While the world around us was going from one disaster to another, gamers were spoiled for choice when it came to escaping reality in the confines of our homes in 2020. It was an especially good year to own a PlayStation console, with award-winning exclusives like The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima and Final Fantasy VII Remake helping to close out a generation before the launch of the PlayStation 5 gave us some stellar cross-gen and next-gen titles the likes of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls. With that new hardware comes a new year of possibilities in 2021 and, without sounding like we’re picking sides, it’s really looking like Sony’s year again with some bloody exciting exclusives (and consoles exclusives) to look forward to this year.
We’ve put together a list of the biggest titles for PlayStation owners to keep on their radar, with a healthy dose of new-gen exclusives, cross-generational releases and our hopes and prayers that a handful don’t get pushed into 2022… Check it out!
Release Date: March 19 Platform: PlayStation 5
Housemarque has carved itself out a nice little niche for itself in crafting frenetic and pulse-raising experiences in a range of styles while almost always paying homage to the classic bullet hell shoot-em-up, from the more obvious titles like Resogun and Super Stardust to the likes of metroidvania platformer Outland. Their next effort, Returnal, is another genre-bending bullet hell action game that riffs on modern procedurally-generated roguelikes – only it looks bigger and flashier than nearly anything we’ve seen from the genre or the developer.
RATCHET & CLANK: RIFT APART
Release Date: First Half of 2021 (Tentative) Platform: PlayStation 5
Hot off the heels of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, veteran PlayStation collaborator (and now official SIE studio) Insomniac is set to bless PS5 owners in the coming months with the first new Ratchet & Clank game since 2016’s soft reboot. This time around it’s a canonical continuation of the Future series that graced the PlayStation 3, and sees the dynamic duo able to instantaneously zip around their world, and many others, using portals made possible by the power of the PlayStation 5’s super-fast SSD. It also just looks incredibly gorgeous.
KENA: BRIDGE OF SPIRITS
Release Date: Q1 2021 (Tentative) Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC
Ember Lab has seemingly burst onto the scene with the impossibly-good-looking Kena: Bridge of Spirits, a game that looks equal parts Studio Ghibli, Pixar and old-school 3D action platformer. Battling cursed monsters, collecting and raising the adorable Rot and transforming the lush environments all look incredible from what we’ve seen in trailers and gameplay snippets so far. If Kena can live up to its promise it’s set to be one of the indie darlings of 2021 and an instant classic.
HORIZON FORBIDDEN WEST
Release Date: Second Half of 2021 (Tentative) Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Another huge PlayStation 4 exclusive, although one that’s perhaps a little more divisive, Horizon Zero Dawn saw Killzone developer Guerilla Games tackle the tried and true open world adventure genre with a fresh IP and a menagerie of killer robo-dinosaurs. Horizon’s biggest success is its world, vast and full of extraordinary history and potential to be explored, so a return to 31st century Earth that promises more variety on a larger scale is very welcome indeed. This one’s coming to both PlayStation 4 and 5, but we’re particularly keen to see how the Decima Engine that powered Horizon and Death Stranding performs on the new machine, and how it utilises the console’s unique features like the DualSense controller and Tempest 3D audio.
Release Date: February 5 Platform: PlayStation 5
Team Ninja is celebrating four years of PlayStation-exclusive demon slaying with remastered versions of both Nioh and Nioh 2. Boasting up to 4K or 120fps visuals and ultra-fast loading screens, this package will be the best way for PlayStation 5 owners to play these two fan-favourite action games. Better yet, if you own either Nioh 2 or Nioh 2 – The Complete Edition you’ll be able to upgrade to the respective remastered versions at no cost as well as transfer your progress from PS4 to PS5.
Release Date: February 2021 Platform: PlayStation 5
Part hero shooter, part vehicular combat, Destruction AllStars was originally slated as a PlayStation 5 launch title but has since moved into a February release window as well as become a free download for PlayStation Plus subscribers on release. That could prove to be a winning strategy, if the likes of Rocket League can serve as a historical example of similar success. A gorgeous, full game with loads of potential for multiplayer mayhem and a promised future full of free downloadable content on top of everything else you get with PS Plus? Sign us up!
Release Date: TBA 2021 (Tentative) Platform: PlayStation 5
There’s no skirting around the fact that God of War was a generation-defining moment in PlayStation history when it launched a little over two years ago. It certainly took a lot of us by surprise by modernising what was fast becoming a franchise best left in the 00s, giving us an emotionally-charged and expertly designed experience that defied convention and broke new ground. To say that expectations for the upcoming sequel are decidedly higher than last time around is an understatement, but with such a rich narrative well to draw from following the events of the last game and with the PlayStation 5’s raw power, lightning-fast SSD and unique 3D audio and DualSense controller at hand it’s hard to imagine God of War Ragnarok doing anything but surpass them.
Release Date: May 21 Platform: PlayStation 5 (Timed exclusive), PC
It’s a strange time we live in when a Microsoft-owned studio is publishing a game that’s exclusive to Sony’s platform for a full year, but here we are. Arkane, working under the newly-acquired Bethesda, is once again flexing their first-person action adventure muscle with a unique, time-looping race to take down a series of eight targets that also features an asymmetrical multiplayer element where a second player can invade a game and attempt to foil the assassinations. It’s Groundhog Day meets grindhouse built on the bones of Dishonored and Prey and it might just be crazy enough to work.
GRAN TURISMO 7
Release Date: TBA 2021 (Tentative) Platform: PlayStation 5
There’s not too much we know (or need to know) about the next entry in PlayStation’s long-running driving franchise other than it’s more impeccably-modelled cars zipping around some extremely pretty tracks and landscapes. Series veterans will no doubt be ecstatic to see the return of GT Town/World and many classic modes as well as newer features from GT Sport. Even if you’re not a massive gearhead though, the promise of the PlayStation 5’s bespoke haptic feedback and spatial audio solutions, as well as ray-tracing and the series’ penchant for jaw-dropping photo modes should put this on the radar of anyone wanting a taste of what the console is truly capable of.
Release Date: TBA 2021 (Tentative) Platform: PlayStation 5, PC
Although overnight internet darling Ikumi “It’s Spooky” Nakamura is no longer involved with the project, the E3 2019 reveal of Ghostwire Tokyo left the gaming world as entertained as it was confused. Fast-forward to June 2020 and The Evil Within developer Tango Gameworks’ upcoming project was revealed to be an offbeat, first-person action adventure with horror elements where players use Kuji-kiri-inspired magical abilities to rid Tokyo of an invasion of evil spirits. Like Deathloop, this now-Microsoft-owned new IP will be a PlayStation 5 console exclusive for a full year.
Release Date: TBA 2021 (Tentative) Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC
You only need to say the words “third-person cat adventure” to get people listening, but throw in a cyberpunk world, a droid companion and the power of the PlayStation 5 and you’ve got a great recipe for success. Purveyors of excellent indie experiences Annapurna Interactive are onto something with French developer BlueTwelve Studio’s unique project that sees players as a stray cat in a neon-filled, futuristic city, using stealth and vertically-rich exploration to find its way home. And did we mention there’s a droid companion?
FINAL FANTASY XVI
Release Date: No Idea (But One Can Dream!) Platform: PlayStation 5
Okay, so this one probably isn’t going to see the light of day in 2021, but stranger things have happened! At any rate, it’s hard to be a Final Fantasy fan and not immediately froth at the idea of a return to the series’ more classical fantasy RPG aspects married with its modern combat sensibilities and headed up by the development team responsible for “saving” Final Fantasy XIV. The brief in-game footage shown off last year gives the impression that this one is further into development than the last few Final Fantasy games have been when first revealed, so there’s a small glimmer of hope that the PlayStation 5 exclusive could be coming sooner rather than later.