We’re just about half way through 2021, and so far it’s been a great year for gaming. Xbox fans finally got to play MLB The Show, couch co-op fans got to puzzle their way out of impending divorce in It Takes Two, and Nintendo brought new life into Super Mario World 3D (it’s an old Wii U game, so that’s why you probably aren’t familiar with it) by re-releasing it alongside Bowser’s Fury on the Switch, just to name a few of the high points. And those aren’t even the best that 2021 has had to offer. So, as we wait for the blockbuster titles that are still yet to come this year, we’ve got our list of the top 5 games for the first half of 2021.
5 – Returnal
- Release Date: April 30, 2021
- Developer: Housemarque
- Platform(s): PlayStation 5
If you weren’t able to land a PS5 back at launch and gave up hope of ever getting one around February or March, then a quick look at Returnal should be enough reason to get back to hunting for the elusive next-gen system. Returnal is a shooter that provides a perfect Roguelike balance of having you ready to rage quit from yet another death and giving you that little glimmer of hope that keeps you playing well past your bedtime. And with a procedurally generated world that changes with every death and rebirth, you’ll be playing past your bedtime for a long time.
4 – Hitman 3
- Release Date: January 20, 2021
- Developer: IO Interactive
- Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia
It’s always hard for me to say that any game in the Hitman series is good, but the trilogy has a cult following that has grown with each iteration. Hitman 3 (catch our review here) continues the same wonky gameplay that makes you simultaneously think, ‘Damn, this is stupid,’ and, ‘Holy crap this is fun.’ Hitman 3 is filled with unrealistic scenarios packed with enemies that never notice the bald guy with a barcode tattooed on the back of his head because he is wearing a guard uniform, even though the whole place is on high alert because someone just found a naked guard knocked unconscious in a corner. Nope, everything seems on the up and up, no reason to ask why I don’t look anything like the picture on the ID badge I’m wearing. Yep, that’s what makes Hitman 3 such a fun time.
3 – The Medium
- Release Date: January 28, 2021
- Developer: Bloober Team
- Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
The Bloober Team has shown they have a penchant for psychological horror, and they’re at it once again with The Medium (check out our review here). As Marianne, you live in a dual reality, able to see both the natural world and its mirror image in the Spirit Realm. Plagued by a recurring dream of a man shooting a young girl, you must travel between realms to find clues and solve puzzles as you try to find the origin of your psychic powers and the truth behind your dreams. Although The Medium may be a bit of a slow burn, there’s no doubt the creepy setting and multiple jump scares will keep you on your toes all the way to the end.
- Release Date: April 18, 2021
- Developer: Capcom
- Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Google Stadia
Although many players may have bought Resident Evil Village because of the hype around Lady Dimitrescu, they quickly found out that she was merely one small piece of this grand adventure. Resident Evil Village brings back Ethan Winters, the protagonist from RE7, and puts him through hell as he tries to rescue his infant daughter Rose. Unlike some Resident Evil games where ammunition is scare, RE Village has shotgun shells and other ammo laying all over the place, and you’ll be using it almost as fast as you can gather it as you take on zombies, werewolves, and much, much worse.
1 – Valheim
- Release Date: February 2, 2021
- Developer: Iron Gate Studios
- Platform(s): PC
If you haven’t heard of it, Valheim is this little indie game that quietly launched into Early Access on Steam back in February. And then went on to sell millions of copies! Valheim (check out our review here) is just the right mix of Viking survival, exploration, and base building to make it an amazing game. A quick look at the game might leave you wondering what the big deal is, but just play it for a few hours and you’ll be hooked. There’s no ticking clock forcing you to move ahead; spend the day working on your farm, head out to collect resources for your next exploration effort, or take on the next boss fight, the choice is yours.