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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

[E3 2021] A Roundup of the Horror Game Highlights From This Year’s Showcases

E3 2021 has come to an end. 

While, in normal times, the physical show would continue throughout the week as developers showcased their games for press, this year, it’s just about the trailers. And there were some good trailers!

After a year-and-a-half of work-from-home, some shows were understandably sparse. But, thanks, in large part, to stellar showings from Nintendo and the recently formed Xbox + Bethesda Voltron, horror fans have plenty of new games to look forward to in the year ahead.

Read on for a non-exhaustive list of E3 2021’s horror highlights.

The Co-Op Horror Shooter is Having a Moment

The Left 4 Dead formula is back in a big way, even in games that have left the dead behind. Leading the pack is Back 4 Blood, a spiritual successor to Valve’s zombie shooter made by the original developers, Turtle Rock. The game was all over E3 with trailers at Xbox + Bethesda’s showcase and Friday’s Summer Game Fest kickoff. Back 4 Blood has a new roster of monsters and a PvP mode that will let you play as humans or zombies. And, it’s never been easier to get the squad together, as Back 4 Blood will be available on Xbox Game Pass at launch on Oct. 12. Add in the fact that each party will have access to any DLC owned by its leader, and Turtle Rock seems to be handling co-op right.

Ubisoft is cooking up a Left 4 Dead of its own. At Saturday’s Ubisoft Forward, the publisher showed off Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction (previously Rainbow Six Quarantine). The tactical co-op shooter will task players with using stealth and special abilities to take down goopy aliens as they make a mad dash to the next safe zone. Extraction is out Sept. 16. 

Aliens are also the primary antagonists of The Anacrusis, another co-op shooter set to release this fall from the developers at Stray Bombay. This one, per the website, is “set aboard a massive starship stranded at the edge of explored space.” Like Left 4 Dead, The Anacrusis has an “AI Driver,” meaning the game is programmed to react to your success or failure and adjust the kind and amount of enemies you face accordingly. Stray Bombay is pitching the game as an “infinitely-replayable fight against alien hordes,” and that feature, plus a long tail of unlockable content, will go a long way to making this a game player’s stick with for a long time.

Maybe most exciting is Redfall, the next game from Arkane Austin, developers of 2017’s sci-fi horror immersive sim, Prey. The co-op shooter closed out the Xbox + Bethesda show on Sunday with a cinematic trailer showing wisecracking teens taking on a vampire menace. It’s an Arkane game which likely means plenty of interlocking systems and chaotic emergent play. But, unlike previous games like Dishonored, Redfall supports multiplayer. From the trailer, it looks like each character will have unique abilities to make short work of every Vlad, Lestat, and Nosferatu they can get their hands on. 


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild wasn’t a horror game (though it did have plenty of intimidating monsters), but from the first trailer in 2019, its untitled sequel has exuded spooky vibes. At this year’s Nintendo Direct, we got another look at the game, and it still looks to be more Majora’s Mask than Ocarina of Time. Hyrule Castle is floating on some malevolent energy. There’s a mummy or zombie of some kind. Zelda falls into a cavernous pit in the ground. Link’s arm appears to be corrupted. The Breath of the Wild theme is playing in reverse throughout the trailer. Dimly lit shots show Link in what appears to be the caverns underneath Hyrule. All of which suggests that there will be plenty in this game for fans of horror, as well as those who love Zelda’s brand of adventure.

Metroid Dread, similarly, looks to be borrowing from horror. “The word ‘DREAD’ in the title is self-explanatory,” said producer Sakamoto Yoshio. “It represents a relentless threat that pursues the seemingly invincible Samus Aran. On a planet unknown to Samus, an overwhelming presence haunts her every move as she explores alone… And with that, it’s a new game in the Metroid series that has new elements of a different flavor added to it.” Yoshio went on to call E.M.M.I., the robotic enemy which stalks Samus, “terrifying.” The series has always drawn from the well of sci-fi horror — the series’ villain is named Ripley, after all — but Dread looks like it will lean into stealth and survival horror elements in a way the series rarely, if ever, has in the past.

Indie Scares

Gloomwood is the next big game from New Blood Interactive, the publisher behind gems like Dusk and Amid Evil. Like those games, Gloomwood takes inspiration from first-person games from the 1990s. Unlike those games, Gloomwood’s chief influences are immersive sims like Thief — the URL,, which redirects to the game’s Steam page is just one blunt way it pays homage to Looking Glass’ sneak-em-ups. The game was part of a supercut of New Blood’s games at the PC Gaming Show, but you can see a five-minute demo, which gives a good feel for the game’s flow, here.

We don’t yet know much about Immortality, unveiled at the PC Gaming Show. Still, its pedigree speaks for itself: it’s the next game from Sam Barlow, developer of the excellent FMV detective games Telling Lies and Her Story. This one focuses on the disappearance of Marissa Marcel, an actress who starred in three movies that were never released. If Immortality is anything like Barlow’s most recent games, it will likely involve scrubbing through hours of footage in search of the answers behind Marcel’s disappearance, and we can’t wait.

Somerville is a 2.5D platformer that follows a family through an alien invasion. We don’t know too much about it yet, but the game’s developer, Jumpship, is headed by Dino Patti, co-founder of Playdead, the studio behind Inside and Limbo. Those games rule, and Somerville looks incredibly cool, too.

Old Frights, New Sights

A Plague Tale: Innocence was a welcome surprise when it launched back in 2019. The third-person stealth game cast players as Amicia, a young French noble whose world is upended when her family is brutally murdered during a fictional version of the Black Plague. And we do mean fictional: one boss fight has you duking it out with an evil pope who, through some dark magic, commands tornadoes made of ravenous rats. Rats are everywhere in the first game, and learning to navigate their carnivorous presence is at the core of the game’s mechanics. We don’t know much yet about the sequel, A Plague Tale: Requiem, but it focuses on older versions of Amicia and her brother, Hugo.

Capcom’s show didn’t bring any new game announcements. But, the vanilla presentation did give us a bit of news: the team behind Resident Evil Village is working on additional DLC. Now that Capcom knows how much the internet loves Lady Dimetrescu, will future expansions focus on the stylish giant vampire? We’ll have to wait and see, but the DLC is still early in development, meaning Capcom has time to react to fan feedback. 

Doom Eternal, on the other hand, already got DLC, the two-part Ancient Gods expansion. Until now, none of it had debuted on Switch, however. That changed today as The Ancient Gods Part 1 launched on Nintendo’s handheld.

Our critic loved The Medium, and soon the Xbox Series X/S console exclusive will be available on Sony hardware. This week, Bloober Team announced that the game would arrive on PS5 in September with DualSense support.

Another console exclusive is heading to new formats in the form of the previously Wii-U only Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water. The 2014 title is heading to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X/S, PC, and Nintendo Switch later this year, hopefully bringing the spooky series to a new audience.

And that’s it! Well, most of it! For everything else, you can check out our full E3 coverage here.


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