As we approach the end of 2020, it’s time to start game-planning for the future. Which games are we itching to boot up on our spanking new next-gen consoles? Similar to the staff voting with the Top 10 Games of the Generation, a few of us put our noggins together to construct this early list on which games we’re keeping a close eye on.
- Related Reading: MP1st Top 10 Games of 2020 and Game of the Year Winner
As mentioned in the other post, we here at MP1st and SP1st are very AAA-focused. So if you’re looking for a hidden indie gem, this might not be the best list. Now, without further ado, here are our most anticipated games of 2021.
1. Horizon Forbidden West (PS4, PS5)
In a year that featured a brand new Nintendo console and Zelda and Mario games, a new IP still managed to steal some of that spotlight for itself: Horizon Zero Dawn. Sony nailed yet another exclusive narrative single-player experience, introduced us to a wonderful character in Aloy, and now are on the precipice of what could be a budding new franchise. Horizon Forbidden West will continue Aloy’s story as she battles more robo-baddies on her quest to explore the “Forbidden West”.
“As the sequel to my 2017 Game of the Year, this would have been much higher had it not been announced to be a cross-gen game. The reality is, last gen hardware is going to hold back the ambition and design of this game. Still though, it’s the sequel to my 2017 Game of the Year.” – Sean Mesler
“More robots dinosaurs, do I really need to explain myself?” – James Lara
“Who’d have thought Guerrilla Games can make a game that’s not related to Killzone? Heck, who’d have thought it’d be great? I can’t be the only one who got floored with how great Horizon is, right? It just oozes quality. Based from what we’ve seen so far, this trend will continue, along with decimating robo dinos and that alone has me excited.” – Alex Co
2. God of War Ragnarok (PS5)
With each passing day, we get closer and closer to the much-anticipated sequel to God of War. Santa Monica Studio hit it out of the park with the 2018 revival title that saw Kratos battling Norse gods this time around, but also, struggling in how to be a better father. God of War ended with a bit of a cliffhanger, but if one thing’s for certain there’s going to be some more dead gods.
“Boy! Who doesn’t want to know more about Boy & His Dad Adventures Volume 2? Seriously though, I’m very interested to see where Sony Santa Monica takes the story. Will we see Odin? Will we get more references to Kratos’ past? How will Atreus being Loki affect the story? Will we hear endless “boy” callouts? Loads of questions left unanswered and I’m definitely itching to know more, even if I’m fairly certain this won’t make it in 2021.” – Alex Co
“Easy top spot. Despite having released several iterations, God of War (2018) was a huge surprise as the studio, Santa Monica decided to shake up the core gameplay of what many fans had grew to love. A risky move by them, but one that paid off. Honestly, if there is one definite must play game for last gen, then its God of War.” – James Lara
3. Ghostwire Tokyo (PS5 timed exclusive, Windows)
If you’re a fan of The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2, then Ghostwire Tokyo should definitely be on your radar for 2021. Ghostwire Tokyo won’t be a full-fledge horror game like the two Evil Within titles, but there is still plenty of mystery and intrigue. 99% of Tokyo’s population vanishes and you must fight paranormal enemies and discover what caused everyone to disappear. Sign us up!
“I love Tango Gameworks two previous games, The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2, and seeing them go in a completely different direction in terms of not only gameplay but aesthetic has me stoked.” – Sean Mesler
4. Kena: Bridge of Spirits (PS4, PS5, Windows)
If you’ve ever dreamed what it would feel like to experience a Pixar movie as a video game, look no further than Kena: Bridge of Spirits. The game follows a young spirit guide in Kena who must use her magical abilities to help trapped wandering spirits. Announced in June 2020, Kena will be a timed PlayStation exclusive when it releases.
“This game looks to be delivering on the promise of playing a Pixar movie. It looks charming and fun and it’s absolutely stunning.” – Sean Mesler
5. Battlefield 2021 (PS5, XSX, Windows)
The Battlefield franchise, while beloved, has been in a bit of a hiatus. Battlefield V released back in 2018, so who knows, maybe the soon-to-be three year layoff will make the next Battlefield feel fresh and rejuvenate the franchise. Currently, it has not been confirmed what time period Battlefield 6(?) will take place, but given that the last two were set in World Wars I and II, maybe the franchise will take things back to modern times?
“Why nothing is known about DICE’s upcoming Battlefield entry in the franchise, long-time fans are anticipating this one like no other given we’re all curious to see how the studio bounces back from Battlefield V’s missteps. Just give us a modern setting, destructible environments, memorable maps, balanced gunplay and vehicle warfare, and we’re there!” – Alex Co
“Two long years since the last Battlefield released. We don’t know much about the new one set for 2021 release, but we sure as heck are excited for it.” – James Lara
6. Elden Ring (PS4, XBO, Windows)
It shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone to see Elden Ring appear on this list. Coming from the developer behind the highly-acclaimed Dark Souls franchise, cult classic Bloodborne, and one of the best launch titles in Demon’s Souls, Elden Ring hopes to be yet another major success for FromSoftware. Announced at E3 2019, Elden Ring still does not have a set release date, but the game is currently slated to release sometime in 2021. Oh, and did we mention that George R.R. Martin, author of the Game of Thrones novels, is also involved?
“It’s From Software’s new game. Nothing else left to say.” – Sean Mesler
7. Hitman 3 (PS4, XBO, Switch, PS5, XBX, Windows)
IO Interactive has done a tremendous job with the Hitman franchise, and Hitman 3 looks to be no different. Scheduled to be one of the earliest big releases of 2021, Hitman 3 will conclude the World of Assassination trilogy that began in 2016.
“It isn’t any secret that I love the Hitman World of Assassination games. Hitman (2016) is my game of its generation. What we’ve seen so far of this game makes it seem like a fantastic continuation of what we’ve seen with the two games released so far and I can’t wait to once again become the bald embodiment of death for the Criminal underworld.” – Tim Lawrence
8. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (PS5)
From the reveal trailer, the latest adventure with Sony’s dynamic duo looks to be one of the true first next-gen titles. The trailer showed Ratchet & Clank travelling instantaneously across different environments without any sort of loading, it’s incredible. Although Insomniac released a Ratchet & Clank game in 2016, that title was more of a re-imagining of the original game and a soft tie-in with the film that released that same year. Rift Apart will serve as a canonical continuation to Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus.
“I’m really looking forward to playing a game that was designed from the ground up to take advantage of the PS5’s custom SSD. Plus, it’s Ratchet and Clank and Insomniac so it’s going to be a fun game.” – Sean Mesler
“This is one of those titles that’s hard to explain to people why you’re excited for. At first glance, Ratchet & Clank is a regular platformer that we’ve seen a hundred times before. However, Insomniac Games has something special lined up with the duo always. I’m expecting ingenious weapons, witty banter, the PS5’s SSD in full display and memorable boss fights. If there’s a palate cleanser from all the gruesome violence, this is it.” – Alex Co
9. Deathloop (PS5 timed exclusive, Windows)
From the developer that brought you Dishonored and Prey, Arkane Studios is back with their latest in Deathloop. Ever since this game was released, it’s caught my eye. Sure, being stuck in a Groundhog’s Day-type loop trying to kill the right people in order to break the loop is an intriguing concept, but I’m more excited at the fact that the main character is a Black man named Colt. And who is Colt’s main adversary in trying to break out of the loop on the island of Blackreef? A Black woman named Julianna. Love to see that type of representation in games, and I hope we get more of it. On top of that, what also separates Deathloop from the rest is that other players can invade your game and control Julianna to try and stop Colt from escaping the island.
10. Gotham Knights (PS4, XBO, PS5, XBX, Windows)
Interestingly enough, Gotham Knights does not follow the Arkham trilogy that concluded with Batman: Arkham Knight, even though it fits perfectly in that timeline. Arkham Knight contains two endings, both with Bruce Wayne seemingly dying in an explosion of Wayne Manor. This is exactly how the reveal trailer opened up for Gotham Knights, with Batman seemingly dying in an similar explosion and it’s up to the remaining Batman Family to clean up Gotham.
“The Batman Arkham series is among my favorite game series of all time. All three of the Rocksteady games are likely in my top 5 games of all time. Admittedly, I didn’t like Arkham Origins nearly as much. It wasn’t as polished or complete as the others. However, while this game is being made by WB Montreal as that was, the fact that its had more time in development makes me more hopeful.” – Tim Lawrence
11. Back 4 Blood (PS4, XBO, PS5, XBX, Windows)
In what’s being dubbed the spiritual successor of Left 4 Dead 2, Back 4 Blood is the latest zombie-killing, co-op game on the market. Turtle Rock Studios recently showcased intensive gameplay footage (check out our in-depth look at the alpha) that should get the blood flowing for all you zombie hunters. If you’re a fan of Left 4 Dead, good chance that Back 4 Blood will be a surefire winner.
“Possibly the “safest bet” out of the list, Back 4 Blood is a game you just know will be good. Will it be great though? We can’t say for sure. But, a Left 4 Dead spiritual successor that’s being developed by the original creators and ramped up progression, violence and more? Yeah, sign me up, baby! This is one PvE title that will surely draw me away from my usual love of PvP multiplayer.” – Alex Co
“Left 4 Dead is easily one of my favorite co-op game of all time, so my excitement for B4B is through the roof.” – James Lara
12. SkateBIRD (Switch, XBO, Windows, Linux, Mac)
I’m sure everyone’s thought what it’d look like to see a bunch of birds busting out kickflips and grinds, right? Well, if you haven’t, prepare yourself for such an experience. Glass Bottom Games presents a very unique skating game where birds are grinding on bendy straws and shredding some gnar in magazine halfpipes.
“I’m always a sucker for novelty action/sports games. SkateBIRD has a fantastic aesthetic and could shape up to be a truly unique experience. While it was announced long before, the announcement and positive reception of the Tony Hawk revival this year makes the release of SkateBIRD even more exciting. The idea of customizing and decorating a small skateboarding canary riding around on tabletops and kitchen counters is right in my wheelhouse.” – Tim Lawrence
13. Gran Turismo 7 (PS5)
Gran Turismo has been a staple in Sony’s games arsenal since 1997. Knowing that Gran Turismo 7 will be exclusive to the PS5 and not a cross-gen title, we can only imagine how magnificent the graphics are going to be.
“Its weird going through a full console generation without a mainline Gran Turismo game. While I was a Fan of Gran Turismo Sport, its general focus on the online wasn’t exactly what fans were hoping for. 7 is hopefully a good return to the series staple campaign mode, but I’m excited to see how much of the PS5 power the game truly uses to push its ultra realistic visuals.” – James Lara
14. Halo Infinite (XBO, XBX, Windows)
Halo Infinite appeared on our AAA-games 2020 holiday watch, but after a disappointing first look at gameplay footage, 343 Industries decided to delay the return of Master Chief to 2021. The Halo franchise is one of the most important gaming franchises in history, and after back-to-back lukewarm campaign experiences in Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, the pressure is on 343 to deliver with Halo Infinite. It was unfortunate that the flagship launch title for the Series X wasn’t ready, but I think Halo fans would rather choose to wait a bit longer for a much more polished game.
“Halo as a franchise has a special place in my heart. I have precious memories associated with all of Bungie’s installations. However, I’ve gone on record saying that I have been disappointed with 343’s two previous Halo games. For me, they have managed to neither be original nor old school and nostalgic. I have, however, appreciated their continued curation of the Master Chief Collection from the mess it was at launch. I’m of the opinion that delaying the game, even if it tanked their launch lineup for the Series X, was the right call. I didn’t see anything offensive in that reveal trailer, but I perceive that Microsoft finally got the hint that Halo needs to be Halo and that innovation shouldn’t be Halo trying to be something it is not. Hopeful this extra year will allow them to create that reality with what they have so far. At least we live in hope.” – Tim Lawrence
15. Hogwarts Legacy (PS4, XBO, PS5, XBX, Windows)
While Hogwarts Legacy is a much-anticipated title, it would be remiss of us if we also did not highlight the recent warranted disgust toward the Harry Potter property. J.K. Rowling has continuously spoken ill toward the transgender community, and while Warner Bros. has clarified that the author would not be part of any sort of development regarding this project, she will still receive royalties from it. Ultimately, this situation will continue to grow as more news on Hogwarts Legacy is revealed and could be a major story in the gaming industry upon its release.
“I’m one of the few millennials that have no particular affinity for or against Harry Potter as a property. I’ve never seen or read any material set in the universe. But the idea of being a teenage wizard going on adventures in a magic realm set in the late 19th century sounds like something worth looking at. I stay cautiously optimistic that this will be closer to Elder Scrolls than Destiny 2.” – Tim Lawrence
So, there you have it. I’m sure there will be some hidden gems in 2021 that weren’t highlighted on this list, but this is a good starting point for which games to keep an eye on. If there’s any games not listed here that you can’t wait for, please leave it in the comments below!