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Big in 2021: In-depth with the most anticipated games of the year

Big in 2021
(Image credit: Future)

If 2020 proved anything, it's that video games have an enormous capacity to bring us closer to those that we cherish, and keep us company through long periods of social isolation. As we continue to mitigate the pressures of the pandemic, it's clear that interactive entertainment will once again be a vital lifeline in 2021. Thankfully, there are plenty of exciting new games on the near horizon to keep us occupied, entertained, and in contact with our friends and family. Big in 2021 is GamesRadar's exploration of the games that will shape the year to come. 

Throughout January, Big in 2021 will take you closer to the biggest and most exciting games of the year with all-new previews, hands-on reports, and exclusive developer interviews. We will also take you inside the releases that will define the conversation in 2021, check-in on the live service games that we can't seem to quit, and investigate the future of the industry now that the PS5 and Xbox Series X are ushering in a new generation of play. 

Be sure to check in with GamesRadar+ every day in January for the latest Big In 2021 features. You can bookmark this coverage hub so that you never miss an article, or look out for the Big in 2021 watermark on the homepage, and our Twitter and Facebook social pages. This is going to be one hell of a year for video games and we're going to cover it all as we explore what will be Big in 2021. 

Big in 2021: Games

Deathloop

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Big in 2021: Deathloop
Developer:
Arkane Lyon | Publisher: Bethesda 
Leading GamesRadar's Big in 2021 coverage is one of our most anticipated games of the year: Deathloop. This puzzling first-person shooter is brought to you by the team behind Dishonored 2, and it's promising to be a wild exploration of time loops and paranormal chaos. With eight targets to assassinate and only 24 hours to do it in, Deathloop is designed to be a game that you return to time and time again as you attempt to set off the perfect cycle of death and destruction. We sat down with game director Dinga Bakaba and art director Sebastian Mitton for an exclusive look at this 2021 release.

Back 4 Blood

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Big in 2021: Back 4 Blood
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios | Publisher: Warner Bros. 

Left 4 Dead kinda sorta lives. The studio behind the hit co-op shooter is back, this time with a spiritual successor that's attempting to take Left 4 Dead's frantic action and drag it kicking and screaming into the next generation. We went hands-on with Back 4 Blood ahead of its release later this year and found it to be a faithful and familiar return for Turtle Rock Studios. Click the link above to read our full impressions. 


Monster Hunter Rise

(Image credit: Capcom)

Big in 2021: Monster Hunter Rise
Developer: In-house | Publisher: Capcom

Monster Hunter has enjoyed a spike of interest in recent years thanks to the seismic impact of Monster Hunter World. Capcom is riding this wave right back to where the series truly belongs – on handheld, so that the only thing stopping you from battling big beasts is your battery life. We went hands-on with Monster Hunter Rise ahead of its release on Nintendo Switch later this year and came away incredibly impressed by what we saw of it. 


Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart PS5

(Image credit: Insomniac)

Big in 2021: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart 
Developer: Insomniac | Publisher: SIE 
If you don't already have a DualSense controller in your possession now, you'll want one by the time Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart launches later this year. Insomniac Games is taking its penchant for delivering out of this world action, larger-than-life weapons, and best-in-class movement mechanics, and pushing it all into the next generation. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is going to be an unmissable adventure, one that simply wouldn't have been possible on prior PlayStation hardware. We spoke with creative director Marcus Smith and game director Mike Daly to learn more about this exciting new PS5 exclusive. 


Hitman 3

(Image credit: IO Interactive)

Big in 2021: Hitman 3
Developer: In-house | Publisher: IO Interactive

Agent 47 is back, and in his best adventure yet. At least, that's the feeling we had after getting an opportunity to play Hitman 3 ahead of its launch on January 20, 2021. IO Interactive is back with yet another series of intricately designed sandboxes, each designed to let you test out new and improved ways to take out high-value targets and generally role-play as the world's deadliest assassin. While we've only had a taste of what Hitman 3 will have to offer, our final preview of the game has left us eager for more. 


Gotham Knights

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Interactive)

Big in 2021: Gotham Knights
Developer: WB Games Montreal | Publisher: Warner Bros.

While the legacy of the Arkham games looms large, Warner Bros. Games Montreal is getting ready to unleash a bold new take on Gotham City in 2021. Gotham Knights is an action-RPG set in an open-world Gotham, throwing you into a city in turmoil following the death of the Batman. You'll be charged with investigating Bruce Wayne's murder, all as you attempt to protect Gotham from his greatest villains. We spoke with creative director Patrick Redding and executive producer Fleur Marty to learn more about this dynamic co-op game.   


Returnal

(Image credit: Housemarque)

Big in 2021: Returnal
Developer: Housemarque | Publisher: SIE
Housemarque is best known for its wickedly morish arcade shooters – the likes of Resogun and Alien Nation. In 2021, the studio is going to unleash its most ambitious and impressive game yet: Returnal. This upcoming PS5 exclusive is trying to blend the arcade sensibilities that have driven much of the studio's output with the structure of a challenging roguelike. The result is a mysterious sci-fi action thriller that we can't get enough of. We spoke with game director Harry Krueger and narrative director Gregory Louden to learn more.


Hogwarts Legacy

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Interactive)

Big in 2021: Hogwarts Legacy
Developer: Avalanche Software | Publisher: Warner Bros. 

This has been a long time coming. There has never been a Harry Potter game that has truly pulled us into the world of witchcraft and wizardry. That's what makes Hogwarts Legacy such an interesting proposition; it's an open-world RPG that will let us give shape to our own character and their proficiencies as a wizard, and give us the space to bring either order or chaos to the world of magic and mystery. For fans of Harry Potter, Hogwarts Legacy could well be a dream come true.  


Chorus

(Image credit: Deep Silver)

Big in 2021: Chorus
Developer: Fishlabs | Publisher: Deep Silver

One of the first games to debut during last year's slew of next-gen livestreams, Chorus is remixing old and new together for an arcade dogfighter sim dressed in shiny, ray-traced clothing. The upcoming sci-fi game is developer Fishlabs' big break into the mainstream space, but with decades' worth of experience in the space-combat sim scene, the studio couldn't be a more suitable candidate for pushing the genre into the next-generation. Follow the link for our full interview with the team to find out why this Chorus could be one worth singing along to.


Kena: Bridge of Spirits

(Image credit: Sony)

Big in 2021: Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Developer:
In-house | Publisher: Ember Labs
Kena: Bridge of Spirits immediately turned heads with its debut trailer at last year's PS5 showcase, boasting a gorgeously handcrafted animated style that we've not been able to stop thinking about since. OPM recently spoke with developer Ember Labs' creative leads, brothers Mike and Josh Grier, and has discovered that there's even more to Kena hidden beneath its mesmerising surface, just waiting to be discovered once launch day arrives this Spring.


Hood: Outlaws and Legends

(Image credit: Sumo Digital)

Big in 2021: Hood Outlaws and Legends
Developer:
Sumo Digital | Publisher: Focus Interactive

The Robin Hood myth has been given the next-gen treatment in Hood: Outlaws and Legends from Sumo Digital Newcastle. The upcoming PvEvP game sees you and your band of merry friends compete for Nottingham's treasure, with bloody, third-person action-combat that intends to pull none of its bowstrings. We spoke to Sumo Digital to find out more about its medieval take on the heist movie, so follow the link to discover why Hood: Outlaws and Legends should remain in your sights this year.


Season

(Image credit: Scavengers Studio)

Big in 2021: Season
Developer: In-house | Publisher: Scavengers Studio

Season blew everyone away at last year's Game Awards ceremony, with a drop dead gorgeous reveal trailer that gave us a tantalising taste of Scavengers Studio's first new title since 2018's Darwin Project. Set in a world on the brink of catastrophe, you'll cycle your way across stunning landscapes to learn more about the cultures and civilisations of that which is about to be lost forever. Sounds pretty powerful, right? Read our full interview with creative director Kevin Sullivan to find out more. 


Horizon Forbidden West

(Image credit: Sony)

Big in 2021: Horizon Forbidden West
Developer: Guerrilla Games | Publisher: SIE
Easily one of the most anticipated games of the year, Horizon Forbidden West intends to deliver everything you'd expect from a sequel to Guerrilla's 2017 PS4 hit; a bigger world, and more ways to explore it, but with Aloy still very much at its emotional core. The Dutch studio gave us a few more details about its approach to building the next chapter in its new PlayStation franchise, and how Aloy's journey to the west coast will be a ground-breaking shake-up for this upcoming cross-gen release.


Lake game

(Image credit: Gamious)

Big in 2021: Lake
Developer: Whitehorn Digital | Publisher: Gamious

The impact of finding a moment of calm in an otherwise chaotic world can not be overstated. Lake understands that, with this upcoming indie game looking to drop you into the shoes of a delivery driver in sun-soaked '80s Oregon. Designed to offer a little slice of life, you'll deliver parcels, meet the locals, and set your anxiety to one side as you get lost on a peaceful drive. Click the link above and meet the team behind one of 2021's most delightful indies. 


Little Devil Inside

(Image credit: Neostream)

Big in 2021: Little Devil Inside
Developer: In-house | Publisher: Neostream

Little Devil Inside is setting the benchmark high for the next generation of indie games. This mini Monster Hunter is designed to be a minimalist RPG, mining the depths of our collective imagination for a PS5 adventure we won't soon forget. Our sister publication Edge magazine spoke with the team behind this exciting 2021 release and you should click the link above to learn more about one of the most interesting looking independent releases of the year. 


Resident Evil 8

(Image credit: Capcom)

Big in 2021: Resident Evil 8
Developer: In-house | Publisher: Capcom
Resident Evil 8 is going to be one of the definitive games of the year. Of that much we're certain, following a brand new look at the game in action and an opportunity to experience its new audio and visual evolutions for ourselves. Resident Evil 8 is set to launch in May 2021 and it's clearly going to be a big step up over Resident Evil 7, not to mention include a number of fan favourite features from Resident Evil 4. If you want to learn more, click through to learn more about the 18 biggest changes on the way. 


GhostWire: Tokyo

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Big in 2021: GhostWire Tokyo
Developer
: Tango Gameworks | Publisher: Bethesda

Tango Gameworks might be best known for developing The Evil Within series of games, but the studio is leaving survival horror behind in 2021. GhostWire: Tokyo is the team's first foray into the realm of action, shifting gears into first-person and exchanging firearms for magic-infused fists in this delightfully strange new adventure. Karate, magic, and mysterious ghost tales collide for this awesome new PS5 exclusive set to land in late 2021.  


Halo Infinite

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Big in 2021: Halo Infinite
Developer: 343 Industries | Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Halo Infinite was a Big in 2020 title, but now it's even bigger in 2021. The game's delay means we'll get an even more polished take on the sixth installment in the Halo franchise that bridges the gap between console generations without sacrificing quality on any device. Expect beautifully rendered worlds, extra-crispy gameplay, and a new, fully customizable control scheme that will take Halo Infinite above and beyond our already lofty expectations. We wanted a Halo Infinite last year, but we'll get an even better Halo Infinite this year.

Big in 2021: Editorial

Venba

(Image credit: Visai Studios)

20 indie games to keep on your radar in 2021

The indie games scene went from strength to strength in 2020, and 2021 looks set to continue this momentum with a vast library of very promising upcoming titles. Spread across a wide variety of different genres, there are plenty of standout platformers, puzzlers, open-world adventures, and everything in between. This roundup of the 20 most exciting indie games to keep on your radar in 2021 serves as yet more proof that the indie space is fit to bursting with diverse and creative experiences to look forward to.


Halo Infinite

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

2021 will show us what the PS5 and Xbox Series X can really deliver

Traditionally, you're able to get a real sense of a new platform from the games that release within its first year on the market. To kick off Big in 2021, GamesRadar looks back at what recent console launches to see if we can learn any lessons from the past and apply them to the era being ushered in by the PS5 and Xbox Series X. One thing is for certain: with so many excellent looking games on the near horizon, 2021 is going to be a massive, consequential year for the video game industry.


Far Cry 6

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

10 video game trends to look out for in 2021

New consoles, evolving technology, and highly anticipated video games: 2021 is going to be a huge year for all that like to play. As a result, there's quite a bit to keep track of; sometimes it can be difficult to get a sense of where you should direct your attention and what you should focus on. If you're looking for a quick update on the key points of interest and discussion heading into this new year, we have put together this feature exploring the top 10 game trends to look out for in 2021. 


Horizon Forbidden West

(Image credit: Guerrilla Games)

New games for 2021

Throughout Big in 2021, GamesRadar is exploring what we believe to be the 21 most anticipated and exciting games of the new year – but they aren't the only releases on the schedule! No, there are plenty more games on the way and if you're looking to get a better sense of all of then, you'll want to click the link above and see the full slate of upcoming video games for the year.


Big in 2021 is the GamesRadar+ spring preview, covering the most exciting and anticipated video games of 2021. This coverage hub will be updated daily throughout January with all of our reporting, analysis, previews, and more. 

Josh West

Josh West is Features Editor of GamesRadar+. With over 10 years experience in both online and print journalism, Josh has written for a number of gaming, entertainment, music, and tech publications, including 3D Artist, Edge, gamesTM, iCreate, Metal Hammer, Play, Retro Gamer, and SFX. He holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Feature Writing, has appeared on the BBC and ITV to provide expert comment, written for Scholastic books, edited a book for Hachette, and worked as the Assistant Producer of the Future Games Show. In his spare time, Josh plays bass guitar and video games. Years ago, he was in movies and TV shows that you've definitely seen but will never be able to spot him in.