As I started my draft for this article, I immediately looked through our archives to see how many Our Week in Games features we’d published in 2021. My sums showed that as a collective we shared thoughts on what we’d been playing that past week 34 times, which is decent going for our rag-tag bunch of part-timers.
Those weekly recaps of ours are really helpful in charting our adventures through the video gaming landscape over the course of the year. What is also apparent is that I regularly make promises of writing about one game or another in more depth, or stating my intention of completing something else.
In the ethos of those weekly features, in this piece I won’t be listing my favourite games that were released in 2021, rather I’ll take a flying review of what this past year has been like for me.
If I take a look at the first Our Week in Games of the year, I was talking about four games. Two of which I certainly have spent considerably more time with and others that have slipped into the pile of shame. It is with sadness that I consider Star Wars: Fallen Order as being a game I didn’t write about in much detail, or even complete. After a fairly intensive run through this Star Wars adventure, I came to a boss who I just couldn’t summon the motivation to defeat. With Link’s Awakening I don’t think I came unstuck with a boss, more that as is usual with my Switch gaming habits, I didn’t spend enough time with that console to complete it.
However, that first OWIG of the year did include mentions of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, a title in which I’ve since added another 20+ hours to and yet, am seemingly no closer to completing. It’s a behemoth, but a brilliant one. I particular enjoy the way the main quest is set up around discrete stories for each English regions, a setup which lends itself well to dipping in and out of as time allows without leaving things hanging by too much of a thread.
In that January edition of OWIG I also talked about The Last of Us Part II. It might have taken me most of the year (including a house move), but I did complete Naughty Dog’s magnum opus. You can read my detailed thoughts on that divisive title here.
The end of January saw the release of Hitman 3. A game that would ordinarily feature in my Game of the Year feature, but for that fact that I haven’t played any of the levels from the most recent of Agent 47s outings. Instead I found myself buying the first two games in the trilogy and playing them…from within the Hitman 3 launcher. The missions from the first two titles are fabulous, that goes without saying, but the release history of this trilogy is plagued by changes of publisher and the release of a whole new console generation. I’ve got more on that here.
In February I gratefully received delivery of my Razer 15” laptop, a machine powered by the mobile nVidia 3070 graphics card. As the year ends, who would have thought that the best way to get a cutting edge GPU would still be to buy laptops or pre-built PCs?
It was in February that I started another of 2020s top hits with Control: Ultimate Edition, and also picked up the Switch release of Super Mario 3D World. I think I spent too much time re-playing the original campaign, and not enough time with Bowser’s Fury. When it comes to my Game of the Year list, I’m afraid Bowser’s Fury will be marked down as missing the cut, purely because I didn’t play it anywhere near as much as it clearly deserves.
What did surprise me as I reviewed our various OWIGs was my brief dalliance with racing games in March. Gran Turismo Sport and Forza Horizon 4 were the subject of my attentions then. If I skip ahead for a moment, my favourite racer I’ve played this year is Forza Horizon 5. That will feature on the Game of the Year list, offering me a chance to write some deserved words about it.
April and May were madly busy months personally. I moved house, and that brought along a heap of work that kept me away from any serious gaming. It also saw me officially hand The Reticule Editor duties over to Ross in May. That feels a lifetime ago, but I really must thank Ross for taking on that role, and his help with some of my articles as the year progressed have been massively appreciated.
The summer months saw me flip between zombie games. There was Resident Evil 7, which I certainly need to go back to finish so that I can get around to playing Resident Evil Village. I invested a heap of time into The Last of Us Part II around this point of time, and then somewhere further along the line I dived into the Resident Evil 3 remake. I even found myself starting Day’s Gone, something that I started and pretty soon left to one side. It was a thoroughly enjoyable period of gaming, but the fact that I didn’t make the space in my gaming diary to even start Resident Evil Village will be a regret.
The summer also saw me trade-in my PlayStation 4 and grab an Xbox Series S, along with Game Pass. That has been one of the best purchases I’ve made this year, Game Pass is a brilliant offering. I’ve probably not made as much out of it as I could have, but with Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite available through it, it’s really starting to prove its worth. I had some initial thoughts on Game Pass in a mid-June edition of Our Week in Games.
Late summer, my OWIG reports indicate that I was getting into the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, although I didn’t really get too far with that, probably because I distracted myself with Football Manager. Looking back though, I think the late summer period was primarily a case of me waiting for Deathloop. I’m still pondering where this time-looper will feature in my Games of the Year, but I don’t think it will be the top rated time-loop game on my list. Regardless of where it sits on that list, I did write quite a bit about it back in October.
As the leaves turned brown, Forza Horizon 5 appeared, but so did a few big shooters that dominated my writing in a November edition of Our Week in Games. They were of course Battlefield 2042 and Halo: Infinite, the latter which came with a staggered release of the online component ahead of the single-player portion. My favourite Battlefield piece of the year wasn’t the new game, but was my trip back in time to highlight some of the joys of the original sequence of games. With Halo, instead of playing the new quasi-open world tale, I’ve been slowly working my way through Halo: Reach as part of the Master Chief Collection.
It’s been another one of my gaming years which fits my usual pattern. I try out too many games here and there, leaving me short on time to complete the big hitters from the previous year. I wouldn’t change much of it though, as there have been some real treats like Dorfromantik that I’ve uncovered, while something like Skyrim Anniversary Edition brings an all-time great back to the front of my mind.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this long-winded ramble, and I wish you all a bright and happy New Year.