As this year comes to a close, it is time for my annual Game of the Year articles. This will be another behemoth with six planned articles and even more organization for 2021.
It’s been quite the year for video games, in spite of a AAA lull due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Almost as if a massive, once-a-century pandemic has had a big impact on the world. 2022 is looking incredibly stacked, though, and I cannot wait for next year!
For me, 2021 has been an incredibly strong year for indie and AA titles. As you may find out, my Top 10 is going to be even more challenging to create.
So, why do I write this article now for you guys now, and not in December? For one thing, I like showing off and preparing some hopeful hype. I’m planning on putting in a lot of work into these, and I want to set my goals for this year’s array of wacky thoughts.
I’ll be featuring some of these games on my twitch channel in the coming weeks.
For fun, let’s look back on the other years for my lists. These are not completely in sync with the articles of those years – they are with hindsight. I take these GOTY lists pretty seriously, as you’ll soon discover…
Top 10 from 2017
- Divinity Original Sin 2
- Hat of Time
- Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Assassins Creed Origins
- Total War: Warhammer 2
- Hollow Knight
- Spellforce 3
- West of Loathing
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Top 10 from 2018
- Rimworld (1.0 Release)
- Kingdom Come Deliverance (Official release winner)
- Hitman 2
- Pathfinder: Kingmaker
- Two Point Hospital
- Red Dead Redemption 2
Top 10 from 2019
- Outer Wilds
- Pathologic 2
- Disco Elysium
- Enderal: Forgotten Stories
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- Streets of Rogue
- Wildermyth (Early Access)
- Lost Ember
- Planet Zoo
Top 10 from 2020
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Monster Train
- Desperados III
- Urtuk: The Desolation
- Popup Dungeon
- Paper Beast: Folded Edition
- Crusader Kings III
I always follow an important ruleset when creating these. Personal rules and the like. I’m following a strict guideline because of the sheer number of games I’ve played this year.
- All game candidates must be released in the year they were made for any platform. I must own the game and have played it for a decent amount of time to get a good overview of what it is.
So, this is a reasonable enough rule and it prevents me from adding games to my GOTY which I played for the first time this year but released in previous years. So stuff like Day’s Gone and Death Stranding, while good games and Day’s Gone launching on PC this year, I cannot add to my list. However, if there is a major redesign to the game onto another platform, or the vast amount of content added, then it can be considered. Games released on Game Pass or cloud can be counted.
- Previous Early Access titles that fully release this year can be counted, as long as they are not featured in previous GOTY. Keep this number to a minimum for Top 10 if possible to keep exposure on 2021 releases.
This rule again is mainly to keep focus on the games that did launch for the first time. 2018 was a big year for that with three 1.0 Top 10 releases, so I’m trying to keep it at one or two maximum. I am also ruling out Wildermyth from this year’s list. It came out of Early Access this year and while it is a fantastic game worthy of GOTY mention, I included it in my 2019 GOTY Top 10. Therefore, it will not be counted for 2021. Try the game, though. It is brilliant!
- Remasters and Remakes can be counted as long as they add substantial content and changes from original games. Ports cannot be counted.
An easy rule. Again, this is to cut back on clutter.
- DLC and Expansions can be considered if they offer enough content, but keep this to a minimum
Another easy rule to cut back on clutter. Good examples of DLC to include would be stuff like 2016’s Witcher 3: Blood and Wine, Cloudpunk: City of Ghosts and Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries, Heroes of the Inner Sphere. All three add massive amounts of content to the original games or are sequel games in their own right. This sort of stuff is acceptable to consider.
- Early Access releases can be considered as long as they provide a complete/enjoyable enough gameplay experience. Only three maximum are allowed to be in the Top 10
This has been a rule of mine for several years, but it’s never been more important now. While 2021 has been a sparse year for the AAA industry, it has seen a huge surge in the indie scene, especially for games released in Early Access. I have over a dozen Top 10 candidates that have been released in Early Access this year. I’ll be making a Best of Early Access article where I’ll talk about the best seven or eight, and pick three for the Top 10. It’s going to be incredibly difficult to work that out!
There is a strict schedule planned for this event, and I will do what I can to ensure I follow this the best I can.
Best of Early Access 2021 (Late November)
Probably the most difficult off the bat. I will take you through seven of my favorite games released in 2021 that are in Early Access, with three that will be allowed to move onto the Top 10. That’s…not going to be easy, but I welcome the challenge!
Honorable Mentions (Early December)
Like 2019, I will give you guys a rundown of games that, while not quite making the cut, are either great games that just missed out or games that are let down by their flaws.
Top 10 – 10-6 (Early December)
Continuing on, I’ll be kicking off the official Top 10 outright with the first five.
The Mixed Games of 2021 (Mid December)
In a more critical segment, I’ll be discussing games that were held back by broken launches, missed the cut entirely or games that, while ambitious, let down by certain factors. I wouldn’t call it ‘the worst games of 2021’ but it will be less positive than my usual articles. Some are pretty bad.
Hidden Gems of 2021 (Mid December)
In the final part before the Top 5 is revealed, I’ll be discussing some games in a quick-fire style, games that missed the cut, games I’ve not dedicated much time to, and so on.
The Top 5 of 2021 (Late December)
To finish off 2021, I’ll announce the Top 5 with reviews as well as the overall winner.
And that is the gist of things, really! Here’s to a safe and grand final month of 2021 for everyone.