The advent calendar has been sitting in your bin since December 3, you’re all back at work, and the misery of the daily grind is setting back in. Fret not! As the Andromeda galaxy slowly hurtles towards us for an imminent collision, there’s nothing better than video games to help spend your brief time in existence to its maximum.
January’s a bit of a dry month, but for the rest of the year? There’s some dang good content on the way. Arkane’s version of Groundhog Day, Ubisoft’s return to madcap acid trips with guns, and the twilight of the gods boy, are just some of the highlights on the horizon. So here’s a rundown, of what to expect this year.
Back 4 Blood
Four players. Plenty of bullets. An infinite horde of rotting flesh. The genre of four player-co-op taking on everything hasn’t been dormant since the days of Left 4 Dead, as many a game studio has carried that particular baton in fresh slices of zombie-slaying action, but when the studio responsible for kicking off an asynchronous multiplayer splatterfest declares that is making a comeback, it’s well worth paying attention to.
With Turtle Rock back in the saddle and Evolve a distant memory, Back 4 Blood is shaping up nicely so far with classic action and an eye on replayability with nifty ability perks as the dead march towards PC, PlayStation, and Xbox.
An Xbox exclusive for the PlayStation, Deathloop looks like a marriage of chronal shenanigans with tight espionage assassination action. The idea is simple: You’ve got one night to bump off a number of targets on your list and escape a time-loop that you’ve been stuck inside of for who knows how long. The only catch?
You’re also being hunted, either by an AI-controlled opponent or a flesh and blood adversary on the other side of the world. Players can take control of Julianna to menace Colt as he tries to off the eight targets who’ll free him from the eternal cat and mouse game, in this PC and PS5 timed exclusive from Dishonored’s Arkane Studios.
Dying Light 2
It has been years in the making, and while it still doesn’t have a definitive release date, I’d bet my mint condition Shaun of the Dead DVD that we’ll finally see the dead rise up once again to be ankle-biting bastards. Techland’s original Dying Light is still a pitch-perfect experiment in proving the existence of the brown note whenever the sun went down in that game, and the sequel looks set to offer more of the same with a deeper emphasis on story-telling.
Barring some unfortunate developments behind the scenes, a parkour-heavy post-apocalyptic survival game where choices genuinely mattery, sounds perfect for the 2021 climate.
Elden Ring. Is a game. With writing from that Game of Thrones fella, and developed by the Dark Souls bastards. That’s pretty much all we know about Elden Ring so far, which has kept its secrets sealed up tighter than a duck’s anus. Whatever FromSoftware is working on, it has fans frothing at the mouth for more, and if industry rumours are to be believed, then it won’t be too long before the lid is lifted on what is presumably another punishing fantasy game.
Far Cry 6
I’ll be dead honest here: Far Cry games are formulaic, evolve slower than dragon-type Pokemon, and they always start in a predictable manner. That being said, they’re my favourite junk food and being left to my own devices in hostile territory makes for some brilliant weekend warrior action. This year’s latest chapter doesn’t seem to be any different from what has already been seen in previous games: A bastard pulling the strings behind the scenes (Hi Giancarlo!), a beautiful landscape to decorate with bullets, and a regime to overthrow.
Chuck in a few acid trips, towers to climb, and outposts to liberate, and we’ve got ourselves a good time on our hands I reckon.
Remember when E3 was still relevant and Bethesda allowed a bouncing beacon of positivity and energy to show off its latest game? Good times buddy, good times. While the delightful Ikumi Nakamura may not be involved with it presently, Ghostwire: Tokyo still looks set to be a superb slice of horror that only Japan can deliver. Neon-lit streets littered with madness and helmed by the masterminds behind The Evil Within makes for a game that will probably require you to wear your brown pants before playing it.
God of War: Ragnarok
Another game whose secrets have been kept locked up, the only safe guess with the next God of War is that if its title is referencing the twilight of the gods then you can bet that Sony’s infamous dad of boy anti-hero will be responsible for the upcoming deicide. Boy.
Horizon: Forbidden West
Speaking of Sony, 2021 looks set to be a banger of a year for the PlayStation 5! Guerrilla Games shed its label as a Killzone studio when it released Horizon: Zero Dawn to rave acclaim, and the next chapter within that franchise looks set to follow in the footsteps of the original in typical sequel fashion: Bigger, bolder, and more colourful than ever before.
There’s a brave new world to explore, robots to avoid, and a mystery to uncover behind the great bastard bionic uprising that sent humanity hurtling back to the stone age and facing extinction every day underneath the steel boots of their new robot overlords.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart
Out of all the PS5 games marked for 2021 though, it’s a new Ratchet & Clank that I’m most excited for. While it looks like a colourful adventure starring Sony’s wholesome duo, it’s how this new game will play that has me excited. Third-person platforming mixed with fun gunplay and instantaneous jumps between multiple dimensions? I’ve got a feeling that the newest Ratchet & Clank game in four years is going to become the go-to showcase game for what the PS5 is capable of.
It has been six years since Batman got a chance to step into the solo video game spotlight, and that gap is only going to increase in the years to come. On the plus side, Gotham has a four heroes stepping up to claim the mantle of the bat. Gotham Knights looks like a massive sandbox of action and detective work, one where players will not only be able to switch between Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood, and Best Robin, but also use their unique abilities to their advantage.
Does it look like a Batman version of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey so far? Yes. Am I down for that? Hell yeah I am.
Gran Turismo 7
Bring on the vroom! Other than Codemasters and their annual entries, racing games haven’t had much to offer lately in terms of big budget experiences featuring the hottest cars around. Gran Turismo has always been infamous for lengthy development cycles, but the end result usually sees a brilliant and authentic collection of hypercar power take to the track when launch day gets into gear.
Aside from the usual collection of V8 horsepower, scenic tracks, and ear-ripping sound, this latest Gran Turismo looks set to be a PS5 tour de force with lightning-quick load times, haptic feedback to make the driving experience feel that much more authentic, and visuals that push the series to new heights.
I’ll be dead honest: I do not get the love for Halo, which feels more and more archaic with each new entry in its library. But! People in the millions clearly love it, and I can’t hate a game for being able to bring so much joy and Mountain Dew to their lives. Originally scheduled for 2020, Halo Infinite got delayed into 2021, a wise decision when you look back at how a certain other big-budget game with years of development under the hood got rushed to market.
A Halo game with a sandbox approach, Master Chief is locked and loaded to explore a new ring world while battling the Covenant once again with a hail of bullets, plasma rounds, and swift boots to their fugly faces. Sticking a plasma grenade on a grunt’s shell and watch it run towards its comrades in a futile effort to not be turned into giblets, never gets old.
Oh you knew this was going to make the list. Hitman 3! The world of assassination trilogy finally wraps up, finishing a saga that began in 2016 and saw yours truly find increasingly hilarious ways to be a bastard and kill targets across some of the best maps in video game history. Agent 47’s bag of tricks may be familiar, but he’ll be making good use of them in levels that range from high-rise Dubai skyscrapers through to ye olde British manors, and dodgy Chinese streets.
Expecto Petroleum! No wait, that’s the spell for filling my car tank up. Harry Potter games have been around long enough to fill up a PS2 bargain Bin in every country, but the thought of being able to explore Hogwarts and the wizarding world in a game that isn’t bound by the films or JK Rowling’s retroactively making it canon that Wizards would shit their pants and magic the evidence away? I can’t believe it hasn’t been done before.
Avalanche Software is developing this project while hoping that Rowling will keep quiet long enough to not cost them any sales, and the game will star you as a young wizard in the 1800s who enrols at the infamous Hogwarts academy. That’s plenty of new ground to explore, long before He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named came to power, setting the stage for a magical and original adventure.
Hollow Knight: Silksong
If you haven’t played the original Hollow Knight game, then there are two things you need to know: One, you’ve made Matty very sad. Two, you’ve missed out on one of the tightest and most charming 2D action games in recent memory. While it looks similar to the original, Hollow Knight: Silksong has some big departures in store for veteran fans who conquered the first game.
Not just set in a new world and across dangerous environments, you’ll be guiding the first game’s side character Hornet, who happens to be inhabiting the driver’s seat for the sequel. Other than that, expect improved Metroidvania influences, even more of the charming art style on display, and a release on PC and Nintendo Switch hopefully this year.
Now that the Xbox Series X/S consoles have arrived, it’s time to get down to the business of exclusive games. Bloober Team’s latest project is a psychological horror that could only be realised with SSD technology, as The Medium will allow for the psychically-attuned protagonist of Marianne to explore both the physical and spiritual realms at the same time. While you won’t be doing that throughout the entire game, showcase moments like that should make The Medium one of the more interesting titles exclusive to Xbox and PC.
I’m only including this on my list before Gavin comes crashing through my door, screaming about his love for the game and demanding features on why Soldier 76 is the best character ever. With the first Overwatch now an ancient five-year-old relic, Blizzard’s sequel is taking an unusual angle. It’ll still have the exact same multiplayer component as the original game and feature cross-generation competition, but the meaty new addition here are co-op multiplayer campaign missions, a visual redesign, and a brand new game mode.
There’s no word yet on if Overwatch 2 will ship in 2021, but with Blizzcon’s online convention around the corner, official word will likely be delivered very soon.
Resident Evil Village
I swear I just put my brown pants in the wash. Anyway, Resident Evil has been on a tear the last couple of years. Resident Evil VII was a spooky masterpiece of tight horror, while back-to-back remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3 proved to be nostalgic heavy-hitters in glorious new skins. Ethan Winters is back for Resident Evil Village, a direct sequel to the seventh game that is set to give him yet another bad day where he has to survive the undead, werewolves, and Chris Redfield’s final Absolute Unit form.
It’ll be spooking up the joint on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S.
Housemarque has always been one of the most underrated developers around, and whille games such as Nex Machina, Resogun, and Alienation proved just how adept the studio was at crafting incredible action experiences, they’ve had a bit of a rough time lately. Their next game though? Possibly a make or break project, that plays like a spacebound version of Groundhog Day. A third-person shooter on a hostile alien territory, it’ll be fascinating to see if Housemarque can bring its talent for rhythmic action to console on March 19.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
With a development cycle that has been nothing short of a pain in the neck for anyone involved (pun fully intended) and numerous delays, here’s hoping that 2021 proves to be the year when the latest Vampire game awakens from Torpor and sinks its fangs into the gaming jugular. If Bloodlines 2 fnally does ship in 2021, expect it be thirsty for ye olde neck wine on PC, PS4, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X.
Last Updated: January 5, 2021