Skip to main content

The biggest games we didn’t see at E3 2021: Hellblade, Splinter Cell, and more

With the E3 2021 extravaganza rapidly coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on the ways in which our hopes were dashed. There are already a ton of lists out there that recap everything presented at the show, but what about the games we didn’t see?

With big players like Sony and EA skipping this year’s show, it was inevitable that there were going to be plenty of MIA games. Outside of the usual suspects, there was a slew of games we desperately wanted to see but that just didn’t make the cut. Regardless of whether these games (and one console) are stuck in development hell, delayed because of COVID-19, don’t actually exist, or are just waiting for a different day in the sun, here is a list of some of the biggest missing names from E3 2021.

Splatoon 3

Splatoon 3 release date, trailer, weapons, and everything we know | GamesRadar+

As jam-packed as Nintendo’s E3 Direct was, it was still missing a few big upcoming titles. A few days ago, I said that we’d see either Breath of the Wild 2 or Splatoon 3 at E3, but not both. As it turns out, Breath of the Wild 2 won out, leaving Splatoon fans a little disappointed that there wasn’t more content following Nintendo’s bombshell announcement earlier this year.

Very little is known about Splatoon 3. A cinematic trailer for the game showed new locations, customizations, and weapons, but no actual gameplay has been revealed yet. Fans will have to keep waiting patiently for the game’s 2022 release window.

Bayonetta 3

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Speaking of missing Nintendo announcements, there’s still no word on the highly-anticipated third game in the Bayonetta franchise. The game was first announced at The Game Awards in 2017; since then, no footage has been shown and no release window has been given.

Despite the lack of news, Nintendo assured fans in early 2019 that the game is still in production. Nintendo reiterated this statement more generally in today’s Direct, saying that it has plenty of games in production that aren’t ready to be shown yet. We can only hope that Bayonetta 3 is one of them.

A Switch Pro console

Image used with permission by copyright holder

This one isn’t technically a game, but it’s still a highly anticipated upgrade from Nintendo. Rumors of an “upgraded” or more powerful Switch console have been flying for the past few years, and many fans were hoping to see it premiere at E3 along with games that would take advantage of the higher graphical fidelity.

Nintendo did state that it was focusing on games, not hardware, during this particular Direct, but you can’t stop fans from dreaming. The trend in consoles does seem to favor incremental upgrades rather than entirely new platforms, so it remains to be seen whether Nintendo will give fans a mid-cycle power upgrade.

The Elder Scrolls VI

Image used with permission by copyright holder

This one is practically a meme at this point. Despite Bethesda taking pains to partner with Microsoft for a joint show, the developer didn’t mention The Elder Scrolls VI, leading fans to wonder if they simply hallucinated that first trailer.

TES VI’s announcement wasn’t even really a trailer — it was just the game’s title over a (presumably) in-engine landscape shot. Skyrim turns 10 years old this year, so you’d think Bethesda would want to say a little more about its upcoming successor.

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Also notably missing from Microsoft’s show was the much-anticipated sequel to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. The game has been confirmed as an Xbox and PC exclusive, which makes it all the more strange that it wasn’t part of Microsoft’s spotlight.

Hellblade 2 hasn’t been seen since its reveal at The Game Awards in 2019. Some are speculating that it may be seen at Microsoft’s second show later this week. Even if that turns out to be true, it’s odd that Microsoft would want to shunt one of its most anticipated games to a side show rather than make it part of its main production.

Splinter Cell

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Nothing appears to have changed this year for the Splinter Cell series. There hasn’t been an entry since 2013’s divisive Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and fans are starting to get desperate.

Based on Ubisoft’s comments when asked about the series, it appears as though Splinter Cell isn’t one of its biggest priorities right now. At one point, Ubisoft creative director Julian Gerighty announced that a new game was in development, but the company disputed the claim. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed for another adventure with Sam Fisher.

Beyond Good & Evil 2

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Another Ubisoft game that didn’t make an appearance was Beyond Good & Evil 2. A sequel to the 2003 original was announced in 2017, but there has been little gameplay, art, or narrative content shown since then.

Ubisoft posted an update on the game’s website in July of 2020, stating that “[the game’s] presence at events — whether digital or in-person — will be extremely limited for the time being,” but nothing new has been shared since then. It’s unclear why nothing has been shown, which is more than a little worrying for fans.

Skull & Bones

Skull & Bones on PS4, Xbox One, PC | Ubisoft (US)

This upcoming pirate game from Ubisoft was one of the most unique things announced at E3 2017. Fans were excited at the opportunity to live out the in-depth pirate dreams they’d first fostered in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Though Ubisoft has set a 2022 release window for the game, no new updates have been shared on the Skull & Bones website since 2018. It remains to be seen whether more details will be provided about the game’s promised naval combat and diplomacy mechanics.

Call of Duty

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Call of Duty announcements are often the biggest, most brash trailers to come out of E3, but there were none to be found at the 2021 show. (Maybe that’s why this year felt a little quiet.) Publisher Activision seems to be more focused on supporting Black Ops: Cold War and Warzone right now, but that doesn’t mean that something new might not be on the horizon.

It’s likely that we’ll get a new entry at least fairly soon; fans are always excited at potential new settings and modes for the series. Getting a new Call of Duty every couple of years is more dependable than most things, so I bet that we’ll see something before long.

Elden Ring

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Well, we saw it at Summer Game Fest, but that’s not technically E3, is it?

Editors' Recommendations

Emily Morrow
Emily Morrow is a games journalist and narrative designer who has written for a variety of online publications. If she’s…
E3 2023 has officially been canceled by the ESA and ReedPop
E3 logo

The Entertainment Software Association and ReedPop confirmed that E3 2023 has been canceled following a report that broke the news. E3 2023 was supposed to take place between June 13 and June 16.
Earlier today, IGN reported that two of its sources received an email from the Entertainment Software Association saying that this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo has been canceled because it "simply did not garner the sustained interest necessary to execute it in a way that would showcase the size, strength, and impact of our industry." Soon after, a tweet from the official E3 account confirmed that "both the digital and physical events for E3 2023 are canceled."
E3 was once a prominent annual video game industry trade show but has struggled to re-emerge since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. E3 did not take place in 2020 or 2022, and a digital-only attempt at the show in 2021 did not live up to expectations. The ESA was attempting to bring the show back this year with the help of PAX organizer ReedPop, and even approved press passes for the event already, but it appears the developers and publishers have lost faith in E3. Ubisoft pulled out of the show earlier this week after initially committing to be there, while Sega, Bandai Namco Entertainment, and Level Infinite confirmed they wouldn't be there in the following days.
While E3 2023 is not happening, there are going to be many other things for people to look forward to. Geoff Keighley will host a Summer Game Fest show on June 8, Microsoft is holding a Starfield direct and larger showcase on June 11, while Ubisoft will have a Ubisoft Forward Live event in Los Angeles on June 12.

Read more
Ubisoft will not attend E3 2023, but it will still host a summer live stream
Basim showing off his hidden blade.

Ubisoft will no longer be attending E3 2023, even though it said it would participate in February. Instead, the game publisher behind Assassin's Creed and Far Cry plans to hold its own Ubisoft Forward Live event in Los Angeles this June.
Ubisoft confirmed its change in plans to Video Games Chronicle today, with a spokesperson saying that while Ubisoft "initially intended to have an official E3 presence, we've made the subsequent decision to move in a different direction." This is a change in messaging from just over a month ago when Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said, "If E3 happens, we will be there, and we will have a lot of things to show."
What caused this change of heart in Ubisoft is unclear. However, it seems like the company found that it could still successfully promote its game lineup without being attached to the Entertainment Software Association's event. We don't know much about the Ubisoft Forward Live event other than it'll take place on June 12 in Los Angeles, but Ubisoft tells VGC that "we look forward to sharing more details with our players very soon."
This puts E3 2023 in a weird overall spot, as we currently know more about the companies that won't be at the event -- like Microsoft, Ubisoft, and Nintendo -- than we do about the publishers that will actually be there. After being canceled in 2020 and 2022 and being digital-only in 2021, E3 2023 was supposed to be the annual gaming trade show's grand return. Right now, though, the relevance and viability of E3 2023 are questionable.
ReedPop has not yet commented on the fact that Ubisoft is no longer attending E3 2023. 

Read more
Nintendo confirms that it won’t be part of E3 2023
Pikmin and Bulborb in Pikmin 4.

Nintendo has confirmed reports that it won't be participating in E3 2023, meaning the gaming trade show will be missing one of its key vendors when it returns in-person this June.
"We approach our involvement in any event on a case-by-case basis and are always considering various ways to engage with our fans," a Nintendo spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge. "Since this year’s E3 show didn’t fit into our plans, we have made the decision to not participate. However, we have been and continue to be a strong supporter of the ESA [Entertainment Software Association] and E3."
After taking 2020 and 2022 off and being digital-only in 2021, this year was supposed to mark the grand return of E3, which was once a dominant game industry trade show that attracted every big video game company. Although Sony hasn't participated since 2019, it still came as a shock in January when IGN reported that both Nintendo and Microsoft would not be attending E3 this year as well. It appears that the report is true, as Microsoft has not confirmed any E3-related events outside of its independently run Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase.
Nintendo skipping E3 2023 not only takes away a vendor that dominated the show floor in previous years, but also raises questions about whether or not the company will hold an exciting Nintendo Direct around then. While Nintendo typically holds a big showcase with lots of first-party game announcements around June every year, in 2022 it only held a third-party driven Partner Showcase in June. Now that we know it won't be at E3 2023, we're left to wonder when exactly then next big Nintendo Direct will be. 
E3 2023 will take place between June 13 and June 16, but don't expect Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft to have a big presence there.

Read more