Memorial Day is the unofficial start to the North American summer, but if you like things to be official, good news—with the blockbuster’s set to release this summer cycle, it’s time to get your game-playing vacation groove on!
Despite still some supply issues, the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles are now settling into their generation cycle, and the big games are now just about to hit for the summer.
This summer will be the first for our new most powerful consoles, and it’s looking to be quite an exciting one with that mind. So, though the world may finally be looking to open up after a year in flux and let us all gather together outside once again for the warm summer months, we gamers might be delaying our own return outdoors just ever so slightly– because we’ve still got too many great games to play!
From the bloodied, vampiric depths of Resident Evil Village’s medieval castles to the futurist’s vast twinkling cosmos of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, here’s the next big games to look for this summer. It’s going to be a hot one!
New Pokémon Snap (Switch) – April 30
Why go outdoors to take some pretty pictures when you could just as well be getting some sweet snaps of the best kind of wildlife at home! 22 years after the original Pokémon Snap, Nintendo are once again taking us on the very best kind of photography course as players swing through jungle habitats, hilly glens, and island vistas snapping pics of our very favourite Pokémon in their natural habitats.
New Pokémon Snap comes to the Nintendo Switch at April’s end. With the new console the on rails “shooter” will make use of the Switch’s various capabilities to give a fresh take on the N64 classic. Now the experience of snapping pics is simulated almost literally as the Switch itself can be used as a camera surrogate, with directional tilting being used to control your perspective. Of course, if that sounds annoying/gimmicky you can always just switch to regular old stick control.
With various strategies and trainer abilities needed to coax different Pokémon into giving different reactions, editable photographs, and global online photo sharing, this cutesy adventure will be one for fans to tinker over for hours.
Returnal (PS5) – April 30
When Sony first started showcasing some of their upcoming exclusives for the PlayStation 5, Returnal was certainly once to immediately catch the eye. Exemplifying the graphical and processing capabilities of our new console generation leap, Returnal looks striking in just about every which way.
Cast in the covering of a sci-fi horror epic, Returnal looks more or less to be a third person roguelike as its central conceit revolves around dying and returning to the harsh scapes of an unknowable alien world and an inescapable time loop again and again. From what we’ve seen of Returnal already it looks immensely cinematic in its scope (something which Sony has been all too familiar with in many of its exclusives) and looks to be invoking influences from many classics of horror sci-fi cinema.
Early hands-on reviews of the game have also remarked on how well the game brings in the new DualSense haptic feedback of the PS5’s controller and the PS5 3D spatial audio to really deliver a next gen worthy experience.
This certainly has all the hallmarks of being one of the first great next gen titles to really showcase a new era of console gaming!
Resident Evil Village (Windows, PS4, PS5, XBO, XBX/S) – May 7
Get ready to get stepped on, gamers. Lady Dimitrescu is coming in May to send the internet into an even bigger frenzy than it’s somehow already at along with her cast of men-hating blood sucking vampire insect women. And we can’t wait.
Following directly on from the events of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Resident Evil Village brings Ethan Winters back into the nightmare as Chris Redfield, for whatever reason, has him plunged into the depths of a hellscape European village. Vampires, lycanthropes, fish men, giants, creepy puppets, and a very tall woman – Ethan’s more than got his work cut out for him this time.
Early demos have already had us all quaking at the boot and with the release only mere weeks away Resident Evil Village is most assuredly not going to be for the faint of heart.
But Village has already caught the internet’s imagination for another reason, and one which Capcom themselves have been all too surprised yet endeared by. With the first demo Maiden there was an overwhelming response to the hulking figure of Lady Dimitrescu and all the ways in which the internet felt lovingly subordinate to this most big of big women.
One thing’s for sure – Resident Evil Village is certainly ramping up the heat for this hot summer of games.
Hoods: Outlaws and Legends (PS5, PS4, XBO, XBX/S) – May 10
If you ever enjoyed the old Assassin’s Creed multiplayer, then Sumo Digital have the game for you this summer.
Hoods: Outlaws and Legends is a PvPvE multiplayer title where you and a band of friends’ team against another roaming group of outlaws in a battle to complete various stealth, assassination and heist objectives. It’s Robin Hood versus Robin Hood versus the Sheriff of Nottingham – what’s not to like?!
Hoods has all the hallmarks of looking like an Assassin’s Creed clone, but its multiplayer design brings a fresh new feel to the stealth genre. You and your friends are going to need swift action plans, strategic movement and a quick ability to improvise to out do your rival outlaws and become legends yourselves.
Hoods: Outlaws and Legends could well be the best multiplayer title for summer 2021, so grab some friends and get slitting.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition (Windows, XBO, PS4) – May 14
One of the greatest narrative adventure epics finally gets its remaster bump. Mass Effect: Legendary Editioncombines all three original Mass Effect titles into one almighty game, complete with graphical boosts, gameplay tweaks and technical improvements.
If you haven’t before experience the epic adventure to the stars of Commander Shephard and the crew of the SSV Normandy before then this is the perfect package for you. And, even if you have you’re no doubt going to want to dive back in to re-experience the highs and lows, the heartbreaks and the epic joys of this incredible sci-fi saga again.
Each game in the trilogy is receiving a full remaster treatment with proper upscaling and boosts to match up to modern standards, but only Mass Effect 1 is also undergoing a few tweaks to its gameplay. The first Mass Effect, while an excellent world builder and kick start to the trilogy in its own right, did not hold the same gameplay tightness as its sequels, and so BioWare in conjunction with Abstraction Games and Blind Squirrel Games have altered the action and gunplay to fall in line with Mass Effect 2 and 3. This is a most welcome change since even by then standards the gun play of Mass Effect 1 was rough.
The entire Mass Effect trilogy is one of the best sci-fi sagas of all time. With a whole host of brilliant characters in your crew, every decision leaves its audience breathless and often heartbroken; hard decisions have to be made and sometimes brief mistakes can result in utter catastrophe. Anyone who’s enjoyed Mass Effect 2 will no doubt hold both fond and cursed memories of the final “Suicide Mission” – one of the most intense and narratively exciting conflicts in gaming. Now with the Legendary Edition rerelease it’s time to saddle up and possibly get hurt all over again. Just don’t let Mordin get hurt this time, please.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition also comes complete with most of the original DLC’s, some of which are the best additional content in gaming. This should be a must buy for all this summer.
Rust Console Edition (XBO, PS4) – May 21
Rejoice console gamers, because you too can now share in the utter depravity and ruthlessness of humanity with the apocalyptic fields of Rust Console Edition. A long-time early access title on PC, Rust is one of the best multiplayer survival games on the market and thankfully finally comes to both PS4 and Xbox now.
Long-time Rust veterans will no doubt tell you the horror stories of its apocalyptic wastelands, as Rust actively encourages player feuds, looting, hunting and killing. You only need take one look at Rust’s homepage: “Rust’s world is harsh. Other players can find you, kill you, and take your stuff. Fortunately for you, you can kill others and take their stuff”.
In the vein of Minecraft, you’re going to be crafting tools and structures to survive, but this world is more akin to Fallout than a Lego-like blocky wonderland. With Rust you can expect all your hard-earned base building efforts to be cruelly and quickly undone by a roaming band of well-equipped players, seizing all that you own and, if you’re lucky, sparing you with little but a rock to your name.
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there in the Rust wastelands. Will you be able to handle the radioactive heat this summer?
Biomutant (Windows, PS4, XBO) – May 25
From first timers Experiment 101 comes an action-adventure RPG with all the confident ambition of a studio much larger than itself. Experiment 101 is a team of only about 20, though some are vets from the likes of Just Cause and Mad Max, but the scope for Biomutant looks impressive for such a small studio. Taking a mash up of Devil May Cry, Ratchet & Clank, and the world style of Kung-Fu Panda, Biomutant looks a beautiful and rich experience.
Experiment 101 have been keen to show off their colourful world which will probably be the biggest strength of this game when it comes. Although the third person kung-fu/shooter combat and the wide variety of character and weapon customization (for one you can add cybernetic legs, wings, claws etc to your character – eat your heart out, Cyberpunk) also look like plenty of fun and will leave plenty of fresh ways to play.
Biomutant might be an easy one to have missed this coming summer, but Experiment 101 certainly look to have something special on their hands.
Elder Scrolls Online, Blackwood and Next-Gen Enhancement (Windows, Mac, XBO, PS4, PS5, XBX/S) – June 8
Elder Scrolls Online continues to plod along and this summer will receive one of its biggest updates in Blackwood. Fans will find themselves with new lands to explore between Cyrodiil and the Black Marsh where Argonians and Imperials sit idly by side by side. But the peaceful presence of Blackwood has been broken as Daedric evils led by the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon worms its way into these humble lands.
With over 30 hours of new story content, Oblivion gate challenges, new Trials, dungeons, bosses, and a wholly new companion system there is plenty to be sinking your teeth into in Tamriel this summer.
Along with Blackwood, Elder Scrolls Online will also be receiving the next gen treatment on June 8th. Now PS5 and XBX/S versions will enjoy crisp 60fps gameplay, higher resolution textures, greater draw distances, plenty of graphical improvements and, of course what we all really want, much faster load times.
Ninja Gaiden Master Collection (XBO, PS4, Windows, Switch) – June 10
Move on over Dark Souls, the real hard mode king is back as Master Hayabusa comes slashing back for the current gen with Ninja Gaiden Master Collection. The master collection includes remasters of the original PS3 versions of Ninja Gaiden 1, 2, and 3 – Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma II, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razors Edge.
This might come as some disappointment for a portion of fans as many consider the Xbox Ninja GaidenBlack and Ninja Gaiden II to be the better versions of the trilogy, but as producer Fumihiko Yasuda explains these versions were sadly just not salvageable anymore.
Team Ninja promises that Ninja Gaiden is of course still as exactly difficult as it used to be, even in a new age of plenty of difficult action-fighters like Dark Souls, Sekiro, and Nioh. So hone those blade skills, it’s going to be a bloody tough one this summer.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (PS5) – June 11
Long-time Sony staples Ratchet and Clank are back again for their shiny new PlayStation 5 exclusive, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Like historic rival Crash Bandicoot recently did with Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, Ratchet & Clank will be shaking up its formula with some world bending, timey-wimey mechanics.
Rift Apart allows for near instantaneous “portalling” into different areas, worlds, and realities to help Ratchet and his good robo buddy battle their way through hordes of enemies to save all dimensions from an evil robotic emperor. As always our dynamic duo will be equipped with all sorts of novel gadgets and weaponry too.
Rift Apart looks stunning and as a PS5 exclusive will be making the most of all its shiny new gen tech to bring the multiple worlds and dimensions to life.
Mario Golf: Super Rush (Switch) – June 25
It’s summer, the sun is shining, so head out to the golf links for a few relaxing holes with your best buds. I mean, not in real life, obviously; no, no, no, I’m talking about the Mushroom Kingdom crew and Mario Golf: Super Rush of course!
Yes Mario and friends are back for another round of slap dash golf. Like any Mario sports title this relaxing golf course won’t be simple at all as each character brings their own unique personality and magic abilities to keep this game twisting round and round.
As the seventh of in the Mario golfing series Super Rush will also introduce a new game type to match its title. “Speed Golf” foregoes any turn order and instead has everyone hitting off at once in real time, rushing to be the first to the hole. Super Rush will also include a story mode where you can control and customize your own mii to battle out the Mushroom Kingdom elite your own way.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (Switch) – July 16
With the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda hitting this year the Switch like its Nintendo console predecessors is getting its own Zelda HD remaster. This time it’s The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, now in HD.
Fans had been hoping for one of the more typical favourites like A Link to the Past or Twilight Princess to get its Switch debut, but with Skyward Sword we can still look forward to some good old Zelda slashing action. The Switch’s Joy-Con motion controls will of course be incorporated to simulate the hacking motions of Zelda’s sword, the string of his bow etc. This is pretty much a direct port of the original version’s Wii controls so not much actual change here unfortunately other some nicer 60fps and graphical polish.
Initial pre-orders sold out very quickly despite the online disappointment, so you better get in quick to grab this hot summer game.
No More Heroes III (Switch) – August 27
Summer closes out with another Nintendo hit, though this one perhaps more of a surprise package than any Mario or Zelda titles. Yes, the witty, crude, gore fest of No More Heroes has graced us with its welcome presence once again after eleven years in the dark.
No More Heroes III brings Travis Touchdown back to the fold to once again save the world, this time from anime toting aliens. As ever No More Heroes smashes together a number of gaming genres and tropes all in an effort for gross out ridicule and zany nonsense. One moment you’re cutting grass to make a quick buck, the next you’re in a Pokémon-like RPG battle or an over-the-top hack ’n’ slash tournament.
For the self-proclaimed family console and company this is one Nintendo title that most assuredly won’t be for grandma to enjoy as well. Unless of course she happens to enjoy an overabundance of dick jokes and body disembowelment, in which case: hell yeah grandma see you at the Galactic Superhero tournament!