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Even though publishers like to release the most anticipated games near the holiday season, there has already been a number of highly rated video game releases this year across all platforms and genres, which means that hardcore and casual gamers alike have plenty choose from.
For this article, we’ve selected the top 10 best online and offline games that you can already play in 2021, and we’re sure that you’ll be able to find something that’s right up your alley regardless of your gaming preferences.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows
Released right at the start of the year, Doom Eternal convinced all fans of the series that the already solid formula behind the 2016 soft reboot of the iconic FPS franchise could be improved even further. The latest entry in the series is faster, more vibrant, and decidedly deadlier.
If you don’t make your bullets and chainsaw slashes count, you can bet that demons will rip your body to shreds and munch on the pieces. The upped difficulty makes the game extremely rewarding, however, and executing long combos of kills and health and ammo pickups has never felt better.
Doom Eternal is available on almost every major platform, but it shines the most on PC. The multiplayer portion of the game is fun as well, and we especially like the Dark Souls-inspired Invasion mode, which allows veteran players to invade single-player gamers and show them what demons are capable of.
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux
At this point, most gamers are well-aware of the potential of virtual reality to deliver fully immersive experiences and life-like game worlds. However, there haven’t really been many games so far that managed to take advantage of this potential and turn it into something playable and memorable. Now, there’s Half-Life: Alyx.
By turning the world of Half-Life into an immersive virtual reality experience, Valve has made it possible for fans of the series to experience the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2 from the point-of-view of Alyx Vance, who’s on a mission to seize a superweapon belonging to the alien Combine. If you have a VR headset, you owe it to yourself to play this game. And if you don’t have one, you should consider ordering it online—that’s how good Half-Life: Alyx is.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
In a way, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the perfect game for our current imperfect world. If you’re a bit tired of the doom-and-gloom news cycle and want to forget about what’s happening in the real-world by creating a new life in a virtual one, all you need to do is grab a Nintendo Switch and play Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
The premise of the game is deceptively simple—build the best island you can—but it’s the insane amount of customization that makes this concept work. You can create your own custom furniture, change the appearance of your character, modify the landscape, and much more. When your dream island is ready, you can invite over your friends and explore it together.
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Some games tell stories to motivate players’ actions, while other games tell stories because they have important stories to tell. The Last of Us Part II is in the second category, and that’s one of many reasons why it’s among the best games that have so far been released in 2021.
The game takes place five years after the events of The Last of Us, and it confronts players with a grim reality of someone who understands the consequences of violence and the emotional pain associated with it. As long as you don’t expect the game to be an action-packed joy ride and allow it to play with your emotions a bit, you’ll have an unforgettable gaming experience.
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Ever since publishers and gaming studios have realized that there’s a market for remakes of classic video games, they’ve been releasing them at an unstoppable pace. While some remakes are nothing but pure cash-grabs, the remake of Final Fantasy VII for PlayStation 4 is a welcome exception.
Not only does this remake let a new generation of players experience one of the best Japanese role-playing games ever released without any compromises, but it also expands the original story and overhauls the entire combat system. The result is something that feels like a whole new experience despite being faithful to the original game.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Battle royale video games aren’t for everyone—especially not for non-competitive players—but the audience for them is huge nonetheless, which is evident from the fact that Call of Duty: Warzone has over 50 million active players. Running on IW engine 8.0, the same engine behind the latest Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, this free-to-play game makes it possible for up to 150 players to enjoy the popular franchise on the grandest scale yet.
Since the launch of Call of Duty: Warzone in March 10, its developers have fixed virtually all bugs and glitches that annoyed early players and added a ton of new content. Considering its price, there’s really no reason to not give it a try. Well, except for its huge download size.
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Ghost of Tsushima is a beautiful action-adventure game that lets you explore the gorgeous landscapes of feudal Japan as one of the last samurai. The game shares a lot in common with Assassin’s Creed, but its unique aesthetic, intriguing story, and polished combat make it more memorable.
The game is fully voiced in English, but you should do yourself a favour and play it with Japanese voice casting, which is simply sublime and really makes all main and side characters come to life. Unfortunately, Ghost of Tsushima is available only on PlayStation 4, and it won’t be coming on PC or any other platform.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac
When players discover that a beloved franchise is about to make a comeback, they understandably tend to feel anxious. The same was the case when THQ Nordic officially announced Desperados III in August 2018, but everything turned out better than most gamers hoped, and Desperados III may just be the best Desperados game yet.
Just like its predecessors, it expertly blends methodical action with puzzle mechanics, creating a hardcore stealth experience that’s as ruthless as it is rewarding. Each of the 16 levels offers so many possible paths that it would take you over 100 hours to explore them all, which ensures endless repeatability.
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
It’s almost hard to believe that Kentucky Route Zero was first released in 2013. Finally, after so many years, players can enjoy the point-and-click adventure game in its entirety on just about every major platform.
Unlike other point-and-click adventure games, Kentucky Route Zero doesn’t give players any puzzles to solve and secret keys to find. Instead, it presents them with a large tapestry of interesting characters and events that never fail to pull in. The TV Edition of Kentucky Route Zero includes all five acts in a single package, making it an easy choice for those who have never played the game before.
Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4
We’re not really sure whether Dreams should be included on this list. Why? Because it’s more of a game creation engine than it is a game in the traditional sense of the world. Using the tools Dreams gives “players” at their disposal, it’s possible to create unique gaming experiences, animations, paintings, and even music.
It takes a while to even begin to appreciate the immense creative potential of Dreams, so newcomers should expect a rather steep learning curve. Fortunately, the game includes in-depth tutorials that do a fantastic job of explaining how to make amazing stuff.