We’re slowly drawing the curtain on 2020 so it’s time to look at the 2021 games lineup for PlayStation and Xbox. Both companies came out swinging when they released their new consoles this fall. With a range of games developed to run and perform best on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, it’s an exciting time to play on either console.
2021 will open with a slew of new game releases on the horizon. Both consoles have a robust offering of AAA and indie games to look forward to. We take a look at the 2021 lineup for PlayStation and Xbox and see how the new year bodes for console players.
Sony appears to have a fairly defined schedule of how its early 2021 catalogue will unfold. While some highly anticipated games are still awaiting a definitive release date, there’s more than enough to look forward to.
- Nioh Collection (Feb. 5)
PlayStation 5 owners who may have missed out on Nioh and Nioh 2 will be able to get their hands on the PS5 remastered collection. The Nioh Collection includes the two titles and improves the gameplay experience by adding a targeted 120 FPS framerate and leveraging the console’s faster loading times.
- Persona 5 Strikers (Feb. 23)
The hack and slash Persona 5 spinoff is coming to the west in early 2021. Atlus announced that Persona 5 Strikers will be landing on PS4 and PS5. The game will continue the story of The Phantom Thieves as they set out on a road trip, until they get tangled in an investigation surrounding strange events across Japan.
- Returnal (Mar. 19)
Housemarque is debuting its third-person action/adventure game Returnal on PS5 in March. Returnal sees the studio taking a new direction for its games, away from the arcade genre. Returnal tells the story of a woman stranded on an alien world while stuck in a time loop, and features a mix of third-person action and roguelike gameplay.
- Deathloop (May 21)
Despite Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Studios, Deathloop will not be an exclusive, and will be hitting PC and PS5 in 2021. The new year may be the year for time loops, as Deathloop revolves around an assassin trapped in time. Deathloop tasks players with assassinating eight targets to break the loop. Fail to do so and time will reset itself.
- Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (TBD)
While Insomniac Games have shown plenty of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart this year, we still don’t have an exact release date; the game is instead tentatively scheduled for this year. Based on the gameplay shown, the iconic duo will be travelling across multiple realities while hunting down a nefarious foe. Rift Apart appears to heavily utilize the PS5’s SSD to smoothly transition between worlds and areas via portals instantaneously.
- Horizon: Forbidden West (TBD)
This is another Sony first-party title that was announced without a narrow release date. The follow up to 2016’s beloved Horizon: Zero Dawn sees the return of Aloy as she travels to the west coast. Based on the trailer, she’ll come face to face with new robotic creatures in unfamiliar territories and new biomes.
- God of War: Ragnarok (TBD)
I’m including God of War: Ragnarok with the caveat of “I’ll believe it when I see it”. Sony announced the game with only a logo and a 2021 release date earlier this year. We know the game is deep in development and Sony Santa Monica is still hiring talent for it. While it will be three years since the launch of the soft reboot, I can see this game easily falling into 2022.
Xbox Series X/S
Although Microsoft has a lot in the pipeline for the new year, many titles have nebulous release dates. As we’ve seen year over year, schedules shift, but here is Xbox’s lineup for 2021 as it currently stands.
- The Medium (Jan. 28)
Bloober Team’s psychological horror game was delayed out of 2020 to early 2021. The Medium is one of the marquee games that Microsoft used to demonstrate the power of the Xbox Series X/S’ SSD. Bloober’s game revolves around a unique mechanic of solving puzzles in the game’s real world and the spirit world.
- Halo Infinite (Nov.)
The eagerly awaited Halo Infinite was pushed from debuting alongside the Xbox Series X/S and into 2021. After remaining quiet for some time, 343 Studios have revealed that their game will now launch in November. This gives the studio time to work on their intended vision while releasing the game around the franchise’s 20th anniversary.
- Echo Generation (TBD)
Cococumber, the studio behind the beloved indie Riverbond is releasing Echo Generation on Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One. While giving off some Stranger Things vibes, Echo Generation is a voxel turn-based adventure game. A brother and sister investigate their small Canadian township to uncover a supernatural mystery.
- Hello Neighbor 2 (TBD)
Hello Neighbor has built a dedicated fanbase since its launch in 2017. The sequel will take place in an entirely new setting of Raven Brooks. Players will explore an open world to track down the series’ Mr. Peterson aka The Neighbor, who has gone missing.
- Forza Motorsport (TBD)
Strangely enough, Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport did not launch in 2020. The Forza franchise took a year off and intends to return in 2021. While not too much is known about the game, it’s safe to say that the studio intends to utilize the Xbox Series X hardware to render some of the best looking vehicles and environments out there.
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 (TBD)
The follow up to the beloved PC horror game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. will be launching at some point in 2021 on Xbox Series X/S. GSC Game World has been fairly quiet on S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2. However, the developers have said that the game will feature “one of the biggest open-worlds to date”.
PlayStation and Xbox each have a respectable lineup of console exclusives debuting in 2021. When comparing the two, it’s hard not to objectively point out that Sony has cemented more release dates early in the new year.
However, Microsoft can begin filling in the gaps in their calendar once each studio feels confident to do so. Overall, I think there’s a bit for every player on both consoles on the horizon.