Back again with one of my favorite things to do: writing up a list of stuff I’m excited about! 2021 has been an incredible year for games, from Ratchet & Clank to Returnal to Halo to Deathloop and a lot more that are swirling around my brain right now. I had a such a great time experiencing the creative genius from so many talented teams around the world. It’s always a pleasure for me because there’s nothing more satisfying that enjoying yourself and getting lost in the worlds other humans created. I always stand by my moniker that there’s never been a bad year for games. Ever.
With all that said, the year is coming to an end, and while I’m also busy writing up my GOTY list this year, I took a little break to look ahead to next year, and everything I’m most looking forward to (hopefully) playing bar any delays. Damn you delays! Let’s get into it.
10. Oxenfree II: Lost Signals
I adored the first Oxenfree game to the point that it easily made my top 10 games list in 2016, and that was a big year for games in general. It’s hard to put my exact finger on what it is about the game that compelled me so much, but I think one of the key factors is just how real and nuanced characters act and speak to each other. Their conversations and interactions felt so natural that I couldn’t help but fall in love and get sucked into the story. It’s a trippy sci-fi teen thriller, and if the awesome folks at Night School Studio can replicate and build upon that in this sequel, I think I’m in for a good time.
This continues to look better and better every time I see it. I’m a huge, huge fan of games like Limbo, Inside, Little Nightmares and other 2D adventures that go to darker places. This seems to check that off. I’m intrigued by the premise: a family of some kind seeking help or escape against the backdrop of an…alien invasion? And it looks gorgeous to boot? And there’s a doggo!? Count me in.
8. Gran Turismo 7
It’s been a long time since I’ve been properly excited by a racing game. I’ve played many throughout the years, last one being Forza Horizon 4. Before that was Need for Speed: Heat and a bit of Dirt 5. Now I really enjoy those, don’t get me wrong. They’re all fun to play in their own right, but there’s something to be said about the closed circuit sim racer. While we’ve gotten games like Project CARS and Forza Motorsport 7, I just didn’t have the desire to play them. It’s been a long time since Gran Turismo Sport, and while that’s another one I played a bit of, it didn’t scratch the itch I was looking for, namely, a dedicated campaign to play through and extensive customization. It’s improved a lot since launch, but I’m past the point of caring now. I’m ready for Gran Turismo to come back in a big way, to play a new GT and get lost in building up my licenses, rank, and racing ability. I’m hopeful that the time Polyphony has taken will take shape into something wonderful.
7. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d care about a Suicide Squad ever in my lifetime. But here we are. The biggest factor here is of course Rocksteady. The Arkham games are some of the best superhero games ever made, and to see this team tackle a Suicide Squad game…okay, you’ve got my attention. The biggest outstanding question for me was how the game plays, and this year’s Game Awards trailer looked legitimately excellent. A huge Metropolis to play around in, multiple playable characters each with their own unique personality, weapons and playstyles, and overall movement that looks smooth all add up to what I think is going to be one 2022’s best. I’m excited to face off against the Man of Steel.
I consider Arkane Studios to be one of the top developers in games today. That’s solidified more and more with every new release, from Dishonored and its sequel to Prey and this year’s Deathloop, they’ve proven time and again that they just ‘get it’. Deathloop is one of my favorite games this year and it feels like that quirkiness, charm and fun factor will very likely translate over to Redfall. I like anything to do with vampires. Throw me in a vampired-infested world designed by Arkane with loads of cool abilities and weapons and I’m going to be a very, very happy camper.
5. A Plague Tale: Requiem
A Plague Tale: Innocence made my top 10 list in 2019 because of its amazing combination of emotional and passionate storytelling, great character performances, gorgeous visuals, and tight pacing that showed Asobo knew exactly the kind of experience they wanted the player to have. It actually took me by surprise, because I wasn’t expecting it to be THAT good. It’s not the most mechanically challenging game, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m very excited to continue Amicia and Hugo’s story and see where their journey takes them next.
4. The Callisto Protocol
I’ve said this before but I’ll just say it again: this is a brand new horror game set in space…by the creators of Dead Space.
That’s literally all I need to hear. Dead Space is my favorite horror game of all time. Seriously, the original game is so well paced from start to finish that I still think about it any time ‘best games of all time’ conversations start happening. The necromorphs, the spaceship Ishimura, the variety of weapons at your disposal, level design, visuals, narrative…it’s all just incredibly well done. So in turn…if any of that can find its way here into a whole new universe, it’s going to be one hell of a ride. I’m bursting at the seams waiting for this. Now fingers crossed it makes next year folks.
3. Horizon Forbidden West
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. I mean come on, the game looks incredible every time we see it. I love the world Guerrilla built with this IP. It’s still a fascinating one; humanity falling in an old calamity while machines now roam the Earth, tending to its rebuilding. Aloy is such a great character too, full of charm, charisma and wit to stand toe to toe with some of my favorite protagonists in gaming. The new machines look amazing, the visuals are some of the best I’ve ever seen and the expansion of new gameplay mechanics like gliding, traversal and combat are all very exciting. Horizon Zero Dawn was my 2017 Game of the Year, so I can’t wait to see where Guerrilla takes this one.
This is a huge one. Let’s see where we stand. We’ve got Bethesda Game Studios, known for games like Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim and Fallout 3 and 4, spending years in a revamped engine on a whole new IP that’s sci-fi with aliens and your own ship and all the detail you’d expect from a Bethesda Game Studios. That is all *extremely my shit*. Yes, we haven’t seen gameplay yet, but the potential of what’s possible is easily enough to ramp this waaaayyy up on my most anticipated list. I’m expecting big things here and I’m chomping at the bit to finally see the game in action next Summer.
1. God of War: Ragnarok
Do I need to really expand on this? Hah!
God of War (2018) is legitimately one of my favorite games of all time. It was a herculean effort to reboot and re-imagine one of gaming’s best known action franchises and Sony Santa Monica absolutely nailed it. I had such a good time that I replayed it three times over already, and will probably put in another playthrough before Ragnarok hits. This year’s gameplay trailer got me salivating, and I’m just stoked to finally be able to experience the final chapter in this Norse saga after waiting for so long. Almost there BOY.