Well, it is here. A new year is upon us and with it comes all sorts of possibilities. While the flipping of the calendar does not mean much to some, to many it is the sign of a fresh start, a new page with infinite potential. When it comes to the world of video games, a new year means another 52 weeks of new releases, new headlines, and of course new conversations to be had.
2021 is already shaping up to be a banger of a year for many reasons (I mean it can’t be worse than 2020? Right? Right?!), the biggest of which has to be the two new consoles sitting in many gamers' homes. Yes, 2021 will be the first full year fans get with their PlayStation 5’s and Xbox Series X/S’s and the longer these new consoles are out in the wild, the closer we get to the full realization of the next generation of gaming.
Since we find ourselves at the beginning of another calendar year, it is time to pontificate. What happens is anyone’s guess. The next twelve months are a blank slate full of question marks, so let us try to fill it in with some answers. Here are six predictions for the gaming world’s 2021.
ELDEN RING IS RELEASED BEFORE JULY
Prediction number one, Elden Ring will be released before July. Yes, the joint effort from Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin and Souls series developer FromSoftware will hit shelves in the first half of 2021. While fans have not seen much of the game other than its initial reveal trailer at E3 2019, I think that it will come sooner rather than later.
Rumors surrounding this title have been swirling in recent months and, to end 2020, FromSoft Marketing and Communication Manager Yasuhiro Kitao tweeted that the development team will “see you in 2021”. While that could mean we are just going to get more info in 2021, that also could be teasing an impending release.
Recent reports say the game is in a polishing stage and is fully playable, so a May or June release (with more info early this year) does not seem out of the question.
FURTHER DEVELOPMENT CANCELED ON LAST-GEN VERSIONS OF CYBERPUNK 2077
I hate to kick them while they are down, but here we go! Prediction number two, CD Projekt Red will cease further development and patching of last-gen versions of Cyberpunk 2077. Cyberpunk seemed to dominate the conversation in 2020, and if initial reception of the game is any indication, that will not stop with the flipping of the calendar.
Over the holidays CD Projekt Red has been in panic mode, trying to do everything they can to fix the buggy and broken PS4 and Xbox One versions of their latest RPG. The game still remains unlisted on the PlayStation Store and comes with a warning on Xbox. Now, I do not want to make light of the work of these developers, who are grinding tirelessly to fix a game that was not ready for primetime on last-gen hardware, but it may be time to cut their losses.
A class action suit has been filed against the Polish developer by shareholders, and CDPR’s reputation is at an all-time low. One direction we could see this going would include the nixing of further development of the last-gen versions, and focusing on putting out the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S SKUs. They could do this all while maintaining development on the more polished PC version of the game, and though they would take a hit, CD Projekt Red could then leave the drama of last year in the rearview.
HALO INFINITE IS DELAYED AGAIN
Prediction number three (drum roll please), Halo Infinite will be delayed again. I know more bad news, but it could be for the best. Right now Microsoft has Master Chief’s latest adventure coming some time in Fall 2021, but I could see that getting pushed yet again.
In 2020 Halo developers 343 Industries had their share of ups and downs. In October, news came out that the game director for Infinite Chris Lee was departing from the studio. Lee is the second director to step back from the game in the past two years, which (needless to say) is not a good sign.
Yes, 343 has already had to push the game before and feel bad about it, but I just cannot look at what has come out from the game thus far and be confident that we see it in 2021. A director leaving a project (especially one as big as Infinite) can derail that project for what can be years. This has now happened twice.
Xbox Game Studios wants to get this right. They have had lukewarm reception to the last couple Halo titles, so Infinite is not going to be something that they release just to get out there. They will hold this title until it's ready. For these reasons, I believe another delay is in Halo Infinite’s future.
OVERWATCH 2 GETS A FALL 2021 RELEASE
There are few games that get a certain contingent of gamers more excited than Overwatch does. The lovable, hyper-competitive, yet easy to pick up and play hero shooter is adored by millions around the world, and I believe that 2021 will be the year of Overwatch 2. More specifically, I believe that Overwatch 2 will be released in Fall 2021.
Now, we have not heard much about Blizzard’s follow up to the 2016 hit since its initial reveal, but more info is coming soon. Just weeks ago in a developer update, Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan confirmed Overwatch 2 would be making an appearance at the 2021 Blizzcon Online Event. With this knowledge it is not much of a leap to predict a Fall 2021 release.
Come this Fall it will have been more than five years since Overwatch’s initial release, making it the perfect amount of time to develop a sequel that is now ready for release.
WE HEAR NOTHING ABOUT EITHER OF BETHESDA GAME STUDIOS RPGS
For one of gaming’s biggest studios, I predict that 2021 will be filled with a whole lot of silence, or at least silence in regard to their two biggest announced titles. I believe that in 2021, we will hear nothing about either of Bethesda Game Studios upcoming RPGs, Starfield or The Elder Scrolls 6.
Both of these games were announced with very vague teaser trailers at E3 2018 and came with the caveat of being a very long way out. It has been five years since gamers last got their single player open world fix from Bethesda’s in-house studio (Fallout 4), but I think they still need some more time before they put out more info on either of their next two projects.
One has to remember that this is a studio and a publisher that has just been acquired by Microsoft. While the details of the Bethesda/Xbox partnership are still murky, it’s not hard to assume that this shook up a great deal within the studio.
2021 most likely will not be the year Todd Howard and team will be touting their latest sprawling adventure. Instead, it will be a year in which Bethesda gets their ducks in a row and begins to clarify just how this new partnership of theirs is going to work.
SILENT HILL REBOOT IS ANNOUNCED AND IS PLAYSTATION EXCLUSIVE
I just wanted to say I am locking this one in right now (famous last words). The long rumored Silent Hill reboot will be announced some time in 2021 and will be a PlayStation first party title. I feel like we have heard about this for months now. Whether it was supposed to show up at any number of E3 showcases, or was going to make an appearance at The Game Awards 2020, the Silent Hill reboot never reared its head. The constant leaks and hints at a new Silent Hill game have all but confirmed that it is happening; it's just a matter of when.
While a new Silent Hill would be a great deal of fun (especially with the taste of it we got with Hideo Kojima’s P.T. a few years ago), what I find most intriguing about this prediction is the PlayStation aspect. Long has the rumor been that this new Silent Hill would be a PlayStation exclusive and is being developed by Sony’s Japan Studio.
Konami (the rights holders for Silent Hill) has pretty well moved completely out of the gaming space, putting out a few remasters and smaller titles here and there, but nothing major in the past few years. This could be their big return! A partnership with Sony would allow Konami to profit from the IP they control, while Sony gets the credit for being the company that revived Silent Hill.
And with Sony dipping into Konami’s portfolio, who knows what we could see next? I'm looking at you Metal Gear!