It’s time to share our Best Games of 2021 list, which are also the official nominations for Wccftech’s Best Game of the Year award.
2021 was hardly one of the best years ever when it comes to game releases, particularly due to the many delays that hit hugely anticipated projects like Horizon Forbidden West, God of War Ragnarok, and several others. Even so, many great games did release during the year that just went by, some of which sadly couldn’t make this best games of 2021 list. We settled on eight picks plus an equal amount of honorable mentions. Make sure to vote your favorite in the poll!
Resident Evil Village (9.0)
CAPCOM’s first entry on this Best Games of 2021 list is the follow-up to Resident Evil VII. Village incorporated that game’s foundation while adding more action and variety. The publisher announced to have sold over five million units less than six months after launch, and our reviewer Nathan Birch certainly enjoyed his playthrough.
Resident Evil Village is a wild, thrilling ride across seemingly every horror genre and idea that happened to pass through the mad minds at Capcom. Not every aspect of the game is perfect, but its highs are very high and solid core mechanics and excellent presentation hold the grisly patchwork together. You may survive Resident Evil Village, but your thoughts will linger there long after you’ve escaped.
Psychonauts 2 (9.5)
Double Fine’s first game to be released under the Xbox Game Studios banner (despite the initial crowdfunding campaign on Fig) turned out to be as good as every fan of the original expected and then some, according to reviewer Rosh Kelly.
Psychonauts 2 is a comedy game at its heart. It doesn’t take itself or the genre too seriously, which lets it do some incredible things. The platforming is top-notch, the story is witty, silly, and fascinating, and an adventure as bizarre as the name suggests. Since its release, there has been a cult surrounding the first Psychonauts, and it deserved that praise. The sequel builds on it, making it as fun as fans expected and as strange as newcomers hoped for. Psychonauts 2 delivers on an impossible promise with unfalteringly high quality and inspirational weirdness throughout.
Forza Horizon 5 (9.5)
It had been three years since the release of Forza Horizon 4. That game was already extremely well received, but Playground Games somehow still managed to surpass the already lofty expectations for this sequel set in Mexico, as Chris Wray explained in the review.
Forza Horizon 5 is yet another step up for the series and arguably the best racing game ever made. Offering a host of content across a fantastic representation of Mexico, its varied terrain and scenery, there’s so much to explore and race. A massive roster of cars will perform all of these, each feeling different from the others, with a variety of upgrade and tuning options almost matching those of simulation titles. While there are a few minor niggles here and there, they are nearly so small as to be hardly worth mentioning. All in all, it’s impossible not to recommend this for anybody, regardless of them being a fan of racing games or not, as this is that good.
Technically, this is the third title on this Best Games of 2021 list to be made by a Microsoft-owned studio, even though Bethesda had actually signed a timed deal with Sony for the PlayStation console exclusivity of Deathloop (and Ghostwire: Tokyo, which is due this year).
With Deathloop, Arkane Studios reinforced once again its unique position among triple-A game developers. While the game is more of a shooter than previous Arkane titles, the premise, setting, and gameplay formula all feature inspired twists that make it stand out in the genre and retain that immersive sim heritage the developer is known for.
The banter between main character Colt Vahn and Julianna Blake, the AEON’s program agent tasked with protecting the loop, is memorable thanks to the great voice acting performances. Additionally, once the game is over you can even decide to play as Julianna yourself and invade other players’ sessions in a 1v1 PvP mode.
Housemarque risked a lot by leaving arcade games behind for good. PlayStation 5 exclusive Returnal turned out to be so great that it might have all been worth it, though, and Sony clearly felt the same since they acquired the Finnish studio shortly after the game’s release. Here’s what Kai thought about it:
Returnal checks all of the marks for what a best-in-class roguelike should aim for: a gameplay loop that rewards the player for innovation and mastery, loot that can synergize to create some unstoppable character builds, and most importantly, weapons that simply feel right in the player’s hands. Without a doubt, Returnal is one of the finest PlayStation 5 exclusives available in 2021 and those that are eager for the next great challenge can find plenty to look forward to with Selene’s first steps onto the alien planet again and again.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (9.5)
Insomniac’s hot streak continued in 2021 with the latest installment in the Ratchet & Clank franchise. The developer’s output impresses for both quantity and quality, coming off hits like Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
Chris loved his time with the new PlayStation 5 exclusive franchise entry, as you can read below.
Through outstanding storytelling, exquisite visuals, and gripping gameplay, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart proves to be an engaging, fun, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable return to the series. It also offers the introduction to two brand new characters that could arguably be the protagonists of their own spin-off, or at least return to future entries in the series. For fans and new players alike, this is a game I would recommend for everybody and a true showing of the sort of titles we should expect for the new generation.
Monster Hunter Rise (8.6)
CAPCOM’s second title in our Best Games of 2021 list is, unsurprisingly, a new Monster Hunter title. Made with RE Engine specifically for the Nintendo Switch, which didn’t get the hugely popular Monster Hunter World, Monster Hunter Rise is also heading to the PC platform very soon. Meanwhile, here’s what Kai had to say about the version that launched on Nintendo’s hybrid console.
Despite my overflowing love for Monster Hunter World, I think Monster Hunter Rise might actually overtake it as my favorite original title in the series. The ways that Capcom has streamlined the onboarding and pre-hunt experiences to give players more time to focus on the actual hunt itself show that Capcom wants to respect the player’s time, especially when they’re trying to get three friends together for an afternoon of hunting. Minus the new Rampage quests and the obligatory few egg delivery quests in the hub, there’s nothing about Monster Hunter Rise that I can hate!
Metroid Dread (8.8)
MercurySteam’s Metroid Dread goes back to the 2D side-scrolling action that made the franchise great in the first place, and it does so spectacularly well, according to Rosh Kelly.
Metroid Dread is a fantastic game, filled with old-school Metroidvania fun and some new exciting inclusions as well. The EMMI hunting grounds are hands down some of the most innovative and exciting parts of the game and prove that Metroid still holds powerful sway over the genre it helped build. While it hasn’t taken on all the lessons from newcomers that have filled in since its absence, it doesn’t feel like an outsider looking in.