The 10 best games of 2021

. 7 months ago
Dexerto's best games of 2021 winners
Microsoft/Bethesda

Following a year that included the launch of PS5 and Xbox Series S|X consoles launch was always going to be tough, but there have been plenty of great new games to play in the last 12 months. Here are Dexerto’s best games of 2021.

2021 has brought new installments in iconic franchises, big-budget console exclusives from developers that cut their teeth on arcade-style titles, and the kind of platformers that give the best in animated movies a run for their money both in terms of visuals and storytelling. We also welcomed new adventures from heroes we hadn’t seen in a while, MOBA spinoffs, and plenty more.

We kick off Dexerto’s celebration of the best of 2021 with our top games of the year. Stay tuned between December 13-23  to discover our picks for the best streamers, YouTubers, and esports players. But first, check out our top 10 best games of 2021 below – how many have you played?

Dexerto’s Best Games of 2021

10. Ruined King: A League of Legends Story

Ruined King screenshot showing combat
Airship Syndicate/Riot Forge
Ruined King is an excellent way to experience Runeterra without playing League of Legends.

Developer: Airship Syndicate/Publisher: Riot Forge Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

If Arcane has got you curious about League of Legends’ world and characters, Ruined King: A League of Legends story is a great place to jump into the franchise’s lore and the charming world of Runeterra.

Not only is the turn-based RPG mechanically sound, offering an interesting combat system that makes the most of timing and resource management, but it also brings together a group of disparate characters into a sort of Suicide Squad. The way each member plays off the next is a treat, and we can’t wait to see what other stories are on the way. (Lloyd Coombes)

Read our Ruined King review.

9. Life is Strange: True Colors

Record Store in Life is Strange True Colors
Deck Nine / Square Enix
Life is Strange: True Colors is a powerful experience from start to finish.

Developer: Deck Nine/Publisher: Square Enix Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PC

A marvel in storytelling and characterization, True Colors introduces a diverse cast of relatable personalities into Life of Strange’s melancholic world.

Chief amongst those is Alex Chen, who has to discover what happened to her brother on a fateful night in Haven Springs. What follows is a thrilling tale of mystery and intrigue as she uses her empathetic superpower to explore the psyche of the town’s population. It’s another classic Life is Strange story packed with references for the fans, but accessible enough for new players. (Ava Thompson-Powell)

Read our Life is Strange: True Colors review.

8. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart
Insomniac Games
Rift Apart is a gorgeous platformer that’s brimming with action.

Developer: Insomniac Games/Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Platforms: PlayStation 5

When the blockbuster sequel Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart came out in June, we called it “a technical marvel that looks amazing and pushes the PS5 to its limits”. The iconic duo’s latest outing is a ridiculously fun shooter-platformer that’s brimming with imagination and chaotic weapons to try out, moving at such a breakneck speed that you’ll barely have a chance to stop and enjoy how stunning it looks.

It’s worth trying it out for the hardware alone; Rift Apart takes full advantage of the console’s ultra-fast SSD and DualSense controller, with each movement amplified through vibrations and sound, and every gadget feeling different in the hand. It’s an incredible showcase of what the PS5 is capable of. (Daniel Megarry)

Read our Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart review.

7. It Takes Two

It Takes Two Elephant Queen Dexerto
Hazelight Studios
It Takes Two is constantly unpredictable.

Developer: Hazelight Studios/Publisher: EA Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PC

With charming graphics reminiscent of a Disney-Pixar movie, a plot that involves a talking book guiding a couple through a rocky relationship, and co-op-only gameplay, It Takes Two isn’t your average platformer. It toys with scale and offers incredible variety in its gameplay to ensure every level is not only memorable but entirely different from the last.

Whether you’re turning back time or fighting off military squirrels, the best thing about It Takes Two is that it never stops surprising you; as soon as you’ve gotten used to one style of gameplay or stunning location, you’re swiftly onto the next.

In a world where battle royales and first-person shooters seem to rule the multiplayer roost, It Takes Two is proof that great co-op games aren’t dead – and that some of life’s best experiences can be had with a couple of controllers and your best buddy beside you. (Daniel Megarry)

Read our It Takes Two review.

6. Metroid Dread

A boss fight in Metroid Dread
Nintendo
Metroid Dread brings Samus back and is one of her finest adventures yet.

Developer: Mercury Steam/Publisher: Nintendo Platforms: Nintendo Switch

Gaming’s greatest bounty hunter, Samus Aran, returned for one of her best adventures yet in Metroid Dread. It’s a sprawling and highly-atmospheric 2D platformer that successfully leans into the franchise’s horror elements to deliver a game that effortlessly flips between thoughtful puzzle-solving and fear-inducing encounters with the E.M.M.I., deadly robots that will stop at nothing to track you down – and take you out with one swift stab.

Working through the various areas on Planet ZDR and unlocking all of Samus’ upgrades is like solving a massive jigsaw, and it’s incredibly satisfying to watch it all come together. With gorgeous locales, tough-as-nails gameplay that refuses to hold your hand, and some of the best boss fights we’ve ever experienced, it’s a must-play for Nintendo Switch owners. (Daniel Megarry)

Read our Metroid Dread review.

5. Returnal

Returnal gameplay
Housemarque
Returnal is hard as nails, but so satisfying.

Developer: Housemarque/Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Platforms: PlayStation 5

Difficulty in gaming is a tough line to walk. While the Souls titles pride themselves on a methodical combat rhythm that punishes mistakes, Returnal is a fast-paced arcade shooter at heart, all wrapped in a gorgeous rogue-lite on a creepy planet.

Upgrades are rolled out at a perfect cadence, while the narrative mysteries, fantastic usage of the Dualsense controller, and buttery smooth combat make Returnal a joy to play – even when you’ve died to the same boss for the fifth time in a row. (Lloyd Coombes)

Read our Returnal review.

4. Resident Evil Village

Lady Dimitrescu
Capcom
Lady Dimitrescu is the breakout star of Resident Evil: Village.

Developer: Capcom/Publisher: Capcom Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PC

After Biohazard restored faith in the long-running Resident Evil franchise, expectations were through the roof for its follow-up, Village. Fortunately, Capcom went above and beyond, taking the series to new heights with a blend of heart-pounding action, classic survival-horror, and a sprinkling of jump scares for good measure.

That’s not to mention villains like viral sensation Lady Dimitrescu and the beating heart of the gothic, grandiose European setting that’s pretty much a character in itself. For horror fans, it doesn’t get any better than this. (Daniel Megarry)

Read our Resident Evil Village review.

3. Deathloop

Deathloop
Arkane Lyon
Deathloop is a murder puzzle box that we keep coming back to.

Developer: Arkane Studios/Publisher: Bethesda Platforms: PlayStation 5, PC

In Deathloop, you’re stuck in an endless time loop, where the only way out is to piece together your memories and eliminate the eight eccentric Visionaries keeping you trapped inside it. Solving this puzzle is devilishly addictive, but it’s just as much fun to cause havoc with all the special powers and weapons you’ll unlock, enjoy the razor-sharp banter between rivals Colt and Julianna, and explore the effortlessly stylish Blackreef Island.

Is it a first-person shooter? A time-bending murder-puzzle? Or a PvP assassination face-off? The truth is, Arkane’s incredibly ambitious Deathloop is all of these things and more, blending multiple genres and gameplay elements for what’s easily the most unique gaming experience of the year. The fact that it manages to pull all of this off – and execute it near-flawlessly – makes it more than worthy of a place near the top of any end-of-year gaming list. (Daniel Megarry)

Read our Deathloop review.

2. Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5 Jaguar XJ220
Xbox Games Studios
Forza Horizon 5 is the best in the franchise so far.

Developer: Playground Games/Publisher: Xbox Game Studios Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PC

Forza Horizon 5 feels like the video game equivalent of a joyride with the roof down and your favorite songs playing as loud as possible. Playground Games’ open-world racing formula has been perfected and honed after four (excellent) entries, and tearing through the Mexican desert in an off-roader or skidding around corners in one of the world’s most expensive hypercars feels like a perfect showcase for Xbox Series X.

Perhaps most importantly, Forza Horizon 5 respects players’ time – you can play your way and be rewarded, and it’s hard to put down. (Lloyd Coombes)

Read our Forza Horizon 5 review.

1. Halo Infinite

Halo Infinite Spartan using an Energy Sword
343 Industries
Halo Infinite’s multiplayer and single-player combine to make it our Game of the Year.

Developer: 343 Industries/Publisher: Xbox Game Studios Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PC

A late addition to our list, and one that undoubtedly came with some skepticism, Halo Infinite has rejuvenated a franchise that’s been dormant for six years. It steadies the ship, narrative-wise, after Halo 5, while also pivoting to a more open-world style structure that makes the most of Chief’s new mobility options. In fact, it’s tough to imagine Halo without the grappleshot now.

Add to that a multiplayer suite that’s free to play and expected to grow over the coming months and Halo Infinite marks a confident return to form for the series and has us itching for more Master Chief adventures. (Lloyd Coombes)

Read our Halo Infinite review.

That’s a wrap on 2021’s gaming releases, but there’s plenty to look forward to in the coming months. Be sure to check out our release hubs below:

The Elder Scrolls 6 | GTA 6 | Overwatch 2 | League of Legends Project L | Destiny 2 The Witch Queen | Rainbow Six Extraction | Elden Ring | Diablo 4 | Diablo Immortal | Gotham Knights | Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League | Hogwarts Legacy | God of War Ragnarok

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