It’s that time again. That time when we must slightly taint our excitement at a really good set of E3 2018 games by having a slight grumble, in an uncomfortably entitled fashion, about the games that we expected to see at E3 2018 but which did not appear. Or, to put a more positive spin on it, these are the missing E3 games that, via the absence of their expected appearance, pave the way for a cavalcade of exciting surprises and reveals over the rest of the year, and perhaps in a few cases even set the foundation for E3 2019.
Yeah, let’s go with that. It sounds nicer, and far less ‘angry internet’. Read on, and be further hyped by the following great games that you entirely forgot about because you were far too busy gawping at Cyberpunk 2077.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Okay, maybe this one was a long-shot. Because, as much as Red Dead Redemption 2 will be the biggest game in the October release schedule without batting an eyelid, that’s probably exactly why it wasn’t at E3 2018. Rockstar doesn’t need E3. Its major releases are so major that they sell themselves. Whenever Rockstar does turn up at a press conference, it’s usually to do someone else a favour by aligning one of its games with a particular platform. Hello, Peter Moore’s Grand Theft Auto 4 tattoo. So yes, while it would have been nice to have had even just a new trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2 turn up at E3, expect the next look at the game to come direct from Rockstar, on Rockstar’s own terms. That’s just how the studio rolls.
To be fair, even Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford didn’t seem sure whether this one was coming to E3 2018. During a rambling, moderately coherent Twitter discussion of magic and the nature of perception - which may or may not have all been a stealth method of whipping up Borderlands 3 hype while pretending to do the opposite - the studio boss mentioned that whatever he said, people would expect Borderlands 3 at E3 just because it had mentioned it. Way to both possess a cake and, in fact, devour it, Randy. We do know that Borderlands 3 exists. Its development was confirmed a good, long time ago. And it certainly feels like we’re due to see it. But maybe Gearbox is waiting for another opportunity, perhaps when Id and Avalanche’s similarly anarchic, post-apocalyptic Rage 2 isn’t hogging the spotlight.
Resident Evil 8
Pre-E3, Capcom had an Xbox One ‘Action/Adventure’ listed as an E3 game. Naturally, many expected that Microsoft, in its continuing bid to showcase massive, third-party games under its own branding, might have snagged a new Resident Evil (separate from the brilliant-looking Resident Evil 2 remake showcased at the Sony conference) for its big stage. In truth, that game turned out to be the no-less exciting Devil May Cry 5, which returns to the original narrative of Dante and Nero while picking up a few stylistic cues from Ninja Theory's 2013 reboot. Resident Evil 8 will have to wait. But in the meantime, The Resi 2 remake, which runs in the same engine as Resident Evil 7 and presumably 8, gives us one hell of a preview of what the next main series entry might deliver. Those gore effects feel positively next-gen.
The Final Fantasy 7 remake
Is this even a real game? Was it ever? Is it just a collective hallucination that we all dreamed into being because we wanted it enough? Is this proof that belief truly can change the world in a tangible way, and that the concentrated power of human perception can reshape reality with enough disciplined intent? Does this unravel what we thought we knew about the nature of the universe, sending our previous naive arrogance spiralling down a bottomless pit of existential possibility? Can we be more than we ever dreamed if we just throw off the petty shackles of mundane assumption and free ourselves to ascend to become one with the greater truth? It’s unconfirmed, but the Final Fantasy 7 remake might turn up at this year’s PlayStation Experience. Or maybe not. Who knows?
After a great deal of rumours and almost-evidence coalesced to indicate that UK-based Forza studio Playground Games would be picking up the Fable dev duties from the now tragically disbanded Lionhead Studios, many expected Playground’s appearance on the Microsoft stage to be about more than shiny racing cars. It was not. Given Microsoft’s need for crowd-pleasing, first-party exclusives, Fable 4 seemed like the obvious, show-closing centrepiece for the Xbox E3 2018 press conference, but while MS did indeed pledge a big first-party boost by way of five new in-house studios, the new Fable project was not announced. Given that Microsoft is clearly now looking to consolidate for a stronger next-gen launch, maybe Fable 4 will even be bumped over to the next Xbox platform, whatever form that takes.
Animal Crossing Switch
The Switch is a Nintendo console. Nintendo consoles get Animal Crossing. The Switch in particular, with its portability, multiple means of physical interaction, several, near-magical ways of connecting with a friend’s machine, and built-in local co-op facilities, makes it the perfect format for the ultimate Animal Crossing game. This one is 100% happening. It felt like an obvious E3 mic drop, but Nintendo decided to focus the vast majority of its presentation on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate instead. Hey, Nintendo doesn’t play by anyone’s rules. Though that need not mean that news of Animal Crossing Switch is another year away. Given the frequency and apparent randomness of Nintendo’s Direct streams, this one could get announced literally any minute of any day now.
That thing about Nintendo not playing by anyone’s rules? It doesn’t always play by its own either. It has a new Yoshi game on the cards. That Yoshi game is a major production, being a 2.5D, world-flipping, perspective-tickling, bona fide inventive delight of a thing that is quite literally on the cards due to being fashioned with a finely-honed wool, cardboard, and papercraft aesthetic. It was revealed at last year’s E3 and was a major hit. It was listed on Nintendo’s own financial earnings report as a 2018 release until just a few days ago, when it was announced as delayed until 2019. Thus, it could not be an E3 2018 game, as Nintendo had earlier stipulated that its presentation would focus only on games releasing this year. Though it showed off one or two with 2019 release dates anyway. But not Yoshi, for some reason. No, none of this seems to make a great deal of traditional sense.
Metroid Prime 4
Ditto this one. The major announcement of a surprise, long-delayed sequel to one of Nintendo’s bravest and most successful series reimaginings, E3 2017’s logo drop for Metroid Prime 4 was about as mega as megatons get. That said, the game still doesn’t have an officially confirmed developer (outside of ‘Not original dev Retro Studios’), nor has Nintendo said a word about it since, so there’s every chance that least year’s announcement was something akin to Bethesda’s semi-reveal of The Elder Scrolls 6 at E3 2018. ie. A token, pretend confirmation of a game that doesn’t really exist yet, dropped in order to silence the endless, jabbering demands of fans and detonate a quick hype grenade while all the world’s cameras were trained. Don't expect anything concrete on this one for a while. Much like Bethesda’s fantasy RPG, it’s probably little more than a logo and a few prototype sketches at the moment.
All the hot Ubisoft rumors pre-E3 were focused on Splinter Cell. Many expected the latest stealth adventure - very likely starring an inexplicably de-aging Sam Fisher - to be Ubi’s ‘just one more thing’ game at the end of its press conference, but… it was a no-show. A new Splinter Cell had been part of a retailer leak (Walmart Canada) two weeks before the show started, and many believed it would be there. In fact, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot actually answered questions about the game during interviews after the conference, assuring fans that they haven’t heard the last of the franchise, and that they had nothing to show right now. Shame, you get the feeling we’ll see the first signs of this game - whatever it is - before the end of 2018. Or at the very least at E3 next year. After all, Fisher is an expert at staying hidden.
Probably the highest profile of all the games to not appear at E3 2018 - if you take mainstream impact into account - it feels downright weird that Square-Enix’s Avengers game remains MIA, amid the shockwave of hype still resonating from Avengers: Infinity War. But it’s understandable that the game might need more time before a reveal. For starters, there’s the matter of just what kind of game it should be. At this stage, given the scale and complexity of the MCU, it’s hard to work out what sort of treatment could do the Avengers justice while giving every fan favourite enough screen - and play - time. With a license this big, Square-Enix really needs to get this game right. Plus, there’s the matter of the Avengers 4 movie to deal with as well. Maybe the Avengers game is being held back for a tie-in next year. Oh, the heady world of corporate IP sharing.