The 30 Most-Anticipated Video Games Of 2021

Jan 6, 2021

Category: Entertainment

It’s safe to say that, in most industries, brands were just trying to figure out how to stay afloat in 2020 — long enough for the pandemic to subside and for normalcy to resume. While we’re still not out of the woods, the video games industry ended up having a record-setting year — due, in large part, to the huge numbers of people staying home on an indefinite basis.

Of course, with that success also came pitfalls, delays, and the usual batch of surprises we’ve all somewhat gotten used to. Some titles exceeded expectations, others flopped horrendously. However, some of the biggest news of the year wasn’t about 2020 at all. Rather, it was the huge number of impressive games slated for a release in 2021. In fact, that’s what concerns us today. The following collection is marked by some of the most looked-forward-to titles of the next calendar year. Keep in mind: some of these will inevitably be postponed to 2022 or later and the release dates will similarly shift a bit as the year progresses. Barring that, however, these are the 30 most-anticipated video games of 2021.

Hitman 3

January 20th

If you excuse the litany of spin-off titles, there have actually only been two main series Hitman games since the franchise was first created. Finally, the story arc of Agent 47 will be complete with this third entry… unless they decide to keep it going, of course (you never know with the big money-makers). Regardless, this title is certain to please fans of the stealth-shooter genre and, if the developer is to be believed, will be fraught with danger, drama, thrills, etc. At the very least, initial screenshots and trailers have us believing it will be quite pretty.

Genre: Stealth
Developer: IO Interactive
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC

Outriders

February 2nd

Crafting a fresh take on a third-person shooter is no easy feat nowadays, as the genre seems pretty well fleshed-out since its early days (check out the original Gears of War from way back in 2006 or even early Tomb Raider games). However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be refreshed or at least see some interesting new entries — which appears to be the case with Outriders. Originally thought to have ties to the Marvel franchise, it looks like this game is a standalone — hinging on a group of soldiers that are gifted (or cursed with, depending on your outlook) special powers, which they must use to fend off all manner of baddies. Sure, the base concept isn’t entirely original, but the world in which this game takes place and the gameplay itself looks like it could make up for that thinness of concept.

Genre: 3rd-Person Shooter
Developer: People Can Fly
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Google Stadia

Little Nightmares II

February 11th

In 2017, the original Little Nightmares came seemingly out of nowhere and ended up being one of the best games of the year. Sure, it was short and relatively small-scale, but it gave people access to a unique, blood-curdling concept that delivered fresh scares, just the right amount of stress, and challenging puzzles from start to finish. It’s definitely going to be a tough act to follow, but the brevity and the interest sparked by the original leaves plenty more to explore and expand upon. The follow-up doesn’t look like it deviates too much from the promise of the original, but the new/additional protagonist does open things up a bit.

Genre: Puzzle Platformer
Developer: Tarsier Studios
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC, Android

Riders Republic

February 25th

With a lot of sports games, you’re limited by linear tracks, typically only a couple of vehicle types, and a fairly focused scope. There are a few exceptions to this rule that have shown off the possibilities. One such title was Steep — an open-world, mountain-exploring, high-octane game that was marketed primarily as snowboarding-focused. Well, it looks like Ubisoft wanted to take the next big leap in that direction with Riders Republic. This socially-driven game, which hinges on multiplayer of numerous types, allows for much more freedom and adventure and adds a slew of other racing types to its ranks — ranging from mountain biking to wingsuit races and everything in-between. If it can truly expand upon the promise of Steep, players are certainly in for a treat.

Genre: Sports
Developer: Ubisoft
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time Remake

March 18th

For its time, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was a game-changing puzzle-platforming adventure game that took familiar concepts, flipped them on their arse, and added in some never-before-seen fresh mechanics — resulting in a deeply satisfying experience from beginning to end. This graphical and quality-of-life remake can hopefully capture that same magic and deliver a similar, albeit less surprising adventure. It remains to be seen if anything about this game is actually new or if it is all just a rehash, but — even in the case of the latter — there’s reason enough to return to this rich time-bending world and its adventures therein.

Genre: Adventure Platformer
Developer: Kudosoft
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

March

Not a lot of information about this title has yet been unveiled. That being said, the limited hints dropped by the trailer are more than enough to get many folks excited. It looks gorgeous, first and foremost, and also appears to combine a wide variety of gaming concepts — ranging from traditional platforming to almost Lemmings-esque puzzle-solving (aided by your cute sidekicks). Pair that with a lush universe, a touch of mystery, and stylistic design choices that run the gamut between the disgustingly cute and utterly bone-chilling and there’s real potential for a breakout hit here.

Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: Ember Lab
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, PC

Deathloop

May 21st

There have been so many first-person shooters over the years that some almost blend together in our memories. That makes it extremely difficult for any developer to come up with an original concept. But there looks to be at least some originality regarding the gameplay of Arkane’s Deathloop. You see, this title concerns a time loop, in which the protagonist wakes up each day on the same part of the same beach on an island called Blackreef. From there, he’s tasked with assassinating eight targets across the island before midnight in order to break the loop. The only problem: they’re all well-armed and well-guarded. Oh yeah, and there’s also someone hunting you — another character controlled by an invading player — seeking to preserve the time loop.

Genre: FPS
Developer: Arkane Studios
Platform(s): PS5, PC

Back 4 Blood

June 22nd

Valve’s four-person co-op survival-shooter Left 4 Dead was a breakout success — within both the fan and internal communities. In fact, Valve loved working on it so much that they released a follow-up only a year later because they had so many ideas left over from the first entry. The game remains popular to this day — there was even a fan-made expansion boasting a whopping twenty new maps and other updates to Left 4 Dead 2 that was officially endorsed by Valve. Back 4 Blood looks to be a spiritual successor and was even developed by the creators of the original game. While the monsters are mostly new, the gameplay and themes look quite similar — which is a very good thing if you were a fan of the original two. Of course, it isn’t without updates/alterations, like a card-based upgrade system that lets players personalize their loadout before each round.

Genre: FPS
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Q1/Q2

Serving to both adhere and lampoon traditional sci-fi tropes, the Ratchet & Clank series has been a mainstay of the platformer gaming community since its original entry released back in 2002 (which has since been remastered and re-released). This new entry looks to pick up where 2013’s Into the Nexus left off but also functions as a standalone for those new to the series. Crafted exclusively for the PlayStation 5, we imagine this game will take full advantage of the new DualSense controller, top-of-the-line performance specs, and more.

Genre: 3rd-Person Shooter Platformer
Developer: Insomniac Games
Platform(s): PS5

Returnal

Q1/Q2

If first impressions are correct, it looks like 2021 is going to be very heavy on the time loop concept, as two of the major titles to see releases this year hinge on the concept and others play with the idea in bits and pieces. Returnal is one of those two major titles and was, like the pick above, made specifically to be played on the PlayStation 5 — meaning it will take advantage of the DualSense controller and the PS5’s 3D spatial audio system. This one looks to be grittier by a wide margin and even harkens to the likes of Dead Space — a major hit in the sci-fi horror genre that sparked a trio of games. If you like otherworldly settings, soil-yourself levels of terror and stress, or some combination therein, you’re going to likely get a kick out of Returnal.

Genre: 3rd-Person Shooter Roguelike
Developer: Housemarque
Platform(s): PS5

New World

Q2

It was all the way back in 2016 that Amazon announced its own in-house game-development studio. Since then, we’ve been waiting patiently to see what kind of titles the retail giant would invest in — and it looks like 2021 is the year we’ll really get to find out with the release of the company’s first foray into the MMORPG genre with New World. As the name suggests, this game centers around a fictionalized Earth in the 1600s that puts players in the shoes of colonial settlers of varying affiliations. Of course, as is the case with most video games nowadays, it’s not quite that simple. This version of Earth is also laden with magic, monsters, and mythology galore. We presume players will choose between multiple factions but will ultimately be placed on one of two sides — as is the case with so many MMORPGs — but the rest is kind of up-in-the-air. It’s an ambitious project, but Amazon has the backing to pull it off — though the results remain to be seen.

Genre: MMORPG
Developer: Amazon Game Studios, Double Helix Games
Platform(s): PC

Halo Infinite

Q3/Q4

It was heartbreaking to hear that Halo Infinite wouldn’t actually end up being an Xbox Series X/S launch title, but it was ultimately the right call to improve the quality of the game — especially after so many complaints regarding the appearance of the early build. Despite the delay, expectations are still remarkably high for this “spiritual reboot” of the series, which marks the first time an open world concept is applied to the Halo universe. Returning players will still get to put themselves in the shoes of the Master Chief and the game will be loaded with familiar enemies from across the series, but we’re not entirely sure where the epic story will go from there. We wouldn’t call the possibilities endless, per se, but it does seem like 343 Industries might be suggesting something in that realm with the game’s expansive title. It also bodes well that the studio is claiming this game to be the basis for the next decade of Halo.

Genre: FPS
Developer: 343 Industries
Platform(s): Xbox Series X/S

Horizon: Forbidden West

Q3/Q4

Guerrilla Games hit a major home run with Horizon: Zero Dawn, a game combining a unique post-apocalyptic mythos with action-RPG elements that came out back in 2017. That game also set up a huge number of possibilities for the future of the franchise, of which Horizon: Forbidden West looks to be the next big step — following the Frozen Wilds DLC of the first game, of course. Fans of the franchise were undoubtedly pleased to see the return of the protagonist Aloy, but the real excitement comes in this game’s potential: a greater variety of robot monsters, new (and familiar) locales, and a deeper dive into the world’s lore, history, and future. Even if it for some reason barely lives up to the promise of the first game, the bar is set pretty high.

Genre: Action RPG
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Platform(s): PS4, PS5

Dirt 5

TBA

When it comes to modern rally racing video games, no franchise comes even close to the beauty, splendor, and thrills of the Dirt franchise. Despite the name change, this is actually the 14th entry in the Colin McRae Rally series (the 8th under the Dirt name). It also doesn’t look like it’s going to be breaking the mold regarding gameplay, however, there are some major graphical upgrades thanks to the next-gen systems for which the game is intended. This includes dynamic weather events and seasons, which means certain races are only available during certain points of the year — ice racing, for instance, only takes place during the winter months. The game will also introduce four-player split-screen for friendly, local, head-to-head competition, and it will likely have a greater variation in track destinations than any previous entry.

Genre: Racing
Developer: Codemasters
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Google Stadia

Elden Ring

TBA

Though it sounds like someone came up with the idea via a random generator, Elden Ring is actually the collaborative effort of Hidetaka Miyazaki, creator of the lauded and punishingly-difficult Souls series, and George R.R. Martin, writer-creator of Game of Thrones. That partnership alone is enough to earn it a spot on this list. However, it also gives us the impression — as it should you — that Elden Ring could end up being the most unforgiving action-RPG ever designed. For many folks, that might be a very, very good thing. For others, it’s a touch more terrifying. Either way, this is shaping up to be a massive release that’s sure to get people talking — and possibly pulling their hair out from a combination of terror, frustration, and heartbreak.

Genre: Action RPG
Developer: FromSoftware, Inc.
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC

Far Cry 6

TBA

With his appearance in Disney+’s The Mandalorian space epic, Giancarlo Esposito has proven once again just how unsettling he can be as a big bad. And that bodes well for Far Cry 6 because, you guessed it, he’s the primary villain in the latest entry in the main series. The game also introduces a new locale: a Cuba-inspired fictional Caribbean island called Yara. Apart from the locale and new characters, fans should be happy to find that much of the themes and gameplay that have made Far Cry a mainstay in the FPS genre intact. This includes a free-roam approach to gameplay, an emphasis on crafting and recruitment, and more.

Genre: FPS
Developer: Ubisoft
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Google Stadia, Amazon Luna

Forza Motorsport 8

TBA

In some circles, it has been said before and will be said again that Forza is the greatest racing simulator video game series of all time. We’re not going to dispute that, as we’re not sure we truly could. Sure, it’s limited by the fact that it’s an Xbox exclusive, but it has had a massive impact in the video game industry and is rivaled only by Gran Turismo (you know, the other guys’ racing sim). If the reveal at Microsoft’s Xbox Games Showcase on July 23, 2020 is any indication, it looks like Forza Motorsport may be a spiritual reboot of the series — though it will be the 8th entry in the official timeline — and will be the first Forza entry for this new generation of consoles. That means better graphics, better performance, quicker load times, and (perhaps most excitingly) ray tracing.

Genre: Racing
Developer: Turn 10 Studios
Platform(s): Xbox Series X/S, PC

Ghostwire: Tokyo

TBA

Japanophiles and lovers of anime might take a keen interest in this next title, as it is set in a semi-futuristic Tokyo and offers up some uniquely Japanese themes and accompanying gameplay. In the context of the first-person adventure, players will take control of the last remaining citizen of the city, while going to battle with the spirits that roam the streets and unraveling the mystery of just where everyone disappeared to. The gameplay and combat have been described as “karate meets magic” and should provide a unique spin on the otherwise fairly-standard FPS genre. The game also boasts elements of horror, which makes sense since its creators were involved in Bethesda’s Evil Within franchise and even worked on the combat of 2016’s Doom. For those paying attention, all of that spells very good news for this interesting new title.

Genre: Action-Adventure
Developer: Tango Gameworks
Platform(s): PS5, PC

God of War: Ragnarok

TBA

In 2018, SIE Santa Monica released the spiritual reboot to the GoW franchise, titled simply God of War, to a huge amount of well-deserved fanfare. It wasn’t just one of the best games of the 2010s — it was one of the best games ever made, period. However, the ending revealed that Kratos, the series protagonist anti-hero, wasn’t quite done with his Norse odyssey. Rather, it looks like things are just heating up, as Kratos appears to have found himself in the crosshairs of Thor and, likely, Odin. The bar for this follow-up was set about as high as it possibly could have been, but the studio behind it also has a habit of delivering upon their promises. Let’s hope that remains true as Kratos and his axe once again goes toe-to-toe against the Aesir, Vanir, and whomever else crosses his path.

Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: SIE Santa Monica Studio
Platform(s): PS5

Gotham Knights

TBA

It takes a bold writer’s room to kill off Bruce Wayne right at the beginning of a Batman-themed video game, but it appears that’s exactly what the folks behind Gotham Knights have done. You read that right: Gotham Knights doesn’t have Batman in it as a main, playable character. Rather, this game focuses on four of the Dark Knight’s former sidekicks — Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing, and (most interestingly) Red Hood — as they must rise to the occasion to save Gotham and, likely, unravel the mystery surrounding the death of their moody mentor. Each of the four playable characters boasts a different fighting style, the game is said to offer drop-in drop-out co-op, and it looks like the big baddies this go-around are members of the feared Court of Owls, a secret criminal organization as old as Gotham itself. For DC fans old and young, that potent combination spells big, wonderful things for this enduring franchise.

Genre: Action RPG
Developer: WB Games Montréal
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC

Gran Turismo 7

TBA

As mentioned previously, the Gran Turismo franchise is one of the most spectacular racing sims of all time and stands very-nearly alone — fighting at the top of the peak only with Xbox-exclusive Forza. However, like its primary competition, this game is also only accessible to the owners of one company’s console(s) — this time the Sony PlayStation. At worst, this entry will be a prettier, more in-depth rehash of gaming types and modes set up by previous entries. At best, it could redefine the racing genre. That all remains to be seen, however, as there’s little other information to be had. We do know that this game will take full advantage of the PS5’s DualSense controller and 3D spatial audio, which could make the difference in setting this game up for racing dominance.

Genre: Racing
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Platform(s): PS5

Hello Neighbor 2

TBA

Proof positive that scary doesn’t have to necessarily be gruesome and/or off-putting, Dynamic Pixels’ Hello Neighbor — which tasked players with sneaking undetected into their neighbor’s home to discover a potentially dark secret in the basement — was one of the spookiest and most engaging games of the 2017-2018 year. The hotly-anticipated sequel is said to pick up the narrative where the last game left off, only this time players are actually searching for their former neighbor who has since gone missing. That leaves the plot potential wide open and, if Dynamic Pixels can hold true to the original concept while expanding upon it, could add even more layers to an already-psychologically-jarring universe.

Genre: Stealth
Developer: Dynamic Pixels
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, Android

Hogwarts Legacy

TBA

There are a lot of literary worlds that would seem like shoo-in candidates for video game adaptations. the Harry Potter franchise is amongst them. And while there has been a litany of Potter-themed games, Hogwarts Legacy looks to be one of the most promising of all time. Interestingly, this game doesn’t concern Potter and his friends or their storyline at all, but rather follows students at Hogwarts in the 1800s, much like how Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was set thousands of years before the Skywalker saga. This gives the writers, who are developing the story apart from Rowling’s narrative, much more freedom and will even keep the most die-hard of Potter fanatics from guessing what’s in store.

Genre: Action RPG
Developer: Avalanche Software
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

TBA

Of all the characters that appear in the LotR books, Gollum seems like one of the least likely to work as a video game protagonist. Or at least that’s what we thought before we saw the preview for the somehow-cute The Lord of the Rings: Gollum game from Daedalic Entertainment. Much as you might expect, this game follows the former hobbit as he maneuvers his way through Mordor, though the details as to what we should expect outside of that are still a mystery. Still, the richness of Tolkien’s world paired with the stealth-adventure potential of this particular combination of character and locale seem promising enough that we’re greatly looking forward to learning more.

Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

TBA

Large-scale science-fiction seems like it would be easy to do in a video game, but the number of potential pitfalls therein is daunting. However, the Mass Effect franchise beautifully navigated the hazards (at least through the first two entries) to create an expansive, interesting, engaging universe with tons of depth both in regards to gameplay and lore. While the fourth spin-off entry in the franchise, Andromeda, was a bit of a flop, the potential for a new foray (as hinted by the developers) has reignited interest. That’s bolstered by the fact that the original trilogy is getting revamped and upgraded for a rerelease this year. If you never played the original games, now is your chance to take a deep dive into this magnificent story. If you have, then it might be time to revisit it in preparation for the next one.

Genre: Action RPG
Developer: BioWare
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC

Overwatch 2

TBA

Team-based shooters existed for quite some time before Blizzard released the original Overwatch back in 2016. However, the slick execution; wide variety of characters and, therefore, playstyles; and unique universe/lore all collided together to make the game an unquestioned slam-dunk — it was even heralded as the best game of 2016 by numerous publications and won the coveted Game of the Year award at The Game Awards. Fans of the stylized shooter have been patiently awaiting word of a sequel since. And now it looks like that might come to fruition in 2021. There’s virtually no news of the follow-up that’s been released yet, but Blizzard is well-known for keeping stuff under wraps, so there’s no telling when we could learn more or even how soon the game could release.

Genre: Team-Based FPS
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Resident Evil Village

TBA

The Resident Evil timeline, both in real life and within the context of the games’ narratives, is a messy one to traverse, but there’s no denying the impact the series has had as a whole. After all, it spawned an entire film franchise, albeit one that lacked much substance. Still, the critical success of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was a big step forward considering how badly RE6 performed — although it was limited due to the nature and availability of VR tech (the game was designed with VR in mind but didn’t necessitate it). It looks like Village is CAPCOM’s attempt at learning from their most recent setbacks, while still moving in a forward direction overall. Like RE7, Village offers a first-person perspective, more horror-focused gameplay (not so much of the run-and-gun of RE6), and a story that continues the narrative of the previous entry while incorporating familiar characters from the past.

Genre: Survival
Developer: CAPCOM
Platform(s): PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC

Sam & Max: This Time It's Virtual

TBA

For ’90s PC gamers, the name Sam & Max might spark some warm nostalgic feelings, as this quirky series from LucasArts was a mainstay of the point-and-click genre. Since then, games have popped up here and there, all following the same basic format regardless of the fact that LucasArts lost the license to Telltale Games. This latest entry, however, appears to be a brave new frontier for the dog-and-rabbit duo, as it will be entirely based in virtual reality. We suspect much of the quirkiness and tongue-in-cheek comedy will remain and, likely, the gameplay won’t go too far off the rails, but it will be interesting to see the series evolve and embrace modern tech — especially now that we’re finally starting to see what VR can truly be.

Genre: VR Adventure
Developer: HappyGiant
Platform(s): PC

Skatebird

TBA

Before the Tony Hawk Pro Skater remakes were released this past year, many folks (ourselves included) were wondering when we’d get a worthwhile skateboarding video game. While THPS certainly filled that gap for a while, the nostalgia has since worn out and now we’re chomping at the bit yet again. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait too long, as Skatebird is scheduled to come out sometime this year. This isn’t your ordinary skateboarding game, either, as players will actually control a tiny bird as their avatar and interact in lifesized environments — reminiscent of the quirky puzzlers in the Katamari Damacy series. If well-executed in regards to gameplay, this could end up being a potential dark horse hit that will please players serious and casual alike for years.

Genre: Sports
Developer: Glass Bottom Games
Platform(s): Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac

STRAY

TBA

Annapurna is most definitely most well-known for their films, but they’ve actually been making some pretty spectacular games over the last few years — including Journey, Donut County, What Remains of Edith Finch, and (most recently) Sayonara Wild Hearts. What’s really special about their catalog, however, is that each game is markedly different from the rest — which is what has us particularly excited about STRAY. This game follows a housecat separated from its family in a far-flung future “cybercity,” that must unravel “ancient myster[ies]” in order to find its way home. It’s a clever and likely moving concept that should translate well into a fun adventure, especially when considering the studio’s history of success and pedigree.

Genre: Adventure
Developer: Annapurna Interactive
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, PC

The 20 Best Online Multiplayer Video Games For Self-Isolation

Most of these games won’t be coming out for some months, but you can hop into the action with any of the best online multiplayer video games if you’re looking to bone up on your skills and get ahead of the competition.

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