The past two years have been a little difficult for video game companies. Aside from having to deal with the unexpected effects of a global pandemic, they’ve also had to stand back and wait for new consoles to be released. The merits of releasing a brand-new game for a last-gen console are debatable, so most publishers have decided to take a time-out before releasing their flagship creations to allow people to get their hands on the latest hardware. Things are catching up again now, so after a raft of delays and cancellations, we’re finally getting a good idea of what will come out and when.
A delay before releasing a game isn’t always a bad idea. We saw that with Cyberpunk 2077, which currently looks like it will never recover from the terrible reception it got when it was released in its broken state. CD Projekt Red, the company behind the botched launch of the once highly-anticipated game, is thought to have lost more than a billion dollars because of its high-profile failure. With the benefit of hindsight, the company probably wishes it had pushed back the release date of the game. Let’s hope the companies who have moved the release dates of some of the games we’re about to list have taken the maximum possible advantage of those delays.
Returnal – April 30th
“Returnal” is exclusive to the PlayStation 5, and as such, will be one of the first big-name PS5 exclusives to make it to the market. It’s a science-fiction horror game set in space. That puts it in the same category as “Dead Space,” which was described as “too scary to play” by some people when it was first released more than a decade ago. It created a niche in the market that nobody else has filled since then, so hopes for “Returnal” are high. In the game, you play a spaceship pilot trapped on a planet while simultaneously also trapped within a time loop. The aliens are said to be horrific, the problems posed by the time loop are expected to be difficult to solve, and the two things together should – we hope – make for a very compelling game.
Deathloop – September 14th
“Deathloop” has been pushed back so many times that we’re almost reluctant to list it here with a confirmed date, but Arkane Studios are confident that they’ll finally be able to deliver it this time. The wait has been frustrating – especially if you’re one of the many people who have already paid for pre-order several months ago – but what we’ve seen of the game makes it look like it’ll be worthwhile. Arkane never let us down with “Dishonoured,” so there’s no reason to believe they’ll let us down with “Deathloop.” This is another game that involves a time loop (perhaps that will become the theme of video games in 2021), but there’s also an assassin stalking you and eight people you need to interact with in order to break the cycle. Xbox owners will have to wait a little longer to find out, though, as this game will remain exclusive to the PlayStation 5 for a full year after it comes out.
No More Heroes 3 – August 27th
When the first “No More Heroes” game came out for the Nintendo Wii thirteen years ago, nobody seriously expected it to turn into a money-making franchise. That just goes to show that you never know what can happen when players take a game to their hearts. Nintendo spent years trying to come up with a genuinely popular new franchise, and then they did it with “No More Heroes” almost by accident. Hack and slash your way through the third instalment in the series when it comes out at the end of August 2021. It will be exclusive to the Nintendo Switch – which might be an issue if shortages of the handheld console continue to be an issue – but if it’s as good as it appears to be, it might even merit buying one purely so you can play it.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart – June 11th
This new “Ratched and Clank” game was supposed to be available at launch for the PlayStation 5, but things didn’t work out that way. In the end, the game will have missed the launch window by well over six months by the time it comes out. Despite hours of preview footage and promotional images being available, news on the game’s development went silent for so long that some people wondered whether it had even been cancelled. Fortunately, it hasn’t. We finally got news of its impending release at the end of February 2021, and it’s set to be a summer spectacular. Graphically it takes full advantage of the capabilities of Sony’s new hardware, so it’ll be the most visually spectacular “Ratchet and Clank” game yet. So long as gameplay mechanics haven’t been tinkered with too much, it’s a guaranteed hit.
Resident Evil: Village – May 7th.
This is a “Resident Evil” game. There’s no way it isn’t going to be a success. “Resident Evil” is always a success no matter what medium it appears in. Against all the odds, the game has spawned a successful series of movies. A new Netflix live-action series based on ideas from “Resident Evil” will go live for streaming later this year. “Resident Evil 6” even became a big hit at online slots websites, where slots based on video games have a patchy history, to say the least. It takes a lot to distract an online slots player from what’s happening on the reels, but the scares of the “Resident Evil 6” slot have managed to do that for people playing it at Irish Rose Slots. This is a direct sequel to “Resident Evil 7” and has been described as “bigger in every way.” It’s also available for every popular format from last-gen to new-gen, with Stadia and PC included, so it might turn out to be the biggest game of the year. Prepare to be terrified by Capcom’s video nasties all over again.
We’re still waiting for solid dates on some of the year’s other big games, including the new “Prince of Persia” and “Far Cry 6,” so we’ll come back to those when they eventually become available. 2021 has got off to a slow start for gamers, but things are improving rapidly. By the time December rolls around, we’ll hopefully be able to say it’s been a vintage year!