Last year, the year known as 2020, was a year alright. On top of struggling through adjusting to a pandemic, we saw not only a bunch of new games, but we welcomed the next-generation consoles — or current-generation if you like. The year felt like one of the slowest years to date, and yet it ended suddenly, bringing us to 2021.
There’s a huge range of games planned to be launching this year. Some have been delayed from their initial 2020 launch, some have incredibly exciting concepts, others boast that they’ll make the best use of the hardware of the next-generation consoles. Here at DualShockers, we have a lot of different tastes across our staff, and so we’ve drawn up the below list of games we’re excited to hopefully play at some point in 2021.
Open Roads — Ryan Meitzler
Even seven years after its initial release, Gone Home still comes to mind as one of the most engrossing stories in a game that I’ve ever played. As an experience entirely built on the player’s perspective and understanding as they piece together the events of the main character Katie’s life and family, Fullbright’s game is one that I continually think is important for shaping how we tell stories in games. Naturally, my love of the studio’s past titles only makes my anticipation even higher for their next project that is releasing this year, Open Roads.
Of all the games that were announced at The Game Awards this past December, Open Roads was one of my favorite surprises of the show for several reasons. Coming from Fullbright, I’m eager to see how the studio gives us another interesting and well-told story in the vein of Gone Home and Tacoma, especially with the addition of Keri Russell and Kaitlyn Dever (two incredible actresses) in the lead roles. I’m also just a sucker for road trip stories, and Open Roads seems like it’ll be a trip worth remembering.
Back 4 Blood — Ben Bayliss
Back in my youth, I was a part of a VFX community where I ended up growing my passion for film making and video editing. My love for video games was already strong at this point, and I and a few members of that community would jump into a Left 4 Dead lobby every other night for several hours. It was an exciting game, it had me full of adrenaline, and introduced some incredibly memorable moments. This continued when Left 4 Dead 2 launched, but only briefly as everyone, myself included had new steps in life to contend to.
Back 4 Blood from Turtle Rock Studios somehow keeps that magic that the studio’s previous games brought while it was a part of Valve. Only now, there’s more mechanics, more things to learn, and a lingering sense of nostalgia. And in playing the alpha last year, I can honestly say I’m incredibly excited to get back into the swing of shooting zombies in an arcade playthrough, learning whatever new cards are introduced, and maybe, just maybe, I may need to get my old pals back together for a night.
Persona 5 Strikers — Sam Woods
Persona 5 was my favorite game I played in 2018. Persona 5 Royal was my favorite game I played in 2020. Those two games were my introduction to the series, and it was a series that I instantly fell in love with. The games are a masterclass in cool; Great music, stylish action, personable characters, and a compelling story and gameplay loop.
While Persona 5 Strikers takes a slightly different route, at least in terms of gameplay, I cannot wait to jump back into that world once again. I know Atlus will tell another gripping story and I’m already itching to find out what’s next for the Phantom Thieves, and also what new songs I will be playing on repeat. the game is also available to pre-order over on Amazon.
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut — Peter Szpytek
When I heard about Disco Elysium in 2019 I knew I had to play it. It checked all the boxes on my list of things I like in games: a deep and fleshed out world, customizable character stats, and gameplay reminiscent of DnD and other tabletop classics. But without any sort of PC to play it on, I figured I would just have to wait, cross my fingers, and hope that it eventually would make its way to console. Apparently, someone at developer ZA/UM heard me because in March, Disco Elysium: The Final Cut is due to launch after being announced last year, and will finally be coming to the PS4 and PS5.
Many RPGs are praised for their diverse range of character builds, but Disco Elysium takes that to the next level. It’s a game based around skill checks and numbers that don’t railroad its players into a particular play style. Instead, it asks players “what kind of cop are you?” and expects them to answer. Disco Elysium is the role-playing video game I’ve been waiting for since I learned how to roll initiative.
Deathloop — David Gill
From the moment I first saw Deathloop, the latest game from Dishonored developer Arkane Lyon, I was immediately excited. You play as Colt, an assassin who’s caught in a time loop while trying to take down eight targets. Along the way, he runs into Julianna, a rival assassin whose task is to keep stopping Colt and keeping him in the same time loop.
What makes me so excited about Deathloop is it reminds me of the Dishonored games because of the supernatural abilities and first-person shooting. From the looks of it, there are multiple ways to complete each story mission which also harkens back to the Dishonored games. Alongside that, you can choose the way you play it, whether you go guns blazing or take a stealthy approach. With it being a PS5 exclusive for the first year, I’m so excited to play Deathloop in May and see how the story unfolds. The game is also available to pre-order on Amazon.
Horizon Forbidden West — Rachael Fiddis
I’m most looking forward to Horizon Forbidden West just to experience that world again. During my time with Horizon Zero Dawn in 2017, I loved exploring its environments. This time, I’ll get the chance to delve further into its diverse ecosystem that includes underwater exploration and witness a multitude of iconic locations that includes a ruined San Francisco and the Yosemite Valley.
Not only that but getting to engage in strategic battles against new machines is very exciting. I’m hoping the narrative is just as well written as it was in Horizon Zero Dawn and I get to explore and unearth more of its ancient past with an even bigger arsenal of weapons than before. Horizon Forbidden West is set to launch this year at some point.
Chinatown Detective Agency — Mehrdad Khayyat
You probably haven’t heard about this game so far, but if you need a brief description to get hyped for it, then let me tell you that Chinatown Detective Agency is probably going to be your best detective-themed point & click experience since Thimbleweed Park. And I’m telling you this based on my own experience from the game’s demo.
Chinatown Detective Agency follows the work-life of a former police officer in Singapore who is now running his own detective agency as a personal investigator. In a moderately far future from now, you will get multiple strongly-narrated cases to solve, and your investigating skills will be challenged through some creative gameplay mechanics that you will fall in love with. The game is due out this year, and a free demo is now available on Steam.
The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki — Iyane Agossah
The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki will be the next game of the Kiseki / Trails JRPG series, following The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV and The Legend of Heroes:Hajimari no Kiseki. It will start a new story arc and was described by developer Falcom as its most ambitious project. Kuro no Kiseki will use a revamped turn-based battle system, a new Alignment system, and introduce a myriad of new characters, all designed by Enami Katsumi. The artist of Baccano and Star Ocean 4 closely worked with Falcom in the past on Ys Seven, Zero no Kiseki, and Ao no Kiseki, and this marks their great return to the series.
Now, it will probably take up to 2023 for Kuro no Kiseki to hit West, but it’s always better than nothing. Especially considering the massive scripts these games have and the work NIS America must put on the table with each new installment. With that said, it’s important to note Hajimari no Kiseki, (currently only available in Japanese, Korean, Chinese) was actually already fully translated in English by fans. As such, it’s possible Kuro no Kiseki will receive a similar fan-translation when it launches in Japan, late 2021. Kuro no Kiseki has no platforms announced yet, but it’s highly likely to launch first on PS4 and PS5.
Resident Evil Village — Ricky Frech
While many at DualShockers know me as “the Yakuza guy”, my actual favorite series in video games is Resident Evil. From the first time I screamed in terror upon seeing that zombie turn to face me in the original Gamecube remake, I’ve been hooked. It’s not just the spooks, I’m all in on the series’ lore, its gameplay, and its outlandish puzzle design.
Resident Evil Village takes the series back to first-person, which isn’t my favorite way to play the series. However, the trailers have shown a mountaintop castle, Chris Redfield, and werewolves. What else could an RE fan want? I am beyond excited to see what Capcom has up its sleeve for us next.
Emily is Away 3 — Mike Ruiz
At PAX 2019, I had the pleasure of sitting with Kyle Seeley in a hotel lobby to play a demo for Emily is Away 3 (stylized Emily is Away <3). After talking with Seeley and playing a small piece of this narrative-driven online messaging “simulator,” I was incredibly excited to check it out during its unannounced 2020 release window. Obviously, like many games that were supposed to release in 2020, it was delayed.
It is unclear whether it is releasing this year or not, but it is essentially my most anticipated game until it does. Emily is Away and Emily is Away Too are incredible time-capsules during the AOL Instant Messenger days. For Emily is Away 3, Facenook (the game’s take on Facebook) is the storytelling medium and is where you’ll converse with your friends Emily and Evelyn. I am very stoked to see where the story goes this time, and hopefully, I won’t destroy any relationships like I did in Emily is Away… and Emily is Away Too.
Tales of Arise — Scott White
Ever since I first played Tales of Symphonia on the Gamecube back in 2004, I have been hooked on the Tales of action RPG series. With the reveal at E3 2019, Tales of Arise became one of my most anticipated titles bar-none. This latest entry in the long-running franchise looks to shake up the formula with a new combat system, a seamless world, and a gorgeous new art-style.
We know very little about Tales of Arise as details have slowed to a trickle since the last trailer was revealed last year, but promises of new information in 2021 satiate the dry mouths of fans. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too much longer and fingers crossed that this Covid-delayed title sees a worldwide release this year!
Shin Megami Tensei V — Allisa James
A little over three years ago, Shin Megami Tensei fans beheld a most wondrous sight: a trailer that spanned a minute and a half that revealed the next entry in the long-running and beloved franchise. Since then the fanbase has been clamoring for more footage and information, including some kind of release date or window. 2020 turned out to be the biggest year in every regard and rewarded us with a brand new trailer full of tons of plot details and easter eggs, along with the reveal of a 2021 global release date.
Needless to say for these past three years I have been anticipating Shin Megami Tensei V with the fervor of a thousand suns. Shin Megami Tensei IV was an incredible game, an outstanding entry in a series that has had so many outstanding games, with its focus on expanded worldbuilding, a gripping narrative, and enhancements to the already great Press Turn battle system. And from what we’ve seen of V’s story, which challenges everything previously established in the lore, it’s already shaping up to stand equally with its predecessors.
Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord — Otto Kratky
I bought Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord when it launched last March. Picking it up that early meant acknowledging that you were buying an unfinished game. Bannerlord had, and still has, a ton of glitches, optimization issues, missing content, the list goes on. That didn’t stop me from putting nearly 100 hours into it. Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord, even with all its issues, is simply one of the best medieval sims I’ve ever played. And that experience will only improve in 2021.
There’s no official release date for Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord, so don’t take this as me saying a 1.0 release is confirmed for this year. What I do expect though, is that developer Taleworlds will continue working on the game, adding in new content, quests, features, and bugfixes throughout the year. I have no doubt that by the time 2021 wraps up, I’ll have pumped another hundred hours into it, and that it will have been a radically different experience than it was in 2020.
Lost Soul Aside — Cam Hawkins
I’ve probably written about it enough times for returning readers to realize, but Lost Soul Aside has been one of my most anticipated games since its reveal in 2016. The title is under PlayStation’s China Hero Project set to be a timed-exclusive for the platform at the very least. Despite my excitement for the Japanese action title we haven’t received a major update for the game for well over a year now.
Creator and Director of Lost Soul Aside Yang Bing said last year that he hoped for the game to release in 2020, but likely due to COVID-19 that goal did not come to fruition. 2021 feels like the year that we will finally see it launch. If you are a fan of JRPGs or hack n slash action keep Lost Soul Aside on your radar because from everything we have seen it has done all but disappoint.
As you can see, the writers here have a diverse range and are all excited to get hands-on with games that may or may not be launching this year. Hopefully, those games with plans to launch this year can do so without any further delays from the ongoing worldwide pandemic.
And don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about you. We’re interested in knowing what games you’re excited about, so don’t be shy. Head down to the comments below or over to our social media profiles and share what games you’re excited to play this year.
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