E3 season is a time of big announcements and reveals, and game publishers put a lot of effort into keeping their surprises secret until the big moment arrives. But no matter how hard they try to keep every secret tucked away, leaks always find a way to spring forth in the days and weeks leading up to their grand events.
Are they really so bad? You may lose out on that singular moment of pure surprise, but some leaks can actually drive pre-announcement hype to even higher levels by spurring anticipation for a big game. There's a big difference between hoping for something and having a reasonable expectation (with screenshots!) that it's going to happen, after all. Whether you live for 'em or hate them, leaks are inevitable, and 2021 has already given us a bunch of them.
With E3 (and all the rest of the summer's gaming events) about to begin, here's a look at what we've seen before we were meant to see it.
Leaks from E3 shows so far
💧 Two Point Campus – The follow-up to Two Point Hospital appeared prematurely on the Microsoft Store last week, and while it was taken down in relatively short order, the listing was around long enough for everyone to get a good look. Two Point Campus will let players build and manage their own institute of higher learning, where students can enrol in courses like Knight School and Gastronomy, which will teach them to make "giant pizzas and enormous pies." Obviously it's ready to go, so I expect to see this one made official during the Xbox/Bethesda showcase.
💧 Marvel XCOM game – 2K Games gave us a two-for-one leak last week, beginning with a "turn-based action game" from Firaxis, codenamed CODA and described as "XCOM with Marvel heroes." Personally, I'd rather just have XCOM, but this one might have a better shot at building an audience than Square Enix's struggling Avengers game: The source of the leak said characters will be voiced by "famous actors," opening the door to the possibility that the game may tie in with the Marvel films rather than comics.
💧 Gearbox's Tiny Tina spinoff – The second part of the 2K leak points us toward a new Borderlands game centered around Tiny Tina, possibly called Wonderlands. This was given credence by the discovery of "PlayWonderlands" in the source code for bechaoticgreat.com, a teaser site for "a new adventure from Gearbox and 2K" that will be revealed tomorrow, June 10, at the Summer Game Fest Kickoff livestream.
Prepare for the reveal of a new adventure from @GearboxOfficial and @2K during #SummerGameFest Kickoff Live on June 10! 🔥 https://t.co/tw2vk3KytM pic.twitter.com/lVmqBN8b8bJune 7, 2021
💧 Final Fantasy Origin – A Final Fantasy Souls-like? Sure, why not. Reportedly in development at Team Ninja, this will—if the rumor is true—be similar to Nioh, with "more accessible" gameplay than other entries in the genre, and difficulty settings, also not a regular Souls-like feature. The expectation is that it will appear during Square Enix's E3 show, and the hope is that it will have a new title if it does, if only to avoid confusion with the 2002 release Final Fantasy Origins.
💧 Elden Ring – Will Elden Ring finally show at E3? That's one of the year's big questions, and our in-house Ringer has a good feeling about it. Some of that no doubt arises from a Geoff Keighley tweet alluding to escape from gamer prison (where he's apparently been trapped since not showing Elden Ring last year), but it's bolstered by an early May leak of purported Elden Ring footage. It's dark and blurry, and seven seconds long, and doesn't really show us a hell of a lot of anything, but as Shaun said at the time, at least it's something.
pic.twitter.com/W72Uj5Id1sJune 5, 2021
Leaks for later in the year:
💧 BattleCat – BattleCat is He-Man's giant feline companion. It is also, apparently, the working name for a new competitive shooter in development at Ubisoft that will mash up factions from the Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, and The Division series in various game modes, including one that sounds alarmingly like Sonic the Hedgehog. Despite that, this one looks fairly solid as these things go, although the leak indicates it won't be making an appearance at this weekend's Ubisoft Forward event.
💧 The Division Heartland – The Division: Heartland was announced to the world on May 6. Ten days later, footage of closed beta gameplay blew out the door. It was low quality, but it revealed elements of the game that Ubisoft had not yet shared: It's a third-person cover shooter, at least one type of NPC enemies are called Pilgrims, and players can wield two guns and a melee weapon, and perform dodge rolls and sliding runs. For all intents and purposes it appears to be a Division game, although as suggested by the Heartland title and key art, it takes place in a much more rural setting than other games in the series.
💧 Tony Hawk Pro Skater – Jess Margera, drummer of CKY and brother of Bam, appeared to drop the dime on a new Tony Hawk Pro Skater during a recent Behind Closed Doors podcast. CKY has a track on the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 soundtrack, and Margera said during the interview that it will have a song on "the new one coming out too." The band does not appear on the recently-released Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 remaster, and later in the interview Margera says his kids are already playing that game anyway, strongly suggesting that he's talking about something else entirely—like a new Tony Hawk Pro Skater game.
💧 Call of Duty: Vanguard – The word on the street, thanks to a March leak, is that the next Call of Duty game will take us back to the morally simpler glory days of World War 2. The details are still very fluid—Modern Warzone reported that some elements of the game are actually set in the 1950s, possibly pointing to an alt-history setting where the war didn't end in 1945, while Eurogamer said it will have a traditional WW2 setting—but one way or another it looks like we're headed back to the past. A more recent rumor claims that it won't appear during the E3 festivities, however, but will be revealed in an in-game Warzone event later this year.
💧 Shin Megami Tensei 5 – This relatively recent leak came to us by way of the official Japanese Shin Megami Tensei website, which prematurely posted details about the upcoming game, including a release date of November 11. It's possible that date might only be for Japan, and so far Shin Megami Tensei 5 is listed as an exclusive for the Nintendo Switch (which is why we're throwing to Persona Central for this one), but Atlus has started bringing its games to PC and so we're hopeful enough to include it in our list.
Leaked and confirmed – a special case
💧 Battlefield 2042 – The latest iteration of EA's long-running Battlefield series leaked so much that developer DICE actually made a joke about it on Twitter. Despite the volume of leaks, which ran the gamut from blurry screencaps to a title, nothing too major slipped out, and in the end it all proved legit: Battlefield 2042 was officially unveiled today, the opening salvo in the looming battle for your online attention.
#Spaghetti – noodley- slippy- good with sauce- good with garlic bread- is spaghetti- can be used as decoration- always available*also available as pasta https://t.co/bOVsdO1Unw pic.twitter.com/hUfZRsrYnZMarch 26, 2021
It's a long list of leaks, but remember that there's almost certainly more coming. The big summer of online events gets underway in earnest tomorrow with Summer Game Fest Kickoff Live, which begins at 11 am PT/2 pm ET, and big publisher showcases don't start until Saturday. That's plenty of time for even more to slip out, and frankly I'll be surprised if nothing else does. For the full lineup of all the shows happening this summer, keep your eyes firmly fixed on our E3 2021 schedule.