E3 2021: Top 8 AAA titles for speedrunners

E3 loaded up our wishlists with AAA titles full of speedrunning potential, including Elden Ring and Dying Light 2, among others! Here are some highlights expected to be released in 2021 and 2022.

By Cam "Meta" Enright

Filed Under: preview

The well-attended video game conference E3 2021 took a digital form this past weekend, with big showcases featuring top developers and publishers like Bethesda, Nintendo, and Gearbox.

If you were feeling overwhelmed during the four-day event, you’re not alone. There were plenty of amazing opportunities to get first looks, teasers, and new details about the games we expect to play through the end of 2021 and well into 2022.

We watched the event with one question in mind: what hot new speedgames can we look forward to?

In no particular order, here are our top eight upcoming AAA video game titles for speedrunners:

Elden Ring

Developed by: FromSoftware
Published by: BANDAI NAMCO
Expected release date: January 21, 2022
Official Site

Elden Ring is the newest Souls-like installment in development by the legendary FromSoftware in partnership with George R. R. Martin. Previous games created by FromSoft include Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Bloodborne, and the Dark Souls series. Souls games seem to consistently provide fantastic speedruns with beautifully brutal combat and a host of entertaining glitches and skips.

While we don’t know exactly what to expect from Elden Ring, it’s almost certain that speedrunners will be diving right into it on release. Check out the Elden Ring Gamplay Reveal here.

Dying Light 2

Expected release date: December 7, 2021
Official Site

Parkour in an open world filled with zombies you can smash, stomp, shoot, zap, or otherwise dispatch how you please — need I say more? Doesn’t matter, I’m going anyway. Dying Light 2 appears to be very much in the spirit of the first game, just amped up to 11. Although open world games tend to have less sequence breaks, I think we can expect a fluid speedrun with deep movement mechanics and optimal routing choices around DL2’s non-linear story options

Who knows, maybe this open world adventure will get some wild glitches or exploits. Either way, I’m sure this game will make for a unique speedrun. You can check out Dying Light 2’s Game Overview from E3 here.

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD

Expected release date: July 16, 2021
Official Site

As discussed in a previous article, speedrunning ports (or more accurately in this case, remakes) of a game can be a unique experience. The standard edition of the game, which came out in 2011, is uniquely broken with a glitch called Back in Time that chops a hefty 4 hours from the run. I’m no Zelda runner, but if I was, the first thought in my head would be, “Will this work in Skyward Sword HD?”

Of course, we won't know the answer until next month but regardless of what it is, Zelda games are always a hit with runners in the Zelda community to some degree. You can check out Skyward Sword HD’s trailer here.

Metroid Dread

Developed by: Mercury Steam/Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development
Published by: Nintendo
Expected release date: October 8, 2021
Official Site

Metroid speedrunning has been around for decades, and for good reason. The Metroid games runs don’t typically boast giant skips, but rather optimal pathing and the frequent use of smaller glitches and exploits across the run — which really hits a sweet spot for a lot of runners. Not too broken, and not too rigid either. Considering this is the first mainline Metroid game in a very long time, this is gonna be a big one.

While Metroid Dread isn’t a remake like Skyward Sword HD, it is a new installment in a series that speedrunners have been playing for over two decades. Will we see some transferable skills? Repeat top runners, or maybe fresh blood taking the top spots? Only time will tell. You can check out the Metroid Dread Announcement Trailer here.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2

Expected release date: 2022
Official Site

So first things first, technically this isn’t the game's real title. Considering Nintendo won’t tell anyone what the actual title is, “Breath of The Wild 2” (BOTW2) is the best we’ve got. People will speedrun this because it's a new release in the Zelda series, but there are other reasons to believe this mysterious entry will make for a great speedgame. Nintendo has used the same tools to create BOTW2 as they did with the first BOTW game, the same process they used for Ocarina of Time (OOT) and Majora’s Mask (MM). It just so happens that OOT and MM shared quite a lot of the same glitches and exploits, so I think we can expect a similar result from the two BOTW games. And let’s be real, who doesn’t love watching Link fly through the air like a majestic Loftwing.

Breath of the Wild 1 was also unique in that it was designed so that you could go to the final boss whenever you wanted, a special treat for speedrunners. However, the tradeoff was that you need to fight all of the games bosses at once while also being pretty ill-equipped. This made BOTW1 a very entertaining speedrun to watch, and I don’t think I’m alone in hoping BOTW2 will reflect the same. You can check out the teaser for the “Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild” here.

Halo Infinite

Developed by: 343 Industries
Published by: Xbox Game Studios
Expected release date: 2021
Official Site

You can check out some a cinematic trailer for the campaign here, but the real meat is inside the multiplayer gameplay trailer where we get a good view at the movement and combat. The movement looks nice and fluid, with a fancy new grappling hook that better be in the campaign. The combat also looks nice and chunky, in the best way possible. Everyone loves a chunky shotgun blast. With what appears to be some solid base mechanics, it’s really down to how the campaign is structured for this to be a truly great speedgame — and I’m rooting for 343 to nail this thing out of the park.

Back 4 Blood

Developed by: Turtle Rock Studios
Published by: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Expected release date: October 8, 2021
Official Site

Back 4 Blood is essentially Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2) brought into the modern day, even including some of the original dev team. If you don’t already know, L4D2 is a co-op zombie shooter made in the Source engine. Source, of course, brings along with it some fantastic movement in the form of tick perfect bunnyhopping, which makes up the majority of the skill required for L4D2 speedruns. The thing is, Back 4 Blood is being created on Unreal Engine 4, not Source. Chances are pretty high this movement will no longer exist, at least not the way it exists in L4D2 - but Back 4 Blood is also bringing along a host of new mechanics so who knows what it’ll look like in the end.

Either way, co-op speedruns are always a blast, and they were more popular than solo runs in L4D2, even if only by a little bit. I think the social aspect of co-op speedrunning is much more important than any tech, and no matter what that will definitely exist here for Back 4 Blood. Who doesn’t want to smash in zombie brains while running against a timer with friends? Definitely no chance of ruining friendships there.

Shadow Warrior 3

Developed by: Flying Wild Hog
Published by: Devolver Digital
Expected release date: 2021
Official Site

Shadow Warrior started out simply as a DOOM clone back in 1997, one of many other clones around that time. Since then however, it’s been rebooted as a modern series by Flying Wild Hog and they’ve turned it into something truly unique. Shadow Warrior 2 was a fast-paced slash and shooter, and Shadow Warrior 3 seems to be aiming for more of the same with a wider scope and more streamlined mechanics — even stripping out some of the more confusing ones. With a game so naturally fast-paced, it will no doubt be a hit with speedrunners. Check out the second Shadow Warrior Gameplay Trailer here.

That’s a wrap!

E3 brought us some fantastic titles this year, especially considering the global conditions of the past year. Sure, we’ve got to wait a little longer for some titles, but best to let them cook a little longer to ensure a better final product. Also, can we talk about how Nintendo just pulled out ALL the stops on their showcase? That showcase was one jawdropper after another, and I’m here for it, honestly.

That’s a wrap on our top 8 picks for AAA games for speedrunners. Coming up next, we’ll be taking a look at our top 8 Indie picks for speedrunners from E3, as well as in-depth looks at two indie titles, including developer interviews — so stay tuned!

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