The year is nearly over, which means it’s time to put on our prediction caps and guess what 2021 holds in store!
With 2020 just about wrapped up and all its best games recognized in our , the team at GameSpot would like to help you anticipate what lies ahead by accurately predicting the future (or attempting to). 2021 is looking to be an exciting proving ground for new-generation consoles PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, as they both enter the next phase after their recent launches. Will the year bring fantastic games and experiences that will push the new hardware toward exciting new heights? Or will we still have to wait a while before the heavy investment we made this past holiday season becomes worth it? And let’s not forget; Nintendo just might use this year to release the long-rumored upgrade to the Switch–we think as much, at least. Whatever may happen, time will tell (or we will in our predictions)!
In GameSpot’s annual prediction series, we’ve put our brains together to determine what could happen next year in the world of games. While our accuracy in predicting the future isn’t always on the mark, it still won’t stop us from speculating.
Below you can find our gaming predictions for 2021. No matter how plausible or absurd these predictions might be, these are what we believe will come true in some form next year.
Since we do this every year, you should check out our feature covering our to see just how correct (and painfully incorrect) we were. Otherwise, be sure to look to our , which contains features detailing the biggest games to play next year.
What do you predict will happen in games next year? Let us know in the comments below.
Halo Infinite Will Actually Release, And It Will Be Great
After years of development and a big delay, Halo Infinite will finally release in 2021, and it’s going to be great. I’m calling it now. After the struggles of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, 343 Industries is understandably taking its time to make sure Halo Infinite starts out strong.
It’s a bummer the game didn’t release as a launch title for the Series X as was expected, but I am in full support of the team taking the time it needs to really nail it. This must be an especially tall task as the teams work from home during the pandemic.
The developer update for Halo Infinite released in December provided some excellent insight and depth on what 343 is spending its time on, including improving the graphics and ensuring fans that the free-to-play multiplayer element won’t be a pay-to-win catastrophe riddled with excessive microtransactions. It all sounds very positive, and I am very excited to see the fruits of the team’s labor in 2021.
I am particularly excited to see what 343 has in store for multiplayer, which is the bread and butter of the Halo franchise. The recent Halo Infinite map tease was certainly exciting, promising a gorgeous art style and incredible graphics. Master Chief has saved the universe countless times, and I’m not going to bet against him now. — Eddie Makuch, Associate Editor
Nintendo Will Celebrate Mother 3’s 15th Anniversary By Finally Localizing It In The West
2020 may not have been the best year, but that won’t stop me from continuing a time-honored tradition. Like last year, I was wrong about coming to Nintendo Switch in 2020. While it might be wise of me to give up hope at this point, I know that doing so would dishonor my former boss, , who I imagine, like me, is just as disappointed that we’ve still not seen the third entry in Nintendo’s cult-favorite RPG series come to the West. Cumulatively, we’ve predicting that Nintendo would fulfill our wishes and release Mother 3, but no such luck.
In the past, I often justified a potential release based on how Nintendo was moving toward making its classic catalog more readily accessible via its online service. I even thought it might follow suit with other Japanese companies, like Square Enix and Sega, which have been re-releasing classic games on modern platforms. But this year, I think I’ve finally found a firm basis on which Nintendo could yet give us Mother 3.
You need only look at the particular way Nintendo has been celebrating classic games in 2020. In September, the company launched Super Mario 3D All-Stars, a collection of that series’ 3D entries, to commemorate Mario’s 35th anniversary. And on Fire Emblem’s 30th anniversary, it localized and re-released the first Fire Emblem game, making it available to play in English for the first time. Both are limited-time releases, which seems like some strategic way to ensure an influx of sales right at launch rather than the that Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser claimed it’s all about. Regardless, Nintendo has become increasingly open to highlighting its classic games in different ways than just throwing them onto the Nintendo Switch Online service.
What makes 2021 special is the fact that it’s the 15th anniversary of Mother 3’s Japanese release. As you can imagine, Nintendo’s recent behavior could very well leave room for the company to localize the game as a limited-time celebratory release. Compared to previous years that Justin and I have spent predicting this game would come, this is perhaps the most likely year for it to really happen. Seriously, I’m getting goosebumps writing about this. Like, what if Mother 3 gets released this way and gets a slick physical collector’s edition along the lines of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & The Blade Of Light? It’d be a dream come true.
Of course, time will tell, and in about a year, I might be just as disappointed as I have been for the past two years, predicting this in Justin’s stead. It’s hard to say because Mother 3 is still a problematic game, mostly due to characters and scenes that could be for Nintendo to be associated with in this day and age. Even so, a smart localization could recontextualize and fix these parts, even if doing so may result in cut content or changes from the original intent. But no matter what happens, I won’t give up hope. I’ve already come this far, after all. — Matt Espineli, Editor
Persona 3 Will Get A Modern Port
This is perhaps just wishful thinking on my part, as someone who had their save erased before completing the game. Nevertheless, I think there is some sound logic in this prediction: Atlus will bring Persona 3 to modern platforms.
Thanks to Persona 4 Golden and especially Persona 5, the series’ popularity has never been greater. And whereas the earlier games in the series adhered more to the Shin Megami Tensei foundation, Persona 3 is where the franchise more closely began to resemble what it is today. And yet, it remains available only on PS2 and PSP, which hardly makes it widely available today.
There have been signs of expanding Persona’s availability: Persona 4 Golden came to PC, and Persona 5 Strikers will come to Switch and PC in addition to the more expected platform of PS4. Persona 3 has not been forgotten, as its characters were a part of Persona Q and Q2, and were revisited for Persona 3: Dancing In Moonlight in 2018. But now it’s time to let more recent fans see where they came from without lugging out a PSP, Vita, PS2, or back-compat PS3.
The best-case scenario would be a Golden/Royal-style update for Persona 3 (in addition to what Persona 3 FES did for the original), but a port to modern platforms with some minor quality-of-life improvements would still be much appreciated by fans. The wait for Persona 6 will no doubt be a long one, and being able to re-experience (or newly discover) Persona 3 would make a lot of sense to keep fans engaged. — Chris Pereira. Senior Editor
BioWare Will Reveal The New Mass Effect Connects To Andromeda
Seeing during The Game Awards 2020 was a welcome surprise. Given that it’s just a teaser, it’s very unlikely this new game is coming in 2021. However, I predict that next year, BioWare will confirm how this new game relates to the rest of the franchise.
Though The Game Awards teaser zooms in on the Milky Way Galaxy, it initially showcases two different galaxies, something that BioWare project lead Michael Gamble said was and that both were shown Additionally, the trailer features a line that goes, “Ark 6 is away. Godspeed.” The Arks were the massive ships used to travel to Andromeda, though importantly, only five were sent prior to the events of Mass Effect 3.
That line is also very reminiscent to what Nexus Control says to Ryder when taking off in the Tempest for the first time in Andromeda, another choice according to Gamble. But this new game will likely connect to the original Mass Effect trilogy as well, given that the asari in the trailer looks a lot like Liara and Gamble confirms that the hunk of metal that she’s climbing in the trailer .
All of this makes me think that in 2021, we will learn that BioWare is developing a game that acts as a follow-up to both Mass Effect 3 and Andromeda. I’d love to see a game in which a sixth Ark is constructed and used by the survivors of the war against the Reapers to leave the Milky Way in order to find a new home, or a game where Liara, as an asari, manages to live long enough to see some of the Andromeda Initiative return to the Milky Way. — Jordan Ramée, Associate Editor
Metal Gear Solid Will Be Remade
Maybe it’s because I’m still riding the high of Bluepoint’s fantastic Demon’s Souls remake, but I’ve got it in my head that Metal Gear Solid has to be next. Konami’s iconic action franchise is currently languishing in the dusty intellectual property vaults and Sony is more aggressive about delivering exclusive games that stoke nostalgia and give owners of its platforms a sense of PlayStation pride. What could be more effective at doing that than a remake of Metal Gear Solid, one of the games that defined the first PlayStation and a franchise that would drive people to purchase PS5?
A full remake handled by an outside studio would also work in Konami’s favour too, as it can reap the benefits of a brand-new Metal Gear Solid without having to commit astronomical budgets to its development all on its own. If Sony is willing to foot some of the bill and even help out with the heavy lifting, why not take advantage?
Better still, series creator Hideo Kojima, who is now making games at his own independent studio, can be brought in to advise on the project and give it his seal of approval. Fans of the franchise will no doubt demand it, and since Kojima already has a close working relationship with Sony as a result of Death Stranding, it’s definitely within the realm of possibility to get him involved.
The other major benefit for Konami is that it rebuilds some good will. Whether for the right or wrong reasons, the very public bust up between Kojima and Konami soured a lot of fans of the franchise on Konami. And when it followed up with the very questionable Metal Gear Survive, they were incensed. That ill-will has lingered, but what better way to have people warm to the company again than to give their blessing to the remake of Metal Gear Solid? And if Bluepoint, a studio that has a proven track record of doing remakes right, is on the job, it’s sure to help old wounds heal. It feels like the time is right for Snake to make his triumphant return. — Tamoor Hussain, Managing Editor
Nintendo Will Hold A 35th Anniversary Celebration For Zelda
Nintendo celebrated Super Mario’s 35th anniversary this year with multiple game releases and events, and I fully expect the Legend of Zelda series to get similar treatment next year. After all, 2021 marks the franchise’s 35th anniversary, and as one of the company’s marquee properties, Nintendo will likely celebrate the milestone in a big way.
Given what a sales success Super Mario 3D All-Stars has been, it seems like a safe bet that Nintendo will release some sort of Legend of Zelda collection for Switch as part of the anniversary celebration. The collection will likely include the series’ two N64 installments, Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, and perhaps even the rumored Switch port of Skyward Sword. The anniversary would also be the perfect occasion to finally bring over Wii U’s HD remasters of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, although I would not be surprised if Nintendo chooses to re-release each of those games individually.
We’ll also likely see some Zelda-themed events in other Switch games next year as part of the anniversary celebration. Since Mario-themed furniture is on the way to Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Mario’s anniversary, I fully expect the game to receive Zelda furniture as well. That seems inevitable considering that Zelda items have appeared in every previous Animal Crossing title to date. This would also be a great opportunity to introduce Zelda villagers to New Horizons. New Leaf players could use Zelda Amiibo figures to invite Ganon, Epona, Medli, and Wolf Link to live in their towns, and introducing a similar means to get them in New Horizons would be a fun way to celebrate Zelda’s anniversary.
Of course, there’s also the upcoming Breath of the Wild sequel. However, as fitting as it would be to see that released during the series’ 35th anniversary, I think it would be more realistic to expect the game to launch in 2022, especially considering that the COVID-19 pandemic has likely slowed down its development. That’s one prediction I’d be happy to get wrong, however. — Kevin Knezevic, Associate Editor
Final Fantasy XIV Finally Comes To Xbox
It feels like every time I interview Final Fantasy XIV director and producer Naoki Yoshida, I have to ask him about any updates for Switch or Xbox ports of the game. Square Enix’s wildly successful (and unrivaled) MMORPG continues to thrive on PC and PlayStation systems, and the latest word from the team said that they’ve exceeded 20 million players worldwide. And with every other Final Fantasy available on Xbox (barring the NES/SNES entries), it feels like FFXIV is a void waiting to be filled.
Yoshida-san’s response has always been akin to waiting for platform holders to give the greenlight, telling me last year his goal is always to “strive to have as many people play FFXIV on multiple platforms.” He continued to say to hold on and that fans would be the first to know, but also noted, “I want to allow people to play with their friends without any cross-platform limitations. I am still in discussion with Microsoft and Nintendo to make this a reality.”
Hell, even Phil Spencer acknowledged the idea at X019 last year as well, saying to press at the event, “I wanted you to know, rest assured that we will be bringing that game [Final Fantasy XIV] to Xbox. We have a great relationship with Yoshida-san and we’re working through what it means to bring [to Xbox] a cross-platform MMO that they’ve run for years.”
Well, FFXIV is poised to have a big year in 2021. A major event is planned in February, and we suspect it’ll come with a reveal of the next expansion and the 5.5 update that will bridge players into the new storylines. It’d also be a great opportunity to usher in a new wave of players that would come from the Xbox platform.
A large part of Square Enix’s games live on Xbox Game Pass, even outside of Final Fantasy–but that does pose the question of how a subscription-based MMORPG would function on Xbox’s platform that’s built around its own subscription model. I’m sure they’d devise a way to pitch it all, but subscribing is a hurdle that some face when trying to get into FFXIV on existing platforms. The game currently has a generous free trial available that lets you access the base game and first expansion for free without a subscription (while removing some features), and maybe that’ll help get folks on board.
It’s been all but confirmed at this point, so it’s a pretty safe prediction to make. I’m just excited for more people to see what all the fuss is about. — Michael Higham, Associate Editor
Stadia Will Find Its Footing
Google’s game-streaming service, Stadia, has had a little over a year on the market, and so far it has sort of stumbled. It’s not that Stadia is weak from a technical standpoint–it’s generally a pretty solid cloud gaming service. But Stadia came out of the gate without much of a value proposition. In 2021, I think Google is poised to change that, at least somewhat.
The main trouble with Stadia right now is that it’s expensive. While you can use a lot of your own devices and your current PC, if you want Stadia to run on your TV, you need the $99 Chromecast and controller bundle. Google offers a $10 a month subscription service, Stadia Pro, that provides access to some games, but it still requires you to purchase the most popular titles at full price.
There just isn’t currently a big value proposition for Stadia–you sink in a lot of money before unlocking the additional convenience of streaming games on your devices without the need for high-end PC hardware. But there’s a pretty easy answer to the question of how to make Staida more appealing: make it all cheaper.
As Microsoft has realized with Xbox Game Pass, the big win with a service like Stadia is not selling hardware or games, but locking in users for long-term subscriptions. Stadia could increase its cache by growing its game library and securing deals to include big titles at launch, much the way Microsoft does. I know I’m making all that sound very easy when securing those deals requires major negotiation and investment, but this is Google–it absolutely has the resources to make its streaming service a major contender.
Especially with expensive new consoles being tough to find, Stadia has a big chance to break through with gamers by coming in cheaper than the other guys. With a year of experience in what not to do under its belt, I think Google will try to make some moves with Stadia in 2021 and find a niche where it might be more successful. — Phil Hornshaw, Editor
Nintendo Will Release A New Switch Model
As surely as the sun rises and sets, Nintendo is working on new hardware, and I predict we’ll see the company release a new Switch model in 2021. This isn’t exactly a bold prediction to make; after all, numerous outlets, including , have reported that Nintendo plans to launch an “” in 2021, so it seems like a safe bet that will indeed be the case sometime next year.
Of course, Nintendo, for its part, has repeatedly downplayed these rumors, but the company’s denials don’t amount to much. Each time reports of new hardware spring up, Nintendo is quick to shoot them down, only to release said hardware a few months later. You can find plenty of examples of that happening over the past few years, even as recently as 2019, when Nintendo dismissed reports that it was working on a cheaper Switch–just before it officially unveiled the Switch Lite.
Releasing an enhanced Switch next year also makes sense from a business standpoint. With Sony and Microsoft recently ushering in a new generation of consoles, Nintendo will want to do what it can to mitigate the power gap between the Switch and its new rivals, and a more powerful model that supports 4K resolution, as Bloomberg reports, would certainly help accomplish that. Time will tell whether those reports turn out to be true, but given how frequently the company likes to refresh its hardware, I certainly wouldn’t bet against Nintendo releasing a new Switch model next year. — Kevin Knezevic, Associate Editor
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