Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: The best games of 2021
With the year now half over readers discuss the best new games so far, from Mass Effect Legendary Edition to Returnal.
The games had to have been released new this year and we wanted to know how many you’d bought in total and how well you feel publishers have coped with the problems caused by the pandemic.
The most popular titles were Resident Evil Village, Monster Hunter Rise, and Returnal but in general most people seemed to think companies had done well, given the situation, with plenty to look forward to in the second half of the year.
Hard to resist
You made this really easy for me as I think I have only bought one new game this year: Resident Evil Village. I have bought a few games in anticipation of buying a new GPU for my PC but I think they are all from last year (maybe, time is not easy to gauge these days) so I got Resi 8 for my Xbox One.
Good game, terrible Heisenberg fight on Village of Shadows mode (30-50 deaths so far, quite a rage builder). Seems like maybe a large middle portion was removed in the doll house section. It seems a little underdone. A little threadbare for what could have been the highlight of the game, scare-ways. Was it rushed out or was the staff a little light on the ground due to the current pandemic or did they simply want a more action-packed game? I don’t know.
As mentioned above, I have been holding off new games as I’m keeping cash for a new GPU but I couldn’t resist Resident Evil 8, although after seeing it on Twitch on PC, I’m more than a little annoyed I didn’t wait as it looks amazing and a lot smoother on PC.
Old school epic
I’ve bought a few new games this year, probably more than usual because of the lockdown, but my favourite by far is Mass Effect Legendary Edition. I wouldn’t say I was a super fan of the originals but I enjoyed them and was looking forward to playing them again. What I didn’t expect is the I enjoyed them even more the second time around.
I think it was because it’s been so long since we’ve seen this kind of open-ended, epic scale game, which I guess is not an easy thing to make during a pandemic, especially since it’s a sci-fi game which seem to have got even rarer lately.
It is a shame about the bugs, especially given how much time they’ve had to sort them out, but I thought it was a great value package and it’s made me hype for the new one, which I’m sure was the point of it all.
Game of the year
I have bought three 2021 game so far: Hitman 3, R-Type Final 2, and Returnal. I think all three have been worth my time and money, even if Hitman 3 was just more of the same and R-Type Final 2 was a bit rough around the edges.
Returnal is the clear standout and I agree with GC that is the best game of the year. Although I suppose my opinion doesn’t really count since I’ve only played three! I am very impressed with it though as it blends together several of my favourite types of game but still feels unique in itself and manages to maintain Housemarque’s love for bullet hell shooters.
I was very happy to see Sony buy Housemarque as it hopefully means the sequel can be much bigger budget and benefit from help from other Sony studios (and ideally a bit more marketing).
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Time well wasted
I haven’t bought any new games this year that were released in 2021 but I have played Outriders, as it was part of Game Pass. It’s hard to tell with a game like this exactly how good it is when you don’t pay for it but I had quite a bit of fun. The action is good and the story gets pretty good by the end. It is obviously all very familiar though and it’s so obvious it was pitched as Gears Of War meets Destiny and that’s pretty much as much thought that went into on a top level.
The details are good though, with interesting weapons and powers, different characters, and a fair amount of variety to the environments. If I’d paid £50 for it I think I probably would’ve felt more ambivalent about it but when you playing it for what seems like free it’s a good little time waster.
I’ve only played and completed one game that has come out this year, which is Little Nightmares 2 on Xbox One X. I’ve been playing a lot of indies and some AAA titles from other years in my backlog. I bought Little Nightmares 2 day one because I really enjoyed the first one and GameCentral gave the second one a good review. I really enjoyed it but it was quite short, but I think it was better for being that way than overly long. I liked it so much that I got 100% in the achievements.
In GameCentral’s Top 10 of 2021 I want to get It Takes Two to play co-op with a friend and because I enjoyed the developer’s last two games, A Way Out and Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons. I’ve also added Chicory: A Colorful Tale to my wishlist as I was impressed by it by Game Central’s review.
I never played Pokémon Snap on the N64 when it came out or since, so New Pokémon Snap will be added to my wishlist as well as Genesis Noir. I have probably bought more games this year and last year than a normal COVID free year, as I have been at home a lot like everyone.
My favourite has definitely been Monster Hunter Rise. Well, it’s about the only one I have bought this year, other than the disappointing Resident Evil Village, but I think it’s great. Monster Hunter: World was my first in the series but I do think this one is even better.
There’s so much to do and the online co-op works really well. I just hope they keep supporting it, but I imagine they will given how big it is in Japan.
Three cheerful games
I have bought four games released in 2021: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, New Pokémon Snap, Disco Elysium (PS5), and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Buying games close to their launch is pretty rare for me but with the slower release pace so far this year, coupled with the reduced number of releases last year, has led to me buying far more games near to release than usual.
As of yet I have not finished Disco Elysium and unfortunately have probably left it too long to get back into it. It is undoubtedly the best of the bunch but with current world events as they are the other three, cheerier games, suited me better. I found the other three games fairly similar quality wise (all three are 8/10s for me) and also all a lot of fun.
I was actually surprised by how much I liked New Pokémon Snap, having not played the original and not being a particularly big fan of the series as a whole. If I had to choose one it would be Bowser’s Fury, as it has a level of polish the other two are missing. Ratchet looks gorgeous but I encountered a fair few bugs that you simply do not get with a Nintendo title.
The noticeable exception I have not played is Returnal. I tend not to get on with roguelikes and as my PlayStation 5 also has the rest mode bug I could easily lose progress if I had to park a run midway through which would infuriate me. (Losing 20 minutes of Persona 5 due to the bug was enough for me to abandon that). Has the game had temporary saves patched in yet?
The rest of the year looks pretty promising, with Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, Horizon Forbidden West, and Metroid Dread being standouts for me (assuming Horizon makes its 2021 release window).
There are also a number of other decent looking games too, with Far Cry 6, Forza Horizon 5, Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, Halo Infinite, and Disgaea 6 all on the watch list. I am also still hoping that Finding Paradise will eventually release on Switch this year.
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The small print
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