The year is already halfway over with 6 months of video game releases now in the rearview mirror. Now, as we look to the rest of the year, the Shacknews staff has nailed down our most anticipated video game releases for the remainder of 2021.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits (August 24)
If there's anything that really stands out about Kena: Bridge of Spirits, its the setting. It takes place in a beautiful forest world that's being threatened by darkness. As a spirit guide, it's up to Kena to help ward off the dark forces while also guiding the departed to the end of life's great journey. She's assisted by these little black blobs called the Rot, which are much cuter than their name might suggest.
It's here where Kena borrows somewhat from the Pikmin formula, but also iterates on it. The Rot can assist in a lot of ways outside of battle, but to get them to help out against the enemies that lie ahead, Kena must be an inspiration on the battlefield. It's a test of combat skills, as well as a test of leadership.
There was a lot that surprised me during my recent hands-on with Kena, but I feel like that's just scratching the surface. I eagerly await what's next.
Psychonauts 2 (August 25)
We have been waiting a very, very long time for Psychonauts 2, to the point that the game has become kind of a meme, collected among the island of video games that are "definitely still in development, maybe". But now it has a release date. After years of waiting, we're going to be able to rejoin Raz and the Psychonauts team in a new array of psychic operations. New, wild, and often unsettling brain levels will await us as we sort through the messy psyches of various minds to try to sort them out and move the story forward. Likely, that also means a few fun new powers to learn and master along the way as we aid Sasha Nein, Milla Vodello, and other beloved characters in regaining and righting the path of the Psychonauts organization from its current shady handlers.
Life is Strange: True Colors (September 10)
As much as I've enjoyed what Dontnod has done with its Life is Strange franchise, I can't hide my love for Life is Strange: Before the Storm. That's why I was excited to hear that Dontnod was moving on to new ventures while Before the Storm devs Deck Nine Games would be taking over on Square Enix's story-based franchise.
I'm increasingly intrigued by new main character Alex and how her powers of empathy will help drive Life is Strange: True Colors' story. And I'm doubly interested in seeing how those powers will help shape Alex's relationships with this new cast of characters.
Deck Nine showed with Before the Storm that it could tell a strong coming-of-age story with established characters. Now let's see what they can do with an original cast.
WarioWare: Get It Together! (September 10)
Who could have possible expected that out of all the franchises Nintendo would choose to revive for the Switch generation, WarioWare was anywhere on that list? Don't get us wrong, we love Wario's ridiculous collection of zany minigames on previous titles, but it felt like the bite-sized era of WarioWare goodness had passed us by. WarioWare: Get It Together! was a delightful surprise during E3 2021 and we're highly excited to not only rejoin the series' familiar characters in a new collection of silly minigames, but also team up with friends to cooperate with (or frustrate) each other as we get sucked into Wario's latest scheme.
Deathloop (September 14)
Every time Deathloop shows up to play in a presentation or livestream with new information, it leaves us counting down the seconds until the game comes out. Arkane has already pretty much won us over with what looks like it's going to be a stylish time-looping adventure full of sneaking, gunplay, subvertive powers, and assassination. Now we just need to make it all the way over to September 2021 when we'll finally be able to step into Colt's shoes and break the loop that is keeping all of the island of Black Reef in a continuing spin of atrocious fiends... or we'll step into the shoes of Julianna and having fun putting a stop to Colt's antics. Either way, it's looking like the best kind of deja vu.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Extraction (September 16)
For the past five years, I've been amazed by what Ubisoft Montreal has put together with Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege. It's the absolute peak of the franchise to this point and only continues to get better, as the developers continue to add new characters and also refine their incredible physics engine.
I don't want to say I'm excited for Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Extraction just yet, but I do want to express how curious I am about it. How does an amazing PvP experience translate to a uniquely PvE co-op formula? How do these specific characters and their abilities fit in that kind of setting?
I'm cautiously optimistic when it comes to Tom Clancy games, just because of the mixed bag that we've gotten out of Ghost Recon lately. Rainbow Six, however, has been in a good place for a long time and I'm interested in seeing the next step for the Siege cast.
Diablo 2: Resurrected (September 23)
At first, we were pretty nervous about Diablo 2: Resurrected. It sounded a little too good to be true and we've been burned by a Blizzard remake with Warcraft 3: Reforged before. But a few playtests and plenty of reveals later, Blizzard has been winning us over with Resurrected. This game is looking every bit as fun as we remember with thoughtful updates to really enhance the experience rather than change or risk breaking it in any way. Being able to rejoin our friends in the journey to bring down the original game's fallen hero and the other lords of Hell is looking utterly fantastic and has us fishing up our old builds to see kind of min-maxing we can bring to the new game.
Lost Judgment (September 24)
Judgment is a really, really good spinoff for the Yakuza series. Not only does it contain the over-the-top martial arts, seedy criminal underbelly, and sometimes wacky antics we've come to associate with this franchise, but it also contains some great expansions on the usual formula. As a private investigator and former lawyer, Takayuki Yagami's every day life also relies on careful observation, witness/person-of-interest interviews, stealthy suspect tailing, and other PI activities. So consider us all-in when it comes to expanding all of this with a proper sequel in Lost Judgment. The game features an all-in intense case full of conspiracies to explore, along with a wealth of new activities. Lost Judgment is looking like everything we liked about the first game and more, and we can't wait to continue the stories of the Yagami Detective Agency when the game comes out in September.
Death Stranding Director's Cut (September 24)
Our question since the very concept of Death Stranding Director's Cut was first announced has often been, "what did Hideo Kojima keep Hideo Kojima from putting in this game?" And the answer has started to become clear as more reveals have come out. This isn't just a next-gen upgrade. Death Stranding Director's Cut has some very cool looking additions to go with it. New weapons, delivery gear, combat skills, story missions, and activities have this game looking like it's actually going to be quite the expanded take on Sam Porter Bridges efforts to reconnect America whether he wants to or not. At the very least, the Buddy Bot delivery legs, the ability to dropkick scavengers, and a... cargo cannon... that shoots cargo to its destination with explosive force... look very well worth the price of admission.
Far Cry 6 (October 7)
Far Cry 6 is the latest installment in Ubisoft’s open world mayhem franchise. Set in the fictional land of Yara, the game stars actor Giancarlo Esposito as its main villain, as we’ve seen in numerous trailers. Though the franchise is criticized for being surface-level, what other game is going to let us dive out of a helicopter and throw sticks of dynamite at deadly alligators? Because of that alone, we’re pretty excited to see what trouble we can cause in Far Cry 6 later this year.
Metroid Dread (October 8)
Nintendo finally did it. They're finally making a new Metroid game. Well, MercurySteam is anyways, which really is just cause to be even more optimistic about its arrival. After all, MercurySteam not only handled the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow games (including the pretty great 2.5D sidescroller), but also the Metroid: Samus Returns remake on the 3DS, which was impeccable. They've earned our trust at this point and Metroid Dread is looking exactly as its title implies. Samus may have a cool new suit and all of her usual gadgets when it comes to fighting off her usual foes, but the robot hunters in this game, the E.M.M.I.s, look downright terrifying. There's a lot we need to know yet about what Samus did to end up in the precarious situation, but we're looking forward to playing and replaying Metroid Dread when it hits the Nintendo Switch in October.
Back 4 Blood (October 12)
Turtle Rock Studios influenced a genre when they released the original Left 4 Dead back in 2008. With Back 4 Blood, the studio is back in the driver’s seat for a brand new co-op zombie survival game. Back 4 Blood allows players to take on the role of several different unique survivors, each with their own abilities and bonuses. The game’s card system will also hopefully add some much-needed strategic depth to the beloved genre.
Battlefield 2042 (October 22)
After a few high-profile setbacks, EA is counting on Battlefield 2042 to be its biggest breadwinner for 2021. With multiple studios working in partnership, 2042 looks to be the most ambitious Battlefield game yet, which is saying something when considering the franchise's history. While the game will be available on last-gen consoles, features such as crossplay and high-population servers will be exclusive to PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC. With no clear-cut frontrunner for biggest FPS game of the new console generation, Battlefield 2042 has a chance to become head of the table.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (October 26)
I truly hate sounding like a wet blanket when it comes to Marvel's Avengers, so I'm not going to talk about the ways that game disappointed me. Instead, I'm going to talk about the main aspect of that game that I did like. It had a great story and I maintain that if Marvel's Avengers had been a single-player experience, it could have been one of the better games of 2020.
Fortunately, Eidos Montreal appears to be thinking along the same wavelength. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is not a "games as a service" title. It is a fully single-player experience, one that puts players in the role of Star-Lord, as he tries to keep his ragtag crew together to save the universe. It's not that I don't like the Avengers cast, but the Guardians have much more of a "found family" element to them, so it's much easier to feel engaged by their interactions and adventures.
I feel terrible for streamers or YouTubers who have to try and navigate the DMCA minefield, but as somebody who's looking to simply enjoy this game in the comfort of my living room, the soundtrack is going to be one of this game's highlights and I'm excited to see how Eidos Montreal ties it into actual gameplay.
Forza Horizon 5 (November 9)
Microsoft managed to keep a few surprises up their sleeves for this year's E3 showing. After giving the public a glimpse at Turn 10's new Forza game last year, the publisher chose to shift focus back onto Playground's Forza Horizon series as it gets one last day in the sun before it presumably hops onto the next-generation racing engine from Turn 10. Forza Horizon 5 takes the fun into Mexico and will likely be just as much fun as the titles that preceded it. Car nuts and fans of casual or arcade racers will be in for a good time when Forza Horizon 5 slides onto Xbox consoles and PC later this holiday season.
Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl (November 19)
The line of Pokemon remakes has finally arrived at Generation 4 with Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. Taking us back to the Sinnoh region, these games are faithful remakes of 2006’s Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. We’ll get to relive iconic series moments, including the challenging battle against Cynthia as well as the epic encounter with Dialga and Palkia. The remakes are also going with a new chibi-inspired art style, so it will be interesting to experience the story once again through that lens.
Dying Light 2: Stay Human (December 7)
While Mirror's Edge may have paved the path for the use of parkour mechanics in video games, Dying Light refined those mechanics into one of the biggest cult hits of the console generation. Developer Techland is hard at work prepping Dying Light 2 and has ambitious plans of expanding the scope and complexity provided in the first game. With support for ray tracing and DLSS, Dying Light 2 will undoubtedly be a looker, but will it be able to push the franchise forward in a meaningful way?
Halo Infinite (Holiday 2021)
Halo Infinite is going to be good. I might even go so far as to say it will be great. Everything about the game so far looks incredible. But what’s also been exceptional is seeing how the developer, 343 Industries, has responded to player feedback.
The campaign reveal left players a bit concerned over the visual fidelity. Since then, 343i went back to work and sharpened everything up. The recent multiplayer reveal showed off not just the action-packed multiplayer fans have come to expect, but an updated visual style that took the complains and concerns of the fans, heard them, and acted upon it.
Multiplayer has always been a massive driving force for the Halo franchise, and now that it’s going to be free-to-play and feature cross-play, it’s probably going to be quite a big deal for Microsoft. Plus, the fact that the various seasons don’t expire (you can buy previous seasons whenever and you’re not on a time limit to finish it) has seen broad appeal and praise by various online communities.
On the campaign side of things, it’s going to be so good to slip back in to the Mjolnir armor of Master Chief. He’s lookin’ sleek and ready for action, and the Halo ring looks to promise just that. It looks like a place we’re going to want to get lost in. And from what limited snippets we’ve seen of the story, it looks to show another intriguing facet of the complex relationship between Chief and Cortana.
I know what I’m going to be playing this holiday season – and it’s going to be so, so good.
Axiom Verge 2 (Q3 2021)
The funny thing about 2D Metroid games is that so much time had passed without a genuine console side-scrolling iteration of the franchise, an intrepid indie developer basically made his own. Thomas Happ put together Axiom Verge, which was basically as far as someone could get making a Super Metroid without actually calling it Super Metroid.
Now fast-forward to 2021 and there's so much excitement in the air for Metroid Dread. However, it's pretty easy to forget that Axiom Verge is getting an actual sequel! Axiom Verge 2 has been teased since last year and it's building on the foundation that it set with the first one. It's growing beyond a 2D Metroid homage and adding new abilities, new enemy types, and a massive world to explore.
As good as Metroid Dread will probably end up being, there's a good chance Axiom Verge 2 hits its own lofty expectations and I can't wait to see it.
Aztech: Forgotten Gods (Fall 2021)
There are so many time periods in history and fantasy settings that have been frequently covered in mainstream gaming. We see Greek mythology and Eurocentric fantasy all the time. It's not often that we get something like what Aztech: Forgotten Gods is attempting. This is a game that's aiming to tell a futuristic story centered around Aztec culture and what have been had history not unfolded the way it did.
On top of the fantasy elements and the Latino representation element, I have to say, this game just looks really cool. The imaginative open world, the Bionic Commando-style arm, the unique-looking boss designs, these are all things that I look forward to sinking my teeth into.
These are the games we here at Shacknews are most looking forward to for the rest of the year. If you've got some game's you're excited to play in 2021, let us know in the Chatty!
Shack Staff posted a new article, Shacknews Most Anticipated Games of the Second Half of 2021
I might be forced to upgrade my gaming situation in order to play Psychonauts 2. I've been waiting for that game for so long. What a masterpiece the original was.