Games Inbox: What are the hottest video games for 2021?

The Tuesday Inbox has more suggestions for the hopefully inevitable The Mandalorian game, as one reader enjoys Super Star Wars on PS4.

To join in with the discussions yourself email [email protected]

Uncertain year
Thanks for all your content over Christmas and the new year GC, hope you and all the readers had a good one given the situation. I was particularly interested in your preview of 2021, given I wasn’t really sure what was coming out next/this year. Although, to be honest I’m still not sure what’s going on. As you said, many of these games are going to be delayed multiple times and probably most publishers have no idea how things are going to shake out in the end.

But looking at the list the hottest ones seem to be Horizon Forbidden West, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Resident Evil Village, Gotham Knights, and Hogwarts Legacy. Halo Infinite, Gran Turismo 7, and Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 as well, but those three have got delay written all over them from the start.

So what does that mean for 2021? Will we see more games than last year or even less? I think it’ll probably be about the same but there’s going to be a big problem when everything that was in production before the coronavirus is finished and out because I’m betting anything that was started in the last nine months is not going superfast.
Ansel

Festive gaming
I was recently lent a copy of The Last Of Us Part 2 by the head teacher of the school at which I work, and have been greatly enjoying playing through it over the festive period.

As someone who has been playing video games for many years it does something which I have found that all great games do, which is to make me think about the game even when not playing it. Films and TV have been largely put to one side for the moment as I have become so invested in the game and want to see it through before doing anything else.

A criticism which has been levelled at the game is that the combat is not as highly nuanced as the storytelling, and this got me thinking about difficulty settings, both in this game and generally. I have been playing The Last Of Us Part 2 on Survivor difficulty, which I have found allowed me to appreciate the level design and enemy artificial intelligence much more than a lower difficulty might do, as simply blasting through a level is impossible.

I feel similarly about the mainline Uncharted games, which I have all completed on Crushing difficulty, finding them all to be an engrossing challenge requiring careful thought and strategy at this difficulty setting.

The experience of playing The Last Of Us 2 on Survivor difficulty has been incredibly tense at times and reminds me very much of Resident Evil 4, my favourite game of all time. It occurred to me that this might make an interesting Hot Topic: what difficulty setting do you normally play games at, and what games can feel like completely different experiences when the difficulty is altered?

Having just read your games of the generation article, I was surprised to see The Last Of Us Part 2 omitted, but it did occur to me that your aim may have been to include as many different types of game as possible rather than multiple similar games by any one developer, e.g. Uncharted 4 is there but no The Last of Us 2, while Bloodborne is included but no Dark Souls 3.

Thank you to GC and all the readers who contributed articles over the festive period. Great reads every day and always my go to place for mature and diverse opinion.
ameisa (PSN ID)

GC: It was only our second favourite game of last year, so making the top 20 of the generation was always going to be difficult.

Flat circle
Happy new year GC and to all its readers and contributors. Here’s to 2021! I hope everybody has had a great time over the Christmas period and enjoyed yourselves with lots of gaming time? Your features/gaming articles over the Crimbo festive period was also very much appreciated GC, thank you! (Also, it was really nice to see family and friends Zoom/Facetime videos to me of the opening of the PlayStation 5s I sorted out for them to see my grandson and friends’ children opening their new consoles on the big day, not having a clue they was going to get one!)

To be fair, I can’t really see this year being so big with the gaming news compared to last year? What with no new consoles being released (except Playdate?) and surely nobody’s going to follow CD Projekt Red’s mistake this year?

My biggest surprise over the festive season was playing Super Star Wars on the PlayStation 4. I got it half price for £3.99 on PSN. I didn’t realise how time flies by as this game was originally released back in 1992 on the 16-bit SNES. I had it back then as well, but nothing’s changed at all, it’s still as rock solid as ever, even on this 2015 port version. (Good job I’ve got some cheats ready from YouTube!)

Considering its age of over 28 years you really do have to appreciate what LucasArts achieved back in the day, it really was cutting edge stuff for its time. Flying an X-wing over the Death Star and flying Luke’s landspeeder over Tatooine, towards the sandcrawler in Mode 7, etc. and the musical scores was just like being back at the cinema. Also. I completely forgot the original publisher was JVC. How times have changed.
JAH

GC: Learning from past mistakes is not a forte of most video game companies; there’s no guarantee Cyberpunk 2077 will change anything.

Second chances
So, it’s out with 2020 and in with 2020 Part 2: Lockdown Strikes Back. This isn’t the place to complain about the wider woes with the world but clearly all this is not good for video games either. Games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Avengers were almost finished before the coronavirus and they still became nightmares at launch, so now imagine what games are going to be like that were further out and have had to be made while everyone’s working from home.

I foresee more delays, more bugs, and probably less games overall. On the flipside, I expect to see more things like Among Us, where an old game that got overlooked when it first came out gets another chance in the limelight. I’ve no idea what it’ll be (somehow I doubt this will be Nioh’s big chance for major success) but Among Us proves it is possible to have ‘new’ games come out without anything new actually coming out.
Barney

Legion of complaints
I have to admit I gave up over Christmas, playing Watch Dogs: Legion that is. I know the game hasn’t made much of an impression but I was hoping it’d be all right given I really liked Watch Dogs 2 and the London setting would be somewhere I knew for once, instead of yet another American city.

Needless to say the Ubisoft version of London is nothing like the real thing. It might look like it, mostly, but the whole way people are portrayed feels like someone trying to recreate British culture after having only had it vaguely explained to them by someone else, instead of having any real experience themselves.

What really upset me though is that the game doesn’t play as well as the second game. The hacking is dumbed down, there’s not really any proper puzzles, and nothing requires any real effort or thought to beat. Watch Dogs 2 was a really good game with a decent story and actual characters, rather than the randomised stats that pass for them in Legion. A real step down in my opinion and probably the end of the series now.
Justin

Just like the games
I ended up watching the whole of The Mandalorian over Christmas and now I understand why people are saying it’d be so perfect for turning it into a game. The second season in particular is structured exactly like a video game: go here to get this thing, do a fetch quest for someone and get a vague clue of where to get next. I’ve not seen a film/TV show more influenced by video games – without being about them – since the horribly underrated Edge of Tomorrow.

I’m sure everyone is imagining some massive big budget game, and that would be great, but ironically it’d probably work best as a fairly low tech Metroidvania, maybe something like Ori but with a different visual style.

It was also great to see so many references to Star Wars things that only existed in games, from the kryat dragon Easter egg to a cut scene from Dark Forces being part of the making of documentary! I really liked Fallen Order and Squadrons so here’s hoping EA can take advantage of this unexpected Star Wars renaissance.
Cranston

Cross-gen sound
Can anyone recommend a good headset that works with both the PlayStation 4 and 5? My PlayStation 4 headset is falling apart and although I don’t yet own a PlayStation 5, I’d like to get one that I can still use when I do.
drlowdon

GC: We find the Turtle Beach Stealth line are good for cross-gen use, but they seem to be out of stock at the moment.

Mobile extras
After clearing a load of space off my phone, I was finally able to update Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, which I hadn’t really played after downloading it (for some bizarre reason, it took nearly three years to reach the Hong Kong play store).

I have to say, there’s a surprising amount of content in the mobile version, considering it’s free to play. Sure, there are the usual freemium tropes, like waiting (or paying) for unlocks and multiple ways they try to encourage you to spend real money.

But there are a few things that the mainline games really need to add, which exist in the mobile version:

1. Complete (optional) touchscreen controls. On the Switch, you can only use the touchscreen for entering text, but imagine the efficiency of the touchscreen if played in handheld mode.

2. A proper sense of progression. There are daily and special goals, character levelling, and non-player character levelling which would give the mainline game more structure.

3. A flexible inventory. You can hold far more items, fish, etc. before it becomes full. And when it does, selling the items is instant, without needing to worry about the Nook shop being open.

4. Random players appearing. You get to trade gifts, buy and sell things on a virtual market stall, allowing you to set prices.

Let’s hope Nintendo are generous to incorporate these things in a New Horizons update. After all, we did pay full price for it!
ttfp saylow (gamertag)/SW-5758-6539-2383

Inbox also-rans
Just wondering if you played Hivebusters? I actually thought it was much better then Gears 5 and even tho’ it can be beaten in three hours or so, it was also more memorable.
Jez

GC: The DLC? No, we haven’t had a chance, although we have heard good things.

I have to ask this every year but when is the Readers’ top 20 going to run in the Inbox? It’s one of my favourite parts of GC and I’d hate to miss it.
Mitchell

GC: As usual, it’ll be the last week of January.

This week’s Hot Topic
As the first Hot Topic of the new year, the choice of subject matter for this weekend’s Inbox is pretty obvious: which game are you looking forward to most in 2021?

If you’re not sure what’s likely to come out, you can find our list of upcoming titles in our preview of 2021. You can also suggest other games but only if there’s good reason to expect them to be released this year (so no Half-Life 3 or Elder Scrolls 6).

Why are you looking forward to your pick so much and do you think it’ll be a major hit? What other video game releases or events are you looking forward to in 2021 and do you think this will be a good year for gaming overall?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

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