The best video games of 2021, and what to buy


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Resident Evil Village | PC, PS4, PS5, XBO, XBSX Drawing inspiration from the whole rambling universe of Resident Evil, Town is an anthology of terrifying puzzle rooms and monstrous battles, linked by a story that does its best to elevate the series’ filigree to morbid absurdity. Joyfully eerie and often grotesque, this new direction for the franchise manages to distinguish between haunting tension and conscious silliness.

Terror Metroid | Change With its subterranean mazes and satisfying progression, the Metroid 2D series planted seeds that blossomed into entirely new genres, but for 19 years we’ve only had Metroid-like and no actual Metroid. Fear is an incredible comeback for bounty hunter / space terminator goddess Samus Aran; a masterclass in the design that the series initiated, as well as a modernization of the genre, filled with exploratory epiphanies and tough fights.

Samus is back in the first original 2D Metroid since 2002.

Forza Horizon 5 | PC, XBO, XBSX Taking the series’ mix of adventure and automobiles through the streets, jungles and mountains of Mexico, Forza Horizon 5 is yet another flawless driving fantasy. It’s a more diverse and detailed playground than ever this time around, with the world’s most popular legal street racing festival now encompassing everything from hidden Inca temples to active volcanoes, but the emphasis on fun. , freedom and friends remains as captivating as ever.

Infinite halo | PC, XBO, XBSX With a campaign stronger than that of the series for 10 years, and with open world hooks that make it a platform for the next 10, Infinite halo is a return to relevance for one of the most influential shooters. The weapons, vehicles, and gear are all sublime, knotting in the sandbox is a great counterbalance to traditional linear missions, and outside of the campaign there’s a stellar (and free) competitive multiplayer sequel.

After a few missteps, Halo's solo is awesome again in Infinite.

After a few missteps, Halo’s solo is awesome again in Infinite.

Death loop | PS5 Like its predecessors Dishonored and Prey, Death loop is an “immersive simulation” that offers widely open worlds of clockwork for players to study and exploit with stealth, shooting and witchcraft. But, while repeating sections to get information is an informal tenant of these games, Death loop codifies this behavior with a touch inspired by time manipulation. Add in some Bond-meets-Tarantino flair and loads of personality, and you’ve got a gripping Groundhog Day kill streak.

For the connoisseur

Digital stores are full of indies and smaller-scale dishes that you won’t find in the retail space, which in many ways exceed their big-budget contemporaries in vision and innovation. Here are the best of 2021.

Psychonauts 2 | PC, PS4, XBO, XBSX Intelligent and legitimately funny, Psychonauts 2 is a long-awaited sequel that picks up exactly where the 2005 original left off. With a fun 3D platform and wacky yet sensitive mental health-inspired worlds, it’s like a CG artistic feature film comes to life.

Psychonauts 2 has a fancy, elevated mid-2000s vibe.

Psychonauts 2 has a fancy, elevated mid-2000s vibe.

It takes two | PC, PS4, PS5, XBO, XBSX Strictly requiring two players, It takes two explores the failures of a divorcing couple’s relationship through rapid-fire cooperative tasks, albeit with a lot more whimsy and fun than you might think. A must have game for lovers of couch co-op.

Loop hero | PC, switch It may sound old school, but Loop hero combines some of today’s hottest genres (deckbuilding, roguelites) with a delightfully original horror tale for an experience you can obsess over for hours, with just the right amount of tension and surprise.

Loop Hero is a game of unexpected depth and storytelling.

Loop Hero is a game of unexpected depth and storytelling.

Axiom Verge 2 | PC, PS4, switch Quite remarkable considering that it is the work of several years of one person, Axiom Verge 2 is a pixelated transhumanism adventure that will appeal to fans of Castlevania and Metroid, but its Alternate Lands and satisfying upgrades give it a vibe of its own.

The door of death | PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, XBO, XBSX Borrowing from both Zelda and Souls playbooks, The door of death sees a daily grim reaper thrown into a world without death when one of their quarries unexpectedly goes missing. Dark, charming and with a razor sharp fight.

I can't say harvesting souls like a bow-wielding raven was high on my wishlist this year, but Death's Door is phenomenal.

I can’t say harvesting souls like a bow-wielding raven was high on my wishlist this year, but Death’s Door is phenomenal.

Give games

It probably goes without saying, but if you are looking to buy games for a loved one, the first step is to find out what they want. If you can’t ask them directly, that means looking at what systems they use, what games they already have access to, and what they like to play.

For children in particular, some good screams 2021 not listed above include Shiny Diamond Pokémon Where Shiny pearl (on Switch), Ratchet & Clank: Rift apart (on PS5) or Hot Wheels Unleashed (above all). But many players will also withdraw a lot of miles from gift cards.

Ratchet & Clank is an exciting and colorful space adventure for tweens and more.

Ratchet & Clank is an exciting and colorful space adventure for tweens and more.

You can simply make them pay money to the account of their choice (Xbox, PlayStation Store, Nintendo eShop, Apple App Store, Steam Wallet) so that they can purchase digital games. But if they are playing a specific game, they might prefer that specific currency (Roblox, Minecraft, FIFA, Grand Theft Auto).

There are also a few good-value subscription services out there, and they work for the whole family, so even more bang for your buck. Apple Arcade provides access to loads of good quality, ad-free and game-free games on iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. Xbox Game Pass is for Xbox consoles or PCs, and gives you access to more awesome games than you could imagine playing in a year (including Forza, Halo and Psychonauts from the list above).

Another great 2021 game available on Game Pass is the Australian-made Artful Escape.

Another great 2021 game available on Game Pass is the Australian-made Artful Escape.

A word about the hardware

When it comes to machines that play video games, which aren’t computers or phones, here’s a look at what’s on the shelves in 2021 or what your family can already use.

The Nintendo Switch is the most popular console on the market today, and it’s easy to see why. It combines the rich history of Nintendo handheld consoles with big screen HD graphics and its own family games with the best indies and classics. The standard Change costs around $ 470 and includes everything you need to play on your laptop or connected to a TV. The kindest OLED switch is $ 540 and has a bigger, nicer screen. There is also a $ 330 Switch Lite, which is portable only and does not connect to a TV. All Switch models are currently in stock, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to buy one for a gift, but you would still be smart to do so ASAP.

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the Playstation 4 is getting a bit long in the tooth, but there are still plenty of new games available for that, as well as an incredible library dating back eight years. It would also make a great first console given the large number of games available, if you can find any of the older things in stock. Meanwhile, the Playstation 5 is a new and improved machine that costs $ 749. It can play all PS4 games as well as specific PS5 titles, so if you are buying games for a PS5 owner, be sure to check if there is a PS5 version available. As you may be aware, the PS5 in stock is extremely limited, so you may have to contact retailers, stay on top of online sellers, and cross your fingers to get one.

As with the PS4, older Xbox One systems are getting hard to find. But if you think about it, you might get a 2016 Xbox one s on the cheap, making it a great Game Pass console and 4K Blu-ray player. The most recent machine is the $ 749 Xbox x series, which is a powerful console for old and new games, but like the PS5 it is very rare, so the same retailer lawsuit advice applies. You might also consider the excellent $ 499 Xbox s series, which is no longer available and plays all of the most powerful games in the X series, just at lower visual fidelity. The other main tradeoff is that there is no disk drive; downloaded games only.

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