Nintendo had a very strong showing at E3 2019 – somehow without even being at the expo. Thanks to its hugely popular Nintendo Direct livestreams, the house of Mario has managed to continue gripping gamers and gaming press alike with its joyful and nostalgic roster of titles – and this year it really knocked it out of the park.
Two years into the Nintendo Switch's lifespan, there are still massive mainline franchises pulling out the stops. We may not have got more details about the rumored Switch console upgrades coming later in the year, but there was still plenty for us to chew on: fantastic-looking new games, significant updates to existing favorites, smart ports and remakes, as well as at least one bombshell sequel.
So what did Nintendo have on show? We've collated all of the most exciting game trailers and new announcements below – from Luigi's Mansion 3 and Pokemon Sword and Shield to a whole load of Zelda titles in the works.
There's plenty we didn't see, to be far: no sign of the delayed Metroid Prime 4, or the soon-to-be-released Mario Maker 2. But for an expo that largely exists to create hype around new and upcoming releases, we're certainly excited about what we saw.
- As for a Nintendo Switch 2? That'll have to wait, it seems...
An (unnamed) Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel
It was the final mic-drop moment of Nintendo’s E3 live stream, but what a moment it was. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn’t getting more DLC – it’s getting a whole new sequel.
At this stage, there’s no name or release date to go on (we'll just have to call it The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 for now), just a momentary clip instead. It showed Zelda and Link exploring beneath Hyrule Castle, before encountering a resurrected warrior foe – potentially an undead Gannondorf. The camera cuts to a view of Hyrule Castle from a distant location. There’s a ground-shaking quake, Hyrule Castle is engulfed in dust. And that’s it.
Very much looking to be in keeping with the new Zelda formula laid down by Breath of the Wild, this could be this generation’s Majora’s Mask.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
You may not be afraid of no ghost, but Luigi still is. We got an extended look at Luigi's Mansion 3 during the Nintendo livestream, which introduced us to a few new mechanics for the game. Namely, it’s looking like it’ll be a much more kinetic outing for the scaredy-cat plumber, who will be able to use his ghost-catching vacuum cleaner thing to slam spectors against walls, while also doing an area-of-effect air blast. On the floor at E3 we got to play through tons of content from the trailer (seen below) and made it to our first boss battle with the King Ghost.
There’s also a new multiplayer mode announced for the game called ScareScraper, letting you compete for ghost-hunting prowess against your buddies, as well as a co-op mode that introduces a new character called “Gooigi”. Imagine a Flubber-fied version of Luigi, and you’re there, with the green gooey version of Luigi able to walk on spikes and squeeze through fences like a friendly T-1000 terminator. He’ll also be the secondary character couch co-op players get to play as.
Sadly, there’s still no firm release date for Luigi’s Mansion 3 beyond “2019”. We’ll keep you posted.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
We knew the remake of the GameBoy classic, Link’s Awakening, was going to be at E3 2019 but we didn't know how much fun we'd have with it. In a 15-minute demo with the game we were able to get our trusty sword from the beach, trudge through the mysterious forest and battle the first dungeon's mini-boss, Rolling Bones.
Still keeping to that top-down style that the series was once so famous for (but with a new, modernised, Pixar-like art style), Link's Awakening for Nintendo Switch has now been revealed to have a build-your-own dungeon mode. Drag-and-drop tiles will let you build new challenges within the game – here’s hoping there’s an online element so that you can share them with your friends.
The Witcher 3 for Nintendo Switch
Someone had better send a demon hunter to Nintendo HQ – there must be some sort of dark magic being cast in order to make The Witcher 3 run on the Nintendo Switch. But monster hunter Geralt is indeed headed to the hybrid console, both in its docked and on-to-go handheld modes.
It’s the complete edition of the game, including all its expansion packs, and while the lengthy, engrossing adventure is perfect for mobile play-anywhere sessions, we’re still stumped as to how they’re going to make it work on relatively underpowered hardware. We can’t wait to see it in action for ourselves.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
We’ve seen a lot about Pokémon Sword and Shield, which is coming to Nintendo Switch November 15, 2019. The hype is high, the release date is soon, but Nintendo doesn’t have much more to show off than it did during its Sword and Shield-dedicated Nintendo Direct presentation released a week before E3 2019.
Our demo at E3 gave us a taste of the Galar region that players will be exploring, and specifically showed off the vaunted ‘Dynamax’ feature that temporarily evolves your Pokémon to colossal size and power. We took on the Water Gym Leader Nessa in a huge arena in front of cheering crowds using an oversized Grookie and, in the end of the demo, got out first badge.
The only thing missing from that demo was a look at the legendary Pokémon that give this generation its name, Zacian (sword) and Zamazenta (shield). But there's always a chance Nintendo will put out a demo before the game's launch in November.
Panzer Dragoon originally came out for the Sega Saturn in 1995, which tells you how iconic the game has become as the only title from that doomed console to be remembered so fondly. The game has been completely remade for a Switch release later in 2019.
The original Panzer Dragoon perched the player on the back of a dragon and gave them a gun. It’s a rail shooter on a dragon. Need we say more? Okay, the game didn’t just make its bones on then-novel 3D gameplay - its vibrant world and lore captured players’ imaginations, too. We knew the game was being remade (opens in new tab) by Polish publisher Forever Entertainment, but didn’t know the Switch would be included in its release plans.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
The Marvel's Avengers game from Square Enix made plenty of waves, sure, but Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: the Black Order deserves plenty of attention too. You’ll be able to play as one of countless characters from across the rich Marvel universe in an interesting-looking action RPG. Plus, we got to see Magneto wielding an Infinity Stone, and we can’t wait to see how that pans out.
Luckily, we only have to wait until July 19 to get our hands on it... not that it stopped us from playing it at E3 2019. In a short demo three of our editors were able to team up, taking control of Wolverine, Captain America and Storm, while battling through Hand forces in Hell's Kitchen.
We didn't get to see the complete list of characters coming to the game, but if you’re a fan of non-Avengers Marvel lineups like the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, keep an eye out for the Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order season pass that will have tons of cool characters.
Banjo-Kazooie and Dragon Quest's Hero
Some of the more surprising faces were those added to the roster for Super Smash Bros Ultimate, the Switch entry for Nintendo's iconic fighting franchise that came out last year. There's been a steady drip-feed of additional Smash Bros DLC content with new characters like Piranha Plant and Persona 5's Joker joining the fray – though Nintendo has now revealed the next two fighters for the coming content packs.
The first is Hero! You know, Hero? The (technically unnamed) protagonist from the recent Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age will be slashing his way onto Smash Bros stages later this summer, with a nifty trailer showing off some serious swordplay – and three alternative skins that let you play as the lead characters from Dragon Quest III, Dragon Quest IV, and Dragon Quest VII.
The other is Rare mascot Banjo-Kazooie, who first appeared on the Nintendo 64 back in 1998, and has been at the top of fan's lists to add to the game, alongside the likes of Dragonball's Goku or Crash Bandicoot (we're still holding out hope for the others).
Banjo-Kazooie will be available to download – with additional soundtracks and stages for the game – in Autumn 2019. As a fighter, they're sure to add a whole load of vertical strategy with that bird strapped to Banjo's back.
Animal Crossing New Horizons
Our first gameplay footage of Animal Crossing: New Horizons shows the villager farming and crafting new furniture – something that has never been an aspect of the main Animal Crossing games. Some of these features look like they’re lifted from Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, while other aspects are completely new for the series.
The setup for the game, as was revealed by the trailer, is that Tom Nook is now chartering vacation packages to a deserted island which you, as the villager, must explore and cultivate into a thriving community. It’s a neat spin on the classic formula, and one that we’ll hear more about before it comes out on March 20, 2020.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
This one’s a match made in heaven for Nintendo’s portable machine. Ni no Kuni is, in our humble opinion, one of the most underrated JRPGs of the last decade.
With art direction helped along by some of the Studio Ghibli team, it combines beautiful anime visuals with a Pokemon-like battle system that has you training up companion monsters for turn-based battles. It’s also got an absolutely heart wrenching story. It’s a long and fairytale-like adventure, making it perfectly suited for on-the-go play.
The upcoming latest edition in the Doom series has been confirmed to be making its way to Nintendo Switch, meaning you can transverse the hellscape while on your work commute. A truly terrifying thought.
Unfortunately we don’t know exactly when we’ll be seeing the Doomslayer making his way to Switch - seeing as Doom Eternal doesn’t actually have a release date yet - but we do know it’ll be later this year.
While violent first person shooters don’t exactly have the charm factor that Nintendo is known for, the most recent Doom game went down a treat on Switch and we’re expecting Eternal to do the same. Who said the Nintendo Switch was just for kids?
Nintendo’s not known for its horror titles either, but it’s getting one of the best ever made in the shape of a port of Alien Isolation.
Based on the classic sci-fi franchise, you play as Ellen Ripley’s daughter as she’s hunted down by a lone xenomorph aboard an abandoned space station. It’s more survival-horror than action, where hiding and holding your breath is a better bet than going in all guns blazing. And, with the Nintendo Switch being a hybrid handheld, you can bring the game on the toilet to play in case you get so scared that you… well. You get the picture.
Dauntless officially launched in May 2019 with a bang, drawing millions of players to the free-to-play monster hunting game. Sure, it seems to lift a lot from Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise, but at least F2P makes it accessible to fans who can’t stomach the high price tag of a new game - and lets their friends try it at no cost.
Dauntless exists in a world torn asunder by a cataclysm that releases gigantic monsters, Behemoths, that the players must hunt and destroy. Like Fortnite before it, Dauntless allows cross-platform play, so expect to link up with your buddies on WIndows, PS4 and Xbox One when the game launches on Switch later in 2019.
Collection of Mana
If you're after some RPG nostalgia on Switch, Nintendo has you covered. The Collection of Mana released in Japan back in 2017, bundling a trilogy of iconic games from the Mana series – and is now available to download from the Switch eShop across the world.
That includes Final Fantasy Adventure (Game Boy, 1991) and its sequel Secret of Mana (SNES, 1993) – as well as the third game in the series, Trials of Mana (Super Famicom, 1995) that until now has never been released outside of Japan. See the trailer below for some wonderful pixel action.
- E3 2019 is the biggest gaming event of the year. TechRadar is reporting live from LA, telling you all about the biggest announcements of the week, from epic game trailers to shocking release date reveals. Follow our expert analysis of the keynotes and what we see on the E3 show floor.