After the 2020 E3 cancellation, hopes and hype are riding high for the return of the annual gaming entertainment extravaganza for 2021. Many look to the conference as a sign of big things to come for the future of gaming after the turbulent and troubled year of 2020. The pandemic no doubt had an influence on life and the industry. Major companies and developers, like Xbox and Nintendo, have announced their presence at the 2021 conference. Both have scheduled their own showcase and presentation for eager fans–and none need it more than Nintendo.
After more than a year of no Nintendo Directs–with a lackluster one in 2021–and not much to show for it, Japan’s gaming giant has a lot riding on this year’s E3 to make an impact on fans and its competition. Here are the top five things we want to see from Nintendo at E3 2021.
5 – Fire Emblem Remake
Fire Emblem has proven to be one of Nintendo’s flagship franchises in recent years. It has earned praise from casual and hardcore fans of the genre. It has a winning recipe after all; a game with a deep, rich strategic experience, marinated with a fantastical setting and storytelling, topped off with the unbeatable appeal of waifus and husbandos. Its formula has rightfully earned it the nickname “medieval dating simulator”, though the moniker mostly applies to games in recent years.
Fire Emblem games within the last decade have more or less perfected the level of approachability and depth it needs to appeal to older fans and bring in new ones. However, the same cannot be said for the older titles in the two-decade spanning franchise.
Several games prior to Awakening suffer from being unplayable because of hardware restrictions or inaccessible due to localization. The dubious practice of emulation is the only current viable solution–which is a crying shame.
There are many gems within Fire Emblem’s older catalog, as proven by Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, a fantastic reimagining and remake of the niche Fire Emblem Gaiden. There is a market for the series’ older titles if executed properly. The mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes also shows renewed and growing interest in the franchise’s older games, like Thracia: 776 and Genealogy of the Holy War. Many players are genuinely wishing for a revisit of these games with modern conveniences of graphics and quality-of-life changes.
Echoes released back in 2017 and the more recent Three Houses ended its DLC support cycle back in 2020. Now seems like the perfect opportunity to keep the Fire Emblem wicker burning even longer with the announcement of a remake. It would be amazing to see the SNES and GBA-relegated games breathed new life via current-gen capabilities on top of the innovative mechanics of the newer games. If completed properly, it is a renaissance just waiting to bloom.
4 – Switch Pro Confirmation
Aside from the convenience of being handheld, the Nintendo Switch suffers in just about every aspect compared to its competitors. Resolution isn’t the console’s strong point nor is its hardware power. This concerned gamers regarding the machine’s future, heading into the next generation of home consoles. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X blow it out of the water when it comes to technical feats, which is obvious given that the Switch is weaker than the PS4 and Xbox One when it launched.
Its saving grace was the brand name, handheld convenience, and immense catalog of fantastic first-party games. However, in the fourth year of the console’s lifespan, the novelty of a handheld console has more or less worn away and newer games can only push the Switch’s hardware so far before rendering the system to framerate hell. For Nintendo’s new games to compete on the same technical scale as its competitors, it needs a powerful enough console to handle its future endeavors–and luckily, it seems a new console might be on its way.
Dubbed unofficially by fans as the ‘Switch Pro’, rumors say that the newest console is a machine capable of standing tall next to Sony and Microsoft’s hardware titans. With datamines and industry reports detailing 1440p resolution, 4K upscaling, and overall improvements in all aspects (battery life, cooling, processor power), the rumored console is shaping up to be the system Nintendo fans dreamed of back in 2017.
Bloomberg claims that the Switch Pro will start development in July, arriving on shelves come October or November. To prevent the XSX and PS5 from stealing the show, Nintendo would do well to showcase its own next-gen machine at the expo letting its competition know that the Switch’s legacy is more than just a novel gimmick.
3 – Smash Newcomer
Anything Smash related has the potential to steal the show at any given conference. Even the lackluster Nintendo Direct of February 2021 was partially redeemed by a Smash fighter announcement. Thanks to the longevity granted by Smash Ultimate’s Fighter Pass 2, the game has continued to receive support and dev time from game director Masahiro Sakurai and his team.
The DLC offerings of Ultimate have proved that Smash is a celebration of gaming with guest appearances of Banjo and Kazooie, Minecraft’s Steve, Persona 5’s Joker, and much more. With only two more slots left to fill on Fighter Pass 2, it is only a matter of time before those are revealed. What better place to make a splash than E3?
With third-party representatives mostly dominating the guest additions, it is highly likely that the remaining characters will hail from franchises distant from Nintendo. Given how Ultimate recognizes gaming icons like Final Fantasy VII’s Sephiroth and Undertale’s Sans to name a few, the possibilities of guests are limitless.
However, with the recent cordial relationship shared between Nintendo and Microsoft, whispers run amok that one of the last additions could come from a Microsoft-owned franchise. With so many genre-defining titles beneath its belt, at least one more of Microsoft’s franchises should make it into Ultimate, whether they be old-timers or new acquisitions.
Anyone want a green-armored space marine
2 – Breath of the Wild 2
This year marks The Legend of Zelda’s 35th anniversary. So far, Nintendo has been relatively quiet about the whole deal, which is especially apparent when being compared to fanfare surrounding Mario’s 35th-anniversary celebration. Zelda has shown that it has earned its rightful place alongside Mario, as one of the lead representatives of the company–which is what makes this silence all the more confusing.
The first mentions of anything anniversary-related can be traced back to the February 2021 Nintendo Direct, where the series’ creator Eiji Aonuma appeared to give fans a formal update regarding smash hit Breath of the Wild’s sequel and an announcement of a Skyward Sword remaster.
Though Skyward Sword’s release date has been confirmed, the same can’t be said for the long-anticipated Breath of the Wild sequel. Aonuma promised that he and the team would have more to show later this year and given what this year means for Zelda, in lieu of Skyward Sword’s release and rumored Switch Pro announcements, a showcase at a conference like E3 would blow the proverbial roof off of the event.
1 – Metroid Prime 4
How many years has it been? Two? Three? Though it has been exactly four years since Metroid Prime 4 was first unveiled to the world, albeit via title card, for Metroid fans the wait has felt much longer. Coupled with the project restart announcement in 2019, the day Metroid Prime 4 would see the light of day seemed to grow further away with each passing day.
Since then, developer Retro Studios has been hard at work recruiting talent and staff to craft a game that meets Nintendo’s standards, especially given that the previous development team failed to do so.
Even if it isn’t a major showcase, any sign of proper life for the game or from its team would suffice. It has been two years since any joint word from Nintendo and Retro. Please give the long-awaiting fans this at least. It would ease our anxious souls.