A Transitional Year - What to Expect From Xbox Series XS and Xbox One in 2021

A Transitional Year - What to Expect From Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One in 2021

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Matt Lorrigan

Bloody hell. It only took 366 days (damn leap years), but we’re finally into a new year and ready to put 2020 behind us. Will 2021 be better for the world at large? Probably not, but as always we’ll be taking the courageous approach of playing as many video games as possible in 2021, in order to distract us from everything else - essentially, gaming is us putting our fingers in our ears and chanting “la la la” over and over.

If you plan on coping with 2021 in a similar manner, you might be wondering what this new year is cooking up for gamers on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. Well luckily for you, we just so happen to be thinking the exact same thing, so we’re looking ahead to 2021 to see what’s in store for Xbox this year.

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Things are kicking off pretty damn nicely in January with a sequel to one of our favourite franchises in recent memory, as Hitman III comes to Xbox consoles old and new, offering six new environments to explore and assassinate to your heart’s content. There’s even a Knives Out-style detective mission to take on, which looks bloody brilliant. Later in the month, we also get our first true next-gen-only Xbox Series X|S game, The Medium. Developer Bloober Team has already proven it can work wonders with brand new consoles in Observer: System Redux, so we’re excited to see how The Medium makes the most of the new hardware. Oh, and we’re also getting three more remastered Yakuza games on Xbox One at the end of January, available via Xbox Game Pass nonetheless! No one remind our resident Yakuza fanatic Rich Walker, though - I fear he may die from sheer excitement.

February brings us the joys of the next-gen version of Control Ultimate Edition, and despite the controversy surrounding the lack of a free next-gen update, we’re looking forward to seeing the game all new and shiny running on Xbox Series X|S. Then we’re getting another fan-favourite sequel with Little Nightmares II, which looks horrible in all the best possible ways. Rounding out Feb is Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood, a fun-looking action title, inspired by the tabletop game of the same name.

We’re prepared to get all nostalgic for the sixth generation of consoles when Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake arrives in March, and hopefully breathes some new life into the long-dormant Ubisoft franchise. Then the end of the month brings Yakuza 6 (again, no one tell Rich), as well as titles from two video game auteurs. It Takes Two is the latest co-op game from Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and A Way Out creator, Josef Fares, while Balan Wonderland is a brand new 3D platformer from Sonic the Hedgehog creator, Yuji Naka.

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Once we hit April, set-in-stone release dates are quite thin on the ground, but there are a few big games we do know are coming. The long-awaited RPG-shooter Outriders, from developer People Can Fly, finally arrives on 1st April 2021, while a remaster of Yoko Taro’s NieR Replicant comes later in the month. Sumo Digital’s dark Robin Hood-like multiplayer heist game Hood: Outlaws and Legends is due to arrive in May, while Left 4 Dead spiritual success for Back 4 Blood hits Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S on 22nd June.

Those are presently the only games with solid release dates, but we’ve got plenty to look forward to in 2021 beyond that. WB Montreal is back on Batman with the exciting looking Gotham Knights, which will see players taking on the role of Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin or Red Hood in single-player or co-op. Resident Evil Village looks to build upon the story and scares that began in Resident Evil 7, and with Resident Evil’s 25th anniversary coming up, we’ll be keeping our eye out for even more Resident Evil titles releasing this year.

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Meanwhile, we’ve got our fingers crossed that the perennially delayed undead duo of Dying Light 2 and Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 finally make their way to Xbox this year, even though both titles seem to be facing development troubles right now. And speaking of delays, we can’t forget about Halo Infinite. Originally due to launch alongside the Xbox Series X|S, we’ve not got a new release date for the latest game in the iconic Xbox franchise. If we were betting people, however, we’d put our money on a November release to line up with Halo’s twentieth anniversary while giving the devs at 343 plenty of time to make the game as good as it can be.

As for the rest of Microsoft’s first-party output, it looks a bit of a quiet year, with the majority of its (announced) projects looking likely to release in 2022 and beyond. There’s not exactly nothing, though, with Psychonauts 2 due to make its long-awaited debut, and don’t be surprised if Obsidian’s Grounded leaves early access and launches in full this year. Microsoft Flight Simulator is due to make its console debut, offering up a stunningly detailed version of planet earth. There is always a chance we could see titles like Everwild, Fable, Forza Motorsport 8, State of Decay 3, Hellblade II, Avowed or even something from Bethesda this year, but we reckon that Xbox gamers won’t truly begin to see the fruits of Microsoft’s acquisitions until next year and beyond.

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Still, there are plenty of third party titles to keep us busy in 2021. Far Cry 6 will likely be yet another dose of excellent open-world mayhem, while Bandai Namco’s Scarlet Nexus is one of the most exciting Japanese games coming to the system. All of this, and we’ve not even mentioned titles like Mass Effect Legendary Edition, Riders Republic, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, the next Battlefield, the next Call of Duty, CrossfireX, Evil Dead, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, Warhammer 40K: Darktide, and loads more. And that’s only the stuff we know about now - we’re sure there will be plenty more exciting games announced and released during the year.

Edit - It's been pointed out to me that I, the world's number one The Gunk fanboy, forgot to include The Gunk in this list, so I'm adding it now. Seriously, it looks great, and is made by the people behind the excellent Steamworld games. I'm super excited for it, and you should be too. Anyway, carry on.

So yeah, while it looks to be a quiet year for Xbox Series X|S from a first-party point of view, we’re going to have plenty of great games to play across our new next-gen consoles and our trusty old Xbox Ones as well. There’s even rumours of Xbox Game Pass growing with titles from publishers like Ubisoft in the near future, and the service finally hits iPhones and iPad later this year. It may occasionally feel like the world is falling apart in 2021, but we’re going to grip on to our Xbox controllers for dear life, goddamnit! The question is - what games are you most looking forward to this year? Let us know down in the comments.

Comments
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  • Can't wait for Back 4 Blood, beyond that curious about the Evil Dead game. Too much the play nowadays though with gamepass ive gotten terrible for not completing games before starting something else.
  • A whole lot of stuff us gunna end up delayed. A lot of the games that came out in 2020 would have already been nearing completion, and sill managed to come out with comparative minor delays.

    Games in mid-production are really going to bear the brunt of Covid disruption.

    Still, a lot of good stuff in this list. Keen for Mass Effect, Resi 8, Little Nightmares 2, Outrides (which I hope carries the coop torch from Remnant: From the Ashes) and hopefully Halo Infinite.

    A lot to look forward to, but it's important to keep expectations in check.
  • To be honest Microsoft need to actually have their fans get their hands on the console first, before even talking about what games are upcoming as they as well as Sony have really dropped the ball entirely with the amount of consoles they had at launch. The new consoles really should have been put off to the end of 2021 to give themselves and game devs the time to do things right amid covid forced delays, however getting Microsoft and Sony to agree on something like that is impossible, but at least the scalpers laughed all the way to the bank hey?
  • @ straya you say MS dropped the ball like it was a choice for them. You also blaming scalpers though the only one to blame who actually buys from them.

    OT: nice article, though I'll just continue with my backlog cleanup, I don't trust much the new releases will be problem free.

    Also please review the new layout it is impossible to see what I type as the screen is split between keyboard and intrusive ads.
  • Whilst it is clear that it is possible to argue that Playstation has a better launch lineup, I think that in 12 to 18 months, once all the Xbox studio games start to drop, the Xbox will be the place to come for exclusive content. At that point, I would image that those that seek the new generation of consoles, will likely have them, and those of us fortunate enough to already have one, will be particularly satisfied with their purchase. I think the future for Xbox is particularly bright for this generation, and that the Xbox will prove the console of choice come the end.
  • You missed one that looks good and interesting, what about Scorn? The H R Geiger inspired game?
  • @psybOltOn Microsoft did have a choice, they could have delayed launch knowing full well they didn't have enough consoles and Sony did the same. Really nice of you to stick up for the scalpers too lol, if you think they aren't a massive problem i feel sorry for you.
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