Although 2020 may have been a miserable year in many ways, it was an epic year for gaming. People of all ages flocked to video games for the first time as one of the few entertainment outlets available during lockdowns. Others turned to video games as a way to stay connected to friends and family. Although next-gen hardware was hard to find and many games were pushed back from their original release dates, we were blessed with many great games in 2020.
It’s 2021 now and it doesn’t look like gaming is going to just fade away into the sunset. The first few months of any year are always light on new releases but 2021 still has several big titles slated for release in the first half of the year. The release schedule is chock full of shooters, but such is the way of video game trends. With that in mind, we’ve put together our list of most anticipated titles, one shooter and one non-shooter (where possible) each month for the first half of the year. We’ve only included titles with a “confirmed” release date but you can expect to see our 2021 wishlist at a later date.
Shooter – Hitman 3
- Developer: IO Interactive
- Release Date: January 20
- Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch, Stadia
The Hitman series has always been a love ‘em or leave ‘em affair. Anyone who has been playing as Agent 47 since day one will be glad to know that you can carry over your progression from Hitman 2, not to mention that you can import all of the levels from the previous two games and play them in Hitman 3. Hitman 3 serves as the final installment in the World of Assassination trilogy, and this stealth shooter should be a great way to usher in the new year.
Non-Shooter – The Medium
- Developer: Bloober Team
- Release Date: January 28
- Platform(s): PC, Xbox Series X|S
We’re kicking the year off right with a new horror title from developer Bloober Team. It’s been a year and a half since their last horror title, Blair Witch, released to mixed reviews but, with titles like Observer and Layers of Fear 1 and 2 on their resume, there’s no doubt that Bloober Team is ready to make a rebound with The Medium. A third-person psychological horror game, The Medium features dual realities – one normal, the other much darker – and you’ll have to simultaneously master both to survive The Maw.
Shooter – Outriders
- Developer: People Can Fly
- Release Date: February 2
- Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Stadia
If you thought Earth 2020 was a rough place just wait until you step foot on Enoch, mankind’s last hope for salvation. Outriders is a third-person cover shooter in the same vein as the Gears of War series. Jump into the trenches alone or buddy up with friends with crossplay across all platforms. As an Altered, you’ll choose one of four classes – Trickster, Technomancer, Pyromancer, or Devastator – upgrade your powers from a wide array of perks, and then bring the pain.
Non-Shooter – Little Nightmares 2
- Developer: Tarsier Studios
- Release Date: February 11
- Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch
If you haven’t played the original Little Nightmares, stop what you are doing and go play it. Well, finish reading this, then go play it. Little Nightmares 2 is an adventure game in which you play as Mono. Along with Six, the protagonist from the original, you will traverse a creepy world as you try to discover the source of the evil Transmission, the cause of the distorted world you live in.
Shooter – Returnal
- Developer: Housemarque
- Release Date: March 19
- Platform(s): PlayStation 5
Hopefully, by the time that Returnal launches in March, the PlayStation 5 will finally be obtainable and this PS5 exclusive will be able to showcase all the new tech packed inside. The procedurally generated sci-fi world in Returnal is ever-changing, making this roguelike third-person shooter a tough nut to crack. With each fresh start, you’ll have to adopt a new strategy that uses the tools at hand to fight ever deeper on your unforgiving journey.
Non-Shooter – It Takes Two
- Developer: Hazelight
- Release Date: March 26
- Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
There’s nothing like being tossed into a stressful situation to help put the spark back into a relationship gone dull, right? In It Takes Two, that’s exactly what happens in this co-op only platformer. You and a friend will control Cody and May, a married couple that has magically been turned into yarn dolls (yes, it’s that weird) as they work together to rebuild their relationship and in turn break the spell cast upon them. Even though it will take two players to play, only one person has to own the game, with the other player being given a play-along code to download and play without purchasing the game.
Non-Shooter – Humankind
- Developer: Amplitude Studios
- Release Date: April 22
- Platform(s): PC, Stadia
Humanity has seen its ups and downs throughout history. In Humankind, a 4X strategy game, you get the chance to forge a better history for your tribe. With up to 60 historical cultures to mash together, you must lead your civilization through historical events, gathering fame from your great deeds or battle prowess. It’s more than history, it’s your story.
Shooter – Deathloop
- Developer: Arkane Studios
- Release Date: May 21
- Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5
Yeah, I know, another month, another shooter. Another day, another death. Your goal in Deathloop is simple – break out of this Groundhog Day assassination loop by taking out 8 targets before the clock strikes midnight or you’ll have to start all over again. Sounds simple, but you’re not the only killer in paradise. Deathloop is my personal most anticipated game in the first half of 2021.
Non-Shooter – Sayri: The Beginning
- Developer: Vidloonnya Reborn
- Release Date: May 3
- Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
In a vibrant, handcrafted world filled with strange alien creatures to befriend, Sayri will need the help of her newfound friends, not guns and explosives, to forge a new life in a strange world. With all the dark worlds, death, and destruction on this list, Sayri: The Beginning may be the one shining beacon of hope. Or, with May being another month light on confirmed releases, Sayri might be a title to fill an empty slot on this list. I’ll let you know after I play it.
Shooter – Back 4 Blood
- Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
- Release Date: June 22
- Platform(s): PC
Back 4 Blood is the only confirmed release I could find for June, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be good. The next installment in the Left 4 Dead series, B4B should offer the first-person shooter fans all the intense action and massive hordes of Ridden the series is known for, and then some.
Well, there you have it. Six months of great games headed our way. Which ones do you think will score a 10 out of 10, or will they all fall short of the hype? Did we miss one of your most anticipated games of 2021? Let us know in the comments below.