The year 2020 is finally behind us, and let’s be honest: Things can only go up from here. That’s especially true for video games, with a ton of great releases lined up for 2021 on just about every platform.
The new PS5 and Xbox Series X should really come into their own this year, with flagship games such as Deathloop and Halo Infinite set to take full advantage of next-gen hardware. Beloved classics from the Super Mario and Mass Effect franchises are getting rereleased for new platforms, while those seeking the next big blockbuster can look forward to titles like Hitman 3, Far Cry 6 and Resident Evil Village.
Whether you’re gaming on a next-gen console or you’re looking for something new to play on your Switch or PC, here are the biggest video game releases to look forward to in 2021.
Hitman 3 ($59.99; amazon.com)
The grand conclusion to IO Interactive’s World of Assassination trilogy, Hitman 3 promises more ways than ever to dispose of your enemies while playing as a bald guy in a really sharp suit. The game’s expansive sandbox of abilities, gadgets, weapons and open-ended levels promises near-endless replayability, giving you the freedom to sneak toward your target unnoticed or get things done with pure firepower. And with PlayStation VR support, Hitman 3 will let you get immersed in IO’s addictive and oftentimes wacky world of assassinations like never before.
Release date: January 20
The Medium ($49.99; microsoft.com)
One of the first games that looks like a true next-generation experience, The Medium is a survival horror adventure with a unique “dual-reality” system that lets you seamlessly switch between two entirely different game worlds. You’ll swap between the physical and spiritual realms with zero load times in sight, which you’ll need to do in order to solve puzzles and unravel the mysteries behind a haunted hotel. Launching on Xbox Game Pass and a console exclusive for Xbox Series X and S, The Medium could be one of the first true killer apps for Microsoft’s new hardware.
Release date: January 28
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury ($59.99; amazon.com)
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury finally brings one of the best — and most underrated — Super Mario games to the Nintendo Switch. One of the best games on the ill-fated Wii U, 3D World combines the best of 2D and 3D Mario games with compact, gorgeous levels and unique mechanics (where else can you play as Mario in a cat suit?) that you can enjoy with up to three other players. The Switch version introduces the new Bowser’s Fury expansion, which looks to add even more fun and challenging levels to what’s already one of the best modern platformers out there.
Release date: February 12
Outriders ($59.99; amazon.com)
Outriders looks like Gears of War meets Destiny in the best way possible. This game combines tight third-person shooting with fun otherworldly abilities, all wrapped up in a deep customization system that lets you constantly grow more powerful with new gear. Featuring four unique classes — the powerful Devastator, the blazing Pyromancer, the dodgy Trickster and the versatile Technomaster — and support for three-player online co-op, Outriders could very well be your next online shooter addiction.
Release date: April 1
Deathloop ($59.99; amazon.com)
Developed by the team behind the beloved Dishonored series, Deathloop is a time-bending first-person shooter set in a vibrant noir world. Armed with a variety of cool weapons and abilities, you’ll have full freedom to tackle every encounter as you see fit as you shoot, teleport and psychically slam enemies through walls during every “loop.” Launching exclusively for PS5 and PC, Deathloop will take full advantage of Sony’s new DualSense controller to allow you to physically feel your gun jamming or hear nearby mines from the gamepad’s speaker.
Release date: May 21
Far Cry 6 ($59.99; amazon.com)
Far Cry 6 is the only game on this list starring Giancarlo Esposito as its main villain, so that instantly makes it worth paying attention to. The latest entry in Ubisoft’s long-running first-person shooter series challenges you to liberate the war-ravaged island of Yara, as dictator Anton Castillo (played by Esposito) looks to maintain order by any means necessary. This should set the stage for another few dozen hours of the fun open-world action we’ve come to expect from Far Cry, with a mix of stealth, guns-blazing and vehicular combat. You can even recruit a deadly weiner dog to your cause this time around (no, we’re not kidding).
Release date: 2021
Back 4 Blood ($59.99; amazon.com)
If you have fond memories of mowing down zombies with friends in the Left 4 Dead series, Back 4 Blood is for you. A spiritual successor developed by Turtle Rock Studios — the same team behind the L4D games — Back 4 Blood is a four-player cooperative shooter that challenges you and your friends to take on a monstrous breed of enemy known as the Ridden. Like Left 4 Dead before it, Back 4 Blood constantly adapts to how you’re playing to make each play-through feel unique and memorable, and its co-op story campaign and competitive multiplayer should keep zombie-slaying fans occupied for months.
Release date: June 22
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga ($49.94, originally $59.99; amazon.com)
We’ll always take more Lego Star Wars, and the latest “brickified” take on the galaxy far, far away is looking like the biggest one yet. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga allows you to play through an adorable retelling of the entire nine-film storyline — from The Phantom Menace through The Rise of Skywalker — complete with gorgeous new visuals and more of the same great humor developer Traveler’s Tales is known for. The Skywalker Saga also looks like the most ambitious Lego Star Wars game we’ve ever seen in terms of gameplay, with epic space battles, intense third-person shootouts, expansive levels and hundreds of playable characters.
Release date: Spring 2021
Mass Effect Legendary Edition ($59.99; amazon.com)
One of the most beloved role-playing game trilogies of all time is finally getting a proper remaster for modern consoles and PCs. Mass Effect Legendary Edition brings the first three installments in this epic saga together in a single package (we don’t talk about Mass Effect: Andromeda), complete with all previously released downloadable content and visual and performance enhancements. For those new to the saga, get ready for a playable space opera with gripping characters, frenetic and highly customizable third-person combat and interactive dialogue that allows you to shape the story of your own Commander Shepard. And if you’re a returning veteran, look forward to doing your calibrations in higher fidelity than ever before.
Release date: Spring 2021
Halo Infinite ($59.99; amazon.com)
Originally slated to launch alongside the Xbox Series X in late 2020, Halo Infinite is now set to release a full year later during the 2021 holiday season. This ambitious new entry in Microsoft’s flagship first-person shooter looks to bring expansive open-world gameplay to the mix while retaining the fun sandbox of weapons and addictive competitive multiplayer that has made Halo a household name. Infinite’s initial gameplay reveal was met with a mixed reaction (to say the least), so here’s hoping 343 Industries can properly polish things up for launch — especially as it coincides with the Halo franchise’s 20-year anniversary.
Release date: Fall 2021
Resident Evil Village
Resident Evil 7 marked a return to old-school survival horror while taking Capcom’s beloved franchise in some exciting new directions, and Resident Evil Village looks to continue that momentum. This first-person romp drops protagonist Ethan Winters into a treacherous gothic village filled with werewolves, vampires and a seemingly villainous new take on series mainstay Chris Redfield. Resident Evil Village’s snowy horror dystopia should make for a nice showcase for the PS5 and Xbox Series X, and we’re champing at the bit to see how its mysterious story plays out.
Release date: 2021
Gotham Knights is a co-op superhero action romp that puts the Bat-family front and center. In a world where Bruce Wayne has seemingly died, Batgirl, Robin, Nightwing and Red Hood must team up to save Gotham from the dangerous Court of Owls. Gotham Knights looks like it’ll retain much of the tight superhero brawling from the Batman: Arkham games but with a multiplayer role-playing twist complete with exciting team-up attacks and tons of customization options for making your hero look and feel truly your own.
Release date: 2021
Cyberpunk 2077 ($49.99; originally $59.99; amazon.com)
We’re being a bit cheeky here, but 2021 could be the year that Cyberpunk 2077 finally lives up to its full potential. After an infamously disastrous launch plagued by especially bad performance issues on the PS4 and Xbox One, developer CD Projekt Red is promising two major patches at the start of the year to help the game run better on older hardware. That’s on top of the PS5 and Xbox Series X upgrade that’s planned for 2021, which should hopefully bring the game more in line with its impressive PC counterpart for those on the latest consoles. We’ve seen plenty of games recover from bad launches and evolve into something truly great, so here’s hoping Cyberpunk can follow suit.