Perhaps we put too much pressure on the first year of a new generation cycle. And I don’t just mean in 2021, where the incalculable challenges developers have encountered from the outset of the coronavirus pandemic have manifested publicly in the form of numerous delays, but historically.
I count this up to unrealistic expectations. I have fond memories of 2006, where the Xbox 360’s first year was met with the likes of Dead Riding, Gears of War, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, Saints Row, The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, and other series starters and genre-defining releases. It was an absurd 12 months that worked to showcase the power of new generation hardware and bring shape to its future, in a way that will probably never again be replicated.
The furore around the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X led many to believe the entire industry was going to shift underfoot. Had Dying Light 2, Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West, and God of War Ragnarok (among others) stayed on track, maybe that dream would have become a reality. Instead, while some truly wonderful video games landed this year, I wouldn’t necessarily say they show the shape of things to come – although PS5 exclusives Deathloop and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart have certainly come the closest to fitting that description.
And that’s okay. 2021 may not have been filled with industry defining releases, but it has had a large, diverse range of good games that are definitely worth playing. And I’m content with Fall 2021 being defined by much of the same: a cavalcade of good games that we’ll all still struggle to find the time to play anyway. Traditionally, October marks the busiest time of year, as publishers jostle for a limited pool of audience attention and player retention in advance of the incoming holiday season. In spite of the narrative that’s taken hold – that 2021 is the Year of the Delay – you need only look at the upcoming video game release dates to see there’s plenty on the near horizon worthy of your time and attention.
2021 is about to get real busy
On our radar for October? The first week features Far Cry 6 and Metroid Dread. The second has Back 4 Blood. The third, The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes. The fourth, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Age of Empires 4, and Riders Republic. There’s even new hardware, with the Switch OLED landing alongside Samus’ long-awaited adventure.
Outside of AAA, there’s exciting smaller-scale and independent releases that are certain to benefit from a slimmer start to the Fall. Jett: The Far Shore, The Good Life, and Solar Ash are long anticipated, while our curiosity has certainly been piqued by Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, and Hell Let Loose – the latter rumored to land as part of the PS Plus October line-up.
Once we start looking toward November, there’s a salvo of blockbuster shooters working to make 2021 feel as normal as possible. Battlefield 2042 launching in-between Call of Duty: Vanguard and Halo Infinite is chaos incarnate – 343’s decision to make Halo’s multiplayer free-to-play seems wiser by the day. And if three eras of warfare aren’t your jam, then there’s Forza Horizon 5, Jurassic World Evolution 2, and Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, as well as more niche-appeals like Shin Megami Tensei 5, Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker, and Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One. There’s plenty of games releasing across the genre spectrum in Fall 2021, and there’s even a little room to breathe for those of you with overlapping interests.
Say what you will about 2021, but I think it’s unfair to categorize it as a year defined by its delays. There’s plenty of good games coming and I’m sure I’ll appreciate the lighter schedule once I start trying to play them all. Although if none of these capture your interest, you could always take this time to catch up on the best games of 2021 (of which there are many), and prepare yourself for the chaos that is Spring 2022.
Looking for a recap on the year? Here’s the best games of 2021… well, that have been released so far, at least.