E3 2021: Xbox and Bethesda finally unveil release date for ‘Starfield’

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Square Enix, maker of the popular “Final Fantasy” franchise, got off to a rough start with its Sunday afternoon E3:2021 showcase of new games, which opened with developer Eidos Montreal’s “Guardian’s of the Galaxy” title.

The game is based on the Guardians of the Galaxy Marvel comic books, which were adapted into a series of Marvel Cinamatic Universe films beginning in 2014.

E3 viewers on YouTube and Twitter slammed the game, with some comparing it to Square Enix’s’ “Marvel’s Avengers” co-op game, which was panned by both players and critics after it debuted in September.

Square Enix is tripling down on “Marvel’s Avengers”. The conglomerate unveiled a pair of content updates to the franchise, including a “Black Panther: War for Wakanda” expansion download set in the fictional African nation depicted in the Academy Award-winning 2018 film.

E3 2021 rolled into its second day Sunday with Microsoft (MSFT) and Bethesda making their highly anticipated joint showcase debut, nine months after their $7.5 billion acquisition deal was announced.

Bethesda, maker of the critically acclaimed “Elder Scrolls,” “Fallout” and “Doom” gaming franchises, was one of the largest privately held video game developers on the planet before merging with Microsoft’s Xbox Gaming Studios earlier this year.

The combined entities finally revealed a date for the long-awaited release of Bethesda’s “Starfield” role-playing space odyssey game, which the developer announced almost three years ago. Xbox opened its showcase with extended footage of Starfield, but the game won’t be available to play until November 2022.

Xbox also unveiled a new release date for “Halo Infinite.” The latest entry in the popular “Halo” gaming franchise was supposed to go on sale when the Xbox Series X made its debut in November, but the release was delayed back in August.

The company confirmed “Halo Infinite” will hit store shelves during the holiday season later this year and will include a free multiplayer mode.

Gamers also got a preview of “Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl.” The first-person shooter set in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The game is set to debut in April 2022.

Next came “Back 4 Blood,” a zombie apocalypse-themed, online co-op game, which will hit stores October 12.

“Party Animals” a unique, physics-based multiplayer game in which cute furry animals duke it out with each other, is set to go on sale some time next year.

Another standout was “Forza Horizon 5.” The open-world racing game is set to go on sale in November.

The studio previewed updates to “Fallout 76,” Bethesda’s dystopian online action RPG, which was originally released in 2018.

Xbox players on Twitter were disappointed the company didn’t release any details on “Elder Scrolls 6”, the newest installment in the “Skyrim” series, which Bethesda announced in 2018.

Many of the new titles were unveiled as Xbox exclusives. The company also emphasized the games it previewed will be available on Xbox Game Pass, the Netflix-style monthly subscription service that gives users access to a catalog of more than 100 games.

Experts praised the showcase for previewing so many games exclusively available on Xbox, saying it will make the company more competitive with Sony’s Playstation 5.

“I think it was pretty much what Xbox needed right now,” GameStop Managing Editor Tamoor Hussain said during the company’s E3 webcast following the Xbox showcase.

On day one of E3 2021 Nintendo and Ubisoft gave fans a look at “Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope,” the pair’s latest gaming collaboration. Ubisoft North America says the RPG will go on sale some time next year.

Rumors of a new Nintendo Switch gaming platform also began to swirl on Saturday after GameStop reportedly released an ad referencing a Switch promotion set to begin on Sunday, according to Forbes. GameStop and Nintendo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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