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10 (!) Games to Look Forward to in 2021.

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By Nelson Schneider - 01/09/21 at 04:27 PM CT

Last year, I received a special request to talk about the upcoming game releases for 2020 that the curators at MeltedJoystick were keeping an eye on. Of course, we had no idea at the time that the year was going to bring a pandemic with it, which screwed with industries, arts, and release dates across the board. Then there’s the elephant-in-the-room sized fact that the Games Industry universally does a poor job of pre-announcing release dates and sticking to them (even when cracking the whip via mandatory “crunch” work schedules, which are ultimately useless anyway, since the hang-up in such cases nearly always falls at one department’s feet, making punishing everyone with mandatory, unpaid overtime completely pointless).

That said, after sorting through the hundreds of ports, remasters, and remakes coming in 2021 (what, you thought the flood would slow down instead of speed up?), it looks like a much more exciting year than its predecessor.

10. “Bravely Default 2” (Nintendo)
Ugh, this one’s only on the list because I was one short of the magic number of 10, and I used to be excited about this alleged Square-Enix return-to-form series. But then I played the original… and it made all my enthusiasm for the ‘Bravely Default’ IP evaporate in a few short hours. Still, as abysmal and banal as the 3DS games were, there’s still the possibility that “Bravely Default 2” will actually be good, considering that nearly every big Square and/or Enix IP got off to a bumpy start.

9. “Evil West” (Multi-Platform)
Polish Indie developer, Flying Wild Hog, is behind one of my favorite FPSes of all time. And in 2021, they’ve got two major irons in the fire, one being a sequel to said favorite FPS of mine, the other being this Wild-West-with-demons FPS. It’s quite low in the excitement rankings, though, because we have seen very little of it, and with the way Flying Wild Hog tends to ape the most recent gaming trends, it’s entirely possible this game will emulate “DOOM Eternal” mechanics, making it a chore instead of a joy to slaughter the hordes of Hell.

8. “S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2” (Microsoft)
There are already 3 ‘S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’ games out there, but the latter two are, apparently, supposed to be treated as expansion packs rather than full-blown sequels. I have all these older games, but haven’t gotten around to de-backlogging them yet (I went with the ‘Metro’ series as my initial foray into the world of Russian games).

7. “Cris Tales” (Multi-Platform)
Thankfully, this is NOT a game about Chris. Instead, this Columbian Indie RPG employs a time-travel gimmick, where the player can see into three different timestreams by looking at different parts of the screen. We could be looking at a real innovative winner here… or we could be looking at another misbegotten Indie flop. Only time will tell!

6. “Horizon: Forbidden West” (Sony)
The sequel to “Horizon: Zero Dawn” promises to be another big, sprawling Cinematic Sony Sandbox, which will initially drop on PlayStation before migrating to PC later on.

5. “Psychonauts 2” (Microsoft)
Too bad, so sad. This Jack Black-infused sequel to Double-Fine’s bizarre and hilarious 6th Generation 3D Platformer cum Action/Adventure didn’t make it out the doors in 2020. Let’s hope another year in the oven was all it needed.

4. “Shadow Warrior 3” (PC)
Flying Wild Hog’s other iron in the fire is the sequel to “Shadow Warrior 2,” one of my very favorite FPSes of all time. However, the ‘Shadow Warrior’ audience is about as divided and toxic as American politics, right now, with half the audience raging against the fact that “Shadow Warrior 2” was a Looter Shooter, half the audience demanding a return to the series’ god-awful Retro-Shooter roots from the ‘90s, and half the audience (yes, three halves) clamoring for more of what made “Shadow Warrior 2” so awesome (count me in that last group). So far, we’ve only seen some pre-rendered cinematics and a dab of gameplay featuring the heroic Lo Wang ripping off demon parts and squeezing one last dab of magic out of them to perform special attacks. We’ll have to wait and see how it pans out.

3. “Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart” (Sony)
I actually thought Insomniac’s signature series was dead and buried after “Into the Nexus” released to no fanfare on the PlayStation 3 and the rebooted version of the original game released alongside a mediocre movie to even less fanfare on the PlayStation 4. But I guess Sony still wants to keep flogging the IP to see if any more money will fly out, so we’re getting a new one that, thankfully, isn’t another reboot/remake/remaster/rehash, but an all-new game. I wonder if Sony will also decide to bring this one to PC, of if it’ll perpetually be stuck on PlayStation 5, where the Souls Trolls infesting the audience will ignore it.

2. “BioMutant” (Multi-Platform)
I’ve had my eye on this one for a couple years. “BioMutant” is supposed to be a post-apocalyptic Sandbox game where the player takes on the role of a rapidly-evolving creature whose movement, looks, and fighting style are determined by its mutations. Not only that, but the game allegedly contains both customizable weapons and pilotable mechs. So let’s rerun that list: a) Mutation/Evolution that is functionally similar to that in “EVO: The Search for Eden,” b) customizable gear, and c) pilotable mechs in an open-world. Yes, Yes, YES! I’ll take ALL of that, please!

1. “Baldur’s Gate 3” (PC)
The RPG that, unless something goes horribly wrong, is destined to become the Game of the Decade didn’t make it out the door in 2020, as expected. The developers at Larian did, however, get a pretty good start on it, releasing the Alpha version of the first Act on Steam Early Access. I’m still dubious that it will be done and dusted by the end of 2021, but anything’s possible. I expect that Larian will probably manage to get Act II pounded into a rough semblance of the final version, and bring the overall game into Beta Early Access, but won’t have a final product ready until 2022. I’d be delighted to be proven wrong, though!

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