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All the E3 2021 games you can play right now

With a handful of new releases already available to purchase or demo, you can get a head start on trying out the expo's offerings from this year.

Mary King Associate Editor
Mary is an associate editor covering technology, culture and everything in between. She recently graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she served as an editor at The Daily Tar Heel and reported for newspapers across the state. You can usually find her decked out in UNC merch and streaming lo-fi hip-hop while she writes.
Mary King
3 min read

Now that E3 2021 has wrapped up, gamers have an eclectic batch of releases to wish list -- with Nintendo announcing some noteworthy surprises on the Switch and Microsoft serving up new Xbox titles left and right.

For the vast majority of the games announced at this year's E3, you'll need to mark your calendars for this fall, with many release dates stretching into 2022 or beyond. But a few have already trickled into online stores or Xbox's Game Pass service. 

Yes, this is a very small list, and it is mostly rereleases, demos or add-on content. And we've even extended the timeline to include games publishing in the next several days. But from FPS challenges to intriguing third-person explorations, here are some E3 2021 games you can play right now. Or next week. 

BPM: Bullets Per Minute

Showcased at the Guerilla Collective right as E3 kicked off, BPM: Bullets Per Minute is, at its core, an indie Guitar Hero. Instead of a rock star, you're a Valkyrie; instead of grooving in a stadium, you're brawling in a dungeon; and instead of shredding a guitar, you're shredding apart "the forces of the underworld." Your job is to fight your enemies to the rhythm of the rock opera playing in the background. Get out of sync, and you won't face a booing crowd -- you'll face your fiery demise. BPM is available on PC right now (and Xbox One and PS4 later in 2021).

Yakuza: Like a Dragon, now on Xbox Game Pass

Xbox Game Pass made a splash at E3, with Microsoft announcing a slew of games coming to the subscription service. The very first of these is Sega's Yakuza: Like a Dragon, a cinematic RPG that loops you into family strife, personal redemption and the fearsome Japanese mob -- all set in a dazzlingly tumultuous Yokohama. The game launched in 2020, but it's available with your Xbox Game Pass subscription now.

Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance, coming to Xbox Game Pass on June 22

Also joining Xbox Game Pass' arsenal is Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance, which will become available on the platform starting Tuesday. Indie developer Tuque Games brings the tabletop staple to the screen, allowing you to take on fantastical foes alongside one, two, or even three other players. 

Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods DLC, now on Nintendo Switch

In a world flooded with demons and destroyed by -- sigh -- a pandemic, you'll probably need a flamethrower or two to get by. So, it's a good thing you'll be decked out in more powerful weaponry than ever in this DLC for the latest Doom game. The Ancient Gods add-on was already available for PCs and other consoles, but now it's on the Nintendo Switch as well.

Strange Brigade, now on Nintendo Switch

If a game that requires you to struggle through a pandemic-ridden world is a little too on-the-nose right now, you can get away from current events and take it back to the 1930s since Strange Brigade is now available on Nintendo Switch. Rest assured, you won't be weathering the Great Depression; you'll be fending off minotaurs, mummies and a 4,000-year-old ancient Egyptian witch queen who has a bone to pick. Pretty doable, right?

Watch this: Starfield and Halo Infinite are the stars of Microsoft's Xbox 2021 event

Available for demo: Lake

In this lovely RPG experience from Whitethorn Games -- an indie publisher of "pleasant, cozy games" -- you can follow industrious city dweller Meredith Weiss as she picks up a temporary mail carrying gig and explores her scenic rural hometown. No demons to slay here: just a handsome lumberjack, a long-lost best friend and a cat lady vibing by a lake in 1986. The full game drops on PC and Xbox in the fall, but you can check out the demo on Steam now.

Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life coming June 22

Thanks to a new partnership between Disney and the legendary pirate gaming franchise, Captain Jack Sparrow just swaggered into Sea of Thieves -- and his Pirates of the Caribbean nemesis Davy Jones is trailing right behind him. "The sense of fun, wonder and the imaginative spirit that we hold real affection for in the world of Pirates of the Caribbean always felt like it could be complementary to the world of Sea of Thieves," said Joe Neate, Sea of Thieves executive producer, "and we've striven alongside the teams at Disney to celebrate this." (Notably, if you've already purchased Sea of Thieves on PC, Steam or Xbox -- or if you have Xbox Game Pass -- A Pirate's Life is free. Shiver me timbers.)