2021 was a strange year in gaming, with next-gen consoles and graphics cards still almost impossible to come by. Still, some absolutely great games were released on all platforms. We have a lot of players on staff here at Android Authorityso we thought we’d take the opportunity to share our picks for the best games of 2021.
We’ve also included some games we’re looking forward to next year at the end of the article, so keep scrolling to the bottom to see them!
Phoenix Point (PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Stadia)
First is my pick, which technically first came out in late 2019. However, in 2021 the game was released on Stadia, as well as the Xbox and PlayStation consoles, which is a game changer for those of us who still we can not. Get our hands on a decent graphics card.
Billed as the spiritual successor to X-COM, the turn-based tactical strategy game is packed with the same intense (and occasionally frustrating) gameplay. Thanks to a host of customization options and a random map, it is also highly playable. Also, I’m a fan of turn-based strategy RPGs.
To be honest, the console game was a disaster at launch. It froze multiple times on each mission, with soft crashes every few missions as well. Since then, various updates have smoothed things out, and as of December 9, 2021, the game has now been updated for the next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S consoles.
Two required (PC, Xbox, PlayStation)
Next up is newsletter guru Tristan Rayner’s pick, It Takes Two. True to its title, the game does not feature a single player mode and requires two players to play, either in local co-op or online.
Nominally a game about a couple trying to overcome their marital difficulties, It Takes Two is a rare example of a game where everything fits together perfectly. The visuals, gameplay, voice acting, and level design are perfect, making it the ultimate cooperative game to play with a friend or loved one. Even better, with the Friend Pass program, you can share your game with a friend online and play together without them having to buy the game.
But Tristan isn’t the only one who loved it. It recently won Game of the Year at the 2021 Game Awards, as well as a host of other accolades.
Resident Evil 8: Village (PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Stadia)
Our resident Resident Evil fan, C. Scott Brown, chose the latest entry in the series as his favorite game of 2021. I’ll let you take it from here:
I’m a HUGE Resident Evil fan and absolutely loved Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Since this game is a direct sequel to that, my hopes were high and this game hits all the right marks. It’s definitely more of a RE: 4 tribute than anything else, but who’s going to complain about that?
He took the best of RE: 7 and mixed it with RE: 4 to make something insanely fun to play. It’s less scary than RE: 7, sure, but that baby scene makes up for it. That baby scene is probably the scariest I’ve ever been in a video game.
Metroid Dread (Nintendo Switch)
This year wasn’t the most exciting for Nintendo Switch exclusives (Breath of the Wild 2 in 2022, please), but Metroid Dread was probably the biggest release on Nintendo’s handheld console, and it won a pick of our own Dhruv. Bhutani. This is what he had to say:
I mean, it’s the first new 2D Metroid game in almost 20 years, that’s just enough to make you want to check out.
The developers achieved the fluid combat, the sense of exploration, the isolation, and the music that make Metroid so amazing. It takes a lot to have a genre named after a franchise and Dread lives up to the challenge as it takes the formula to the next level.
Mafia: Definitive Edition (PC, Xbox, PlayStation)
Sticking with the throwback theme, editor Paula Beaton chose Mafia: Definitive Edition as her favorite game of the year. Technically, it came out in late 2020, but we are allowing some leeway due to the current time warp from the pandemic. This is what he had to say:
It’s an absolutely stunning remastering of a 19-year-old game – amazing story, fantastic characters you get close to, beautiful graphics, great soundtrack. I was sad when it ended!
The game was released as part of a remastering of Mafia: Trilogy, but it received by far the biggest update of the three, with new voice acting and completely reworked gameplay. It really is a new experience that fans of the series should not miss out on.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart (PlayStation)
Ratchet and Clank has been a fan-favorite series for nearly two decades, and the latest release is one of the few PlayStation 5 exclusives on the market. That got the attention of Luke Little, who chose it as his favorite game of 2021. Here are his thoughts:
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart was fantastic for many reasons. Definitely a well done reboot of the franchise and I can’t wait for more.
Rift Apart keeps a lot of what makes the series great, with new gameplay mechanics on top of the obvious graphical improvements. Chief among them is the Rift Tether mechanic, which allows for seamless teleportation between locations in the game. This is only possible on the latest PS5 hardware, so you’ll have to look for one if you want to give it a try. Good luck.
Art of Rally (PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Switch)
The following is another late 2020 release, but charming enough to win over my South African colleague Hadlee Simons. Art of Rally is a stylized racing game that perfectly captures the nostalgia of rally car racing with fresh aesthetics and a spectacular soundtrack. But that’s enough of me, here’s Hadlee:
Honestly, I haven’t played many new games in 2021 (I’ve just started Halo: Infinite but I’d rather not pick it up yet). When saying it, it would have to say Art of Rally. The visuals make him look like a Micro Machines racer, but he’s a love letter to the classic rally.
The developers really nailed the feeling of rally driving, from launching a car and jumping over ridges, to people crowding the roads and seemingly generic cars that are thinly veiled tributes to classic models.
The game is available on almost every platform out there. Even better, it’s included in Xbox Game Pass, so subscribers can try it out on PC, Xbox, and the cloud through Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Pavlov: Shack (Oculus Quest)
For fans of virtual reality, the choice of Roger Fingas should ring a bell. Pavlov: Shack is a shortened version of the PC shooter Pavlov VR, which runs on the mobile hardware found in Oculus Quest. Here’s why you chose it:
It combines two things that I love about gaming: Total Immersion and Counter-Strike, which I played endlessly in my teens and early 20s. It takes a little getting used to, but quickly feels like second nature – it’s like play paintball in virtual reality. I recommend following the tutorial and following the SND (Search and Destroy) and TDM (Team Deathmatch) modes to enjoy the best time.
Not only is it one of the best VR first person shooter games, it is also free today! Find out more at the below.
Psychonauts 2 (Xbox, PlayStation, PC)
Finally, we have the quirky sequel to the cult favorite platformer Psychonauts. Chosen by Oliver Cragg, the cross-platform release was saved from obscurity when Microsoft bought Double Fine under its Xbox Game Studios banner. Here’s what Ollie had to say about it:
The long, long, awaited sequel to a cult classic that’s one of my all-time favorite games. It doesn’t bring the same chaotic energy back to the original Double Fine game, but Raz’s thrilling adventures are just as charming, irreverent, and inventive as they were 16 years ago. A prominent place for me in what has already been a stellar year for platformers.
Psychonauts 2 is available on Xbox Game Pass, and despite being Xbox’s own game, it’s also available on PS4 and PC. Don’t worry too much if you haven’t played the first one, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Games we look forward to in 2022
After constant delays throughout 2020 and 2021, 2022 is absolutely poised for high-profile game releases. Even better, most already have official release dates in the first half of the year, so you won’t have to wait long.
- Sequel to Breath of the Wild – We had this on our list last year, but it looks like 2022 could finally be the year we see one of the most anticipated Switch games of all time.
- Dying Light 2 – You won’t have to wait long for the 2015 sequel to Dying Light, with a multiplatform release scheduled for February 4, 2022.
- West horizon forbidden – Another highly anticipated sequel, this PlayStation exclusive is finally scheduled for release on February 18, 2022.
- Hollow Knight: Silk Ridge – Hollow Knight really managed to make a name for itself in a crowded field of Metroidvania games, and the sequel seems to be even better. We have our fingers crossed for a launch in mid-2022.
- Children of the forest – Survival Horror fans are also in luck with Sons of the Forest. The brutal 2014 sequel to The Forest will hit Steam on May 30, 2022.
- God of War: Ragnarok – Originally slated for a release in 2021, the end of God of War’s Norse setting should finally come out next year, but we don’t know when yet.
- Gran Turismo 7 – The eighth installment (because the numbers are tough) of Sony’s hit racing series is expected in March next year, and thankfully you won’t need a PS5 to play it.
- Hogwarts legacy – This deep dive into Hogwarts history was also delayed last year, but hopefully we’ll hear some news about the cross-platform title soon.
- Lost – Who doesn’t love cats? This next adventure game lets you explore a dense city like a stray cat. It was first announced in 2020, but is currently scheduled for an early release in 2022.
- Elden Ring – This long-awaited collaboration between Game of Thrones writer George RR Martin and Dark Souls FromSoftware developer is currently in beta and will see a widespread release on February 25, 2022.
- Starfield – Announced in 2018, Bethesda’s next epic space action RPG is scheduled for release in November 2022, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it made it to 2023. Disappointed, yes, but surprised, no.
- Overwatch 2 – We had this on our list last year too, and to be honest it’s surprising that it hasn’t come out yet. Blizzard has made some vague claims that the game will be out in 2022, but the company is mired in confusion, so who knows when it will see the light of day.
What were your favorite games of 2021?