E3 2021: A Virtual Look at Upcoming Disney Games

Back in 2019, we said that E3 was undergoing some growing pains as it continued its transition from a trade show to a game convention, but that we would be watching its evolution with interest.  Certainly, we could not have anticipated all that would subsequently transpire, which led to E3 2020 being canceled altogether.  This year, E3 returns, but as so many conventions over the last year, in a virtual format.  Game company keynotes were streamed online and available for later viewing on-demand for people who took advantage of the free fan registration.  Just as every year (except the last one) since 2012, I bring you some of the highlights mentioned at E3 of interest to the gaming Disneyphile.

E3 2021 set. Photo courtesy of ESA.

Saturday started off with Ubisoft’s keynote where they spent a lot of time on their big games Rainbow Six Extraction and Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, but then ended with a surprise look at a new open-world game based on James Cameron’s Avatar, “Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.”

While not a lot of details were given beyond the trailer, the presence of what appears to be military aircraft seems likely to be the villainous RDA’s private security force of the first movie, which would place it at a time before the Pandora currently depicted in Animal Kingdom.

The presentation also included a look at the recently-released trailer for Free Guy the Twentieth Century Studios film about an NPC (non-player character) who becomes self-aware of his status as a background character in a video game.  More on this will no doubt be forthcoming as we get closer to its opening in theaters nationwide August 13, 2021.

On Sunday, the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase introduced a new story campaign to the popular multiplayer open-world pirate adventure game, Sea of Thieves–“Sea of Thieves:  A Pirates Life.”  Free to all players and arriving on June 22nd, the add-on features Captain Jack Sparrow who is once again in need of rescue, and includes characters and locations from both the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise as well as the theme park attraction.

Square Enix, of Kingdom Hearts fame, presented next with the Eidos-Montréal studio and Marvel Entertainment, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxya third-person narrative action-adventure single-player game. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy will release simultaneously on the PlayStation®5, PlayStation®4, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles, and on PC, and streaming via GeForce NOW on October 26, 2021.

While the characters have clearly been designed to avoid resemblance to the actors from the film series, one thing that has made the transition is the soundtrack, as the game features the same classic 80s songs Peter Quill loves in the movies.

The presentation provided both a featurette on the making of the game and a first look at the gameplay.

For their Marvel’s Avengers game (action-adventure, with single-player and co-op gameplay,) Square Enix announced a new expansion:  “War for Wakanda,” spotlighting the world of Black Panther.  While details are still forthcoming, players can expect the expansion to release in August 2021.

And these were only the first two days!  We’ll be watching the next two days for more Disney game content.

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Jeanine resides in Southern California, pursuing the sort of lifestyle that makes her the envy of every 11-year-old she meets. She has been to every Disney theme park in the world and while she finds Tokyo DisneySea the Fairest Of Them All, Disneyland is her Home Park... and there is no place like home.

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