DualShockers' Favorite Games of 2021 - Mehrdad's Top 10
"The many shall suffer for the sins of the one!"
Among the great games of 2021, I found some incredible gems that turned into my best experiences of the year!
Although 2021 was another year that we had to struggle with COVID-19, it was my best gaming year in the past few years. The reason for this is the fact that I put more hours into indie games this year compared to previous years, and the result was pretty impressive for me.
Indies are always easy-to-miss, but there are many hidden gems among them, discovering which makes indie players love digging even more into the games coming from small but creative teams, who are desperate for the community’s support.
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The story behind the development of The Forgotten City is something that many indie developers have gone through, but not many of them got the chance to share it with the world.
That being said, I’m so happy that most of the indies that I tried out this year ended up in my top games of the year, which means now I have even a longer list of indies to play in 2022.
So, without further ado, let me share my top experiences of this year with you!
10. Battlefield 2042
Despite all the hate around Battlefield 2042 since its launch, it was one of the best shooters I have played this year.
Similar to many Battlefield fans, I’ve been a fan of the franchise since Battlefield 3, and I understand that the game has significantly changed compared to the previous entries, but you can still find the heart of the series in 2042.
The innovation that Battlefield 2042 delivers with Portal and 128-player maps is incredibly pleasant and enjoyable for me. Also, I’m a fan of the new Specialist system not because of the specialists themselves, but because it gives me the freedom to choose my loadout regardless of my role in the team.
So, I believe the core of Battlefield 2042 is solid and innovative, and that’s why I always enjoy my time with this game. Of course, I’m disappointed by the downgraded destructions, low-detail map design, and maybe out-of-place reactions from specialists, but I think what the game delivers is bigger and more valuable than the aforementioned issues.
Check out the Battlefield 2042 review here.
9. Age of Empires 4
Age of Empires 4 was truly a masterpiece among this year’s RTS games and a big step forward in story-telling in this genre that successfully blended up real historical events with great gameplay that allows you to experience them all with your own rules.
Age of Empires 4 not only remained loyal to its predecessors but also improved the series in areas such as depth of combat and variation of dynasties.
Although the game still doesn’t cover all the available empires in the campaign mode, it does provide over 50 hours of gameplay only in story mode, which is an eye-catching number for an RTS.
Check out the Age of Empires 4 review here.
When it comes to strategy games, I’m more of a managing guy rather than a war commander, and that’s why I prefer grand strategy and 4X games over war-focused ones like Total War.
Humankind was a brilliant new IP that I really enjoyed every turn of my playtime in the game. It allows you to expand your dynasty in the way you want with the values that you honor the most. However, you will live with the consequences of your decisions.
There are two things that I really love about Humankind: First, the incredible original soundtrack for each dynasty truly reflects the old and traditional music culture of every kingdom.
Second, Humankind features challenging enemy AI who will never give up on the expansion of their kingdom, which means you’re not going to have any real friends in your journey, and that’s what makes Humankind a difficult but realistic experience.
7. 12 Minutes
Although I didn’t like the visual representation of 12 Minutes with all the clunky and unpolished animations, the story and the exceptional performance of voice actors made it an enjoyable experience for me.
The big amount of twists in the story of the game, and the fact that you should’ve put all pieces of a puzzle together in the right order to find the next shocking truth made 12 Minutes a fascinating roller-coaster ride for me.
Check out the 12 Minutes review here.
As one of the most underrated titles of this year, Chernobylite could be my best game of the year only if it didn’t have a few gameplay design issues. That being said, Chernobylite is still a solid story-driven experience with a strong plot and multiple branches that could lead you to various thoughtful endings.
There aren’t many games out there that could make you feel how much your choices matter and how they could lead you to total failure at the end of the day.
Chernobylite is absolutely a big innovation in how story-driven games with branching stories could work out. And you never know about the depth of your choices until the very last minute.
5. Hitman 3
What a finale for the modern adventures of Agent 47! Hitman 3 is a well-deserved conclusion for the new trilogy of IO Interactive’s biggest IP so far. If it wasn’t for IOI’s tireless effort, we might’ve never heard about the Hitman series after Square Enix decided to turn its back on the franchise.
While having the same core gameplay, Hitman 3 was a masterpiece of map design in the whole series. Still, I can’t forget about the Berlin assassinations or the utter surprise that the final map of the game delivered.
Hitman 3 was the best stealth shooter game that I played through this year, and I know I wouldn’t find anything similar until the next Hitman arrives!
Check out the Hitman 3 review here.
4. Hell Let Loose
So, here comes my most favorite multiplayer game of the year. If you like hardcore shooters and you are a fan of the Battlefield series, you should definitely give this game a try.
Simply put, Hell Let Loose has been the most enjoyable realistic multiplayer game that I’ve ever played. Every single kill that you get in this game feels satisfying. And the atmosphere is so intense that you really feel like you’re on a battlefield in World War 2.
If you play it with friends and you turn the voice chat on, you can simply triple the amount of joy you get out of this massive war simulator. Just keep in mind that there is no room for rush in this game!
Check out the Hell Let Loose review here.
3. Hobo Tough Life
Rain is beautiful, but do you know what it means for the homeless? Hobo Tough Life made me think about things that I had probably never thought about.
This is a game that makes you realize how some of the most beautiful things that we know in our lives could turn into a disaster when you can’t even afford a tent.
This is a game about yourself, where everything you do is part of your story. Would you steal from others to stay alive or you’d stand on your own feet till the last minute? How many days you can survive without begging people for money?
Hobo Tough Life is a life lesson and a hardcore survival game. If you want my advice, play it with permadeath “on” at the highest difficulty level to enjoy the most.
1. War Mongrels
No, this is not a mistake! I have two games as my games of the year since it was really hard for me to choose only one between the two.
War Mongrels was one of the games that I had on my radar since its announcement, but to be honest, I wouldn’t even imagine that this game could end up in my top 3 of the year.
What makes War Mongrels a great game for me is the fact that it does everything right to a high degree. You care about the story? it has a well-written story that depicts World War 2 from a unique point of view.
You care about gameplay? War Mongrels is a master-class of level design, where every chapter in the game feels like a chess game, and you really have to plan your moves in your mind before beginning the action.
Completing every chapter in War Mongrels feels like a big achievement, and that’s what a good game would make you feel! Well done, Destructive Creations!
1. The Forgotten City
The only game that stands shoulder to shoulder to War Mongrels for me over the course of this year is The Forgotten City. While the trailers of the game before its releases weren’t too impressive for me – and I didn’t know about the story behind its development – the highly acclaimed reviews of the game made me super curious about The Forgotten City.
I think I was really lucky to play The Forgotten City as it’s an easy-to-miss gem. With no doubt, it was the most fascinating story that I experienced in a video game this year. It never stops to surprise you and never fails in making the story darker and deeper.
Every step forward reveals a shocking truth about the whole city, and every ending just makes you super curious to get back to the game and reach the next ending to discover more about the secrets of every character.
If you played and enjoyed it, I strongly suggest you have a look at the game’s development documentary by noclip, and you will be even more fascinated by this masterpiece.
Ready or Not
As the last new game that I have experienced this year so far, Ready or Not is currently in the Early Access phase on Steam, but it’s already among my top games of this year.
If you want a hardcore tactical shooter, and if you want to experience the version of Rainbow Six Siege that we were shown back in 2015 in an E3 demo, Ready or Not delivers it!
It’s a love letter to all SWAT 4 fans who have never received anything similar in the past years. Ready or Not is still like 40% of what it is going to be until next December, and even at this stage, it’s a lovely game for tactical shooter fans.
If this is your favorite genre and you have a friend to play with, don’t hesitate to give it a go. VOID Interactive has delivered what I’ve been dreaming of for years, and I’m happy that they will make it even better over time.
Check out the rest of DualShocker’s staff Top 10 lists below and our Offical Game of the Year Awards winners:
December 26: Mehrdad Khayyat (Senior Staff Writer)
December 27: Md Armughanuddin (Head of Content- India)
December 28: Iyane Agossah (Head of Japanese Content)
December 30: Sam Woods (Managing Editor and EIC)
December 31: Game of the Year Awards 2021 Official Winners Revealed