In the deluge of game announcements during what we at PC Gamer have been referring to as 'not-E3' (mostly because it stuck), there have been a few showings that didn't quite hit. It was definitely a quieter-than-usual year, despite strong showings from a few standout games.
There was still loads of games at not-E3, and plenty we're eager to play when we get a chance. But some of the others didn't grip us. These are the games and E3 trends that left us cold, often with more questions than answers.
Starfield is just ugly No Man's Sky
Fraser Brown, Online Editor: Bethesda has been so vague when it comes to Starfield that I had no expectations for its reveal at not-E3 this year, and yet it still somehow managed to be a massively disappointing showcase. At least we actually know what Starfield is now: it's ugly No Man's Sky.
With every single revelation, it just got closer and closer to Hello Games' big cosmic sandbox, but with an aesthetic that's impenetrably dull and gloomy. You can craft! You can build! You can explore! Yes, it is indeed a modern videogame. One of the first things our unknown space explorer does when they land on one of Starfield's Mass Effect-looking worlds is laser off some resources from a rock. Then it's time for an unconvincing shootout. After keeping it under wraps for so long, I'd expected at least one surprise—but nope!
Undoubtedly the highlight of the whole presentation was Todd Howard announcing that you can fly your spaceship as if it was this entirely unexpected feature. In a game called Starfield. Where you explore alien worlds. With a spaceship. Similarly, the revelation that there's 1,000 planets to explore elicited a chuckle. It's the new "you can climb that mountain". Then we got a taste of these worlds and the wonders they contain: a space port, an ice planet, a desert planet, a barren planet, another barren planet. The thrills never end.
I'm absolutely in the mood for another Bethesda RPG, but this generic-looking crafty space sim is doing nothing for me.
Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: I'm right there with you, Fraser. I wouldn't be so negative about the number of planets if Starfield didn't just look so dang bland.
Action doesn't always need to be space gore, does it?
Imogen Mellor, Features Producer: I'm not a huge fan of horror. It's just the genre of gaming that's never connected with me. I find little pleasure in ripping and tearing and/or being ripped and teared. So this year it was a minor frustration to see so much action, so many incredible looking games pride themselves on gore and body horror.
I'm not going to yuck anyone's yum: if that's your sort of game, congrats on a large helping of not-E3's games being for you. But I love action, plain action, action without complication. My first gaming loves were Uncharted, Assassin's Creed, inFamous, Portal 2, the Arkham series, Overwatch. And I feel like this year we were missing some of that sort of action.
We've seen Scorn, The Callisto Protocol, Routine, Aliens Dark Descent, Space Marine 2, and more, all with gory takedowns or scary atmospheres. They all look awesome but I kind of wish there was a little more action without beheadings you know? Oh well, The Invincible looked kind of great, and Deliver Us Mars could be the game I'm looking for instead. And I can't discount Starfield either. But those are all space-based too, so I can't even get away from celestial missions.
Oh well. Space gore is the trend, I guess. Dead Space fans, enjoy it while it lasts.
Redfall or Red 4 Dead?
Mollie Taylor, News Writer: I feel like I missed a memo somewhere. I had it in my head that Redfall was going to be Arkane's bread-and-butter, another immersive sim in line with Deathloop and Dishonored. But when the trailer was shown at the Xbox and Bethesda showcase, it was… a Left 4 Dead-like? Even worse, everyone already thought it was a Left 4 Dead-like? I was over here in my own little world expecting another cool immersive sim with vampires.
This one is completely on me, I'll admit. My brain is so clouded with JRPGs and MMOs that I had forgotten to stay on top of what this game actually is. Saying that, even if I had been excited for a co-op shooter, I simply wasn't vibing with Redfall's trailer. I can't quite point to what, but something wasn't hitting with me. It's a shame because I love vampires and witty dialogue—probably the rabid Buffy fan in me—but right now, Redfall ain't it. I hope Arkane proves me wrong.
Morgan Park, Staff Writer: I think it was easy to miss exactly what kind of game Redfall is when it was revealed with a CG trailer last year. I've been quietly pouting about Redfall for a year now, wishing with all my heart that all these resources were going toward a sequel to 2017's Prey. Redfall most likely entered production before Bethesda was gobbled up by Microsoft, though. With the newfound financial flexibility of a corporate overlord, there's still hope for a proper Prey 2 someday. In the meantime, Redfall looks fine.
No Hollow Knight: Silksong release date
Wes: I guess I should be happy that Silksong did appear in the not-E3 festivities, skipping Geoff's showcase to land in the Xbox broadcast instead. But I really thought we'd get a release date with Silksong's next appearance, and that it would be soon. It's been in development since 2018!
I'm really not trying to rush you, Team Cherry. Take your time. Make it great. It's just… the not knowing, it's hard.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's boring campaign reveal
Morgan Park, Staff Writer: I'm still holding out hope Call of Duty will be a banger this year, but that Modern Warfare 2 campaign playthrough at Summer Game Fest definitely dialed back my expectations a bit. Even by CoD standards, that was a bland campaign mission to show off during the biggest games show of the year.
Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: The erstwhile operators of CoD have been breaching and clearing and murdering people on the same oil rig or cargo ship since I was in the seventh grade—I was ready to drift off during that one. There was something so surreal about the "All the stars are here" thing they did for the protagonists of past CoDs as well. It's Soap! Price! Alejandro! Oh, and you know they got Ghost! It's like the Avengers of state crimes. Wake me up when they bring back mo-cap Jon Snow.