemic left an E3 void and they decided to fill it quarterly with Square-Enix presents shows. As Kyle noted, they were also very upfront about what would be included here. Sony also seems to have anything Final Fantasy VII Remake and Final Fantasy XVI related on lockdown for their State of Plays or showcases. So I wasn’t really surprised we didn’t see that here. However, what did surprise me is how well I vibed with the Guardians of the Galaxy game.
First of all, kudos to SE for going with the single-player experience. You play as Star-Lord, yes, he’s not the one many know from the movies, but you knew that wasn’t happening. What we got here is something more akin to the comics even though his hair just weirds me out. Aside from that though, the other characters make up for not being playable by having fantastic writing attached to them. I loved the Telltale-type choices, and many of the environments looked great too. Combat is obviously something you have to try out, but the command system is the best of both worlds. I’m just so happy they didn’t do the live service thing or even go the action co-op route either. They have a direction for the game, it has some great musical tracks, and it still has the laughs and fun you expect from Guardians.
However, after Guardians the entire presentation took a major dip and never recovered. I’m a huge Final Fantasy fan. Having the announcement of FF 1-6 pixel remasters be relegated to the mobile ports that already exist is awful. I’m not too sure they will listen to the criticism, but man what a letdown it was to see that they wouldn’t even be available on the Nintendo Switch. Let alone on the other two bigger consoles. I have rebought FF 7-15 on console and PC just because I want to be supportive. Having that option for the original six FF games would be wonderful. I don’t even care that they want to charge piecemeal for them, just put them on the freaking consoles.
Sadly it doesn’t end there for Square-Enix. Babylon’s Fall being a service game is more bad news and also the game didn’t look great either. I don’t play Avengers, but at least the Black Panther Wakanda stuff looked cool. I’m interested in trying out Life is Strange: True Colors but the Spring showcase did a great job of giving you the rundown on that game. I don’t know that being here really did anything for anyone. Lastly, I’m all for SE wanting to do side stories or create a new canon for Final Fantasy in the action style that is their major preference these days, but this was literal Chaos. It didn’t look good and to top it all off, the demo that they released doesn’t even work.
Overall, this was literally a one-game show with Legend of Mana getting a nice snippet of time too. I’m utterly sad that my favorite publisher who makes some of my all-time favorite games and houses my favorite franchises just gave us this lackluster show. – Sean Garmer
Favorite Game: Guardians of the Galaxy
Final Grade: D
Goodness, the guys brought that passion for both of the conferences today. Let’s see how things go for Day 3 where it is pretty much just the Capcom show that rules the day along with Halo Multiplayer. But there certainly could be a surprise or two there for sure.