Be honest with yourself right now: has 2021 been a good year for gaming?

I don’t feel like it has. We’ve definetly had some highlights with Returnal, Resident Evil Village, It Takes Two, and Psychonauts 2, but overall the year has felt like a big snooze.

Until now.

Now is the time for all the big games of the fall/winter to drop. Now is when game developers put it all on the table for the holiday feasting to begin. This is the true gaming season.

And like always, I’m here to guide you through what I think are going to be the best games of the season.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

This game came out today and it’s gonna be special. It’s a rookie effort by a new studio called Ember Lab that was primarily known for animating this sick Zelda video and decided to make a video game next.

It looks very much like a 3D open world Ori and the Will of the Wisps. You can tell how much work has gone into the world-building, the animation, the soundtrack, and the design of the characters just from the trailers. And the gameplay clips I’ve seen look really smooth, like Ori’s combat. I have some really high expectations for this game and I think for $40, it’s gonna be a must-play game this fall.

Far Cry 6

I’ve gone on record multiple times saying that Ubisoft is not a good gaming company anymore and I think they’re gonna end up getting sold or closed in the next 5 years. If that does happen, one series that will not be the cause of its downfall is Far Cry. Ever since Far Cry 3, this series has been on fire. Sure the gameplay tends to get repetitive and the story kinda always follows the same script, but I’m still always drawn in because the devs just find the perfect villains. Vaas. Pagan Min. The Seed Family.

And now: Giancarlo Esposito.

Far Cry typically takes place on some abandoned island where survival plays a key role, and I’m interested to see how they choose to adapt that to living in a decent-sized South American city run by a cruel dictator. Also, the season pass is supposed to have a villain pack where you get to play as all the guys I just named from the previous games. And a Stranger Things crossover. And a Rambo mission. Like what???

Back 4 Blood

I’ll be honest: I was not that impressed by the Back 4 Blood beta I played a month or so ago. The movement felt clunky, the visuals were kinda disappointing, and there were a ton of performance issues.

It might also be because my previous experience with Left 4 Dead games was just playing them on the easiest difficulty with 3 other friends and running around unchallenged. That’s not really an option in Back 4 Blood. You can’t just run off by yourself and fight off the horde like you do in most zombie games. You actually have to play as a team, stagger reloads, stay close to each other, etc. And I think this game deserves another try from me. Maybe I just want it to be a good game so bad that I’m choosing not to completely write it off. Maybe it’s because it’s on Game Pass and I don’t have to pay for it so it’s easy to just try again. Either way, I’ll be playing it this fall; we’ll just have to see for how long.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles

There’s nothing special about this game unless you’re a Demon Slayer or anime fan. It’s an arena fighting game that will cover all of the series to date, including Mugen Train. This studio is known for its Naruto Ninja Storm games, which were very well received and did a great job bringing the action and abilities of the characters to a fun arena fighting game.

It’s definitely not for diehard fighting game purists, but if you like hype anime battles, this is probably a good game for you.

Solar Ash

This game looks like a trippy weird mindfuck, which I’ve kinda already hit my quota on for the year between Psychonauts 2 and The Artful Escape. But…I have to play this game.

It’s the second game from the team that made Hyper Light Drifter, which was a phenomenal indie from a few years back. They have been talking about how this game is less about combat and more about “traversal”, which really intrigues me considering it’s taking place inside a black hole. Like a trippy ride through a black hole with an interesting art style and no fucking clue what way the story will unfold? Sounds like a good Friday night.

Battlefield 2042

DESPITE all the negative things I said about it last week, I am still holding out hope.

This game needs to be good for my sanity. Does EA have a good track record of meeting expectations with everything on the line? Absolutely not. See Mass Effect Andromeda, Battlefront 1+2, Battlefield 5, and every sports game they’ve made for the last 5 years. There is absolutely zero reason I should have any level of emotional attachment to this game whatsoever…

But I can’t play another full year of shitty CoD. I can’t. Please don’t make me do it Battlefield. Please be even halfway decent.

Halo Infinite

This is probably my most anticipated game on this list, but should it be? Should I really be as excited as I am for ANOTHER 343 Halo?

I have no idea. I will be playing the beta this weekend so I should have a better idea of how good the game will be soon, but I’m really just excited for the multiplayer anyway. I’ve given up on the Halo story ever being as good as the original trilogy again. I’ll play the campaign and I’m sure the battle royale when it drops, but as long as the multiplayer is decent and ranked is fun, I’ll be happy.

The Gunk

This has kinda flown under the radar but it’s one of the games I’ve been on the lookout for since I saw the first trailer.

It’s being made by the Steamworld Dig developer, which when you consider what you’re doing in The Gunk, basically makes this Steamworld Dig 3D. And I know many of you have no idea what the fuck I’m talking about when I say “Steamworld Dig” but it’s this awesome platformer that has a good blend of old school and new school platformer mechanics. The Gunk though looks like a really cool modern action-adventure game to play when your friends aren’t online and it’s 2pm on a Saturday with nothing to do. Perfect fit for me.