E3 2021 was full of highs and lows, but if there’s one thing that we can agree on it’s that there were tons of spectacular trailers. While the gameplay and the games themselves are always the focus, there’s no denying that a select few of this year’s trailers were a cut above the rest.
These promotional videos have the very important job of giving viewers the best first impression possible in a few minutes — sometimes seconds. While not every trailer worked (see the overly cheeky reveal of The Outer Worlds 2), others left us with plenty to chew on coming out of the four-day event. Here are the trailers that did their job better than most at E3 2021.
While it didn’t show off any gameplay, the trailer for Bethesda’s new title, Redfall, did a particularly great job of grabbing our attention and leaving us wanting more. The cinematic reveal trailer tosses us into a world full of robots, creative weaponry, vampiric monsters, and diverse character designs. There is also the big surprise of the main characters apparently having some kind of psychic superpowers as well.
We may not know how the game plays just yet, but it left us wanting to see how it all comes together in the gameplay.
The trailer for Battlefield 2042 showed fans of the series exactly what they wanted to see and absolutely sold the latest installment. This new gameplay trailer showcased the huge 128 battles players can expect that take place across massive maps.
The most important piece of this trailer is the chaos, which can happen at any time. Tanks, helicopters, fighter jets, and yes, even tornados appear. DICE delivered what can be recognized as one of the most memorable gameplay trailers of the show with this one.
Smash Ultimate’s Kazuya Mishima Trailer
You can’t have a great E3 trailer list without the latest Super Smash Bros. Ultimate character reveal. With the latest roster addition being Kazuya Mishima from Tekken, it’s obvious that the new trailer would be a love letter to the series — and it was a great one.
Not only did we see a classic Tekken throwback with Kazuya throwing countless Smash fighters off a cliff, but we got a peek at his move set that looked ripped right from his originating series. The closing Kirby gag was the real show-stealer, though, and proved that the pink puffball is still the most powerful brawler of all.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope would have easily been one of the biggest surprises of E3 2021 if Nintendo hadn’t accidentally leaked it hours before Ubisoft’s show. Nevertheless, Ubisoft managed to deliver a hilarious cinematic trailer that shows off both the great comedy we can expect from the crossover sequel and a peek at some new villains.
It’s one of the most visually appealing trailers of the event and viewers obviously had more fun with it than most. Mario posing with his new guns is certainly a memorable image for the E3 history books.
Shin Megami Tensei 5
After so many years of waiting, Shin Megami Tensei 5 finally got a trailer showing off what the game has to offer. The trailer for this new installment in Atlus’ flagship series had the right amount of everything. Cinematics and gameplay were both aplenty here, satisfying any SMT fan that bought their Nintendo Switch for this exclusive that was first announced in 2017.
Atomic Heart was one of the trailers that took everyone by surprise. This fever dream by developer Mundfish was one of the highlights of Xbox and Bethesda’s joint presentation. The trailer was one of those that left us with way more questions than answers thanks to its bizarre tone and creepy mannequins. Thankfully, it also left us actually wanting to see those questions answered.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora
One of the biggest surprises of this year’s E3 was Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, which closed out Ubisoft’s show on Saturday. This video game based on the James Cameron film came completely out of left field with a gorgeous trailer. With amazing visuals and a great tease of what players can expect from the open-world game, this was the kind of trailer that could even impress those who don’t care for the franchise.
Speaking of surprises, Metroid Dread may have been the biggest of the entire show. This trailer wasn’t just memorable for showing us the first original 2D Metroid game in 19 years, but because it was perfectly crafted with a mix of enticing gameplay and eerie tone. It’s debatably more exciting than the long-awaited Metroid Prime 4, which is saying a lot. For fans of Metroid Fusion, this trailer simply set the stage for a 2D classic that they’ve been craving for two decades.
A Plague Tale: Requiem
A Plague Tale: Innocence‘s sequel announcement was already exciting enough on paper, but the trailer took that hype to the next level. The way that the eerie visuals and music came together was genuinely chill-inducing. It also perfectly communicates the original game’s tone and emotions in 100 seconds, which is no easy feat.
Breath of the Wild 2
Nintendo capped off E3 with the ultimate show-stealer. Everyone was expecting a look at The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 at E3 this year, but it still managed to exceed fans’ lofty expectations.
It’s always a great sign when a trailer leaves fans breaking down small pieces to theorize what will happen in the game’s narrative, and that started happening immediately once this clip debuted. With a trailer this great for such an anticipated game, it’s easy to see how it could be anyone’s favorite reveal of the entire show.