This has been a good year for looking forward to stuff, given how hard it’s been to enjoy the present.
Thankfully, just as the Google Play Store kept us buoyed throughout 2020 with a steady supply of amazing new games, 2021 is looking like another bumper year.
This list of our 24 most anticipated games barely scratches the surface of what’s to come, so if there are games you’re looking forward to playing in 2021, make sure to tell us about them in the comments.
If you think about it, Crash Bandicoot provided the blueprint for 3D mobile auto-runners like Temple Run, Minions Rush, and Subway Surfers. So it makes perfect sense that Crash Bandicoot himself would one day return to reclaim his territory. Published by casual megacorporation King, Crash Bandicoot: On the Run” looks like a genuinely solid series entry, with tons of content and hundreds of hours of gameplay. It’s coming in spring.
After years at the top of the multiplayer first-person shooter tree, Call of Duty has lost ground in recent years to battle royales like Fortnite and PUBG Mobile. Call of Duty Warzone is its volley of returning fire, offering Call of Duty fans a free-to-play battle royale experience within the famed military shooter franchise. While the mobile version isn’t officially confirmed, job listings, circumstantial evidence, and Reddit chatter all make one overwhelmingly likely.
The touchgrind series has been synonymous with smartphone gaming ever since the first Touchgrind skating sim arrived on mobile a decade ago. The games trade on the clever gimmick of letting you use your fingers as feet, pulling off all manner of gnarly tricks and death-defying stunts, Tony Hawk-style. Touchgrind Scooter will be the next in the series, and it’s due in the first half of 2021.
Announced by surprise a month ago, Tomb Raider Reloaded is an intriguing new entry in the long-running franchise that appears to be aiming for a more casual experience than the recent PC and console games. The teaser trailer and artwork reveal giant cartoony bobble-headed characters, dinosaurs, giant insects, and monsters. We suspect it’s going to be a bit like The Guardian of Light and The Temple of Osiris. Coming in 2021.
At a glance, Farlight 84 seems to have hitched its aesthetic wagon to Cyberpunk 2077’s neon-drenched star. Neon only goes skin-deep, however, and gameplay-wise Farlight 84 is actually a battle royale set in an alternate reality where cyborg zombies unfortunately exist. Elements of other genres will be present – in particular, MOBA. It looks like a very solid prospect, and we’re looking forward to trying it out in 2021.
Total War Battles: Warhammer, not to be confused with Total War: Warhammer, is the third game in the Total War Battles series. Though it looks pretty similar to Total War: Warhammer, with a campaign map for making the big decisions and battle maps for unit management and so on. It’s in closed beta, so a full release is likely next year.
Moonlighter, in case you don’t know, is an awesome Stardew Valley-esque action-RPG from 11 bit studios and developer Digital Sun. It sees you running a shop by day and adventuring by night, collecting loot and items with which to bolster your business and increase your adventuring potential. It’s great to look at, utterly addictive, and all round great. It’s also available on every platform except Android, having hit iOS this year. It’ll be with us in 2021.
Yet another Warhammer game on mobile, Warhammer Odyssey is an MMORPG announced all the way back in August 2019, and still not out yet. It’s set in the Old World timeline, and sees you joining mercenary companies to sort out those ruddy doomsayers once and for all. Interestingly, it won’t offer an autoplay option, hinting at a more hardcore experience than you’ll find in most mobile MMORPGs. It’s coming “soon”.
Following the huge success of XCOM Enemy Within on Android, XCOM 2 Collection is due out early next year. Originally released in 2016, the game is set after the dreaded alien invasion has taken place, and casts you as a plucky rebel fighting back against your extraterrestrial overlords.
BBC Studios has chosen the developer for its latest Doctor Who game wisely. Kaigan Games made its name with the Simulacra “found phone” series, which simulated the experience of finding a phone and becoming embroiled in a high stakes situation. This time around, the high stakes situation you’ll find yourself in will include beloved characters, actors, and locations from the Doctor Who universe. It’s coming in spring 2021.
For those in the know, 2018’s Pocket City is the preeminent city-building game on mobile, striking a perfect balance between depth, accessibility, and smartphone-friendly graphics. The sequel probably won’t stray too far from this winning formula, and you can expect a similar experience but with nicer visuals and other improvements. There’s no release date yet, and the game is still in its early stages, but 2021 seems likely.
Originally – though never officially – due to be released at the end of this month in Japan, NieR Reincarnation has been pushed into 2021 amid profuse apologies from its developers. The game, which is still an unknown quantity in many respects, is a gorgeous mobile take on Yoko Taro’s popular NieR RPG franchise. It’ll be out in Japan soon, and the West at some point after that.
Manga fans rejoice. Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, which was unveiled at G-Star in 2019, is coming soon. In fact, this gorgeous cel-shaded, Ghibli-inspired MMORPG was due to arrive in Japan in late 2020, but there’s no sign of it as far we can tell. The game sees you playing as a beta tester for a virtual world, and features city-building, animal husbandry, and more. You can expect to play it at some point in 2021.
To be perfectly clear, we know nothing about Crashlands 2. Butterscotch Shenanigans doesn’t appear to have announced it in any official capacity, and there are no details available on its gameplay or anything else. But earlier this year a test version appeared on the Google Play Store, sending fans into meltdown. We know it’s coming, but we don’t know when, or anything else about it. Let’s just say it’s coming in 2021.
Another game inspired by Stardew Valley, My Time at Portia is a gorgeous and acclaimed life sim in which you take on a farm in a town called Portia. You’ll spend your time farming, restoring your workshop, gossiping with your neighbors – oh, and adventuring through dungeons and other locations, slaying monsters and collecting loot. Full disclosure: we’re not sure My Time at Portia is coming to the Google Play Store. It was announced at TapTap in China, where Google Play isn’t a thing. Fingers crossed!
Slay the Spire, the highly acclaimed deck-builder that sees you climbing a spire by winning card battles, arrived on PC and consoles last year. Then it came to iOS this year, but we’re still waiting for the Android version to arrive. Frustratingly, details are thin on the ground, with developer MegaCrit only saying, “The Android version is still in the works but we’re not quite ready to talk about release yet.” 2021? Sure.
Following the announcement of a Tomb Raider mobile reboot, Square Enix has lifted the lid on Just Cause: Mobile. It’s a far cry from Square Enix’s critically adored GO games, in which the company’s Montreal Studio reimagined action franchises as cute puzzle games. Just Cause: Mobile is a straight up action game, with explosions and helicopters, along with multiplayer modes, alliances, open world environments, and other rad stuff. It’s coming some time in 2021.
Hot on the heels of the Android launch of Company of Heroes, the classic WWII real-time strategy game, developer Feral Interactive has announced that the Opposing Fronts expansion will be along early next year. Originally released as a standalone expansion, Opposing Fronts – set in Caen and at the Rhine – will be available as a $3.99 IAP.
Dadish, from Super Fowlst developer CatCup Games, was one of our favorite platformers of 2020. Like a loveable, bloodless Super Meat Boy it sees you navigating a series of small, self contained stages, trying to keep your head so that you can rescue one of your sass-mouthed radish children. Dadish 2 promises more of the same, with stages set in space, up a tree, and in many other environments besides. It’s coming on the 18th of January.
Contra Returns, a mobile reboot of the legendary Contra arcade series (known as Gryzor in PAL regions, trivia fans – except on NES, where it was called Probotector. Festive thanks to commenter Andy Willow for politely drawing attention to our grievous omission!), came out all the way back in 2018 – but only in south east Asia. It’s done brisk business over there, however, and earlier this year rumors swirled that a global release was likely. Since those rumors emerged back in June, we’ve heard nothing. But it’s certainly a distinct possibility that the game will be on a Google Play Store near you in 2021.
A joint enterprise between developer Next Games and Netflix, Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales is a story driven puzzle-RPG in which you have to explore various locations from the show, recruit characters, solve mysteries, create a team, and join forces with your friends to defeat the Mind Flayer. All by matching gems. It’s available right now in soft launch in a very limited number of territories, with a global launch coming in 2021.
Originally pegged for a 2020 release, LEGO Star Wars Battles is a slightly curious outing for the resurgent Star Wars franchise. It sees you getting into real-time multiplayer PvP battles in arenas based on locations from the films, competing in tower defense rounds. It boasts 40 different units from various Star Wars movies, crafting, upgrading, and face-offs between Chewbacca and Boba Fett, or an Ewok and a Tusken Raider. Expect it early in 2021.
Lord of the Rings: Rise to War is a joint project between Warner Bros and NetEase. It’s set in the Third Age of Middle Earth, which is the age depicted in the Lord of the Rings films, after Sauron was sort of defeated but not really, right up to when he was properly defeated by Frodo and Samwise. It’s an epic strategy game, and it appears to be in its relatively early stages of testing, with a couple of closed betas taking place earlier this year. 2021 is a distinct possibility.
The Witcher: Monster Slayer is like Pokemon GO, but with scarier monsters. It’s a location-based AR title that sees you using your smartphone to turn the real world into a fantasy landscape populated by wraiths and necrophages, as well as NPCs with quests to dish out. There’s already been a soft launch, but only in New Zealand, and only on iOS. The rest of us will get to play it in 2021.