Game Informer's Most Anticipated Holiday 2021 Games
As September begins winding down, there's no denying we're rapidly approaching gaming's holiday release season. While recent weeks brought us some amazing experiences like Deathloop and Tales of Arise, the next few weeks are absolutely jam-packed with highly anticipated releases the gaming community as a whole is looking forward to.
As the busiest months of game releases approach, we're just as excited as you are to get our hands on the huge games of this holiday season. As such, we ran down a list of our staff's personal most-anticipated games. You can see the list of the games each editor is most looking forward to for the remainder of the year below. After checking out our picks, sound off in the comments about which game you're most excited about as we brace ourselves for the fall release slate.
Sable – September 23
I’ve been keeping my eye on Sable since 2018 and was happy to get my hands on its E3 demo earlier this year. First and foremost, the game is absolutely stunning. The art style is bright, bold, and so incredibly distinctive. Somehow, playing the game and seeing the art come to life around my character made Sable look even better. I took time in the game just to watch the shadows move over the desert floor. I was glad to see the visuals held up under my expectations, but I was even more pleasantly surprised with how the game felt. This was truly an unknown element going hands-on with the game, but Shedworks nailed this aspect, too. Gliding across the sands on my speeder is ridiculously fun, the Breath of the Wild-style climbing simply works, and the ability that lets you hover through the air in a bubble makes me feel invulnerable. We didn’t get too much of the story, which revolves around the main character’s coming-of-age journey, so it’s hard to say with confidence that the narrative will be Sable’s cherry on top, but I’m optimistic. Everything I’ve seen and experienced so far makes Sable one of my most anticipated games coming up this year.
Metroid Dread – October 8
MercurySteam's Metroid: Samus Returns was one of my favorite games of 2017. As much as I loved that title, it was also a remake of the 1991 Game Boy entry, which left me hoping for something completely new. Nintendo heard our collective cries for a brand new 2D Metroid ... and it only took 19 years! Metroid Dread will, reportedly, conclude the main "Metroid arc" that has been running through the franchise for decades. But I can't wait to explore the remote alien world of Planet ZDR and collect new weapons and gear, such as the Spider Magnet that allows Samus to climb walls or the Phantom Cloak that turns her invisible for a short time. Metroid Dread has been a long-time coming, so I hope Nintendo will make it worth the wait.
Darkest Dungeon II – October 26 (Early Access)
Darkest Dungeon II is taking some big chances straying away from the designs of the original game, but this shift brings with it some serious excitement. Instead of building up a base over time, players must navigate roguelike caravan runs where death, choice, and consequence are constant companions. Any time Wayne June is narrating something, we're here for it. Check out lots more in our extensive feature explaining everything Darkest Dungeon II here.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy – October 26
The humor. The rock ’n roll attitude. Groot being Groot. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy looks to be every bit as fun and wild as the motion picture and comic book counterparts. We all thought it would be a multiplayer game when it was announced, but Eidos-Montréal’s decision to make it a single-player experience that puts you into the head of Star-Lord makes it all the more intriguing. As the leader of the team, you are tasked to make difficult decisions that affect both the story and your standing with the Guardians in big ways. I can’t wait to see how those choices play out. The combat also looks as chaotic as I’d hoped with razor-sharp melee strikes blending with death being rained down by heavy, sci-fi weaponry. Every aspect of the game looks joyous and crazy and that’s exactly what I want from this awesome superhero team.
Solar Ash – October 26
Heart Machine’s Hyper Light Drifter ranked among my top 10 games of 2016, so any follow-up from that studio was going to get me excited. Instead of giving fans an encore, Solar Ash presents something wildly new. In case you haven’t followed it, the most reductive way to describe the game is that it’s a high-speed 3D platformer with Shadow of the Colossus-inspired boss battles. You control Rei, a cosmetic spelunker of sorts who likes to explore black holes in search of salvageable artifacts. In a cruel twist, her own world becomes threatened by a particularly massive black hole known as the Ultra Void, and the only way to stop it is from within.
The Ultra Void looks awesome thanks to its striking color palette, bizarre alien fauna, and beautiful ruins of the many civilizations that have been absorbed over eons. Getting around looks like a blast thanks to Rei’s nimble skating-esque locomotion that gives off serious Jet Set Radio vibes and encourages constant forward momentum. Sure, enemies pop up but they’re meant to be dealt with quickly as you gracefully leap from one platform to the next. The titanic bosses are a sight to behold, and I’m itching to learn about the history of the Ultra Void itself from stranded NPC’s and environmental cues. Solar Ash looks like a psychedelic space trip I can’t wait to blast off to.
Riders Republic – October 28
In the halcyon days of the action sports genre, you couldn't throw a rock without hitting at least ten different series, all vying for your attention (and money). The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series reigned supreme, but BMX, snowboarding, rollerblading, and every other "extreme" sport under the sun got their own video game adaptation in the late '90s to mid-2000s. Until, well, they didn't, all but disappearing but the video game landscape.
Rider's Republic is one of many action sports games in recent years hoping to revitalize the genre – and it's looking like one of the most promising. Rather than focus on one sport, Rider's Republic offers a buffet of different ways to play, not too dissimilar from publisher Ubisoft's The Crew series. Mountain bike down a mountain, or wingsuit off of it. Hit the slopes with snowboards or skis. Whatever you do, do it all with dozens of other players. The idea of being able to load into a bright world with your friends for the sole purpose of ripping across an open world tailor-made for extreme sports has this game high on our most-anticipated list.
Forza Horizon 5 – November 9
Forza Horizon has been one of my favorite racing series since its introduction, but I feel the franchise really started revving its engines with the third entry in 2016. Since then, developer Playground Games has gotten better at delivering superb and diverse environments full of exciting activities for players to tackle from behind the wheel. Forza Horizon 5 transports us to a stunning recreation of Mexico, complete with volcanos, beaches, towns, jungles, and deserts. The open world is impressively detailed, almost making me wish we weren't speeding through it at breakneck speeds. Sure, there won't be many chances to stop and appreciate the eye-popping sights, but I can't wait to see what the team at Playground has in store for us when we attend the latest Horizon Festival this November.
Shin Megami Tensei V – November 12
I’ve always loved the SMT series for its philosophical conundrums and challenging combat. The games are dark and mature, and SMT V appears to be no different with the ambitions of God and humans clashing amid a dying world. There’s something about being sent to a world in ruin and making your own decisions for what its future should be that makes me love an SMT game. They also often force me to think about the world in different ways, so I’m all-in for a new journey of recruiting demons, fighting big bosses, and choosing my alliances. Not to mention, it’s been a while since we’ve had a mainline entry in the series (SMT IV hit in 2013), and the Switch gives the series a grander stage to let it play out on. I’m just most excited to see what Atlus will do with an SMT game after all this time.
Battlefield 2042 – November 19
Gargantuan maps, Frostbite-powered visuals/destructibility, and vehicle-based teamplay set the Battlefield franchise apart from its multiplayer shooter contemporaries. Battlefield 2042 chronicles a modernized future where privatized military forces and refugee factions are in a constant warring state. Despite this snippet of backstory, there won’t be a single-player campaign – a fact that disappointed me when I first learned about the game. However, next-gen capabilities like larger player counts (we’re talking 128 people), as well as a hybrid story-based multiplayer experience, means that I’ll be getting the best of both worlds. I’m looking forward to experimenting with Battlefield 2042’s specialists – the support class’ projectile syringes are particularly exciting – and learning more about each of their personal motivations for fighting. More importantly, I’m going take every chance I can get to ride tornados and “weaponize” them – how that’ll work in the moment-to-moment action remains to be seen. Nevertheless, I can see myself dumping hundreds of hours into the upcoming Battlefield and I’m hoping to see the rest of you on the frontlines when it launches later this fall.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl – November 19
For many, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl marks the return to the Sinnoh region, which became one of the most beloved generations in the entire series. For me, though, it means my first time actually exploring these gems. Back in 2006, my Nintendo DS was supplanted by an Xbox 360 controller, and I completely missed out on the cultural revolution simply known as Bidoof. With a beautiful chibi art style (yeah, I said it), welcomed quality-of-life changes, and the ability to play on Switch, I can’t wait to not only learn about why this generation of Pokémon is so adored but use it as a nice piece of prep for when Pokémon Legends: Arceus drops in a few short months.
Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp – December 3
Few games have me as excited as returning to the world of Advance Wars with 1+2 Re-Boot camp in November. It’s been years since I’ve played anything from the series, and that’s helped fuel my desire to command the calvary of infantry, tanks, and mobile munitions again. Advance Wars’ characters and world, while dire at times, are charming and full of personality. From its scenario-changing Commanding Officers to its enjoyable loop of strategic gameplay, Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp is bound to keep me busy well into the winter.
Halo Infinite – December 8
A great deal is riding on the release of Halo Infinite. Halo 5: Guardians was the last brand-new mainline entry in the Halo franchise way back in 2015, and it’s fair to say that game met with mixed reactions regarding its storytelling, campaign gameplay, and multiplayer.
In a whole new console generation, Halo Infinite has the chance to be the defining flagship project of Microsoft’s new era of gameplay, turning around fan skepticism and reigniting enthusiasm for the series. Despite some setbacks in early showings of the games, there’s good reason to believe 343 Industries has something special on its hands. Frequent updates from the developers have revealed a game that walks a fine line between nostalgia to the original Halo aesthetic, and several rousing new ideas, from an open-world Halo ring to discover, to a grappleshot that should enable more vertical exploration. I’m thrilled about the opportunity to more freely uncover the secrets of a massive Forerunner facility.
While the depth and balance of multiplayer will take a long time to fully reveal themselves, the early tech tests exhibit a fast-moving and thoughtfully designed match structure alongside tight and enjoyable gunplay, as well as a progression system that I’m excited to use to customize my own Spartan.
I share some of the doubts about the return of Halo voiced by some fans, but at this point, my enthusiasm and excitement far outstrip any suspicion. Halo Infinite is undoubtedly one of the biggest releases of 2021, but I’m increasingly hopeful that it will also be one of the year’s best.
Neon White – Winter
Neon White is the upcoming first-person action-platformer set beyond the gates of Heaven. This lively genre-bender, developed by Ben Esposito, equips you with a growing deck of Soul Cards that you can use to attack demons or launch swift traversal abilities by discarding them on the fly. Fans of parkour games like Mirror's Edge should follow this stylish action game when it releases later this year.