2020 Was Wild, But 2021 Clearly Intends to Raise the Stakes
2020 is finally dead and we’re now over a full two weeks into 2021. While last year was pretty great for gaming, it was not at all great for just about anything else, and so far it looks like the new year is going to give the last a run for its money on both accounts. Luckily I’m here to talk to you about gaming today and what 2021 could hold for our beloved medium. The wild nature of the world we currently live in sometimes shines through in the gaming industry for better or worse, and those are often things we end up talking about for years to come. The Kojima/Konami split, the Virtual Boy, Microsoft buying Bethesda. These things were totally unpredictable…until they happened.
So today, I’m here to cast some bold 2021 gaming predictions out into the universe. Now, do keep in mind that these are just predictions – and in some cases, predictions that are deliberately distant from reality. These are bold predictions after all. I’m simply channeling Murphy’s Law into content for a readership that lives for “what if” scenarios. Try not to take it too seriously, and we’ll all have a better time for it. So with that said, here are my predictions for 2021 in gaming.
The original PSVR has been aging in dog years, and the new Hitman 3 VR trailer definitely reveals the headsets age. Watching Agent 47 knock a dude out in what looks like borderline N64 graphics in VR may have un-sold me on Sony’s headset, despite the premise of Hitman in VR convincing me months ago. Plus, Sony didn’t include native PSVR support on the PS5, instead forcing customers to jump through hoops for a dongle to connect it. This makes it seem like even they are ready to send it to a farm upstate. I predict that later this year in the September – December window, Sony will release a new version of the PSVR. I think it’ll be a wireless headset and come with a brand new set of white move controllers that also have haptic feedback and adaptive triggers just like the DualSense. It’ll also likely launch with some kind of banger title that hasn’t been announced yet, or perhaps a console version of Half-Life Alyx. I would also bank on it all being announced during whatever E3 ends up looking like this year.
Assassin’s Creed Will Take Another Year Off
The most recent Assassin’s Creed entry has been widely regarded as a high point for the franchise and understandably so. The game features some of the best writing in the series along with really solid combat and player progression. It doesn’t feel like the revelation that Origins was, but did a great job of reigning in and refining some of the more superfluous RPG mechanics of the previous two titles. Origins and Valhalla are both instances where taking a year off to work on a better game has resulted in resounding success for Ubisoft. Valhalla sold over 1.7 million units at launch and doubled the active player count of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, similar to how Origins sold double the number of units of Syndicate. There’s no way Ubisoft hasn’t noticed this if their marketing and accounting teams are paying attention. So I think they’ll take this year off to work on a new Assassin’s Creed as well. Plus, Ubisoft just had a massive holiday season in which they launched multiple major AAA titles in a row, which was going to trend into 2021 until Ubisoft delayed the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake and Far Cry 6 (though they do still have quite a bit coming out leading up to those releases). Valhalla was developed primarily for previous-gen hardware and the next title likely will be too, but it’ll also be great to see an entry designed specifically for the next generation when it’s in full swing. Also, I don’t think it’ll be in Japan.
Elden Ring Releases
If you look at FromSoftware’s release schedule from the past few years, you’ll see that there’s been at least one “Soulsborne” game released every year since 2014, with the exception of 2017 when they released nothing at all. It’s also worth noting that From didn’t work on the recent Demon Souls remake, but that release still contributes to the pattern as it keeps their brand in the public consciousness. The game’s been in development since 2017, announced back in 2019, and is currently sporting the longest stretch between announcement and release (or any information whatsoever) in the developer’s recent history. I’d be willing to bet that From will show off more details about the game within this quarter, and announce a November release date at this year’s E3 stand-in. FromSoftware doesn’t usually make a whole lot of noise before releasing a game, but I imagine this one’s marketing campaign will have more of a budget after Sekiro swept of Game of the Year awards in 2019 and Elden Ring itself was voted “Most Anticipated Game” at The Game Awards this past December.
Red Dead Redemption Re-Releases
Red Dead Redemption 2 was a massive success for Rockstar Games, being the second-largest launch in the history of entertainment at the time, and making the developer $725 million US dollars. It also launched to massive critical acclaim, often tied with God of War for Game of the Year awards back in 2018. One of the most bizarre things about the game was what it didn’t do with about half of the map in single-player mode, as it included the entire region from the original Red Dead Redemption. Mexico in particular, a massive third of the map was entirely inaccessible without the use of mods or glitches. The rest of the non-Mexico part of the map is still used in Red Dead Online, which recently had a standalone release as well. This particular detail sets up a very specific proposition – Red Dead Online could be separate from a re-release of the game’s single-player content, which comes with a full remake of the first Red Dead Redemption, and extra content connecting the two. Just for the sake of being extra outlandish, why not suggest that a remake of Red Dead Revolver will be included as well using the rest of the game’s map, or it could be a separate region altogether – not unlike the island of Guarma.
Xbox Releases New Elite Controller with Dualsense-Inspired Features
The PS5’s DualSense controller has been getting a lot of credit for making the overall console truly feel next-gen, and rightfully so. The haptic feedback and adaptive triggers have become the reason many players will buy certain games on PS5 over other platforms. Phil and the whole Xbox team have taken note of this and even recently surveyed fans asking if they would like to see these features implemented in Xbox controllers as well. It’s also relatively likely that Xbox was already in the process of making a new version of the Elite controller after releasing the Elite 2 back in November 2019. Their design lab website is also currently down as it seems Xbox has some next-gen plans for that process as well, and it would probably be wise to use this time to implement an even newer version of the controller. Given that the DualSense’s controller has already been torn apart and figured out by interested parties worldwide, it likely wouldn’t be too hard for one of the wealthiest companies on the planet to recreate in their own products. But will that be enough for Xbox? One benefit of the capitalist system we live in is the way competition drives innovation, and given the massive pull that the DualSense currently sports for the PlayStation platform, Xbox may want to throw an extra bell and/or whistle into their new controller. I predict it being made available in time to launch alongside Halo Infinite with a special Halo edition of the controller.
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