Here are Destructoid’s most anticipated games of 2021

It’s all the games that were supposed to launch in 2020!

It’s that wonderful time of year when the gaming industry stops looking back at the year that’s just ended and starts looking ahead to the next 12 months of exciting new titles and a myriad of sequels. Despite all the problems the world encountered in 2020, last year saw the release of some outstanding titles across all platforms. Not only did we get our first true VR masterpiece, but a plucky little Early Access title dominated our attention in the back half of the year.

We can only hope to repeat the successes of last year in 2021. Many of this year’s biggest titles were delayed from last year, and there is a good chance the ripple effect of work-from-home orders may create a sparse release calendar down the line. But right now, we remain hopeful for a year full of excellent games. Here now are the most anticipated games for 2021 as chosen by our Destructoid editors and contributors.

Chris Carter

If I google “Resident Evil Village,” images of Chris Redfield (nostalgia, check), werewolves, and spooky/fancy NPCs pop up. I think I’m going to love this one.

It’s only fitting that my most anticipated game of 2021 is a Resident Evil joint, as the RE3 remake took that honor last year. I’ll fully admit that Elden Ring would have taken it if it had a firm release date, but my mind went to Resident Evil next. And more importantly, it went to pondering about where Capcom could take the series.

While I loved RE7 for the same reasons as everyone else (including its uncanny ability to break the chains of the past), I get a feeling that this one is going to be a little more silly: and that’s exactly what I want. I crave that Chris Redfield-led, overarching connection to the greater insane mythos. I also have a feeling that if they go overboard with it, it’s going to be divisive.

I say bring it on that uncertainty, 2021. I’m already fully armored up from dealing with 2020.

Fantasian

CJ Andriessen

Last year I wrote about my excitement for No More Heroes III following an outstanding trailer that dropped at the Game Awards in 2019. I’m still very excited for it, and the gameplay footage seen in the last trailer released left me salivating in anticipation. Thankfully, someone else has that title covered, allowing me the opportunity to talk about a game most people probably haven’t thought about in years. It’s a mobile game exclusive to Apple Arcade from Mistwalker Corp. It’s called Fantasian, and it might just be the most visually engaging title in development right now.

There is very little information out there about it. It looks to be an RPG that harkens back to Hironobu Sakaguchi’s roots working with the Famicom/NES. Throwback RPGs are fine and dandy, dandy and fine, but what is really drawing me to this title is its art direction. Mistwalker is building the world of Fantasian out of real-life dioramas. You’re exploring a world of miniatures, and I’m dying to get my hands on it. Just last week, Mistwalker confirmed it’s aiming for a 2021 release.

With a release planned within the next 12 months, hopefully, more people will start to pay attention to it. Whenever it’s ready, I’ll be ready. Check out the Mistwalker Twitter feed to see more of this inspired work-in-progress.

As a runner-up, I’m also excited for whatever the hell it is Nintendo will release to celebrate the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda.

Jonathan Holmes

Last year, CJ claimed No More Heroes III as his most anticipated game of 2020, and I echo everything he said there about Travis Touchdown’s potential next adventure. Too bad about this entire year though, right? While we did get a surprise appearance from Travis (in the form of a Mii costume) in Smash Bros. Ultimate and ports of No More Heroes 1 & 2 on Switch this year, No More Heroes III didn’t quite release as planned in 2020, despite its developer’s valiant attempts to stroke it to completion. 

Still, I’ve never been more primed and ready for a game. Replaying the first two titles in the series on a portable reminded me of so many of the things I love about the franchise, scratching a particular itch that no other games can. I’ve also heard through the grapevine that, in terms of both its story and its creative team, this new numbered title in the series will be more of a sequel to Travis Strikes Again than anything else. That news really got my blood pumping. I know a lot of you slept on that unnumbered spin-off title, but it’s host to some of Suda51’s very best writing, which is saying a lot. If No More Heroes III is just as well written but plays like the first two games, then it really will be a Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus-style best of both worlds scenario

Viva Santa Destroy!

Elden Ring

Jordan Devore

With my would-be selection Resident Evil Village already covered by Chris, my mind goes to a few upcoming (hopefully 2021) games that are understandably commanding high expectations despite not having much to say or show yet: Breath of the Wild 2, God of War: Ragnarok, and Elden Ring. Of those picks, I feel like the latter is the haziest to conceptualize – and that aura absolutely works in its favor.

When I get this amped up while looking at probably phony concept art or wild fan-written theories, I’m either thinking about the next From Software action-RPG or a mind-bending new Hideo Kojima game. Few other creators make me dream about the possibilities with such an all-consuming obsession.

It had been months since I last saw the Elden Ring trailer, but that’s all I needed – it’s my #1. As much as I enjoyed ending 2020 with Bluepoint’s Demon’s Souls remake, I’m ready for the great unknown.

Josh Tolentino

Like it or not, the problems of 2020 remain problematic in 2021, which means it’s still a bit tough to think more than a couple of months ahead. And as the recent saga of Cyberpunk 2077 has proven, getting excessively hyped over something that’s not out yet is also a treacherous path. 

That’s why I’m keeping things simple this year and choosing to get hyped…for a game I’m already technically playing: Sakura Revolution, the gacha spin-off of Sakura Wars developed by Fate/Grand Order developer Delightworks. The game went live on December 15th, and I’ve been playing it. It’s not bad! 

And because it’s not bad, I’m hoping that despite the lack of any official announcement, Sega is planning an eventual localization and global release. Just as FGO has opened all manner of doors for getting Fate fandom to a wider audience, I’m hoping Sakura Revolution will serve as a gateway to the better and deeper development of Sakura Wars in the 21st century. 

Adzuken

I actually had to look up a list of expected 2021 releases to figure out what I was excited for. The first game that came to mind was Golden Light, an indie game in Steam Early Access that I own but haven’t played because I’m waiting for the full release. I then thought of the new Pocky & Rocky/Kiki Kaikai that was announced, but we know very little about it aside from the fact that it may be a remake/reimagining of the first SNES title.

However, one title stood out from the list of games that really gripped me by the heart, and that is Evil Genius 2: World Domination. The first game kept me occupied in my adolescent years while I waited for Half-Life 2 to finally be released, and I loved it even more when I played it again in my adult years. Its hands-off Dungeon Keeper-esque gameplay may not have been for everyone, but its wonderful atmosphere, its sense of style, and its wacky humor poked me in all the right spots.

For Evil Genius 2, I’m hoping for something of a do-over. While I’d argue that Evil Genius hasn’t aged all that badly, it wasn’t exactly perfect to begin with. Certain places could have used a bit more love and imagination, and the amount of downtime needed to be reduced. Admittedly, my expectations are cautiously low, but I feel like it’s a formula that is easy to improve and hard to completely screw up, so hopefully, my plans for world domination will go swimmingly this year.

Darren Nakamura

There’s a trend in board games, and especially those that are brought into existence via Kickstarter, where a game will get tons of plastic and cardboard bits and bobs, taking up a bunch of space and costing an astronomical amount of money. The thing is, more often than not, the actual game underneath all the dressing isn’t worth all the fuss. Gloomhaven is one of the few exceptions, with a gameplay loop that is inherently interesting, regardless of its size.

It came out in 2017, and my group played it for about two years before finishing the base campaign in the box. Then there was the overly complicated expansion Forgotten Circles and the more beginner-friendly standalone Jaws of the Lion, but what I’ve been eagerly anticipating since the first rumblings of it is the sequel, Frosthaven.

It’s set to be just as absurdly large, able to sustain a campaign group for years on its own, but it is also trying to fix some of the parts of the original that didn’t work quite so well (personal quests and retirement will be less swingy and make more sense this time around). It’s also introducing new mechanics that make the city’s progression a lot deeper than there was in the first game.

Even without any of that, I’d be happy enough to just take more of the card-comboing action of Gloomhaven‘s system. The fact that it’s trying to be that and more has me giddy with anticipation. I want to play in that world more, and I want to discover its secrets.

Patrick Hancock

You know, when I opened this post to put in my answer, I came in prepared to write about Hitman 3. I played through Hitman 2 for over 100 hours last year, and I think the team at IO absolutely crushed it. And I am still very much looking forward to Hitman 3, but as I was scrolling through this post, it dawned on me (after seeing Darren’s image, to be quite frank): We’re getting a new Monster Hunter this year

And in fact, the Hitman and Monster Hunter series both appeal to me in the same way: pure gameplay mechanics that are incredibly refined and allow for a ton of player freedom. The creativity of a Hitman mission and the planned approach with crazy armor sets and weapons of a Monster Hunter hunt both get right to my core and appeal to why I love this medium. They keep me coming back and excited to see what will be thrown my way next. 

So I guess now my answer is both? CJ, can I do that? If it’s cheating, then just call me Billy Mitchell. But both of these games look to have refined what makes them masters of their genres, and I can’t wait to tackle both. 

Chris Moyse

I have been known, away from the shiny spotlight of the AAA scene, to herald the titles that are quietly beavering away in the background. And in 2020, my newest obsession became FYQD Studios’ dynamic action-adventure Bright Memory: Infinite. Falling in love with its wild and crazy action and bombastic weather effects, I took a chance on its 30-minute pseudo-prologue Bright Memory and got a real kick out of it.

Bright Memory: Infinite, afforded the resources of a souped-up PC, a next-gen console, and a higher budget, could prove a real sleeper hit – the kind of release that no-one spreads a murmur about, then turns heads en masse come launch day. Almost entirely the work of a single designer, artist, and coder, Bright Memory: Infinite -at the very least – is sure to inspire a generation of indie developers on what is capable with our sparkling new technology.

Oh, and the fact that it is essentially “Battle Angel Alita: The Game”… That’s real important too. 

Nier PS4

Anthony Marzano

I was and still am a latecomer to the Taro train. I hopped on at the insistence of TheBlondeBass, a member of the community here with whom I share a great deal of common interests. When I first played Nier: Automata, it was like a curtain had been pulled off of my eyes. Here were the stories that I longed to see in video games, bleak, almost nihilistic commentaries on the nature of humanity and war told through a peculiar lens. Yes, it was similar to themes presented in Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid series, but Automata played it a bit differently and much darker. It reveled in the joy of breaking my heart and crushing my soul, and I loved every minute of it. So when a remake of the first Nier game was announced, I was ready to punch my ticket for another trip on the Taro train with express service to sad town.

Even though I’m expecting much of the same in terms of theme and story beats from Automata, I’m still excited to see the foundation that was laid a decade ago for what turned out to be one of my favorite games from the eighth-generation. Is it odd to say that my most anticipated game of 2021 is a remaster of an 11-year-old game? Sure, but it’s also going to be nice to play the game which is both hard to find anymore and released during the shaky seventh-gen development cycle on my modern-gen computer. Bring on the sadness!

Final Fantasy XVI

Whispering Willow

In recent years I’ve been more inclined to let myself off the hype train and just let myself be surprised by games. If there was a big game on the horizon I felt any kind of hype for, it’s probably Final Fantasy XVI.

And that’s not thanks to FFXV or FFVIIR, but the leadership of Naoki Yoshida and the consistent quality of Final Fantasy XIV since he took the reins. Since then, FFXIV has become the beloved entry point in the franchise for a new generation of fans. I’ve always wondered what a single-player entry of Final Fantasy would feel like if it was directed, produced, and developed by the people behind the MMOs.

Now I get to see how that pans out. And it’s my hope that people that have sat it out on the MMOs get a taste of what they’ve been missing and fans that only know XIV get the push they need to try games outside its online experience.

CJ Andriessen
Just what the internet needs: yet another white guy writing about video games.