2020 is about to end, and it’s been a stellar year for AAA titles. Though COVID-19 restrictions forced many developers to work from home, delaying games and causing unforeseen issues, this year has nonetheless given players the most anticipated releases of the decade: The Last of Us: Part 2, Ghosts of Tsushima, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and even the controversial Cyberpunk 2077.
As is tradition in gaming circles, however, we want to know what’s next. Is there anything incredible on the horizon, or will we be settling into another gaming release drought? I am pleased to report that a ton of games are set to release in 2021, and while few have specific release dates, that doesn’t mean you should be any less excited!
Here are the top 5 games you should keep an eye on in 2021.
5. Far Cry 6—May 25, 2021
Xbox One | Xbox Series X | Xbox Series S | PlayStation 4 | PlayStation 5, PC
Far Cry 6 stars Giancarlo Esposito as the latest antagonist in Ubisoft’s open-world franchise. Far Cry 5 brought the series to an all-time high, and 6 is attempting to raise those stakes. Gone are the mountain ranges of Montana; Far Cry 6 is set in the fictional Caribbean country of Yara.
Players assume the role of revolutionary Dani Rojas as they organize a revolution to take down El Presidente, played by Giancarlo Esposito. Many features from Far Cry 5 return, including the “fangs for hire” system, which allows players to recruit dogs, bears, and humans to aid in taking out enemies. Only one companion has so far been announced, and he’s adorable. Chorizo, the “dangerously distracting wiener dog,” is missing his back legs, which have been replaced with wheels. It looks like he’ll be sent out to distract foes, and given the container on his back, will likely carry or transport items as needed. Leading a revolution alongside your wiener dog, Chorizo? Far Cry 6 sounds like a Game of the Year contender to me.
4. The Medium—January 28, 2021
Xbox Series X | Xbox Series S | PC
The Medium is a psychological horror game that promises to be a horrifying afterlife tale. Discovering the mysteries of The Maw will require players to simultaneously explore the real and spirit worlds. Switching between realms in real time will add a new layer to interactive storytelling and could create an intriguing string of puzzles.
The soundtrack, co-composed by industry legends Arkadiusz Reikowski and Akira Yamaoka, is also set to have a dual-reality theme. Yamaoka’s Silent Hill soundtrack is so eerie, horrifying, and beautiful that we still talk about it two decades later. That Bloober Games is prioritizing the soundtrack for The Medium shows that they understand the importance of ambience in horror.
Fixed camera angles also return with this release, allowing for a more focused horror experience. Pairing this approach with simultaneous dual-reality gameplay, The Medium is set to be the most ambitious survival horror game of 2021.
3. Halo Infinite—Q4, 2021
Xbox One | Xbox Series X | Xbox Series S | PC
It’s hard to believe that Halo 5 was released five years ago, and it’s been eight years since we’ve had a satisfying Halo campaign. 343 Studios took a risk with Halo 5 by removing Masterchief as the main character. While that detour proved acceptable, it will be nice to return to familiar territory, once again taking down the covenant with Masterchief.
Halo Infinite starts a new Reclaimer Trilogy, a continuation of Halo 5 and Halo Wars 2. 343 is taking the series in a more open-world direction, emphasizing player agency rather than the on-rails corridor style of previous titles.
This new open-world style, paired with the return of Forge mode, brings a next-gen Halo worth getting hyped for. Keep an eye in the coming months for new gameplay and multiplayer reveals. A multiplayer beta is also planned for 2021.
2. Resident Evil 8: Village—April 2021
Xbox Series X | Xbox Series S | PlayStation 5 |PC
Following the success of Resident Evil 7, Village will continue the story and the first-person play. For many survival horror fans, Resident Evil 7 was an absolute game changer; it deserves every piece of praise it has received. Its seamless integration of tried-and-true survival horror systems—including inventory management and puzzle solving—however, made Resident Evil 7 feel more like a natural evolution than a departure from the series.
Resident Evil 8 is set to pick up where 7 left off, following Ethan Winters as his world is once again flipped upside down by the BSAA. What’s particularly exciting about this entry is its gritty, gothic vibe, similar to that of Resident Evil 4. The trailer guides us through the grim and sinister Eastern European village; then we meet Chris Redfield confronting a panicked Ethan. The Resident Evil 8 reveal checks all the boxes, and the game should prove another hit for Capcom.
1. Elden Ring—TBC 2021
PC | PS4 | Xbox One
Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki is teaming up with Game of Thrones writer and creator George R. R. Martin to release their biggest entry yet: Elden Ring. Miyazaki promises it will be an open-world, third-person action game that emphasizes in-depth RPG systems and an engaging storyline.
The Dark Souls series sets itself apart by being not only crushingly difficult but also infinitely replayable. I hope that Elden Ring follows in these footsteps, not limiting its replayability by being too grand in design. If this game were from any other developer, I would be worried about insufficient footage. However, FromSoftware has always taken a less-is-more approach to marketing.
It seems only natural that George R. R. Martin join a game series so focused on death and learning from past mistakes. Elden Ring seems extremely ambitious, with a heavy focus on story and RPG elements. It is must-buy in 2021.