While 2020 was a landmark year for the gaming industry thanks to the release next-gen consoles and PC graphics cards, there are plenty of exciting new games to play 2021. From highly-anticipated sequels like Halo Infinite and Resident Evil Village to brand-new experiences such as New World and Deathloop, there are plenty of titles to try.
We’ve curated a list of the 2021 games we absolutely loved, as well as the upcoming ones we’re most excited about, including big AAA blockbusters and imaginative indie titles. Keep in mind that we’ve only included games that at the very least have a vague “2021” release window attached, which is why we’re not including games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel or Final Fantasy XVI. We’ll of course update this article as new 2021 titles are announced.
Here’s what you have to look forward to this year:
Age of Empires IV
October 28 | Relic Entertainment | XSX, XBO, PC
Real-time strategy fans have been waiting a very long time Age of Empires IV, which was announced in 2017. Set in the Middle Ages across 8 different civilizations at launch, Age of Empires IV is the first new installment in the series in 16 years. Fortunately, the game is finally out this year, letting players take control of some of the most powerful kingdoms in human history, including the English, French, Mongols, and the Dehli Sultanate.
July 29 | Neon Games | XSX, XBO, PC
The Ascent was originally planned as an Xbox Series X launch title before it slipped into 2021. A twin stick shooter at its core, The Ascent features a cover system as well as the ability to target high and low points on enemies, all in a destructible, open world cyberpunk setting. You can also fully customize your character with a variety augments.
Though Neon Games is a small studio, Epic Games was so impressed with early work on the title, that Neon was awarded a grant to help cover development costs. The result is a top-down co-op shooter that, while it isn’t wholly original, has a lot of style. Fans who want to return to the aesthetic of Cyberpunk 2077 and also want something they can play with friends should absolutely check this one out.
Axiom Verge 2
TBA | Thomas Happ Games | Switch
Metroidvanias from indie developers are a dime a dozen nowadays, but the original Axiom Verge stood out thanks to its tight controls, varied weapons, and compelling story. Axiom Verge 2 looks to largely be more of the same, but with even better graphics and more complex enemy patterns. The game has been in development for the past four years, but should finally be out in early 2021.
March 26 | Balan Company and Arzest | XSX, PS5, PS4, XBO, PC, Switch
Balan Wonderworld is a modern take on classic platformers of the 32-bit era. You choose from one of two characters and explore a variety of worlds mixing reality and imagination, but the real hook is the 80 different costumes you can find that unlock new abilities for your characters.
The game was directed by Yuji Naka of Sonic the Hedgehog fame. Fans of the platformers of the early ’90s don’t want to miss this one.
Back 4 Blood
October 12 | Turtle Rock Studios | XSX, PS5, PS4, XBO, PC
Valve may not have been able to get its act together to make a new Left 4 Dead game, but the developer behind the best-selling franchise has a spiritual successor in the works. Just like in Left 4 Dead, you’ll team up with three other players to take on waves of the undead in missions that change every time you play. There will also be a competitive 4v4 mode with one team taking the role of the zombies.
We went hands-on with the Back 4 Blood alpha, and so far, it does play a lot like Left 4 Dead with updated graphics, which isn’t a bad thing at all if you miss the classic horde shooter. The card system, which bestows interesting perks (and buffs) to players and zombies, does add a bit of variety to the usual formula that could make this one a sleeper hit in the streaming world.
October 22 | DICE | XSX, PS5, XBO, PS4, PC
Battlefield is returning to its futuristic timeline for this year’s installment. Set after climate change has completely devastated the planet, resulting in a global blackout, Battlefield 2042 sees the United States and Russia at war for what few resources are left. But you won’t be able to explore the themes within this setup through a single-player campaign, as this is a multiplayer-only installment.
Fortunately, the online play sounds impressive, with up to 128-player battles on next-gen consoles and PC. Classic modes like Conquest and Breakthrough are back, while the game will also introduce a new co-op mode called Hazard Zone. There are also tons of customization options that allow you to create your own multiplayer modes. What we’ve seen so far looks promising.
Bravely Default II
February 26 | Claytechworks | Switch
The first two Bravely Default games released on the 3DS were typical fantasy RPGs bolstered by their unique risk-reward battle system. Players could use brave points to stack up attacks for big damage, or default to save them up and take less damage in a turn. It kept those games fresh, even if they sometimes dragged on for too long.
Bravely Default II brings the series’ unique combat exclusively to the Switch for the first time. And true to its Final Fantasy inspirations, the characters and story are completely original, so you don’t need any familiarity with the earlier games.
Call of Duty: Vanguard
November 5 | Sledgehammer Games | XSX, PS5, XBO, PS4, PC
Call of Duty returns to World War II for the first time since 2017 with Vanguard, which takes things into alternate history territory with its story campaign that follows an elite squad of soldiers as they try to dismantle the Nazi war effort once and for all. Multiplayer offerings include the usual favorites as well as a new mode called Champion Hill that’s like a tournament-style battle royale. The game is also getting its own Zombies mode as well as introducing a new map for Warzone.
June 8 | Torn Banner Studios | XSX, PS5, PS4, XBO, PC
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare was a huge multiplayer hit on the PC when it was released in 2012. Unfortunately, with lagging developer support, most of the community moved on to other games long ago.
But Torn Banner is back with the sequel, which boasts next-gen graphics, improved combat, and massive 64-player battles. Bloodier and more violent than its predecessor, Chivalry 2 pits the Agatha Knights against the Mason Order once again in a battle for supremacy that will leave the battlefield littered with corpses. If you’re tired of modern-day competitive shooters, and have a strong stomach, this might be the online multiplayer game for you.
TBA | Fishlabs | XSX, PS5, PS4, XBO, PC, Stadia
There’s been a serious lack of good third-person space combat shooters in recent years, but Chorus looks to rectify that. In this single-player game, you’ll play as Nara and her sentient ship Forsaken as they work together to track down the cult that created them in what Fishlabs is calling a “dark new universe.” It kind of looks like Goth Star Fox.
Unfortunately, we haven’t really seen anything more from Chorus since it was announced last summer. Hopefully, the radio silence ends soon.
TBA | Smilegate Entertainment and Remedy Entertainment | XSX, XBO
CrossFire is a hugely popular tactical first-person shooter in China and South Korea, even though it’s barely made a mark in the West. Fortunately, Microsoft is bringing an updated version of the shooter exclusively to its consoles in hopes that it’ll catch on. Expect lots of tense, objective-based multiplayer action, and though the series isn’t known for its single-player, we’re looking forward to what Remedy can do with this mode hot on the heels of the excellent Control.
Like several of the titles on this list, CrossfireX was planned as a launch title for the Series X, but was delayed into 2021 due to development issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait that much longer for this one.
September 14 | Arkane Studios | PS5, PC
What if you could combine the movie Groundhog Day with the Hitman series? It’s likely that no one had actually asked that question before Deathloop. You play as Colt, an assassin stuck in a time loop on an island in the midst of a party that resets every day. You have to eliminate eight targets before midnight and avoid dying yourself, or you’ll end up at the beginning of the loop again.
Deathloop also features a multiplayer component that allows players to jump into your game as an assassin named Julianna, who is tasked with taking Colt down before he can complete his mission. This PvP aspect should result in some very interesting playthroughs.
While Microsoft now owns Arkane as part of its purchase of ZeniMax Media and Bethesda Softworks, don’t expect Deathloop on the Xbox any time soon. It’s still launching exclusively on the PS5 and PC.
Diablo 2: Resurrected
September 23 | Vicarious Visions | XSX, PS5, XBO, PS4, PC, Switch
While Diablo III’s reputation has improved substantially since its controversial 2012 launch, there’s still a vocal group of gamers who prefer the second game in Blizzard’s genre-defining action RPG series. Knowing how much this game means to a lot of people, Vicarious Visions has said it’s not out to reinvent the wheel for Resurrected. The updated 3D graphics will display in 4K, but you can switch back to the original graphics at any point with the press of a button.
And while there will be some quality of life improvements like a shared item stash and automatic gold pickup, don’t expect any revolutionary changes that will spoil the original experience. This should be exactly what we need to tide us over until Diablo IV hits shelves.
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny
June 29 | Nippon Ichi Software | Switch
After a couple of well-received remakes, the first new Disgaea title in more than five years is finally here! This time around, the offbeat story focuses on Zed, a zombie who attempts to use something called “super reincarnation” to stop the seemingly invincible God of Destruction who is slowly destroying all worlds. If you’re in the west, your Japanese tactical RPG fix is waiting for you on the Switch.
Dying Light 2
December 7 | Techland | XSX, PS5, XBO, PS4, PC
Few sequels are as highly anticipated as Techland’s follow-up to its surprise survival horror action game, Dying Light. Bringing back the parkour and combat mechanics of the original, Dying Light 2 Stay Human is sticking to the winning formula of any sequel: the same but bigger and (hopefully) better. Set in Europe on a sprawling map that’s four times bigger than than the setting of the first game, Dying Light 2 tasks you with building alliances among the game’s many warring factions while also making tough choices that will have serious consequences. It’s type of game Techland excels at, so you should be excited.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood
June 1 | ZeniMax Online Studios | XSX, PS5, XBO, PS4, PC, Stadia
Last year’s Elder Scrolls Online expansion finally brought the world of Skyrim to the MMO, and ZeniMax is keeping the blasts from the past coming. This year’s expansion, Blackwood, brings back elements from Oblivion, with a whole new campaign that sees you face off against Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon 800 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls IV. It’s all part of the year’s big Gates of Oblivion storyline.
The expansion adds the Blackwood region to the game, which includes the Imperial city of Leyawiin from Oblivion, and also finally brings a Companion system to the game. Recruit an NPC to fight by your side and explore the land of Tamriel.
Far Cry 6
October 7 | Ubisoft | XSX, PS5, PS4, XBO, PC, Stadia, Luna
By now we all know what to expect from Far Cry: hop into a tropical paradise, blow up a bunch of outposts, and methodically take back the land from the big bad guy. After a detour into the American wilderness with Far Cry 5, the next entry in the series heads to Yara, a fictional Caribbean country heavily based on Cuba. And with Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad and The Mandalorian fame playing the big bad El Presidente, you know we’re in for some especially awesome villainy.
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
November 23 | Square Enix | PS5, PS4, PC
After one of the worst MMORPG launches ever, it’s a miracle that Final Fantasy XIV is still around a decade later. Not only did Square Enix turn things around, this game is now regarded as one of the very best in the genre.
Endwalker, the game’s fourth major expansion pack will conclude the story of the warring gods Hydaelyn and Zodiark, which has been running since the game’s 2013 relaunch. This won’t be the end of the MMO, though. Square still says it has several years worth of stories to tell.
Along with the obligatory new zones and quests, Square has promised two new classes: the sage, a healer who battles with floating swords, and the reaper, a melee-DPS class armed with a scythe. We can’t wait to try these out!
Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach
TBA | Steel Wool Studios | PS5, PS4, PC
The Five Nights at Freddy’s series has been terrorizing gamers for more than a half decade now, and Steel Wool Studio is looking to up the scares with the power of next-generation graphics. We don’t know how exactly the game will play yet, but the announcement video showcased a very cool looking shopping mall with an ‘80s motif. On the PS5 and PC, Security Breach will support real-time raytracing, so Freddy and the gang should look better than ever.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection
February 25 | Capcom | Switch
After a lengthy absence, the crushingly difficult Ghosts ‘n Goblins series has been revived. Resurrection, which is a whole new installment and not just a remake, features the series’ classic 2D gameplay, with the knight Arthur fighting his way through hordes of monsters and environmental hazards. And of course, the new graphics look much better than the old NES and SNES games. Best (worst?) of all, this modern take is just as punishing as its predecessors so be prepared to die A LOT.
Guilty Gear Strive
June 11 | Arc System Works | PS5, PS4, PC
Billed as “a complete reconstruction” of the long-running fighting game franchise, Guilty Gear Strive introduces interesting new fighters as well as exciting returning characters. There is also a dedicated dash button and a new feature that lets opponents who are knocked into walls cling to them. If you can land enough attacks, you will break through the wall and initiate a stage transition.
It’s beautiful anime aesthetic also means you’ll really struggle to find a more stylish fighting game out this year. Come for the visuals, stay for the excellent gameplay.
December 8 | 343 Industries | XSX, XBO, PC
After a disappointing reveal last July, Halo Infinite was bumped from the Series X launch to Fall 2021. The game has been described as both a sequel and a “spiritual reboot” for the series, so it will be interesting to see how far 343 Industries handles Cortana’s heel turn after the fan backlash Halo 5: Guardians received. A new AI character known as “The Weapon” has already provided some clues.
Many fans weren’t happy to hear more microtransactions will be added to Infinite in the form of “coatings” (shaders) that can be purchased to customize Spartans in multiplayer. The good news that we recently played a little bit of Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer mode and came away really impressed with it! But let’s hope this game can deliver as a whole.
January 20 | IO Interactive | XSX, PS5, PS4, XBO, PC, Switch, Stadia
IO’s rebooted Hitman games are among the most underrated titles of the last few years, streamlining the series’ once finnicky systems and placing Agent 47 in huge sandbox levels with more ways than ever to eliminate his targets. If you own the previous two games, you can import maps and progress to take advantage of Hitman III’s improvements on any platform, but only the PS4 version supports the PSVR headset for the ultimate Hitman experience.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD
July 16 | Nintendo | Switch
The Legend of Zelda series turned 35 this year and Nintendo is celebrating the milestone with an HD remaster of one of the most underrated installments in the long-running franchise. Skyward Sword takes things back all the way to the very beginning of the Zelda timeline, telling the story of how the mythical Master Sword was created. Along the way, players are in for a fun adventure including some interesting experiments with motion control.
While it’ll likely never be as beloved as the games before it or Breath of the Wild, this Wii installment is still worth experiencing, especially if you missed it back in 2011.
Mario Golf: Super Rush
June 25 | Nintendo | Switch
It’s been a while since Nintendo dropped a new Mario Golf game, but a new Switch installment is finally here. While Super Rush offers up much of the same Mario Golf action you know and love, it does have an interesting new mode called Speed Golf, which pits competitors against each other as they race down the course in real time to see who scores first. It adds a bit of pep to the chill vibes of the series.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
October 26 | Eidos Montreal | XSX, PS5, XBO, PS4, Switch, PC
Square Enix’s latest foray in the Marvel universe comes just a year after the release of Marvel’s Avengers, a dull loot shooter starring Earth’s Mightiest Heroes that left a bit to be desired. So why are we excited for Guardians of the Galaxy? For one thing, it looks like it has a lot more personality, as players take control of Star-Lord, who not only has to use his skills as a warrior to fight bad guys and monsters but also has to play leader to keep his band of rogue misfits in line during big battles.
Eidos also plays to its strengths as a developer of single-player, story-focused games — if you love the choice-based gameplay and dialogue from recent Deus Ex games, there’s plenty more of that in Guardians. This planet-hopping adventure also takes players to some of the most exotic locations in the Marvel cosmos, such as Seknarf Nine and Knowhere, meaning you won’t be stuck fighting robots and scientists in Utah for half of the game.
This is Square Enix’s Marvel do-over. Let’s hope they don’t waste it.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
May 14 | BioWare | XSX, PS5, PS4, XBO, PC
Nearly a decade since its conclusion, the Mass Effect trilogy remains a favorite among many gamers. Now, BioWare has brought the series back to next-gen consoles with a fresh coat of paint. A laundry list of improvements, including upgraded visuals and 4K compatibility, are the highlights of this collection, with much of the core gameplay and story you know and love staying the same. They did tweak that dang Mako, though.
January 28 | Bloober Team | XSX, PC
Originally announced way back in 2012 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii U, The Medium was shelved for years due to technological constraints before finally resurfacing in 2020. Gameplay focuses on a medium who can instantaneously travel between the real world and the spirit realm to solve puzzles, something that just wasn’t possible until the current crop of consoles adopted solid state drives.
Bloober Team has quietly built a reputation for itself with excellent single-player horror games like Observer and Layers of Fear, and The Medium is their most ambitious game yet.
October 8 | MercurySteam & Nintendo | Switch
Also known as “Metroid 5,” this unexpected sequel to the original mainline series of Metroid games will bring Samus Aran’s story with the X parasite to an end, according to Nintendo. Set after Metroid Fusion, Dread sees Samus exploring the planet ZDR where she must find the X parasite and destroy it once and for all. That won’t be so easy, though. With a few relentless villains constantly pursuing her around the map, she’ll have to move fast, while also uncovering a new piece of Chozo history to complete her mission.
This game looks like a revival of the excellent side-scroller gameplay we’ve always loved from this series, with a bit pf horror thrown in for good measure. This is easily one of our most highly anticipated games of the fall.
Monster Hunter Rise
March 26 | Capcom | Switch
The excellent Monster Hunter: World helped the series find a large audience in the West, although the game’s more demanding performance requirements kept it off the Switch. Fortunately, Rise is built specifically for Nintendo’s portable-console hybrid. And rather than a watered down port of World, Capcom this is a full-featured sequel with a new, more vertical map and all 14 weapon types from Monster Hunter: World and Monster Hunter Generations. If you’ve been waiting to jump on the Monster Hunter craze on the Switch, now is the time!
New Pokemon Snap
April 30 | Nintendo | Switch
Nintendo unleashed peak late ’90s nostalgia with this revival of the Pokemon Snap series for the Switch. Wrapped in a modern package, New Pokemon Snap is more of the on-rails photography game you loved when you were a kid. The game features over 200 Pokemon to capture with your trusty camera, which you can upload online to share with other players. And true to the Instagram era, you can now touch up your pictures, adding blur and filters, adjusting the zoom, and more. This is a must-buy for Nintendo fans.
September 28 | Amazon Games | PC
Amazon has had its sights set on the gaming world for quite some time, quietly pumping money into a number of projects, and New World could be its breakthrough hit. In this MMORPG set on an unnamed land in the Atlantic Ocean in the 1600s, you’ll wield bows, hammers, hatchets, magical staffs, musket rifles, spears, and swords against a variety of fantastical creatures. There will also be plenty of opportunities to gather resources, craft, and build settlements. Best of all, there’s no monthly fee to play.
Launching a new IP is always difficult, and MMOs are a particularly difficult genre to break into, but if any company has the resources to succeed, it’s Amazon. That said, New World had some issues during the beta that will hopefully be addressed in time for the full release.
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection
June 10 | Team Ninja | XBO, PS4, Switch, PC
Before there was Dark Souls, masochists flocked to the Ninja Gaiden series, which basically wrote the book on punishing action games. If you’ve been missing this franchise of late, Koei Tecmo is re-releasing three of the 3D installments in a sleek new collection for modern platforms. Included in the box are Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, plus most of the downloadable content released for these games.
April 1 | People Can Fly | XSX, PS5, PS4, XBO, PC
Outriders combines the shooter and RPG genres in some unique and engaging ways. At the start of the game, you’ll pick from one of four classes: the time manipulating Trickster, fire-controlling Pyromancer, the seismic-powered Devastator, or the Technomancer, each of whom has a full-featured skill tree. Some have compared the title to live service games like Destiny and The Division, but Outriders also has a style of its own, presenting itself as a grittier alternative to those games.
Persona 5 Strikers
February 23 | Omega Force and P-Studio | PS4, PC, Switch
It’s a tradition at this point for Atlus to spin-off a Persona game into as many other titles as possible. We’ve already seen rhythm and dungeon crawler spin-offs of Persona 5 (and even a Super Smash Bros. cameo from Joker), but this is The Phantom Thieves’ first foray into the hack and slash genre. Gameplay is a mix of the usual Dynasty Warriors combo attacks, but there are also turn-based persona battles as well. And of course, expect plenty of Persona 5’s usual style and flare.
Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis
June 9 | Sega | XSX, XBO, PC
Wait, didn’t Phantasy Star Online 2 just come out? Well yes, but only in the West. Japan has been playing the game since 2012, which is why the MMORPG might feel a little dated. New Genesis is a half update-half sequel with updated combat, and for the first time in the series, open world areas. It’s more like the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn update instead of a whole new game. The best part is that you’re be able to transfer over your character from PSO 2 to New Genesis, and like its predecessor, it’s completely free-to-play.
August 25 | Double Fine | XSX, PS5, PS4, XBO, PC
Fans have waited for a Psychonauts sequel for 15 years, but Double Fine has finally released the follow up. Psychonauts 2 sees Raz once again delving into the psyches of other characters, with hilarious and frightening results. Raz isn’t completely alone for this journey this time around. He’s joined by a new glowing companion, known as the Mote of Light, who is voiced by Jack Black. We really loved this game!
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
June 11 | Insomniac games | PS5
There hasn’t been a bad Ratchet & Clank game yet, and Rift Apart continues that trend. The basic gameplay is be similar to the excellent 2016 reboot, but Insomniac also introduces instant travel between completely different worlds. While PlayStation may have oversold just how much of the rift jumping is happening in real-time versus the more scripted reality of the sequences, it’s still a lot of fun to explore the multiverse with our dynamic duo. The game’s visuals, which support real-time ray-tracing and full 4K resolution, also happen to look stunning.
Resident Evil Village
May 7 | Capcom | XSX, PS5, PC
Resident Evil Village is a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, but it’s much more than Resident Evil 8, as Ethan investigates the mysterious occurrences in an isolated European village haunted by vampires and werewolves. But has Resident Evil really gone all Hammer Horror or is there more to these creatures of the night than meets the eye? And what do they want with Ethan’s baby?! This survival horror banger will keep you invested and digging for the answers.
TBA | Ebb Software | XSX, PC
Scorn looks like an absolute nightmare, but in the best possible way. It is, after all, directly inspired by the art of H.R. Giger of Alien fame and Polish painter Zdzisław Beksiński. In Scorn, you play as a skinless humanoid searching for answers in a horrific techno-organic open world. At the very least, it promises to be the most disturbing title of the year.
Shin Megami Tensei V
November 12 | Atlus | Switch
While the Persona spin-off series gets most of the attention nowadays, the original Shin Megami Tensei franchise is still going strong, and the latest title in the long-running series should be out worldwide next year.
This is the first Shin Megami Tensei developed using the Unreal Engine 4, so it should look fantastic, but expect similar gameplay to previous titles, including turn-based combat and lots of negotiating with demons to try to get them to join your party.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury on Switch
February 12 | Nintendo | Switch
When it was released in 2013, Super Mario 3D World was easily one of the best Mario games in years, effortlessly combining the 3D movement of newer games in the series with the level design and multiple characters of the original NES games. You could play as Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, or Rosalina, and they could each don catsuits that opened up all sorts of new platforming opportunities. But maybe 10 people played it because no one bought the Wii U.
Fortunately, the game received the re-release it deserved this year. Plus you get a whole new campaign called Bowser’s Fury, an interesting twist on the usual Mario level structure that’s worth a playthrough.
February 2 | Iron Gate AB
Valheim came out of nowhere to become one of the big success stories of 2021, selling more than a million copies less than three weeks after its early access release. If you aren’t caught up on the latest Steam phenomenon, think of it as Minecraft mixed with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. You and up to nine other friends are dropped off in the middle of a Viking afterlife to survive, craft, and battle mythical creatures.
Iron Gate AB has been vague about what exactly to expect from future updates, but the studio has teased future customization options for homes and ships, and eventually even a new biome to explore.
Wrath: Aeon of Ruin
TBA | KillPixel
First-person shooters have come a long way in the last couple of decades, but some times you just want to run and gun in a dark fantasy setting as quickly as possible. And remarkably few modern games provide that experience. Enter Wrath: Aeon of Ruin, a spiritual successor to Quake, Doom, and Hexen, built on the 25-year-old Quake Engine.
Wrath has been in Early Access since November 2019, and what’s been released so far is very promising, looking and sounding like a lost PC shooter from the late ‘90s. The full game should be out later this year.