Nintendo at E3 2021: Everything we expect to get announced

Nintendo E3
Nintendo E3 (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Last year, E3 was unexpectedly canceled due to COVID-19, but the Electronic Entertainment Expo is actually happening this year. Due to the state of the world, E3 2021 is simply a virtual event that anyone can access rather than an in-person conference held in Los Angeles. Several game developers and tech companies have already confirmed that they will be attending and showing off their new offerings. Of course, as Nintendo fans, we are super excited to learn more about what the Japanese video game company has in store. There will definitely be announcements for new Nintendo Switch games, and who knows, we might even learn about some new Nintendo hardware.

When is E3 2021?

E3 2021 runs for four days starting Saturday, June 12 - Tuesday, June 15. Unlike previous years, this event is completely virtual, and anyone can tune in.

When is the E3 2021 Nintendo Direct?

The Nintendo Direct takes place Tuesday, June 15 at 9AM PT. It will last about 40 minutes and focus on Nintendo Switch games that "mostly come out in 2021." Then as is custom, folks can tune into the Nintendo Tree House Live to watch three hours of gameplay, though we don't know what games will be featured as yet.

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Here's the official E3 Schedule:

E3 2021 Schedule (Image credit: ESA)

How do I watch the E3 Nintendo Direct?

E3 has an official online portal and an app for viewers to watch conferences and streams by visiting "virtual booths." Each exhibitor can feature videos or written content for viewers to engage with. Additionally, folks can also watch E3 on YouTube, Twitch, and other major video platforms.

Nintendo E3 YouTube

Nintendo E3 Twitch

E3 online portal

Last we checked, the iOS and Android versions of the E3 app have been taken down and likely won't go up before the Nintendo event.

Which Game Publishers are attending E3 2021?

Several companies and game publishers are attending the virtual E3 2021 event, including:

  • Nintendo
  • Xbox
  • Square Enix
  • Bandai Namco
  • Capcom
  • XSEED Games
  • Bethesda Softworks
  • GungHo
  • Sega
  • Epic Games
  • Activision
  • THQ Nordic
  • Ubisoft
  • Take-Two Interactive
  • Warner Bros. Games
  • Koch Media
  • HORI
  • Oculus from Facebook
  • Deep Silver
  • Limited Run Games
  • Amazon Game Studios

*Konami has stated that they will not be ready to present at E3 this year but to stay tuned as there will be "some updates in the coming months."

How to Sign up for E3

Registration for E3 started in May, with "qualified members of the press" and has since opened to the general public on June 12, the first day of E3.

Does it cost anything to watch E3?

You don't have to pay anything to watch E3 2021 as the ESA specifically states, "E3 will be completely free for all attendees, and there will not be a paywall."

E3 2021 Awards Show

E3 Logo (Image credit: ESA)

For the first time, the ESA is hosting its own official awards show at E3 2021. Winners will be announced on the last day of the event - Tuesday, June 15.

"For this year's event, we are collaborating with editors at some of the world's leading video game media outlets to create the Official E3 2021 Awards Show, recognizing the show's most anticipated games. The broadcast is going to be packed with exciting announcements and reveals, and celebrating innovative publishers and developers is an ideal way to close E3 2021."

Video game journalists from several prominent outlets like IGN, PC Gamer, GameSpot, and GamesRadar+ will announce the winners. It's uncertain what categories will be considered for the award show, but we do know they will be "recognizing the show's most anticipated games."

Who is hosting E3 2021?

Greg Miller, Jacki Jing, and Alex "Goldenboy" Mendez will host the digital E3 2021 event.

  • Miller is the co-founder of Kinda Funny, an online entertainment outlet. He also has plenty of experience with video and podcasts that focus on nerd culture and gaming.
  • Jing is an Emmy-nominated TV journalist who has hosted many events from prominent media companies.
  • Goldenboy is a professional esport commentator who has hosted popular games like Fortnite, Halo, and Overwatch.

Nintendo E3 2021: All news we expect to see

E3 (Image credit: iMore)

We already know that Nintendo is busy working on a few different projects. Here's everything we expect to see from Nintendo at E3 2021.

Nintendo Switch Pro

HORI Split Pad Pro (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

There have been plenty of rumors that a Switch Pro or Super Switch is in the making. Bloomberg even reported that Nintendo and Samsung are teaming up to manufacture OLED displays for a new Switch console. It's speculated that this Switch will have firmware that could support a 4K chip, giving it higher resolution than the current Switch. Another report claims Nintendo might reveal an upgraded Switch before E3 and have it on store shelves by September or October.

Meanwhile, @SciresM, a dataminer on Twitter, recently explained that references to a new Switch model have been found in Switch firmware since the 10.0.0 update. It seems like something is definitely coming. Hopefully, Nintendo gives us more information on it at E3. It would make sense to give people ample time to get excited for the new Switch before the holiday season hits. Though, it's also possible it might not come until next year.

Breath of the Wild 2

Zelda Botw (Image credit: Nintendo (screenshot))

The sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is obviously one of the foremost games on Nintendo fans' minds. During a Nintendo Direct in February, Eiji Aonuma, the producer of The Legend of Zelda series, stated that development for the sequel was "proceeding smoothly and we should be able to bring you some more information this year." As such, we may learn more about Breath of the Wild 2 at E3.

We've got so many unanswered questions. The Breath of the Wild sequel could likely release later this year or next. If that's true, then we'll definitely get some more info about it sometime soon.

Zelda's 35th anniversary celebration

Zelda 35th Anniversary Hero White (Image credit: iMore)

It was rather depressing when Zelda's 35th anniversary came and went in February without any real acknowledgment from Nintendo. This is especially true given how well Breath of the Wild has done for Nintendo.

However, some industry analysts like Jeff Grubb think the Japanese gaming company is waiting to celebrate Link's special achievement due to marketing, like allowing Mario to die first. Given the audience in attendance, E3 could be the perfect place to announce a Zelda anniversary celebration. But we'll just have to wait and see what Nintendo has up its sleeves.

Sega / New Sonic the Hedgehog game / Persona games?

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 (Image credit: Sega)

Obviously, Sega and Sonic aren't part of Nintendo, but they often do work together, as we've seen with games like Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Recently in an interview, Sega talked about a new Sonic project. It has been a while since the last Sonic game released, and Sonic's 30th anniversary is this year, so we won't be surprised to learn about a new Sonic title at E3 2021. In fact, I'm betting on it.

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During this same interview, when asked whether the Persona series would aim for a worldwide release, Sega stated:

"Simultaneous world-wide release on multiple platforms will be a tailwind for titles. Of course, we will adjust to the title, but also want to be aware of the global expansion of Atlus Titles." Maybe this means the Persona games, which have historically been PlayStation console exclusives, might come to other gaming systems like the Switch. (Thank you, @ryokutya2089 and Google Translate)

Perhaps this means the core Persona games, a series that has historically been a Playstation console exclusive, could come to other platforms like the Nintendo Switch. If true, we hope to hear about this at E3 2021.

Metroid Prime 4

Metroid Prime (Image credit: iMore)

The development of Metroid Prime 4 has been a saga all its own. The fourth installment was actually first announced at E3 2017, but then two years later, Nintendo announced that they were unhappy with the game's progress and would "restart development from the beginning" with Retro Studios at the wheel. Since then, Retro Studios has been busy hiring various people to work on the game, so at least we know something is happening.

We definitely want to learn more about Metroid Prime 4. Still, considering that developing a game from scratch takes a long time and COVID has caused several delays in the gaming world, we'll likely only get a teaser at E3 if we get anything at all.

Bayonetta 3

Bayonetta 3 logo (Image credit: PlatinumGames)

It's been seven long years since PlatinumGames released Bayonetta 2 and four years since Bayonetta 3 was first revealed at the Game Awards 2017. As such, we at iMore are all itching to hear more about this upcoming game.

However, fans of this sexy witch need to temper their expectations. After all, it was only in January that PlatinumGames' Hideki Kamiya told fans in a VGC interview "reset and forget about Bayonetta 3. Then when something finally does happen, it will be a nice surprise, won't it?" Still, a lot can happen within a few weeks. Maybe we'll at least get a new teaser for Bayonetta 3 at E3.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Pokemon Legends Arceus Player And Bidoof (Image credit: The Pokémon Company)

Pokémon Legends: Arceus isn't scheduled to join the rest of the Pokémon games on Switch until 2022, but we can't help be excited about it. The Pokémon Company is trying something new by having this action RPG take place in ancient Sinnoh, where players are tasked with creating the first-ever Pokédex. Some of the gameplay looks to deviate from core Pokémon RPGs as well. Players can toss ancient Poké Balls at Pokémon in the overworld or sneak up on Pokémon to enter battle.

There's plenty of unknowns surrounding the game, and perhaps, Nintendo will give us some more insights during E3. Though, it's also possible we'll hear more about this game during a special Pokémon Direct before E3.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond Shining Pearl Piplup (Image credit: The Pokémon Company)

In February, we learned that Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl would be coming to Nintendo Switch in late 2021. That being the case, you can bet these remakes will be appearing during Nintendo's Direct. Perhaps we'll learn more about any changes that were made from the original DS games.

Historically, The Pokémon Company has held its own direct showcase before E3; maybe we'll learn more about these games during a special Pokémon Direct.

Splatoon 3

Splatoon 3 Inkling (Image credit: Nintendo)

We first learned about this upcoming game from a Nintendo Direct in February. Splatoon 3 isn't set to release until 2022, but we fully expect Nintendo to give us new details on multiplayer modes, arenas, and character customization options. From what we could tell in the video, it looks like the game is further along in its development, so hopefully, there's more to share during Nintendo's portion of E3.

The next Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC fighter

Super Smash Bros Ultimate Nintendo (Image credit: Nintendo)

At this point, all of Masahiro Sakurai's DLC Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fighters have been revealed except two. It's very likely that we'll learn who the second-to-last entry is during E3.

There are several characters people have been hoping to see in Smash including Halo's Master Chief, Geno from Super Mario RPG, and Sora from Kingdom Hearts. It's impossible to say who Nintendo will end on given that there hasn't been much rhyme or reason to the other characters added in. However, I personally think it would be a nice bookend to this whole thing to finally add Waluigi to the roster. Though, that likely won't happen. If nothing else, maybe we'll get release dates for the remaining Super Smash Bros. Ultimate amiibo.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity DLC

Hyrule Warriors Age Of Calamity Hero (Image credit: iMore)

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity has been out for more than six months now and according to Nintend's roadmap it's time for the Wave 1 DLC to come out in June. Makes sense that it will be announced during E3.

All we know so far is that Wave 1 will include:

  • An expanded roster
  • New weapon types
  • New challenges in the Royal Ancient Lab
  • New enemies

New Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (Image credit: Nintendo)

It's rumored that a Donkey Kong game is currently in development and has been in the works since 2017 or 2018. What's more, it's said that Nintendo EPD, the crew behind Super Mario Odyssey, are working on it. A new Donkey Kong would make sense given that the only Donkey Kong games currently on Switch are ports from other gaming systems.

We might just hear about it at E3 if it really is in developement. Regardless of whether this rumor is true or not, I'll be very curious to see if the next Donkey Kong game is a sidescroller or a 3D open-world game similar to Super Mario Odyssey and Donkey Kong 64. Perhaps we'll find out at E3.

Nintendo Treehouse

Nintendo Treehouse (Image credit: Nintendo)

Traditionally, folks from the Nintendo Treehouse have shown us exciting gameplay for upcoming Nintendo games. These previews often happen once a game is announced, or more details for a game have been revealed. I'm really hoping we get to see some gameplay for Breath of the Wild 2, at least. Either way, we know it will be exciting to watch.

Can't wait for Nintendo E3 2021

We can't wait for mid-June to finally get here so we can learn about all of the exciting things Nintendo has in store for us. We'll be updating this page regularly, so check back frequently!

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.