We’ve put our heads together and picked out the games we’re most excited about in 2021 – and it’s turned into an absolutely massive list. It includes everything from massive, super-hyped AAA titles to borderline-obscure indie releases, but there are still loads of games it doesn’t cover – let us know what you’re looking forward to in the comments.
Axiom Verge 2
Lewis: Axiom Verge 2 headed our list of most anticipated games of 2020, but like many games scheduled for release last year, it ended up being delayed to 2021. Still, we’ve already waited five years for a sequel, so another few months’ wait is no biggie. And considering that Axiom Verge was one of the best Metroidvanias I’ve ever played, I have a feeling the wait will be worth it.
Back 4 Blood
James: It’s basically Left 4 Dead 3. Made by Turtle Rock, who (despite a few name changes) were the team behind Valve’s hugely popular and now seemingly defunct franchise, Back 4 Blood sticks to the co-op zombie shooter formula. It adds some extra features too though, including a card system which allows players to modify elements of gameplay, to both help or hinder them. It’s due for release in June, which is slightly unfortunate timing given that by then we might all be allowed out of our houses. [Huh! We’ll see… – Ed]
Lewis: Backbone is a noir detective game featuring a cast of animals and some absolutely sumptuous pixel art. A free, well-received prologue has already been released on Steam, and following that, anticipation is high for this point and click adventure, which bears more than a few similarities to the excellent Blacksad comics.
Baldur’s Gate 3
James: Yes, I know I picked the early access as one of my 2020 Games of the Year entries. There’s also a fair chance this will be delayed until 2022, so I reserve the right to pick it again this time next year. Regardless, Larian Studios originally stated that the Baldur’s Gate 3 would be in early access for 12 months before it gets a full release. If that plan holds, it would mean a Q4 2021 launch. The D&D-based RPG is already looking great. If its progress so far can be carried into its final form, Baldur’s Gate 3 has every chance of being a truly outstanding game.
Lewis: Arkane produced some wonderful stuff with the Dishonored series, and I also thoroughly enjoyed Prey, even though that game seemed to divide many people. So I am fascinated to see how this time-loop shooter plays out, with two assassins battling for supremacy on an island that constantly resets itself. It looks incredibly stylish judging by the trailers we’ve seen so far, and it weirdly reminds me of the old TV series The Prisoner for some reason, which is no bad thing. Maybe its all the rich people in odd costumes.
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
James: I wouldn’t normally add what is essentially DLC to a most-anticipated list, but it gives me another chance to comment on how great Disco Elysium is. One of the best written, most original games of 2019 is getting some extra polish. New quests, expanded dialogue and full voice acting for every character promises to improve an already excellent game. It’ll be a free update for existing owners and it’s out in March.
Evil Dead: The Game
James: Honestly, this one could go either way! There isn’t a huge amount of detail available for Evil Dead: The Game as yet. It’s being developed by Saber Interactive – most relevantly the team behind 2019’s World War Z game. Their latest effort puts players in the shoes of series protagonist Ash Williams (voiced by original actor, Bruce Campbell) and other characters from the Evil Dead franchise. It will feature co-op and player vs player gameplay and the trailer has some Left 4 Dead vibes about it. I think it’s got potential, but too early to tell for sure.
Lewis: I love the art style of Genesis Noir, in which you play a watch peddler caught in a love triangle with cosmic beings. The plot is the most intriguing part of it: “When your affair turns into a bitter confrontation, you will witness a gunshot fired by a jealous god—otherwise known as The Big Bang. Jump into the expanding universe and search for a way to prevent or destroy creation and save your love.” Sounds utterly bonkers. I love it.
God of War: Ragnarok
James: The 2018 God of War reboot was a pretty bold move. It took series protagonist Kratos and turned him from a callous, rage-fulled killing machine into a brooding, reluctantly paternal killing machine. It added genuine depth and emotion to a series previously based around spectacular carnage. It also managed to turn “BOY” into a catchphrase, which is surely a testament to Christopher Judge’s voice acting. The upcoming sequel is likely to stick to what made its predecessor so good, but absolutely nothing has been seen of it so far. It’s scheduled for a 2021 release, but expect it at the very end of this year at best.
Goodbye Volcano High
Lewis: EDGE ran a preview of this high school ’em up in its latest issue, and it sounds intriguing – the game is about teenage dinosaurs making decisions and working out who they want to be against the backdrop of impending extinction. And also being in a band. The developers also reckon they’ll be doing some nifty things with the DualSense controller, using it so simulate changes in heartbeat and so forth. Colour me interested.
Lewis: I absolutely loved Hardspace: Shipbreaker when it was released into Early Access last year, and I’m looking forward to the finished product. The game tasks you with breaking up derelict spacecraft, which is harder than it sounds thanks to all the lethal fuel tanks, nuclear reactors and other such dangerous things you’ll find on board. Importantly, it’s still fun even when things go wrong and you cackhandedly blow up half of the ship – perhaps that’s even more fun. The devs have been hard at work adding new ships and tools for the past half year, and they’re aiming to get it finished for the summer, when I’m planning to go back in and play the whole thing through. Can’t wait.
Lewis: We don’t have long to wait for Hitman 3 – it’s released on 21 January. I unexpectedly fell in love with the previous two games – normally I’m not a big fan of stealth, but Hitman is like a joyous murder playground with all sorts of potential for comedy. And the icing on the cake is that the third game will let you play through all of the levels from all three games in VR, which surely can only add to the comedy potential.
Hollow Knight: Silksong
Lewis: Team Cherry have been working on this sequel to one of the best Metroidvanias ever for quite some time, but they’ve only recently begun to reveal details of how Silksong will play. A feature in EDGE reveals there will be slightly more focus on combat than platforming, which is no bad thing since Hollow Knight had some of the best boss fights going. There’s still no firm release date, but we should be getting it at some point this year.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2
James: Aside from a single teaser trailer, almost nothing is known about the follow-up to what was (just about) arguably the best game of 2017. Breath of the Wild was both a revolution and a revelation. It represented a huge departure from the usual Zelda formula, and it paid off big time. A 2021 release date is pure speculation at this stage, but it’s increasingly widespread speculation. With rumours of Zelda herself being a fully playable character for the first time (maybe even co-op?), fans of the series are eager for more details.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
James: It’s still not clear what to expect from the upcoming remaster of original Mass Effect trilogy. Bioware have described them as an update to the visuals and technical features. While I broadly welcome the fact that they’re not going to muck about with the fundamentals too much, the first game in particular had a number of mechanical issues which would benefit from a rework. The legendarily clunky Mako sequences get a lot of stick, but the inventory system was absolute tosh, too. I’m hoping Bioware take the opportunity to tighten such things up a bit. Nevertheless, there’s still plenty to love about these games, and I’d love to see them brought up to date for modern systems.
Monster Hunter Rise
Lewis: Monster Hunter World has been one of my most played games of this generation, so I’m eager to dive back into monster harassing with this Switch sequel. At first glance it looks like more of a return to the pre-World games, but Capcom has promised to carry over many of the quality of life improvements from World. But the biggest news is that now you can have a dog companion, as well as a cat one. Even better, the game will be shipping with three adorable amiibos – it’s no secret that I’m a bit of an amiibo fan, but Nintendo seems to have been winding down the amiibo line of late, and I’m glad to discover it’s not quite dead.
James: Full disclosure – I backed this on Kickstarter back in 2018, because I’m a sucker for vampires (pun intended). Nighthawks is an RPG set in a modern world where the existence of vampires is common knowledge. As a newly spawned vamp, you’ll be looking to find your feet and then your fortune in what the marketing blurb says is “a twisted, darkly comic city”. As it’s written by Richard Cobbett (Sunless Skies) and published by Wadjet Eye Games (Unavowed), we should expect a deep, intriguing world populated by interesting characters, with meaningful decisions to make.
Lewis: For a start, what a fantastic art style: those blocks of pastel colour remind me a little of the excellent In Other Waters. But NUTS also has a fairly unique premise, placing you in the shoes of a field investigator with the task of setting up cameras to observe a tribe of squirrels – squirrels who seem to have a strange agenda of their own.
Lewis: What a lovely surprise it was to learn that we’re being treated to a sequel to Psychonauts. The first game was a brilliantly funny, astonishingly weird adventure inside people’s bizarre minds, with some entertainingly off the wall ideas of what lurks inside our brains. It wasn’t a hit though, so the news of a sequel was unexpected, if welcome. I can’t wait to see what Tim Schafer and his crew has come up with this time, especially with Microsoft’s millions backing it all up.
Lewis: Sable was first announced back in 2018, when I got a chance to interview the developers, Shedworks, but it’s been delayed a couple of times since then. It continues to look stunning, and those Mobius-inspired visuals are wonderful to behold, although we still know next to nothing about how the game will play. My worry is that Sable has been hyped so much over the past three years that the finished game might not live up to expectations, so I’m trying to keep my enthusiasm in check: it is from a very young and relatively inexperienced team, after all. But gosh damn I want to play this.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game – Complete Edition
James: I’m a big fan of both the original Scott Pilgrim comic books and the subsequent movie. I never around to playing the game before it was summarily delisted from sale in 2014. I’ve heard nothing but good things since then though, and while I suspect that there’s an element of rose-tinted nostalgia about those comments, I’m looking forward to giving it a go myself when it re-launches on 14 January.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
James: I’ll be honest, my enthusiasm for Bloodlines 2 has faded somewhat since various reports of behind the scenes chaos emerged. It has all the signs of a game in development hell, and that rarely results in an enjoyable experience for anyone involved. That said, there’s still the possibility that the situation can be salvaged. If development can get back on track, then a follow up to the first flawed, but beloved, entry in the series would be at the very least an intriguing prospect.