The 50 most anticipated games of 2021

The 50 most anticipated games of 2021

The 50 most anticipated games of 2021

Here comes 2021, and already the roster shows more than enough games coming out to keep us busy. From rollicking combat games to quieter indie explorations of the soul, here are 50 games (listed alphabetically) that we’re excited to see, coming in the year ahead.

Given the nature of the game industry these days, it’s too early to read much in the way of trends from this list. Many games that we’ll see in 2021 have yet to be announced, or do not have a firm release date. Even so, it’s encouraging to see a measure of variety in this list, which encompasses franchise shooters, roleplaying games, adventures and a few oddities.

It’s worth mentioning that this list does not include certain big name games that might well come out in 2021, but have not been confirmed yet. Those include The Last of Us Part 2, Metroid Prime 4, Halo Infinite, Beyond Good and Evil 2, a new Pokémon and any number of big franchise possibilities, including Elder Scrolls and Dragon Age games. We’ve also skipped annual sports franchises and remakes of old games, as well as games that are currently commercially available and playable in early access.

It’s also possible that we’ve missed some diamonds. If so, please feel free to steer us right in the comments section.


Windows PC — 2021

Triumph Studios’ strategy series has previously restricted itself to standard fantasy lore of goblins, wizards and knights. This time, Age of Wonders is going science-fiction with a Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri-like tale of planetary colonization involving mechanized weaponry, aliens and genetic engineering. Planetfall is a turn-based hexagonal combat game, in which factions develop technologies, construct armies and expand their borders.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One

First announced back in 2015, Ancestors is a third-person, action-adventure survival game, produced by Patrice Désilets’ studio, Panache Digital Games. Désilets is best known as the creator of the Assassin’s Creed series. This new game is set in the early years of humankind’s evolution. Set in a lush, beautiful Africa, it’s the story of colonies of apes and proto-humans at different points in our evolutionary journey, interacting with their environment, including now-extinct beasts of yore.


Nintendo Switch

It’s been five years since the U.S. release of Animal Crossing: New Leaf on Nintendo 3DS, so it’s high time for a return to Nintendo’s much-loved village-life series. This new game was announced during a Nintendo Direct in September, in which storekeeper Tom Nook told us to make ready for another bout of farming, fishing, finding, home decorating and generally being nice to the neighbors.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One

BioWare’s Destiny-like multiplayer sci-fi action game has an epic feel, with a focus on characters and dialog, as well as online shooting. Four classes of human-controlled mechs, called Javelins, roam an open world, completing story missions and engaging in public events, in which online players work together to complete an objective. Published by Electronic Arts, Anthem will be one of the year’s most lavishly produced releases.


Nintendo Switch and Windows PC 

Ape-Out is an attractively humorous escape game with a distinctively brash art style. It merges with an inventive score to create a mad world of stylized blood and gore. It’s a top-down combat game in which a gorilla thumps and sneaks its way through enemy-infested mazes. Ape-Out, published by Devolver, looks like a hyper-violent, neatly-paced action game with lots of grim humor.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One

Back in May, Moscow-based Mundfish released one of the best trailers of the past year, for its first-person shooter-brawler Atomic Heart. Based in a Soviet-era installation, it’s a creepy combat game, packed with Fallout-esque monstrosities and a distinctive visual wit.


PlayStation 4 and Windows PC

Announced at E3 earlier this year, Babylon’s Fall is the next project from Japanese studio PlatinumGames, the company best known for the action-intense Bayonetta series, and Nier Automata. The trailer shows an ominous future timeline of mightily powerful forces clashing in a fight for civilization. There’ll be a lot of magical weapons-wielding for slickly intense slashing and dodging.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One

We got our hands on this game at PAX West, and came away impressed with its martial-arts combat. It’s being developed by Experiment 101, founded by Stefan Ljungqvist, best known for his work on the Just Cause series. BioMutant is an open-world action-RPG featuring mutant forest creatures which can be altered and enhanced.


Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One

This Kickstarter-funded project from former Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi is pitched as a spiritual successor to that notable series. Originally set for release in 2017, it’s a side-scrolling action game that makes heavy use of gothic horror imagery. It’s being published by 505 Games.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One 

Code Vein is an anime-style action roleplaying game from Hiroshi Yoshimura, the director of many of the God Eater games. The vampire-themed combat adventure has drawn comparisons with the Dark Souls series, which publisher Bandai Namco handles outside Japan. Code Vein focuses on exploration in dank locations, one-on-one combat and difficult bosses.


Windows PC — mid

Real-time strategy gets the Conan treatment in this production from Petroglyph Games, which is also working on a 4K remaster of early Command & Conquer games. The team includes C&C veterans from Westwood Studios. A trailer released a few weeks ago shows Conan defending a castle under attack from hordes, including giant spiders. But Conan calls upon a massive warrior god to come to his aid. Petroglyph tells us to expect a fast-paced game.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One 

Remedy Entertainment, best known for Alan Wake and Quantum Break, is back with another high-tech, supernatural third-person action adventure. Control was shown in a trailer at Sony’s 2018 E3 press conference, in which a young woman, armed with a futuristic gun, explores a shape-shifting world. She is also armed with telekinetic abilities.


Windows PC and Xbox One

Originally scheduled for release in 2016, this oft-delayed open-world game is finally confirmed for February, five years after it was first mooted. Crackdown 3 is all about mayhem and destruction in city environments, most especially in multiplayer environments where destruction is more free-flowing than in the campaign. The development story is its own tale of mayhem, with various comings and goings. But, the good news is that it’s cross-playable on both Windows PC and Xbox One.


PlayStation 4

Sony Bend’s zombie-apocalypse adventure is set in the Pacific Northwest, where a motorcyclist bounty hunter uses stealth, guile, traps and brute force to lure large numbers of the undead into choke points. In Day’s Gone, the zombies are individually stupid, but they work together to challenge the player. They also come in various models, demanding shifting strategies to defeat them.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One

Capcom’s outlandish and uninhibited combat series is back, with Dante and Nero (as well as a new character called V) taking on gruesome enemies. Weapons include giant swords, powerful firearms, and just about anything else the fighters can get their hands on, including motorbike-chainsaws. Special moves and transformations are also available.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One

The Division 2 takes us from the wintry New York environs of the original game, to sweltering Washington, D.C, seven months later. It’s set in a post-terror attack America, ruled by a dictator and riven by civil war (but don’t call it political). It’s a third-person online combat open world, in which players can go it alone, or work together to defeat enemies. Post-launch downloadable missions will be released for free, featuring eight-player raids.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One

Bethesda and id Software’s sequel to the well-received 2016 shooter franchise reboot is aiming for even more speed and combat fluidity. Weapons shown so far include a shotgun attached to a tether, with extra “glory kills” added to take on a greater variety of demons. But the real innovations are likely to be online, where players can take on the role of monsters, and go after Doom Slayers, individually or in teams, in Doom Eternal’s campaign.


PlayStation 4 

LittleBigPlanet series creator Media Molecule’s ambitious project is another level-building game tool with built-in puzzles, but on a whole new scale. Featuring an imp who can manipulate the world, Dreams offers players a vast suite of level-creation tools in three-dimensions. The game’s campaign is entirely built with the same tools that will be available to players, who can make their own game worlds.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One

Ubisoft’s follow up to Far Cry 5 takes place 17 years later, in a post-nuclear war American heartland. A trailer released in December takes the point of view of a young woman celebrating the “new world,” which includes utopian encampments populated by gently mutated deer and hippies. But there’s a Mad Maxish element in town, complete with roaring vehicles and weapons. First-person exploration, adventuring and combat ensues.


Nintendo Switch — spring, 

Tactical role-playing series Fire Emblem’s Nintendo Switch debut retains its grid-based origins, but features 3D battle arenas and larger forces than in previous games. Outside combat, the story game world opens up into a fully rendered environment, rather than just a series of cut-scenes. This is the first Fire Emblem full console release since Radiant Dawn on Wii, back in 2007.


Xbox One and Windows PC

The second Gears of War game from The Coalition places Kait Diaz as lead, as she seeks the truth about the Locust invaders. Prior heroes Marcus Fenix and HD join her as aids, with their own secret missions. Judging from Microsoft’s 2018 E3 reveal, the third-person shooter will offer a wide variety of locations and vehicles, as it moves from the series’ cover-shooter origins toward a fuller action-adventure model.


Linux, Mac and Windows PC 

Set in Egypt in the 1920s, players take on the role of explorer and filmmaker Zora and her partner as they investigate ancient tombs, while making a film. A trailer reveal in 2017 showed a crisply beautiful setting, as might be expected from developer Campo Santo, best known for the superb narrative adventure Firewatch. Although only confirmed for PC, the developers say console versions are likely.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One 

Journey to the Savage Planet got a cinematic-only trailer in December that showcased a whimsical, comedic tone. It’s a first-person game, in which the the player explores a colorful alien planet. Developer Typhoon Studios is headed up by Alex Hutchinson, previously creative director for Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed 3.


PlayStation 4 and Xbox One 

Bandai Namco’s 3-on-3 tag team fighting game features popular Shonen Jump series characters, like Monkey D. Luffy of One Piece, Goku from Dragon Ball and Naruto. Players can also create custom characters, including mash-ups that mix and match powers and abilities from a variety of Shonen Jump manga.


PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Kingdom Hearts 3 has been a long time coming but now it’s finally here. Disney and Square Enix’s colorful adventure is a combative roleplaying game, but the real magic is in its galaxy of animated stars, including appearances from Toy Story, Frozen, Pirates of the Caribbean, Winnie the Pooh and Tangled, plus (of course) Donald Duck and Goofy. The game stars series protagonist Sora as he crosses worlds to discover the seven sources of light.


PlayStation 4 and Windows PC

Square Enix’s action shooter is spin-off from the tactical Front Mission franchise. It’s being developed by veteran mech specialists including Toshifumi Nabeshima, director of FromSoftware’s Chromehounds and the Armored Core series; Yoji Shinkawa, the character designer of the Metal Gear series; and Takayuki Yanase, the mech designer who’s contributed to Mobile Suit Gundam 00 and Xenoblade Chronicles X.


Nintendo Switch 

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is a combat game developed by Team Ninja, best known for the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden series. It will feature of deep cast of Marvel characters including the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men, as well as multiple supervillains.


Windows PC

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries will be the first MechWarrior game with a single-player campaign since 2002’s MechWarrior 4: Vengeance. It’s being developed by Piranha Games, best known for MechWarrior Online. Players take control of giant mechs in first-person shooting matches, with four-player co-op supported. Destructible environments add to the mayhem.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One 

The conclusion to Ukrainian developer 4A Games’ series of subterranean first-person shooters takes us back to post-apocalyptic Moscow. This third game has loosened up the linearity of its predecessors, with more open areas in which to survive mutant attacks. Metro Exodus is shaping up to be one of the year’s most visually arresting games.


Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One 

When Mortal Kombat series co-creator Ed Boon revealed the first trailer for his new fighting game late in 2018, he demonstrated a gory battle between franchise favorites Raiden and Scorpion. Boon promised more information early in the new year, including details on “custom character variations” which sounds a lot like developer NetherRealm’s previously released Injustice 2, which featured a strong emphasis on character customization.


Windows PC and Xbox One 

The sequel to 2015’s much-loved Ori and the Blind Forest is another magical, challenging platform-combat puzzle game from Austrian developer Moon Studios. Starring a white spirit creature, Ori and the Will of the Wisps was first announced in 2017. It was subsequently burnished with a 2018 E3 trailer, showing gameplay footage set in pretty forests, caves and a variety of creatures, including a giant arachnid pal and a scary wolf.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One 

The Outer Worlds is a first-person RPG set in space. It’s from Obsidian Entertainment, the development team behind Fallout: New Vegas and the Pillars of Eternity series of role-playing games. Based on a recent trailer, it looks to be set on a world inspired by classic pulp science fiction and more modern, dystopian genres. Gameplay shows players exploring an alien planet and fighting native wildlife and human adversaries.


PlayStation 4 

The Pathless is in development by Giant Squid Studios, best known for developing 2016’s lovely underwater exploration adventure Abzu. An early trailer shows similarly distinctive art style, directed by Matt Nava, who was art director on Journey. The trailer showed a bow-wielding hunter traveling across a fantasy landscape, interacting with magical creatures.


Windows PC

The next PlanetSide game is a science-fiction online arena shooter, with heavy battle royale influences. Big battles have always been developer Daybreak’s speciality, so it’s no surprise to find a 250-on-250 team deathmatch on PlanetSide Arena’s menu, called Massive Clash, along with single-player and teams-of-three battle royale. Three classes will be available — Assault, Medic, and Engineer — each with their own upgradeable perks.


Linux, Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One

First announced in December 2015, Double Fine and Starbreeze’s crowdfunded 3D platform game stars Raz, a psychic spy who leaps his way through a series of colorful, innovative levels. Raz makes use of various powers including telekinesis and levitation in a world heaving with jokes, irony and Tim Burtonesque characters.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One 

First-person shooter Rage 2 is a celebration of over-the-top violence and tongue-in-cheek humor, hallmarks of developer Avalanche Studios. Players take on the role of a Mad Max-style ranger who fights a variety of mutants and lowlifes in a post-asteroid impact world. Various guns and weapons are available, but the most significant is a boomerang, known as the Wingstick.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One 

We don’t usually include remakes and re-releases in these preview lists, but horror smash Resident Evil 2 is getting such a massive overhaul, it’s impossible to set the game aside. Unlike the fixed-camera PlayStation original, the remake of Resident Evil 2 will feature an over-the-shoulder third-person camera perspective as well as added gameplay, such as fortification building. But unlike later Resident Evil games, it will keep to the original’s emphasis on survival, rather than gunplay.


Windows PC with console versions likely 

Ambient indie adventure Sable has the look of a gorgeous graphic novel, with sharp outlines and a tight color palette. Players take on the role of a young wanderer on a coming of age journey in a strange, open-world planet. Music for the Shedworks-developed game is by Michelle Zauner, aka Japanese Breakfast.


Nintendo Switch

Sayonara Wild Hearts is a musical game that thrusts players into a cel-shaded world of purples and blues, motorcycles and dance. It’s a curiously liberated creation from Swedish developer Simogo, which has previously focused on a series of fantastic mobile games such as Year Walk, Device 6 and The Sailor’s Dream. This is the tiny company’s first console outing.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. 

Jo-Mei’s Sea of Solitude is a pick-up for Electronic Arts’ indie publishing program EA Originals, which has given us gems like A Way Out, Fe and Unravel. It’s a third-person exploration-platform-puzzle adventure. The story follows a the redemption of young woman called Kay who suffers from loneliness, and so becomes a monster.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One 

Any new franchise coming out of FromSoftware is bound to cause a stir. After all, this is the company that gave us the Souls games and Bloodborne. But Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an opportunity for the company to try a new creative direction, with a game that’s more about free-flowing fighting and a limited set of weapons. Set in medieval Japan, it has an Assassin’s Creed vibe with an emphasis on stealth as well as aerial combat, aided by a grappling hook.


PlayStation 4 and Windows PC 

This tale of a teen martial artist’s search for his missing father is set in 1980s Japan. The most-funded Kickstarter video game project of all time ($6.3 million), it comes 18 years after the last Shenmue game came out on Dreamcast and Xbox. At its core, it’s a fighting game, with narrative-led interactive events and a big story. Expectations are high for this oft-delayed game from Yu Suzuki, the one-time creative engine at Sega.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One 

If you enjoyed Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag’s seaborne combat, you know roughy what to expect from naval fighter Skull & Bones. But this pirate game goes a lot farther than Black Flag, offering a robust multiplayer component as well as a single-player campaign. Players can enter “Hunting Grounds” for cannon action including co-op missions and PvP, including 5-versus-5 battles.


PlayStation 4 and Windows PC 

Ana Spelunky is the daughter of the original procedural permadeath platformer’s hero, and the star of this highly anticipated sequel. Her task in Mossmouth’s Spelunky 2 will be to journey through randomly generated tombs, caves, planets in search of treasure, and in trepidation of many, many traps. The original Spelunky, released in 2012, is widely regarded as one of the most challenging and fun platformers ever made.


Likely PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One 

Respawn is best known for the tightly designed Titanfall shooters. The Electronic Arts-owned studio is also working on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. It will focus on events that take place just after the third episode in the Star Wars saga, Revenge of the Sith, when the Jedi are being hunted. Apart from the basic announcement — and a claim that its coming out in late 2021 — almost nothing is known about this game.


Mac, Nintendo Switch and Windows PC 

You are a mischievous goose on the loose in your village, and bent on mayhem. That’s the basic premise of Untitled Goose Game, a comedic, cartoon game of stealth, honking and running away. Previews suggest charming Chaplinesque capers as the goose enrages mild-mannered humans. It’s being developed by Australian outfit House House, which previously made bizarre sausage-people sports game Push Me, Pull You.


PlayStation 4 

Set in a pretty desert landscape of muted colors, Vane is an Ico-like exploration story of a boy in a stark world, uncovering mysterious secrets. The main character can transform into a bird, as he travels through ruins and caves with magical morphing properties.


Windows PC and Xbox One 

Cel-shaded strategy shooter Void Bastards is all about boarding and raiding space ships. In this cheeky comic-book caper, players choose from a variety of outlandish characters, who may or may not be appropriate for the job in hand. Crew members are assigned tasks for these heists, which have a habit of going sideways. It’s being made by developer Blue Manchu, headed up by Jonathan Chey, co-founder of Irrational Games.


PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox One

Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a first-person shooter co-op game set in the 1980s and starring franchise star B.J. Blazkowicz’s twin daughters, as they seek to free their father from Nazis. First introduced during Bethesda’s E3 2018 showcase, it follows on from the well-received shooter Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, which came out in 2017.


Nintendo Switch — spring 

Cute and colorful platform adventure Yoshi’s Crafted World stars Nintendo’s dino-hero along with a pal. Its main innovation is an ability to switch the world in its opposite direction, allowing players to get behind the facades they pass, and to move in the relatively unfamiliar right-to-left direction. Other than that, you can expect standard Yoshi activities like tongue sticking, object eating and egg throwing.

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