RPGamer’s Summer Game Fest, E3 Showcase Highlights
E3 was a rather different all-digital proposition this year, but thanks to various publishers and the Summer Game Fest, the week still provided plenty of reveals and announcements. After taking an extra week to digest everything, a number of our staff members have offered their favourite titles appearing during the relevant showcases, mostly RPGs but with other titles thrown into the mix. We hope you enjoy reading about our selections and invite you to provide your own in the comments.
E3 gave me just enough RPG love that I didn’t walk away completely underwhelmed. I was hoping for a better showing from Square Enix, but it was surprisingly Microsoft that provided me the biggest feel-good moment of the gaming convention. I had already backed Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes as soon as it was announced last year, but any updates on the project are okay in my book. Being the spiritual successor to my favorite RPG series, Suikoden, with the series creator Yoshitaka Murayama in charge, I am fully on board. So at E3 it was announced that Eiyuden Chronicle will be heading to Xbox Game Pass first, which might have irked me if it wasn’t for that fact that the money the company is getting with this new deal is allowing them a larger budget to improve the game. I am all in for Eiyuden Chronicle!
We also finally got some concrete coverage for Shin Megami Tensei V, and you know what, the game looks good! As an added bonus Nintendo, also gave us the release date, and November is a lot earlier than I was expecting considering we had next to no information on the game. We finally got to see the game in action, with some overworld and battle shots in during the Nintendo presentation. I was already going to purchase the game before, but the E3 trailer has most likely made this a day-one purchase for myself. I imagine after the rerelease of Nocturne, people were eager for a new entry in the series, and Shin Megami Tensei V looks to provide all the demon summoning and mythological beings an RPGamer could want.
Last, but not least, I was pleasantly surprised with Metal Slug Tactics, Dark Deity, and Breath of the Wild’s sequel. There were a few other games that caught my eye, but these last three were the ones I was the most excited to see and subsequently gush about. Dark Deity and Metal Slug Tactics caught me by complete surprise. I knew I wanted a game in that old Fire Emblem style, and here Dark Deity was, right in my face. If I wasn’t such a big Suikoden fan, this would have stolen the show. I also got to see the game in action, thanks to our very own JCServant demo-ing the game on the RPGamer Twitch channel, and I can already tell I will enjoy it. Metal Slug is a series I had never really ventured too much into, but I was instantly charmed by Metal Slug Tactics. I love how this game looks! And Nintendo left me very happy with a Breath of the Wild update. Unless something goes horribly wrong, I will love this game as much as I loved the first.
I also love how Nintendo squashed a lot of the Smash Bros. rumors right out of the gate with their Kazuya reveal. Bravo.
Well this was certainly a different kind of E3. Plenty of conferences underwhelmed, while a few diamonds in the rough surprised. With this in mind from an RPG sense, there did not seem to be many mid-tier announcements, as most of the titles were big games or indie releases. The big updates almost uniformly did amazing — with Dying Light 2 being the only one faltering for me, just because it just had developer interviews — and we also had the reveal of Metroid Dread. As big releases go, Shin Megami Tensei V reached new levels of hype, and Diablo II: Resurrected — with up to eight-player co-op and solid visuals — looks like it will be a good choice as well. The sheer volume of indie games that all look varyingly interesting makes it hard to figure out which ones to check out first.
Eiyuden Chronicle, gaining such a high profile from being in Microsoft’s conference, is difficult to call an indie title anymore. The game looks amazing, and being a proper Suikoden-style RPG and true successor to some of the best RPGs ever made means this is highly anticipated. Next, Hunt the Night from Moonlight Games has a lot of influences including A Link to the Past, but with a much darker subject matter. The focus on story is very intriguing, while hunting monsters straight from a gothic nightmare makes this one to look out for. From Pixelated Milk came the first appearance of SacriFire, which looks gorgeous with pixel art mixed with 3D graphics, showing just enough of its hybrid real-time and turn-based action for me to wonder how the final product will shape up.
Overall, this may not have been the best E3 on the record, but as the first one I’ve covered it will be memorable for many reasons, from conversations with colleagues to my first time sitting down with developers, there was so much fun to be had. I did not want to single out any one experience from that bunch, as to me they were all highlights.
Eiyuden Chronicle is the only game that matters. Okay, there were other games I suppose. Shin Megami Tensei V looks great and I think will be a solid entry into the franchise. It’s also nice to see it is coming out this year given we had such a dry spell when it came to information regarding it. The biggest surprise, outside of screaming at my husband and roommate about Eiyuden Chronicle, was seeing that Metal Slug Tactics exists. That game looks like it will have everything a good TRPG needs to have, from environmental traps to challenging maps, all with the fun cast of Metal Slug characters! I am beyond surprised and happy that this game exists and cannot wait to play it myself.
I am cautiously optimistic about Starfield, though I am of the mind that exclusivity hurts everyone. I am JAZZED for more The Outer Worlds, as I loved the zany world and crazy shenanigans that came out of that first game. Tales of Arise looks like it will be a fantastic return for the Tales series (and the art direction is fabulous!). I am curious about the new River City Girls games as I enjoyed the first one, but hope to never do certain boss battles ever again. Otherwise, Eiyuden Chronicle is the only thing that matters and I need it injected into my veins now. Please, I have a mighty need for it.
Erik van Asselt
This year’s E3 was indeed a strange one, but it was to be expected since we are still in a pandemic. But you now really felt the consequences of that pandemic with a lot of games being pushed further back. That being said, there were certainly quite a few games that made me react with excitement.
I loved seeing Elden Ring, Tales of Arise, and many more games, but these are the games that made me smile the most. Metal Slug Tactics is a crazy combination, but somehow it feels really natural. I’m super excited to see where this game ends up. Eiyuden Chronicle looks amazing and was a great moment during the Microsoft and Bethesda show. And let’s not forget the return of Advance Wars during the Nintendo Direct. Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp made me scream at my screen and my wife became a bit worried about me. Thanks Nintendo.
Last, but not least, I would like to discuss both the Breath of the Wild sequel and Shin Megami Tensei V. What a great showing. Yes, I would also have loved more of the Breath of the Wild sequel, but this trailer told me that the game was still alive and that is really what I needed. But then Shin Megami Tensei V blew me away. I am super hyped for November, so we can recruit monsters again and fight the war against Angels and Demons.
This year’s E3 was rather lowkey, and nothing really blew me away. That is to be expected, of course, considering the pandemic. For me, the most pleasant bit of news wasn’t even technically part of the showcase: more information and a release date for Fuga: Melodies of Steel. Even so, there were some updates on games I am looking forward to and some nice surprises as well.
Shin Megami Tensei V was the best part of E3 for me. I am so very glad that it’s coming out in November, and it’s virtually a worldwide release (Japan gets the game a day sooner than the rest of us). I can’t help but notice how much the game’s UI resembles Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, which I find neat. I don’t know how soon I’ll be able to play the game once it does come out, but I look forward to exploring this alternate-universe, post-apocalyptic Toyko, fighting and recruiting demons along the way.
Other highlights for me were Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s still-unnamed sequel, and Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp. I actually still have not played the first Mario + Rabbids or Breath of the Wild, but I plan to get to them eventually and will likely want to play their sequels as well. I have not played any Advance Wars games either, but I am glad to see how fans of the series have rejoiced at this announcement. It also makes me hopeful for other dormant series I did play getting some sort of re-release. Even that new opening movie for Legend of Mana has me excited. That game is so close to coming out!
Given the uselessness that was E3’s media portal in the week before, the actual showcases were a pleasant surprise. It feels like without having a physical crowd to try and pander to, the companies could actually just get on with showing the games themselves. Although the usual batch of leaks and arbitrary rumours that help no one made absolutely sure that a number of loud people were going to be unhappy regardless, it was nice to see many others getting excited for the reels of games shown.
My main shoutout has to go to Freedom Games, which managed to provide a virtual experience of getting to speak to developers and learn more about their games, and as a result those are the titles that I come out remembering the most. It was cool to see all of the progress Dreamscaper has made since last year, Coromon looks to have captured that GBA charm nicely, and while Sands of Aura isn’t the sort of game I’m usually drawn to, it was easy to see the appeal it will have for many others. The publisher also had some other titles on show, including the surprise release of the Fire Emblem-esque Dark Deity.
There weren’t any true must-play announcements from my side, but there were some nice affirmations, including seeing Shin Megami Tensei V’s first gameplay footage and some more from Tales of Arise. However, I always like seeing more under-the-radar titles get to shine. Dodgeball Academia looks right up my street, especially seeing a new Inazuma game is a long way away, and I’m fascinated by how Fuga: Melodies of Steel is going to turn out, even more so as the wait for it is very short.
This was the first E3 I was involved in while being a staff member for RPGamer, and I really enjoyed keeping up with the presentations. I will admit I was underwhelmed by the Square Enix presentation, relying too heavily on another Marvel game. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin which is a game I never asked for but am now curious to experience more of. There was very little else from that presentation I remember, though. Microsoft had a great show, with a host of Bethedsa games coming to both Xbox consoles and Game Pass. As someone who has not been much of a Microsoft gamer the last few generations, I will admit they are making an increasingly good bargain.
One of the clear highlights for me was Shin Megami Tensei V. I am a huge fan of the series, and am now making the recent remaster of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne a priority before the release in November. I’m blown away by how current and modern the game looks, although it may be because of the stark contrast it provides to III and even IV. Eiyuden Chronicle deserves a special mention, but as a backer I was not blown away by the (mostly) previously-released footage. Tales of Arise has finally made an impression on me, and I am looking forward to seeing how the series is finally modernized. Ultimately, Nintendo had the best showing for me.