Gaming Trend 2021 Holiday Guide — Video Games edition!

Obviously 2020 was a very long year, and while 2021 has followed along with plenty of its own troubles, there’s been a lot to like about it. In particular, even though we’ve lost quite a few games to delays, like Gotham Knights, Horizon Forbidden West, and even Cyberpunk 2077 (again, when will PS5 owners get to enjoy a real next gen version?!), there have been some great titles to release this year. We’ve done a lot of reviews for them, and here are our picks on what you should grab off the shelf during the holiday season! We can’t necessarily drop everything below, so let us know on Twitter what we missed, that way we can hopefully get around to playing it soon. Although I doubt anyone is going to have much time with what’s happening in February 2021. Happy Holidays!

Video Games

Psychonauts 2 [XB/PS/PC]:

Psychonauts 2 Gameplay Part 1 - PC [Gaming Trend]

There aren’t many games you can say were worth the wait as much as Psychonauts 2. It’s got Tim Schafer and co.’s trademark humor in spades, a heartwarming and caring story, and some incredibly fluid platforming and combat.

Our review | Buy it now!

Death’s Door [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH]:

This indie game surprised me in my preview with it, and blew me away during the review stage. Death’s Door feels like an old Zelda game, but plays so cleanly and has plenty of depth behind it’s simple setting. One of the big winners is the soundtrack, and just a heads up, the deluxe edition includes it.

Our review | Buy it now!

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart [PS]:

This is arguably the penultimate Ratchet & Clank game. With some of the most incredible visuals you’ll see on the PlayStation 5 mashed with nostalgic combat and a Marvel-level narrative, if you get your hands on a PS5 you need to have this one in your collection. It’s a tale that is perfectly appropriate for your kids, and even for those adults who love a good platforming action adventure game.

Our review | Buy it now!

Returnal [PS]:

Returnal - First 45 minutes of gameplay in 4K - PS5 [Gaming Trend]

Time loops have taken over gaming, and I’m not sure any have the level of mystery of Returnal. As a scout who has crash landed while investigating a signal emanating from the planet Atropos, Selene finds herself in a hostile world teaming with alien life. Worse still, every time she dies it’s back to the beginning, with the maze of the planet reconstructing each time she resurrects. With arguably the best use of the DualSense controller and 3D audio to date for the PS5, playing Returnal is a dream mashup of arcade and bullet hell action that culminates in a GOTY contender.

Our review | Buy it now!


We’d probably be talking about this one a bit more if it didn’t come out at the end of January, but Hitman 3 is still dropping new content and contains every level of the entire Hitman trilogy. There’s not much more value in a video game than this, and that’s without mentioning Hitman 3 can be played via PSVR, adding another level to your assassinating. If you’ve played any recent Hitman games, you definitely know what to expect from this one, but it still doesn’t encompass how much fun it is to drop a piano on your target.

Our review | Buy it now!

Aliens: Fireteam Elite [XB/PS/PC]:

A movie-perfect representation of the Aliens films, down to the pulse rifles. Every outing is a banquet, every firefight a fortune, and every mission a parade…of alien infestation! I loved this game. Sure, it could use a fresh injection of content more frequently, but that’s just us wanting more game to play. I’ve seen this one as cheap as $20, so grab two more friends and help some aliens understand why we are the top of the food chain…at least until we run out of ammo.

Our review | Buy it now!

Hades (again) [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH]:

Sure, this might have come out over a year ago, but Hades is still worth talking about. A rogue-like set in a beautifully realized version of the Greek underworld, Hades combines addictive gameplay, a brilliant story, and a wicked soundtrack to deliver an experience that’s still worth talking about one year on. Now that it’s available on all consoles, we really do recommend checking this one out if you haven’t already.

Our review | Buy it now!

Ghost Of Tsushima: Director’s Cut [PS]:

Ghost of Tsushima Director's Cut Tales of Iki Island - First 20 minutes on PS5 [Gaming Trend]

This game is arguably the greatest original IP a PlayStation Studio has ever created. While this one came out last year, giving it a fresh coat of paint for the PS5 was a smart move by Sony. Not to mention a meaty expansion on Iki island (also available on PS4!) is a reminder of how incredible a job Sucker Punch has done bringing this tale from Japan to life. Many have wished for Assassin’s Creed set in Japan, and those should just pick up Ghost of Tsushima.

Our review | Buy it now!

Deathloop [PS/PC]:

Kill. Die. Do it all over again. Arkane has also done it again, crafting a great game that is a lot of fun to replay, which is a challenge for any single player title. Taking on the role of Cole, you wake up on an island with no idea what’s going on with a girl named Julianna yapping at you from a device you pick up. What ensues is some of the cleanest gameplay in an immersive sim (a genre Arkane has perfected), and it’s a memorable experience through and through. Can you escape the loop?

Our review | Buy it now!

Neo: The World Ends With You [PS/PC/SWITCH]:

Need a captivating yet convoluted story in your life filled with teen angst? Well Neo’s got you covered with some incredibly stylish combat added in for good measure.

Our review | Buy it now!

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade [PS]:

All we wanted was to play FFVII Remake on our PS5’s, but Square Enix just had to go harder than that. Not only does an already immaculate game become instantly more sexy with 4K and 60fps options, but additional texture, lighting, and fog effect updates. But there’s more! Intergrade is a new story exclusive to PlayStation 5 where you get to play as Yuffie, our favorite Wutai ninja, and tear up the Shinra Electric Power Company in search of some ultimate materia. If you somehow haven’t played this one, this is the way to do it.

Our review | Buy it now!

Yakuza: Like a Dragon [XB/PS/PC]:

Yakuza: Like A Dragon PS5 Upgrade Comparison [Gaming Trend]

While it originally released last year, the next gen versions are the perfect way to dive into the quirky crime drama that is the Yakuza series. The switch to turn based combat spices things up along with a new, heartwarming protagonist.

Our impressions | Buy it now!

Microsoft Flight Simulator [XB/PC]:

There’s something about taking flight that evokes our most base wanderlust, and Microsoft Flight Simulator from Asobo literally gives you the world at your fingertips. If you’ve got the gear to run it, you can even don a VR helmet and experience the thrill of flight in a completely immersive new way. Getting wheels up and saying “I can see my house from here!” never gets old.

Our review | Buy it now!

The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD [SWITCH]:

Everyone asked to bring the old Zelda games forward to the Switch, and Skyward Sword continues the tradition. Upgraded to 1080p, providing a stable framerate, and now with a ton of quality of life updates like being able to skip dialogue (looking at you Fi!) or even fast-travel (if you managed to get an Amiibo, but that’s another discussion), the game has never looked or played better. If you missed out the first time, now’s your chance.

Our review | Buy it now!

Civilization VI Anthology [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH]

The king of “just one more turn”, the Civilization VI Anthology incorporates all six DLC packs, giving you all new ways to play, as well as a ton of new leaders to battle. Better still, now you can play it from the comfort of your own couch as the game is available on PS4, XB1, Nintendo Switch, as well as PC. If you are a turn-based tactical fan, you can’t go wrong.

Our review | Buy it now!

Borderlands 3: Ultimate Edition [XB/PS/PC/STADIA]:

Whether you want to try to collect all billion+ guns in the game, or care to snuggle up for some couch-co-op-carnage, Borderlands 3 looks absolutely gorgeous in this Ultimate Edition. Running at a silky smooth 4K resolution and 60fps on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, the game is a blast no matter where you play. And honestly, who doesn’t need a little mayhem in their life?

Our review | Buy it now!


It’s odd to say since my wife and I don’t particularly enjoy sports, but there’s something relaxing (and occasionally ruthlessly competitive) about settling down for a few rounds of golf. With a metric ton of real-world courses, and modes to keep you busy beyond just hitting the links, this is more than your usual “yearly outing” sports game. When you need a break from the bombastic, perhaps putting on goofy clothes and smacking a ball with a stick might be just what you need.

Buy it now!

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH/STADIA]:

One of the smartest, wittiest, and prettiest games of the last decade. Disco Elysium will undoubtedly become one of those games that everyone’s had in their periphery but will never actually play. It’s understandable; there’s enough walls of text here to scare away even the most patient gamer. But this doesn’t have to be you—with The Final Cut, the game is now fully voiced! There’s too much good stuff here to miss if you’re a fan of narrative-driven experiences.

Our review | Buy it now!

Knockout City [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH]:

Who would’ve thought a dodgeball game released under EA Play would have garnered so much attention, but it earned every bit of attention it amassed. Knockout City turns out to be one of the best multiplayer games this year with fully functioning crossplay between all-platforms from the start. It’s fun to get together and pelt some people, but it also works as an extremely competitive game. This is a no-brainer to play with friends.

Our review | Buy it now!

Mass Effect Legendary Edition [XB/PS/PC]:

Mass Effect Legendary Edition First Mission in 4K - PC [Gaming Trend]

There’s a reason why this series is the most beloved of nearly anything Bioware has ever made. With stunning performances from industry titans like Jennifer Hale and Mark Meer, alongside an incredible cast of supporting characters, this Mass Effect trilogy remaster has been top of our wish list for quite some time. The Legendary Edition gives us a complete overhaul of the first game, and a metric ton of quality of life improvements to the other two. If you loved this series the first time, it’s never looked or played this good.

Our review | Buy it now!

Resident Evil Village [XB/PS/PC/STADIA]:

Featuring multiple Lords to hunt down – each with their own unique territory and play style – greatly helps Village stand out from previous entries. The long awaited return of a merchant, adding in hunting and fishing options, providing an upgraded inventory system, and switching the gameplay to be more action focused all combine to help Village feel unique to this long-running series of survival horror games. Plus, it helps that the Village allows its story to go completely off the rails and never takes itself too seriously.

Our review | Buy it now!

New Pokemon Snap [SWITCH]:

It’s nice to get back into the Neo-One and just snap pictures of the variety of Pokemon. It’s relaxing and fun to glide through levels multiple times looking for the best capture. There’s no pressure to finish the game as quickly as possible or be bogged down with extra microtransactions. You simply enjoy the feeling of being a photographer.

Our review | Buy it now!

Nier Replicant: ver.1.22474487139… [XB/PS/PC]:

NieR Replicant ver. 1.22474487139... Gameplay - PS4 [Gaming Trend]

This remake of a classic game finally gives fans what they deserve: good gameplay to go along with an excellent story. If you enjoyed NieR Automata, this is the game for you.

Our review | Buy it now!

It Takes Two [XB/PS/PC]:

Josef Farres and Hazelight Studios tend to come up with the most unique ideas for video games, and It Takes Two is no exception to the rule. One of the few couch co-op games out there, the platforming meshes with some of the most distinctive equipment and a remarkably crafted narrative to build a captivating game. I never thought a divorce story would be one of the best video games of the year, but here we are. Although we’d suggest closing your eyes during the stuffed elephant bit…

Our review | Buy it now!

Death Stranding: Director’s Cut [PS]:

As long as Hideo Kojima keeps making games, we’ll keep buying them. Even if he makes the same one again. Wait, what? Death Stranding was already one of the most unique games to ever release, and it gets even better with this next-gen re-release. Not only are there a glut of new features, like a shooting range, racing, a buddy bot, and a catapult to fire your packages across the map (somehow doesn’t damage the packages thanks to a handy parachute), there is also a bit of new story to unwrap. It was already an epic adventure, this just gives you a reason to play it again. As if you needed one.

Our review | Buy it now!

Monster Hunter Rise [SWITCH, PC soon]:

Do you enjoy making the numbers go up so you can fight new things to make the numbers go even higher? Throw in unique weapons and tons of fearsome monsters, and you’ve got Monster Hunter. Rise is the latest and arguably best entry coming to PC next year, but still plays great on Switch.

Our review | Buy it now!

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury [SWITCH]:

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury Gameplay - Switch [Gaming Trend]

Super Mario 3D World is one of the standout entries that is, more or less, tied to the above average New Super Mario Bros. series of games, but the inclusion of Bowser’s Fury makes this something you cannot miss. Combining the freedom of Breath of the Wild with the level design of Mario 64 in an open-world environment created a twist on a Mario game that one could only wish was longer. If Bowser’s Fury was an experiment, we need more of that.

Our review | Buy it now!

Little Nightmares II [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH/STADIA]:

The sequel to one of the scariest games of 2017, Little Nightmares II doesn’t disappoint. This 2.5d puzzle platformer sees you take on the role of a little boy who must make his way through a twisted realm known as the Pale City, a place where everyone wants to eat you. Little Nightmares II masterfully combines a dark atmosphere and terrifying set pieces to conjure up a nightmare that shouldn’t be missed.

Our review | Buy it now!

The Nioh Collection [PS]:

The Nioh Collection bundles two fantastic games; Nioh and Nioh 2, both in their remastered glory. Set in Sengoku-era Japan, fight your way through intricately designed levels and face mythological demons and brutally tough bosses. A must play for any souls-like lover.

Our review | Buy it now!

Persona 5 Strikers [PS/SWITCH]:

Strikers is a direct sequel to Persona 5 and wears that badge on its sleeve. While it plays like a warriors game, it feels much more like the turn based RPG it’s based on complete with stylish menus and attacks.

Our review | Buy it now!

Shin Megami Tensei V [SWITCH]:

Shin Megami Tensei V Gameplay - Switch [Gaming Trend]

If you’re not in the know, this is the series Persona spun off from. The latest entry tells a compelling story with the signature tough as nails combat and some excellent, open-ended level design.

Our review | Buy it now!

Scott Pilgrim vs The World Complete Edition [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH/STADIA]:

Scott Pilgrim’s brawler based on the movie based on the comic based on his life is finally back! With tons of characters, modes, levels, and an incredible soundtrack, make sure to grab this one before it disappears again.

Our review | Buy it now!

Life Is Strange: True Colors [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH/STADIA]:

True Colors tells an interesting story in the most unique way the series has seen so far. It succeeds at engaging the player with its new lead, characters, and plot that provide a refreshing new take in the series and an enjoyable experience overall.

Our review | Buy it now!

Tales of Arise [XB/PS/PC]:

Tales of Arise has revitalized the Tales of series in a big way with completely reworked combat. It’s fun as hell and tells a story about liberation in an unjust world with an interesting cast of characters.

Our review | Buy it now!

No More Heroes III [SWITCH]:

No More Heroes III First 45 Minutes - Switch [Gaming Trend]

Travis Touchdown goes out with a bang in the supposedly final No More Heroes game. Take on some odd jobs in between bashing alien brains in with your beam katana. The town of Santa Destroy is just as wacky as ever, so let’s start the game.

Our review | Buy it now!

The Ascent [XB/PC]:

Way too many games claim a cyberpunk aesthetic but merely deliver neon-bathed streets and little else. The Ascent defies that trend, giving us a fully-realized and dangerous world that bleeds cyberpunk from every pore. Combined with some excellent twin-stick shooter action, and cooperative multiplayer to go with it, The Ascent is one you’ll want to check out for yourself.

Our review | Buy it now!

Golf Club: Wasteland [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH]:

While it’s not the most sophisticated of 2-D golfers, it’s certainly the moodiest. It’s got a good story, some killer tunes, and a powerful message to send to its players. Sometimes, you just need an escape, and in Golf Club: Wasteland, you can find that respite in the most unlikely of places. This is an indie gem that’s well worth a playthrough or two.

Our review | Buy it now!

The Forgotten City [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH]:

It’s been a good few years for time-loop games but if this is it for that little trend, then The Forgotten City is the perfect swan song. Everything about the mystery at hand is interesting; from the set pieces, to the lore, to the puzzles — the game never fails to capture the magic of discovery and evoke awe at every turn. An absolutely must-play for anyone looking for a good mystery or adventure game.

Our review | Buy it now!

Kena: Bridge Of Spirits [PS/PC]:

Kena: Bridge of Spirits - Fighting the Shrine Guardian on PS5 - [Gaming Trend]

I’m a little biased on this, but Kena is one of my favorite games of the year. Kena: Bridge Of Spirits takes me back to a simpler time when I played Beyond Good and Evil and the first Jak & Daxter games on my PS2. While it definitely feels nostalgic, Ember Lab put in a lot of work to make it play right in 2021, with not only Pixar-level animation but fun platforming, combat, and exploration. Oh, and the Rot? ADORABLE and they fit in the game without feeling forced.

Our review | Buy it now!

Lost Judgment [XB/PS]:

Yagami is back and better than ever. What starts off as investigating bullying at the local high school quickly becomes a murder mystery crime drama that Yakuza fans are accustomed to along with the beat-em-up gameplay the mainline series moved on from. Lost Judgement tells an incredibly compelling tale along with some wacky side stories you won’t want to miss.

Our review | Buy it now!

Tormented Souls [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH]:

Tormented Souls is an attempt to capture the spirit of the PS2 era’s horror games, which the game excels at on just about every level. Filled to the brim with challenging puzzles and creepy enemy design, the game is a must-buy for fans of the survival horror genre, especially those that miss the gameplay offered in the original Resident Evil trilogy.

Our review | Buy it now!

The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes [XB/PS/PC]:

The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes Gameplay - PS5 [Gaming Trend]

If you’re looking for an intense, choice based horror game to play with friends and family, look no further. House of Ashes outclasses the other games in the anthology by a country mile. It’s not terribly scary, but with how crazy this game gets, you’ll want to replay it a few times to see how your choices can impact the insane ending.

Our review | Buy it now!

Planet Zoo and expansions [PC]:

This game is so cute your head might explode. Building out an amazing nature preserve explicitly to help bring back a rare species from the brink never gets old — it’s hard not to get very attached to these wonderful animals. With a steady stream of development and expansions with all new exciting locations, fresh creatures to manage, and more, I just can’t recommend this enough.

Our review | Buy it now!

Crysis Trilogy Remastered [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH]:

Three of the shiniest games to ever grace the first-person shooter sub-genre, looking better than ever and available on the modern-day console of your choice. If you’ve got a hankering for the nostalgic flavors of the previous decade, this collection is the perfect way to get your fix of explosive set pieces and high-octane shooting. It should be noted, however, that the remaster for the original Crysis lags behind its follow-ups.

Our review | Buy it now!

Twelve Minutes [XB/PC]:

One of those indies that leaves you scratching your head, but in a good way. This one boasts a star studded cast in James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and Willem Dafoe, and each one gives a tremendous performance. You could almost consider Twelve Minutes art, with director Luís António painting something that looks simple on the surface, but with an intricate depth found as you continue further.

Our review | Buy it now!

Sable [XB/PS/PC]:

Sable Gameplay - PC [Gaming Trend]

Have you ever just wanted to explore the world? When Sable embarks on her traditional gliding to find herself, you can do just that. The world of Midden hides many secrets across its dunes, with tons of masks, hoverbike pieces, and clothes to find. This is an absolutely beautiful coming of age story that is a must play.

Our review | Buy it now!

Tails of Iron [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH]:

With Tails of Iron, Odd Bug Studio has crafted a unique world filled with lore, great characters, challenging gameplay, and gorgeous graphics. Players will undoubtedly be drawn into the intense battle between frogs and rats and the wide variety of equipment is sure to make any RPG fan excited to experiment with new loadouts.

Our review | Buy it now!

F.I.S.T. Forged in Shadow Torch [PS/PC]:

Complex combat, a huge and incredibly detailed map to explore, loads of secrets to find, a lengthy campaign, and gorgeous visuals combine to create a lovingly crafted homage to the Metroidvania genre.

Our review | Buy it now!

WarioWare: Get It Together [SWITCH]:

Featuring over 200 incredibly funny, absurd, and downright creative microgames for players to complete, WarioWare: Get It Together is one of the best co-op experiences released on the Switch this year. You’ll find yourself laughing, fighting with your friends over who failed a game, and savoring your triumphs over the late game’s harder challenges. The addition of the Emporium, Break Room, Missions, Play-O-Pedia, and Wario Cup are welcome and will keep the game fresh for players well after they complete the campaign.

Our review | Buy it now!

Crash Bandicoot: CRASHiversary bundle [XB/PS/SWITCH]:

Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time Upgrade Comparison - PS4/5 [Gaming Trend]

If you love Crash Bandicoot, there is literally no reason for you to miss this bundle, and even if you do you should totally pick these up a la carte.

  • Crash N’Sane Trilogy: Back to the beginning and just as insane as ever. A lot of us remember playing the original games on the PlayStation, running away from huge rolling boulders, knocking out all sorts of enemies with our spin attack, and “ooga booga-ing” towards all the wampa fruit you can collect. What may be more astonishing is this collection is all three of the original Crash games, more than worth the price associated with them. They’re simply classics, and their loving recreation is one of the best remakes ever made.
  • Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled: Not to be outdone, CTR was what kids who didn’t have a Nintendo to play Mario Kart begged for. Even being a reimagining of a classic title, this one is jam-packed with content, with over 50 characters and 40 karts and tracks across all your favorite CTR. If that’s not enough for ya, there’s also nine local game modes you can play with friends, with co-op and online options. It’s a perfect game for families to play after unwrapping presents.
  • Crash 4: It’s About Time: Crash is finally back, and in what’s possibly his best adventure yet. After a ton of… less than good reboots, sequels, and spinoffs, Crash and Coco return to what they’re best at: spinning through difficult and imaginative levels. No matter what platform you play this on, you’re in for a great time.

Our review | Buy it now!

Hot Wheels Unleashed [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH]:

For those of you who remember Hot Wheels Stunt Track Driver from back in the day, this is a true trip back to 1998, but with all the amenities of today. Hot Wheels Unleashed is a pretty solid racing game, but with the unique aesthetic of driving Hot Wheels cars on the iconic orange tracks. With plenty of unlockable vehicles and locations, plus sufficient online and local co-op components, Hot Wheels Unleashed is a good get for your money.

Our review | Buy it now!

Metroid Dread [SWITCH]:

Metroid Dread Gameplay - Switch [Gaming Trend]

While we haven’t seen Samus in far too long, she’s bound to stick around for at least a while thanks to Dread’s excellence. Fans won’t want to miss out on exploring the myriad corridors of Planet ZDR as they face down the E.M.M.I. in horrifying encounters. While you’ve probably already bought this one, if you haven’t… what are you waiting for?

Our review | Buy it now!

Diablo II: Resurrected:

Vicarious Visions delivers the authentic experience of Diablo II now 20 years later, with completely remastered cutscenes, a gorgeous new engine that transforms the game from 2D to 3D, controller and cross-platform progression, and much more. While it’s true that the game has had a tremendous amount of server issues for online characters since launch, there’s no denying that this is Diablo II for an all new generation of players.

Our review | Buy it now!

Far Cry 6 [XB/PS/PC]:

Ubisoft delivers another fantastic villain with Giancarlo Esposito’s portrayal of the murderous Yaran dictator, Anton Castillo. The world feels more realized than ever, and with a fully cooperative island to explore, there’s no shortage of things to do. We checked out the excellent collector’s edition of the game here, and you can scope our review right here as well for all of the details.

Our review | Buy it now!

Back 4 Blood [XB/PS/PC]:

Everyone wanted Left 4 Dead to come back. While this may not be a one for one response, it’s definitely the closest anyone could come to a spiritual successor, even crafted by the original studio behind the classic zombie franchise. Back 4 Blood is every bit the undead shoot em up you’d expect for the modern age, and the cool twist on multiplayer is a nice change in the series. As always, the motto of the series is “Survive”.

Our review | Buy it now!

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy [XB/PS/PC/SWITCH]:

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy - Gameplay: First chapter in 4K [PC] - [Gaming Trend]

“Everybody wants to rule the world”, but it’s up to the scrappiest bunch of heroes in the galaxy to keep that from happening. Guardians is one of 2021’s biggest triumphs, a superhero game that gets straight to the point and kicks from 0-60 almost instantly. Eidos-Montreal put a ton of care into crafting this team of misfits, with the back and forth chatter befitting of the rascals we know and love, along with a deep story that will leave you laughing, crying, and begging for more. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to the Milano.

Our review | Buy it now!

Valheim [PC]:

Nobody saw this one coming. With 8 million copies sold (and counting) this little indie gem took 2021 by storm. What’s not to love? You’re a Viking in the afterlife, you can build yourself a cozy little home, or a massive longhouse, the sky’s the limit. After you’ve settled in, why not build yourself a huge Viking ship to explore the seas? The survival and building aspects of this game are simple and effective. Exploring feels both terrifying and satisfying all at the same time. There is a real sense of accomplishment with Valheim, and several of our staff have sunk hundreds of hours into this totally enjoyable survival game.

Our impressions | Buy it now!

Mario Party SuperStars [SWITCH]:

Mario Party Superstars is the culmination of all that is great about the Mario Party series. Sporting many of the best boards and mini-games pulled from the series’ long history and featuring multiple quality-of-life updates including online play, the ability to save and return to a game later, faster gameplay, a variety of different playstyles between the boards, a leveling system, and a ton of items to unlock, Mario Party Superstars may be the best entry yet in the long-running series.

Our review | Buy it now!

Call Of Duty: Vanguard [XB/PS/PC]:

Sledgehammer Games may be revisiting the WW2 setting with a previously used engine (the IW8 engine from the Modern Warfare reboot), but that doesn’t mean they’ve simply rehashed what we’ve played before. Vanguard is a great entry in the Call Of Duty franchise, with a short but sweet campaign and a lacking but fun Zombies mode. Where the game really shines is multiplayer, which is stuffed with arguably the most content we’ve ever seen. If the seasonal content continues to add some good maps, modes and weapons to it, along with fleshing out Zombies (no pun intended), this could be the next series to expect from this team.

Our review | Buy it now!

Forza Horizon 5 [XB/PC]:

For a time we thought Forza Horizon was done. Then the fifth was announced. Now it’s here, and it slaps. Consider this another driving fantasy fulfilled and one that deserves a Game of the Year nomination. Forza Horizon 5 is jam-packed with stuff to do and plenty of awesome cars to do the stuff. It’s excellent. Go play it.

Our review | Buy it now!

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One [XB/PS/PC]:

Sherlock Holmes Chapter One - First 30 minutes in 4K on PC [Gaming Trend]

A jaunt through the growing years of one of the most classic characters in existence, Chapter One is a phenomenal next step from Frogwares. Sherlock himself is incredibly crafted, a headstrong young adult with a nose for finding the truth. Beyond that is a sprawling open world, just begging for an investigator to uncover its hidden secrets. If you love puzzly detective games, this one’s for you.

Our review | Buy it now!

Jurassic World Evolution 2 [XB/PS/PC]:

I cannot stop playing this game! Creating the worlds most dangerous theme park is as exciting as it is challenging. While the campaign may be a bit short, a ton of challenges, locations, and a high-configurable sandbox provides limitless opportunities to accidentally unleash angry bitey dinos on your guests. With innumerable quality of life improvements over its predecessor, Jurassic World Evolution 2 is everything the original was and a whole lot more.

Our review | Buy it now!

Age Of Empires IV [PC]:

Easily one of the most beloved franchises in strategic gaming history, the Age of Empires series is beloved. With Relic at the helm, it is not only a return to form, but brings with it some fantastic new ways to play without breaking the formula. Magnificent medieval behind-the-scenes video are a real highlight, but the gameplay is tight as a drum.

Our review | Buy it now!

VR Games:

Sniper Elite VR [Oculus/PSVR]:

Sniper Elite VR Tutorial and First Mission - Oculus Quest 2 [Gaming Trend]

Bonjourno! Today we’re going to be doing one thing and one thing only. Killing Nazis. Sniper Elite VR (made by the same folks who gave us Jurassic World Aftermath — also on this list) takes place in Italy in 1943, putting you right in the middle of the action as a member of the Italian resistance. A great blend of arcade sniping and stealth combat, the game somehow delivers a ton of awesome moments without any level of nausea. If you loved the main series entries, you’ll love this. (review)

Our review | Buy it now!

Sam & Max: This time it’s Virtual [Oculus/Steam/PSVR]:

The detective duo return in an all-new adventure that involves monster mashing, a trip to the carnival, murder, and indiscriminately applied lead-based justice! Join our favorite hyperkinetic rabbity thing and a dog in a suit and hat as we set off on a brand new built-for-VR adventure. It’s time for more Freelance Police! (review)

Our review | Buy it now!

Fracked [PSVR]:

Fracked is one of the more intriguing VR releases this year. It really doesn’t go after anything you know, besides having a Borderlandsy feel to the visuals and a crass tone, and that works for it. Coming along with it are impressive technical achievements, being one of the first VR games I’ve played to do full movement without me feeling sick over it. It’s just well done, and in the VR space that’s a huge deal.

Our review | Buy it now!

A Rogue Escape [Oculus/Steam]:

A Rogue Escape in VR on Oculus Quest 2 - First 30 minutes [Gaming Trend]

Piloting a submarine means never really knowing where you’re going. You can’t exactly peer out the front of the vessel. So it goes with A Rogue Escape. You are a prisoner trying to escape, only you have no idea how to operate the giant undersea mech you’ve managed to commandeer. Roguelike elements keep you coming back as every run leaves you with a little more knowledge than before. And rest assured…you’ll see plenty, if you survive long enough.

Our review | Buy it now!

Shadowgate VR: The Mines of Mythrok [Oculus]:

Based on the NES game from the early 90s, Shadowgate VR takes the important step of putting the player directly in the dungeon. With tons of interactive elements, spell casting, and deviously difficult puzzles, this is easily one of the best VR titles out there. Do not sleep on this one — while it may be a little on the short side, it’s a fun ride the entire time.

Our review | Buy it now!

Honorable Mention:

Halo Infinite [XB/PC]:

Halo is as Halo does, and this one does a lot that we like. The multiplayer is a ton of fun, feeling like the good old Halo we remember from those nights drinking Vault and cramming our mouths with Oreos in a college dorm while screaming at “N0obkilla420”. This is the best Halo we’ve played in years, and the campaign looks to bring everything full circle (get it, circle, like a Halo? Oh you’re no fun).

Our preview | Pre-order it now!

David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.

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