It’s been a while since I’ve jogged down some thoughts on the ol’ blog. Between work, child care, COVID, and new games, it takes a push to carve out some time to write. With the end of the year fast approaching though, I’ve been thinking more about the future of games, and in particular, 2021. There are some mighty fine titles targeting next year and I wanted to talk about the ones I’m most excited about.
In all honesty, it wasn’t easy narrowing it all down to just ten. But it’s cleaner that way! So enough of me yapping, let’s get down to brass tacks shall we?
10. Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Kena took my breath away at the PlayStation 5 showcase. The game looks gorgeous, filled with bright colors, inviting vistas, adorable creatures and intriguing looking characters. It’s fantastical and comes across as an inviting world that I want to explore and just gaze at all day. The combat looks nice and tight, the Pikmin like-creatures and the manner in which you control them seems fun. I’m so excited to play this when it’s ready next year.
And the most stunning part? It’s made by a very small indie team. Incredible.
9. Gran Turismo 7
I’ve been on and off again when it comes to racing games over the last couple decades. There have been stretches of time where you’d find me playing Gran Turismo 3, Need for Speed: Underground and Motorstorm for months on end, and others where I wouldn’t touch a racer in years. That being said, I’ve recently been dabbling away with Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox and I do say it has reignited some of that car passion that’s been locked away inside of me for so long.
Gran Turismo 7 looks downright spectacular. From the car detail to smooth framerate and beautiful use of ray tracing, I’m getting more and more excited to jump back into the series. The return to a proper campaign ala Gran Turismo 3 before it is a a very welcome one, and a big reason this has made its way onto my list.
8. Gotham Knights
WHERE IS IT!? It’s here! While not quite the Batman game I was hoping for, Gotham Knights is still very much scratching that itch. It’s been over five brutally long years since we’ve gotten a title in the old Gotham stomping grounds. Though the Bat himself is seemingly dead (*squints suspiciously*), there’s plenty of material and characters to work with. The squad of Nightwing, Batgirl, Red Hood and Robin make for a whole lot of potential!
I was admittedly nervous about its focus on co-op. I’m more of a single player guy myself, so when I see a game dedicate its design around co-op, I get a little…hesitant. But the more I read, the more I understood that this can be played completely solo and delivers a rich, structured narrative that we’ve come to expect for the Bat and Bat Family lately. Batman’s my all time favorite comic book superhero, and while this isn’t quite that, it’s in the same ballpark and for that, I’m so pumped.
7. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
What can I say? It’s a new Ratchet & Clank…by Insomniac…taking full power of the PS5’s hardware, and I need it. Everything I’ve seen from the game looks absolutely breathtaking. The clever use of dimension portals via the SSD is incredible with worlds popping onscreen nearly instantly. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve always had a soft spot for the duo and the introduction of a new female Lombox? Color me intrigued!
To exploring more space worlds!
6. Elden Ring (Tentative)
This one is a little bit of a cheat, since we have no official release date, so this is all on a mere assumption (and hope) it even launches next year. Normally a new From Software game wouldn’t make it on my list. The reason for that isn’t that I don’t think the games are bad (“Souls” games specifically), on the contrary, I think they’re very well made and expertly executed. But I rarely ever get far enough in any of them to appreciate them. They kick my ass!
Bloodborne was the very first one I actually tried, enjoyed, and eventually finished years ago. I adored it. I tried going back into Dark Souls II – didn’t make it. I lasted a mere two hours in Dark Souls III before giving up. Sekiro terrified me from ever stepping foot in its unforgiving world with how many constantly classify it as the hardest yet. And now, I have recently given Demon’s Souls another shot via Bluepoint Games’ remake and oh boy, I’m in love all over again. I’m so stoked to see what the brilliant minds of Miyazaki and R.R. Martin conjure up in Elden Ring.
5. Resident Evil 8
I’ve never genuinely considered myself a ‘hardcore’ fan of Resident Evil but I’ve played almost all of the mainline games, including suffering through Resident Evil 6. I know who the main characters are, a general idea of the timeline and that Umbrella = bad.
It’s a fantastic series for the most part and synonymous with the survival horror genre at this point. I fell off the bandwagon for a while after Revelations, but deciding to go through Resident Evil 7 a few years ago reinvigorated my taste for the franchise so much that this game has made it this high up on my list. I bought the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3 on day one and loved the hell out of them. Experimenting with first person mechanics was honestly a breath of fresh air and what’s been shown of Resident Evil 8 so far has looked tantalizingly good. I just can’t wait for it.
4. Horizon Forbidden West
You’re telling me the sequel to my 2017 Game of the Year is coming next year? I’ll take it! Horizon was arguably one of the best new IPs of the last generation, and what made it even more impressive was the studio behind it. As the developer behind Killzone the last ten years, Guerrilla far exceeded my expectations with their first dip into RPG territory. I fell in love with the world, the characters, the story and the combat. Aloy is now among my favorite of PlayStation’s characters.
Horizon Zero Dawn is still one of the most gorgeous games I’ve had the pleasure of playing, and even though Forbidden West is a cross-gen title by design, I’m pumped to see what kinds of bells and whistles the team at Guerrilla can add to a PS5 version. I’m so excited to continue Aloy’s journey and can’t wait to see all the new lands, towns, characters, robots and plot points we’ll be encountering this next go around.
3. Halo Infinite
Halo still remains one of my favorite franchises in gaming to this day. The original Halo: Combat Evolved sits firmly in my top ten best games of all time, and my adoration for all things Halo has continued ever since. I’ve read a bunch of the novels. I have art books, figurines, posters, and various other memorabilia stemming from the Halo universe. I love the characters, the gameplay, the overarching narrative and especially my favorite duo in all of gaming: the Chief and Cortana.
Even though Halo 4 and 5 didn’t quite live up to my personal expectations after an incredible original trilogy, I can’t say I’m still not absolutely psyched to see where the story goes. While the original gameplay debut didn’t “wow” me visually, the gameplay looked fun and engaging. I dig the move to more open ended play-spaces, and I do like the various different homages to original style of Halo. There’s no chance I’d ever write it off without playing, and I hope the awesome team at 343 Industries takes all the time they need to get it right.
2. God of War Sequel
I don’t even know where to start with this one. God of War was incredible. Sony Santa Monica nailed, and I mean nailed a reinvention of the franchise. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic with the direction the team took Kratos and his continuing journey. The move to Norse mythology was a good choice and I became enamored with the hyper detailed world, the characters, the combat and especially the narrative. Exploration felt rewarding. Upgrading Kratos’ armors, weapons and move set kept me engaged.
Everything from the cinematography to script work was extraordinarily well done. The bonding between Kratos and his son hit me in a very specific way as a father. So the anticipation of that relationship and all the different story threads is killing me right now. There’s so many possibilities to take, and I’m just…incredibly excited to see what happens next. Honestly if it weren’t for the next one, this would firmly sit at the top of my list.
1. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
You knew this was it…
After years and years of begging, a remaster of the original Mass Effect trilogy, my favorite trilogy of video games of all time, is coming! Now, these are obviously not new games, so it might be technically incorrect to categorize them as “2021 games”, but damn it, I love this series so much that I’ve genuinely played the original game 17 times by my current count. I’m in love with its universe, with its larger than life characters and branching story paths.
The prospect of going through hours and hours of those dozens and dozens of unforgettable moments in a new coat of paint just takes the cake for me. I’m not expecting Demon’s Souls levels of touch up to be quite honest. Improved lighting, textures, asset complexity and a boost to performance and resolution would be enough to make me happy, but I’ll always take more! So hey, if this is cheating, sue me! I’m so ready to make all the same choices all over again for the 18th time.