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Rocky Mountain Gamer: E3 featured few surprises but previewed plenty of great games on the horizon

Nintendo surprised gamers with 'Metroid' release, coming Oct. 8

In “Redfall,” players face off against vampires.
In “Redfall,” players face off against vampires.
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E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) convened June 12-16 for an entirely virtual affair for the second year in a row, and gathered big game companies who showed off their latest and greatest releases.

But after 16 months of pandemic delays and complications, how did this year’s show measure up?

It’s worth noting that it lacked the energy and excitement of the live show. And at first glance, it seemed underwhelming, due mostly to how few big new games were announced.

But Nintendo clearly took the prize for surprise announcements.

Though rumored, most fans weren’t holding their breath waiting for a new 2-D “Metroid” game, but darned if Nintendo didn’t surprise us all with “Metroid: Dread.” Featuring stunning graphics and familiar gameplay, the game adds relentless mechanical creatures bent to stop bounty hunter Samus Aran from reaching the surface of this mysterious planet. The game will be released on Oct. 8.

“Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope” is set in space.

Nintendo, along with publisher Ubisoft, also debuted “Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope,” the surprise sequel to the 2017 strategy game. This time Mario and his wacky companions find themselves in space, trying to save the universe. Or at least a sliver of it. Look for this one to hit in 2022.

Other newly announced games in Nintendo’s stable include “WarioWare: Get it Together!” and “Mario Party Superstars,” both compilations of previous games enhanced for Switch. “WarioWare” even features a co-op mode for the first time in franchise history, and both feature online play.

“Mario Party Superstars” has been enhanced for Switch.

Nintendo also surprised everyone with “Advance Wars 1+2: Reboot Camp.” Fans have been asking for the return on this storied series for years, and while it’s not quite as exciting as an all-new game would be, this remastered title for Switch should satisfy players for a while.

Likewise, Microsoft announced two big games for the first time: “Forza Horizon 5” and “Redfall.”

“Forza Horizon 5,” raced out of nowhere and looks to feature some of the most photorealistic graphics ever seen in a game. The Horizon festival moves to Mexico for this installment, and will feature the largest, most diverse map yet for the series.

“Redfall” comes from Arkane Studios, the group behind “Prey” and “Dishonored.” In it players will face off against a horde of terrifying vampires in one of the most stylized, fast-paced action games to come around for a while. “Redfall” is scheduled to launch summer of 2022.

While all of those are great, to me the most exciting announcement was “Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy.” Featuring an original adventure, “Guardians” lets players step into the dancing shoes of Peter Quill — Starlord, to his friends — and lead his motley crew of space misfits on a galaxy-spanning adventure.

Not only did this game come out of nowhere, it will release on Oct. 26 on PS4/5, XB1/X/S and even a special cloud version for Nintendo Switch.

Most of the show focused on previously announced games, albeit with the release dates and solid details fans have been wanting.

Microsoft delivered with “Halo Infinite,” a game originally scheduled to launch with the Xbox Series X console last year. While we didn’t get an exact date — just a generic “holiday 2021” — the multiplayer mode finally made its debut, along with the confirmation that “Halo” multiplayer will be free to play for the first time in the game’s history.

The gameplay looks amazing, with truly next-gen graphics and all of the action that “Halo” fans love. With a killer looking single-player campaign, “Halo Infinite” is a favorite to be the biggest game of the year.

“Horizon: Forbidden West” features one of the most dynamic female protagonists in gaming.

Although Sony didn’t officially participate in the show, it revealed its big holiday contender, “Horizon: Forbidden West.”

The game continues the story of Aloy, one of the most dynamic female protagonists in gaming. She gets to fight new mechanical monstrosities and travel to places hinted at in the first game. The fidelity of the PS5 really makes the graphics shine.

Not to be left out of the killer games contest, Nintendo finally showed additional footage of “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2.” Featuring the astoundingly beautiful world from the first game, Link now has new abilities that allow him to explore areas in the sky far above Hyrule.

Unfortunately, Link’s new adventure won’t arrive until sometime in 2022.