The best video games to play in 2021 – CNET

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Deathloop is the best reason to pick up a PS5 so far.

Bethesda

Metroid Dread and Deathloop have kicked off the 2021 end-of-year video game party, but it’s far from over. We have much to look forward to in the coming months: Halo Infinite and a couple of cheeky Pokemon remakes, among others. But there are many great 2021 games to look back on, or play now for the first time before the blizzard of new titles hits. 

Highlights include Ratchet and Clank, one of the few games that truly takes advantage of the PlayStation 5’s immense power, Resident Evil Village and, most recently, Psychonauts 2. This list of 2021’s best games will be updates as more outstanding games hit consoles and PCs.

Metroid Dread

Nintendo

It’s not every year we get a major new Metroid release. Thankfully, Metroid Dread lives up to the hype. Following the 2D Metroid story established by games like Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, Metroid Dread takes a shop-worn formula and elevates every element to new, perfectly polished levels. 

Metroid Dread is familiar, but it rules regardless.

Eastward

Available on: PC and Nintendo Switch

Chucklefish

Enjoy games like Zelda: A Link to the Past and Earthbound? Of course you do. You’re a reasonable adult with great taste.

In that case you have to try Eastward, a new top down game in the vein of every 16-bit RPG you ever loved. It’s slow-paced and takes a while to get going, but it’s well worth the investment. Just an incredibly beautiful and stylized experience. Gorgeous on every possible level.

Bethesda

Deathloop is the best reason there is right now to buy a PlayStation 5. It’s a murder puzzle game about waking up on a beach only to find you’re stuck in a timeloop — truly, an age old tale that never goes out of style. The combat system allows for thrilling experimentation, and excellent voice acting brings a memorable cast of characters to life. The star of the show, however, is the setting of Blackreef Island, which you’ll want to explore loop after loop.

Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium achieved many accolades upon its 2019 release, including a perfect score from GameSpot, many Game of the Year nominations and several Best Narrative wins. An expanded Final Cut launched on PC and PlayStation (4 and 5) earlier this year, adding extensive voice acting (as in, over a million words of voice acting) and extra quests. Xbox and Switch releases are planned for later this year.

Play this if you haven’t. 

Nintendo

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is the latest example of the Wii U being among the Switch’s most valuable assets. Like Mario Party 8, Bayonetta 2, Pokken Tournament and Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World was originally a Wii U game. It’s been brought to the Switch alongside the short-but-sweet Bowser’s Fury add-on, making a wonderful package for those who missed it the first time around. (Which is pretty much everyone.) 

EA

Night clubs within air-condition ducts. One-on-one Street Fighter-esque showdown with a squirrel. It Takes Two has it all. It follows Cody and May, a married couple with plans to divorce who find themselves trapped in the bodies of toys made in their image by their daughter. Y’know, typical stuff.

This is a game about spousal team work and problem solving, and as such is an exclusively two-player affair. If you’ve got a partner who’s around enough to play through 12 hours of co-op platforming, you’re sure to have a charming time with It Takes Two.

Capcom

If you’ve played a Monster Hunter game before, you very much already know what to expect with Rise. If you haven’t, it’s essentially a progression of boss fights against increasingly powerful monsters. Defeating them nets you better gear, which in turn allows you to hunt bigger monsters. Rise introduces mechanics that make combat more fluid, as well as a new roster of outstandingly designed monsters to hunt. There’s also lots here: You’ll spent well over 50 hours seeing everything the game has to offer.

BioWare

Mass Effect Legendary Edition takes the first three Mass Effect games, chucks in all of their DLC — that’s heaps of DLC — and turns it all into 4K. And although the resolution upgrade is significant, it’s not the only improvement. Options have been added, quality-of-life features have been included, and controls have been tightened, particularly in the original Mass Effect. 

If you’ve never played through the franchise before, this deal may be the best bang for your buck for 2021. There is a lot of Mass Effect here.

Double Fine

Psychonauts is a sleeper. Either you missed the original 2005 game, or you played it, loved it and have been awaiting a sequel ever since. A cool 16 years later, it’s here in all of its quirky, charming and creative glory. This vibrant platformer has been heaped with critical praise, and has been called one of 2021’s most memorable games. GameSpot called it an “astonishing achievement in nearly every regard,” and this astonishing achievement is an especially sweet deal for Xbox owners, who can play the game on Xbox Game Pass.

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