Inclusive games to watch out for from E3 2019 and beyond

E3, the gaming industry’s biggest annual consumer-facing event, descended upon Los Angeles this week for publishers and developers to show off their newest and greatest upcoming games. This time of year is a draw for all game enthusiasts, but LGBTQ gamers like myself have a particular interest to see how games are evolving and becoming more inclusive. While the industry still has a long way to go, there’s plenty for us to get excited about over the next few months. So, whether you’ve been following the recent E3 news or not, here's a round-up of some LGBTQ-inclusive games we’re excited about.

First on the list is The Sims 4, a game widely known for its LGBTQ inclusivity. The Sims series has featured same-sex relationships going all the way back to the original in 2000, and in 2016, GLAAD partnered with Electronic Arts to bring transgender and gender-expansive characters to the game. This year, The Sims 4 is becoming even more inclusive, as EA partnered with the It Gets Better Project to bring a collection of Pride-themed items to the game. In a video at EA PLAY (EA’s pre-E3 weekend event), YouTube creator and The Sims fan Joey Graceffa revealed the new content, which will include Pride clothing and a gender-neutral bathroom door.

Sir Hammerlock in Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3 is the next big game to watch. Fans of the series know it as one of the most inclusive in all of gaming, featuring several LGBTQ characters and even a playable lesbian character—Athena—in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Sir Hammerlock, a canonically gay character who first appeared in Borderlands 2, is confirmed to be returning in Borderlands 3, and there’s no doubt the upcoming game will have far more inclusivity in store.

Next on the list is The Elder Scrolls Online, this year’s recipient of the inaugural GLAAD Media Award in the Outstanding Video Game category. The popular MMORPG recently launched its newest expansion, Elsweyr, and teased more upcoming content at Bethesda’s E3 press conference. The developers have promised even more LGBTQ-inclusive characters and storylines, and we’re excited to see what this future content brings.

Keep an eye on The Outer Worlds, a forthcoming sci-fi RPG from Obsidian Entertainment. While we haven’t seen confirmation that the game will include LGBTQ characters and storylines, we have good reason to believe that it will. The game is co-directed by the venerated, out gay game designer Tim Cain, whose previous work—from Fallout 2 to Pillars of Eternity—stands out for its LGBTQ inclusivity. And Obsidian Entertainment’s previous game—Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire—was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award this year.

We’re also closely following a pair of newly revealed games from Ubisoft. Gods & Monsters is an upcoming Greek mythology-infused action-adventure game from the same team that brought us Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, also a GLAAD Media Award nominee. Watch Dogs Legion is an ambitious open-world game that promises the ability to play as any character that exists in the game’s futuristic London setting. Ubisoft’s E3 presentation showcased a range of diverse playable characters, and given the history of inclusivity in the Watch Dogs series, we expect that LGBTQ characters will be among them in the final version of the game.

Finally, we're compelled to mention The Last of Us Part II even though it did not make an appearance at E3 this year (Sony, the game's publisher, skipped out). The game, which will feature Ellie as the first canonically gay protagonist to lead a full-length AAA game, wowed audiences last year with an extended trailer that included a memorable kiss between Ellie and her love interest Dina. We also know that Lev, another character in the game, will be played by out trans actor Ian Alexander. No release date has been announced, but we expect to hear more about this widely anticipated title in the coming months.

Ellie and Dina in The Last of Us Part II