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E3 2021: What to expect at the world’s most influential gaming event

PlayStation 4’s full reveal, the first glimpse of Halo 2 and Keanu Reeves stealing the hearts of gamers – some of the moments that have made E3 a special event for the games industry over the years.

It’s where publishers, developers, media and fans meet, have a party, and get excited about the future.

Much of that is still true for the 2021 version of the world’s most influential gaming event but the coronavirus pandemic is casting a lengthy shadow over proceedings.

First things first – this year is a digital only event.

Gone are the elaborate physical displays at the Los Angeles Convention Centre that used to delight fans and influencers and take over social media feeds.

Gone too is the chance for people to physically get their hands on games months before they’re finally released.

Thanks to coronavirus we’ll have four days of live streams, press conferences and interactive events to look forward to.

This year many of the industries big hitters are taking part, from Microsoft and Nintendo to publishers Ubi-Soft and Square Enix.

After completely missing out last year fans can once again expect an event with new game announcements, more details on the titles we already know are coming and possibly a surprise or two along the way.

What not to expect

If you’re a PlayStation fan though – don’t expect anything from Sony over the weekend.

They’re not taking part.

They also didn’t get involved the last time E3 was held in 2019. Instead, they favour hosting their own State of Play events to make announcements.

Other publishers will bring PlayStation 5 relevant news, but fans will have to wait a bit longer for any PS5 exclusives.

The pandemic

The impact of the pandemic is looming large not only by limiting the way the event is being held but also what companies will be able to show off.

We’ve seen titles like Hogwarts Legacy and God of War: Ragnarok pushed back from their promised 2021 release dates – and we could see more titles go the same way this weekend.

It goes without saying making modern video games is hugely complex and doing it during a pandemic has clearly been challenging.

There’ll be gameplay trailers to keep fans excited but at the same time expect release dates to be further away than hoped.

Specifics

Xbox have made a massive investment in software (games) in recent years, famously buying iconic games studio Bethesda last year (makers of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series).

They need that investment to pay-off in terms of exclusive titles that get people really excited about the future of Xbox.

The last generation of consoles saw Sony produce more successful exclusive titles for their machine, which was partly responsible for its success – can Microsoft now start catching-up?

That required fan buzz could come in the form of the mysterious Starfield, a Skyrim sequel or maybe something we have no idea about.

Starfield is Bethesda’s long awaited sci-fi role-playing game, the first new franchise the developer has created in 25 years.

Without seeing something different, another year of Halo Infinite updates and a new racing game might feel lacklustre.

Nintendo have poured cold water over long rumoured hopes of a new version of the Nintendo Switch.

The Switch Pro is rumoured to be a more powerful version of Nintendo’s hybrid handheld console.

In its absence attention is instead turning to a possible reveal of Breath of the Wild 2 – a game first announced in 2019.

The sequel to the award winning Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is arguably the most eagerly anticipated game in the world right now.

Details on what it looks like, how it will play and when it’ll be released would no doubt send fans into an excited frenzy.

Nintendo however are a company that does things on their own terms, so even though fans are desperate for it there’s no guarantee that it will be there during their press conference on Tuesday 15 June.

We’ll also see game play for the first time for the latest iterations of major franchises like Battlefield, Far Cry 6 and Rainbow 6.