With The Game Awards last week, we got a good flavor for the big games coming next year. And so it’s time to do our most anticipated games of 2021.
When I asked on social media about audience picks, I got a lot of jokes about how the rerelease of a non-buggy Cyberpunk 2077 would be the best game of 2021. That’s probably true, but I wouldn’t really consider it simply because the company made the poor decision to release a buggy version in 2020. Cyberpunk 2077 could very well be a great game, and I will probably figure that out in 2021. I haven’t played enough to figure out if, in spite of all the bugs, it really is outstanding. In the meantime, let’s table that discussion.
Many more games are also in the works, and we don’t have a clue as to whether some of these will make it out the door in 2021. We can assume Ubisoft will have a new Assassin’s Creed and Activision will have a new Call of Duty, and probably a new version of Warzone. I don’t have any better information than most folks on when these games are coming, so keep that in mind.
God of War: Ragnarok
God of War, developed by Cory Barlog and his merry cohorts at Sony Santa Monica, is a God of War game for people who weren’t God of War fans, like me. It had a tight, focused story about a father and a son … who happen to be gods. The gameplay is compelling, the audio and music are good, and the graphics and cinematics are amazing. It was so impressive that it beat out titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 for Game of the Year in 2018, and I have high expectations for the sequel. I don’t know anything about it, but sight unseen, I would play this game because I really want to learn the fate of these characters and hear Christopher Judge perform Kratos again.
Developer/publisher: Sony Santa Monica/Sony (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4)
Fans panned Master Chief’s reappearance last year, and Microsoft’s developers at 343 Industries went back to the drawing board. Halo veteran Joseph Staten rejoined the team. I’m hoping they can push this game over the finish line and make something that impresses. We want and we expect a Halo for 2021, not the same game we could have played five years ago. And while Halo has its critics out there, the developers have stepped up to deliver outstanding games in the past. Lets hope that one big delay is enough.
Developer/publisher: 343 Industries/Microsoft (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)
Perhaps the biggest compliment for the Battlefield series is that Call of Duty has evolved to be more like it, especially on the multiplayer front. No one does battlefield destruction like DICE, and I’m itching like everybody else to see what the environments of war will look like on the next-generation consoles. This year’s Call of Duty had the disadvantage of coming out on so many old and new platforms at the same time. But I’m betting DICE gets to focus on next-gen only, and that should look and play spectacular.
Developer/publisher: EA DICE/Electronic Arts (TBD)
Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was my favorite game of 2017. It blended Nordic mythology and horror in a story with a flawed hero. It depicted mental illness in its lead character Senua in a realistic way, based on consultations with doctors who understood challenges such as psychosis. It paved the way for other developers to address the previously untouchable subject of heroes with mental illnesses. Senua was an ordinary person, thrust by love to take on extraordinary hardships on a journey into hell — or so it seemed. I’d like to see what’s become of her. But I have to say. She’s not looking so good.
Developer/publisher: Ninja Theory/Microsoft (PC, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One)
Horizon: Forbidden West
This sequel to Horizon: Zero Dawn looks promising. I love the imaginative environment of this world that had electronic dinosaurs in a time set long after an apocalypse. The blending of humanity’s past and its future transported me to a place I had never dreamed of, and it was another game with a strong female character in Aloy. Her journey is epic, and the combat has so much variety, whether it was taking on gigantic mechanical monsters or evil humans. I felt robbed of closure at the end, and so maybe we’ll get some satisfaction with this sequel.
Developer/publisher: Guerrilla Games/Sony (PS4, PS4)
Far Cry 6
Ubisoft has established the Far Cry brand for vast open worlds with good shooter gameplay and absolutely wild villains. Sometimes the games are hit or miss, but with actor Giancarlo Esposito playing the bad guy, I’m fairly confident that I’m going to hate this villain. The scene that Ubisoft released already, where “El Presidente” (Esposito’s character) forces his son to toss a grenade at a protesting crowd, showed that we’ve got a real bastard to hunt down in this game.
Developer/publisher: Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft (PC, Microsoft and Sony consoles, Amazon Luna, Stadia)
Back 4 Blood
This game might not be anything more than a spiritual sequel to Left 4 Dead with better graphics. But hey, what’s wrong with that? Gamers have a lot of pent-up demand for this series of co-op zombie killing that hasn’t had an installment since 2009. The alpha test is happening now and the next-gen graphics look pretty amazing and the combat is intense.
Developer/publisher: Turtle Rock Studios/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (PC, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One)
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Nothing looked as compelling when it came to next-generation graphics on the PS5 as the demo of this game, which seamlessly switches environments from one to the next with no latency. It has the same zany heroes and amusing gameplay that we’ve come to know over the decades.
Developer/publisher: Insomniac Games/Sony (PS5)
This is one of those Jeff Grubb specials, or one that you can get very obsessed with. I got enough of a taste of Hitman 2 to play and replay assassinations over and over again. As the hitman Agent 47, your job is to use any means necessary to take out your target. Your weapon could be a high-powered rifle, a chandelier, a poisoned drink, or a dead fish.
Developer/publisher: IO Interactive/IO Interactive (PC, Sony and Microsoft consoles, Nintendo Switch, Stadia). Coming January 20.
Electronic Arts churned out so many middling Harry Potter games over the years that we all got sick of them. Now, so much time has passed that I’m yearning to know what can be created with today’s next-generation technology. And I like the idea that this moves on to a new generation of characters and places outside Hogwarts.
Developer/publisher: Avalanche Software/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (PC, Microsoft, and Sony consoles)
The hardcore fans will get their wish one of these days as Blizzard builds something worthy of the franchise. The dungeons await, and this title has also been too long in coming. This time we’ll have to deal with the daughter of Mephisto, Lilith, in the land of Sanctuary. The world needs another Diablo game, if only to crush the Diablo-like clones out there.
Developer/publisher: Blizzard Entertainment/Blizzard Entertainment (PC, PlayStation, and Microsoft consoles)
Dying Light 2
It’s hard to make zombie games that get people excited, unless you’re making a something in a well-known franchise. But the original Dying Light has a compelling open world where it’s safe to forage by day — unless you ran into enemy humans — and terrifying to be out at night when the zombies came out chasing you at high speed. This game has seen its delays, but I’m hopeful it will make it out the door.
Developer/publisher: Techland/Techland Publishing (PC, Microsoft and Sony consoles)
I have almost no confidence that EA will ship this tantalizing title 2021, given recent high-level departures at the BioWare division. But once again, it’s been too long since we were all disappointed by Mass Effect: Andromeda. EA needs to pull a rabbit out of its hat to please the die-hard fans of this sci-fi series. At least we’ll have the remake of the first three games in the form of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition.
Developer/publisher: BioWare/EA (TBD)
The player in this world is stuck in an endless loop, like in Groundhog Day. It’s a video game where you have to escape from a game world either through stealth or combat, all the while evading a human player who is out to assassinate you. While the rest of the community resets every day, you retain your memories and can learn how to escape better the next time around. Your task is to assassinate eight targets before the human assassin takes you out.
Developer/publisher: Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks (PS5, PC)
It Takes Two
Josef Fares is back with a funny game that forces an estranged couple to work together in cooperative mode to escape from the cartoon world where they are stuck. You have to work together, with another player, or you’re never going to escape. It’s another game where Fares is going to screw with our minds. Sorry, I mean f*** with our minds.
Developer/publisher: Hazelight/EA (TBD)
The demented developers who brought us The Evil Within and Resident Evil are back with an action-horror games set in Tokyo. You play as a psychic who has to use paranormal powers to defeat the ghosts and spirits haunting the city. I’ve come to be terrified of anything these developers create, but I’ll want to take a peek at it anyway.
Developer/publisher: Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks (PS5, PC)
Other notable titles coming include:
- Kena: Bridge of Spirits
- The Wolf Among Us 2
- New World
- Metroid Prime 4
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2
- Oddworld: Soulstorm
- Overwatch 2
- Skull & Bones
- Resident Evil Village
- Beyond Good & Evil 2
- Rainbow Six Quarantine
- Crimson Desert
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