E3 2021 is an all-digital affair, but that hasn’t stifled any of the excitement. Festivities are in full swing and everyone is wondering just what Nintendo has up its sleeve this year. With PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series already launched, Nintendo has an open path to wow fans and pundits with any number of potentially riveting announcements. What will we see? What won’t we see? The staff weighs in with its predictions!
If the rumored Switch Pro is announced, I expect it to be a welcome option for people who need a new Switch but kind of underwhelming as an upgrade. The Switch’s double life as a handheld really limits how much of a boost we can expect. It can’t get too heavy, it can’t run too hot, and it can’t run out of power quickly, or it will fail as a handheld. I hope I’m wrong, but I think this will be a New 3DS-tier upgrade, not an Xbox One X-tier upgrade.
I don’t expect to see Metroid Prime 4 beyond a wisp of a teaser at best, and at this point Bayonetta 3 is giving me Scalebound vibes. I am hoping for some interesting details from Breath of the Wild 2, but beyond that I’m without much hope for Nintendo sequels. As always, what I’d love to see but am not holding my breath for is a new Advance Wars (it has been 13 years), but my biggest hope is that Nintendo doesn’t try to coast another year on ports of old games. Nintendo, please, do something new. Bring back the experimentation of the DS and Wii era. Don’t just cede the space to indie devs.
As I wrote in a recent news article, I believe an announcement for a Switch Pro is inevitable and more of an “if” than a “when.” I’m not personally on tenterhooks for this — if it happens, it happens, and I’ll almost certainly buy it — but it’ll be nice to finally not have to see the endless articles on the latest rumors, scoops, predictions, supposed leaks, etc. about it. I also feel that some sort of news about Breath of the Wild 2 is coming during E3. Not sure if we’ll get another trailer, but Eiji Aonuma did say during the February Direct that we would be getting news about the game later this year, so E3 seems as good a time as any to drop that news.
I very much hope that Nintendo finally acknowledges the 35th anniversary of Zelda and makes some bombshell announcements, which I imagine would be tied to any announcements they might make about BotW2. It would be insane if Nintendo said it was making some sort of HD, realistic remake of Ocarina of Time, and as unlikely as I know that is, it doesn’t keep me from desperately wanting it to happen. Nintendo filed new trademarks for Phantom Hourglass and Wind Waker, so I’d be surprised if we don’t get any reveals for HD remakes of those titles (especially when a new trademark was also filed for Skyward Sword and the remaster has now been confirmed). Maybe I shouldn’t count out my Ocarina dreams just yet, though, because Nintendo filed a new trademark for that game too. It feels like it may be too soon to announce one of the remaining two DLC characters for Smash Bros. Ultimate given that we just got Pyra in March, but Sakurai could still surprise us with a new announcement trailer.
Even if we don’t get any new footage or a trailer, something tells me we might finally hear some news about Metroid Prime 4. Of my more outlandish hopes, it’d be amazing if Nintendo revealed an N64 Mini, but we’ll probably just get N64 games for Switch Online if we get N64 games at all. It’d be awesome if Star Fox finally re-emerges at E3 and Nintendo drops a surprise trailer out of nowhere, but that’s probably a pipe dream.
My first prediction is the name announcement, release date announcement, and reveal of gameplay footage for the upcoming Pikmin app. This first one is a little bit of a stretch, but a summer announcement and release for another walking-focused mobile app seems like ideal timing. If not a summer release, than spring 2022. My biggest prediction for Nintendo’s E3 Treehouse is the full announcement for Zelda’s 35th anniversary. Based on how Nintendo has approached previous announcements for Zelda’s anniversaries, I predict that Nintendo will reveal additional Zelda games for Switch in fall and winter of this year. Assuming Nintendo wants Skyward Sword HD to sell well, they will only announce Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 for the holiday season and build hype for the game by promoting Skyward Sword HD.
But hopefully they realize that Skyward Sword is divisive and therefore will also announce a bundle deal of Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess for $60 for a true 35th anniversary celebration (though in all likelihood, if Wind Waker or Twilight Princess are announced to be coming to Switch, they will only be available individually for $60). And if we are going to dream big, then I would also like to see gameplay footage for the upcoming Metroid Prime 4, an announcement for Pikmin 4, and the Xbox Game Pass service coming to Switch.
I’m not sure what to expect from Nintendo this year. I feel like they have to come out and say something about BotW2 and Metroid Prime 4, so maybe some footage from each and possibly a release window as well? We can only hope. I think they will talk more about two specific games on my personal radar that are releasing soon: Mario Golf and Monster Hunter Stories 2 (although the latter is probably going to be within Capcom’s umbrella). Beyond those two games I can’t really anticipate anything else big coming our way. Since Nintendo has come out to say the direct is going to focus solely on software, I doubt anything about a Switch Pro will be mentioned, at least during the Direct broadcast. I would really love to see them announce something completely unexpected like the Mario + Rabbids game that came out a couple years ago (note: this was written before the announcement and Nick was spot-on!), it took everyone by surprise and was a great game as well. I would also really love to see some returning fan favorite monsters like Gore Magala, Astalos, and Lagiacrus show up in Monster Hunter Rise. And my final crazy off the wall hope/wish is that Square Enix makes some new version of Rocket Slime, a dragon quest spinoff game that I really enjoyed a lot back on DS.
I’m getting a good feeling about this year’s E3, which means absolutely nothing. I’d like to think that my good vibes about Nintendo’s upcoming Direct might help create some magic, but I’ve been burned quite a few times now by the company’s lackluster broadcasts. I don’t want to get my hopes up. But as I was hanging out with my girlfriend this weekend, my thoughts kept drifting to Tuesday. “It’s getting close!” my brain kept telling me. If I’m realistic, I know that Mario Golf will get some screen time because it launches soon. I also think that Metroid Prime 4 has to get some amount of attention, right? It’s been in development so long that I think it would be foolish not to offer at least a glimpse. Zelda 35 is also, I think, a no-brainer reveal, but maybe Nintendo wants to showcase that all on its own. Switch Pro is the elephant in the room, a room that stretches across two years and countless rumors. Which means Nintendo won’t show it, naturally, assuming it’s a real thing. Hey, like I said—I know the games Nintendo plays!
If I could get a crazy, out of left field announcement, I’d be thrilled to see an HD port of F-Zero GX. I can imagine Nintendo not being willing to create a new F-Zero but saying “okay” to a remaster. It’s arguably the best entry in the series and is still visually striking, even compared to contemporary games. I would like to see Nintendo 64 games come to Switch, alongside the Game Boy Advance catalogue. Given that GBA just turned 20, the timing would be perfect. Perfect timing, sadly, doesn’t tend to do much to sway Nintendo’s marketing team, so I’m going to continue tempering my expectations and try to be chill about all this. Just a day to go!
That’s it! What are your predictions for E3 2021? Tell us in the comments and on social media!