E3 2021 brought us a ton of exciting gaming announcements, from a gameplay trailer for Elden Ring, to the surprise reveal of Metroid Dread. Microsoft, Nintendo, Bethesda, Bandai Namco, Square Enix and other major gaming companies showed off exciting new titles, and expanded on some other games that we already know about. Whether you like to play action side-scrollers, inventive Japanese RPGs, expansive racing games or anything in-between, E3 2021 was a good time to be a gamer.
Since this year’s event was an all-digital affair, we didn’t get a chance to go hands-on with any games. As such, the Tom’s Guide staff has rounded up our favorite games and hardware from the event in lieu of traditional awards.
Something about these products caught our interest, and we’re counting down the days until we can try them out for ourselves. Keep an eye on these games and gear over the next few months; they’ll more than likely be worth checking out when they launch.
Advance Wars 1 + 2: Reboot Camp
I played the heck out of the original Game Boy Advance versions of the Advance Wars titles back in the early 2000s. In fact, I still occasionally listen to each commanding officer’s catchy theme on loop just for fun. Unsurprisingly, I’m delighted to see that Nintendo’s decided to remaster both games and bring them to the Switch.
Seeing all the familiar units and gameplay, from the adorable city capture animations, to the excited and horrified reactions of the commanding officers as tiny tanks and soldiers do battle, is the exact right blend of nostalgia and freshness. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this game right up until I can buy it this December 3. — Richard Priday
Like many franchise fans, I’ve been desperately waiting for Battlefield to return to a modern setting. While I enjoyed the historical diversions in the last two entries, Battlefield 2042 is the game I’ve been longing for. After so many leaks, and a frustratingly long wait for the official reveal, I was concerned that 2042 wouldn’t live up to the hype. I needn’t have worried. The gameplay trailer we saw at the Xbox showcase suggests that Battlefield 2042 will offer the series’ trademark large-scale skirmishes, along with several fresh ideas sprinkled in for good measure. I’m hoping the pre-release beta happens soon, because I can’t wait to get onto the battlefield already. — Rory Mellon
I’ve managed to finish Bloodborne, and am still inching my way through Demon’s Souls. Suffice it to say, I’m not a huge Souls-like player. But Elden Ring really got my attention. For a start, it looks fantastic: a proper next-gen FromSoftware game. But I’m also drawn to the idea of an open-world game cooked up by the minds of Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R.R. Martin. The idea of exploring a dark and dilapidated fantasy world filled, filled with interesting spots and creatures, is enough to make me smile at the giant monstrosity that is the PS5. I also like the idea that if a boss encounter is too tough, you could find other ways around it. Elden Ring could still be a Souls-like game, but is also appealing to people like me who struggle to master a parry. — Roland Moore-Colyer
Forza Horizon 5
There aren’t many surprises in Forza Horizon 5. We now know it will take place in Mexico, and we know that it will feature some of the most amazing cars ever produced — along with some vehicles that probably won’t make it out of the concept stage. While Forza Horizon is an absolutely fantastic driving experience, the series is as much about graphical prowess as anything else. Microsoft and Playground Games have chucked everything at this title, and with 4K graphics, it looks absolutely stunning. PC gamers will love pusing their systems to the limit. With the biggest map in the series so far, Forza Horizon 5 should be an absolute riot. — Ian Morris
Metroid Dread was one of the biggest surprises from E3 2021 — and one of the most welcome ones, too. While fans didn’t hear anything about the highly anticipated Metroid Prime 4, what we got instead was arguably even better. Metroid Dread, aka Metroid 5, is a side-scrolling action/exploration game that acts as a direct sequel to Metroid Fusion. It’s our first 2D Metroid in four years, and our first 2D Metroid with an original story in 19 years. It’s unexpected; it’s exactly what fans wanted; and it’s coming out within the next few months. That’s the perfect combination for our beleaguered bounty hunter, Samus Aran. — Marshall Honorof
The Outer Worlds 2
The sequel to Obsidian’s sci-fi RPG might just be the reason I buy an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S. The original wasn’t a perfect game, but it got so much right: its light-hearted tone, its style and its handful of separate but well-sized open levels. I have high hopes that a sequel will be able to improve on the original.
There’s not much to see right now in the teaser trailer, other than the game looking good and the voice-over showing off the series’ sensor of humor. It’s still enough to have me hooked. — Richard Priday
Razer Blade 14
As a proud owner of the 2019 Razer Blade 15, it was incredibly satisfying to see Razer finally announce an AMD laptop. With the global chip shortage going on, investing in a new gaming device doesn’t seem like such a bad idea, especially since you’ll have the option of equipping it with the coveted Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. However, I’ll be interested to see whether or not the laptop’s cooling system will be as good as Razer promised, considering how tightly packed all the Razer Blade 14’s internal components are bound to be. — Denise Primbet
Resident Evil Village DLC
While Capcom’s E3 keynote was arguably uneventful, I was still excited to hear official confirmation for the upcoming Resident Evil Village DLC. The franchise’s latest installment is easily one of my favorite games in 2021, thanks to its engaging story and memorable boss fights. Capcom gave us virtually no details on the upcoming DLC, apart from the fact that it’s in development. However, considering how well the DLC for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard performed, and the many, many questions Resident Evil Village left unanswered, I’m excited to find out what else the horror series has in store for us. — Denise Primbet
Prior to E3, I would have said I was looking forward to Riders Republic, but it was just a passing interest. Now I’m fully on board. This extreme sports game was easily the highlight of Ubisoft Forward for me. The game appears to be built on the foundation laid by Ubisoft’s underappreciated snowboarding title Steep, which is a very solid framework. While we got a reasonably lengthy look at the competitive online modes, what really sold me on Riders Republic is its open-world aspect. Being able to cruise around a diverse map on a mountain bike or a pair of skis looks like pure gaming bliss. I can’t wait to wipe out over and over again this September. — Rory Mellon
Given that we didn’t see any real game footage, it seems a bit silly to get super excited for Starfield, but I am. Not only is there a confirmed release date of November 11, 2022, but the game looks like It’ll take place in a hard sci-fi setting — something I’m into, thanks to The Expanse series. The idea of ships festooned with chunky buttons, à la Ridley Scott’s Alien, and a sense of realism around space travel, ticks my nerd boxes. So does the description of “Skyrim in space.” I can’t think of a better thing to do while I wait for The Elder Scrolls 6, than immerse myself in a large open-space sci-fi game. — Roland Moore-Colyer
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
I’ll be the first to admit that most of the Final Fantasy series is lost on me. While I love a good JRPG, I’ve never clicked with the series outside of FF7 and Crisis Core. But after seeing the trailer for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, a Souls-like with a Final Fantasy coating, I suddenly became interested. Square Enix has excellent storytelling chops, and the subtitle for Stranger of Paradise, Final Fantasy Origin, hints at something greater. This looks like it’s going to be a game worth paying attention to, especially since Team Ninja is leading the development efforts. — Jordan Palmer
Tales of Arise
E3 2021 wasn’t just about surprise announcements and unexpected reveals; it was also a chance to learn a little more about some games that are already on our radar. Take Tales of Arise, for instance. This Japanese RPG is the latest entry in the 21-year-old Tales series, which focuses on real-time battles, charming characters and colorful fantasy worlds. We got a longer look at Tales of Arise at the Summer Game Fest, and saw some of the new party members. Kisara, the lady knight with a stylish set of armor and an imposing tower shield, seems like an early fan favorite. — Marshall Honorof