We’re officially one year into a global stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve seen a lot of things happen over the last year and maybe video games have been your go-to to feel better and leave the stress of everyday life behind.
While 2020 was an exceptionally rough year, we did get some huge games and some of those like Animal Crossing: New Horizons helped keep us sane. Doom Eternal helped us take our frustrations out since we couldn’t exactly hit the gym and Hades was literally about breaking out a hellish prison.
We’re now three months into 2021 and we’ve seen some big games launch over the last several weeks but what about the rest of the year? We’ve put together a list of the video games we’re most excited about over the next 10 months and we’re hoping to put some of these on your radar.
It Takes Two
From Hazelight Studios, the team that brought us A Way Out is working on their second game, It Takes Two. Josef Fares is known for his passionate speech at The Game Awards in 2017 but his talent extends to offering emotional video games that often require cooperation with others to find the true meaning behind the story. Continuing that trend with It Takes Two, you play as Cody and May, two humans who turn into dolls thanks to a magic spell. Trapped in another world, together, they will conquer the challenges in front of them. The game offers both local and online co-op and you can invite a friend to play for free using the Friend’s Pass. It Takes Two will launch on March 26, 2021, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
Resident Evil Village
Last month’s Resident Evil Showcase did two things: it drew a ton of hype for the next entry in the iconic series and introduced us to Lady Dimitrescu. After years of being a third-person survival horror series, the shift to first-person was met with a ton of positive feedback and the trend continues with the eighth entry. As for the tall vampire lady who the internet is extremely thirsty for, her presence is felt in everything we’ve seen so far of the game and she will play a huge role in Resident Evil Village.
Horizon Forbidden West
When Guerilla Games revealed they were moving away from Killzone and developing a new game in a new genre, I had mixed feelings. I love the Killzone series and spent an absurd amount of time in multiplayer over the years. However, with the fourth entry a PlayStation 4 launch title arriving with a whimper, change needed to happen. And I’m glad it did as Horizon Zero Dawn launched in 2017 to critical and commercial acclaim. It took the post-apocalyptic setting and made it engaging and offered a great protagonist with Aloy. I had a great time learning to hunt the dominant machine dinosaurs and uncover the reasons as to why the Earth was lost.
With the sequel revealed during the Future of Gaming Showcase, a lot of expectations immediately came to light and for good reason: as of 2019 the series has sold over 10 million copies and fans want to get lost in this world filled with warring tribes, hulking robotic dinosaurs and beautiful scenery.
Having been revealed at E3 2019, Deathloop was set to be a launch title for the PlayStation 5. Developed by Arkane, the game is described as a murder-mystery game that tasks the player with investigating the island of Blackreef.
Playing as hired assassin Colt, you’re trapped on Blackreef, stuck in a time loop and forced to relive the same deadly day over and over. Armed with extraordinary abilities and devastating weapons, Colt is going to have to use every tool at his disposal to put an end to the cycle and find his way off the island. You’ll need to take out eight key targets spread out across the island and you’ll need to do it in one night for the risk of restarting the time loop.
Even with Microsoft purchasing Zenimax, Phil Spencer confirmed Xbox will honour the exclusivity deals the studio made with PlayStation and both Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo would remain exclusives for the time being.
I know there isn’t a ton of buzz around Outriders yet, but the latest game from People Can Fly has me excited. For one, I’ve hit a wall with Destiny 2 and after years of burning out, getting psyched for new content and then repeating that cycle, I’m ready for a change. I loved Bulletstorm and that alone is why I’m looking forward to seeing what the studio is working on. There will be a free demo on February 25 that includes the ability to play as four classes, it will feature crossplay and cross-progression.
From what we’ve been shown so far, the cooperative RPG focuses on a group of soldiers tackling an alien invasion that’s infecting the humans of the planet Enoch. It’s up to your team to figure out their motives and take back the planet.
From horror producer Shinji Mikami and Tango Gameworks comes Ghostwire: Tokyo. This game is the first from the studio since The Evil Within 2, so expectations are high. I’m excited to learn more about exactly what the premise is because while details are sparse, the trailers we’ve seen certainly offer a supernatural vibe. So what’s the game about?
After strange disappearances hit Tokyo’s population, it’s up to you to uncover the source and purge the city of a strange, new evil. Armed with your own mysterious spectral abilities, you will face down the occult, unravel conspiracy theories and experience urban legends like never before.
Housemarque’s first game on the PlayStation 5 is also the biggest the studio has worked on. If you aren’t familiar with the studio, they’ve created some really excellent titles, including Resogun, Alienation, Nex Machina, and Matterfall. For their next project, the studio is working on Returnal a new third-person roguelike where players fight to survive a hostile planet that changes with every death. You play as Selene, a woman stuck on this unknown planet and she’ll have her hands full with the locals.
If you’ve ever played a game from the studio, you have an idea of their signature style of game paired with responsive controls and that all too painful bullet-hell gameplay. In Returnal, you’re getting all that from a third-person perspective.
Everything we’ve been shown so far has piqued my interest and there’s so much replayability the studio is advertising.
After two delays, developers SYCK and Dreams Uncorporated has confirmed a July launch date for Cris Tales. After being delayed from November 2020, Cris Tales will now launch this coming July.
The developers describe the game as a love letter to classic JRPGs, and if you played the demo, you would see how true it is. Crisbell is able to manipulate time in the past, present, and future on a whim. Her powers shape the world around her and help her change the lives of those around her for the better.
Nier Replicant ver. 1.22474487139…
Square Enix is updating and improving on the original NieR which is set to launch as NieR Replicant ver. 1.22474487139…(what a title!). After NieR: Automata became a massive seller for the publisher, it made sense that the first game, which didn’t perform nearly as well, would get a fresh coat of paint.
A lot of players may have only experienced the insanity of Yoko Taro through Automata, but he’s also developed the Drakengard series and the first NieR. I’ve been enamoured with Papa Nier and his quest for his daughter since playing the original version a decade ago.
However, there is no sign of him in the upgraded version. Instead, this remaster will focus on the Replicant iteration of the character, and Yonah now serves as a sister figure rather than a daughter to the protagonist.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
It can’t be argued that the purchase of Insomniac Games is already paying off for Sony after the release of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered for its PS5 launch. The studio’s PS5 focus is not slowing down with the anticipated release of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart which utilizes the PS5’s SSD to a point that the game wouldn’t be possible on any other PlayStation generation with how much it focuses on jumping from world to world.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is actually the first sequel in eight years to the Ratchet & Clank timeline since Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus on PS3. New players won’t have to worry as Insomniac is treating it as a standalone adventure, so not too many narrative callbacks I assume. The multi-world space adventure shooter is going beyond this time by introducing the multiverse and in one of the universes, we’re introduced to another lombax, this time female which Insomniac still hasn’t officially named.
Gameplay-wise for anyone who ever played the game based on the movie based on the original game aka Ratchet & Clank (2016) you’ll find many similarities in Rift Apart. You’ll navigate the environment as Ratchet alongside Clank hanging on his back as you fight multiple enemies sent by a villainous emperor whose trying to exploit the catastrophic dimensional collapse to exterminate all organic life in all universes; Sounds like a normal Ratchet & Clank game to me, not really an original idea.
You’ll defeat enemies with a multitude of weapons – with some being might being comical, Groovitron I’m looking at you – at your arsenal that Insomniac Games is infamously known for. I’m a huge fan of the Ratchet games, started playing them on PS2 and never stopped, the only ones I haven’t are the bad ones after Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is another Ratchet & Clank game I’ll be down to play when it hits PS5 exclusively this June.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition
Let’s be honest here, Bioware didn’t play at its best last generation. No offence to the development team but games like Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem weren’t the best games to showcase Bioware’s talent. While it could be argued that Dragon Age: Inquisition was a good game, Dragon Age fans agree it was the weakest entry. It’s just more evidence Bioware really needs to find itself again as the great developer I see them as.
A great way to reflect on the future of where the studio is headed is to look back on its past, more specifically the Mass Effect trilogy which in my mind made me a fan of Bioware games. The next generation of Bioware’s talent is bringing the trilogy to current generation hardware with Mass Effect Legendary Edition. The chance for game players to re-experience – or experience for the first time for newcomers – again will be a moment for fans and the developer to rediscover what made the trilogy truly special.
Bioware is taking extra steps to modernize the game from 2007, the first Mass Effect game which has really shown its age with its infamous elevator ‘loading’ ride that will be skippable, the overhaul to Mako vehicle gameplay and resolved quality of life issues in all three games plus every single piece of DLC found in all three games. I think overall the upcoming release is looking to be the best version of the trilogy that fans will ever play with how much love and care Bioware is putting into and could possibly be the foundation for where Bioware is headed creatively. It could be a great reminder of what fans like and re-learned lessons could hopefully be applied to the new Mass Effect game.
The first thing I’m gonna do in my quasi-remaster/remake playthrough of Mass Effect Legendary Edition is play as FemShep; playing Male Shepard is as exciting as wonderbread.
Untitled God of War Sequel
Personally, the reboot/sequel God of War is a very special game, it’s a game that helped me accept my father’s death. It was one I struggled to play at first because its father-son dynamic was a little too close to the chest for me. Once I got into it, I got so much joy out of playing it, which is weird because the God of War franchise is not one I have much of a connection to.
The only God of War game I’ve played was God of War III on PlayStation 3 and that was like a decade ago, but the way the developer, Santa Monica Studio made its new take on the IP felt like there was much more of an emphasis on storytelling. When I played God of War 3, the story always felt like a tool as a way to transition the next location for Kratos to go bloody murder on enemies rather than being the focus like it was in the 2018 game. After 13 years, the focus on the story finally evolved Kratos into an actual character for me, someone that I could sympathize with.
It slowly became my game of a generation with its focus on Norse mythology as a new setting – following the disaster level finale of God of War III – for Kratos who settled down, finally character development for Kratos, the game’s supporting cast and most importantly Kratos’ development with son, Atreus. How the developer follows up the 2018 game with a sequel made our imaginations go wild and I hope to see something like a Kratos vs Thor confrontation as the story leads into Ragnarok.
We’re talking a lot about the 2018 game because there is honestly not much to say about the sequel. All that’s known is that Ragnarok is coming, Santa Monica is working on the sequel and it’s slated for 2021. I’m a strong believer it’s coming out this year, I refuse to join the bandwagon of people with no evidence saying it will be delayed to next year.
It’s a big game for PlayStation that I assume will be another cross-generational game for PlayStation with PS4 players being able to play the sequel.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
From Ember Labs, a studio led by founders/brothers, Mike and Josh Grier that have spent several years working on commercials and branded applications. After signing a console-exclusive deal with Sony the studio is now working on its first original game, Kena: Bridge of Spirits. You play as the titular, Kena, a young spirit guide with magical abilities in a third-person action-adventure game that invokes the spirit of Pikmin, PS2 games of the same genre and Pixar movies in one neat package that looks worth playing.
There is no guarantee that this game will be good or not as it is the studio’s first game, with no track record, but when I saw Kena back in June during the PS5 reveal Showcase it I was immediately hooked to what it was going for. I have an idea it’s not gonna blow me away but looks like a good fun game like it has the energy of a good ol’ PS2 game that I rented at Rogers Video on a Friday night.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD
The HD-ified version of Legend of Zelda’s first game (chronologically), The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has been in the works for a long time. After the release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD for the Wii U in 2016, there were always rumours that the next 3D Legend of Zelda HD remaster would be the 2011 Nintendo Wii game but always a question of when was the right time to announce it. Nintendo’s focus shifted with launching the Switch and the series’ most ambitious title, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that Skyward Sword HD seemingly went to the wayside as Nintendo took its time to figure out how to get the game to play without motion controls.
Even when it was announced this month, people got unnecessarily mad at the reveal because they had this unnecessary belief that they would get a huge 3D Legend of Zelda collection announced for Switch before the series’ 35th anniversary even started. I’m personally excited for the switch port, but mostly to see my boy, Groose again and go through this journey again. I’m more excited to finally play the game with modern controls. I appreciate the recreation of the game’s motion controls but I’m finally going to play the game I always wanted to play; by not swinging my arms like a mad man.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is an underrated 3D Zelda game and is better than anyone gives it credit. I personally can’t wait to play through the precursor to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and re-experience one of my top five 3D Zelda games in July.
Although Halo Infinite was first to be positioned to be an Xbox Series X/S launch title, 343 Studios delayed Halo Infinite to late 2021. It’s no surprise that Halo Infinite is one of my anticipated titles as the Halo series has held a special place for me since Halo: Combat Evolved.
343 Studios is taking a bold approach to Halo Infinite as it will be the first game of the series to feature open-world elements. It’s been discussed that the team is dedicated to evolve and grow over the years as an ongoing title. Despite some lukewarm reception last year, Halo Infinite now has time to gestate and become the game the studio envisioned.
In my eyes, Halo Infinite is one of Xbox’s most important titles but the Halo franchise has arguably seen some rather low points after mixed reactions to Halo 4 and Halo 5’s campaign. This is 343 Studios’ chance to prove to the Halo audience they understand Halo top to bottom. The release of Halo Infinite also coincides with the 20th anniversary of Xbox. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the minestrone than by rolling out the red carpet for Master Chief.
There are games that revolve around a simple concept and expand on it in intriguing ways. 12 Minutes centers around a man in an apartment trying to solve a mystery. As a husband, the player interacts with his wife, who’s carrying their unborn child. A police officer arrives, accusing the wife of murder. Without any interference, the occurrence escalates, resulting in the death of the wife and child.
The player is given only 12 minutes until a time loop shifts and the window of time restarts. Learning from mistakes and how interactions may proceed, the player can begin to piece things together. Each time loop slowly progresses towards the ultimate goal.
Developed by Luis Antonio, former artists at Rockstar Games, 12 Minutes has been incubating for quite some time. Being published by Annapurna Interactive, the game received some additional support, including voice actor casting from James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and Willem Dafoe.
It’s a small game with a unique gameplay loop and concept that speaks to me and may become 2021’s surprise darling.
Many players fondly look at Rocksteady’s Arkham trilogy. Though, WB Games Montreal’s Batman: Arkham Origins never got the love it so rightfully deserved. Treated as the black sheep of the franchise, I eagerly await the studio’s chance to revisit the Batman universe untethered from previous Batman titles.
Gotham Knights sees us return to Gotham City but with a focus on the secondary members of the Bat-family. So much so that Gotham Knights tells a tale in which Batman has been “killed off”. Whether or not that’s entirely true, players will step into the boots of Robin, Nightwing, Red Hood and Batgirl.
While featuring co-op gameplay and a level progression system, Gotham Knights still retain the core gameplay players can expect. It’s similar enough that players can grasp that familiar loop but WB Games Montreal appears to be doing enough to spice things up for the better. Of course, a game like this is only as good as its rogue’s gallery. We’ve only caught glimpses at Mr. Freeze and the mysterious Court of Owls. However, I do expect to see other iconic villains incorporated in the story that stretches across the dark streets of Gotham.
New Pokémon Snap
Over the ages, we’ve been on many memorable journeys to catch ‘em all. However, it’s not been since 1999 that we’ve been able to take pictures of the loveable creatures known as Pokémon. Thankfully, New Pokémon Snap is right around the corner!
I’ll never forget the era when Pokémon Snap was the game to play. It was a radical shift for me, a youngster, growing up in the golden age of Pokémon. The game had so many secrets and easter eggs to uncover. Plus, who can forget the faithful trips to Blockbuster, running up to the Pokémon Snap booths and printing your pictures? These memories have been and always will be ingrained in my mind. New Pokémon Snap not only gives a younger audience a chance to experience those feelings to some degree but also gives us Pokemon Photographer veterans a nice trip down memory lane.
Many generations of Pokémon have released since the first Pokemon Snap debuted. This offers an exciting chance to witness a whole new ecosystem of Pokémon living together in various environments. Although we still don’t know too much about the new innovations, the release trailer has shown us that the gameplay is sticking to its original formula. Although Todd Snap is nowhere to be seen, New Pokémon Snap has players travelling through different regions, taking photographs and studying over 200 Pokémon to fill up the Photodex.
Mario Golf: Super Rush
Let’s be honest here, we’ve been long overdue for a new Mario Golf on consoles. While I love racing around the track in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or hitting a 40 in Mario Tennis, nothing beats teeing off in Mario Golf.
Mario Golf: Super Rush appears to keep all the core fundamentals you’d expect from a contemporary Mario Golf game. Traditional controls are featured as well as motion controls using the Joy-Con controller. Additionally, the game will offer a campaign mode where your customized Mii can rise through the ranks as an up-and-coming golf superstar. Plus, to put the “rush” in Super Rush, the game will feature a multiplayer speed golf mode where four players tee off together and race to sink their ball into the hole first by collecting power-ups along the course.
All in all, Mario Golf: Super Rush seems to be a great addition to the Switch’s catalogue and a highlight in Nintendo’s offering in the first half of 2021.
Back 4 Blood
Perhaps one of the most known jokes in the PC gamer world is the utterly hilarious question of why Valve never releases third instalments for their games. Portal, Half-Life and, of course, Left 4 Dead have all ended after two mainline entries. Well, that changes for the previously mentioned title. Back 4 Blood is a new co-op, game-as-a-service coming to us now from WB Games, Turtle Rock Studios and the original creators of Left 4 Dead.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to relive the days when getting off the bus (remember riding on those) meant running home to boot up Left 4 Dead and kill zombies. I’m even willing to forgive the fact it’s a service model thanks to the fact that it revives at least one beloved Valve series.
Available now, Big Blue Bubble’s Foregone promises to be your next favourite Metroidvania where you’re as doomed as you are in Dark Souls. Forgone takes place in the city of Calagan, where a corrupting force known as the Harrow is creating a bad time. Big Blue Bubble promises a fast and fluid platformer where sword and gun lead you in a dance with memories you may have suppressed.
Borderlands 3: Director’s Cut
I am definitely cheating for the next two, but the following entries are games I feel compelled to own on every system they are available for. And that’s not something I ever do with games. Borderlands 3 is perhaps one of the greatest ports ever to grace PC gaming. Its cell-shaded graphics look mind-melting on PC, especially when played at higher megahertz refresh rates. Console players also sadly have missed out on the finger-numbing joy of playing this often insanely-paced shooter with mouse and keyboard. I know that there’s only a nominal amount of new content included in this game’s vault. But you better believe I’m picking this game up anyhow.
Kingdom Hearts Coming to PC
One of the biggest debates in gaming over the past few years has been what counts as an exclusive game? And like Microsoft, but mostly Sony, adjust their thoughts on the question, we see things like Horizon Zero Dawn and Days Gone get their chances to shine on PC, where there’s more than enough power and finesse to make the most of them. But there’s one series coming to PC this year that I just can’t be any more excited about Kingdom Hearts.
I’ve been playing this series for years, and I still can’t tell you what is going on at all. But what I can tell you is that PC ports of these much-loved games provide new opportunities to take full advantage of the power of PC gaming. But I would buy these games on any system I could!