We’ve spent almost a full year hyping up the arrival of the new generation of video game consoles, and now they’re here, it feels almost like an anticlimax. That’s not the fault of the consoles themselves, which are just as good as they promised to be. It’s the fault of the companies who manufactured them, who haven’t built as many units as they needed to in order to cope with demand. If you’ve already managed to get your hands on a PS5 or an Xbox Series X, we congratulate you. You’ve done much better than at least 90% of people who wanted one or the other (or both). If you’re still on the hunt, good luck – but don’t get your hopes up of being able to complete a purchase until next year.
Speaking of next year, this is a good time to look ahead to what the best games for early 2021 are likely to look like. We’re all familiar with the games that were available at launch for the new consoles, but what about the games that will come later? What about the games that will be coming out for other consoles, which might have been overlooked because so much focus has been on the new Microsoft and Sony machines? This article is about giving them their moment in the spotlight. Here are the games that we think you’ll be getting excited about in the new year.
Gran Turismo 7
The Gran Turismo series of games is arguably the greatest driving franchise of all time – and you shouldn’t just take our word for that. It’s also the opinion of Top Gear, and if anyone ought to know a thing or two about the accuracy and quality of driving simulations, it’s them. It wouldn’t really feel like the launch of a new PlayStation console if there wasn’t a new Gran Turismo game to play on it, so we’re glad to say that we haven’t been let down in that apartment. The hyper-realistic-looking seventh game in the series is due to arrive either late in the first quarter or early in the second quarter of 2021, and it looks stunning. The graphics push the new console’s real-time ray tracing capacities to their maximum, and we’re promised that the game will make most of the haptic feedback capabilities of the new DualSense controller, too. When your brakes lock up in the game, you’ll really feel it.
Age of Empires 4
PC games have been cruelly overlooked for much of the past twelve months because the spotlight has been on consoles, but this might be the game that shifts some of that focus back. The popularity of the Age of Empires series is such that there are still tens of thousands of players playing the second edition of the game more than twenty years after its release. The third installment isn’t quite as well-loved, but perhaps the fourth will make up for it. The game’s developers have certainly taken their time to make sure they get it right – the gap between the games will stand at more than fifteen years when Age of Empires 4 comes out in early 2021. The only concern we have about the game’s trailer is that the graphics appear to be a little too basic for a modern-age game, but we’ve been told that there will be a few coats of polish added before the full version is released. We have faith, and we’re looking forward to it.
There’s no such thing as a low-key Halo release. The series is perhaps the standout franchise on the Xbox, going all the way back to the first edition of the console. If anything might be able to give the Xbox Series X an advantage in its battle against the PlayStation 5, it’s this brand-new next-gen version of Halo, which brings back the iconic character of Master Chief from the first three games. This is the franchise returning to its roots but simultaneously taking advantage of new hardware capabilities to make the best-looking, slickest-playing version of Halo to date. It was initially intended to be available on launch day for the new console but was pushed back to an as-yet-unspecified date in early 2021. We hope it will be worth the wait.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2
Zelda is a name that’s been around the world of video gaming since home video gaming was a new concept. Very few franchises – with the obvious exceptions of Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog – have stood the test of time like Zelda has. Its influence on pop culture can be seen everywhere, from the live-action television series that’s currently in development to the (perhaps unauthorized) “Legend of Link” online slots game with 10 free spins no deposit that’s popular at so many casino websites. We can’t imagine that anyone at Nintendo is happy that online slots websites are making money from this Zelda-inspired slot when they’re not, but it’s a sign of the franchise’s popularity that it exists at all. There aren’t all that many video games that successfully survive being turned into online slots, so Zelda stands out among that crowd. Will this new game do the same? Well, so long as it addresses the apparent weaknesses of the first Breath of the Wild game and focuses on varied gameplay, we expect that it will. It’ll appear for the Nintendo Switch during the first quarter of 2021.
Resident Evil: Village
Resident Evil is the greatest horror/survival game series of all time. Sorry, Silent Hill fans, but it’s true. Were it not for the success of the first Resident Evil all those years ago, Silent Hill would never even have existed. This, the eighth ‘proper’ installment in the series, promises to be the most terrifying yet. This is yet another game many people hoped would be available for new consoles on launch day, but Capcom decided to take their time and make sure all the nuts and bolts are securely in place before releasing it into the wild. We’re now told it will arrive in early 2021 on both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. Play it with the curtains closed and the lights off if you dare.
While we believe these are the picks of the early-2021 schedule, there’s still so much more to look forward to, including a new Final Fantasy game and a third No More Heroes. 2021 looks like it might turn out to be a vintage year for gaming – and you don’t even necessarily need a next-gen console to enjoy it!