Summary List Placement
You did it: You made it through 2020!
What better way to celebrate overcoming a terrible year than by diving into a wealth of new video games. 2021 promises just that, with major new series entries expected from “Halo,” “Resident Evil,” and “Ratchet & Clank” — among a variety of entirely new games, and maybe even a major new hardware entry from Nintendo’s wildly popular Switch.
Here’s everything we know so far about the year to come in gaming:
1. The first major games made for the next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S|X consoles are scheduled to launch.
When the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X consoles launched in mid-November, they ushered in the latest “generation” of gaming.
Alongside the new consoles, a handful of new games launched — both from internal studios at the consolemakers and from third-party game makers — intended to take advantage of the new tech. With few exceptions, these launch games were little more than prettied-up versions of games that ran on the last generation of game consoles.
In 2021, though, the first major games intended solely for the new consoles are expected to arrive: From “Ratchet & Clank” on the PlayStation 5 to “Halo Infinite” on the Xbox Series S and Series X.
Beyond games, Microsoft’s very successful Game Pass service has expanded into video game streaming, and it’s expected to run on iPhones in 2021. Sony has yet to offer a competitive service along the lines of Game Pass, though it began expanding out its PlayStation Plus service with the launch of the PS5. It’s likely that we’ll see more movement on the services front from both companies in the coming months.
2. At least two huge games are expected to launch this year: “Halo Infinite” and “Horizon Forbidden West.”
Though we’re still months away from holiday 2021, we already have a clue what this year’s big games will be: Both “Horizon Forbidden West” and “Halo Infinite” are scheduled to launch in the second half of 2021.
In the case of the former, “Horizon Foribdden West” is a major PlayStation 5 game that marks the second entry in the “Horizon” series of third-person action games. It’s the sequel to “Horizon Zero Dawn,” an excellent PlayStation 4 exclusive that launched against “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” in early 2017.
As for “Halo Infinite,” Microsoft was already forced to delay the big exclusive out of its November launch window. The result was a major Xbox console launch without any big new games that could only be played on the new consoles.
Given that context, there are big expectations for the new “Halo” game — the once-dominant first-person shooter franchise has faded from prominence across the last few entries, and fans are hoping for a return to glory with “Inifinite.”
3. Nintendo is reportedly working on a new version of the Switch that’s more powerful, and it could arrive in 2021.
For years, rumors have circulated that a new, more powerful version of the Nintendo Switch is in the works.
Initially, those rumors were paired with word of a less expensive, handheld-only version of the Switch. That eventually came to fruition as the Nintendo Switch Lite, which launched in September 2019.
Thus far, Nintendo hasn’t confirmed the existence or development of a more powerful Switch — a Switch “Pro” model, if you will. Both Nintendo CEO Shuntaro Furakawa and Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser have said the Nintendo Switch, as a platform, is “at the midpoint” of its lifecycle, which leaves the door open for new versions of the Nintendo Switch.
One thing is clear: It’s unlikely that a more powerful Switch would power games that couldn’t run on the original Switch that launched in 2017.
Nintendo has a vested interest in catering to its massive market of Switch owners — just shy of 70 million strong as of September 30, according to Nintendo — and the company’s leadership has repeatedly said it expects several more years of life for the Switch as an overall platform.
Given that it’s been two years since the last iteration of the Switch, and Nintendo’s now competing with graphical powerhouses from Sony and Microsoft, 2021 would be a smart time for Nintendo to launch a more powerful version of its very popular console.
4. Some highly-anticipated games are expected to launch, including “Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart” in the first half of the year, a sequel to “God of War” at some point, and the next major “Resident Evil” game.
Pending delays, which are bound to happen, the 2021 lineup for video games is strong: Long-expected sequels in the “Halo” and “God of War” franchises are scheduled for this year, as well as major new third-party games like “Ghostwire: Tokyo” and “Hogwarts Legacy.”
The year is starts with a bang, as “Hitman 3” is scheduled to launch on January 20, and a gorgeous new “Ratchet & Clank” is scheduled for some time in the first half of the year.
The biggest question mark is Nintendo. The Japanese gaming powerhouse has announced a sequel to 2017’s “Legend of Zelda” game, but a release date hasn’t been given. New entries in the “Metroid Prime” and “Bayonetta” franchises are also said to be in the works, but it’s unclear if either will arrive in 2021.
Still, we know of at least one major Nintendo Switch game on the horizon: “Super Mario 3D World” is getting re-released for the Switch on February 12, and it’s arriving with a bunch of new content (named “Bowser’s Fury”).
5. The ongoing legal saga between Apple and Epic Games is expected to head to court this year.
“Fortnite” maker Epic Games and Apple are engaaged in an ongoing, heated legal battle, and there’s already been one major casualty: “Fortnite” was kicked off the App Store on August 13, and it’s not coming back anytime soon.
Worse, the game no longer runs on iPhone or iPad. So how’d things get here, where one of the world’s biggest games is suddenly banished from Apple’s main devices?
From private emails between CEOs with major demands, to a carefully manufactured anti-Apple public relations campaign, the path is winding and full of tangents.
The end result, however, is clear: Apple and Epic are digging in, legally-speaking, and the case is expected to go to court as soon as this year.
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